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Indictment: Couple plundered son's $800K, left $15


Indictment: Couple plundered son's $800K, left $15


Published 1:54 pm, Sunday, June 3, 2012

Two adoptive parents accused of taking their son for all he had after he received nearly $1 million from the state of Alaska have been indicted in federal court there.

Investigators arrested the young man’s parents – Everett resident Lori Wiley-Drones and Edward Drones, of Anchorage – on Wednesday, two weeks after a federal grand jury indicted them on fraud charges.

Prosecutors claim Drones and Wiley-Drones left their son just $15 of the $1.5 million settlement the state of Alaska paid out after the young man – then a boy – sued the state, claiming he’d been abused and neglected on the state’s watch.

First serving as the young man’s foster parents, the couple adopted him at age 11 and sued the state of Alaska on his behalf several years later.

According to an indictment unsealed Wednesday, Wiley-Drones won control over her adopted son’s finances shortly before he turned 18. She told the court his property would be “wasted and dissipated” without “proper management.”

Later in 2008, the boy accepted a $1.5 million settlement offer from the state of Alaska. After attorneys’ fees and taxes, the teen received more than $800,000.

Less than a month after the settlement was finalized, Wiley-Drones began raiding the young man’s account, according to the indictment.

Wiley-Drones first told her son’s money manager the young man wanted to purchase her home for $250,000, according to charging documents.

“Given the shakey (sic) and uncertain financial economy of this country and the world we can think of no safer way for (him) to invest at least part of his money,” Wiley-Drones allegedly told her son’s conservator.

The conservator did not agree to the sale, largely because Wiley-Drones failed to have the sale evaluated by a disinterested third party.

Unsatisfied with the $800 in rent the teen was paying them monthly, the young man’s parents asked that the conservator pay them $1,600 a month to care for him, according to charging documents. That request was also denied.

According to the indictment, the couple then had the conservator removed and replaced with Drones.

“Edward Drones swore an oath in which he represented that he understood and would honor the obligations of a conservator, which included the obligation to manage (his son’s) funds in accordance with the prudent investor rule and solely for (his) benefit,” federal prosecutors said in the indictment.

The young man’s parents soon began spending about $1,000 a day from the young man’s savings, according to the indictment. Wiley-Drones is alleged to have secured a power of attorney from her son that, among other activities, allowed her to give herself “gifts” of the young man’s money.

In less than a year, Drones and Wiley-Drones managed to squander all but $15 of the young man’s money, prosecutors contend. According to the indictment, $221,000 of the money went towards a house in Silver Lake while $125,000 went to the couple’s credit card bills; they’re also alleged to have spent $49,000 on new cars for themselves and another $26,000 on jewelry.

Wiley-Drones was arrested Wednesday in Washington; Drones was arrested in Alaska the same day. Each has been indicted on 23 counts of wire fraud, and remained jailed Thursday.

Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or levipulkkinen@seattlepi.com. Follow Levi on Twitter at twitter.com/levipulk.

2012 Jun 3