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Charges dropped against 82-year-old accused in fraud scheme

(AP) A Powhatan County judge dismissed felony charges against an 82-year-old preacher accused of defrauding a woman of more than $50,000 in a fake sweepstakes scheme.

The four counts of obtaining money under false pretenses against Frederick Shmidt were dropped March 30 after medical evaluations found worsening dementia left him “severely impaired,” according to Powhatan Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Cerullo.

Shmidt’s attorney told the newspaper she could not discuss her client’s medical condition.

The 87-year-old victim in the case also developed dementia, raising questions about her ability to testify in court, Cerullo told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The victim was told she won a $2.5 million cash prize and a new car, and sent money for taxes and fees to Shmidt in checks addressed to his Powhatan home in 2018, the Times-Dispatch reported, citing court documents. Shmidt was accused of then taking some of the money before passing the rest of it on to others in Jamaica.

Shmidt admitted to U.S. Postal Inspector A.L. Dalton that he cashed the victim’s checks and deposited them into a ministry account, court documents said.

Authorities alleged he also defrauded residents in Kansas, Arizona and Pennsylvania of more than $100,000 total in the scheme.

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