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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27134
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My nephew Matt (who lives in Colorado) took money out of my other nephews (john who lives in Nevada) beneficiary account without his permission.. This is an beneficiary account that his grandma set up for John. John had no idea this happened until he received a call from Matt who told him that he took the money out of that account and the police got involved. Matt asked (begged/cried) John to tell the police that he authorized it to happen. Matt said he would pay John back the money. Matt Previously was arrested for ID theft in the past as well as another theft. Matt told John that if he doesn't lie for him, that he (Matt) will go to jail for several years, John wasn't sure what to do. Matt recently had a child and has a steady job, and John doesn't want to ruin that for him. The police called John and asked him if he asked Matt to take the money. John told the police, yes I told Matt he could take the money. The police officer then told John that he could go to jail over this. Which has John very scared. The money Matt took from that account was used to travel and pickup his mom who was in a mental hospital and she wouldn't be released until a family member picked her up. As I mentioned this a beneficiary account setup by Johns grandma. We are assuming that the grandmother noticed the account was empty and then she called the police. Grandma is still wanting to press charges against Matt to teach him a lesson. My question is, how could John go to jail over this? He didn't withdraw the money (he was in a separate state). He doesn't want to hurt his brother, however he doesn't want to go to jail obviously.

My nsme is Fran and I am a criminal lawyer.

It looks to me that if this is John's account and if he had the authority to tell his brother he could take the money, that the only thing they can get John for here is for obstructing justice.

The police are skillful interrogators and they they are trained to ferret out crime. They are allowed to say things that are not true -- believe it or not, the Supreme Court has said so -- in order to get to the bottom of something they are investigating. The only place they can't lie is on the stand.

What this looks like to me is that the police, aware of Matt's criminal history and a prior for identity theft, and aware of John's lack of a criminal history, may have raised the idea of John going to prison as an interrogation technique to see if they could get John scared enough to tell them the truth. The police do things like this, as i have indicated above.

I think they suspect that Matt did what his grandmother said he did. I would be surprised to find learn that John has actually been charged with anything.

Has he been? Has there been any further contact between him and the police? Use the reply tab to let me know and I will add to my answer.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Fran, thanks for the reply. John hasn't been contacted by the police again, and he hasn't heard of anything else.

John is naturally upset about this whole thing and hasn't been able to sleep over this. As his Uncle, I don't like the fact that he is covering for his brother, however I understand why. My family isn't used to having a criminal as part of my family. Getting Matt help is important to us. We are just not sure that being sent to prison over $400.00 that was used to take care of their mom will really do him much good, or his son growing up with out a dad. Matt has stolen from a large portion of the family including my wife and I. He stole medication and money from us.

John and Matt's parents (my sister) were horrible parents, the father being an alcoholic and the mental problems my sister has. We know that their father physically and emotionally abused them all, which only makes this more difficult. My sister was "normal" before the abuse started, they are now divorced thankfully. Anyway, thanks for your reply, You have put my worries to ease.


I'm sorry to hear of the backstory to this situation. I understand how you and your must family feel, and I understand why you'd all prefer to keep this a family problem rather than a criminal justice problem. I agree he needs help of a different sort, and I hope you help him to get it.

I don't think that the police are likely to bother John again and hope he will come to believe that. If they don't have enough on one brother, they cannot prove the other was obstructing.

Best of luck to all.
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