UPDATE: DA files motion to dismiss charges against East Ridge man accused of exploiting elderly woman

UPDATE: DA files motion to dismiss charges against East Ridge man accused of exploiting elderly woman

December 15th, 2016 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

This story was updated June 1 at 4:15 p.m. with more information.

Danny Dill, 40, was charged with exploitation of an elder after a woman says he took money out of her bank account to pay his insurance bills. Dill says he was friends with the woman and she approved him using the money.

Danny Dill, 40, was charged with exploitation of...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

UPDATE: Danny Dill's lawyer, Robert Jenkins, said the district attorney's office filed a motion to dismiss the charges in this case on May 11, writing that there was not sufficient evidence against Dill. A Walker County magistrate signed the order dismissing the case May 22.

Jenkins said Janice Locke's claims were false, and the arrest damaged Dill's business.

"I've been practicing law for 27 years and have seen a lot of different cases over the years — and a lot of good people hurt and their reputations damaged even when they have done nothing wrong," Jenkins said. "And on occasion, especially when they have extended themselves to try to help other persons. I think this was that kind of case."

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ORIGINAL STORY: ROCK SPRING, Ga. — A man has been arrested in Walker County for taking advantage of an older woman, but he says he's been burned for simply trying to help.

Danny Lee Dill, 40, of East Ridge, was charged with exploitation of an elder Monday after Janice Locke said Dill siphoned $5,300 from her bank account. Locke also said Dill, who was released from jail without a bond, also demanded $12,000 for work around the house that he never actually did.

Dill, however, said Locke actually is exploiting him. He said she made him a scapegoat for some debts.

"I was her victim," he said. "She blamed me for not doing anything. I did everything for this woman. I felt sorry for her. She played a 'poor, pitiful me' act."

Locke did not answer the door to her house Wednesday morning, but according to her affidavit filed in Walker County Magistrate Court, Locke met Dill after her husband died. He helped her around the house.

They became close over several years. When she was having surgery, she gave Dill her bank account information so he could take care of her financial affairs. She said she later realized he had set up an automatic payment for his insurance bills that ran from October 2012 through this March.

"Furthermore," she wrote, "over the last several years, [Dill] requested Petitioner issue advances on certain home repairs or renovation projects not yet started totaling more than $12,000."

Locke requested Dill be charged with theft by conversion, identity fraud and theft by deception. Instead, a magistrate judge charged him with exploitation of a elder.

But Dill said Locke mischaracterized their relationship. He said one of her neighbors, a friend of his at the time, introduced them in 2010. And, yes, he and Locke became close. But he said he didn't take advantage of her.

He said Locke is 69 and lived alone off Highway 27, so he volunteered to help around the house. Eventually, he began driving her to her doctor's appointments and to the unemployment office. He said he thought he was a good Samaritan.

"I was her assistant," he said. "I did everything. I took her everywhere."

Dill said he did make payments for his insurance out of her account when his own finances were tight. But, he said, he asked for Locke's permission. She also paid him for some work in advance. But Locke did not object to the payments at the time, he said, figuring that Dill had done plenty of work for her for free over the years.

Dill said Locke accused him of a crime after she ran up credit card debt.

"I took care of this woman," he said, "me being the gullible idiot that I am. It came back and bit me."

David Coates, Dill's attorney, said the arrest came with not much investigating. Rather than go to the police or the district attorney, Locke chose to have an evidentiary hearing in front of Magistrate Judge Jerry Day.

In a hearing like that, Coates said, the judge assumes the alleged victim is telling the truth — to a reasonable extent. The district attorney's office would then review the case, digging a little deeper before deciding whether to present the evidence to a grand jury.

"This is just kind of a friendship that went bad," he said.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.


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