March 18, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
A Brooklyn resident is now facing up to seven years in prison after being found guilty of a ‘jail bail’ scam that conned $20,000 cash from an elderly California man.
George Etienne, 27, a resident of E. 40th Street, has been convicted of criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a forged instrument for a scheme to swindle cash from a then-90-year-old grandfather.
“The defendant in this case partnered with one or more others utilizing a phone, acting skills and fake identification to con an elderly man out of $20,000 cash,” said Chief Assistant District Attorney John M. Ryan. “A jury weighed all the evidence – including the testimony via video link of the victim who was too frail to travel from California to Queens for the trial – and found the defendant guilty. The defendant is going to prison now for this loathsome con game.”
According to trial testimony, in November 2017, Etienne contacted the victim pretending to be his grandson, saying that he had hit a woman with his car and was being held in jail. The victim then heard a second voice come on the phone, identifying themself as his grandson’s lawyer. The lawyer then instructed the 90-year-old man to put $20,000 cash inside the pages of a magazine and mail the money to an address in Glendale, Queens.
The grandfather stated in his testimony that he frantically overnighted the money to the Glendale address and did not tell any other family members about the incident, per the caller’s instructions. The victim, who is now 91, testified via CCTV as he has a heart condition and was not well enough to travel.
Once the package was sent, Etienne waited outside the Glendale address for the FedEx truck to arrive. He then approached the driver and asked for the package, showing a fake Pennsylvania driver’s license with the same fictitious name that was on the package. The driver refused to hand the delivery over and placed it through the mail slot.
Etienne then waited for the driver to leave and knocked on the door of the home, telling the resident that his package was mistakenly delivered to the address.
As he was leaving, Etienne was spotted by police officers taking the package from the residence. The officers stopped him, at which point he again presented the fake ID, which the officers recognized as a fake and immediately took Etienne into custody.
Etienne’s sentencing trial will be held on March 28, where he will face up to seven years in prison for his crimes.