HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A judge handed down a six year sentence for a man who schemed to steal more than $650,000 from a Huntsville family’s accounts, after father and son died merely 12 days apart.
Dwayne Baptiste, 44, faces six years and three months in prison for diverting Ronald Swinehart’s retirement account that he built up over a career at Lockheed Martin. He pled guilty to four counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
“The actions taken by Baptiste to steal from the dead are unconscionable acts of greed,” FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge David Archey said. “I applaud the sentence handed down today and the work of my agents to bring Baptiste to the bar of justice.”
Ronald Swinehart had given his son, Ralph, power of attorney. Ronald passed away in October 2011, and Ralph passed away just 12 days later.
The US District Attorney says that’s when Dwayne Baptiste sprung into action to take advantage.
That same month that father and son passed away, Baptiste filed a fraudulent power of attorney with the Madison County Probate Court, making himself Ronald Swinehart’s agent. Then he created an investment company, claiming both Ronald and Ralph were members.
He then pretended to be Ronald and called the company holding the retirement account, taking the deceased son’s full identity, including his Social Security number.
Baptiste had $678,309 transferred from the retirement account to himself. After taxes, he received $545,670.
After pleading guilty, he received a little over six years in prison.