Man sentenced to 10 years for stealing from the elderly
Boise Police detectives learned this week that a man accused of traveling the Northwest scamming seniors has been sentenced to ten years in an Idaho prison.
James W. Schmidt, 51, pled guilty earlier this year to three counts of Grand Theft following a Boise Police investigation that began back in 2009. Officers say Schmidt's victim was an elderly Boise woman conned by Schmidt out of more than $75,000.
In late December 2008, the woman's family noticed more than $60,000 of the woman's personal checks cashed by Schmidt. They found another $15,000 in credit card debt used by Schmidt.
The family members of the elderly woman reported to Boise Police that she may be the victim of theft or forgery. The woman, in her 80's told officers she met a man later identified as Schmidt in August, 2008 when he knocked on her door selling air cleaners. The man befriended the woman and eventually gained her confidence.
"We think this guy targets seniors, gains their trust, then swindles them," said Det. Brad Thorne of the Boise Police Financial Crimes Unit back in 2009 when officers were searching for Schmidt.
According to investigators, Schmidt traveled Northwest states targeting the elderly by selling his products, vacuums and air cleaners, door to door in neighborhoods known to have a significant senior population. Detectives say he would start relationships with seniors who seem vulnerable, gain their confidence, possibly by offering them rides or other assistance, then gained access to and manipulated their finances.
Boise Police detectives worked on the case with police in Washington and Oregon where Schmidt has also been suspected of and charged with similar crimes. Boise Police detectives were told Schmidt was arrested by US Marshals in New York State. He was sent from New York to Washington state to face charges, and was returned to Idaho on March 22, 2011 where he has been incarcerated and did receive sentencing credit from the judge for time served.