WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah, Nov. 29, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A couple charged with defrauding an 80-year-old Washington County widow of nearly $264,500 — in part by the man’s romancing of the victim — now faces new charges in the case.
Frank Powell, 51, and longtime girlfriend Faye Rensteria, 42 — both charged with defrauding the victim — are now charged with victim tampering.
The additional charge comes after they allegedly cooperated to send the victim a new “love letter” in a possible attempt to get her to drop charges.
According to the new federal complaint, Powell — one of five people charged in the case and considered the ringleader — arranged on or about Nov. 5 for Rensteria to deliver the letter to the victim, who is described in court documents as mentally diminished.
Court documents also say Powell directed Rensteria to take control of several vehicles at the victim’s house and to sell them.
The multi-page letter to the victim said Powell hoped all the charges could be straightened out and he could still marry her.
According to the new federal complaint, the letter from Powell to the 80-year-old woman, included the following excerpts:
- “So I was just to court they charged me with taken advantage of an older person.”
- “I was told they are coming to get me to take me back to prison in Utah where I am being charged for money they told me I stole from you.”
- “I don’t want them to try to take no one else to jail if you will help them show the parole officer that he is just being lie to.”
- “Please make everyone stop hurting my family.”
- “Don’t let them hurt me.”
- “Make them stop telling lies and try to hurt me for loving you and being with you. Please please please help me make them understand we are together and I never took nothing from you, okay. Help me. I will pray for us and that God help us show them we are telling the truth!”
- “Hey today I was told I took $250,000.00 from you and that you are mad and hate me. I pray that is not true and when you get this all worked out we are still getting married and you love me. Don’t give up on us we belong together in this world. Please tell me you are still with me. I don’t know if my heart will make it without you.”
- “I will be the best husband you ever had.”
- “I love you.”
Court records filed in October in the cases of Rentsteria and three other defendants, Terrence Powell, Martell Powell, and Rocky J. Mott, say that the alleged ringleader — later identified as Frank Powell — knocked on the door of the victim’s house several months earlier. He offered to do home repairs in exchange for payment for himself and his workers.
The jobs were left undone or were performed poorly, court documents say. The woman was told to pay large amounts of money, in advance, for the jobs.
“During my investigation, I learned that the elderly woman had written checks and given these male suspects thousands of dollars in checks and currency,” say probable cause statements released in the case.
“According to the victim’s family, they were concerned because their mother was not all mentally cognizant, as she has trouble remembering things, following simple conversation topics, counting, etc.
“The family advised that there was one particular male suspect that had built a relationship with her, that they were especially concerned about…The male suspect that they were concerned about is a parolee that is supervised by Adult Probation and Parole,” the statements say.
Powell served 29 years in the Utah State Prison after being convicted of murder and later an aggravated assault of an inmate. He was released in December 2017.
Family members also told investigators their mother believed she was engaged to marry “the parolee.”