breaks

Ex-Port Orange police sergeant, wife plead no contest to exploitation of elderly, forgery

ex-port-orange-police-sergeant,-wife-plead-no-contest-to-exploitation-of-elderly,-forgery

From left, Steven Braddock and his former wife Kimi, pose with his brother, Andrew Braddock, right, and his wife Diane. The brothers are on opposite sides of a civil lawsuit alleging Steven Braddock and his new wife Mary wrongfully bilked his mother out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, breaching his fiduciary duty as her power-of-attorney and healthcare surrogate. Steven and Mary Braddock have pleaded no contest in a criminal case and are expected to be sentenced on Nov. 30.

From left, Steven Braddock and his former wife Kimi, pose with his brother, Andrew Braddock, right, and his wife Diane. The brothers are on opposite sides of a civil lawsuit alleging Steven Braddock and his new wife Mary wrongfully bilked his mother out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, breaching his fiduciary duty as her power-of-attorney and healthcare surrogate. Steven and Mary Braddock have pleaded no contest in a criminal case and are expected to be sentenced on Nov. 30.

The defendant’s lawyer calls it a case of “sibling rivalry” and “sloppy accounting.”

His older brother says no, it was about money and his mother’s care, but allows that he thinks there was some jealousy, as he was given the flag from their father’s funeral.

However it happened, a former Port Orange police sergeant and his wife are facing sentencing Nov. 30 after pleading no contest to charges alleging they swindled his mother out of more than $300,000 by forging signatures and selling her home.

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By pleading no contest, Steven and Mary Braddock of New Smyrna Beach are not challenging a charging affidavit detailing how he forged his late father’s signature on a document giving him the warranty deed for $10 before then selling the house. The affidavit also details how the Braddocks:

  • failed to pay his mother’s bills at the nursing home where she was receiving care for dementia, causing her to be evicted;

  • transferred $258,000 from his parents’ account into their own — then using that plus the return on the sale of the parents’ house to help them build a “one-of-a-kind” barn home;

  • withdrew nearly $6,500 in cash, charged $12,000 on his mother’s credit card and used her debit card for another nearly $28,000 in purchases, including ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Bass Pro Shops, Marshalls, Kohls, Bath & Body Works and a Carnival cruise.

It was Steven’s older brother Andrew Braddock who alerted authorities about his suspicion that documents had been forged.

This information was filed against Steven Michael Braddock on Oct. 23, 2019, charging him with exploitation of an elderly person and forgery. Braddock was a Port Orange police sergeant at the time.

This information was filed against Steven Michael Braddock on Oct. 23, 2019, charging him with exploitation of an elderly person and forgery. Braddock was a Port Orange police sergeant at the time.

The Braddocks’ no-contest pleas were made before Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano on Oct. 13. The husband and wife face sentencing for exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult and forgery. Their attorney, Michael Politis, said he will argue that they should avoid incarceration because of a clean prior record.

Sons of a Marine, DEA agent

Joseph and Susan Braddock adopted two sons, Andrew and Steven, in the late 1960s, and raised them in a household with values, Andrew Braddock said in a recent interview.

“My father was a DEA agent. He retired as a DEA agent after 23 years as a Philly cop and as a Marine,” Andrew Braddock said. “He raised us not in a religious household, but where integrity and honor were extremely important.”

Susan and Joseph Braddock pose with their grandchildren in an undated photo. Their son Steven, a former Port Orange police sergeant, and his wife Mary pleaded no contest in a case alleging he forged his deceased father's name to a deed, sold his mother's house and used the proceeds to build their own dream

Susan and Joseph Braddock pose with their grandchildren in an undated photo. Their son Steven, a former Port Orange police sergeant, and his wife Mary pleaded no contest in a case alleging he forged his deceased father’s name to a deed, sold his mother’s house and used the proceeds to build their own dream “barndominium.”

The elder Braddocks married in 1962. After his time with the Philadelphia police department, Joseph Braddock worked as a supervisory special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, a job that took him from Philadelphia to Singapore to New York to South Korea and finally back to Washington, where he retired in 2000. In retirement, the couple moved to Florida, where their younger son, Steven, was a Port Orange police officer.

Andrew Braddock, who lives in York, Pennsylvania, said he tried his hand in criminal justice, joining Immigration and Customs Enforcement shortly after 9/11. “Some people are made for law enforcement. I’m not. I was too nice to the detainees,” he said.

On April 6, 2017, Joseph Braddock died at age 79.

At the funeral, Andrew, the oldest son, was handed the folded flag given to the family for Joseph Braddock’s military service.

“He got offended at the fact that I got the flag,” Andrew said of his younger brother. “I took it with me. … (Steven) concocted a reason to stop contact with me, then started doing what he was doing.”

In the charging affidavit, FDLE Special Agent Mark Mynheir reported Steven Braddock had said during an interview their father had come to him in 2014 asking him to become his parents’ power-of-attorney, that Joseph Braddock was upset with Andrew and “tired of Andrew taking money from him.”

Steven Braddock told the agent he suspected a lot of the money Andrew took from their father was going to a church Andrew was attending.

Andrew, in turn, told The News-Journal he received approximately $5,500 or $6,000 over the previous 20 years.

“Whatever (Joseph Braddock) gave me, he gave an equal amount to Steven,” Andrew Braddock said.

Months after Joseph Braddock’s death, Andrew said he went searching for public records to see if his father’s will had been processed. He was uncertain whether his father’s estate would be split amongst the family members or if it all would remain with his mother, which he said would have been fine with him.

Their mother, Susan Braddock, was living in Grace Manor, a nursing home, having been diagnosed with dementia.

Forged signature transferred home for $10

Instead of finding any reference to the will, Andrew noticed something he found unusual. A warranty deed was recorded on Aug. 30, 2017, transferring ownership of two properties owned by the parents to Steven and Mary for $10. The document was “signed” by Joseph and Braddock and notarized with a date of March 7, which would have been before his death, but had been recorded nearly six months later.

The value of the two properties totaled $432,000, according to a police report.

Andrew took his concerns to Port Orange police chief Thomas Grimaldi, who in turn handed the case over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for investigation.

The woman who notarized the deed, Sherilyn Solana, was a records clerk at the Port Orange Police Department and was a personal friend of Steven Braddock, the FDLE report states. She admitted she had not met Joseph Braddock, and therefore had not witnessed his signature. The witness to the warranty deed, Tina Zalich, told police she saw Steven Braddock sign his father’s name to the document.

Later, the FDLE found problems with a document giving Susan Braddock’s power-of-attorney over to Steven and Mary. That gave them the authority to draw money from her bank accounts.

Steven and Mary, who married in 2016, sold the house where his parents had lived on Forest Preserve Boulevard in Port Orange, and collected rent on a second property, a condominium, the FDLE report states. It also detailed how the couple took, spent or charged more than $300,000 of the mother’s money.

Politis, the Braddocks’ attorney, said Steven and Mary were trying to help their parents by building a “barndominium,” a large barn where the mother would live on one side, the father on the other and they would live in the middle.

The father passed away before the project was done, so that part of the dream was lost. By then, the mother was in a nursing home.

The barn home has 1,800 square feet of finished living space, plus unfinished space, enough to park an RV. It sits on 3 acres and is on the market for $775,000.

Politis chalked up the expenditures to “sloppy bookkeeping,’ adding: “I don’t think there was any criminal intent.”

While Susan Braddock was at Grace Manor, between Aug. 7, 2016, and Jan. 11, 2019, the nursing home’s log showed Andrew — who lived in Pennsylvania — visited her five times; Mary, four times; and Steven once.

Unwinding legal entanglements

A civil lawsuit filed in Susan and Andrew Braddock’s names in August seeks to recoup the home Steven and Mary had sold.

While that matter remains pending, Circuit Judge Leah Case agreed to remove Steven Braddock as his mother’s power-of-attorney and healthcare surrogate in an order dated Oct. 5.

Within three weeks, Susan Braddock had died at age 82 at Oaktree Health Care Nursing Home in South Daytona.

Her funeral video featured the song, “Amazing Grace.”

Andrew Braddock said he wouldn’t have had a problem with Steven and Mary living in their mother’s house in Port Orange.

“But when he sold it, not only did I contact Steve and let him know this is not right,” Andrew Braddock said, “I also contacted the person who bought the house … to let him know this was fraudulent.”

The buyer, a codefendant in the civil action, Brandon Watson, said in a court affidavit he didn’t know the Braddocks when he bought the house and had no knowledge of the questionable deed.

Andrew Braddock said the case has been a “sword of Damacles” hanging over his head.

“I sold my house and moved into a new house for the sole reason that I was bringing my mother up to live with us. I was in my car on my way to the Harrisburg airport to pick her up … when she passed away,” he said. “It was a kind of heartbreaking thing. She didn’t want to leave her husband behind.”

Susan Braddock is buried with her husband Joseph at Canaveral National Cemetery, leaving the brothers — and the courts — to sort out their differences.

Port Orange Police Department patch

Port Orange Police Department patch

“I have nothing but pity for my brother. I don’t have hatred,” Andrew Braddock said. “I saw him at (their mother’s) viewing. “My wife and I were more than willing to go up and give him and his wife a hug. They basically blew us off.”

Steven Braddock retired as a Port Orange police sergeant in December 2018, one month after FDLE began its investigation. He stepped down after 23 years with the Port Orange police.

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This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Former Port Orange cop, wife plead no contest to exploitation, forgery

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