Tulsa Insurance Agent Accused Of Exploitation Of Elderly

Thursday, January 16th 2014, 4:45 pm

After being swindled out of nearly $300,000, an elderly couple in Muskogee shares their story of betrayal.

The man accused of the crime is someone they thought they could trust. The couple said Keith Dennis was their investment broker and shared a checking account with them.

The couple is so heartbroken and embarrassed by the crime, they asked we didn't use their names or show their faces.

They're living out their retirement in the most simple of ways.

"I'm not an extravagant person and neither is he. He likes to watch his television and I like to watch my television and I like to go to the grocery store and I love to eat," the wife said.

But while this wife was at the grocery store, she said someone her husband trusted was eating away at their life savings.

"He hurt us to the tune of $300,000," she said.

Keith Dennis was the couple's investment broker. The husband said he watched Dennis grow up.

Dennis was initially hired to invest money for the husband's mother and when she passed away, the couple let Dennis take over their money; money the husband, a Korean War vet, earned by farming and running newspaper routes.

"I trusted him completely," the husband said.

But the wife said she wasn't in on many of the money discussions.

"It was always strange that he always made sure I wasn't here," she said.

So she started digging into what might be going on. And said she discovered Dennis was preying on her 80-year-old husband.

"The last time I caught him here, I told him, I said, ‘I told you that I wasn't going to put up with your shenanigans, I don't appreciate you doing this,'" she said.

She said Dennis tricked her husband into withdrawing $300,000 to invest in Dennis' unlicensed investment firm. Then she said he persuade her husband to create a joint bank account so Dennis could have access to the money.

But instead of investing the money, she said Dennis was spending it on things like past due child support, country club memberships and eating out.

"I'd like to join the country club, too but I probably wouldn't feel comfortable out there, I wouldn't have any money," the wife said jokingly.

But all jokes aside, the couple said they're angry, and fee taken advantage of.

"I do feel stupid," the wife said. "We have always considered ourselves fairly intelligent people and we don't just waste our money and we don't just throw it away.

A 3-year investigation by the Oklahoma Insurance Department's Anti-Fraud Unit led to Dennis' arrest this week. The allegations outraged Insurance Commissioner, John Doak.

"My mom's 81," said Doak. "This couple was in their 80's. It hits home, very close to all Oklahomans, when you see someone work their entire life and you have someone be dishonest and defraud them out of this kind of money."

The couple said they have a little money left, but not much. The husband said all he wants is for Dennis to repay want he stole.

"I hate to see the boy go to jail. What I want to see him do is have the judge say, you've got to pay back $800 a month or something until you get it all paid," the husband said.

Dennis turned himself in to the Muskogee County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday. He is charged with one count of exploitation of the elderly.

Doak said the couple might not be Dennis' only victim.

If you think you might be a victim call the Insurance Commission fraud hotline (800) 522-0071.