McKeesport woman accused of pilfering dead woman's estate
A McKeesport woman forged documents to take control of her dying neighbor's estate, bank account and end-of-life decisions, according to an Allegheny County grand jury presentment filed Friday.
Mary Mechelli, 54, faces charges of theft, forgery, providing unsworn falsification to authorities, tampering with public records or information and insurance fraud. McKeesport police arrested her Thursday night.
Mechelli was arraigned and released on her own recognizance to await a preliminary hearing scheduled Aug. 13.
According to the presentment:
Margaret Dorn was being treated at UPMC McKeesport in March 2010 after falling down stairs. While in the hospital, Dorn signed over power of attorney to Mechelli on March 26.
A nurse who cared for Dorn testified to the grand jury that Dorn was confused “consistently from March 24 to March 29, 2010,” making it impossible for her to legally consent to signing the documents.
Dorn was moved to Select Specialty Hospital on March 30, 2010, and Mechelli signed a “do not resuscitate” order on April 30. Dorn died of sepsis the next day. She was 79.
Two months later, Mechelli rented out Dorn's home at 1311 Scott St. in McKeesport for $475 a month, but the tenant found Dorn's checkbook and clothing in drawers. Suspicious, the tenant contacted Dorn's niece, who didn't know her aunt died.
The tenant confronted Mechelli about the home's ownership, and she presented him with a letter prepared by attorney Michael Carr, a partner at Gregg Creehan & Gerace, dated Feb. 6, 2012, stating she owned the property.
Two weeks later, Mechelli evicted the man, who contacted authorities.
Dorn's living will was witnessed by Carr and Christopher Zwilcher, who worked in the law firm's mail room.
Mike Manko, a spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. would not say whether Carr is under investigation. Carr did not return phone calls.
Investigators said Mechelli wrote 19 checks from Dorn's bank account totaling $3,762 and got $1,764 from a $10,000 life insurance policy.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.