Former cop was himself scammed and "trying to get his money back" by joining scammers
A retired New Jersey police chief pleaded no contest this morning to charges that he participated in a scam that cost a 95-year-old Northampton Township, Pennsylvania, man almost $29,000.
Robert Ryan, 71, of Factoryville, PA, told Bucks County President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley that he, too, had lost $30,000 to a Jamaica-based lottery hoax and that his crimes were an attempt to recover his losses.
"He seems to be a very nice man. I never intended to hurt him," Ryan said of the victim, who sat in a wheelchair in the back of the courtroom and did not speak. "I was just trying to get my money back. It was a very foolish mistake for me to make, being a former law enforcement officer."
Ryan told Finley that he had worked 30 years as a police officer in New Jersey, retiring in 2000 as police chief in Garwood, NJ. By the time of today's hearing, he had spent five months in the Bucks County Correctional Facility, an experience he described as "horrendous."
Ryan pleaded no contest to charges that included four felony counts of theft by deception. Finley gave him a sentence of time served to 23 months, followed by five years of probation. Ryan was ordered to repay the victim's losses, totaling $28,900, in monthly increments of no less than $200 each.
At a minimum payment of $200 per month, it will take more than 12 years for the 95-year-old to collect the repayment.
Ryan was arrested on Dec. 22, 2016, after Wells Fargo Bank employees summoned Northampton police to their branch in Richboro. Investigators found Ryan there with the victim, who was attempting to withdraw $3,800 from two accounts.
Bank employees blocked the transaction because more than $20,000 already had been withdrawn that month from the victim's accounts, court records show.
The victim told police that he had been contacted earlier in the month by a man calling himself James Holliday, who told the victim that he had won $33 million in a lottery. The man told the victim that a courier would be coming by to pick up money needed to pay taxes before the prize could be claimed.
The victim told police that Ryan had stopped by several times to pick up five other checks he had written so that he could claim the alleged jackpot. Each of the checks had been made out to, and endorsed by, Ryan.
Ryan told Finley that he had lost about $30,000 to a similar scheme, causing the judge to exclaim, "Come on!", noting that Ryan was a law enforcement veteran.
Ryan said he had suffered a series of strokes that he believed had affected his judgment. He said he never learned the true identities of the scammers, and that he had given them all but $1,000 of the money he received from the victim.
Police said that after Ryan's arrest, his phone rang continuously from what purported to be a Jamaican callback number.
The case was investigated by the Northampton Township Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kathleen G. Byrne.
(Click to display full-size in gallery)