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June 05, 2017

Update: Aston woman found not guilty of stealing money from dead neighbor

Theft Charges
Melissa Deal. Delaware County District Attorney's Office/Contributed Art

Melissa Deal.

UPDATE, June 5, 2017: The Delaware County District Attorney's Office has confirmed that Melissa Deal of Aston was found not guilty on all charges that she stole money from her deceased neighbor.

In an email sent to outlets that reported on the 2015 charges levied against her, Deal asked for help clearing her name for the sake of her family and children.

"I was innocent, proclaimed to be innocent, but no one gave me a chance," Deal wrote. 

ORIGINAL STORY, September 2, 2015

An Aston woman has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from her terminally ill neighbor who she was supposed to be taking care of, prosecutors announced Wednesday. 

According to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan, 39-year-old Melissa Deal was investigated after detectives received an anonymous letter claiming she was taking advantage of the victim while he was suffering from prostate cancer.

Deal was a nurse at Riddle Memorial Hospital where 79-year-old James Mooney was being treated in the summer of 2013. She was hired as his caretaker and given power of attorney by Mooney's estate in October of that year, authorities say. 

Prosecutors allege that Deal abused her position by making herself a beneficiary in his will without his permission, granting her $56,450.57 when he passed away later that month. 

She is also accused of issuing checks to herself and her husband from Mooney's bank account, totaling $10,000 each, which were allegedly posted three days after his death on Oct. 12. 

Mooney's daughter, who was Deal's neighbor on Victoria Drive, said he was staying at her house after being discharged from the hospital while she was looking over him. She said she once came home and saw Deal on his laptop while her father, who was using painkillers for his cancer, was asleep.

The total amount of money Deal allegedly stole from Mooney is $88,630.75.

In order to keep one friend who had agreed to be a witness in the case quiet, prosecutors say she wrote a check to pay her electric bill. 

Deal has been charged with theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and theft by deception and false impersonation, all of which are third-degree felonies. She was arraigned and bail was set at $35,000. A preliminary hearing has been set for Sept. 9. 

Anyone who believes a senior is being abused, neglected or exploited is asked to call the District Attorney’s Senior Exploitation Unit at 610-891-5249.