Four charged in dead man fraud

February 28, 2008 9:10:35 AM PST
Seventy-year-old Sydney Kolber lived alone on the 600 block of East Courtland Avenue.

When he passed away in April, police say his neighbors went to work clearing out his house, selling his belongings at a yard sale, and then writing more than $34,000 worth of fraudulent checks out of a Bank of America account.

"The worst part is they actually take a family and move this family into this man's house. They actually start to collect rent on this home from this family," said Captain John Gallagher.

Carlos Pagans, his wife Yazmin Gonzalez, and two others, Celimar Santiago and Yaritza Fernandez are charged with identity theft, forgery and other related charges.

WPVI tracked down Pagans outside his home and he denied the allegations. When we asked if he thought he was being unfairly charged, he said yes. After we pressed Pagans more, he jumped into a waiting car.

A knock at Kolber's home went unanswered, but we could see people inside the residence.

"They took full opportunity of the fact that this man had no real connections to a family and died alone. They took advantage of the situation," said Gallagher.

Gallagher says the crime is a sad tale that rises to a whole new level for the Major Crimes Unit. He says a lesson can be learned.

"Make sure you look out for your neighbors. Make sure the good looks out for the good," he said.