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Montana man accused of bilking money, property from man with dementia

SUPERIOR, Mont. – A Thompson Falls man is charged with bilking an elderly man with dementia out of thousands of dollars and transferring ownership of the man’s Superior-area ranch and other property to himself.

Daryl Enos Strang, 53, pleaded not guilty on May 12 to two felony counts of abuse or exploitation of an older person, the Missoulian reported. He has posted a $50,000 bond. A hearing is set for July 2.

Mineral County prosecutors allege Strang deprived 84-year-old Ben Poat of food and used his power of attorney to take money from Poat’s bank accounts and to obtain ownership of Poat’s 100-acre ranch and its buildings along with three vehicles.

Strang’s attorney did not return a phone call from the Associated Press seeking comment.

Poat’s sister contacted the sheriff’s office on Sept. 20, 2013, to say she believed her brother was being exploited by Strang and that he had potentially drained Poat’s bank accounts of tens of thousands of dollars that year. Prosecutors say it appeared Strang was using Poat’s bank account for personal expenses.

A social worker visited Poat and found he had untreated skin cancers, the only food in the house was peanut butter and milk and two horses and a mule on the property were extremely neglected. The mule was euthanized.

District Judge Ed McLean appointed a guardian and conservator for Poat in October 2013. During the proceedings, it also was discovered that Poat made a will dated in December 2012 in which he directed his estate to be distributed to Strang.

In November 2013, the court invalidated the 2012 will and ordered the return of Poat’s personal property and revoked Strang’s power of attorney.