PA man accused of stealing sister’s estate assets

Cops: Man stole sister’s inheritance
Keith Phucas
December 27, 2010
The Times Herald (PA)

COURTHOUSE — A Wayne man accused of squandering his sister’s inheritance waived his preliminary hearing and is scheduled to be arraigned in February in Montgomery County Court.

Andrew Michael Sweeney, 63, of Hobbs Road, was charged this month with theft, receiving stolen property and related offenses, according to court papers.

His sister, Catherine Sweeney, died in 2007.

As administrator of the will, the defendant was responsible for dividing his sister’s estate equally between her three surviving children.

Instead, after he selling her condominium and paying her funeral expenses, he allegedly stole about $300,000 from an account set up in her name and used it for businesses he owned.

In 2007, Sweeney set up a bank account at National Penn Bank titled, “Estate of Catherine Sweeney,” and deposited money from the home sale.

The three adult children, who had complained repeatedly to the uncle about not receiving any money from their mother’s inheritance, removed him as administrator and replaced him with Dr. Michael Scott.

When Scott obtained the bank records, he discovered there was “almost no money left in the account,” according to the criminal complaint. After the children hired attorney Nancy Lassen, she contacted Upper Merion police about the disputed funds.

During the investigation, Lassen showed Upper Merion Detective David Gershanick copies of the checks Sweeney allegedly wrote. Several checks were made payable to Sweeney Seed Company and United Seed Production. One check to United Seed Production was in the amount of $250,000; another to Sweeney Seed Company was for $30,000. Both were drawn on the estate account.

After Gershanick questioned Sweeney about the matter, he admitted owning Sweeney Seed Company and United Seed Production, both located at 488 Drew Court in King of Prussia, and writing the checks against his deceased sister’s account.

Eventually, the investigator learned that between Aug. 17, 2007 and Jan. 4, 2010, Sweeney stole a total of $304,820.05 from the bank account. After he deposited a $250,000 check into the United Seed Production account, the money was debited to an unknown account. The debit was reportedly titled, “Investment Sweep Debit.”

Assistant District Attorney Anthony Gil is prosecuting the case. Sweeney is scheduled to be arraigned at the county courthouse on Feb. 2.