Last February 10, 2015, Matthew Stevens was put on trial for crimes involving organized fraud and grand theft. He and his wife, Gina Stevens, were accused of stealing from an elderly veteran by the name of Charles Haas. According to the prosecution, Gina Stevens, a Fort Lauderdale resident who was about 60 years younger than Haas, introduced herself as “Tiffany Williams” and developed an intimate friendship with the 90-year-old veteran.


An article by The Sun Sentinel states, “The deception culminated in Haas withdrawing his life savings — first $40,000, then $90,000 and finally $150,000 — to help Gina Stevens pay off a lien on a property in Chicago. She promised to repay him by selling the property.”

Gina Stevens is set to testify against Matthew Stevens after pleading no contest to similar charges. In his defense, Matthew Stevens claims that he was unaware of Gina Stevens’ dealings with Haas. The defense states that although Haas is elderly, he has shown no signs of dementia or senility, and what happened between Stevens and Haas can still constitute as a consensual agreement between two adults rather than a case of grand theft and fraud.

Grand theft is a serious criminal act that commonly results in felony charges, which is why contacting a seasoned Fort Lauderdale attorney is usually recommended for such cases. Grand theft or larceny can be categorized into different degrees, all depending on the severity of the crime and the amount that was stolen. The amount differs for every state, but for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, grand theft in the third degree ranges between $300 and $20,000, while grand theft in the second degree involves stolen property valued at $20,000-$100,000. Lastly, first degree thefts cover stolen property valued above $100,000.

It’s the prosecutor’s duty to establish the accused’s intention; if they fail to prove that the defendant had no criminal intent, then they have no case. There are a number of ways to disprove accusations of theft. Some of the more commonly used defenses, for example, include having a valid claim or ownership of the property, involuntary intoxication, and consent from the property owner.

Grand theft and fraud are serious charges that could lead to grave legal consequences. Hiring a reliable criminal defense attorney from Fort Lauderdale such as Richard F. Della Fera could provide the accused with the legal representation they need.

(Source: Trial begins for man accused of stealing more than $280,000 from veteran, Sun Sentinel, February 10, 2015)