ST. LOUIS – Relatives of an elder fraud suspect are still living in the home the feds say was taken for just $1. The defendant, Gino Rives, had an unusual response to his recent guilty plea.
Rives walked out of federal court Wednesday after a judge said he could remain out on bond until he’s sentenced next March. He pleaded guilty earlier this week to financially exploiting two elderly victims.
“I didn’t do nothing wrong. God knows the truth,” he said. “That’s all I feel good about saying: God knows the truth.”
Why did Rives plead guilty?
“I had to,” he said.
The feds say the truth is what he admitted in the courtroom.
“The thing that stood out the most was how he attracted individuals; how he attracted his victims,” federal prosecutor Tracy Berry said. “By going to their homes, by pretending he was a handyman, by gaining their trust, and these were individuals who didn’t have family members.”
Like on Dorisann Court in Affton, where a home listed in St. Louis County Assessor records as being owned by defendant Gino Rives. It previously belong to an 87-year-old widow who signed it over to Rives for $1.
Federal court records say Rives put the victim in a nursing home and falsely claimed to nursing home staff that he had power of attorney over the victim.
Rives’ guilty plea has not yet affected his ownership of the home he got for a buck.
“He’s renting the house to his mother,” Berry said.
Neighbors confirm they’ve seen Rives come and go from the home and that his relatives still live there.
One neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said she was caught off guard by what was revealed in court.
“What he told us was that they know her from church. From day one. ‘Oh yeah, we go to church with (the victim),’” they said.
The court record indicates Rives introduced himself by telling the victim her gutters needed cleaning.
Court records also point out another 82-year-old victim. The documents indicate Rives received more than $1 million in home repair payments for a home only worth about $135,000 at the time, and that Rives also received three flight tickets to Phoenix for his family when the victim was hallucinating on her deathbed.
“Last thing I’m going to say: God knows the truth,” Rives said.
Rives he has more than four months to think about the possible prison sentence he faces next March—up to 20 years in a federal penitentiary.