As Marceline Carpenter lay dying in a West Virginia nursing home in 2016, her grandson, Mount Carmel Mayor Christopher Scott Jones, allegedly was in the terminal stages of a scheme to separate the dementia-stricken woman from her life savings, about $305,000, according to authorities.
A Hawkins County grand jury last week indicted, Jones, 48, with theft of property over $250,000. Defendants convicted of that offense face between 15 and 25 years in state prison. Jones, who was taken into custody Monday, remained in the Hawkins County Jail this morning in lieu of $300,000 bond.
Jones had power of attorney for his grandmother and allegedly converted the money in increments over a 15-month period beginning in December 2014, according to District Attorney General Dan Armstrong. Armstrong says jurisdiction is proper in Tennessee because Carpenter’s money was transferred from a bank in West Virginia to a financial institution Hawkins County.
The Mount Carmel mayor, who lives on Hemlock Street in that community, claimed the money was reimbursement for funds he spent on his grandmother.
Armstrong said this morning that Teddy Collingsworth, an investigator with the DA’s office, and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Erica Stoner concluded “some checks indicated reimbursement for certain amounts that we don’t believe were reimbursements.”
Greeneville attorney William Nunnally, who represented Carpenter’s daughter and two sons in related civil litigation in Tennessee and deposed Jones, said this morning he does not “have any reasonable expectation of recovering sizeable sums of money.”
“I don’t think it’s in a tin can in the back yard,” Nunnally said.
The attorney says Jones does not have a luxurious home, an expensive vehicle or any other obvious signs of accumulated wealth.
Armstrong declined to speculate how he believes Jones spent the money.
In one instance, Nunnally says, Jones claimed reimbursement for improvements he made to his grandmother’s house, but offered no evidence that any work had been done. When Jones made large deposits from Carpenter’s accounts, he frequently withdrew that sum within a few days, according to the Greeneville attorney.
Carpenter’s two sons live in West Virginia. Her daughter lives in Morristown.
“Obviously, she’s very upset, and it’s not just the money,” Nunnally said. “It’s how could he be capable of doing such a thing? It’s just mind-boggling.”