2017-12-20 / Front Page / JT Beacon

Former pastor pleads not guilty to senior exploitation charges

Senior Staff Writer

ALFRED — A 66-year-old Wells suspect who befriended an elderly incapacitated woman and then, police say, allegedly tried to gain control of her finances, has entered not guilty pleas to an array of charges.

Peter W. Leon of Wells made a brief appearance before Justice Daniel Driscoll at York County Superior Court on Monday. 

Leon has previously been listed as pastor of Wells Branch Baptist Church, also known as Trinity Community Church, though it is unclear if he continues to pastor the congregation.

He was acting as a volunteer pastor at the senior living center when the alleged exploitation took place, police said in a prior interview.

The York County Grand Jury in November handed up indictments charging Leon with felony and misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a dependent person along with misdemeanor criminal restraint, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and theft.

Kennebunk Police Detective Steve Borst said the states had determned the elderly victim to be incapacitated and had been assigned a guardian and conservator. 

He said police became involved when the conservator called to make inquiries about keeping Leon away from the woman through a protection order.

“Her attorney told me he actually took her from the (senior residence) — to the bank, and withdrew some money,” said Borst. The amount was not disclosed.

Police allege Leon used the money to have the locks changed on the woman’s Kennebunkport home, which was on the market, and took the “for sale” sign down.

According to Borst, Leon allegedly told the woman he’d help her return to her home, even though the property was not equipped for wheelchair access which she required, and suggested his daughter would live with the woman.

“His goal was to ingratiate himself and have access to her accounts and property,” Borst alleged.

On Monday, Leon was released on personal recognizance bail with the condition he have no contact with the alleged victim.

His next court date has been set for March 15.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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