FRYEBURG – Federal and state agencies are involved in the case of a Fryeburg man charged with paying bills with worthless checks, Fryeburg Police Chief Wayne Brooking said Monday.

Brooking said Maine Department of Health and Human Services has intervened in the case of Daniel H. Crocker, 56, of Fryeburg. And a federal agency, the Office of the Inspector General of the Railroad Retirement Board, is also aware of the case, he said.

Police have charged Crocker of knowingly writing bad checks to a builder working on his home and to a nursing home housing his mother-in-law. The checks, written from June to November 2004, totaled more than $68,000, according to court documents.

Crocker was arrested last week.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services on Monday confirmed that it investigated Crocker last spring and as a result assumed guardianship of Crocker’s mother-in-law, Nadine Hall. Hall, 85, has Alzheimer’s disease and lives in Hicks Assisted Living Center in Fryeburg. She receives a railroad pension since her late husband worked for a railroad.

The human services department took temporary guardianship of the woman who is described as incapable of communicating, according to the report.

Albert Davenport, a special agent at the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board’s Office of Investigations, said Monday from the agency’s Philadelphia office that he could not confirm or deny the agency’s involvement in the case. The railroad board provides more than $8 billion annually in retirement and unemployment and health insurance to the nation’s railroad workers and their families, according to its Web site. Davenport said the Office of Investigations looks into fraud in the railroad’s payment programs.

Maurice Porter, a lawyer who has spoken with Crocker and said he might defend him, said Friday that Crocker did not necessarily write the checks or know they would bounce. A messy financial situation involving another family member has placed Crocker in his current situation, Porter said.

Not only has Crocker lost guardianship of his mother-in-law, but he also lost his home in Fryeburg, according to police.

William Ela, a contractor who worked on Crocker’s house in the summer of 2004, sued Crocker last fall for the amount owed him and won the suit in April because Crocker failed to appear in court to defend himself, Ela said Monday in a phone interview.

The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office seized the home recently, according to Ela, and Ela purchased it as soon as it became available by auction. He said he plans to sell it to recoup the amount owed to him by Crocker, which exceeds $300,000.

Brooking said police tried to arrest Crocker at his home in June but he wasn’t there. They spoke with his wife Lorraine Crocker, who told police Daniel was away on business, Brooking said.

Porter said Crocker was traveling to collect the resources to pay what he owes. Paying off the debt can mitigate a sentence that could be as long as 10 years, he said.

Crocker has family in Michigan, Brooking said, and after Fryeburg police found information in Crocker’s former home that he was at Motel 6 in Madison Heights, Mich., police there arrested him and sent him back to Maine.

“We went into the house and found information in plain view,” Brooking said.

Crocker has been in the Oxford County Jail in Paris because he cannot pay the $25,000 bail, according to Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne.

Brooking said that in town Crocker “was well thought of and well respected within the church community.” He volunteered in a soup kitchen at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Fryeburg, he said. “Pretty much anyone who heard of this was very surprised,” Brooking said.


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