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Prosecutors Drop Fraud Count Due To Defendant’s Memory Loss

March 13, 1988

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) _ Federal prosecutors say they have dropped a fraud count against a former insurance agent who lost all memory of his alleged crime after suffering a heart attack.

Robert S. Jones, 52, had been charged with pocketing $76,386 by filing a false insurance policy claim. Federal prosecutors dismissed the charge Friday, basing their decision on medical opinion that Jones is unable to proceed in court.

Prosecutors said Jones filled out a bogus life insurance form on Dec. 14, 1983, backdated it and invented a fake beneficiary to receive the money from his former employer, Peoples Life Insurance Co.

Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Lynette Ranson said Jones scanned newspapers for stories on violent or accidental deaths and used those victims’ names in the fraudulent policies.

She said Jones had used the scheme more than once but said prosecutors agreed to press only one count in exchange for a guilty plea.

But Jones’ deteriorating health prevented him from ever making a plea, Ranson said.

″We thought ... that he was playing games, and that’s why we held off for a long time,″ Ranson said. ″But he really is in bad shape.″

Jones was disabled since November 1986, when he suffered a cardiac arrest that included ″one episode of sudden death,″ according to Dr. M.I. Dababnah.

The seizure came three months after Jones was charged. It apparently caused him to lose his memory, Dababnah said in reports to federal court.

That diagnosis was supported by Dr. Thomas E. Andrews, a clinical psychologist for the West Virginia Disability Determination Service.

″He has virtually no memory for significant events within the last five years,″ Andrews advised the court.

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