Police in Plains Township say a 97-year-old woman was bilked out of more than $100,000 by a longtime neighbor.
Luke Marek, 36, is being held at the Luzerne County Prison on $30,000 bail.
Plains Township police accuse Marek of stealing $118,000 from Josephine Szalkowski, 97, who lives on Helen Street.
A woman who lives on the block says Marek’s parents are her neighbors and Marek had lived with them.
“It’s very shocking. They’re respectable people and they’re very nice and I’ve known them a real long time and they’re good parents and the kids are very good.”
Police discovered three checks had been forged from Szalkowksi’s bank account at M & T Bank, all written out to Luke Marek. Those checks were written between July and August of this year while police say Szalkowski’s was staying at Timber Ridge Nursing Home, recovering from a hip injury.
Szalkowski told police she’s known Marek for years, he even took care of her yard work but she did not write those checks.
Online banking records connected to Szalkowski’s account led police to a house on Burke Street in Plains Township, where neighbors say Marek had lived with his wife and children.
“It was a really nice home with the two children and the wife. Like I said, it was like the perfect marriage, perfect family.”
Another neighbor says Marek and his wife recently moved out of the Burke Street home and believes they were having marital problems.
“I really don’t even think if he had issues he would be that type of person, just from knowing him. This whole street is a very small street, all the neighbors know each other for years and I really don’t see that being the case.”
Marek is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on October 22.