COURTHOUSE >> A Pottstown man accused of stealing about $843,000 from his grandmother, well-known Philadelphia radio personality Mary Mason, told a judge he wants to take his case to a jury.
Calvin Steven Turner IV, 33, of the 800 block of South Street, through his lawyer, notified Montgomery County Judge Garrett D. Page on Thursday that he wants to go to trial on the 283 theft-related charges that were lodged against him last November in connection with the alleged theft that prosecutors claim left Mason, a former WHAT radio host of “Mornings with Mary,” destitute.
“We will try this case. This case is going to go forward,” said Page, indicating he will schedule a three-day jury trial for the matter.
Addressing the judge, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Daniels claimed that after discussions with Turner’s legal team he had been under the belief that Turner was to plead guilty to some of the charges on Thursday. Daniels said the case has “lingered” for months and he seemed to oppose any defense request for a delay.
“My client has a right to say, ‘I didn’t do it,’” defense lawyer Martin P. Mullaney responded.
During several heated exchanges, Mullaney claimed defense lawyers are still trying to obtain documents related to the investigation that they need to prepare a defense. Daniels countered that prosecutors have turned over all so-called “discovery” and that Mullaney had all documents connected with the investigation.
“I’m ready, judge…to try this case,” said Daniels, who also informed the judge that no plea agreement was on the table.
“The commonwealth will continue to pursue this case against Turner because Mary Mason, while incapacitated, did not save all of this money throughout her life so that her family member could steal it and use it for his own benefit. It was for her benefit and unfortunately, for her, she had to move out of the assisted living facility that she was in because this family member stole her money and was unable to pay the bill,” Daniels added after the hearing.
Turner scurried from the courtroom and did not respond to reporters’ questions after the hearing. Turner remains free on bail pending trial.
“It appears that he had a legitimate power of attorney signed by Mary Mason that gave him the right to invest her funds as he saw fit without consequence,” Mullaney said after the hearing, hinting at a potential defense strategy.
An investigation of Turner began in February 2016 after Whitemarsh Township police received information that Mason’s bills were not being paid at Sunrise of Lafayette Hill, an assisted living facility in the township where Mason, now 86, had resided at the time. Mason, whose real name is Beatrice Turner, “has been diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” according to the criminal complaint.
In May 2016, Mason’s account was $55,700 in arrears and no payments had been made on her behalf since August 2015, according to court documents.
“Administration at Sunrise informed me that (Mason’s) grandson was responsible for the payments and numerous messages and letters were sent to Steven Turner about the past due bills of his grandmother,” Whitemarsh Detective Craig Cubbin alleged in the arrest affidavit.
Turner, according to court papers, is Mason’s only living relative and when he placed Mason in Sunrise he gave the facility a copy of his power of attorney for Mason, dated September 2012. Authorities, in court documents, alleged the power of attorney “was missing numerous pages” and that Mason’s signature that appeared three times on the document “appears to be written in different styles and even misspelled once.”
The power of attorney stated that Turner “must use due care to act for the benefit” of Mason and that he was to keep Mason’s assets separate from his, according to the arrest affidavit.
When detectives confronted Turner in June 2016, he allegedly told them he knew his grandmother’s bills at Sunrise were in arrears and that he was trying to get them up to date.
“Steven Turner stated that his grandmother’s money ran out in 2015 and he was trying to pay the bills with his money,” Cubbin alleged.
The investigation revealed Mason at one time had cash and assets valued at more than $1 million, including multiple bank accounts and two condominiums and should have had enough funds to support her care at Sunrise, detectives said.
But authorities alleged Turner used Mason’s funds for his personal gain, making cash withdrawals from her accounts, transferring some of her funds to a real estate company he created and selling Mason’s condominiums for profit. Detectives alleged Turner then bought three other homes in Philadelphia and Pottstown.
“Steven Turner used these funds for his own benefit and lifestyle,” Cubbin alleged.
Turner allegedly used a debit card associated with Mason’s accounts for cash withdrawals and purchases in the amount of $73,282, including food and liquor purchases and “$15,556 of the total charges were to a strip club in Las Vegas.”
In April 2016, a court-appointed lawyer was named guardian for Mason’s estate. That lawyer was able to recover about $62,000 by selling two of the Philadelphia parcels that Turner allegedly purchased with Mason’s funds, according to court documents. At the time of Turner’s arrest last year, that lawyer feared Mason would have to be moved from Sunrise into a facility “where Medicare will take over,” according to court papers.
During subsequent Orphans Court hearings Turner was ordered to turn over the assets totaling more than $1 million or to show an accounting of how those funds were spent on Mason’s behalf.
“Steven Turner has failed to turn over the monies and has shown no accounting of how the funds were spent on his grandmother’s behalf,” Cubbin alleged in the arrest affidavit.
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Pottstown man faces trial for alleged $843K theft from grandmother, famed radio host