His long-running scam cost residents in their 90s their homes. Now he‘s going to prison

Micaha Paul Sneed claimed he needed help with legal fees for a lawsuit over his father‘s $250 million Florida estate. He also had a life insurance payout coming.

That‘s the story he told senior citizen friends, time after time, in asking for money, federal prosecutors say.

Over a nine-year period starting in 2008, Sneed, 40, of Fort Worth, bilked about $2 million from at least six seniors, one of whom was 98 and three of whom lost their homes. Sneed also went by the alias Micaha Mike McGrath.

FBI agents said the Florida estate and the life insurance policy didn‘t exist.

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On Friday, Sneed was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud. He had pleaded guilty to the charge in October after his arrest in August.

U.S. District Judge John McBryde also ordered Sneed to pay $2.2 million in restitution, including to one couple who lost their home to foreclosure. He must also attend a drug treatment program and get mental health treatment.

Federal court documents gave this brief account of Sneed‘s scheme:

Starting in 2008, Sneed befriended a Fort Worth couple and asked them for money for the bogus legal fees. The couple provided $500,000 to Sneed, obtaining the money from their retirement accounts.

Later, financial problems resulted in the foreclosure of their home and forced them to temporarily live with a 91-year-old friend. Sneed then befriended that man and eventually moved in with him. From 2012 to 2015, he persuaded the man to give him $200,000 for the bogus legal fees.

Like the first couple, the victim suffered financial problems because of Sneed and was evicted from his home in late 2015 or early 2016. He had to borrow money from a friend — whom Sneed also got to know and who later liquidated his retirement accounts to obtain cash that Sneed said he needed.

He also asked his daughter and her husband for money to help Sneed, who promised to pay them $14 million from his estate.

Sneed sent the couple almost 8,000 text messages from August 2015 to June 2017, asking them for cash and assuring them the lawsuit was close to being settled.

He demanded that the victims deliver cash to him, sometimes several times a day, at a McDonald‘s in Fort Worth.

From Oct. 20, 2014, to June 29, 2017, Sneed provided nearly 20 counterfeit checks to the victims, saying they were payments from the lawsuit and the life insurance policy.

At one point, Sneed told three victims that a Florida court had issued a gag order prohibiting anyone involved in the lawsuit from discussing it. He informed them that they were no longer eligible to receive any of the proceeds because they had violated the bogus gag order.

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