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News / Clark County News

Warrant: Man conned couple out of nearly $60,000

Vancouver residents were able to recover about half of what they lent convict

By Jerzy Shedlock, Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published: May 4, 2019, 7:20pm

A con artist with convictions in Washington and Oregon tricked a Vancouver couple into lending him nearly $60,000 for a car and condo, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Clark County Superior Court.

Prosecutors have not filed charges against Michele Bocci for the allegations outlined in the search warrant filed Tuesday. Bocci is currently an inmate at the Washington County Jail in Oregon for a parole violation, according to online records.

Vancouver police Detective Michael Day conducted interviews and reviewed bank and phone records to tie Bocci to the alleged theft of tens of thousands of dollars from the Vancouver residents.

The detective began digging into the case April 20, when a Vancouver Police Department officer took a report about financial exploitation of an 80-year-old woman. The woman’s daughter reported the theft, according to the affidavit.

The daughter told police her father met Bocci at the Vancouver Mall Starbucks. She said he believed Bocci approached her father because he was wearing a veteran’s hat. The father told police he and a friend were discussing the Bible when Bocci approached them and pulled out a worn Bible from his backpack before sitting at their table without being asked.

Following the introduction, the father met Bocci at the coffee shop several times and subsequently helped him with errands. He drove him around and gave him money for a supposed medical exam, among other kind gestures, according to the warrant.

Bocci told the man a story about helping a woman who was being attacked along the Columbia River. Bocci claimed he was stabbed and shot due to the intervention. It left him comatose for two months. Bocci said he consequently lost his job and home because of medical issues, the warrant says.

The man eventually introduced Bocci to his wife, who told police she felt sorry for their new acquaintance and wired money to his bank account on multiple occasions. She handed over $2,400 for what Bocci said would be used to purchase and register a car, according to the affidavit.

A few days after that transaction, Bocci convinced the woman to loan him $25,000 for a deposit on a condo in Jantzen Beach, Ore., according to the warrant. She doubled the loan when Bocci asked for more money, the warrant says.

Bocci repeatedly reassured the woman he’d pay her back, but he never did, the affidavit says.

“(The woman) explained she was so upset because she has always been very tight with her money and yet she just threw it around like water when Michele asked for money,” the warrant says.

The investigator’s account of Bocci’s alleged crimes indicates the Vancouver couple were able to recover about half of the stolen funds. A fraud investigator at Twin Star Credit Union froze Bocci’s account when she realized something wasn’t right, the warrant says.

Prior convictions

Earlier this year, Bocci was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay back $23,000 to a woman he tricked into believing his daughter was sick with leukemia, according to KATU News. Authorities said at that time they could not determine if Bocci had a daughter.

Court records list the following additional convictions for Bocci:

• In September 2017, he was convicted in Oregon of criminal impersonation and second-degree theft.

• In June 2018, he was convicted in Clark County of first-degree theft by deception.

• In August 2018, he was convicted in Clark County of making false statements to a public servant.

Jerzy Shedlock: 360-735-4522; jerzy.shedlock@columbian.com; Twitter: twitter.com/jerzyms

Columbian Breaking News Reporter