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Man charged with stealing from elderly women in Utah, Arizona

Published May 25, 2013 6:00 pm

Crime • Prosecutors say man set up trusts, then spent the money on personal expenses.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Lonnie G. Hawkins' son had cancer, his wife had a serious brain injury — and he was in charge of two wealthy women's money.

One woman, 78, who was looking for someone to help her with her estate planning, met Hawkins in 2005 through mutual acquaintance. But investigators allege Hawkins, who handled money for the Utah woman and an elderly Arizona woman, spent more than a half-million dollars between the two to pay his family's medical bills, as well as fly, go to the movies and pay for other personal expenses.

Prosecutors charged Hawkins, 61, on Friday in 4th District Court with two counts of money laundering, two counts of unlawful dealing with property by a fiduciary, two counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and a pattern of unlawful activity.

A $500,000 arrest warrant has been issued for Hawkins, who lives in Arizona but has an office in Provo.

According to charges, Hawkins persuaded the Utah woman to sell her two life insurance policies to fund a new trust over which he was sole proprietor and trustee. But after a few years, she realized there were problems and requested a full accounting from Hawkins.

It was determined he had mishandled the money for personal benefit and diverted large sums of cash to his personal accounts, according to the charges. She sued him in 4th District Court.

During a civil trial last January, Hawkins admitted under oath that he took about $240,000 from the trust during 2007. He admitted he did so to pay substantial medical bills accrued while his wife was ill and while his son was dying from cancer.

"During cross-examination in the trial, Hawkins admitted the reason he stopped stealing [her] funds was he got caught," according to the charges. "Furthermore, it should be noted that there was no more money in the checking account of the trust when he was caught."

Hawkins agreed to a settlement and replaced the missing money in November 2008.

He said he got most of the money from a loan but wouldn't disclose the source of that loan, according to the charges. But investigators later discovered he had paid the Utah woman back by taking a personal loan from a trust belonging to the Arizona woman, who died Sept. 12, 2012.

Hawkins also used the Arizona woman's money for personal reasons, beginning in late 2008. After she died, Hawkins kept spending her money through March 2013, according to the charges.

On May 10, Hawkins was ordered by an Arizona judge to account for the deceased woman's trust. He refused to comply and was held in contempt.

On May 22, a Utah investigator finished analyzing the late woman's trust and determined Hawkins had spent $298,590 in Utah for personal benefit, including the money he paid to the first woman.

mmcfall@sltrib.com Twitter: @mikeypanda




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