Ex-con found guilty in Montgomery of swindling woman, 84

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An ex-con who married an elderly widow in the front seat of his car as part of a massive swindle was convicted by a Montgomery County jury Monday and faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in jail.

Roger Greenberg, 68, was found guilty of theft, embezzlement, financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and neglect. Prosecutors said he ingratiated his way into Evelyn Zucker's life in 2007, stole $130,829 from her and altered her will to position himself to get considerably more.

Greenberg also left Zucker, 84, alone and confused in a filthy hotel room, where she was found in December 2008 having just suffered a heart attack. Since then, she has given inconsistent statements about whether Greenberg stole from her, underscoring a challenge for detectives and prosecutors in such cases.

On Monday, she seemed upset about the verdict. "Did Roger get free?" she asked when reached by telephone at her nursing home.

No, she was told.

"Oh, dear God. I wanted him out."

At one point during the interview, Zucker said she didn't know whether Greenberg took her money, and at another she said he did not. "He hasn't done anything," she said. "Why should he be convicted?"

Zucker was called as a witness by prosecutors on the first day of the week-long trial. At times, she said Greenberg should be set free. At other times, she implicated him as being deeply involved in her finances.

Zucker said Monday that Greenberg looked at her in court and mouthed, "I love you," to which she said she didn't respond. He has said he wants to restore his union with Zucker, which has been annulled by a judge, but Zucker said she doesn't want that.

In her closing argument to jurors, prosecutor Jessica Hall urged them to understand why Zucker was reluctant to admit that fraud had occurred right under her nose.

"Ms. Zucker has worked her whole life for what she has," Hall said. "Her generosity was exploited."

The jury deliberated for slightly more than three hours. Greenberg was silent as the jury read the verdict, in contrast to his repeated whispers to one of his attorneys during the trial. He took a couple of deep breaths and hard swallows and blinked but said nothing.

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