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Trial scheduled in elder theft case
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A 48-year-old Platteville man will go to trial on eight felony theft charges for allegedly stealing money from a nursing home resident.

William H. Fenrick, 355 Washington St., faces seven counts of theft of movable property — special facts and one count of party to medical assistance fraud.

Fenrick pleaded not guilty to the charges May 28.

Fenrick has a status conference set for Aug. 13 at 10 a.m., with the trial set to begin Aug. 27. He faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine per charge if convicted.

Fenrick is accused of allegedly taking money from a 74-year-old resident of Orchard Manor in Lancaster between March 2010 and April 2011.

Platteville police began investigating in February 2012 after the victim’s daughter said she believed Fenrick had taken and forged an inheritance check of $10,480.09 from the victim, according to a Police Department news release and court records.

According to the criminal complaint, Fenrick told investigators “he would help [the victim] with finances in an effort to hide money.”

The criminal complaint alleges that Fenrick set up a bank account and a PayPal account for the victim, and transferred money from the victim’s PayPal account to Fenrick’s PayPal and bank accounts on six occasions between March and December 2010.

The victim, who according to the criminal complaint has been in nursing homes since 2003 because of two strokes, did not know what email was, and said he did not receive an inheritance while at Orchard Manor.

The medical assistance fraud charge is for, according to state statutes, “Having knowledge of the occurrence of any event affecting the initial or continued right to any such benefit or payment or the initial or continued right to any such benefit or payment of any other individual in whose behalf he or she has applied for or is receiving such benefit or payment, conceal or fail to disclose such event with an intent fraudulently to secure such benefit or payment either in a greater amount or quantity than is due or when no such benefit or payment is authorized.”

Fenrick attained national attention in 2006 when he legally changed his name to Andrew Jackson Griffith and then ran for Grant County sheriff as Andy Griffith against incumbent Sheriff Keith Govier. Fenrick finished third in the 2006 election.

Actor Andy Griffith then sued Fenrick in U.S. District Court in Madison claiming trademark law violations and that Fenrick invaded Griffith’s privacy by changing his name.

In the lawsuit, Griffith claimed that Fenrick said during his campaign about speed traps that “they never did that in Mayberry! They never did unethical stuff like that in Mayberry. See, that’s the thing about Andy Griffith. He was honest and straightforward and people respected him for that.” The lawsuit also alleged that Fenrick wanted to “bring attention to this sheriff’s race and the only way that [Fenrick] could think of to do it — actually, the best way that [he] could think of doing it — was changing [his] name to Andy Griffith.”

Griffith lost the lawsuit, with U.S. District Judge John Shabaz writing in 2007 that “There is no evidence that anyone believed that [Griffith] sponsored or approved [Fenrick’s] candidacy,” and that “There is not a scintilla of evidence that anyone thought [Griffith] was running for Grant County sheriff or that [Griffith] was backing [Fenrick’s] campaign for sheriff.”

Fenrick then changed his name back in 2008, according to court documents.