WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine and U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves today announced that Peter R. Dorney, 42, was sentenced today to an 8-year prison term on charges stemming from multiple crimes targeting District seniors, including felony fraud and arson. The fraud conviction is the result of a partnership between the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia (USAO), through which an OAG prosecutor detailed to USAO prosecutes financial crimes targeting older D.C. residents.
Dorney pleaded guilty in April 2022, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to charges of felony destruction of property and first-degree felony fraud. He was sentenced by the Honorable James A. Crowell IV. Following his prison term, Dorney will be placed on three years of supervised release.
“Peter Dorney preyed on older District residents – he befriended vulnerable seniors, gained their trust, and then betrayed them by destroying their property and stealing their money said AG Racine. “The District’s large and growing population of seniors should be able to live out their golden years safely, and my team will continue to work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure individuals who steal from or exploit seniors are held accountable.”
OAG is committed to protecting the over 87,000 adults over the age of 65 who live in the District from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In 2018, OAG hired the District’s only criminal prosecutor specifically focused on elder financial exploitation. Through a partnership with USAO, this OAG attorney prosecutes financial crimes against seniors. (Typically, OAG only has jurisdiction to prosecute cases in which young people commit law violations and cases involving certain misdemeanors committed by adults, while USAO prosecutes all felony crimes committed by adults and other adult misdemeanors.) In 2019, OAG also established an Elder Justice Section to take civil enforcement action against individuals who financially exploit elders, hold perpetrators accountable, and recover restitution for those who are harmed.
The defendant in this case, Dorney, has a total of 56 arrests and 28 convictions across six jurisdictions. According to the government’s evidence, he began targeting vulnerable older adults in the District by befriending and exploiting them to fund his lavish lifestyle.
On the evening of February 4, 2021, Dorney used a key to enter the apartment of his 94-year-old neighbor, who he had befriended, and who was out at dinner at the time. After letting himself into the apartment, Dorney set a fire which destroyed walls, furniture, and the victim’s papers. The fire caused more than $1,000 in damages. Additionally, between March 2021 and April 2021, Dorney made over seventy fraudulent charges, totaling up to more than $4,600, on an 80-year-old woman’s credit card without her permission, authorization, or knowledge. Dorney had ingratiated himself with the woman’s friends and gained access to her home. On some occasions, Dorney brazenly treated mutual friends to expensive dinners using the victim’s credit card without her knowledge.
Dorney was arrested on May 13, 2021 and has remained in custody since then. In 2022, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of Felony Destruction of Property for the fire and one count of Felony First Degree Fraud for the fraudulent credit card charges.
In announcing the sentence, AG Racine and U.S. Attorney Graves commended the work of those investigating the case from the Metropolitan Police Department and D.C. Fire and E.M.S. They also acknowledged the efforts of those working on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Debra McPherson and Victim/Witness Advocate Jennifer Clark. Finally, they commended the work of the attorneys who investigated and prosecuted the case, Assistant Attorney General and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nina Torabzadeh and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Gold.
When elders or vulnerable adults are abused, they may be reluctant to report because of fear of retaliation, lack of physical or cognitive ability to report the abuse, or because they do not want to get the alleged abuser in trouble. Residents can help protect their loved ones and neighbors by learning how to detect, prevent, and report abuse. Click here to learn about potential warning signs and actions to take to help prevent elder abuse.
If you are a or know a District senior or vulnerable adult experiencing abuse, neglect, or exploitation, immediately get help by:
- Filing a report with Adult Protective Services (APS) by calling the 24-hour hotline at (202) 541-3950.
- Filing a police report with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) by calling the police at (202) 265-9100.
- Contacting OAG’s Elder Justice Section at (202) 727-3807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.