Cobb County woman spent $600K of elderly man's money

by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:

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COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Rhonda Ogden Nelson lost her mother, Margaret, to cancer. Now she fears she is losing her father, John, to greed.

"It's like somebody crawled into his body and he wasn't there anymore," she said.

John Ogden and his wife had been married for 55 years. After her death, the retired Air Force sergeant planned to join his daughter and grandson in Tennessee. But within weeks, he instead joined a Mormon church near his North Carolina home.

"I wasn't crazy about it, but I thought 'Well, if it gives him comfort and something for him to do, to each his own,'" Nelson said.

Ogden bought himself a brand new Lincoln MKS and then bought the church a 15-passenger van.

"Against the minister's wishes, he said 'We don't need the liability, we don't need the van,' but my dad insisted on buying one. I have no idea where it is now," Nelson said.

Soon she didn't know where her father was either, and she worried since he was diagnosed bi-polar and on medicine.

"So I called him and said 'Dad, what's going on? Everybody says you're never at home at night. What are you doing?' He said, 'Well, I've been staying with the Blues," said Nelson.

Dawn and Jimmy Blue met John Ogden at the church, then introduced him to their 34-year-old daughter Senia.

"He said, 'I'm dating Senia.' And I said 'Their daughter?' And he says, 'Yes.' And I say, 'She's your grandson's age.' He replied, 'I know, but we are in love,'" recounted Nelson. "I said 'Dad, I don't think she's interested in you,' and he, of course, become belligerent."

In fact, Senia Tauiautusa was already married to someone else.

But within months, Ogden signed her onto his bank accounts and moved into her three-bedroom Smyrna home, along with her husband, Danny, and their nine children.

Ogden still lives there today, along with his MKS and the church van, even though he no longer drives.

"He's sleeping in the living room in a chair," said Nelson. "The psychologist that went out there told me that."

Court records show Ogden's bank accounts are now nearly empty.

Senia signed $80,000 in checks to cash or to herself.

Ogden paid tens of thousands of dollars for her new dog breeding business, a new Lincoln Navigator, and he's building her a half-million-dollar home.

"When he called his financial advisor to get the money for the house he told his financial adviser he was engaged to her," said Nelson.

But the construction representative for the new house they're building testified that Ogden told her he was marrying Senia's mother, Dawn.

In court, Senia referred to Ogden as her 'godfather,' who 'adopted her family.'

Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer tracked Senia down outside the Cobb County courthouse to ask about her relationship with John Ogden.

She refused to answer any questions about that, why he's living in her house and how she spent all of his money.

Senia is now trying to sell Ogden's North Carolina home. Fleischer traveled there to ask Senia's parents about it all.

Her mother, Dawn Tucker Blue, refused to come to the door. Her stepfather, Jimmy Blue, said Senia and Ogden are just friends.

"He's just an old man that we took -- ya know, that I met in church," Blue told Fleischer. "He's doing what he wants to, he's a grown man."

Prosecutors have their doubts and want to make sure Ogden's choices are his own.

"The Cobb County Sheriff's Department is actively investigating this case," said John Melvin, who heads up the District's Attorney's Financial Exploitation of the Elderly Unit.

He says cases often begin with a pattern of the elderly victim being isolated from friends and family.

That generation is typically more vulnerable because they are lonely, trusting and dependent on care.

"That situations where you have emotional vulnerability plus diminished mental capacity, then you have a prime target for a victim," Melvin said.

In a court transcript, John Ogden told the judge the big new house and the dog breeding business are investments. He says Senia and her husband are taking good care of him.

"When the victim says, 'I'm not a victim,' then you'll have to rely on the other family members who've known the grandparent for a number of years and say, 'this is out of character for them,'" Melvin said.

Nelson says her father spent his entire life saving money and never would have gone through $600,000 in a year and a half.

"I don't think he's bought an entree that was more than $10. That was enough to spend on dinner," she said.

Ogden has been evaluated by a psychologist and psychiatrist who say he appears lucid and competent.

However, a judge already cited his 'loss of cognitive ability to manage his finances and memory loss' when assigning a temporary conservator. A guardian has also been appointed in the case.

Rhonda says she just wants her father back.

"I just don't see them taking care of him for the rest of his life," she said. "I mean it's horrible, they've destroyed our family."



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