PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Geraldine Jenkins was shocked to learn Derron and Dustin Smith had been arrested, again.
The 89-year old Largo woman was the victim of an elderly scheme in 2016. Dustin Smith pleaded guilty in that case. Jenkins can’t believe the duo are back in operation.
“That these people could get away with this stuff. And do it again and again. Even though they’ve been put in jail. And they get away with it and do it again,” said Jenkins. “They don’t give a darn.”
Pinellas deputies arrested the brothers on Wednesday. According to the arrest report, they told the victim they were the owners of “Rock Crown Trees” and in June convinced her to pay $1,450 to put sod down.
The report indicates they only put a bit of sod down but immediately cashed her check. They returned two days later and convinced the woman to pay $350 to spread mulch. The affidavit says the victim suffers from mild dementia and was fearful that if she didn’t pay the men, they wouldn’t leave her alone.
The investigation is currently ongoing and there could be additional victims. Both men are facing exploitation of the elderly and home solicitation without a permit charges.
Court records show Dustin Smith pleaded guilty or no contest to similar charges in 1994, 2012, and 2016. His brother Derron pleaded guilty or no contest to similar charges in 2002, 2010, and 2012.
Corporal Chuck Skipper with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, says most of these schemes work in a similar way.
“A common thing with all scams is there’s an urgency,” said Corporal Skipper. “And there will be immediate consequences if you don’t act now. “
Corporal Skipper’s advice to the elderly is to take your time.
“If it truly is a reputable company, that price will be good today, tomorrow as well as next week,” said Corporal Skipper. “Slow down, find out if they are a registered business. A legitimate business. “
Jenkins is pleased that the men are back behind bars. She believes their pictures should be splashed all over television and the internet.
“To tell people, to warn them. To watch out for that these people are dangerous,” said Jenkins. “They’re just grabbing up your money for nothing. “