Originally Posted Online: March 06, 2013, 8:44 pm
Last Updated: March 06, 2013, 9:37 pm

Couple accused of exploiting elderly woman challenges venue

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By Rachel Warmke, rwarmke@qconline.com

The attorney for a Bettendorf couple accused of financially exploiting an elderly family member said Wednesday he has filed for an appellate court review of a ruling that the case can be heard in Rock Island County

Dennis Stoffel, 57, and Laura Stoffel, 58, are accused of breaking an agreement with Mrs. Stoffel's then 81-year-old stepmother, by using money she gave them to purchase a Bettendorf home, but then not allowing her to move in.

Rock Island County Circuit Court Judge F. Michael Meersman on Monday had rejected attorney Jack. A. Schwartz's contention that the the case could not be tried in Rock Island County since conversations and banking transactions between the Stoffels concerning the house purchase took place both in Illinois and across the river in Scott County.

The motion further contended the case was not a criminal one, but rather a breach of contract issue for civil court.

Judge Meersman denied both motions, ruling there was enough probable cause to constitute criminal charges and that Rock Island County was the proper venue for the case since, among other things, the victim lived there.

Assistant State's Attorney Jim Wozniak, who objected to the delay, said the matter is "in the hands of the third appellate district, and we'll see what happens."