Police Say Man Ripped Off Elderly Iowa City Woman

By Lee Hermiston, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Police have arrested a man they say overcharged an elderly woman for lawn work.

According to the Iowa City Police Department, in July 2013, 25-year-old Matthew J. Brown, address unknown, went to an elderly woman's home and offered to cut down a small tree for her. Police said the man cut down the tree, removed it from the residence and charged the woman $2,500. An actual tree removal service told police that service should have cost no more than $400.

Police said Brown returned to the victim's residence in October and offered to do additional yard work. The woman told police on this occasion, Brown pushed something around the yard for a short period of time and charged her a large amount of money. After the woman told him his fee was too high, he charged her $1,200, which she paid.

Police said no obvious work had been done to the yard, though Brown claimed to have spread fertilizer. A lawn care company told police the work Brown claimed he completed should have cost $100 at the most.

After each occasion, Brown took the woman's check to her bank and cashed it. He was shown on bank surveillance video cashing the check and the bank identified him with his driver's license. Police said the total loss to the woman was $3,200.

Brown has been charged with two counts of second-degree theft. Each class D felony carries a potential five year prison sentence.
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