Accountant Charged With Swindling Seniors

WICKLIFFE, Ohio - A local accountant was charged with swindling a number of senior citizens out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tom Meyer, The Investigator, had the Action News investigation that you couldn't have seen anywhere else.

The Investigator introduced us to three local people, all more than 70 years old, who said that they were ripped off for nearly $1 million by Paul Rendina, a certified public accountant in Wickliffe.

"I lost $480,000," one of the victims, Albert Mladineo, said.

"We had such faith in him. We trusted him," victim Ada Macao said. "It was such a shock.

"It changed my life completely."

Rendina talked his victims into investing their money in a three-story office building that was supposed to have been completed two years ago. Nothing, however, is at the site. In fact, victims and prosecutors have called it a junkyard.

"He hasn't put a shovel in the ground," the victims' attorney, Leonard Carr, said. "He's nowhere near building an office building."

A lawyer for four of the victims said that Rendina has spent the money.

Could promises of an office building and 401K plans have fizzled simply because of incompetence? The prosecutor's office said no. They said that it is clearly theft.

"There were promises made to people that certain things were going to happen and those things, we believe, never were going to happen," Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Dan Kasaris said.

Rendina faced a 19-count felony indictment and was charged on all counts of extortion and theft.

Action News tried to get his side of the story, but no one answered the phone at his office or the door at his home.

His victims said that they are furious.

"He gave us a bogus stock paper that wasn't worth the value of the paper," victim George Sheha said.

"Don't believe anyone. Don't trust anybody. You can't," Sheha added. "It's changed my whole opinion about human nature."

Some of the charges against Rendina stem from an incident where he allegedly tried to extort millions of dollars from a widow whose husband had left her with a $7 million life insurance policy.

He faces up to 80 years behind bars if convicted.