Retired pastor forced to leave York after his money disappears, a 'friend' is charged
The retired Rev. Albert Davidson Jr. just wants to come home.
He's hoping to be transferred back to a facility in the York area where his friends can visit him — to live out his days where he put down roots in 1989 after moving here from Oklahoma.
"I want to be back in York County," he said from his room at a rehabilitation home in Doylestown, Bucks County. "I have friends there who I love and trust."
Davidson said he used to count Robert "Butch" Redmond and wife Kelly Ann Redmond among those close friends.
He trusted them so much he gave Butch Redmond full access to his bank account and granted Kelly Redmond power of attorney, according to the reverend and court documents both civil and criminal.
"I was alone and lonely and looking for friends," he said, and in failing health. "Butch and his wife came into my life. They befriended me."
The Redmonds helped him clean up his home, had him over for dinners and helped ease his loneliness, he said.
But according to court documents, the Redmonds were helping themselves, too.
Hard times: Davidson, 70, pastored three churches in York County before hanging up his clerical collar — Manor Baptist Church in York City, Seven Valleys Baptist Church, which doesn't exist anymore, and Real Life Fellowship, which met at First Baptist Church in Hanover.
But instead of a pleasant retirement, the past 12 years have proved painful and life-altering.
His wife, retired York County School of Technology teacher Alfreda (Patton) Davidson, was just 64 when she died in 2008.
Then in August 2015, the reverend's Spring Garden Township home burned down and he lost most of his worldly possessions. He tried to put out the blaze by himself, suffered smoke inhalation and needed to be hospitalized, which is when Kelly Redmond obtained power of attorney for Davidson, court records state.
Davidson had given Butch Redmond access to his bank account about three months before the house fire, when his health first began to fail, court records state. Davidson said he first met Kelly Redmond when she worked at a local pharmacy he frequented.
"She told me all she had in her home was an empty refrigerator and a full laundry basket," Davidson recalled.
$68K insurance payout: After the blaze, Davidson learned his home was actually part of his late wife's estate, he said. His portion of the insurance payout — $68,000 — covered the contents of the home, according to court documents.
Per Alfreda's wishes, her estate provided Davidson with a $1,000-a-month stipend. She had directed that if he moved out of their home, the monthly allowance would increase to $2,000, which it has, according to family friend Jonathan Stayer, of York, who was a close family friend of Alfreda's and helps administer her estate.
Ongoing health issues forced the Southern Baptist minister to move to a York-area care facility, and court records show that on Jan. 30, 2017, he and the Redmonds signed an agreement for him to live at Senior Commons at Powder Mill Road in York Township.
Senior Commons filed suit in York County Court against Davidson and the Redmonds in May 2018 for nonpayment, noting Kelly Redmond had power of attorney for Davidson at that time. The filing states, in part:
"Upon information and belief, Kelly A. Redmond has breached and abused her fiduciary duties as power of attorney by, among other things: (a) converting certain assets of Mr. Davidson for the personal use and enjoyment of herself and her husband, Robert Redmond; (b) comingling the assets of herself and her husband, Robert Redmond, with the assets of Mr. Davidson; (c) allowing unauthorized persons (including, but not necessarily limited to the defendant, Robert Redmond) to have access to and use of, and to convert, Mr. Davidson's assets; (d) failing to properly apply and account for the income and assets of Mr. Davidson; (e) failing to pay the amount due to (Senior Commons) as promised; and (f) otherwise breaching and abusing her fiduciary duties as a matter of fact and law."
'Acted in concert'? The filing alleges the Redmonds "acted in concert."
In their written response to the allegations, filed in York County Court, Kelly Redmond wrote, "Assets were not in full used for personal use and enjoyment of myself and my husband."
The Redmonds' response states it agrees with the allegation that Kelly Redmond breached and abused her fiduciary responsibility.
York County Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn in November 2018 ruled against Davidson and the Redmonds, ordering them to pay Senior Commons about $20,130. Davidson says he has no money to pay that debt, and court records indicate Kelly Redmond requested a payment plan in which her wages would be garnished.
Stayer, who currently has power of attorney over the retired reverend's financial matters, said Davidson was moved five times for nonpayment, the last facility being Harborview Rehabilitation and Care Center in Doylestown, where he currently lives.
In January 2019, the York County District Attorney's Office was alerted to concerns that Davidson was the victim of financial exploitation, according to court documents.
Felony charges filed: Chief York County Detective Arthur Smith Jr. investigated and on Sept. 9 filed third-degree felony charges of theft by deception and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds against Butch Redmond. Kelly Redmond has not been criminally charged.
Robert Redmond, 57, of the 300 block of Westwood Drive in Conewago Township, remains free on $25,000 unsecured bail, meaning he didn't have to post any cash to remain free but could forfeit that amount if he misses court proceedings. His preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 9.
Charging documents state Butch Redmond moved Davidson's $68,000 fire settlement from Davidson's account to a joint one he shared with his wife.
About $30,700 of that amount was properly used to pay for Davidson's care, according to documents. But there are no bank records to indicate that the remaining $37,400 was spent on Davidson or his care, charging documents state.
'Getting railroaded'? Reached at his home Nov. 18, Butch Redmond said neither he nor his wife stole from Davidson.
"I'm getting railroaded," he told The York Dispatch. "Do you see a butler answering the door? … Where am I dripping in diamonds?"
Butch Redmond said he and his wife tried to help Davidson and now have a $20,000 judgment against them because his wife signed the Senior Commons residency agreement.
"Unfortunately, Albert is a generous man. He likes to give his money away," Butch Redmond said. "Not to me — to other people. He did that long before me."
He said he has nothing to hide and also said he and Kelly Redmond took care of Davidson and were his friends.
'They betrayed me': Davidson said he trusted the Redmonds at their word, even after he learned his bills weren't being paid, and even for a period of time after he stopped hearing from them.
"What we're talking about is a betrayal. They betrayed me," he said. "I think (Butch Redmond) knew every bit of what he was doing."
Davidson blames himself for turning over his finances and legal decision-making to the Redmonds, even though he felt he had no one else to turn to, no family in the area.
"It was a very foolish thing to do," he said, and urged others to be more wary than he was.
"Here's what I'd like people to know: Trust is wonderful when you have it. Distrust hurts like a knife to the chest," Davidson said. "If you want to trust completely, trust only God."
"He essentially is homeless and is relatively penniless," said Stayer, Davidson's family friend. "He relies only on Social Security and a small monthly trust distribution for his income."
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.