Arrests of Elderly Women for Mail Fraud May Provide Link to Unsolved California Car Accidents

May 22, 2006

Los Angeles police are reviewing scores of unsolved accidents to determine if they might be linked to a pair of elderly women who were charged with fraud after they collected insurance payments when two homeless men died in suspicious hit-and-run collisions.

Helen Golay, 75, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 72, were charged with eight counts of federal mail fraud for collecting more than $2 million from policies they held on Kenneth McDavid, 50, and Paul Vados, 73.

A police affidavit alleges that the women alternately claimed to be fiancees, close relatives or business partners of the men to get the policies.

Police are investigating whether they were directly involved in the deaths of the homeless men and also are examining accidents reports dating back years.

“I tend to believe there are other victims out there,” Detective Dennis Kilcoyne said.

Authorities believe the women purchased rubber stamps bearing the signatures of at least eight men, which could have been used to forge signatures on insurance documents, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Officials said they don’t know the whereabouts of some of those men.

McDavid was run down in June and Vados was struck and killed in 1999 — both in alleys and apparently without eyewitnesses.

An FBI affidavit alleges the women befriended McDavid and Vados and gave them a place to stay in exchange for their signing individual life insurance policies.

The women then duplicated Vados’ and McDavid’s signatures on rubber stamps and used them to secure more than a dozen other policies, court documents contend. The women ended up collecting $2.2 million and wanted more, filing lawsuits when some companies didn’t pay.

The women were being held without bail pending a June 5 arraignment.

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