A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department lieutenant was jailed Wednesday, Valentine's Day, caught up in a sweeping indictment involving elder exploitation. Contact 13 Darcy Spears continues her years-long expose on guardianship abuse with this heart- breaking case.
He was supposed to serve and protect but instead he's accused of felony crimes for using Clark County's guardianship system to steal from the estate of a vulnerable couple. And this police officer is directly connected to others first exposed in our ongoing investigation of guardianship corruption.
Lieutenant James Thomas Melton is a decorated police veteran. As a sergeant, Melton received a group Medal of Valor and Purple Heart in 2009 for being wounded during a domestic violence call where a baby was pulled away from gunfire.
He was also a homicide detective and Metro's SWAT commander, making about $300,000 a year including benefits.
But Valentine's Day, a fall from grace as Melton was indicted by a grand jury and charged with stealing the life savings, over $700,000 from an 87-year-old widow suffering from dementia.
Court records claim Melton deceived the court after the victim died, representing that she was still alive so he could be named beneficiary on various accounts.
And Melton didn't act alone. The indictment shows he hired private guardian April Parks. Parks is already in jail facing over 200 felony counts after our investigation revealed she was double-billing and exploiting clients.
Parks, her attorney Noel Palmer Simpson and former office manager Mark Simmons all face additional charges of exploitation for working with Melton.
According to the indictment, Melton is also accused of stealing the victim's Ford Explorer and taking $2,187.50 from her Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust.
Melton is expected to be in court next week. When allegations first surfaced in July, he was put on leave with pay. Metro says he will now be relieved of duty without pay. The trial for Parks and her co-defendants is scheduled for May.
Below is a description of the individual charges:
- James Thomas Melton: Two counts Exploitation of an Older Person (category B), one count Theft (category B), one count Theft (category C), seven counts Offering False Instrument for Filing or Record (category C), one count Grand Larceny Auto (category C), two counts Perjury (category D)
- April Parks: One count Exploitation of an Older Person (category B), six counts Offering False Instrument for Filing or Record (category C), one count Perjury (category D)
- Mark Simmons: One count Exploitation of an Older Person (category B), two counts Offering False Instrument for Filing or Record (category C)
- Noel Palmer Simpson: One count Exploitation of an Older Person (category B), one count Theft (category C), eight counts Offering False Instrument for Filing or Record (category C), one count Perjury (category D)
In March of last year, April Parks, Mark Simmons and Noel Palmer Simpson were named in a 270-count indictment related to guardianship exploitation.
Parks was indicted on over 200 felony charges for similar conduct, including racketeering, theft, exploitation of an older person, offering false instrument for filing or record, and perjury.
Her office manager, Mark Simmons, was indicted on over 130 felonies, and her attorney Noel Palmer Simpson was implicated in that case and indicted on two charges.
A fourth defendant, Gary Neal Taylor, was indicted for seven felonies. That case is currently set for trial in May 2018.
An indictment is merely a charging document; every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.