Trial starting in alleged soldier scam in San Mateo County

A Brisbane bookkeeper allegedly took advantage of a soldier who needed care for his children and finances while he served overseas. (AP file photo)A Brisbane bookkeeper allegedly took advantage of a soldier who needed care for his children and finances while he served overseas. (AP file photo)

A Brisbane bookkeeper allegedly took advantage of a soldier who needed care for his children and finances while he served overseas. (AP file photo)A Brisbane bookkeeper allegedly took advantage of a soldier who needed care for his children and finances while he served overseas. (AP file photo)

The trial of a Brisbane bookkeeper charged with swindling a widowed soldier serving in Iraq is scheduled to begin today.

In June, a San Mateo judge denied a defense motion to dismiss the case against 65-year-old Kenneth McCall.

McCall’s alleged ruse began when the soldier needed care for his children and finances while he served overseas. The soldier’s wife had died of natural causes about a year before his deployment in 2006, and he left his children in the care of his neighbor, San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

The soldier’s Brisbane neighbor recommended that McCall, a self-employed bookkeeper, oversee the soldier’s finances, Wagstaffe said.

McCall allegedly spent $14,000 from his credit union account and nearly $17,000 on his credit card. He spent the money on himself, Wagstaffe said, including purchases at Best Buy, Petco and CompUSA.

The soldier’s neighbor, who had recommended McCall and who was caring for the soldier’s children, suspected theft, police said. She told a detective that McCall had been spending money frivolously.

“When she asked [McCall] about it, the suspect angrily told her to mind her own business,” Wagstaffe said.

The soldier learned of the thefts when he returned from Iraq in November 2007, the district attorney said.

McCall’s previous attorney, David Cohen, told The San Francisco Examiner last year that it is the accusing soldier, not his client, who is the cheat. He said the solider showed “substantial credibility problems” during the preliminary hearing.

Cohen also accused San Mateo prosecutors of “inflammatory and prejudicial” practices when reporting criminal allegations to the media.

McCall’s current attorney, Tom Kelley, declined to comment on the case Friday.

Kelley told prosecutors Thursday that he is ready to go to trial, but that McCall might choose to accept a plea deal, resolving the case.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocalSan Francisco

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