An ill widower outside Orlando died after he was taken off life support at the behest of his stepbrother. Only the "stepbrother" turned out to be a mere acquaintance who cleared out the dead man's house and took $106,000 from his bank account, according to a new investigation.
Orlando-based WESH-TV broke the news last night of the untimely demise of Roger MacKinnon, a lonely Navy vet whose wife had died in a tornado seven years before:
On May 30, 2011, MacKinnon had chest pains, and asked Richard Leclair — described by MacKinnon's family as a long-time friend and drinking buddy — to take him to the hospital. During an exploratory procedure, MacKinnon's heart stopped.
For three days, he was in and out of a coma, then completely comatose for the next three. On June 7, police say Leclair and his wife met with MacKinnon's doctor and authorized the hospital to withdraw life support.
MacKinnon died two days later.
MacKinnon's real family is understandably a little pissed, according to Phil Partridge, their attorney:
The MacKinnon family attorney showed WESH 2 News a "do not resuscitate" order Leclair signed, identifying himself as MacKinnon's stepbrother. And on a "withdrawal of life support" order, Leclair claimed to be MacKinnon's brother. Partridge says the hospital never asked for proof of Leclair's identity.
"Mr. Leclair knew that Roger had a son and a daughter. He had a real brother," said Partridge. "Leclair told the hospital he had no other living relatives."
DeLand police say Leclair had been named beneficiary to MacKinnon's bank account, and after the widower's death, he collected $106,000.
Days before MacKinnon's family even knew he was dead, police say Leclair went to MacKinnon's home and removed thousands of dollars of furniture and lawn equipment.
A neighbor of MacKinnon's says he wasn't alarmed when the "drinking buddy" came around to claim some belongings: "He said he was Roger's brother, and Roger wanted him to have that stuff."
Leclair pled no contest to trespassing and grand theft, and is currently on probation. (He has to pay MacKinnon's real brother some $6,000 in damages). But the local cops said there wasn't enough evidence to charge Leclair with fraud in MacKinnon's death. The deceased's brother is trying to sue the hospital for negligence, though that may be hard, since no state or federal law requires hospitals to the check the identity of an incapacitated patient's caretaker.
Meanwhile, the news crew caught up to Leclair's wife and got nowhere:
"It's about Roger MacKinnon," said WESH 2's Bob Kealing.
"What about him?" his wife said.
"It's about his decision to pull the plug," said Kealing.
"I don't know any, I'm not going to talk about any of that," she said.
"Did he pretend to be Roger's brother? Or stepbrother?" Kealing asked.
"I'm not into any of that," she said.