Man accused of trying to scam Unity Township grandfather appears in court – WPXI


WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa. — The New Jersey man charged in an alleged theft and deception case widely known as the “grandparent scam” said he was innocent as he left his preliminary hearing on Monday.

Carlos Polanco-Rodriguez reportedly told state police he was contacted by someone in the Dominican Republic to collect money from a grandfather in Unity Township last month.

The man on the other end of the scam, Lawrence Yokopenic, told us in August that he knew it was a scam because his grandson was walking home.

Yokopenic helped police set up the sting.

“These people stopped right in front of his car, they got out, guns in their hands, they’re shouting at him,” Yokopenic said.

FRONT COVER >> Westmoreland County grandfather helps police find suspect involved in scam

Initially, Polanco-Rodriguez was denied bail, but on Monday the judge set his bond at $25,000 straight up, in addition to returning his passport.

“He has two young children, he is a legal permanent resident of the United States, he just wants to make sure he is with his children, his family and his fiancée, so that was the most important thing for him. He’s a taxi driver,” defense attorney Sean Rieger said.

His attorney said they were working with the district attorney’s office on a potential plea and said Polanco-Rodriguez was willing to work with investigators in hopes he could reach a settlement and reunite with his family.

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“He just wants to find his family. He claims his innocence, and we support him and fight vigorously for it, if necessary. But we feel the prosecutor was quite supportive of a potential plea,” Rieger explained.

As of Monday afternoon, Polanco-Rodriguez is still being held in Westmoreland County Jail. He is due back in court in November.

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