Woman sentenced to 5 years for fraudulently marrying comatose man to gain control of his assets

A Beaumont woman has been sentenced to five years in prison after being accused of fraudulently marrying her boyfriend while he was in a coma.  Prosecutors say Lenora Reese-McNair married Derek McNair while he was unconscious to gain control of his assets.

Reese-McNair entered a guilty plea to 3rd degree felony theft.  She was sentenced on Monday.

Police say her co-conspirator is her son, Jamaal Bush, whom they say signed all of the documents. However, in her sentencing hearing Reese-McNair claimed her son is innocent and that she forged his signature along with McNair's. Bush is scheduled to appear in Judge John Stevens court on June 9.

"I didn't use my husband I used my son," Reese McNair said. "I'm remorseful, I did everything I could to help him [McNair] I wanted assets out of his name so he could qualify for Medicaid."

In the probable cause affidavit obtained by 12News, Derek McNair suffered a heart attack in 2012 and was in a coma for months. The document says Reese-McNair gained all of his assets when he passed away.

After the marriage license was obtained, the probable cause affidavit says Reese-McNair presented a power of attorney to medical staff and then began forging her husband's signature on his check that she made payable to herself.

Investigators say Reese-McNair then filed a quitclaim deed, notarized by Bush, that gave her complete ownership of McNairs west-end Beaumont home.

Reese-McNairs defense attorney Kevin Laine said he asked Judge Stevens to lower the charge from exploitation to theft, since he said McNair and Reese-McNair met all of the requirements of a common-law marriage.

"Our goal was to let the public know this was not exploitation of her husband," Laine said. "It was an economic crime as far as not wanting the medical bills to consume the estate."

During the sentencing hearing prosecuters brought up Reese-McNairs past which includes several arrests for fraud and theft spanning over a decade.


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