James H. Adcock was sentenced today in U.S. District Court to four years in jail for posing as a deceased Amherst doctor and bilking his widow.
U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin sentenced Adcock, 35, after he pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Adcock, who faced a maximum five years in prison, was also ordered to pay $4,154 in restitution to two credit card companies.
Adcock was described by authorities as a chameleon-like criminal adept at taking on other identities. The Cleveland native persuaded a Buffalo bank to reopen a credit card in the name of the late Dr. Gerald Kaiser, who died in 1984.
He had convinced Kaiser's widow he was interested in starting an award at the University at Buffalo Medical School in Kaiser's memory.
In 1985 he disguised himself as a priest, identifying himself as Father Jim McCabe. He persuaded Mrs. Kaiser to give him a copy of her late husband's diploma, some certificates and biographical information.
Posing as the priest, he then visited UB offices, claiming he had power of attorney over the Kaiser estate. An investigation into Adcock's fraud began after he stole a university seal and document from UB offices, authorities said.
Adcock spent about $2,000 on purchases made in the late doctor's name. Later, Adcock got an Ohio driver's license and registered a car there under the Kaiser name.
Although Adcock's attorney described him as harmless, U.S. prosecutors said he went to great lengths to take advantage of a woman whose husband had just died.
Adcock was charged with mail fraud because he used the U.S. Postal Service to obtain some of Kaiser's records from the bank and from Mrs. Kaiser.
The arrest warrant for Adcock was issued in 1987, but FBI agents did not find him until he was located in Fort Lauderdale two months ago.