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NARRATIVE – Two notaries, a lawyer, a director of nursing homes, an undertaker, a genealogist, a widow … Nine people accused of joining forces to embezzle nearly 5 million euros are on trial from this Monday .
The affair came to light on September 3, 2015, when Daniel Mezeas decided to commit suicide. The old man, living alone since the death of his wife, is found hanged in his home called “La Maison Brûlée”, in Servilly, in the Allier.
The next day, the mayor of the town informed the public prosecutor of Cusset that the deceased had no family. A bailiff is appointed to carry out the inventory of the assets. But while the succession is considered to be in escheat, a notary named Maître Alain Cauvel and officiating in Chauffailles, in Saône-et-Loire, manifests himself to the bailiff. He assures that Daniel Mezeas had entrusted to Maître Georges-Henri Laudrain, lawyer at the Paris bar, a handwritten will signed and dated August 31, 2015, where he designated this specialist in real estate law and inheritance law as universal legatee.
The bailiff takes note, but still warns the public prosecutor: the handwriting presented by this will does not seem to correspond to that of Daniel Mezeas. A first judicial investigation against X is opened in March 2016 for “false and use of forgery” and a handwriting expertise is carried out. The expert reveals that this will was not made by the hand of Daniel Mezeas.
A search is then conducted at the study of Ms.e Cauvel and in the cabinet of Me Laudrain. The investigators then do not suspect that they are about to dig up an extraordinary fraud machine orchestrated for nearly fifteen years by a former notary already convicted in 2004 for abuse of weakness, Jean-Louis Magnin.
A lucrative business where several notables would have made themselves accomplices. Among them a lawyer, a notary, a genealogist, a funeral director, a director of nursing homes and a widow. All had a specific role and missions, from writing false wills to that of sentry responsible for alerting when an elderly person without descendants passed away. Together, they would have managed to embezzle 11 estates, winning nearly 5 million euros.
A director of nursing homes as a sentry and a widow who writes false wills
The process was always the same. Two people, a funeral director in Lapalisse, in the Allier, named Sébastien Boussel, and the director of a retirement home in Fréjus, in the Var, Patrick Hureau, were to notify Jean-Louis Magnin in the event of death. In his capacity as director of nursing homes, Patrick Hureau could easily obtain information from his residents. He asked them if they had any conflicts with their families…