Ex-broker charged with theft and forgery


Steven M. Ambrose, who was sentenced to nearly six and a half years in prison for writing bad checks on a Springfield Township woman's bank account and setting fire to her condo, was arraigned yesterday on new charges.

Dressed in a drab brown jail suit, Ambrose, 35, appeared in Lucas County Common Pleas Court without an attorney.

Ambrose of 288th Street was arraigned on six counts of forgery and one count of grand theft for alleged fraudulent activity involving the pension checks of the late Marguerite "Maggie" Arnold.

Prosecutors allege that he abused her trust after she authorized him to take care of her financial matters. Investigators said he misused that trust. Instead, he emptied her bank accounts, ran up charges on her credit cards, and failed to pay her bills, including her mortgage, causing her home to go into foreclosure. After her Oct. 16, 2003, death, the new charges claim he continued to cash her pension checks.

The $616 monthly checks were cashed while Ambrose was under indictment on the passing bad checks and aggravated arson charges for which he was sentenced to prison.

He also is accused of using the durable power of attorney and a phony document to mislead a Toledo funeral home into believing he was to handle the arrangements for her services in Toledo.

Investigators said Ambrose, using the power of attorney given by Mrs. Arnold, continued to cash pension checks that Owens-Illinois sent to Mrs. Arnold for more than a year after her death. Her husband, who died in 1979, was a retired engineer for the company.

When asked yesterday by Judge Thomas Osowik if he had money to pay for a lawyer, the ex-securities and investment broker said Sheldon Wittenberg would be retained to represent him. Judge Osowik continued the arraignment until Monday.

But Mr. Wittenberg, who represented Ambrose on check and aggravated arson charges in the earlier case, said later Ambrose had not contacted him to arrange representation.

Ambrose was convicted in October on two counts of passing bad checks and two counts of aggravated arson for fires that were started in Mrs. Arnold's condo on April 27, 2003.

He had written $6,800 in bad checks from her accounts and set fires to her condo at Embassy Estates while Mrs. Arnold, then 74, was in a nursing home. Prosecutors believe he set the fire in an attempt to collect on a homeowner's insurance policy.