Woman pleads to stealing from man in coma

Jamaal Bush (left) and Lenora Denise Reese-McNair (right)

A Beaumont woman charged with financially exploiting her long-time boyfriend while he was in a coma has plead to a lesser theft charge.

Lenora Denise Reese, 52, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury July 18, 2013, on a third-degree felony charge of exploitation of a child, elderly or disabled individual.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Examiner, Reese wasted little time in obtaining a marriage license after her boyfriend, Derek McNair, had a massive heart attack in December 2012 — a marriage license Reese filed based on an affidavit of absent applicant dated February 2013. The absent application stated McNair was “in military on duty — unable to get home until end of Feb.”

Of course, McNair was not in the military, but was in a coma from which he would never awaken and eventually died of “anoxic encephalopathy,” or oxygen depletion in the brain as a result of his heat attack.

“The document is dated Feb. 11, 2013 and was presented to the County Clerk’s office on Feb. 25, the same day that Lenora and Derek were reported to have been married,” the affidavit said. “This document was also notarized by Jamaal Bush, Lenora’s son.”

Bush is also under indictment, charged with exploitation of an elderly or disabled person, and has a trial date in Judge John Stevens’ Criminal District Court of May 9. He was arrested Oct. 25, 2013, and posted a $100,000 bond soon after.

Apparently, Bush also notarized a power of attorney for his mother, Lenora — a document she presented to the staff at Mid Jefferson Hospital and Gulf Employees Credit Union where McNair banked. The document was dated Oct. 25, 2012, according to the affidavit, and Reese effectively cleaned out Derek’s bank account by “writing several checks to herself and others on Derek McNair’s Gulf ECU account while he has been in a coma.”

“Lenora has also filed a Quitclaim Deed with the County Clerk’s office and a Terms of Life Estate, which again is apparently signed by Derek McNair on Jan. 18, 2013, while he was in a coma. This document was also notarized by Jamaal Bush before he was a notary public,” the affidavit said. “It was not filed until March 1, 2013. The Quitclaim deed apparently grants Lenora 100 percent ownership of the house owned by Derek McNair.”

Reese was arrested Aug. 19, 2013 and has remained in the Jefferson County Jail since then on a $100,000 bond.

She pleaded guilty to felony theft of the third degree Friday, April 11 in Judge John Stevens’ Criminal District Court.

According to her defense attorney, Kevin Laine, Reese’s guilty plea was part of a deal capping her sentence to 5 years in state prison or possibly probation.

She is set to appear in Stevens’ court May 12 for her formal sentencing.

— Clay Thorp

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