By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
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But Newport Beach police Sergeant Steve Schulman, the department's public-relations officer, said his detectives are aware of the allegations and acknowledged people may have lost large sums of money to Allen. But, according to Schulman, "the hard part" is proving Allen "intended to steal" the funds. When asked how police could determine the difficulty of a case before opening an investigation, Schulman responded defensively.
"We've decided to re-evaluate the case," he said. "Check back in a couple of weeks."
The Allens' victims say they've heard that before and believe police are bluffing in an effort to save face. In the 51 months since they filed detailed complaints, Newport Beach detectives have poured manpower and resources into prosecuting cases involving fewer victims, far less money and politically powerless suspects. A few of those cases include:
•$14,000 theft from a local youth soccer fund.
•allegations that a burglary victim exaggerated losses.
•a $65,000 embezzlement at a retail shop.
•a counterfeit Paul Mitchell shampoo-bottling operation.
•a minor who used the Internet to steal credit-card numbers.
•a telemarketing scheme that targeted elderly locals for a total of $40,000.
•a $700-per-month illegal housing-rental scam.
•a lengthy probe into city parking-meter thefts—a felony police say they will aggressively pursue.
•a three-detective-sting at a Fashion Island steakhouse where two parking valets allegedly stole eight Mobil gas Speed Passes.
Illingworth says police inaction on the Allen case has made "a mockery" of justice in Orange County.
"Somebody has stolen more than $1 million. You'd think the Newport Beach police would he interested. They're not. They don't even return telephone calls about Eddie," he said. "If they had done something when we first told them about his scam operation, they could have prevented what happened to Mrs. Pickett."
More than two months after the police were first informed about Allen's business practices, he took $553,000 from Lee Pickett, an 81-year-old who—because Allen has never repaid her one penny—was forced into bankruptcy to save her house from foreclosure.
"What will it take to bring this guy to justice before he destroys any more innocent people?" Illingworth asks.
Schulman says not to worry.
"We're on the victims' side," he said. "Believe me, it is usually us who want to put the bad guys in jail."