Special to South Florida Times
If you live in Palm Beach County, chances are you’ve seen Dr. Alice Moore. Being 93 years old has not stopped her from attending nearly every function or event in the area and even out of town. She goes to Orlando nearly every year for the Florida Classic to watch her beloved Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University, where an honors dormitory bears her name, take on state rival Florida A& M University.
She stopped driving years ago but usually someone is always available to give her a ride or offer her other help. The noted philanthropist surrounds herself with others who are as highly regarded as herself.
That was the case with Deborah “Debbye” Richardson Raing, who spent more than 30 years in the Palm Beach County School System and is a community activist who has dedicated her life to helping students in the county – as a teacher, assistant principal and head of the school district’s African/African American Studies. Raing retired in 2008 and it didn’t surprise many that she and Moore kept company with each other.
But it was a surprise when news reports said that Raing had been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $80,000, and mismanaging more, from Moore, while supposedly assisting her with errands, some bill-paying and financial matters.
Raing has denied any wrongdoing in the matter.
Although Moore is lucid and alert, her eyesight is poor, leaving her with the need for help reading documents and conducting business. Raing was supposed to be the one helping her.
Even the arrest report states that Moore and Raing run in the same circles and have the same friends. Moore and Raing’s late mother were said to have been best friends, so Moore felt comfortable seeking assistance from Raing.
But, according to the report, since 2008 Raing allegedly helped herself to Moore’s money over a 23-month period, for the most part without Moore’s knowledge or authorization. She allegedly added herself and her sister, Andrea Peppers, to Moore’s bank account. She allegedly made checks out to “cash” – some for large sums, signed by Raing, and made counter withdrawals from Moore’s bank accounts, one for as much as $18,210.
According to the police report, Moore said she never gave permission for Raing or her sister to be added to her bank account and did not authorize the transactions in question.
The police report also alleges that Raing wrote checks on Moore’s account to pay for Raing’s credit card bills for more than a year, one payment being for just over $2,400. The report shows 19 payments to Raing’s credit card. Moore told police she did not authorize those payments or know about them.
Raing is also accused of stealing $15,000 in cash from Moore. She also allegedly wrote checks to others for services to Moore but, according to police, an investigation found discrepancies and problems with those payments.
The police report says that the amount involved during the period in which Raing added herself to Moore’s accounts and began writing checks and handling financial decisions amounted to $121, 685.70. That is the amount taken from Moore’s three bank accounts from February 2008 through January 2010, the report said.
Police arrested Raing on Jan. 13 and charged her with grand theft from a person 65 or older involving $50,000 or more. It is a first-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Raing was released from the Palm Beach County Jail after posting $15,000 bond and is awaiting a court date.
Police said they began investigating Raing after a bank manager noticed “unusual” activity on Moore’s accounts and two new names added. The bank manager reported it to the Department of Children and Families which investigated and police became involved as a result of that investigation.
A phone call to Raing seeking comment for this story was not returned by deadline time. In the police report, an investigator said Raing denied adding her and her sister’s name to Moore’s account, saying it was Moore who did so. Raing also stated that Moore gave her power of attorney to make all decisions related to her welfare and well-being.
According to police, Raing told the investigator she had no idea why Moore would make the allegations against her and that all she did was care for Moore and help her out of kindness.
Moore did not want to speak on the issue because she didn’t want to “mess up the investigation” but told South Florida Times that the entire situation “grieved my heart.” According to an investigator, Moore did not want Raing prosecuted; she just wanted her money back.
Bettye Collier of West Palm Beach, another former educator, knows both women. The two women are members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in West Palm Beach and Collier is a former president of the group. She said she recalls Raing heading the sorority’s scholarship committee at one point. “She did a stand-up job with that. Other than being a warm and giving person, she’s very professional,” said Collier. “And Mrs. Moore, I’ve known her for years and years and years. She’s a very kind lady.”
Daphne Taylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.