‘When’s this guy going to get thrown in jail?’: Women say Iowa man drained them financially, emotionally

An Iowa man is under investigation following a trail of broken hearts and empty bank accounts.Prosecutors say two years after sister station KETV’s investigative reports first aired, more women are coming forward alleging John Clarke, 53, preyed on their affection and drained them emotionally and financially.Clarke finds his victims on dating apps. “I thought, ‘When’s this guy gonna get caught and get thrown in jail?'” asked Paula Ochsner of Omaha, Nebraska.Ochsner met John Fitzgerald Clarke on Facebook Dating in November of 2019.”I still get bills from Verizon. I did pay off $4,000 at US Cellular,” Ochsner said.Ochsner first shared her story about her time with Clarke with KETV two years ago.Ochsner said by claiming to work at cell phone companies, Clarke convinced her into making him an authorized user on her account, racking up $11,000 in bills buying iPhones, Apple watches and other expensive accessories at stores in Omaha. “Many people will say it’s their decision, it’s their fault and I see it differently,” said Al Perales with the Iowa Attorney General’s office. He’s an investigator in the consumer division.He’s heard from about 20 Iowa women who dated Clarke with similar stories as Ochsner. “This is criminal in what he’s doing. There’s a method,” Perales said.Some county attorneys across Iowa see it that way too. Clarke’s been charged and convicted of various theft counts involving women.He either has current cases or convictions across four counties. “The person’s whose account he used reported that she had been swindled,” said James Katcher, an assistant attorney for Black Hawk County, Iowa.Katcher prosecuted Clarke for second-degree theft.Court filings allege Clarke “utilized deception with false employment information to gain administrative rights to the victim’s Verizon account,” charging nearly $1,8oo for a phone and watch.Katcher charged Clarke as a habitual offender since he had more than two felonies on his record. “He had about a dozen prior felony convictions,” Katcher said.Habitual offenders face an enhanced sentence of up to 15 years in prison. “If he could get one year for each of us victims,” Ochsner said. “We’re over 10, we’re over 10 years.” But Clarke took a plea deal in Black Hawk County and even as a habitual offender got two to five years probation.”He’s been to prison before and it didn’t change his ways,” Katcher said. “I don’t know that probation is going to change his ways either.” “What is probation gonna do? How’s he ever gonna learn he’s just gonna continue to do this to us.”While Clarke was making court appearances from new cases in 2020 and 2021, Julie from Coralville in Johnson County, Iowa, said he was courting her. “He said the magic words, complimented me,” Julie said.He sent her pictures of a diamond ring saying, “I’m very serious about us.”This time, Julie said he accessed her Best Buy credit card without her permission. “He pretty much maxed that out. He was four dollars short from maxing that out at four- thousand dollars,” she said.But the Coralville police didn’t consider it a crime.Julie filed a small claims case against Clarke, two days after a Des Moines woman did the same.”I’m a victim again because he keeps getting these little slaps on the wrist,” said Julie.Julie wants him put behind bars to protect other women. “I’m here and I have a Best Buy bill to pay,” she said. “I have to pay that bill. It’s a painful reminder every month.” “The romance scams, sometimes known as confidence scams are the most evilest scam out there because it deals with matters of the heart,” said Perales.Oschner hopes Clarke’s schemes come to an end in Nebraska once and for all. “We have John Clarke in our hands right in front of us, why can’t we do something?” Ochsner asked. Reporters are having trouble tracking down Clarke to ask him questions.In most of his cases, he has legally represented himself in court, so there is no lawyer to call to get his side of the story.

An Iowa man is under investigation following a trail of broken hearts and empty bank accounts.

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Prosecutors say two years after sister station KETV’s investigative reports first aired, more women are coming forward alleging John Clarke, 53, preyed on their affection and drained them emotionally and financially.

Clarke finds his victims on dating apps.

“I thought, ‘When’s this guy gonna get caught and get thrown in jail?'” asked Paula Ochsner of Omaha, Nebraska.

Ochsner met John Fitzgerald Clarke on Facebook Dating in November of 2019.

“I still get bills from Verizon. I did pay off $4,000 at US Cellular,” Ochsner said.

Ochsner first shared her story about her time with Clarke with KETV two years ago.

Ochsner said by claiming to work at cell phone companies, Clarke convinced her into making him an authorized user on her account, racking up $11,000 in bills buying iPhones, Apple watches and other expensive accessories at stores in Omaha.

“Many people will say it’s their decision, it’s their fault and I see it differently,” said Al Perales with the Iowa Attorney General’s office. He’s an investigator in the consumer division.

He’s heard from about 20 Iowa women who dated Clarke with similar stories as Ochsner.

“This is criminal in what he’s doing. There’s a method,” Perales said.

Some county attorneys across Iowa see it that way too. Clarke’s been charged and convicted of various theft counts involving women.

He either has current cases or convictions across four counties.

“The person’s whose account he used reported that she had been swindled,” said James Katcher, an assistant attorney for Black Hawk County, Iowa.

Katcher prosecuted Clarke for second-degree theft.

Court filings allege Clarke “utilized deception with false employment information to gain administrative rights to the victim’s Verizon account,” charging nearly $1,8oo for a phone and watch.

Katcher charged Clarke as a habitual offender since he had more than two felonies on his record.

“He had about a dozen prior felony convictions,” Katcher said.

Habitual offenders face an enhanced sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

“If he could get one year for each of us victims,” Ochsner said. “We’re over 10, we’re over 10 years.”

But Clarke took a plea deal in Black Hawk County and even as a habitual offender got two to five years probation.

“He’s been to prison before and it didn’t change his ways,” Katcher said. “I don’t know that probation is going to change his ways either.”

“What is probation gonna do? How’s he ever gonna learn he’s just gonna continue to do this to us.”

While Clarke was making court appearances from new cases in 2020 and 2021, Julie from Coralville in Johnson County, Iowa, said he was courting her.

“He said the magic words, complimented me,” Julie said.

He sent her pictures of a diamond ring saying, “I’m very serious about us.”

This time, Julie said he accessed her Best Buy credit card without her permission.

“He pretty much maxed that out. He was four dollars short from maxing that out at four- thousand dollars,” she said.

But the Coralville police didn’t consider it a crime.

Julie filed a small claims case against Clarke, two days after a Des Moines woman did the same.

“I’m a victim again because he keeps getting these little slaps on the wrist,” said Julie.

Julie wants him put behind bars to protect other women.

“I’m here and I have a Best Buy bill to pay,” she said. “I have to pay that bill. It’s a painful reminder every month.”

“The romance scams, sometimes known as confidence scams are the most evilest scam out there because it deals with matters of the heart,” said Perales.

Oschner hopes Clarke’s schemes come to an end in Nebraska once and for all.

“We have John Clarke in our hands right in front of us, why can’t we do something?” Ochsner asked.

Reporters are having trouble tracking down Clarke to ask him questions.

In most of his cases, he has legally represented himself in court, so there is no lawyer to call to get his side of the story.

Contributed by local news sources

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