Heating-oil scion facing prison time

Boyd C. “Tidge” Davis Jr., 72, was found guilty Monday by a jury of over 80 counts of theft.

Davis heir was convicted of looting his parents’ estates

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

A member of a West Chester heating-oil dynasty was convicted of embezzling over $500,000 from his elderly parents and other family members, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said Monday.

Boyd C. “Tidge” Davis Jr., 72, a former West Chester Borough Council member, was found guilty by a jury of over 80 counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, and other types of fraud, Hogan said. He had been accused of what prosecutors termed “massive theft” from the estates of Boyd Davis Sr. and Nelda Wynn Davis, primarily in 2006 and 2007.

“The defendant’s parents were vulnerable victims, elderly and in declining health,” said Hogan.  “The defendant took advantage of their condition to loot their savings.  This was a shocking abuse of trust.”

Defense attorney Evan Kelly disagreed. “We respect the decision of the jury, but we are planning to file an appeal,” he said.

According to court records, the defendant’s father suffered a disabling stroke in 1999 and died at age 91 in 2007.  The defendant’s mother had been in declining health for years, culminating with her death in 2010 at the age of 96. With both parents in failing health, the defendant was granted power of attorney over their funds.

Prosecutors, led by Deputy District Attorney Ron Yen, alleged that Boyd Davis, who lives in East Bradford, began to treat his parents’ money as if it was his own, siphoning off their savings for his own use. Davis used multiple schemes to steal the money, Yen said, including stealing the proceeds of a sizeable loan while encumbering his parents’ home with a mortgage and misdirecting checks in which his brother had a half interest to a secret business account he had opened.

The investigation began after Steve Lagoy, an attorney serving as guardian for the defendant’s mother, noticed some irregularities in certain mortgages involving the defendant and his mother, Hogan said.

Kelly said Davis acknowledged taking the money but said that he did so with his parents’ knowledge. Prosecutors countered that the parents did not have the mental capacity to consent, but Davis disputed that, Kelly said, arguing that when they were lucid, they did not object to Davis’s use of the funds.

Hogan said Davis’s sentencing before Chester County Judge Jacqueline C. Cody has not yet been scheduled.

Long before Davis was charged with theft in July 2011, he had been at odds with his younger brother, Brooke W. Davis Sr., and sister Jane Helmstaedter over the terms of their parents’ wills; it was changed in the early 2000s to make Boyd Davis the sole heir, court records said. Nearly a decade ago, Brooke Davis successfully sued his brother, accusing him of  ruining the once-profitable company they ran together after their father retired in 1981. In 2009, Chester County Judge Edward Griffith ordered Boyd Davis to pay his brother $12.5 million.

Davis Oil Co. began in West Chester in the 19th century as a lumber business; in 1909, it began selling auto fuel and heating oil. In 1955, Boyd Davis Sr. took over the fuel division, which evolved into a lucrative chain of gas stations and convenience stores.

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