Military impostor facing new theft charges in Portland

Michele Bocci currently serving 6-month jail sentence in Washington County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A man with an international history of pretending to be someone he's not – to obtain money and benefits – is facing new felony charges in Multnomah County after a grand jury recently handed down a 3-count indictment.

Michele Bocci, currently held in the Washington County Jail in Hillsboro, is scheduled to be released in February 2018. When he is released, Bocci will be transferred to the Multnomah County Detention Center in Portland and booked on the new warrant, issued December 6.

The new warrant charges Bocci with three counts of 1st-degree aggravated theft by deception. The indictment alleges Bocci stole thousands of dollars from a woman under false pretenses. All 3 theft allegations occurred on June 8, 2017 – days before Bocci would appear before a judge in Hillsboro to be sentenced on an unrelated but similar case involving theft and lies.

The German ruse

Portland Police White Collar Crimes Detective Liz Cruthers said her investigation into Bocci started in July when a woman contacted police to report she had given Bocci $23,000 and was never paid back.

According to police, Bocci met the woman 3 years earlier at a park. The woman spoke German and, police said, Portland has a tight-knit German community.

Bocci and the woman exchanged phone numbers. Then in 2017, Bocci called the woman out of the blue and asked for money. He claimed that he was a doctor at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and needed money for medical bills, according to police.

Detectives learned Bocci told the woman his daughter was in Germany and was diagnosed with cancer; and that the $23,000 would go towards helping her get better.

Bocci also told the victim his wife had died of cancer, according to police.

Bocci claimed he could pay back the $23,000 the woman gave because he was expecting a $980,000 life insurance payout from his wife's death. Police said the insurance policy was a ruse.

His current jail term

Investigators looked into Bocci's finances and determined he wasn't living an extravagant life.

Bocci is currently serving a 6-month jail sentence in Washington County after pleading guilty to one count each of criminal impersonation and 2nd-degree theft.

Washington County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Freeman said the Washington County case involved Bocci scamming a funeral home based in Aloha in August 2016.

Bocci claimed he was a veteran. He also claimed his dog had also served in the military, according to Freeman.

Under the pretense he and his dog were service members, Springer & Son Aloha Funeral Home gave Bocci free cremation services for Bocci's dog and gave him a shadow box, a small case with glass over the front that is used to display keepsakes.

At his sentencing hearing in Hillsboro on June 15, 2017, the Washington County DA's Office told the court Bocci has numerous prior convictions for theft and fraud in Europe.

Bocci also has an active warrant out for his arrest in Germany.

KOIN 6 News reached out to Metropolitan Public Defender office to see if they could comment on Bocci's Washington County case or the new indictment but they declined.

Anyone who has specifically met with Bocci and given him money is asked to call the Portland Police Bureau's White Collar Crimes Detail at 503.823.0400.

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