Popular retirement-home music leader accused of fraud

first_img According to a resume posted on his Web site, Dorval is a certified music therapist who conducts individual and group sessions. He also claims to have recorded under the Thousand Oaks-based label Tenacious Productions and lists Tesh and his wife as references. In phone interviews this week, Tesh said Dorval had great credentials and performed as part of the Sellecca/Tesh Foundation, which brings music therapy to seniors. “Why does this stuff have to happen?” said Tesh, adding that he had met Dorval three or four times over the past several years. “Connie and I consider ourselves victims in this, too. Our whole thing’s trying to bring music therapy. If this guy is guilty of fraud, then it’s a horrible thing for everybody.” Dorval filed 35 lawsuits in Los Angeles and Ventura counties between July 1995 and August 2004 – 10 against retirement homes, police said. He has reached settlements in some of the cases, but the dollar amounts were unavailable. Loretta Thompson, executive director of the Mountview assisted-living home in Glendale, recalled that Dorval performed twice a month for residents – 45-minute sessions in which participants shook bells and made music. A couple of months ago, residents signed a petition, which Dorval encouraged, to get him hired onto the staff permanently, she said. But Thompson said she felt intimidated and fired him at the end of last year. Then, she said, she got a letter saying she was violating a contract and that it needed to be settled. “He produced three contracts that I had supposedly signed,” Thompson said. “I knew that I hadn’t signed them.” Thompson said she later heard from the administrator at another home who called about problems with Dorval. “It’s horrible,” Thompson said, adding, “He did provide a wonderful activity for the seniors.” Jason Kandel, (818) 546-3306 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Police say Dorval played for various retirement homes between March 2003 and last July. After a year, the home would receive a letter alleging breach of contract and demanding thousands of dollars, police said. The letter would threaten a lawsuit against the facility and the individual who had signed. In each case, investigators said, that individual denied ever signing a contract but recalled signing and dating a piece of blank paper, investigators said. “It appears to me that Dorval is making a living by filing these fraudulent lawsuits,” Glendale police Detective Bob Zaun said. Dorval has pleaded not guilty to five counts each of attempted grand theft and forgery and is free after posting $40,000 bond. He did not return a call seeking comment. GLENDALE – An accomplished pianist, Neil Dorval delighted senior citizens at retirement homes across Southern California, charging $185 for recitals in which he would get seniors to sing and clap along to such standards as “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.” And at the end of the performance, according to police, he’d ask an employee to sign a blank piece of paper as a record that he’d performed on that date. Police say Dorval used those signatures to forge contracts that he then used in court to sue the facilities for breach of contract. And now the Thousand Oaks musician faces charges of defrauding five Glendale retirement homes out of thousands of dollars. “We’ve seen him work with seniors. People we’ve talked to have been happy,” said singer-songwriter John Tesh, whose nonprofit foundation contracted with Dorval to provide music-therapy sessions for senior citizens. “My wife (actress Connie Sellecca) is just crushed about this. We’re just as shocked as anybody else.” last_img read more