Patrick Combs, the former public address announcer at Memorial Stadium who is facing fraud charges, doesn't deny he bought three cars on an 88-year-old Lincoln widow's checking account while her health was failing.

Or that he paid for new carpet at his family's lake house and put $44,000 in his son's college savings account with her money.

But where prosecutors saw four felonies, the Gretna man's attorney saw none.

"In the end, you wonder why we're here," attorney Bob Creager said in opening statements. "You wonder why we spent so much time, so much energy ... when all that happened in this case was that the estate that Harold Mosher and Beverly Mosher saved up for passed to its intended beneficiary."

At a retrial that started Tuesday, Creager told the jury Combs only was trying to follow the advice of accountants and lawyers to save an 18 percent inheritance tax. Not taking off with her money, as the state alleges.

Creager said the Moshers, who had no children, treated Combs as a son. They paid for him to go to college and for his wedding, and they put him in their wills.

And, he said, it was Harold who, before he died in 2014, told Combs he should spend his inheritance to avoid the tax.

Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Morgan Smith described a different scenario. One where Combs insinuated himself in Beverly's life in the months before she died in 2015 to get her to change her will.

Harold was a lawyer in the Nebraska Attorney General's office. Beverly worked at the Teacher's College at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They had an acreage, invested their money and saved. By the end, they had quite a lot, Smith said.

When they got older, Combs and two others stepped in to help them with the acreage and other things.

"They thought they were on the same team. They thought they were all working toward the same goal: taking care of Harold and Beverly. Unfortunately, as the evidence will show, they find out that's not the case," Smith said.

The other two ended up written out of the will, and before all was said and done, Smith alleged, Combs had stolen nearly $95,000 from Beverly Mosher and had attempted to steal $1.75 million more by transferring it from her account into his.

The transfer attempt led to the report to Adult Protective Services and the Lincoln Police investigation.

Working backward, investigators tried to figure out how it had gotten to that point, Smith said.

He said he'll call witnesses to Beverly Mosher signing changes to her will who questioned if she knew what she was doing. They'll call an expert who will say she wasn't competent to sign them.

Creager told the jury that's the state's perception of the case, not reality.

"There is simply no crime here whatsoever," he said.

Combs is on trial for abuse of a vulnerable adult, theft by unlawful taking, unauthorized use of a credit or debit card and attempted theft by unlawful taking over $1,500 in connection with his financial dealings with the Moshers.

Trial could last two weeks.

When Combs went to trial the first time, in May 2016, that jury deadlocked.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or

On Twitter @LJSpilger.


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