The husband of a Pocatello woman accused of persuading a terminally ill Cottonwood Heights man to sign over his will and power of attorney to her just before he died, has now also been charged in connection with the investigation. (Johanna Kirk, Deseret News)
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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — The husband of an Idaho woman accused of exploiting a terminally ill Utah man into signing over his possessions to her now also faces charges in connection with the alleged scheme.
Robert Billings, 71, of Pocatello, was charged Tuesday in Utah’s 3rd District Court with financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult who lacked the capacity to consent, a second-degree felony.
Last week, Billings’ wife, Marina Billings, 50, of Pocatello, was charged with financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult, second-degree felonies.
The Billingses were charged in connection with the same crimes last year, but prosecutors later dismissed those charges while saying more investigation was needed.
Marina Billings, who was a Bannock County Jail employee, met Boris Leiken, of Cottonwood Heights, online in 2020. Leiken, originally from Russia, was a champion speedskater.
Despite being married, Billings began traveling to Utah and developed an intimate relationship with Leiken, according to charging documents.
Starting in May of 2021, Leiken began experiencing medical problems and by April or May of that year, Billings moved in with Leiken. Leiken died at age 69, “after being diagnosed approximately a month prior to his death with an aggressive and lethal form of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, commonly referred to as mad cow disease,” according to the charges.
Prosecutors say prior to Leiken’s death, Billings “created or changed Mr. Leiken’s testamentary documents … resulting in her becoming the administrator and beneficiary of his estate.”
As investigators continued to look into Leiken’s new will, they learned that a notary was contacted by Billings and notarized several documents in May 2021 while Leiken was in the hospital, including power of attorney, his health care directive, his will and deed on his home, the charges state. Prosecutors say another man, later determined to be Robert Billings, was also present for the signings, but represented himself only as a friend of Marina Billings.
Nurses who cared for Leiken at the time say Leiken lacked the mental capacity to make decisions like that, according to the charges.
When police later searched the Billings’ Idaho home, they found a hidden room.
“In the room, officers found Mr. Leiken’s will, power of attorney, advance health care directive, trust and quit claim deed that were created by Marina and Robert Billings,” according to charging documents. “The will named Marina Billings as the sole beneficiary and personal representative of Mr. Leiken’s estate and Robert Billings as a secondary personal representative. The will makes no reference or bequests to Mr. Leiken’s dependent elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.”
A warrant was issued Tuesday for Robert Billings’ arrest.