By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"But I don't want to think that the only way I'll get decent care is by marrying or giving away my property to a care giver--and to turn my back on my family in favor of somebody I've known less than a month. Maybe there's some mutual benefit we can look at and see now. But it sure looked like she walked in there--and I'm still not convinced she didn't--with the full intent of feathering her nest."
When Ed met Lorraine last August, he was a lonely, almost deaf, legally blind man who needed nearly constant care. He's still all of the above, except for lonely. But he's also a man whose mind remains exceptionally keen.
As for Lorraine, meeting "Mr. Eddie," as she likes to call him, was fortuitous. She'd recently separated from her fourth husband, and was living with her dog and cat at a friend's house. She didn't own a car. Probably the best thing in Lorraine's life was her job as a home-health aide for aged clients.
Ed's interest in Viagra aside, the pair are circumspect on the sexual nature of their relationship. "She is my wife, but we are companions," he says cryptically.
Lorraine seems somewhat befuddled by the fuss that's accompanied her marriage to Mr. Eddie, as if it's commonplace to wed someone old enough to be your great-grandfather. Whatever her motivations, she will earn whatever comes to her if she stays the course with Ed.
Being Mrs. Eddie Gamble is no cakewalk. Lorraine is with him 'round-the-clock, catering to his whims, which are many.
Ed usually carries a small plastic horn with him in his wheelchair. When he toots it, Lorraine comes running. Mr. Eddie is her job, her mission, her life.
"I don't hang around with anybody anyway," she says. "As long as I'm around, Eddie's happy, and so am I. And I haven't been happy much in my life."
Ed Gamble's attorney, Alisa Gray, tells of a vivid exchange that occurred during a meeting a few weeks ago.
"It was after Mr. [Ed] Gamble looked his grandson in the eye and said, 'You mind your business and I'll mind mine,'" says Gray, an expert in probate law who has represented many senior citizens. "Gary said, 'Whatever happens, I want to be a part of your life.' I told him, 'Then you'll have to make room for Lorraine, because she's not going anywhere.'"
Although Ed and Lorraine had been married, Ed's task in January was to convince the courts, the County Attorney's Office, a psychologist and his own attorney that he hadn't lost his marbles. All this was necessary because of the hullabaloo over the marriage and because his grandson was fighting Ed's effort to change his trust.
On January 12, Paul Blunt asked a Probate Court commissioner to appoint an emergency guardian and conservator to watch over Ed Gamble and his estate.
In court papers, Blunt said Gamble was "unable to manage his property and affairs effectively due to mental deficiency, mental disorder, physical illness and disability and advanced age." He also claimed Lorraine "may be wasting and dissipating Edward's estate, unduly influencing Edward to transfer assets and financially exploiting Edward."
Blunt gave his perspective of the circumstances that led to the December 31 wedding, and added troubling new allegations. He claimed that investigators from the County Attorney's Office had told him that Lorraine had withdrawn $40,000 in savings from Ed Gamble's bank account. He said investigators from the County Attorney's Office had observed the January 6 transaction, at a Wells Fargo branch in Sun City. While Lorraine was in the bank, they observed Ed Gamble alone in a van "which appeared to have been recently purchased," Blunt said.
The investigators approached the van, according to Blunt, at which time "[Gamble] became confused, frustrated and yelled through the glass that he did not know how to open the door."
It sounded as though Lorraine was raiding her new husband's estate. As it turns out, someone--there's finger-pointing about whom--erred badly on the bank issue. More on that later. The result was that Wells Fargo froze Ed's bank accounts on January 8. Whether the bank or the County Attorney's Office initiated the freeze is in dispute.
"I didn't even have enough money to buy a hot dog for a while," Ed says of the account seizure. "We had to use Lorraine's money, and for no good reason. I know exactly what I'm doing with my money."
During a January 12 hearing, county court commissioner Gary Donahoe quizzed Ed about his personal history, family and his assets. Before moving along, Donahoe asked Ed if he had any other assets.
"Just this one here," he immediately replied, gesturing toward Lorraine.
Ed passed the quiz. Donahoe lifted the freeze on the bank accounts, and appointed Dr. Pamela Willson, a neuropsychologist, to further evaluate Ed's mental state.
Concluded Willson in a report dated January 29: "Mr Gamble is . . . competent to make personal decisions . . . [He] has strong values, and marrying the woman he wants to be physically and personally close to is the proper thing to do, from his perspective. . . . He knows she has been married four times, knows about her recent DUI and related problems and has met her family; despite the difference in their ages and backgrounds, he says he is comfortable in her company, and indeed appears to be so."