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Police & Fire

Terminal Patient Fleeced By Con Man, Pastor, Palisades Park Police Say

Jung U. Kim, Sangman Lee, Jong W. Song
Jung U. Kim, Sangman Lee, Jong W. Song Photo Credit: Palisades Park Police

PALISADES PARK, N.J. -- Pretending to help a Palisades Park woman dying of cancer, a con man assisted by a church pastor and a second accomplice drained her life savings -- and, with it, her heart, authorities charged.

Jung U. Kim, 52, of Norwood was being held on $100,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail following his arrest Monday night by Palisades Park detectives, Police Chief Benjamin Ramos told Daily Voice.

Also held were Sangman Lee, 48, also of Norwood, the pastor of Living Water Community Church in Cliffside Park, and Jong W. Song of Palisades Park -- both on $30,000 bail.

Pretending to be a social worker, Kim told the 40-something victim -- who doesn't speak English -- that he could help her get Social Security benefits, an apartment and insurance, among other things, Ramos said.

Kim, who is disabled with a bum leg himself, won her confidence, the chief said.

He then took her personal identification, opened four credit card accounts and "went to town," he said.

Kim then took the woman to a local Social Security office and sat in on an interview as a translator, he said.

He later told her she was rejected for benefits because she and her husband had a life insurance policy -- and convinced her to cancel it and give him the $53,000 balance so that he could "hide it" from inspectors, Ramos said.

Song, a driver for a senior day care center, introduced Kim to Lee, the pastor, who cashed the check after Kim forged the signature, the chief said.

Lee "took a $5,000 cut for himself" while giving Song, the accused middle man, $10,000, he said.

The victim, after discovering she'd been had, went to police.

"He stole everything she had," the chief said. "All of her life savings is gone while he lived an extravagant lifestyle on her dime.

"It broke the poor woman's will. She spiraled down," he said.

Detective Sgt. Shawn Lee, assisted by Detective George Beck, "worked exhaustively to unravel the scheme," Ramos said.

The resulting charges include theft, forgery and wrongful impersonation, among other counts.

"It's horrible enough to see a loved going through a grave illness," the chief told Daily Voice. "At least we can let the family and everyone know that the people who contributed to this will pay for it."

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