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Irvine elderly beggar video: Neighbors speak out

February 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A YouTube video of a man picking up his elderly mother who was panhandling in Irvine has caught the eye of many who recognize the pair.

Neighbors say the man is David Chey and the woman is his 81-year-old mother, Soon. In the video, Chey is seen picking his mother up around 2 a.m. after a cold night of panhandling last December at a mall in Irvine.

"That was very sad for us to see," said a former neighbor, who only wanted to be identified as Laura. "We were all somewhat nervous of him and were afraid of what he would do."

Neighbors claim Chey terrorized the neighborhood for years, acting paranoid and keeping cameras pointed out his front windows.

"He would always have a camera around his neck so whenever you would leave your house he would be videotaping," Laura said.

Some neighbors allege he would shout at their families, similar to the shouting heard in the YouTube video when he accuses the person recording the confrontation of working for the banks.

"You're a paid harasser," Chey is heard saying.

Neighbors say the Cheys owned a home in Irvine for 30 years. Records show Chey's father died in 2007. They filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy two years later and eventually lost the home to foreclosure. Chey and his mother now live in an apartment in Irvine.

Neighbors say Chey's mother, a homemaker, has been panhandling for years, and not just in Irvine, but also in Laguna Beach.

"They would sit out there between the spring and summer in Laguna," said Kellie Dearden of Laguna Beach.

Irvine Police say they knew of David Chey even before the video went viral. Officers had been called to the home dozens of times over the years for a range of complaints, most of which were not crimes. Police say they are looking at the video, but so far it does not show evidence of elder abuse.

"The particular incident that is depicted on the video tape was not criminal in nature," said Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen.

Others wish more could be done.

"He can afford a car and other items, he should be taking care of his mother, not putting her on the street," said Dearden.

The investigation by Irvine police and Adult Protective Services is ongoing, and currently no charges are pending. Officers and Adult Protective Services have interviewed the mother. She is said to be lucid and acting of her own free will, and no action can be taken without violating her rights.

Eyewitness News attempted to contact Chey and his mother for comment, but so far they have not responded.


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