(Adds comment from Senate committee in last paragraph)
WASHINGTON, May 28 (Reuters) - A former staffer employed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for more than 40 years was charged on Thursday with defrauding three women of about $500,000.
Robert Lee Foster, 65, of De Pere, Wisconsin, who retired in 2010, used his connection with Capitol Hill to gain three vulnerable women’s trust and persuade them to send him money, according to the indictment.
One of the women had recently been widowed, another had suffered a stroke and the third was looking after a partner who had dementia, court documents show.
Between 2008 and 2015, prosecutors allege Foster got the women to send him money by claiming that he needed the funds for various fictitious reasons, such as paying for legal costs, business expenses and travel.
He also falsely claimed that his credit card had been hacked, the indictment says.
Foster has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The Commerce committee said in a statement Foster had last worked for the Senate in 2010. “He served on the non-partisan support staff of the committee,” it said. (Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Sandra Maler, Christian Plumb and Diane Craft)