WINTER HAVEN — Police say a Lakeland man exploited a 44-year-old physically and intellectually disabled Winter Haven man out of $1,045, leaving that man facing eviction.

The disabled man, who was not identified, has been served with an eviction notice after falling three months' behind on the rent for his apartment, Winter Haven Police Department spokeswoman Jamie Brown said on Friday. The man is able to live on his own with daily medical assistance.

Christopher Scarlett, 31, of 244 Florida Ave N., is being held in the Polk County Jail on a felony charge of exploitation of the elderly/disabled person for less than $20,000, according to a statement from the Winter Haven Police Department.

His mother called police on Tuesday to report her son had lost the money “through lies and deceit,” the report said.

The woman told police her son told her he did not have the money to pay his rent. On further questioning, she said, her son revealed he had been giving money to Scarlett since Aug. 3, after meeting him at a local bus stop. The last incident happened on Oct. 3.

According to the statement, Scarlett befriended the special-needs man and earned his trust.

Scarlett learned when the man would have money deposited into his account, which included the small amounts earned through a part-time job at Steak 'n Shake as a dishwasher, police say. Scarlett coordinated how much money to ask for based on the timing of his deposits, according to a release from the WHPD.

At one point, when the man said he didn't have money, Scarlett threatened to kill him unless he came up with cash, the statement says. Scarlett never physically harmed the man, but the man told detectives it was extremely scary and upsetting, and that the threats “hurt his feelings.”

Detectives interviewed Scarlett, who acknowledged he received money from the man and repeatedly asked for it — while aware of the man’s disabilities, according to the statement.

“There are no words for someone who will take calculated steps to take advantage of a disabled person,” said Police Chief Charlie Bird. “Scarlett is where he needs to be so he can't take advantage of anyone else.”

— Kevin Bouffard can be reached at kevin.bouffard@directgates.com or at 863-401-6980.