2012-02-02 / Local & State

Carjack Hoax Mom Gets 8 Years

By MARYCLAIRE DALE
ASSOCIATED PRESS

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The in-vitro treatments. The suburban house. The frequent trips and dinners out.

None of it was worth it, a soccer mom-turned-’’abduction hoax’’ mom told a federal judge Thursday before she was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for a $1 million swindle.

Bonnie Sweeten, 40, of Feasterville, is infamous for an alarming 911 call that claimed she and her daughter had been carjacked by two black men. She said they’d been stuffed into the trunk of another vehicle. She made an equally furtive call to her second husband.

Sweeten, who is white, was instead on her way to the airport with her middle child in May 2009, about to use a co-worker’s passport to board a flight to Florida. She feared an arrest looming in the fraud scheme. The FBI found the pair unharmed the next day at Disney World.

“I wanted something so bad that I would do whatever I had to do to get it,’’ Sweeten said in court Thursday. “When you go to prison, you realize you don’t need anything monetary. You don’t need any of it.’’

Sweeten’s voice cracked when she apologized for stealing $280,000 from an elderly relative after gaining access to his retirement account papers at her former mother-in-law’s home. She and the woman were extremely close.

“My actions were cruel and sick. What I did was wrong to (law firm) clients as well, but to do it to family, I’m very ashamed of myself,’’ said Sweeten, a paralegal who stole $640,000 from the one-lawyer firm where she worked and took out a $150,000 loan on the lawyer’s real estate. She has already spent a year in prison for the fake 911 call.

Sweeten had developed elaborate means to steal the money, doctoring up a judge’s order for clients at the law firm; telling her husband she had gotten a law degree, leading him to throw a party; and posing as her boss at the refinancing of the woman’s property.

“Her conduct has shown that, at her core, she is a criminal,’’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Wolf said. “She is a master con artist.’’

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