Beauty Queen Fraudster

February 11, 2020

A recent high-profile fraud case may help highlight a particularly disturbing form of fraud that we often write about on this blog:  elder abuse.

A former Mrs. Florida beauty queen was recently convicted of stealing over $219,000 of her mother’s Social Security, Veterans Administration, and pension checks to pay for shopping sprees, fancy dinners, and a nanny (presumably so she could shop and dine out).  The money should have been used to pay bills for her elderly mother’s care at a nursing home.

In sentencing the former beauty queen, the judge explained that he wanted to send the message that “You can’t steal from the government and not go to jail.”  The sad part, as far as I’m concerned, is that she was only sentenced to a month in prison, five months of house arrest, and 100 hours of community service.  I’m not sure that’s a strong enough message.

In her defense, the convicted fraudster said she should not serve time because the damage to her reputation and her standing in her social circles was enough punishment.  She explained that she would no longer be able to hold political fundraisers and travel to do YouTube videos and other social media posts.  And who’s fault is that?

I guess it’s somewhat fortunate that this case of elder abuse only included financial fraud.  Many of the cases we encounter include physical and sexual abuse.  But I still scratch my head at the laws that limit the sentences on the fraudsters.  I think there are plenty of people who would take a month in prison in exchange for $219,000.