Shirley Miller, 43, pleaded guilty to grand larceny and attempted grand larceny in October 2005, a year after she was indicted on 11 counts, including criminal possession of stolen property and scheming to defraud, according to the DA's office. The grand larceny charges were classified as hate crimes under state law because Miller targeted her victims based on their age, Queens DA Richard Brown said in a statement.The former Bayside woman took money from two men and attempted to defraud two others between 1998 to 2004 by using aliases and fake stories of personal hardship to gain their sympathies, the DA said. Miller told victims among other phony stories that she needed money for cancer treatment, that her parents had been killed and that she needed money to start a business. All the victims were between 75 and 85 years old.The investigation began in late 2003 after one of the men reported her to the DA's office. Miller fled to Hollywood, Fla., in 2004 and was arrested there in September of that year. After her arrest, the DA said she had taken more than $500,000 from victims and attempted to steal $70,000 more."Crimes involving the financial exploitation of the elderly, particularly those involving so-called 'sweetheart scams,' are among the most devastating forms of elder abuse," Brown said in a statement. He pointed out that Miller's case was the first financial crime against the elderly prosecuted under the hate crimes law in Queens.After her plea deal in October 2005, Miller paid $175,000 in restitution to her victims.Miller was part of a ring of three alleged sweetheart scammers being prosecuted by the Queens district attorney's office, the TimesLedger reported in October. The women know each other, an assistant district attorney in the DA's Economic Crimes Bureau said at the time.Nancy Jace, a 38-year-old Flushing woman, was sentenced to six months in jail and made to pay $260,000 in restitution in 2004 on charges of defrauding five elderly men. Former East Elmhurst resident Sherry Kaslov, 30, was indicted in October on seven counts of grand larceny as a hate crime in connection with scamming two men in their 80s from Jackson Heights and Rego Park, according to the DA's office.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at news@times
©2006 Community News Group
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