Woman found guilty in sweet­heart swindler trial

Star-Telegram - - Front Page - BY DEANNA BOYD [email protected]­gram.com

A sweet­heart swindler who pros­e­cu­tors say used a web of lies, in­clud­ing that she had can­cer, to scam more than $1.6 mil­lion from six el­derly peo­ple was found guilty Thurs­day .

Ju­rors de­lib­er­ated about an hour and a half be­fore find­ing De­siree Boltos, 37, guilty on five counts of theft and one count of ex­ploita­tion of an el­derly per­son.

The pun­ish­ment phase of the trial be­gan im­me­di­ately after the ver­dict was read but was later re­cessed to be con­tin­ued Fri­day. Boltos faces up to life in prison.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Boltos teamed up with her com­mon-law hus­band to con the el­derly vic­tims be­tween De­cem­ber 2011

and May 2017 in a scheme com­monly re­ferred to as a sweet­heart swindler. The hus­band, Paul Hill, is also charged in the case and is await­ing trial.

The vic­tims were conned in a va­ri­ety of ways, pros­e­cu­tors say. Some thought they were in­vest­ing in Boltos’ in­te­rior de­sign busi­ness — a busi­ness that didn’t ex­ist — while an­other be­lieved he was help­ing pay le­gal fees and travel ex­penses for Boltos to ob­tain a mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar in­her­i­tance.

Danny Ray Bar­nett, who has since died, mar­ried Boltos not know­ing that she was al­ready mar­ried by com­mon law to an­other man and gave her money, be­liev­ing she had can­cer and needed it for treat­ment.

Casino records showed Boltos spent a great deal of the money in casi­nos, tes­ti­mony re­vealed.

In clos­ing ar­gu­ments, de­fense at­tor­ney Joetta Keene told ju­rors that there is de­cep­tion in love and dat­ing. She said the so­called vic­tims knew “what was up” and that Boltos’ only fault is that she’s “too young.”

“What’s go­ing on here, and just be­ing real, is what goes on all the time,” Keene said. “She’s il­lit­er­ate. She’s got a bunch of kids and she’s got a man that beats on her. She fig­ured out a way to make some money. She’s a sugar baby, and she’s got some sugar dad­dies and a sugar momma and it re­ally is that sim­ple.”

Prose­cu­tor Lori Var­nell told ju­rors, “We’re here be­cause this de­fen­dant is a liar and a hor­ri­ble per­son” who tar­geted griev­ing wid­ows, re­tired mil­i­tary and those with a di­min­ished ca­pac­ity be­cause she knew they had money and were vul­ner­a­ble.

“That’s not dat­ing,” Var­nell said. “That’s tar­get­ing.”

Boltos did not tes­tify dur­ing the trial, nor did the de­fense call any wit­nesses.

Though she had been free on bond, Boltos was taken into cus­tody Thurs­day morn­ing after show­ing up to court late. She told the court she had gone to a Fort Worth hospi­tal be­cause of a panic at­tack and also ex­pressed a wish to fire her de­fense at­tor­ney, prompt­ing a meet­ing among her, Keene and State Dis­trict Judge Rob Cata­lano in the judge’s cham­bers.

The trial later pro­ceeded, but Cata­lano ruled Boltos’ bond in­suf­fi­cient be­cause of the late ar­rival.

Also Thurs­day, ju­rors heard from an­other al­leged vic­tim, 87-year-old Lois Cardin, who tes­ti­fied via video from Flor­ida be­cause of health is­sues.

Cardin tes­ti­fied she had met Boltos over a dat­ing site known as Plenty Of Fish. She said Boltos went by the name “Lisa” on her pro­file.

Cardin said the two ex­changed calls and let­ters for sev­eral weeks be­fore Boltos came to visit her in Tampa, Fla.

“I was im­pressed, to­tally im­pressed,” Cardin said of meet­ing Boltos. “She looked nice, she spoke well. She had a great sense of hu­mor.”

Cardin said that over the next few days, the two went sight­see­ing, out to eat and shop­ping for a truck that Boltos wanted to buy while in Flor­ida.

On the night Boltos bought the truck, Cardin said she had stayed out­side the deal­er­ship in her own car un­til Boltos waved her in.

When she en­tered, she said, Lisa (Boltos) had her sign some doc­u­ments. She said she didn’t re­al­ize un­til a month after Boltos’ de­par­ture that she had, in fact, pur­chased the truck un­til get­ting a bill in the mail.

“That’s when I found out I owed money that I didn’t have,” Cardin said.

She said she also later re­al­ized that Boltos had ob­tained her credit card num­ber and made large charges to a Tar­rant County auto body shop.

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