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Ohio woman gets prison time for fleecing ailing Korean War veteran
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Strongsville woman convicted of fleecing an ailing Korean War veteran out of much of his life savings was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison.
Latasha Wisniewski, 38, feigned a sexual interest in Charles Bauer in late 2017 by taking the 88-year-old widower to a plastic surgeon's office and asking him to pay for breast implants. She then withdrew more than $140,000 from Bauer's accounts over the following months, according to court records.
Common Pleas Court Judge Shannon Gallagher found Wisniewski guilty in a bench trial last month of felony charges of aggravated theft and money laundering. She faced a maximum of 12 years in prison.
Gallagher also ordered Wisniewski to repay the money she stole from Bauer to his estate. Bauer died in January, before he could be deposed and testify at length about Wisniewski.
Wisniewski's aunt, Lisa Dotson, was also charged with stealing Bauer's money. Dotson struck a plea with prosecutors in which she agreed to testify against Wisniewski in exchange for some charges to be dismissed.
Dotson is set to be sentenced next month.
A Cuyahoga County sheriff's deputy places Latasha Wisniewski into handcuffs Tuesday after Common Pleas Court Judge Shannon Gallagher sentenced the 38-year-old Strongsville woman to three years in prison. (Cleveland.com/Cory Shaffer)
Wisniewski, whose tattooed hands protruded from a white cable-knit sweater she wore beneath a black fleece vest, chose not to speak because she plans to appeal, defense attorney Marcus Sidoti said.
Dotson, a home health aide who cared for Bauer, was also charged in a separate case that accused her stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from elderly and disabled clients.
Bauer battled depression and alcoholism in 2017 after the death of his longtime wife. He began attending support meetings.
Dotson connected him with Wisniewski, 50 years his junior, who befriended him and convinced him that she was in love with him and wanted to marry him, according to court records.
Wisniewski and Bauer opened up a joint checking account in October 2017 and Wisniewski transferred $80,000 from Bauer's accounts into it, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brent Kirvel said in court Tuesday. The money was gone within two months, so Wisniewski transferred more money to the account, convinced Bauer to add her name to the deed on his Parma bungalow, and took out a $12,000 loan with a 400 percent interest rate on his SUV, records say.
Wisniewski enlisted the help of two other elderly people, both of whom were living in nursing homes at the time, to help in the scheme. She also posed at one point as Bauer's granddaughter, Kirvel said.
Kirvel said Wisniewski was using Bauer's money to support her addiction to opioids and cocaine.
"There was never a genuine like for Chuck Bauer on the part of the defendant," Kirvel said. "She used him."
Sidoti said Tuesday that Wisniewski really did care for Bauer. She took him to the VA hospital for treatment, and to support groups to treat his alcoholism. Bauer wanted Wisniewski to have access to his accounts and signed off on many of the transactions, Sidoti said.
Sidoti said prosecutors built their case against Wisniewski upon the words of Dotson, whose theft from elderly clients amounted to more than $1 million and spanned a decade.
Gallagher had to interrupt proceedings and warn a woman sitting in the public seating in the back of the courtroom behind Wisniewski to keep quiet after she muttered to members of Bauer's family.
"It's just hard to sit here and listen to lies," the woman said to the judge.
Gallagher told her if she couldn't keep her opinions to herself, then she needed to leave.
Wisniewski's boyfriend, Daniel Scholz, vowed to Kirvel after the hearing that Wisniewski would appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court and overturn her three-year sentence.
Kirvel responded, "it could have been a lot worse."
©2019 The Plain Dealer, Cleveland - Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Military veterans from throughout Northeast Florida came together Saturday morning to honor comrades in arms who were prisoners of war or missing in action, and remember their sacrifice.
After the plane landed, Pope Army Airfield was silent on Saturday.
A chaplain prayed and a family member sobbed.
Tarah McLaughlin's fingers traced her husband's flag-draped coffin before she pressed two fingers to her lips then pressed her fingers to the coffin.
The remains of Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, arrived back to Fort Bragg a week after he was killed Jan. 11 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, also was killed in the same incident.
The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.
In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.
PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.
With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.