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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.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.
On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.
U.S. special operations forces are currently field testing a lightweight combat armor designed to cover more of an operator's body than previous protective gear, an official told Task & Purpose.
The armor, called the Lightweight Polyethylene (PE) Armor for Extremity Protection, is one of a handful of subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.