A Tarrant County woman dubbed the “Sweetheart Swindler” was found guilty of engaging in organized crime and money laundering in a scheme to seduce five men and one woman and steal their life savings.
Desiree Boltos, prosecutors said, preyed romantically on six elderly people and stole a total of $1.6 million, prosecutors said.
With the conviction, Boltos faces up to life in prison. The sentencing phase of the trial began immediately after the guilty verdict was read Thursday.
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On Thursday Boltos, of North Richland Hills, showed up late for her own trial after she claimed she had a panic attack and wanted to fire her own lawyer.
That didn't happen, but Judge Robb Catalano ordered her to remain in custody.
Using charts and graphs, a financial analyst testified Boltos gambled much of the money away at casinos in Las Vegas and Oklahoma.
Lois Cardin, 87, of Tampa, testified via Skype.
She said Boltos, 37, befriended her online and the two met.
Cardin said Boltos stole her credit card number and conned her into buying her a new pickup, which she didn’t realize she had bought until she got the monthly bill.
"It said a thousand bucks,” Cardin said. “I almost fainted."
In closing arguments, prosecutor Lori Varnell described Boltos as a thief who preyed on vulnerable older people.
"We're here because this defendant is a liar and a horrible person,” Varnell said. “She lies even when the truth would do her better."
Defense attorney Joetta Keene fired back.
"What we have here are a bunch of sugar daddies and a sugar momma, and that's just the truth,” Keene said.
She argued the alleged victims gave the money to Boltos voluntarily.
"It's called love. It's called dating,” Keene said. “There is deception in love and dating, it is true."