A Tarrant County woman dubbed the "Sweetheart Swindler" admits she had relationships with her much older alleged victims but claims they voluntarily gave her money.
“How can you steal something from somebody if they gave it to you?” Desiree Boltos said in an interview with NBC 5.
Boltos’ trial began Monday in Tarrant County District Court with jury selection.
She is accused of engaging in organized crime and money laundering in an alleged scheme to seduce five men and one woman in order to steal $1.6 million.
Boltos is 37-years-old. Her alleged victims were in their 60s and 70s -- in failing health or incapacitated and incapable of making financial decisions, prosecutors said.
“Women approach men all day long,” she said. “It happens every single day in America.”
Prosecutors paint a much different picture of Boltos.
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"You'll find she targeted people who lost their spouse,” Assistant District Attorney Lori Varnell said Tuesday in her opening statement to the jury. “They were grieving. She preyed upon that. She preyed on their grief and emotions."
Boltos’ attorney, Joetta King, told jurors the case isn’t about a con job but instead about adults making their own decisions about dating.
“You may not approve of this lifestyle,” King said. “And you may not approve of it if it’s your daddy, but these folks made willing choices.”
Prosecutors told the story of Danny Ray Barnett, a former helicopter worker at Bell in Hurst.
Boltos approached him in a post office when she was 32 and he was 72, they said.
She asked him to marry her a month later and soon took his life savings, even though the two never even lived together, prosecutors said.
Marilyn Uhl was a lifelong friend of Barnett.
"He was one of the nicest people I ever met in my whole life,” she testified. “He was like a child in his mentality. Very simple-minded, easily manipulated, gullible."
Boltos already had a common law husband at the time she married Barnett, who died penniless two years ago, prosecutors said.
In a telephone interview Monday night, Boltos acknowledged having relationships with the alleged victims and said she met them “on the street, on the airplane.”
“It doesn’t say anywhere in the law or in the Bible that people shouldn’t have relationships of any age,” she said. “These men are very educated. They’re way smarter than me. Nobody was a victim here.”
She denied stealing from any of them.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.
Boltos said she has never been accused of wrongdoing until her arrest last year and wants to clear her name.
“It’s one big mess, that’s what it is,” she said.