A Tarrant County woman dubbed the “Sweetheart Swindler” was sentenced to more than 250 years behind bars Friday after being found guilty Thursday 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.
In an interview with NBC 5 earlier in the week, Boltos said she didn't steal the money and that it was given to her willingly.
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On Friday, the sentencing phase of Boltos' trial concluded after the jury ordered her to spend 263 years behind bars on the six counts against her. The judge ordered Boltos' sentences to be served concurrently - meaning she'll spend up to 85 years behind bars, unless parolled. Boltos, who is 37, won't be eligible for parole for 21 years.
Boltos' husband, who has been named a co-conspirator in the scheme, is expected to head to trial soon though a court date has not yet been set. The couple has three daughters who could face losing both parents to prison, if he's convicted.
In closing arguments Thursday, 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."
Friends of the victims showed up to hear the sentencing verdict Friday.
Marilyn Ewell knew Danny Barnett for 60 years. Boltos conned Barnett into marriage and stole his life savings, before he passed away.
"One of the nicest men I ever met in my life and she took every cent he had. Even came over when he was knocked out on pain pills, went through his pockets after she had taken it all and got his workman's comp check and his social security checks," Ewell said.
Varnell called Boltos a "shapeshifter" who changed her name and her looks to cheat the victims she preyed on. In some cases, even telling them she needed money for cancer treatment.
"You look at the victims in this case and you see the targeting that occurred to each one of their unique vulnerabilities and that is what is so shocking," she said.
The prosecutor said she was extremely pleased with the sentence.
"The jury is the one who sat there and listened to the evidence and the jury is the one who tells us how much this case is worth and they are absolutely spot on as far as I'm concerned," Varnell said.
Jim Schmit, a resort owner from California, testified against Boltos. He said she sought him out last year, thinking she'd strike it rich.
"She found out that I didn't have big money anymore, so she was very disappointed," he said.
Schmit said she stole $15,000 cash from his RV, then split town.
"She's very conning, I mean so convincing. I consider myself half-smart and she was so good," he said.
Varnell said it's difficult to know how many other victims could be out there.
As for the six in this case, the judge ordered Boltos to pay $60,000 in restitution.