Husband And Wife Sentenced For Defrauding Great-Aunt
October 21, 2013 by Joseph Kohut
|By Joseph Kohut, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Oct. 18–A husband and wife convicted of defrauding a Blakely woman and her estate were sentenced to federal prison Thursday.
Victor J. Santarelli III, 47, of Clearwater, Fla., was sentenced to 57 months in prison by Senior U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik and was ordered to pay$74,390 in restitution.
Tamara Santarelli, 44, address unknown, was sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay the same amount in restitution.
Both were convicted in October 2011 of aiding and abetting mail fraud, aiding and abetting wire fraud and conspiracy, after a jury trial that lasted nearly a week.
They were indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2011 on allegations they schemed to defraud Joann Striminsky, a great-aunt whom they cared for until she died in 2007.
The indictment states the plot began in spring 2006, when the Santarellis moved Ms. Striminsky into their Scranton home and appointed Mr. Santarelli as her power of attorney. From 2006 to 2007,Mr. Santarelli had been in contact with MetLife Inc., which holds the policy containing Ms. Striminsky’s annuity, with the initial intent of naming himself as the primary beneficiary and Mrs. Santarelli as the contingent beneficiary. The insurance company balked at the request because Ms. Striminsky did not sign the paperwork herself.
Several days after Ms. Striminsky’s death, the Santarellis tried a different tactic and sent a letter stating Ms. Striminsky requested the annuity be surrendered, explaining she had broken her wrist when the insurer asked why she was not signing the forms herself.
The plot netted them more than$13,000 from the annuity payment. Other schemes to drain her estate were also in the works, such as opening a trust fund withFidelity Bank and depositing just over$41,000 of her money into it before her death.
Mr. and Mrs. Santarelli asked to serve their prison sentences in Florida .Judge Kosik granted the request, pending recommendations from the Bureau of Prisons.
Once they serve their prison sentences, both are required to serve three years of supervised release.
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