Crime

Sweetheart swindler who stole $1.6 million from elderly sentenced to 85 years in prison

Desiree Boltos ‘Sweetheart Swindler’ trial

Prosecutor Lori Varnell makes her opening statement in the Desiree Boltos "Sweetheart Swindler" trial. Boltos is accused of scamming six elderly people out of $1.6 million.
Up Next
Prosecutor Lori Varnell makes her opening statement in the Desiree Boltos "Sweetheart Swindler" trial. Boltos is accused of scamming six elderly people out of $1.6 million.

A woman who swindled six elderly people out of $1.6 million through a variety of ruses was sentenced to 85 years in prison Friday.

Desiree Boltos, 37, had been found guilty Thursday on five counts of theft and one count of exploiting an elderly person.

On Friday, the jury sentenced Boltos to 85 years on the first theft count, 75 years on the second theft count, 20 years on the third theft count, 68 years on the fourth theft count, 15 years on the fifth theft count and 10 years on the exploiting an elderly person count.

In addition, the jury imposed a $10,000 fine on each of the six counts.

The sentences will run concurrently. She will have to serve 21 years in prison before becoming parole eligible.

“We are exceptionally pleased with the outcome and today’s verdict,” said Lori Varnell, lead prosecutor and chief of the Elder Financial Fraud Team. “This sentence reflects the swath of victims that were targeted and depth of damage that was done to each victim.”

She said the case was a collaborative effort between the Elder Financial Fraud Unit, witnesses, Hurst police, and Adult Protective Services.

“That is how we get this crime stopped. Elderly exploiters, take note, we are prosecuting these cases, we are seeking the maximum penalty, and we are watching,” Varnell said.

Defense attorney Joetta Keene had asked jurors to consider probation for Boltos, reminding them that Boltos is a mother with children still residing at home.

“She does have children, and we know that she loves the kids very much,” Keene said.

Keene told jurors that State District Judge Robb Catalano could order Boltos learn to read and write, obtain her GED and even work and pay what restitution she can to her victims.

Varnell had told jurors not even to consider probation because Boltos may not be eligible, nor does she deserve it. She reminded jurors that Boltos had a California driver’s license that identified her as Tina Shuna, leaving uncertainty regarding whether Boltos could have a felony conviction under her other name.

She asked jurors to sentence Boltos to the maximum of 10 years on the count of exploiting an elderly person. and to start at 60 years and go from there on the theft counts in which she faced 5 to 99 years or life in prison.

“At the end of their life when they should have been retiring and living a joyful existence they worked their whole life for, it’s stuck in a slot machine and gone,” Varnell said. “They’re never getting the money back.”

During the punishment phase of the trial Thursday, jurors heard that Boltos was suspected of stealing $15,000 from a resort owner whom she had pursued after presumably seeing press coverage stating he was a millionaire. They also heard from a woman who said she was pursued by and gave thousands of dollars to Paul Hill in a similar ruse that had been used by Boltos. She believed Hill was Boltos’ brother when he was actually the woman’s common-law husband.

Hill, 40, is awaiting trial on charges of theft of property, money laundering and theft of service.

Jurors also heard from one of Boltos’ six victims, Paul Wilbur, an Alabama man who had met Boltos on a plane coming back from Las Vegas. Prosecutors say he would ultimately buy two vehicles for Boltos and give her hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in her interior design business - a company that didn’t exist.

Wilbur testified he lost his life savings and was saddled with credit card bills that took him three years to pay off. He said he also mortgaged his house to give Boltos money and has now had to put it up for sale.

“I have essentially no savings after working for 50-plus years,” he told jurors.

When his son lost all his vehicles and his home was flooded during last year’s hurricane in Houston, Wilbur said he felt like he failed because he wasn’t in a financial position to help his son.

“I am not worthless,” Wilbur said. “I’m just stupid.”

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

  Comments