Con Woman Gets 8 Years for Kidnapping Fraud

January 27, 2012  |  

In May 2009, Bonnie Sweeten called 911 and told police she had been carjacked by two African American men and that they kidnapped her and her 9-year-old daughter, sparking a nationwide search. What really happened is Bonnie faked the carjacking after swindling her boss and an elderly relative out of more than $1 million, and she was chilling at a Disney resort. Yesterday, the 40-year-old Feasterville con woman was sentenced to 100 months behind bars after pleading guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft last July.

Bonnie’s scheme started long before her arrest in 2009. In 2004, she stole roughly $640,000 from a U.S. attorney’s office where she was working and then took an additional $280,000 from an elderly relative’s retirement account. She also forged a passport, driver’s license, and a court order. When she was arrested in 2009, she had spent the money on an expensive home, cars, vacations, and in-vitro fertilization treatments, which she and her lawyer argued is what caused her to steal the money after experiencing numerous miscarriages.

The judge had no sympathy. In addition to an eight-year sentence, he also ordered Bonnie to pay back more than $1 million in restitution, and told her she should be ashamed for rousing racial profiling when she accused black men of kidnapping her.

“This is a wound we want to heal, the racial divide,” Bucks County Court Judge Jeffrey L. Finley told Sweeten. “You picked at it that day and reopened it.”

I’m glad the judge understood the full scope of her wrongdoing. Do you think Bonnie’s sentence fits the crime?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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