TRENTON – A con artist who was arrested in August in Philadelphia was sentenced Monday for conspiring with another woman to steal $164,900 from an elderly West Orange man, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced. The second woman was also successfully prosecuted, and as a result, the two women have paid back $125,000 to the victim to date.
Susan Frank, 48, a.k.a. “Chicken,” formerly of Elizabeth, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Michael A. Petrolle in Essex County to five years of probation, conditioned upon her performing 150 hours of community service and paying full restitution. The judge also ordered her to obtain a high school equivalency diploma. Frank was given credit for 17 days that she served in the county jail following her arrest in August 2012. She pleaded guilty on Aug. 29, 2012, to third-degree theft by deception. Frank paid $20,000 in restitution on the day of her plea, and paid an additional $45,000 today at her sentencing. She signed a consent judgment to pay another $39,900, representing the balance of unpaid restitution.
Supervising Deputy Attorney General Francine Ehrenberg, Deputy Chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, prosecuted the case.
The Division of Criminal Justice obtained an indictment on June 20, 2007, charging Frank and a second woman, Brenda Miguel, 51, a.k.a. “Girl Z,” formerly of Newark, for conning the elderly West Orange man out of $164,900 by feigning romantic attachment to him and pretending they needed loans for business ventures. Miguel pleaded guilty to theft by deception and was sentenced on Sept. 1, 2010 to five years of probation, conditioned on her performing 250 hours of community service and paying full restitution. She paid $60,000 when she pleaded guilty and signed a consent judgment to pay the remaining unpaid restitution to the victim.
“We’re pleased that the steadfast efforts of members of our Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, assisted by other law enforcement agencies, have led to the arrest and successful prosecution of these con artists who preyed on this trusting victim,” said Chiesa. “As a result of these efforts, much of the money this victim lost has been repaid, and, as a condition of probation, they must repay him fully.”
“We have made investigating and prosecuting financial fraud a top priority of the Division of Criminal Justice,” said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “If anyone has been defrauded or has information about a suspected financial crime, we urge them to contact us confidentially.”
The Division of Criminal Justice has a confidential, toll-free tipline for the public to report financial fraud, corruption and other illegal activities: 1-866-TIPS-4CJ. The public also can log on to the Division Web site at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.
Frank and Miguel allegedly belong to a group of transient con artists who prey on the elderly. Miguel introduced herself to the victim, a retired financial adviser who is now 91, at a diner in Linden in July 2003. Miguel, who used the alias Theresa Pachino, told him she was a hotel designer and remodeler who needed financing for a project. The victim provided Miguel with cash and checks totaling about $104,900. In 2004, Miguel introduced the victim to Frank, who used the alias Paulina Johns. Frank claimed to need funding for a national cleaning business she inherited. In October 2004, the victim provided Frank with three checks totaling $60,000. In each case, the man believed he was making loans that would be repaid.
The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice by Lt. James MacInnes and Supervising Deputy Attorney General Ehrenberg.
Frank was arrested on Aug. 15, 2012, at the home of a relative on Summerdale Avenue in Philadelphia by Detective Shawn Gorlin of the Division of Criminal Justice and other members of the U.S. Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force. She was hiding in the basement of the home.
Frank’s arrest resulted from information developed by Detective Gorlin and the U.S. Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force, with assistance from the Glenolden (Pa.) Police Department. Frank had been stopped by a Glenolden officer last year and allegedly provided a false identification.
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