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Law Practice Management

Jailed Paralegal Faces 23 New Charges in Alleged $700K Law Firm Thefts

Posted May 20, 2010 7:22 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A longtime paralegal and office manager for a suburban Philadelphia law firm is facing 23 new criminal charges after being indicted today by a federal grand jury.

Jailed last year after being convicted of identity theft and filing a false police report in another case, Bonnie Sweeten now is facing the consequences for allegedly stealing some $700,000 from the law firm, its clients and her colleagues, according to the Trentonian.

She made national headlines prior to her earlier case when she disappeared and claimed to have been abducted but actually was determined to have been on vacation at Disney World with her daughter.

Sweeten is accused of misusing her position at the Bucks County firm, posing as her boss as well as assuming other identities to perpetrate a variety of thefts. In the process, she allegedly fabricated a court order, a power of attorney, a bail assignment, driver’s licenses, a U.S. passport and other documents, the newspaper reports.

“As the indictment alleges, this defendant went to great lengths to defraud people who trusted her,” said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. “She betrayed family members, her employer, her friends, and the general public.”

Still in jail at the tail end of the prison term imposed on her last year, the 38-year-old Sweeten now faces a sentence of as much as 375 years if she is convicted of all 23 of the new federal counts. The charges against her include wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, misuse of a passport, lying to federal official and money laundering.

Additional coverage:

Associated Press: "Pa. abduction hoax mom accused of law firm thefts"

Intelligencer: "A closer look at Bonnie Sweeten's life"

Updated on May 21 to link to Intelligencer article.

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