Criminal Justice

Paralegal Who Faked Kidnapping and Law Degree Is Sentenced for Embezzlement


A Pennsylvania paralegal who faked her kidnapping has been sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing more than $1 million, including $640,000 from the law firm where she worked.

Bonnie Sweeten was also charged with stealing $280,000 from an elderly relative with dementia, withdrawing $20,000 from a child’s escrow account, and forging documents to obtain a $100,000 loan, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. She made national news in 2009 when she faked her kidnapping and turned up at Disney World with her 9-year-old daughter. She has already spent a year in prison for the fake police report, and is now in federal custody, according to the Associated Press.

Sweeten told a judge on Thursday that she began stealing to pay for in vitro fertilization. She apologized and acknowledged her actions were “cruel and sick.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Wolf claimed Sweeten was “a master con artist” and said she had persuaded her husband that she graduated from law school, leading him to throw a party for her.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Jailed Paralegal Faces 23 New Charges in Alleged $700K Law Firm Thefts”

ABAJournal.com: “Law Firm Manager Sentenced to Prison for Carjacking Hoax”

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