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Rochester Woman Pleads Guilty to Defrauding an Elderly Couple Out of $840,000

MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier Thursday in federal court, a 61-year-old Rochester woman pleaded guilty to defrauding an elderly couple out of more than $840,000. Carolyn Jean Cassar pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Cassar, who was charged in a superseding indictment on July 23, 2013, entered her plea before United States District Court Judge Joan N. Ericksen.

In her plea agreement, Cassar admitted that from May 2006 through September 2012, she executed a scheme to obtain money through false and fraudulent pretenses. Cassar specifically admitted that she induced an elderly couple to provide her with money by falsely representing that she needed the funds to travel to Washington, D.C., to attend to the affairs of her recently deceased daughter. She also falsely represented that she needed money to travel to Italy to, among other things, prosecute a former business agent who had defrauded her. In addition, Cassar told the elderly couple that she expected to receive an inheritance from her father’s estate, which she would use to repay the funds loaned her. To support her false representations, Cassar provided the fraud victims with airline itineraries for her flights to Italy.

Cassar actually used the funds she took from the elderly couple to (1) vacation in Europe with her son and others; (2) take design professionals to Italy to study its architecture in preparation for designing a home for herself; (3) pay an architect to draw plans for a villa-style house; and (4) to pay for interior design services.

For her crime, Cassar faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Judge Ericksen will determine her sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled. This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Rochester Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katharine T. Buzicky, Tracy L. Perzel, and Kimberly A. Svendsen.

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