Thursday, December 29, 2011

Testimony In Preliminary Hearing Begins For Trio Accused Of Abusing POA To Rip Off Now-Deceased 90-Year Old Woman Of Two Homes, Cash

In Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, The Morning Call reports:

  • [T]he first day of testimony at a preliminary hearing for the three people accused of stealing almost everything from [90-year-old Queen E.] Hersh, including her longtime home in Emmaus and a vacation home in the Poconos, focused on Penelope Veronikis, who authorities say masterminded the alleged thefts.

  • Hersh would die months after learning she had been taken for more than $260,000, authorities say, adding that the "despair and devastation" she felt may have contributed to her deteriorating health and, possibly, her death.

  • Authorities said two days after Hersh's sister died in June 2006, Veronikis, 49, of Hanover Township, Northampton County, allegedly persuaded Hersh to sign over power of attorney so Veronikis could help manage the elderly woman's finances.

  • The lawyer who prepared the paperwork testified Monday that Veronikis approached her about preparing the power of attorney for a "lady who needed help paying her bills." Ewalde Cook, an attorney from Bethlehem, said Hersh, who was 88 at the time, appeared to know what she was doing. "There is no doubt in my mind, she understood," she testified.

  • Months later, in December 2006, Veronikis sold Hersh's vacation home in the Poconos for $170,000 without Hersh knowing, authorities said. With the money, Veronikis reportedly got a tummy tuck and a breast lift and her then-boyfriend bought a 1974 muscle car from Veronikis' brother.

  • Veronikis would later change Hersh's will to make herself the sole beneficiary, refinance Hersh's Emmaus home to obtain a $50,000 loan and open and max out two credit cards in Hersh's name, authorities said. Veronikis' then-boyfriend, Hristos "Chris" Dimou, 49, owner of the Emmaus Diner, and her daughter, Barbara Paxos, 26, are also charged.


  • Veronikis and Paxos, both of 1246 Granite Drive, Hanover Township, and Dimou, of 3744 Church View Road, Upper Milford Township, are charged with dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, reckless endangerment, criminal conspiracy, theft, theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and receiving stolen property. Veronikis and Dimou are also charged with reckless endangerment.

  • Before she died, Hersh told her lawyer she never gave Veronikis permission to sell or refinance her homes and she never lent Veronikis any money. Hersh's will was later destroyed and Emmaus police were contacted. She suffered a stroke the day she was to write a new will and died weeks later, according to testimony Monday. She was never evicted from her home because she died before anything could happen.

For the story, see Three face charges in bilking Emmaus woman of $260,000 (The 90-year-old died before she faced eviction from her home).

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