A Nancy woman is facing up to 30 years in prison and an $1 million fine after pleading guilty to charges that she scammed more than $450,000 from a victim in a fake real estate deal.
Mitzi Shawn Sears, also identified in court documents as Mitzi Wood Sears, pleaded guilty last week to financial institution fraud in U.S. District Court in London.
A press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice said Sears' case was one of three in Kentucky it recently undertook in an effort to combat elder financial exploitation.
Court documents state that Sears "created and executed a scheme to obtain funds" by defrauding a victim named in the case as "M.N."
The scheme began in December 2009, and continued through July 2018.
In the plea agreement, Sears admitted to convincing M.N. to purchase a piece of property jointly as an investment, then falsely told the victim that the property was subject to a lawsuit.
"In order to keep M.N. unaware of the scheme to obtain additional money from him, Sears pretended to be various people in phone calls to M.N and drafted false emails to convince M.N. that the fake lawsuit and other expenses and setbacks purportedly associated with the purchase were real," the plea agreement states.
The victim and his wife wrote numerous checks to Sears. Sears forged 16 further checks from the victim's account.
Then, in August 2014, Sears convinced the victim to obtain a $40,000 loan and give the money to Sears.
The victim received the loan from Citizens National Bank using false information provided by Sears.
The documents state that the victim has paid $12,308 in interest and fees on the loan.
Sears used some of the money obtained from M.N. to purchase a different property on Happy Ridge Road in Nancy.
As part of the agreement, Sears will forfeit that property. She will also pay $502,780 in restitution to the victims.
Sentencing has been scheduled for September 9. Sears has been placed on home detention and ordered to have no contact with the victim.