Pennsylvania “Abduction Hoax Mom” Tied to More Fraud

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December 15th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Bonnie Sweeten and Julia Rakoczy

Bonnie Sweeten is the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, mother who works as a paralegal for Attorney Debbie Carlitz. She’s the mom who faked her 9 year old daughter Julia Rakoczy’s abduction and took her to Disneyworld as I discussed in my May 2009 article Pennsylvania Mom Abducts Child, Goes to Disney World. Now she’s back in the news for other reasons.

Sweeten stands accused of hiding a legal disciplinary suspension order against her boss, Carlitz, resulting in or enabling Carlitz to continue to practice law on a suspended license and to claim she knew nothing of the suspension. Sweeten allegedly signed service and disciplinary forms for Carlitz and falsely notarized them.

The legal board suspended Carlitz’s license in 2005 due to a failure to meet Continuing License Education (CLE) requirements. She was half an hour short on meeting the requirements.

The suspension was vacated by a court decision based upon the purported facts that Sweeten did all the paperwork and never told Carlitz about any of it. Given how the purported signatures of Carlitz on the documents Vacation of Suspension Order of Debbie Ann Carlitz and Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Case No. 131 DB 2007 Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Debbie Ann Carlitz don’t match, at least part of her strange story seems plausible.

(from Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Case No. 131 DB 2007 Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Debbie Ann Carlitz, page 9)

The Joint Stipulations of Fact and Law support the finding that Respondent did not personally endorse the Joint Petition in Support of Discipline or expressly authorize anyone to sign the Joint Petition on her behalf. It is clear that Bonnie Sweet, Respondent’s paralegal, handled all aspects of the consent discipline and never revealed the circumstances to Respondent. Respondent remained ignorant of her suspended status until it was pointed out to her by a colleague.

Despite the suspension being vacated, Carlitz was disbarred anyway on December 1, 2009. If Carlitz was truly ignorant of Sweeten’s duplicity, why was she disbarred?

Carlitz’s troubles are not over yet, either. She’s also being sued for misappropriating $100,000 in client funds and for a mortgage default, oddly on a property at Sweeten’s address.

(from Lawyer connected to “hoax mom” is sued)

A Warminster man is suing attorney Debbie Carlitz, saying the lawyer, who employed so-called “hoax mom” Bonnie Sweeten, stole his $100,000 car crash settlement.

The alleged fraud happened while Sweeten was working in the office. Carlitz’s attorney refused to say more, citing the ongoing FBI investigation.

According to the lawsuit, filed Monday in Bucks County court in Doylestown, Theodore Klein hired Carlitz to represent him following a December 2007 car accident. He said she negotiated a personal injury settlement with his insurance company, and that the company gave Carlitz a check for $100,000 in September 2008.

Both Klein’s and Carlitz’s names were on the check, according to the lawsuit. Klein said Carlitz cashed the check “purportedly signed” by him.

“Plaintiff…never saw the settlement check nor was he ever aware that a settlement check had been issued,” the suit reads.

The suit says Carlitz called Klein in June 2009 and informed him about the settlement, but says he hasn’t received any money.

Sweeten is far from the end of her troubles, too. She’s being investigated by the FBI for theft, identity fraud and other accusations. She allegedly stole a $285,000 retirement account from her ex-husband Anthony Rakoczy’s grandfather Victor Biondino.

(from Lawyer connected to “hoax mom” is sued)

Brotman refused to say whether she believes Sweeten, who is suspected of stealing from Carlitz’s law firm, is behind the theft.

But the case is not the first lawsuit where Sweeten and Carlitz have been connected. There’s a $100,000 mortgage default suit pending against Carlitz in Bucks County court. The loan lists Carlitz’s name, but Sweeten’s address.

Carlitz has denied having anything to do with that loan, which was taken out in September 2006.

Bonnie Sweeten in Court on May 29, 2009

She’s also been charged and convicted of crimes related to faking her abduction and filing a false police report. On August 27, 2009, Sweeten plead guilty to charges of making a false 911 call and identity theft by using another person’s drivers license in the faking of the abduction.

Judge Jeffrey Finley expressed displeasure at Sweeten’s actions and questioned her personality:

“I am struck by the selfishness of your act, what you put your family, your children through,” said Bucks County Judge Jeffrey Finley at sentencing. “The horror they must have felt to think their mother and sister were carjacked, and what might come. Only a person who is thoroughly self-centered could have done that.”

After her guilty plea, Bonnie Sweeten was sentenced to 9 to 24 months in county prison. Then her father, William Siner, attacked three media camera operators outside the courthouse, injuring two. He’s been charged with assault.

(from Guilty plea for Sweeten)

Bonnie Sweeten of Lower Southampton pleaded guilty Thursday in Bucks County Court to identity theft and making false reports to police.

Authorities say the mother of three called 911 on May 26 and said she and her daughter had been abducted by two black men. Prosecutors say she instead used a stolen driver’s license to fly to Florida and check into a Disney hotel.

Given all of her odd and criminal behaviors plus the assault charges against her father, one wonders what kind of childhood Sweeten had. She’s apparently a very duplicitous and troubled person.

(from Hoax mom headed to jail)

“I have no one to blame but myself. I let my life slip out of control,” she said.

Sweeten’s lawyer, Louis Busico, described his client as a loving mother who cracked under the pressure of her financial problems. Sweeten’s plan, Busico said, was to send her daughter home after visiting the Magic Kingdom, then commit suicide.

“This was a woman who was screaming and crying out for help,” Busico said. “She didn’t get the help she needed, and as a result she did some very bad things.”

Husband Larry Sweeten has filed for divorce from Bonnie and has custody of the children. No surprise there. Let’s hope that he’s able to stabilize the lives of their children so they don’t turn out like their mother. She’s supposed to undergo a mental health evaluation. Given her wide range of criminal conduct for years and her excellent acting skills that fooled police into a massive search and media circus, I for one won’t be surprised if they diagnose her with a personality disorder or two.

Further Reading

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Pennsylvania Mom Abducts Child, Goes to Disney World

Personality Disordered Abusers in Family Law Courts

Suburban Mom Bonnie Sweeten Goes Sour; Guilty of Abduction Hoax, Allegedly Stole $700K From Law Office

‘Con artist’ Bonnie Sweeten ordered to stay in jail until her trial

Paralegal Arranges Suspension Of Lawyer

Lawyer connected to “hoax mom” is sued

Vacation of Suspension Order of Debbie Ann Carlitz

Carlitz mortgage mystery: Who borrowed $100,000.

Police begin the untangling the web of lies

Sweeten will plead guilty

Guilty plea for Sweeten

Hoax mom headed to jail

“Hoax Mom’s” dad charged for assaulting cameramen

“Hoax Mom’s” dad to surrender on assault charges

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