Faces Up to 25 Years in Prison

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced today that a Florida woman has been indicted and charged with stealing over $290,000 from two elderly men, aged 80 and 84, by gaining their sympathy with fictitious stories about family illness, death and an inheritance, as well as their affection by promises of love, and then bilking them out of their money. She was extradited last night from Florida to be arraigned on the charges today in Queens County.

District Attorney Brown said, "The defendant preyed upon elderly males in Rego Park and Jackson Heights by telling them tall tales of anguish and woe and promises of romance before asking them to help her by giving her money. Her cruel and manipulative stories took advantage of the gullibility of lonely old men. Crimes against the elderly -- whether they involve physical or, as in this case, financial harm -- are predatory and despicable because the victims are so lonely and vulnerable."

District Attorney Brown identified the defendant as Sherry Kaslov, 30, a self-described house-wife who allegedly uses various aliases, including Maryann Castellano and Donna Demates. Kaslov, who formerly lived at 24-39 87 Street in East Elmhurst, presently resides at 107 Pembroke Road in Hallandale, Florida. She has been charged in a seven-count indictment with Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degree As A Hate Crime, Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degree, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second and Third Degree and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. If convicted she faces up to 25 years in prison.

The District Attorney said that the defendant was apprehended at her Florida residence by detectives from the Queens District Attorney’s Office along with police officers of the Hallandale Police Department on September 15, 2005. Detectives from the Queens District Attorney’s Office took custody of her yesterday for extradition to New York. She was arraigned today before Queens Supreme Court Justice James P. Griffin. She pled not guilty and bail was set at $250,000 bail pending her next court appearance on December 19, 2005.

District Attorney Brown said that an investigation began in November 2003 by his Economic Crimes Bureau and Elder Abuse Project based upon information provided to detectives.

District Attorney Brown said the defendant and her alleged accomplice, an unapprehended woman, between April 2003 and December 2003, allegedly befriended the victims at a local supermarket and at a bus stop and quickly gained their sympathy and trust while telling them variations of a false tale that included a serious illness, car accidents and expectations of a large settlement or inheritance. The defendant allegedly then asked the victims to provide her with large sums of money for fabricated expenses such as major medical bills, start-up equipment for a new business venture or materials for her fabric business. In nine months, the defendant allegedly stole a total of over $290,000 -- approximately $42,000 from the 80-year-old victim and $248,000 from the 84-year-old victim.

The investigation was conducted by Detectives Evelyn Alegre, Edward Russell and Elizabeth Curcio of the District Attorney’s Detective Squad under the supervision of Lieutenant Robert Burke and the overall supervision of Chief Lawrence J. Festa and Deputy Chief Albert D. Velardi with the assistance of Bernadette Delaney and Laurie Woods of the District Attorney’s Elder Abuse Project and Forensic Accountant James Dever of the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau.

Assistant District Attorney Kristen A. Kane of District Attorney Brown's Economic Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gregory C. Pavlides, Chief, and Diane M. Peress, Deputy Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.

It should be noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.