PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A former Pennsylvania woman who made national headlines more than a decade ago by falsely claiming she had been kidnapped when she had actually gone to Walt Disney World is facing new charges in an alleged attempt to steal from an employer.
Federal authorities have charged 51-year-old Bonnie Sweeten, of Delanco, New Jersey, with two counts of wire fraud, alleging that she forged checks and made fraudulent purchases with a company credit card.
U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero said Monday that the former Feasterville resident was hired in 2017 as a bookkeeper for an unnamed Doylestown excavation firm headed by someone who had known her for many years.
Prosecutors allege that she used her position and access to issue dozens of company checks to herself, steal checks mailed to the firm and fraudulently endorse them over to herself, and make tens of thousands of dollars of personal purchases on the company credit card.
A message was left Tuesday for a federal public defender listed as representing her.
Authorities said in 2009 that Sweeten, who is white, called 911 claiming she and her 9-year-old daughter had been carjacked by two Black men and stuffed into the trunk of another vehicle. Authorities said she was actually on her way to the airport to fly to Florida using a co-worker’s identification card and feared arrest in a fraud case. She and the child were found unharmed the next day at Disney World. She served nearly a year in state prison in the hoax.
“I wanted something so bad that I would do whatever I had to do to get it,” Sweeten told a judge in 2012 before she was sentenced to more than eight years for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from an employer and others. Her voice cracked during an apology for a $280,000 theft from an elderly relative that she called “cruel and sick.”