By Connor Adams Sheets
Two Flushing women have been charged under New York state’s hate crime law with allegedly stealing more than $31,000 from three men older than 70 and with trying to steal more than $50,000 more from their victims, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s office.ï»¿
Gina Miller, 39, and Sylvia Johns, 23, both of 45-13 202nd St., allegedly chose elderly Queens men to victimize — meeting them, gaining their trust and using various nefarious means to steal thousands of dollars from them, according to the DA.
In the most egregious instance, the women allegedly told a 78-year-old walking alone in May that Johns was dying and needed a kidney transplant, then asked if he could give them money to buy a kidney on the black market, according to the DA.
The women allegedly got him to give them $5,000 for the kidney and on June 8 Miller and Johns allegedly applied for a dental loan in the name of the victim in order to pay for dental work for Miller.
“Crimes against the elderly — whether they involve physical or, in this case, financial harm — are despicable because the victims are often lonely and vulnerable,” Brown said. “In this particular case, the defendants are alleged to have chosen their victims in a very calculating manner: preying on elderly men they spotted walking alone.”
Miller’s attorney, Stanley Hochberg, declined to comment. The name of the attorney for Johns was not released.
Miller and Johns were arraigned last week before Queens Criminal Court Judge Ira Margulis on charges of grand larceny as a hate crime, grand larceny, attempted grand larceny as a hate crime, attempted grand larceny, identity theft and scheme to defraud. The defendants, who each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, were each ordered held on $100,000 bail and to return to court July 6.
Miller allegedly befriended an 84-year-old man in November 2009 and repeatedly called and visited his home along with Johns and a third female who has not been arrested, according to the DA. The victim allegedly discovered that his Queens County Saving Bank account information and a debit/credit card for the account were missing after their visits, according to the DA.
The debit/credit card was then allegedly used to make numerous ATM withdrawals and purchases in spring 2010 and the bank received a letter March 26, purportedly signed by the victim, requesting that his account be closed and a check in the amount of the balance of the account — more than $50,000 — be sent to his home, according to the DA. A store video allegedly caught the three women making a purchase using the card and Johns allegedly used the victim’s name to submit an application to open a line of credit for dental work, according to the DA.
Miller and Johns also allegedly befriended a 79-year-old man in February, and after one of several visits the women made to his home the man noticed his passport and some cash were missing, according to the DA. Miller allegedly used the victim’s last name and his passport to submit two applications for lines of credit in his name, saying he was her grandfather, in order to pay for dental work she received and $14,000 in credit under his name.
The case came to light when Queens Savings Bank notified the 84-year-old victim about the letter to close his account, prompting him to go to the authorities.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.