Hollis woman in custody after six years on run: DA

Hollis woman in custody after six years on run: DA
Photo courtesy Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office
By Joe Anuta

A Hollis woman dubbed “The Sweetheart Swindler” was brought back to New York City to begin serving time after allegedly going on the lam in 2007, the Queens district attorney said.

Natasha Munchkin Marks, 26, had pleaded guilty to defrauding an 85-year-old Howard Beach man of $800,000 by convincing him she needed cash for medical bills and business ventures in May 2007, according to DA Richard Brown.

But after she was ordered to pay $150,000 as part of a plea deal for the charges, which were considered a hate crime because of the victim’s age, she allegedly skipped town and was sentenced instead to two to six years behind bars in her absence, the DA said.

Marks was arrested in Oklahoma earlier this month.

“The defendant has learned the old adage the hard way: You can run, but you cannot hide from justice,” Brown said in a statement. “After admitting to having befriended an elderly man and scamming him out of his life savings and then fleeing, this sweetheart swindler will now commence serving her prison sentence as well as face an additional seven years in prison for jumping bail.”

Marks was set to be indicted this week on charges of skipping bail.

The former Hollis resident, whose last known address was near the corner of 90th Avenue and 196th Street, befriended Howard Beach resident Louis Bruno in a supermarket and told him various hard-luck stories before slowly draining him of his life savings, according to the DA, who began investigating the incident in 2006.

Marks was known as “Sandy,” according to the man’s neighbor, and prosecutors said she began asking for checks made out to several aliases and companies controlled by friends.

The Hollis resident even faked her way into attaining Bruno’s power of attorney by purporting to be a lawyer named Crystal Smith, and then used that power to refinance his mortgage.

She then took out $560,000 in equity from the property and badgered Bruno to take the cash out of his account, the DA said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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