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Pennsylvania woman who said she was abducted gets 8 years for ID theft, fraud

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:38 PM EST, Thu January 26, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bonnie Sweeten had pleaded guilty in June to fraud and aggravated identity theft
  • She's sentenced to 100 months and must pay more than $1 million restitution
  • She forged signatures, stole identities, stole from bank accounts, authorities say
  • She was found at a Disney resort, after claiming she and daughter were kidnapped

(CNN) -- A Pennsylvania woman who called 911 to report that she and her daughter had been abducted -- only to be found later at a Disney resort -- was sentenced Thursday to more than eight years in prison for identity theft and fraud.

Bonnie Sweeten, now 40, was sentenced Thursday to 100 months in prison for engineering a scheme that led to her stealing more than $600,000, the U.S. Attorney's office for the eastern district of Pennsylvania said in a statement.

U.S. District Court Judge William Yohn Jr. also ordered her to pay more than $1 million in restitution.

Last June, Sweeten pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

She was arrested in May 2009 at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort near Orlando, Florida, authorities said.

A day prior to that arrest, Sweeten told authorities that she and her then 9-year-old daughter were kidnapped after two men in a Cadillac rear-ended her sports utility vehicle in Upper Southampton, north of Philadelphia. They were then held in the Cadillac's trunk, she claimed.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, Sweeten stole from relatives, the law practice where she worked, and the firm's clients.

She used other people's identities, including a driver's license from a co-worker, to buy airfare to Florida, authorities said. The mother and daughter traveled under false names during the trip, which was paid for in cash, authorities said.

Sweeten also forged signatures on several documents, including a property settlement. Another was the signature of a judge on a court order, which she used to fraudulently withdraw funds from a bank, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The office added that Sweeten tried to pull off the abduction "hoax" in order to trick law enforcement and her family about her and her daughter's whereabouts. Her two other children did not go on the trip, police have said.

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