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SoCal Woman Screwed|Nuns Out of $285,000

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - A jury Tuesday convicted a Southern California woman of defrauding an order of nuns of $285,000: promising to buy a house for elderly and ill nuns with it, but spending it on lingerie, manicures, a sports car and her failing business.

Linda Rose Gagnon aka Linda Gualtieri-Gagnon, 59, formerly of Orange, was convicted of three counts of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

She defrauded the U.S. Province of the Religious of Jesus and Mary of $285,000 by claiming she was an expert in short sales and foreclosures, and promising to use the money the nuns had set aside to buy a home for retired and ailing sisters.

But it took Gagnon only 64 days to blow all the nuns' money on herself, the U.S. attorney said in a statement. She used some of it "to fund the unprofitable operations of her real estate finance company, Rose Enterprise, Inc." The rest she spent on "personal expenses, including travel, lingerie, groceries, manicures, hair dressing, restaurants, lease payments for an Audi TT sports car, and valet pet-sitting services for her dog."

After stringing along the nuns for months, Gagnon asked for another $285,000, claiming she needed it to buy the house because the nuns' first $285,000 "was tied up in a 'triple escrow,'" prosecutors said in the statement.

Gagnon will be sentenced on Feb. 24, 2014. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each count.

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