Elderly Phila. man victim of 'Sweetheart Swindler'

PHILADELPHIA - November 10, 2010

Crystal "Pinky" Johns, 23, is accused of stealing $650,000 from two victims, one in Philadelphia and another near Houston, Texas. Johns and her husband were caught by federal marshals Friday in North Jersey and are now awaiting extradition back to Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Police say Crystal approached the 86-year-old victim as he walked to his South Philadelphia Church in December of 2008. She had a question, 'where to find a good Catholic church.' The victim told Johns she could come to mass with him. It was followed by a series of lunches and the alleged sweetheart swindle was under way.

"To get the money out of the older male she said she had a heart condition, had to have heart surgery in Boston, and basically, over 7 different meetings , continued to pry money from him," Philadelphia Police Lt. Ray Evers said.

Investigators say Johns' husband, Patrick Stanley, posed as her doctor and over a year, the two stole more than $200,000 from the victim who lives on Washington Square.

"There was a $20,000 check, a $50,000 check and it totaled up to $230.000," Evers said.

Johns is also wanted in Houston for draining an elderly woman of more than $400,000.

Police say she claimed to be a "psychic nun" and could rid the woman of evil spirits.

Investigators say the couple are part of the gypsy underworld. Patrick Stanley's father, Sonny, and a group of women were busted by Philadelphia police in 2005 for a similar crime.

Police say the transient criminals will often pay restitution and avoid jail time only to be back on the streets committing similar crimes. And more times than not, the victims refuse to go to police.

"They're living by themselves, they want to be independent and a lot of time they are scared to tell their family members they've lost their life savings from these people who are swindling money from them," Evers said.

The victim in this case did not go to authorities.

Police actually got a tip concerning the victim.

Action News is told the victim had been subject to a Sweetheart Swindle in the past, from likely accomplices of the two defendants.

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