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Elderly couple allegedly stole from widow

April 10, 2008 5:38:29 PM PDT
A couple from Escondido is on trial, accused of stealing more than a half a million dollars from a widowed senior citizen.Janet Reiswig was in custody while she and her 72-year-old husband Ron stand trial, accused of stealing the identity and hundreds of thousands of dollars from another senior citizen Cristina Lichtman, their once best friend.

"We were already good friends, girlfriends. I believed her, and I trusted her," Lichtma said during her testimony.

"With friends like this, who needs enemies," Prosecutor Marc Labreche said to the courtroom.

The prosecutor alleges the 64-year-old befriended Lichtman in 2001. Janet convinced Lichtma to invest in Reiswig's company, "Fidelity Insured Deposits," promising high returns.

Jurors heard how over the years, Lichtman gave the Reiswigs more than half a million dollars, even taking out a home equity line of credit on the home she owned, believing it was for a good investment.

However, prosecutors argued the Reiswigs failed to disclose important information -- the company was not licensed to sell securities, and the company didn't have any money.

"The money didn't go into investments other than the pockets of the Reiswigs," Labreche said.

Labreche also alleges Janet didn't tell Lichtman there was a civil decision against her for breach of fiduciary duty in handling a trust

"They weren't required to disclose that information because they weren't transferring securities, they weren't selling securities. Our position is that this was just a loan," said Defense Attorney Gilbert Carreon.

Defense Attorneys said it was a loan -- friends helping friends.

"She helped her with her problems with her credit cards because Ms. Lichtman had a spending problem that her late husbnd didn't know about," said Defense Attorney Karren Kenney to the courtroom.

Prosecutors allege Janet also used Lichtman's identity and forged her signature on two lease agreements. That's when the widow, who lives on a fixed income, realized something was wrong and confronted the couple.

The couple also faces charges in San Diego -- 40 alleged victims, all senior citizens, who allegedly gave their money to the couple believing they were investing in one of their companies. That case came to light earlier this week.

 

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