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Press Release

Former Scranton Couple Sentenced For Conspiracy To Defraud The Estate Of Deceased Aunt

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Scranton couple convicted of conspiracy to defraud the estate of a deceased aunt was sentenced on October 17 by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik.

     Tamara Santarelli was sentenced to 70 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Victor J. Santarelli, III, was sentenced to 57 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Judge Kosik further ordered that both defendants jointly pay $74,390.55 in restitution.

     According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, between May 2006 and August 2007, Victor J. Santarelli, III and Tamara Santarelli, both formerly of Scranton, engaged in a scheme to defraud the estate of Victor’s deceased aunt, Joanne Striminsky, including a plan to have previously named beneficiaries changed to themselves on multiple insurance contracts held by their aunt who passed away on January 4, 2007.

     The defendants gained control of the victim by assuming Power of Attorney and Executor status under a will that they drafted.  After assuming control, the Santarellis’ had the 82 year-old victim (who suffered from Alzheimers) involuntarily committed to a psychiatric unit of a local hospital and then, under the guise of Power of Attorney, went about taking all of her assets, including her house.

     When the victim died midway through the Santarellis’ scheme, they had her body buried in an unmarked grave.

     Tamara and Victor Santarelli were indicted in February 2011. They were convicted in October 2011 of conspiring to defraud the estate of a deceased aunt, mail and wire fraud.

     The investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Services, Philadelphia Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.

Updated April 17, 2015