Woman arrested for allegedly scamming nuns

March 7, 2011 at 5:26 PM
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SANTA ANA, Calif., March 7 (UPI) -- Prosecutors said a Southern California woman was taken into custody on charges she swindled a group of Roman Catholic nuns in a real estate deal.

Linda Rose Gagnon, 57, of Tustin surrendered to the FBI Monday after being indicted for wire fraud in the alleged $285,000 scam.

Gagnon ran a company she said aided clients with real estate transactions and allegedly pocketed money sent to her by the sisters from the Province of the Religious of Jesus and Mary based in Rhode Island, the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said in a written statement.

Gagnon, who had once attended a boarding school run by the order, allegedly visited the Rhode Island convent and learned they were interested in purchasing a piece of property in San Diego for use as a residence for some of the sisters. Prosecutors said Gagnon offered to help with the deal despite not having a California real estate license.

Using an allegedly false letter from an attorney, Gagnon allegedly convinced the sisters to send her $285,000 from their retirement fund to purchase the property from a bank. The funds allegedly instead went into her pocket.

Gagnon was arraigned in Orange County federal court on three counts of wire fraud and faces a maximum of 60 years in prison if convicted.

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