Coon Rapids woman sentenced for swindling elderly man

A Coon Rapids woman was sentenced April 7 in Anoka County District Court for swindling an elderly man out of over $65,000, jewelry and a vehicle.

Marina Louise LaHara, 39, was sentenced by Anoka County District Court Judge Alan Pendleton to 90 days in jail and placed on probation for three years. She was also ordered to pay restitution to the victim’s family. The 82-year-old man she swindled has since died.

LaHara’s accomplice was sentenced previously for his role in the theft.

“The financial exploitation of vulnerable adults is an inexcusable crime that is sadly becoming more common in our community,” Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo said. “We will prosecute this type of crime vigorously.”

According to the criminal complaint, the then 82-year-old man and his daughter came to the Fridley Police Department in December 2009 to report the crime.

The victim told police that a man later identified as Steven Miller, 40, approached him at a Cub Foods in Fridley and acted like he knew him, saying he was also a member of Lifetime Fitness. He then introduced him to LaHara, who he identified as his sister, Mary Miller.

The information gathered during the investigation show multiple instances where both Miller and LaHara swindled him out of money. This included withdrawing $16,000 from his account to buy two engagement rings for LaHara and being the sole signer on a loan for a 2008 Hummer when he thought he was co-signing with Miller. He made multiple cash withdraws to buy gifts.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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