Three people, including the owner of the , were charged with allegedly stealing $260,000 from an elderly Emmaus woman, Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin said at a press conference today.
Hristos “Chris” Dimou, owner of the Emmaus Diner, his former girlfriend, Penelope Veronikis, 49, of Bethlehem, and her daughter, Barbara Paxos, 29, also of Bethlehem, were charged with criminal conspiracy and sent to Lehigh County Prison.
They are charged with bilking Queen E. Hersh, formerly of 627 W. Greenleaf St., of virtually all of her assets over a two-year period, including a Pocono vacation home they sold without Hersh's consent for $170,000, according to the official reports.
Hersh first learned that something was amiss in July 2008 when she received a foreclosure notice on her Emmaus home, which she had owned outright for 20 years.
Hersh died on Dec. 10, 2008. She was 90.
According to the DA, in 2006, Hersh, then 88, and her younger sister, Ella H. Crawford lived together at the Greenleaf Street address, which had been the home of Hersh and her late husband. Both women were childless.
Crawford worked as a hostess and waitress supervisor at the Emmaus Diner, and Hersh was retired from the Emmaus Shirt Factory.
Hersh had diabetes, a heart condition, early onset of dementia and could no longer drive. Her sister (Crawford) became Hersh’s primary caregiver, taking Hersh to doctor’s visits and ensuring that Hersh took her medications.
In May 2006 Crawford was diagnosed with terminal leukemia and expressed concerns about her sister’s future care to her boss at the Emmaus Diner, Dimou.
Two days after Crawford’s death on June 17, 2006, Veronikis, who was Dimou’s girlfriend at the time, took Hersh to a lawyer and obtained full power of attorney over Hersh.
Over the next two years, in addition to selling the vacation home, Veronikis opened credit card accounts in Hersh’s name, named herself sole beneficiary of Hersh’s life insurance policy, and withdrew cash for her personal use from Hersh’s bank accounts, funding a tummy tuck and a breast lift, among other things.
Veronikis, Dimou and Paxos turned themselves in this morning, according to reports. They were arraigned via video conference by Emmaus . Bail was set at $250,000.
Veronikis and Dimou are charged with "dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities and criminal conspiracy," both first-degree felonies, as well as theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and receiving stolen property, all third-degree felonies.
They were also charged with recklessly endangering another person, a misdemeanor. Police allege that Veronikis and Dimou failed to get proper medical attention for Hersh.
Paxos is charged with dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, criminal conspiracy, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and receiving stolen property.
The above information was supplied by the the Emmaus Police Department and the Lehigh County District Attorney. Where arrests or charges are mentioned, it does not indicate a conviction.