Ex-Diner Owner, Ex-Fiancee Get Jail in Bilking of Elderly Woman

They were found guilty of swindling woman out of $260,000 of her assets; ex-fiancee's daughter also sentenced.

In a case that has gone on for about two and a half years, the former owner of the Emmaus Diner and his ex-fiancee were sent to jail Thursday for swindling an elderly borough woman out of $260,000 of her assets.

Receiving the harsher of the jail terms was Penelope Veronikis, 51, who was sentenced to 32 months to 27 years in state prison, according to a posting on LehighValleyLive. She also was slapped with a $535,000 fine.

Veronikis, who obtained full power of attorney over the woman, spent part of her assets on a tummy tuck and breast lift, according to the charges.

Also sentenced was Hristos Dimou, 52, her ex-fiance and the ex-diner owner, who got one to two years in Lehigh County Prison but was made eligible for immediate work release.

A third participant in the scheme, Barbara Paxos, 28, who is Veronikis' daughter, got two years of probation.

All three will have to share in paying back the $260,000 from the woman's estate.

The sentences were handed down by Lehigh County Judge James Anthony. The case has been in the court system since charges were brought in August 2011.

The three were found guilty in October of bilking Queen E. Hersh 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 a Patch story posted when the district attorney's office announced the charges.

Hersh first learned that something was amiss in July 2008, when she received a foreclosure notice on her 627 W. Greenleaf St. home that she had owned outright for 20 years.

Hersh died on Dec. 10, 2008 at age 90.

According to the charges:

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.
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 Dimou, her boss at the Emmaus Diner.

Two days after Crawford’s death on June 17, 2006, Veronikis 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.

Judy Johnson January 10, 2014 at 11:46 AM
Chris was seen working at the East Penn Dinner. I feel his sentence was too light If he continues to work there, I will not patronize that restaurant anymore or their other restaurant Queen City.
Lyle Richardson January 10, 2014 at 05:06 PM
So who owns the diner ? It has been newly remolded.
Ronald Weaver January 10, 2014 at 06:44 PM
Justice?? taking advantage of the elderly, what kind of a message do these ridiculously light punishments serve?


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