Trial Targets Man Prosecutors Say Bilked Lonely Women
DALLAS (AP) _ A woman described in court Monday how a man dubbed the ″sweetheart swindler″ lured her into a relationship with promises of a job, money and an expensive home, then abandoned her after stealing checks.
Lonnie Kay Brooks testified that Alfred Barakett got her telephone number through a dating service and called her in early 1985. They had lunch the next day at a restaurant in Kansas City, where Ms. Brooks lived.
Ms. Brooks said Barakett offered her a job and said he would help her pay some bills. She said she was unemployed at the time.
″He said he had boutiques around the country specializing in clothing for women,″ Ms. Brooks said. ″He said he had a partner.″
Ms. Brooks said Barakett later bought her meals and toured a $150,000 house that, she said, he claimed to be interested in buying for her.
″He wanted to buy a house and we would all live in it together,″ Ms. Brooks said. She said she considered the relationship to be platonic.
In her opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Candina Heath said the government would prove Barakett, 55, stole and forged checks from women across the country.
Barakett’s attorney, Assistant U.S. Public Defender Paul Stickney of Dallas, denied the women were victimized.
″We expect the evidence to show that the government will not be able to prove that there was intent to defraud any bank,″ Stickney said. ″The banks never lost money, the customers didn’t lose money.″
A nine-count indictment accuses Barakett of bilking about $40,000 from two Dallas County girlfriends during courtships in 1985 and 1990. He faces 120 years in prison if convicted on all counts.