April 22, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Woman Sentenced for $3.9 Million Fraud and Body Disposal Scheme with Elderly Victim

Gruesome Attempt to Dispose of Victim’s Body in West Los Angeles Apartment

A San Fernando Valley woman has been sentenced to 240 months in federal prison for her role in a nearly $3.9 million fraud scheme, including disposing of a dead body to conceal the victim’s death, the Justice Department announced today.

Caroline Joanne Herrling, also known as “Carrie Phenix,” of West Hills, was sentenced late Friday by United States District Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong. In addition to her prison term, Herrling was ordered to pay $3,887,051 in restitution.

Herrling, 44, was convicted of fraudulently obtaining ownership of real estate and money through identity theft and forged power-of-attorney forms. She was also found guilty of conspiring to dispose of a dead body to prevent the discovery of the victim’s death.

“This defendant’s misconduct was both greedy and grotesque, causing profound pain to the victims and their loved ones,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada.

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Frimpong said this victim was “a man and a human being,” but Herrling “did not see that” and instead treated him “like a cash register.”

According to court documents, Herrling and her co-conspirators targeted vulnerable victims by searching for properties in affluent neighborhoods that appeared unkempt. They identified houses with vulnerable victims who were unable to care for their properties.

In 2020, Herrling and her co-conspirators broke into the home of an elderly victim in Sherman Oaks, where the victim resided. After the victim’s death, Herrling and others in the conspiracy looted his assets and used forged documents to steal his real estate and financial accounts.

Law enforcement began investigating the case in October 2021 when neighbors reported the victim missing. Herrling attempted to conceal the victim’s death by pretending to act on his behalf while stealing his assets.

After learning of the police investigation, Herrling and her co-conspirators attempted to dissolve the victim’s body in chemicals in her West Los Angeles apartment and later dismembered it before disposing of the remains in San Francisco Bay.

Herrling pleaded guilty in March 2023 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and has been in federal custody since January 2023.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles Police Department, Valley Bureau Homicide, with assistance from the Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center.

Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Brown prosecuted the case.

in NEWS
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