HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Kailua woman accused of going on shopping sprees after stealing the identities of nearly 50 people pleaded guilty to 140 financial fraud charges Wednesday.
With sunglasses hanging from her prison jumpsuit, a former beauty queen took center stage to admit that she led a lavish lifestyle at the expense of nearly 50 strangers who suffered financial turmoil as a result.
"Many of them had mortgage applications denied, loans denied, damage to their credit," Chris Van Marter, deputy prosecutor, said. "They're still trying to un-do all of the damage."
"She's terribly remorseful about this," Myles Breiner, defense attorney, said. "She realizes that she's hurt them."
Prosecutors say Susan Shaw spent more than $200,000 on trips, designer bags and other goods by using stolen personal information, such as social security numbers, to open credit card accounts and buy gift cards.
"Do you understand the charges against you?" Dexter Del Rosario, Circuit Court judge, asked.
"I do," the defendant replied.
The 37-year-old pleaded guilty to 140 counts in what has been described as the largest identity-theft case ever in Honolulu.
The defense says Shaw had a pre-existing psychiatric condition that contributed to her actions.
"We had her evaluated by a clinical and forensic psychologist, who determined that she had a history of schizophrenia, other mental health issues, dissociative identity disorder, post traumatic stress disorder," Breiner said.
The mother of two faces a possible 20-year prison term. But prosecutors are considering asking for an extended sentence of life in prison, saying she was already a convicted felon for a theft in the 1990s.
"In our view, her mental health status had no bearing on her criminal activity," Van Marter said. "Her crimes were motivated by greed."
"She doesn't deserve a 20-year sentence and certainly doesn't deserve continued incarceration," Breiner said.
Shaw is in solitary confinement at the Women's Community Correctional Center. She's scheduled to be sentenced May 4th.