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Two plead guilty to stealing $2 million from elderly woman's estate

September 23, 2013|By Jill Cowan

A disbarred California attorney and a registered nurse pleaded guilty to federal charges that they befriended an aging woman to swindle more than $2 million from her estate, authorities said Monday.

Philip Eric Myers, 61, of Santa Barbara and Brian Ben-Israel, 53, face maximum sentences of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for mail and wire fraud allegations, according to documents filed in the federal court's District of Alaska. Ben-Israel was also accused of filing a false tax return.

The woman, Juanita Gielarowski, was forced to move from her longtime home into an Alaska state elder care facility, where she died in July 2010, as a result of the crimes, prosecutors said.

Ben-Israel, the nurse, who lived in Anchorage at the time, won Gielarowski's trust by acting as her healthcare provider and "financial advisor," according to an indictment filed in February. He also befriended Gielarowski's daughter, Linda Stowers, who had taken over more of her mother's affairs as her health declined, it said.

Ben-Israel introduced the mother and daughter to Myers, his friend and business partner, the document alleges.

By May of 2007, Ben-Israel and Myers had devised a scheme to gain control of Gielarowski's assets for their personal use and to invest in a corporation headed by Myers, called Typhoon Security Technology, according to the indictment.

What they failed to disclose was that the California-based corporation, which Myers said aimed to be "one of the top three global leaders in explosives and weapons detection technology," had been suspended, the document says.

By August of 2009, according to a news release, Gielarowski's funds were so depleted that she had to move into the care home.

Ben-Israel is set to be sentenced Dec. 19 and Myers in January.

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jill.cowan@latimes.com

Twitter: @jillcowan

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