Crime

Kansas City jury finds woman guilty of stealing $441,000 from lottery winner

A former Kansas City woman has been convicted of defrauding an area lottery winner out of more than $440,000.

A federal court jury in Kansas City on Thursday also found 43-year-old Freya Pearson guilty of tax evasion and fraudulently obtaining federal housing benefits.

The 61-year-old victim of Pearson’s fraud scheme won $2.4 million in the Missouri Lottery in 2008. The woman used the money to buy a new home for herself, a new home for a daughter and a car for another daughter.

Then she set up an annuity to provide about $30,000 a year for herself.

That’s when Pearson befriended her, according to trial testimony, and claimed to be a financial adviser.

Pearson, who now lives in Georgia, persuaded the woman to transfer money to the bank account of a supposed nonprofit she had set up.

Pearson spent at least $96,000 of the money on gambling, according to testimony.

She also spent $12,000 on travel, bought a Cadillac Escalade, a Pontiac Sunfire and a Chevrolet Tahoe, and spent money on restaurants, shopping and other personal expenses.

For about a year, Pearson made monthly payments of about $1,200 to the victim, before the payments ceased.

While taking the victim’s money, Pearson applied for and received federal subsidized housing benefits. She also failed to pay taxes on the fraudulently obtained money.

The total loss attributed to Pearson was at least $640,667. The lottery winner was defrauded out of $441,830. Pearson also evaded $122,000 in federal income tax and obtained $76,837 in housing benefits.

A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc

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