A Santa Barbara jury today found Denise D'Sant Angelo guilty of embezzling $30,000 from an elderly couple whose home was about to go into foreclosure. The bespectacled fraudster, convicted last year of lining her pockets with money meant to save housing for a group of nuns, convinced the husband and wife she was skilled in the ways of financial and legal maneuvering and could save their home if they paid her.
She didn't, and Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota proved in court that D'Sant Angelo used the money to pay for her rent and other personal expenses. She met the victims while going door-to-door on behalf of the nuns, and it was revealed during the trial that D'Sant Angelo often pitted members of the victims' family against one another to her advantage.
The jury convicted D'Sant Angelo on six counts of felony financial elder abuse, six counts of felony grand theft, and one count of misdemeanor unlawful practice of law. She was also found guilty of the special allegation that she committed the crimes – spread out over the course of a year-and-a-half – while she was out on bail during her prior embezzlement case. If she receives the maximum sentence this time, D'Sant Angelo faces 11 years in prison.
Judge Frank Ochoa granted Cota's request that D'Sant Angelo's bond be forfeited and she be immediately taken into custody. He argued she's a threat to the public and showed herself willing to continue scamming people while out on bail. Ochoa agreed, and D'Sant Angelo was lead out of the courtroom in handcuffs shortly after the jury was dismissed.
Cota said immediately after the verdicts were read it was telling that the jury, after deliberating for only three hours, reached a unanimous decision after listening to D'Sant Angelo tell her side of the story on the stand for four days. During closing remarks, Cota called D'Sant Angelo a “textbook case of a con artist, plain and simple,” and that she “gained [the victims'] confidence in order to steal their money.”
D'Sant Angelo will be back in court on Monday, June 6 for a sentencing hearing.
Dean Tambling and Chris Meagher contributed to this report.