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Woman Steals $285,000 From Nuns, Buys Lingerie, Leases Sports Car

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An Orange County woman who stole $285,000 from Roman Catholic nuns and used it to buy lingerie and lease a sports car was convicted of three counts of wire fraud on Tuesday.

A federal jury in Santa Ana convicted real estate consultant Linda Rose Gagnon, also known as Linda Gualtieri-Gagnon, of defrauding the U.S. Province of the Religious of Jesus and Mary.

Gagnon, 59, told the nuns in 2008 that she was an expert in handling short-sale and foreclosure transactions and offered to help them buy home in San Diego they were renting for retired sisters in the religious orders, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Instead of using the money to purchase the retirement home, she bought lingerie, leased an Audi and paid off debts for her real estate company, Rose Enterprise, Inc. She also managed to spend all the money in 64 days.

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"She paid off $42,000 she borrowed. There was $448 at Chadwick's of London, an intimate apparel store in San Francisco. Then she went shopping at Nordstroms, visited the nail salon and of course a pet-sitting service.... She also leased an Audi TT sports car," Asst. U.S. Atty. Robert Keenan told the Times. "She was living nicely on the nuns' money."

The nuns, which belong to an order that focuses on charitable and educational work, realized they had been defrauded when she stopped responding to their messages.

Per the Times:

Throughout the trial, Gagnon's lawyer portrayed her as operating a bad business and accidentally comingling the funds. Gagnon did not testify, but two Catholic priests took the witness stand to attest to her character, Keenan said. They assured the court "she is really quite honest," he added.

Gagnon could receive up to 20 years in prison for each of the three counts, but Keenan said a more realistic sentence would be four years total. The nuns now have to come up with $255,000 to buy the home in San Diego.