Victims of elder abuse need to contact police in light of recent theft

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KHON2 is digging deeper into the past of a woman accused of victimizing elderly residents in the islands, and we found out “the old friend” scheme isn’t the only scheme Katy Sterio has been linked to.

The 38-year-old Sterio is currently in police custody after being charged for credit card theft, with bail set at $200,000.

As we reported Saturday, Sterio and another suspect, Dino Costello, stole from Wendell and Corazon Formales, an elderly couple in Mililani, last week.

When anyone over 60 is a victim of a crime, Scott Spallina gets the call. He’s the senior deputy prosecuting attorney and part of the Elder Abuse Justice Unit.

Spallina said he spent most of Saturday going through evidence that he’ll use to prosecute Katy Sterio, who is someone he’s very familiar with.

Sterio is on probation and in the process of paying back $34,000 she stole from an elderly man.

“She approached this gentleman, she had a sob story basically saying she was dying, and through the course of three-to-four days, got $34,000 from him,” Spallina said.

For that crime, she was convicted of first degree theft and first degree attempted theft, and sentenced to a year in jail and five years probation.

“What’s happening now is that if she is convicted of these new crimes, she’ll be facing a revocation of probation and we can move for her to be thrown into prison for up to 10 years, because she’s on probation and she allegedly committed these new crimes,” Spallina said.

He said police are hoping more victims like the Formales will come forward, adding that many victims of elder abuse don’t because they might feel embarrassed or scared.

But he said it’s crucial that if anyone had contact with either Sterio or Costello to contact police.

“They will use the art of distraction as one comes to your face as the other one goes behind your back and takes something from you. If any of your viewers find that they have been a victim of these games, please contact the police.”

Spallina said crimes against the elderly have increased over 300 percent over the past several years and those especially in Hawaii need to be more careful than ever when dealing with people they don’t know.

“Unfortunately, you kind of have to turn off the aloha. You have to adopt the position of ‘who is this person?’ …  You have to treat them like a stranger, not like some relative or potential friend, but somebody that unfortunately may try to take advantage of you.”

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