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Woman repays $22,000 she scammed from Pauoa man

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  • Katy Sterio, who convinced a 73-year-old Pauoa man to give her $20,000, appeared in court for her sentencing today. (Craig T. Kojima/

A woman who scammed a 73-year-old Pauoa man out of $22,000 last year paid back the money this morning in state court as part of her plea deal to avoid additional jail time.

Katy Sterio, 34, pleaded guilty last July to first-degree theft and attempted first-degree theft in exchange for a sentence of a year in jail plus five years of probation. She has been in custody since her arrest last June and will complete her one-year jail term later this month.

If Sterio had not paid back the money by the time of her sentencing today, she would have faced maximum 10-year prison terms for each of the two charges to which she had pleaded guilty.

Prosecutor Scott Spallina said Sterio and another woman met and befriended Stanley Ho in Downtown Honolulu last year and convinced him that the other woman needed money for surgery for stomach cancer. Ho gave the women $22,000. But when he tried to withdraw another $120,000, officials at his bank contacted police. 

Police arrested Sterio but were unable to locate the other woman.

Sterio is due back in court in August to see whether or not she owes more money.

Spallina said Ho’s family later discovered another $12,000 missing and police are investigating whether or not he gave that money to Sterio.

Defense lawyer Michael Green said if Sterio owes an additional $12,000 she will pay it.

Sterio has a similar conviction in California. In 2007, she and another woman convinced a 77-year-old man to give them a car and to get them credit in his name, which they used to purchase $28,000 worth of jewelry, the Orange County Office of the District Attorney said. Police set up a sting after the women told the man Sterio was in an accident and needed $50,000 for surgery.

Sterio and the other woman each pleaded guilty to four counts of financial elder abuse. The women were each sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to repay their victim.

Spallina, chief of the Honolulu city prosecutor’s elder abuse unit, said, “This scam plays out repeatedly on the mainland. And for us to see this identical scam of befriending (an elderly victim) and giving a sob story to where they have to pay in cash to a fake doctor. We’re seeing now these scams start to happen here in Hawaii.”

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