Florida woman who stole nearly $3 million from Holocaust survivor gets over 4 years in prison

Jul 27, 2023, 3:31 PM | Updated: 9:38 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A Florida woman who drained an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor’s life savings by posing as a love interest and then lived lavishly off the $2.8 million she got was sentenced Thursday to over four years in prison.

Peaches Stergo, 36, of Champions Gate, Florida, was described by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos as “unspeakably cruel” and motivated by greed as he announced the sentence in Manhattan federal court.

Given a chance to speak, Stergo said: “I’m sorry.” She pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud, admitting that she drained the life savings of a man she met on a dating website seven years ago.

Stergo began asking the once successful businessman for money in May 2017, claiming she needed money to pay a lawyer who was refusing to release the payout from a bogus injury settlement, prosecutors said. He paid her $25,000. Over the next four years, she used lies to coax the man to write 62 checks totaling over $2.8 million until he was broke, they added.

She got him to send as much as $50,000 at a time as she told desperate lies and faked letters from a bank employee to back up her claims, prosecutors said.

They said Stergo traveled to New York to visit the victim in his Manhattan apartment, falsely claiming she was a Florida nanny and her name was “Alice” and failing to reveal that she was in a long-term relationship with another man and had two children.

As the victim lost his life savings and was forced to surrender his apartment, Stergo used his money to live a life of luxury, traveling on expensive trips to Europe and Las Vegas when she wasn’t living in her gated community or using her boat and numerous cars, including a Corvette and a Suburban, prosecutors said.

They said she spent nearly all of the man’s money, including thousands of dollars for expensive meals, gold coins and bars, jewelry, Rolex watches and designer clothing.

As part of her sentence, she faces a $2.8 restitution and forfeiture order.

“Peaches Stergo callously defrauded an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who was simply looking for companionship,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “But she did not get away with it. As today’s sentence demonstrates, perpetrators of romance scams will be held to account for their crimes.”

Prosecutors said Stergo had mocked her victim when she told her real lover in a message that the victim had said he “loved” her. They said she followed that message with “lol.” And they said that when he ran out of money, she convinced him to sell his inventory of diamonds and borrow from others.

Prosecutors did not identify the victim, but they said he suffers from cognitive decline, among other health issues, and is frail.

In a letter to the judge, the victim, who was 6 when he lost both of his parents in the Holocaust and who moved to the United States in his early 20s, wrote: “As a Holocaust survivor, I have endured unspeakable pain and loss in my life, but never did I imagine that I would be subjected to such a heartless betrayal in my old age.”

Stergo’s lawyer, Ann Marie Fitz, wrote in a sentencing submission that Stergo is a partner to her long-time boyfriend and mother to two teenage boys and that her boyfriend describes her as a great mother and a born-again Christian.

“She is not the cold-hearted person the government and media have made her out to be,” the lawyer wrote. “There was a genuine, caring relationship that Ms. Stergo had with the victim in this case — she spent holidays with him, she took care of him when he was ill and, as the victim’s cousin described, she was ‘doting’ on him.”

United States News

FILE - Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., arrives for a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington. ...

Associated Press

New Jersey Sen. Menendez and his wife are indicted on bribery charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife have been indicted on charges of bribery. Federal prosecutors on Friday announced the charges against the 69-year-old Democrat nearly six years after an earlier criminal case against him ended with a deadlocked jury. The latest indictment is unrelated to the earlier charges […]

22 minutes ago

Associated Press

Authorities search for suspect wanted in killing who was mistakenly released from Indianapolis jail

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A man wanted for a 2021 killing in Minnesota was mistakenly released from jail in Indianapolis last week and authorities are now offering a reward of up to $10,000 as they continue searching for him. Kevin Mason, 28, was arrested in Indianapolis on Sept. 11 but a preliminary review found he was […]

28 minutes ago

FILE - Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, left, shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng duri...

Associated Press

United States and China launch economic and financial working groups with aim of easing tensions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department and China’s Ministry of Finance launched a pair of economic working groups on Friday in an effort to ease tensions and deepen ties between the nations. Led by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Vice Premier He Lifeng, the working groups will be divided into economic and financial segments. […]

2 hours ago

Deb Libby, who poses in Worcester, Mass., on Aug. 21, 2023, has been on the state waitlist for publ...

Associated Press

Massachusetts has a huge waitlist for state-funded housing. So why are 2,300 units vacant?

Deb Libby is running out of time to find a place to live. Libby, 56, moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, four years ago, in part to be closer to the doctors treating her for pancreatic cancer. But the landlord wants her out by the end of the month and she can’t find anything else she can […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

2 arrested in drive-by attack at New Mexico baseball stadium that killed 11-year-old boy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two people were arrested Thursday in connection with a shooting outside an Albuquerque baseball stadium that killed an 11-year-old boy and prompted the New Mexico governor to issue a controversial gun ban. Jose Romero, 22, and Nathen Garley, 21, were held for the Sept. 6 shooting after an Albuquerque Isotopes game […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Wall Street higher, but likely not enough to this turn losing week into a winner

Wall Street ticked modestly higher early Friday, but not nearly enough to erase a week of losses driven by the potential for an era of consistently higher interest rates. Futures for the S&P 500 edged 0.2% higher while the Dow Jones industrials rose just 0.1%. Markets are poised to finish the week with significant losses […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Home moving relocation in Arizona 2023...

BMS Moving

Tips for making your move in Arizona easier

If you're moving to a new home in Arizona, use this to-do list to alleviate some stress and ensure a smoother transition to your new home.


Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.



At Ability360, every day is Independence Day

With 100 different programs and services, more than 1,500 non-medically based home care staff, a world-renowned Sports & Fitness Center and over 15,000 people with disabilities served annually, across all ages and demographics, Ability360 is a nationwide leader in the disability community.

Florida woman who stole nearly $3 million from Holocaust survivor gets over 4 years in prison