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Woman Gets 3 to 6 Years for $352K Ripoff of Real Estate Clients

February 28, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kathleen G. Byrne, 215.348.6366, kgbyrne@buckscounty.org
  

Helene Senior
     Helene M. Senior

A 68-year-old real estate manager who admitted misappropriating more than $350,000 of her clients’ money over the past two decades was sent to state prison Tuesday for three to six years.

Helene M. Senior of Doylestown pleaded guilty in December to charges of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, all felonies.

To date, Senior has admitted taking $352,202.56 belonging to 16 customers of her business, Mark V. Realty Inc. Most of the victims are owners of industrial properties who hired Senior’s firm to manage rent collections and maintain security deposits from their tenants.

Senior has failed to account for any of the missing money, Assistant District Attorney Kathleen G. Byrne said, nor has she the wherewithal to repay it. Senior has told police that she used the money to cover deficits in her business operations, and that over time her “juggling” of the funds snowballed out of control.

“This is a theft that went on for decades,” Byrne told Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. “She chose to keep perpetuating this shell game of taking money from one victim to appease another.”

Some of the victims were customers who had known Senior and her father, who started the business, for decades, and who looked upon her as family.

“She just lied directly in our faces by taking all of this. We trusted her with everything,” said Uwe Polhe, who lost $160,000 despite having known Senior’s family for 40 years.

“If you could throw the book at her, I’d appreciate it,” Polhe told Bateman.

Senior Chief Deputy Public Defender Bradley H. Bastedo portrayed Senior as a woman overwhelmed by depression and anxiety, to the point of frequent suicide attempts. He said she has tried to kill herself at least three times since being charged, and constantly researches means of committing suicide.

“Helene and I have a contract where she has to call me [regularly] to tell me she is alive,” Bastedo said, urging Bateman to “consider the dark, dark hole that she is in” when fashioning a sentence.

Senior lives with a grandson who said he arranges his work schedule to make sure she is not left alone at home. She told Bateman she suffers from bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression, for which she is receiving therapy through the Lenape Valley Foundation.

“There really aren’t any words,” she said of her crime, saying she put the money toward business shortfalls, not personal expenses. “It was never done out of intent. I know nobody will believe that I am remorseful [but] my feelings for these people are genuine.”

Bateman acknowledged Senior’s mental health struggles, but said her thefts have been “devastating” for the victims. “Not just the financial component, but also the relationships,” he said.

Under Pennsylvania’s Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive for eligible, nonviolent offenders, Senior will have to serve a minimum of 27 months in prison. Bateman also sentenced her to a concurrent 10 years of probation and ordered her to pay $353,211.55 in restitution.

The case was investigated by Detective Sgt. Dante N. Montella of the Warwick Township Police Department.  

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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