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Mom who faked her own kidnapping and went to Disney World is now facing fraud charges

Bonnie Sweeten sparked national outrage 13 years ago by claiming she had been kidnapped when she had gone to Disney World. She is now facing charges for allegedly stealing money from her employer.

File photo of Bonnie Sweeten leaving court in Richboro, Bucks County.
File photo of Bonnie Sweeten leaving court in Richboro, Bucks County.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

A former Bucks County woman who sparked national outrage 13 years ago by falsely claiming she had been kidnapped when she had actually gone to Walt Disney World is back in trouble with the law.

Bonnie Sweeten, once called a “master con woman” by a federal judge, has been charged in connection with a scheme to steal from an employer who was trying to give her a second chance, U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced Monday.

Sweeten, 51, recently of Delanco, Burlington County, was charged by information, which means she may have agreed to a plea deal, with two counts of wire fraud related to allegedly stealing from a Doylestown-based excavating company, Romero said in a news release.

If convicted, she faces a maximum of 40 years in prison, Romero said.

According to Romero, Sweeten was hired as a bookkeeper in September 2017 because the president of the company had known her for many years.

Sweeten allegedly issued dozens of unauthorized company checks to herself; stole checks that had been mailed to the company, which she then fraudulently endorsed over to herself; and used a company credit card to make tens of thousands of dollars of personal purchases, Romero said.

In the 2009 kidnapping hoax case, Sweeten called 911 and claimed to have been carjacked along with her 9-year-old daughter. Sweeten, who is white, said that two Black men had rear-ended her SUV in Lower Bucks County and abducted the girl and her.

Sweeten told the dispatcher that she was calling from the trunk of the kidnappers’ Cadillac, triggering a massive police dragnet.

Sweeten and her daughter turned up the next day at a luxury resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. She had used the driver’s license of a former coworker to purchase plane tickets from Philadelphia the day she fled.

For the hoax, Sweeten was sentenced to at least nine months in county prison.

In 2012, Sweeten was sentenced to 100 months in federal prison for a series of deceptions starting in 2004 to steal more than $1 million while working as a paralegal in Bucks County.