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Fake Boston Bridal Show Organizer Gets 5 Years In Prison

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BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A Pennsylvania woman who pleaded guilty to defrauding advertisers and exhibitors out of thousands of dollars through a fake Boston bridal show was sentenced Friday to five years and five days in prison.

Karen Tucker of Pittsburgh, who is a former Marine, pleaded guilty in October to wire fraud and identity theft in a plea deal with prosecutors. She was the mastermind behind an expo for brides-to-be in Boston set for the Hynes Convention Center in 2010.

She was sentenced Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Boston. Prosecutors recommended five-and-a-half years in prison, while Tucker’s attorney asked for three years. In Boston she stole $42,000 from her victims. That money was apparently spent on restaurants, trips to Walmart and other personal expenses.  Boston Police Detective Steve Blair says the victims were small vendors trying to make a buck and to take a hit like that sets them back and a lot of them go out of business.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports.

Prosecutors describe Tucker as a longtime con woman who conducted bridal show scams in six states, including Massachusetts, Ohio, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and Texas.

Elaine Barker is one of hundreds of victims who Tucker took advantage of across the country.  Barker’s owns Paper Potpourri in Haverhill and paid money to be part of the expo, but in the end it was all a fake and vendors and exhibitors lost thousands. “It was just devastating thinking someone would take advantage of us,” she said.

WBZ-TV’s Kathy Curran reports.

“I wanted to face her eye to eye because she looked me in the eye and took my money,” said Mike Shields.

That’s why he drove 13 hours to see Tucker face to face in court. He lost thousands in a home show the con-artist planned in Ohio in 2007. He’s happy the woman who ripped him off was ordered back behind bars.  He says, “It was worth the trip.”

Tucker was also ordered to pay $116,813.23 in restitution to her victims.  Her defense attorney says he’s happy Karen Tucker will get the substance abuse addiction and psychiatric help she needs while incarcerated.  Tucker told the judge during her plea hearing that she had been treated in the past for schizophrenia and a “social disorder.”

WBZ-TV’s Kathy Curran contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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