A young Florida wife was arrested for allegedly bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars from her newlywed elderly husband, authorities said.
Lin Helena Halfon, 26, has been charged with two counts of money laundering, fraud and exploitation of an elderly person in connection with her cashing checks from the account of her 77-year-old husband, Richard Rappaport, officials said.
She remained in custody on Thursday morning, held in lieu of $1 million bail, Hillsborough County jail records showed. Halfon pleaded not guilty to all four charges during a court appearance on Monday.
Halfon first raised suspicions when she walked into a check-cashing store in Tampa and tried to cash a $1 million check from her husband's account, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The store's employees refused to cash that check as well as three others Halfon brought in later that day.
When investigators first spoke to Rappaport about the suspicious checks, he told them he wanted to give Halfon the benefit of the doubt, according to court documents cited by the Tampa newspaper. Rappaport also said he didn’t want Halfon deported to her native Israel.
She eventually succeeded in cashing two checks, worth about $666,000, officials said. Investigators again reached out to Rappaport on Dec. 10 to ask if he felt he was the victim of fraud and theft. This time, Rappaport replied, “yes,” the Tampa newspaper reported.
Halfon was arrested on Dec. 16 at Tampa International Airport. She's an Israeli citizen, who has applied for a green card, according to defense lawyer, Todd Foster.
The defendant and Rappaport "love each other" and that she has no incentive to steal, Foster told NBC News.
“As far as I know it’s (a) completely legitimate" marriage, Foster said, after visiting his client in jail on Thursday. "I believe there were lawyers involved and secured prenuptial agreements."
Foster did not confirm or contest the prosecution's allegation that Halfon tried to cash a $1 million draft at a check-cashing store — but said his client, who is new to the country, might not be fully versed in U.S. banking practices.
He insisted Halfon did nothing illegal.
"She did not stand to have any financial advantage from the allegations in the affidavit," Foster said.