Jury Convicts Alleged Former Marcos Mistress of Fraud
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The self-described former mistress of deposed Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos has been convicted of defrauding 13 banks out of $18 million by lying on loan applications.
Former B-movie actress Dovie Beams de Villagran, 55, wept during the reading of the verdict Tuesday finding her guilty of 39 counts of bank fraud and bankruptcy fraud. The jury deadlocked on two counts.
Turning down a bail request, U.S. District Judge Pamela Ann Rymer ordered Mrs. de Villagran to jail until her Dec. 14 sentencing. She faces a maximum prison sentence of 127 years.
The judge said she was aware Mrs. de Villagran, who suffers from AIDS- related complex, was ill.
But she added the woman was convicted of concealing $6 million in antiques and art works from creditors and may have other hidden accounts that have not been discovered.
Lawyers for Mrs. de Villagran had sought to present evidence that she was not responsible for her actions. They said she had brain damage from blockage of an artery that supplies blood to the brain and also suffered dementia as a result of the AIDS virus.
″We didn’t know about it,″ juror Frank Suraci, city editor of The Daily Breeze in Torrance, said of the AIDS defense. ″The word ‘AIDS’ was never used in the jury room.″
Asked if the defendant’s affliction could have affected the jury’s decision, he said, ″It could have, in terms of her ability to form an intent.″
″She had a damaged head, you understand me? She had a damaged brain,″ said her lawyer, Richard Sherman. ″I wasn’t allowed to present my case, and now the lady doesn’t get a chance.″
The judge allowed the jury to hear evidence of Mrs. de Villagran’s health problems but barred testimony about how her illness may have affected her ability to know she was committing a crime.
Prosecutors argued that Mrs. de Villagran, who lived in a luxurious Pasadena mansion, lied on a series of bank loan applications that she made millions in an auto exports business and that she raked in huge profits from large real estate holdings in Beverly Hills.
In reality, the government said, she juggled up to 60 payments a month on the loans, obtained between 1983 and 1986, to maintain a lavish lifestyle. She sought new loans to pay off old ones until ″the bubble burst,″ Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Nessim told jurors.
Mrs. de Villagran’s purported sexual involvement with Marcos, said to have occurred about 20 years ago, was the subject of the book ″Marcos’ Lovey Dovie″ by Philippine journalist Hermie Rotea.
Marcos has never denied the relationship, and prosecutors said publicity about the couple may have helped Mrs. de Villagran obtain millions of dollars in loans.
Mrs. de Villagran, originally from Nashville, Tenn., is a former actress who appeared in such movies as ″Wild Wheels.″