Woman gets 18 months for theft from in-laws; $1M stolen after gambling losses.

Author:Croteau, Scott J.

Byline: Scott J. Croteau

WORCESTER -- A Holden mother of two was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a half in federal prison for stealing nearly $1 million from her in-laws in an attempt to win back money she gambled away online.

Chiao Fang Ku, 46, of Holden, who already pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud in U.S. District Court, now faces inevitable deportation back to Taiwan, according to her lawyer.

When Ms. Fu began helping her in-laws manage their finances in 2008, she had already been online gambling, losing large amounts of money, according to court records.

"She stole nearly $1 million from her elderly in-laws who had entrusted her to help manage their finances,'' federal prosecutor Eric P. Christofferson said in court. "She wiped out their entire savings.''

Ms. Ku had already gambled away a sizeable nest egg that she and her now ex-husband had stashed away before she began helping her in-laws, said Ms. Ku's lawyer, Kevin C. Larson. She tried to get the money back by making large wagers but it never worked. Ms. Ku's husband, according to authorities, did not know about the gambling.

"I lived with that secret for a long time,'' Ms. Ku said in court. "My mother-in-law did not deserve this. I betrayed her trust.''

With her ex-husband and his mother in the courtroom, Ms. Ku wept as she addressed U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman.

Ms. Ku was given access to her in-laws' savings and investment accounts after they moved to Holden. Ms. Ku's father-in-law was having serious health issues and later died.

Authorities said Ms. Ku almost immediately began stealing...

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