A New Orleans woman who stole more than $2 million in inheritance money from an autistic man after she posed as an attorney has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Kristina Galjour, 45, pleaded guilty on Monday to theft valued at more than $25,000 and three counts of practicing law without a license after she defrauded an adult autistic man whose parents had just died, according to Nola.com.
The 59-year-old autistic man lost both his parents in 2015, leaving him millions of dollars and a home in New Orleans. The trust was being administered by Legacy Law Center, a planning firm where Galjour worked, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
In 2016, Galjour first identified herself to the man as a lawyer despite not being licensed to practice. She gained the unsuspecting man’s trust and convinced him to give her power of attorney, according to prosecutors.
She then began slowly draining the man of his assets. She purchased a Jaguar in the victim’s name, although he never drove it, officials said. She also used the money for vacations, hosting parties, and buying clothing and other luxury items for her own personal use.
She convinced the man to sign his home over to her in 2017 after she told him a group of neighbors was trying to kick him out and have him sent to a mental institution. She told him signing over the house to her was the only way to prevent this.
By the time the man finally reported Galjour to the police, she had completely drained all of the cash from the trust fund, officials said.
Galjour was arrested in Dec. 2019. In addition to the fraud and license raps, she had also been charged with theft, laundering money in an amount greater than $100,000, exploitation of the infirm, three counts of bank fraud and two other counts of theft. The other charges were dropped on Monday, according to Nola.com.
She was ordered to pay restitution to all of her victims, including $1.3 million to the autistic man, according to court records.
Erica Dudas, neighbor and advocate for the man, told Nola.com that he is glad that the legal proceedings are over and he can begin to rebuild his life.
“He’s a little bit in shock,” Dudas said. “I’m glad it’s over, and he finally understands that people believe him over her.”
The money will go towards a special needs trust set up in the victim’s name at Gulf Coast Bank, Dudas said. Neighbors and supporters rallied to help the man, and have started a GoFundMe to help the man restart his life and cover the cost of his care. There is also a legal effort to overturn the donation of his family home.
“I’m confident that [his] life will get better, and we can open a new chapter,” she said.