WATERLOO — A Waterloo woman has been found guilty of bilking a couple out of thousands of dollars with false claims of cancer, an organ transplant and a frozen multi-million-dollar annuity.
Shawn Marie Eastman Adams, 47, also known as Shawn Tompkins, stood quietly Friday as a jury found her guilty of first-degree theft and false reports. The theft charge is normally punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but because of prior felony forgery convictions, Adams face up to 15 years behind bars and will have to serve at least three years before she is eligible for parole.
Sentencing will be at a later date.
Adams’ reaction to the verdicts was in contrast with her earlier responses to trial testimony, which included her leaving the courtroom in tears and darting from the room saying she was going to be sick as prosecutors started closing arguments.
Assistant County Attorney Charity Sullivan said Adams, a down-on-her-luck thrift shop owner, collected more than $50,000 from the wife of the couple, who operate an antique shop, saying she would repay them with an annuity that was about to be unfrozen.
Sullivan said the couple believed Adams would repay them because she said she had received a confidential civil settlement from an attorney who had assaulted her years earlier, and she showed them a doctored document on her phone that claimed she had $3.2 million coming to her.
She told them she had wrist cancer and a brain tumor that would end her life. She asked them to look after a 12-year-old boy who was in her care after she died.
“These people believed somebody they never should have believed,” Sullivan said.
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When the couple cut her off — not long after she told them she had undergone a kidney transplant — she told police the husband had molested the boy, Sullivan said.
Evidence during trial included testimony from the boy — who said the husband never did anything inappropriate — and Adams’ adult daughter, who said Adams wanted her to draw a kidney transplant scar on Adams’ body to placate the couple and then sent them a photo of a scar found in an internet search.
Defense attorney Heather Jackson said the couple was trying to drive a wedge between Adams and the daughter and the boy. She said the daughter was using meth and came up with the kidney transplant scheme to get money for drugs.
Jackson questioned why the couple would have continued to aid Adams — paying rent for her home and thrift shop — after seeing red flags, like authorities seizing items Adams had placed at the wife’s antique shop for consignment and even bailing her out of jail on other charges.
Adams genuinely thought the boy had been abused and reported it to police, Jackson said. No criminal charges were ever filed.
Earlier this year, Adams was convicted in connection with items taken from a Grundy County farm property in 2017. She has appealed that case.