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Los Angeles Times, Published May 22 2012

New York man gets 13 years for posing as his dead mom

NEW YORK - Perhaps it was the hands - too big for the apparently frail woman in the poofy blond wig. Perhaps it was the dubious expression on the face of the temporary home health aide. But the video that was supposed to help Thomas Parkin prove his elderly mother was alive only sent a jury into giggles. Now Parkin faces at least 13 years in prison for donning the strange disguise in a scheme to reap his dead mom's money.

If he gets out after serving the minimum of 13 2/3 to 41 years handed down this week, Parkin, 51, still will be younger than the mother, Irene Prusik, whom he impersonated for six years. A judge announced the punishment Monday, two weeks after a Brooklyn jury convicted Parkin of grand larceny and mortgage fraud that allegedly began in 2003.

That's when Prusik died at age 73, leaving behind a brownstone in the upscale Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope that was valued at about $2.2 million. Prosecutors said Parkin could not afford to maintain payments on the building, so he came up with the plan to dress as his mother and begin cashing her Social Security checks.

A co-defendant, Mhilton Rimolo, 49, who pretended to be a relative, was arrested in 2010 and charged with grand larceny. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Parkin never denied dressing as his mother, but he insisted he was doing nothing wrong by living life as a seventy-something woman with a walker, oversized dark glasses and a bad wig.

Investigators had been suspicious of Parkin for a while but got their big break in March 2009 when he and Rimolo walked into the Brooklyn district attorney's office to claim that the new owners of Prusik's home - which had fallen into foreclosure - were there illegally. They claimed she was alive and wanted to sue.

“To the investigators’ surprise, Rimolo and Parkin agreed to arrange a meeting with Prusik at the home,” according to a statement from the DA's office issued after the May 3 conviction. “When investigators arrived, they found Parkin dressed as his ... mother, wearing a red cardigan, lipstick, manicured nails and breathing through an oxygen tank.”