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Man accused of stealing $465K from woman, 91

Retired MTA train operator Sidney Howard bought a piece of the good life in Florida by stealing the life savings of his former MTA co-worker's 91-year-old mother, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Howard, a Roosevelt resident who worked out of the MTA's Jamaica train yard, pleaded not guilty Tuesday during his arraignment in Queens Supreme Court on 13 charges of larceny, impersonation, identity theft and criminal possession of stolen property. Prosecutors said he stole $465,000 from Jean Senuta, who lives in a Long Island nursing home. After her son, Dennis Pappard, died in February 2009, prosecutors said, Howard, his co-worker, looted the man's bank account of an additional $13,000.

Howard put some of the money toward the purchase of a home in Fort Myers, Fla., prosecutors said. Prosecutors said the scheme began after Pappard became ill in February 2009. Howard drove Senuta from her nursing home to a Queens branch of the Astoria Federal Savings Bank. He told her to open a joint account in their names, funded with $180,000 drawn from her other accounts, prosecutors said.

In October 2008, following the sale of her home, prosecutors said Howard allegedly told her to deposit the entire sum - $285,000 - into the joint Astoria account held in their names.

Then, in April 2009, he allegedly emptied the joint account and deposited the money into his own account. Days later, he wrote checks to the Noble Title Company to buy his Florida home, prosecutors said.

The alleged thefts were discovered in May 2009 when Senuta wrote a check that bounced due to insufficient funds, prosecutors said.

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