ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A chiropractor who thought she was being courted by New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez was actually the victim of con artists who took her for hundreds of thousands of dollars, authorities said.
Rhonda Schroeder, 32, told prosecutors that she befriended a patient, Shirley Gordon, who introduced her to a man posing as the Mets' ace.
Schroeder said the impostor continued their romance through phone calls and text messages. He urged Schroeder to spend money on Gordon, including a $450,000 house, more than $150,000 in furniture, and lawyers to defend her against a previous fraud charge, the St. Petersburg Times reported Sunday. He always promised to pay back the money.
The fake Martinez always had an excuse for why he couldn't visit Schroeder, but he sent gifts and flowers. In daily phone calls, he played the doting boyfriend. Schroeder said she would do anything to keep him happy, including helping his "sister" financially.
When Schroeder realized she was being scammed, she went to prosecutors and sued Gordon and a male accomplice, accusing them of racketeering and seeking restitution. The case, filed in May 2006, is pending.
Gordon, 56, who has dozens of felony convictions, is serving an 18-month prison term for violating federal probation. After that, she will begin serving a 30-year state prison sentence for using another person's identity to buy a luxury car in 2004.
Prosecutor Beverly Andringa said she can't charge anyone with scamming Schroeder because the chiropractor damaged her credibility by testifying on Gordon's behalf at her fraud trial.
Schroeder did not immediately respond to a message left at her St. Petersburg chiropractic office Monday.