Taking on “Thief of Hearts”

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Some women call him "The Thief of Hearts," claiming they met him, they fell for him, and they gave him thousands of dollars to invest in a life together.

His name is Ken Witkowski and he has an arrest record in Luzerne, Wayne, Lackawanna and Susquehanna Counties.

Two women have come forward to tell their stories of how they say he cheated them.  They asked Newswatch 16 to only identify them by their first names, because of what they call embarrassing chapters of their lives.

For the first time, Wendy from Brooklyn, Francine from New York, and Jill from Wayne County came all face-to-face with Witkowski of Throop in court last week.

The women say Witkowski romanced them all. And court records of lawsuit show he owes them a total of more than $172,000.

"I see the devil. That`s what I see," said Wendy, who is a sales professional.

She and Francine, who worked in Wall Street in finance, are speaking out.

Both met Ken Witkowski online, and their relationships quickly became romantic.

"He wanted his own child," claims Francine.  "He said he never married and that I was the girl of his dreams."

"He portrays himself as a man of God," added Wendy. "He wants to settle down, has never been married, has no kids."

But records show Witkowski has nine children, by six women, and has been married at least three times.

Wendy and Francine say when they finally learned that, they were almost broke.

"He had wiped out my bank account," said Wendy.  "He had maxed out credit cards I never even had before."

"And Wendy was unfortunately just another victim in this long line of what we believe to be a serious pattern," said her attorney, Jonathan Comitz of Dallas who is trying to get Witkowski to pay $69,000 awarded by a judge in 2010.

"He has used the system to his advantage," said Comitz.  "But we believe he`s getting to the end."

The end, because Witkowski tried to delay the payment filing bankruptcy in U.S. Federal Court twice last year. Both times the court dismissed Witkowski's bankruptcy filing.

Records show Francine, Wendy, an ex-girlfriend, and an ex-wife in Luzerne County, have joined banks and businesses seeking a total of almost $400,000.

"He uses women, and insurance companies to front his lifestyle," claims Francine.

Ken Witkowski is trying to get money by filing two lawsuits of his own.

One targets an insurance company for $325,000 as Witkowski claims he's owed damages from a 2010 fire that gutted his business, the Goal Line Bar in Carbondale.

Witkowski is also suing John Deere, claiming he suffered head injuries in 2010 on his Lake Ariel property after falling from a rented bulldozer.

Our records check on Witkowski include three protection from abuse orders filed in Lackawanna County by two women.

He's been arrested six times for bad checks, he faces charges of public drunkenness, and in one lawsuit, a woman claims he lied when he emailed her a bogus certificate claiming to be an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.

"I look at him and I see him as a monster," said Wendy.

She and Francine still have pictures of the engagement rings from Ken Witkowski.

But they also remember how hope during their engagements turned to heartache when they learned of his past life, and how the thousands they gave him to build a future vanished.

Action 16 Investigative Reporter Dave Bohman asked these two professional women how they got taken in by a guy like Witkowski.

"Ken Witkowski is a predator," said Wendy.

"I thought he was my knight in shining armor," added Francine, who got engaged to Witkowski in 2007, then gave birth to their daughter in May 2008.

Two months later, she says she was planning their wedding when she learned Ken got married to another woman.

"You feel stupid," said Francine.  "Why would I wire him that large amount of money? But he was building this dream home.  We were having a baby together.  No one warned me.  No one said he was married before.  No one said there was a whole group of other children around from different women."

"It`s a hard thing to warn somebody about him because he`s convincing and he`s good at it," added Wendy.

When Ken Witkowski left court last week, he said nothing.

Witkowski is involved in several criminal and civil court cases.

The one last week resulted from Wendy asking a judge to make sure that if Ken Witkowski wins any money in a lawsuit, she should get the first $70,000, money she says he took through romance and deception.