Cleveland.com reported that a former nursing home worker was indicted Oct. 20 after a detective investigating thefts from elderly residents found her using one of the stolen credit cards at a Cleveland bingo parlor. Gwendolyn Brice faces multiple charges including identity theft, after an officer showed her photo to a bingo worker on Oct. 12, who told him she was in the building — then gave him the name on the stolen credit card she had used that night to purchase $140 worth of bingo cards and supplies that night.
The detective had already noticed the suspect standing in line purchasing materials and knew it was the name of one of what may be multiple victims, as the investigation continues after her Oct. 13 arrest and subsequent grand jury indictment. Brice had access to the residents’ rooms and was employed at Hamlet Hills nursing home for 10 months.
The Jackson Sun News had an incredible story about a nursing home who hired a woman with a long history of fraud and forgery. Sheila Watson was arrested and charged with one count of identity theft, four counts of criminal simulation, four counts of forgery, one count of criminal impersonation and one count of theft over $1,000. Watson was the social services director at Bells Nursing Home. Watson is also an ex-convict who has used at least half a dozen different names in a long history of state and federal fraud, forgery and theft convictions.
The investigation into Watson — who has worked at the nursing home since July — began when the nursing home received a call from a state agency. The investigation is still ongoing but "They said she did a great job and was a good employee," Klyce said. "We’ve looked at her computer and couldn’t find any evidence at this point."
When the Sheriff’s Department began investigating, authorities soon discovered Watson’s job application was only the tip of the iceberg, he said:
She had borrowed money from the Bank of Crockett County using false documents. She was wanted in Iowa on charges of theft over $10,000. She was on probation but was using a different name and job description to report to her probation officer.
Watson was arrested as Sheila F. Hayes in November 2002 on federal charges of forgery, theft of property and identity theft, according to The Jackson Sun’s archives.
She was accused of stealing mail from 135 victims in West and Middle Tennessee for the purpose of stealing identities and embezzling money. She later pleaded guilty to one count of mail theft and was sentenced to five years in prison and three years’ probation.
At the time, the judge said Hayes had the highest criminal history score of any woman he had seen in his 20 years as a judge. The bulk of her prior convictions were for theft and fraud, but she was also convicted of escape from a Metro Nashville jail. Watson had charges stretching back to 1989, most of them in Middle and West Tennessee. She reported to a probation officer in Jackson under the name Sheila Hayes and told them she worked for a construction company.
Mid-Hudson News Network ran an article about the arrest of William Brownlee for identity theft in the first degree, a felony, after an investigation into the theft of money from an elderly resident at the Bethel Nursing Home in the Town of Cortlandt.
Police said Brownlee worked at the nursing home in the laundry/maintenance department. He allegedly stole the resident’s debit card and fraudulently removed over $2,000 from various banks.
Fresnobee.com reported that a former Kaweah Manor Convalescent Hospital employee used records to steal patients’ identities and has been arrested along with her boyfriend. Ratoni Brown faces felony charges that include possession of stolen property, financial elder abuse, identity theft and burglary. Her boyfriend, Paul Lopez faces similar charges.
Brown took patients’ names, birth dates and Social Security numbers and allowed her boyfriend to use that information to apply for credit cards and loans on the Internet. Police are investigating how she passed a background check. She was out on bail on a robbery charge in Sacramento. The former intern is also wanted in Sacramento on identity theft and burglary charges.
Under hospital policy "all Kaweah Manor employees are required to undergo in-depth background and reference checks", something that may have been overlooked since Brown was working as an intern at the time.
There could be more victims including some deceased patients. Investigators say most of the merchandise was being shipped to their apartment. Visalia Police served a warrant the same day a package containing $7,000 in jewelry was being delivered to their apartment. Lt. Puder says the package was addressed to a nursing home patient. Brown and Lopez were arrested on the spot.
WLKY.com had an article about the Louisville Metro Police’s investigation of a nursing home employee who stole the identity of a patient, then turned around and took out nearly $100,000 in loans. Danielle McClain faces at least a dozen counts of aggravated identity theft. McClain was an occupational therapist at the Hurstbourne Care Center at Stony Brook. She stole 85-year-old Jean Wright’s personal information. Wright spent six weeks at the facility after bypass surgery on her leg.
The investigation determined McClain had stolen Wright’s information off her driver’s license and from conversations the two had in the facility. Records show McClain listed Wright as her grandmother on loan applications. If convicted, McClain could face at least 20 years behind bars.
Records show McClain was convicted of forgery, theft, and criminal possession of a forged instrument in September 2000 and sentenced to 6 years in prison. Those records show she was released from prison in October 2007. There is no explanation how she got hired at the nursing home. It is doubtful the facility did any criminal background check. If the facility had done an appropriate and required background check, this incident never would have happened.
WTOC in Savannah, Ga. had a story about a nursing home employee charged with elder abuse and stealing the identities of as many as 40 residents from nursing homes. Police say Tamara Smith used her job as a certified nursing assistant to gain access to patients’ personal information. She is accused of using the information of 43 former and current nursing home residents to buy computers, cell phones, and open credit cards. The victims range in age from 60 to as old as 100.
For every victim over the age of 65, Smith is being charged an additional count of elder abuse. "You wonder how someone can do this to people in nursing homes who have nothing at that point in their life anyway," said Thunderbolt police chief Irene Pennington. "She had been getting away with it, but it took good investigations to catch up with her." I certainly don’t agree with Chief Pennington’s comments that residents "have nothing at that point in their life anyway."
The investigation started 15 months ago after a single complaint to police from one resident’s family. The number of victims continues to grow and more arrests are expected.
How could this happen? Why didn’t the Administrator realize what was going on?