A former worker at a California senior living community faces up to five years in prison if convicted of three felonies and a misdemeanor related to thefts of property belonging to his employer and residents, including a painting by a noted artist and Holocaust survivor.
Alex McNicholas, who was a medical technician at the Kensington, a Senior Resource Group independent living, assisted living and memory care community in Walnut Creek, CA, was arrested Friday and charged with theft from an elder or dependent adult by a caretaker, grand theft by embezzlement, and receiving stolen property with a value exceeding $950. All are felonies, according to court documents provided to McKnight’s Senior Living by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. He also was charged with receiving stolen property with a value exceeding $950, a misdemeanor. All of the alleged crimes were thought to have occurred in 2016.
Walnut Creek Police first began investigating McNicholas in late 2016 when a resident’s daughter reported that her father, a resident with dementia, was missing a painting that he had owned for more than 50 years, according to the East Bay Times. The artwork, titled “Repose,” was painted by the late Jan de Ruth, perhaps best known for a painting of Ethel Kennedy that appeared on the cover of a 1969 issue of Time.
A native of Czechoslovakia, de Ruth was a prisoner in several concentration camps during World War II, including Auschwitz, and escaped when he was transferred to a camp in his native country, according to biographical information posted online. He later moved to the United States.
The resident’s daughter searched the name of the painting online and learned that an eBay user was trying to sell it for $1,000, the East Bay Times reported. She was able to connect the account to McNicholas, police said.
Police interviewed the Kensington’s executive director and other employees, and they identified additional items posted by the same eBay user, including a pair of hearing aids for which the asking price was $4,000, the media outlet said.
Ron Mead, vice president of operations for Senior Resource Group, told McKnight’s Senior Living: “Resident safety and security are top priorities at all Senior Resource Group communities. After learning of the allegations, we immediately began an investigation working closely and cooperating fully with the Walnut Creek Police Department. Prompt remedial action was taken in regards to the former employee. We are committed to continuing to deliver quality care and outstanding service to our residents and their families. We appreciate the police department’s efforts in this matter.”
Updated June 20 with comment from Senior Resource Group.