In separate cases on opposite sides of the country, former senior living employees have been sentenced to prison time and ordered to pay restitution for stealing money from residents.
In one case, the former business manager of a Morris County, NJ, assisted living community was sentenced Tuesday to 27 months in prison for stealing approximately $237,000 from a resident.
In addition to the prison term, Marcella Drakeford was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution of $237,258.
As McKnight’s Senior Living previously reported, Drakeford pleaded guilty in April to one count of mail fraud.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Drakeford was granted limited access to the resident’s checking account in December 2016 after she agreed to help with the resident’s financial affairs. Drakeford was authorized to use the account only to pay for the resident’s care and living expenses, the indictment said.
Unbeknownst to the resident or to the resident’s guardian — a family member — however, Drakeford already had fraudulently added her name as a signatory to the resident’s credit card account and had several credit cards tied to the account issued in her name, according to the indictment. Drakeford then reportedly used the credit cards to buy clothing, shoes, jewelry, trips and dental work and to pay rent, car and utility bills.
The indictment did not name the assisted living community at which Drakeford worked, but an online profile of her identified the community as Spring Hills Morristown, and company representatives confirmed her former employment to McKnight’s Senior Living at the time of her arrest.
Drakeford had been hired in March 2015 after a screening that included a state-required criminal background check, Spring Hills Senior Communities said. The affected resident had moved into the community in January 2016, according to the company.
Spring Hills said a family member of the resident informed the community in April 2017 that funds were missing from the resident’s account.
“The community responded immediately by contacting Morristown Police and suspending Drakeford,” according to a statement provided to McKnight’s Senior Living in 2018. “The community cooperated fully with the postal inspector’s office and turned over all records requested. After an internal investigation, Drakeford was terminated.”
Another case, in Arizona
In another case, in Arizona, a former senior living community caregiver was sentenced to 18 months in prison for defrauding a 92-year-old resident.
Faye Ann Singer previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. In addition to receiving the prison sentence, she was ordered to pay $93,378.25 in restitution.
Singer, the Justice Department said, admitted that she gained access to the resident’s banking information and for 17 months wrote checks for her own personal benefit out of the resident’s account and used the account information to electronically pay her own bills. The resident was unaware that Singer had the bank account information or that Singer was taking money from the account.
The sentencing occurred Sept. 27 and was announced by the Justice Department Oct. 1.