Case Result: Serious Felony Charges Dismissed for Home Health Aide Accused of Stealing $12,000 in Cash from Patient

Professional: Home Health Aide

Primary Issue: Client, a home health aide, worked as the main caretaker for a retired man who required 24-hour care due to his physical and mental conditions. Her daily activities including doing his grooming, cooking, and shopping. As part of their frequent routine, the home health aide would take him to the nearby supermarket to purchase scratch-off lottery tickets. This was the retiree’s main source of leisure, and he would spend between $1,000 and $2,000 on lottery tickets monthly.

When the retiree’s bank alerted him that the funds in his account were getting low, he went to meet with bank management about it. He indicated not understanding why his account showed consistent cash withdrawals every few days, adding that he didn’t know who would be making the withdrawals. Police and investigators were called in to review the situation. Surveillance video footage from the bank showed the home health aide using the ATM to take out cash on a regular basis. The retiree was asked whether he gave the aide permission to do this, to which he said no. Furthermore, he strongly denied spending substantial sums of money on lottery tickets.

The home health aide was arrested and charged with grand theft, criminal use of information, and financial abuse of the elderly, for her alleged theft of $12,000. The charges she faced had mandatory minimum sentences, which would amount to a three-year prison term.

Argument: Chapman Law Group Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Meltz began a thorough investigation. He located and took sworn statements from witnesses, including employees of the supermarket where the retiree would get his lottery tickets. These witnesses said they were familiar with the home health aide and the retiree. They noted that the two would regularly come into the store to purchase between $100-$200 in tickets at a time, adding that sometimes the aide would come in alone to buy the tickets while the retiree waited in the car.

Jonathan also interviewed and got statements from the home health aides who worked nights and weekends for the retiree. Each aide corroborated the story, saying that they too were given the PIN code for the retiree’s ATM card and he would have them withdraw cash for his lottery expenses.

The retiree’s deposition demonstrated his confusion as to who was supporting and helping him at home, as well as who had the ability to pay for the things he needed. When asked whether he played the lottery, he denied ever doing so, in direct contrast to the sworn statements given by the defense witnesses. This revelation gave the prosecution reasonable doubt to their case.

Result: Upon interviewing witnesses independently, the prosecutor was presented with consistent testimony corroborating the home health aide’s story. After more than two years since the aide’s arrest, the prosecutor dropped the case, citing no evidence that the aide stole any of the retiree’s money.

Takeaways: When tasked with managing their patient’s money, home health aides should always have documentation and written authorization. Doing so serves as proof of being able to withdraw money and make purchases on the patient’s behalf. This practice allows aides, should they be questioned by authorities, to substantiate that they have permission and the ability to use their patient’s funds.

Areas of Law:
Criminal Defense

This information is a sample of our past results. Prospective clients may not obtain the same or similar results. Every case is different and each case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits. The circumstances of your case may differ from the results provided. The information provided has not been reviewed or approved by the State Bar.

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