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Massena woman sentenced to probation for stealing money from nursing home

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MASSENA — A former business office employee at the Highland Nursing Home who was accused of stealing more than $18,000 from accounts at the facility, including the residents’ spending trust fund, was sentenced to probation.

Investigators from the office of the state attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit charged Wendy Vice, 45, of 597 County Route 40, with felony counts of third-degree grand larceny, second-degree forgery and first-degree falsifying business records.

She pleaded guilty to a reduced count of petit larceny, a misdemeanor, in a plea bargain agreement. Ms. Vice had admitted she had a gambling problem at the time the money was stolen.

Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow placed her on probation for three years with a stipulation she continue treatment for her gambling problem. She also was ordered to pay $50 to submit a sample of her DNA to the state database. She has made full restitution.

“Nursing home residents entrust a great deal of control of their lives — physically, financially and emotionally — to the staff members of these facilities, who are obligated to honor that trust,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a Thursday news release.

Ms. Vice stole the funds while working in the business office, where her duties included receiving and depositing funds into the facility’s various accounts, including the resident trust account. She made false entries into the facility’s books and forged names on receipts. When the facility discovered the theft, she admitted her acts and repaid more than $10,000 of the $18,000 she stole. Highland Nursing Home reimbursed all of the patients whose funds were taken.

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s audit revealed $18,208.76 had been stolen from the various accounts between Aug. 2, 2011, and Aug. 2, 2012, according to court documents.

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