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A sports utility vehicle overturned after colliding with a pair of vehicles at a Ridgewood intersection last Friday afternoon
A sports utility vehicle overturned after colliding with a pair of vehicles at a Ridgewood intersection last Friday afternoon

Used Check Scheme To Swipe Cash

A home health aide has been convicted of stealing nearly $800,000 from her 86-year-old disabled patient in Forest Hills through a check writing scheme, it was announced.


Jackie A. Pokuwaah

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown identified the defendant as Jackie A. Pokuwaah, 53, of Gerard Avenue in the Bronx. She was convicted last Tuesday, May 1, of five counts of second-degree grand larceny and five counts of second-degree criminal possession of stolen property following a week-long jury trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice John B. Latella, Jr.

The judge set sentencing for May 22, at which time Pokuwaah-who has been held in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail since her arrest last year-faces up to 15 years in prison.

“Home health aides are welcomed into the homes of the most vulnerable in our society. It is essential that they not use their position of trust to victimize those in their care as was done in this case,” Brown said. “[Pokuwaah] used her influence over the victim to systematically steal her life savings. She must receive a lengthy prison sentence both as punishment and to serve as a warning to those who would target the weak or the elderly.”

According to trial testimony, Pokuwaah worked as a home health attendant for the 86-year-old Forest Hills womansbquo;-who is confined to a wheelchair, has limited use of her hands and suffers from cognitive impairmen- and was paid an annual salary of approximately $81,000.

During the course of Pokuwaah’s employment, she began to managethe woman’s daily financial affairs. In addition to Pokuwaah’s salary, the victim would write out other checks made payable to the defendant in order to pay for food, laundry and other expenses.

The victim reportedly relied upon Pokuwaah to tell her what the checks were for and the amounts.

A thorough review of the Forest Hills woman’s bank account indicated that checks totaling over $791,054-excluding Pokuwaah’s annual salary-had been made payable to Pokuwaah between Jan. 1, 2007, and Mar. 14, 2011. In one instance, a check for $1,700 carried a notation indicating that it was for ice cream. Other checks routinely written for exorbitant amounts indicated they were for such things as laundry and groceries.

The investigation began following an inquiry from the fraud departments of J.P. Morgan Chase and TD Bank, which had some concerns over the legitimacy of the large checks being written from the account.

The investigation was conducted by Det. Carolyn Shabunia of the NYPD Financial Crimes Task Force, under the supervision of Lt. Christopher Flannigan and the command of Deputy Inspector Gregory T. Antonsen, of the Special Frauds Squad, and the overall supervision of Deputy Chief Jeremiah Quinlan, commander of the Special Investigations Division, and Chief of Detectives Phil T. Pulaski.

James J. Dever, supervising accountant investigator of the Queens District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau, and former QDA financial analyst Matthew Scavetta assisted in the investigation.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Khadijah Muhammad-Starling and Assistant District Attorney Gloria T. Lam of the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau prosecuted the case, under the supervision of Gregory C. Pavlides, bureau chief, Christina Hanophy, deputy chief, and Kristen A. Kane, chief of the Elder Fraud Unit, and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.

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