This mother hit the piggy bank all the way to a courtroom.
A 31-year-old Woodhaven woman has been charged with stealing over $65,000 from her disabled 12-year-old daughter’s medical malpractice lawsuit settlement for plastic surgery and vacations, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown
According to the charges, a settlement was reached in a 2007 medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of Megan Mele’s daughter, who was born in 2004 with a brachial plexus injury to her right arm. The injury immobilized her arm from the shoulder down to her hand.
Law enforcement sources said an account was established at Cross County Federal Savings Bank in March 2007 with more than $50,000 for her future medical expenses, care, and benefit. The settlement stipulated that the girl would receive payments from the account starting after her 18th birthday in 2022.
Eight years later, in March 2015, Mele petitioned the judge handling the case to approve a withdrawal of $47,000 from the account. The petition was denied, but only a week later Mele submitted a forged court order for a fund withdrawal, purportedly to pay for her daughter’s surgery at a San Diego children’s hospital. The court issued a $47,000 check in Mele’s name.
An investigation revealed no record of Mele’s daughter as a patient at the San Diego hospital, and that instead Mele had used a portion of the withdrawn funds for a personal vacation to Disneyland in California.
Mele continued to submit forged court orders to the bank on three occasions between June and August of 2015, requesting a total of $19,500. Checks were issued in the defendant’s name on each occasion. Mele attempted to withdraw the remaining funds of merely $633.74 in September 2015, but the bank denied her request.
Mele allegedly spent the nearly $65,000 in stolen funds on tummy tuck liposuction, restaurant bills, airline tickets, and shopping purchases on Amazon.com and at local retail.
“Instead of safeguarding the money for her daughter’s future needs, the defendant is alleged to have only thought of herself,” Brown said, adding that Mele “used the child’s account as if it were her personal piggy bank.”
Mele faces charges of second-degree larceny and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. If convicted, she could spend up to 15 years in prison.