She cashed in on her daughter’s injury to pay for liposuction and a trip to Disneyland, but now she’s spending hard time for it.
A Woodhaven mother was ordered on Wednesday to serve six months in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $65,000 of her pre-teen daughter’s medical malpractice lawsuit for personal expenses.
Megan Mele, 31, pleaded guilty in September 2016 to second-degree grand larceny charges for the theft which took place in 2015.
Mele’s 13-year-old daughter was born in November 2004 and diagnosed with an injury to her right arm that left her with extremely limited function from her right shoulder to her hand. Mele brought a lawsuit against the doctor who treated her daughter that led to a January 2007 settlement.
As part of the settlement, the girl would receive annual payments made to a savings account held at Cross County Federal Savings Bank until her 18th birthday in 2022.
“Instead of safeguarding her daughter’s malpractice award — money set aside for the disabled youngster’s future — the defendant admittedly dipped into the account to finance a Disneyland trip, cosmetic surgery, online shopping and other splurges,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement on Thursday, Dec. 1.
In March 2015, prosecutors said, Mele asked the court regulating the account for permission to withdraw $47,000. After a judge initially denied her request, Mele returned with a court order that later turned out to be forged. The fraudulent order indicated that the $47,000 was to be used in order for her daughter to undergo surgery at a children’s hospital in San Diego.
The court authorized a check for $47,000 in Mele’s name. Law enforcement agents said Mele would submit other forged court orders seeking the release of a total of $19,500 in funds from her daughter’s settlement account between June and August 2015. The bank denied a final request for funds made on Sept. 22, 2015, in which Mele sought to access the remaining $633.74 in the account.
An investigation revealed that Mele’s daughter was never admitted to any hospital in San Diego. Investigators found that Mele herself had used the proceeds to fund a trip to Disneyland in California as well as to make purchases through Amazon.com and other retailers. She also used some of the proceeds for a tummy tuck.
Mele was ordered on Nov. 30 to serve six months’ incarceration, followed by five years’ probation.