Forest Hills health aide helps self to $55,000 from elderly client: DA

Photo by Bianca Fortis
By Bianca Fortis

A home health aide from the Bronx has been accused of stealing $55,000 from a 98-year-old Forest Hills woman, who employed her, the Queens district attorney said.

Tameka Nunes, 31, of East 227th Street in the Bronx, was indicted last Thursday and charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

According to Brown, Nunes worked as a health care attendant for the victim, who has been diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, from May 2011 to November 2011.

Nunes is suspected of systematically using the victim’s bank card to withdraw cash in $200 and $800 increments almost daily, Brown said. Most of the transactions occurred at the JPMorgan Chase branch, at 100-12 Queens Blvd., he said.

The repeated withdrawals resulted in the opening of a fraud investigation by the bank and the investigator then referred the case to the New York City Human Resources Administration’s Adult Protective Services, the DA said. Nunes allegedly spoke to the investigator by phone and said the victim had authorized the withdrawals, but she then immediately resigned from her position as the woman’s home aide, according to Brown.

Bank video surveillance allegedly shows the defendant at the bank’s ATM on multiple occasions and withdrawing funds from the bank, the DA’s office said.

Nunes is being held on $15,000 bail and will return to court in September. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

“This is a tragic case of a health-care worker who was entrusted to look after the well-being of this frail woman but instead allegedly treated her as a cash cow,” Brown said. “Luckily, bank officials noticed a troubling pattern of withdrawals and an investigation was commenced.”

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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