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Post date: September 17 2000

Nurse's Aide Charged With Stealing Diamond Ring From Elderly Patient At Rensselaer-area Nursing Home

Attorney General Spitzer and Rensselaer County District Attorney Kenneth R. Bruno today announced that a certified nurse's aide temporarily employed at the Eden Park Health Care Center in East Greenbush has been arrested for stealing a diamond engagement ring from a 92-year-old bed-ridden patient last month. The aide claimed she later sold the ring for $400 in New York City.

Arraigned late last week in East Greenbush Justice Court before Judge Catherine Cholakis, Arnel Kelley was charged with Petit Larceny and Wilful Violation of Health Laws. If convicted, she faces up to one year in jail.

Attorney General Spitzer said, "For the patient, the true significance of the ring's loss lies not so much in its monetary value but in its sentimental worth. It was a gift of love from her now-deceased husband more than sixty years ago. I hope this prosecution sends a clear message to all health care workers that law enforcement will move swiftly and aggressively to prosecute those who mistreat and take advantage of patients in their care."

"I have long been a proponent for measures protecting the welfare and interests of our elderly residents in Rensselaer County," said District Attorney Bruno. "This is yet another horrific example of senior exploitation. My office is committed to protecting these unfortunate victims that often fall prey to the criminal element. I want to commend Attorney General Spitzer for his ongoing pursuit of those individuals who violate New York State health laws."

As an agency aide employed by Northeast Nursing Staff Service, a temporary help agency, Kelley accepted an assignment to work the evening shift at Eden Park on August 3, 2000. While putting the 92-year-old patient to bed, Kelley noticed a diamond ring on her hand and offered to have it cleaned and brought right back to the patient. Pleased by the unexpected offer, the patient gave the ring to Kelley, who left the room with it.

When Kelley did not return with the ring as promised, the patient began repeatedly using the call light to summon assistance. Kelley responded to each call and assured the patient that the ring was still being cleaned. When the patient, who is non-ambulatory, tried to get up on one occasion, Kelley shoved her back in the bed. Kelley left the facility shortly before the end of her shift.

The patient, who could no longer find her call button, began yelling for help. When facility staff responded, the patient informed them that Kelley had taken her ring and not returned it. It was then discovered that Kelley had tied the call light cord under the bed where the patient could not get it, thereby isolating her from nursing home staff and rendering her unable to summon assistance.

Kelley, 38, lives at 400 Central Avenue in Albany. She has been employed by Northeast Nursing Staff Service, LLC in Glenmont, New York, since April.

Eden Park Health Care Center is located at 1070 Luther Road in East Greenbush.

Attorney General Spitzer and District Attorney Bruno thanked the State Health Department for initially referring the matter, and the East Greenbush Police for handling the arrest. Spitzer and Bruno also thanked the nursing home for its cooperation during the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney Andra Ackerman and Special Assistant Attorney General John M. Meekins, Director of the Albany Regional Office of the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which is under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.

The charges against Kelley are accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.