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Post date: July 16 2007

Schuyler County Home Care Operators Charged With Stealing From Elderly Patients

ALBANY, NY (July 16, 2007) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced the arrests of the former operators of Welcome Home, a Beaver Dams “Family Type Home” for adults, who allegedly used the credit cards, bank accounts and identities of their residents, one of whom was receiving hospice care, to acquire a swimming pool, a tractor and cash.

Harry Smith, 46, and his wife, Christine Smith, age 40, of 1425 Roloson Hollow Road in Beaver Dams, were charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree for stealing thousands of dollars from two elderly residents of the home. In addition, Harry Smith was charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Forgery in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree and Identity Theft in the First Degree for falsely using the identity and credit of one of the residents to purchase a tractor. Each of the crimes charged are class “D” felonies, which carry a maximum prison term of 2 and 1/3 to 7 years.

“The bad faith and abuse of trust alleged in this indictment are shocking,” Attorney General Cuomo said. “As we move toward providing more care to patients in home settings, it is absolutely essential we not allow such abuses to take place. My Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is aggressively pursuing abuses by the providers of home care, and will continue sending the message that this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The indictment accuses the pair of stealing the proceeds of the sale of a 71-year-old resident’s home, and wrongfully using the bank account and credit card of an 87-year-old hospice patient to purchase a swimming pool, fencing, and other items for their personal use. Harry Smith is also charged with falsely using the 71-year-old resident’s identity and credit to purchase a tractor costing approximately $25,000. Both residents are now deceased.

Family Type Homes, for adults of all ages, are certified by county Departments of Social Services. These are typically a single family home in which the homeowner provides supportive services, meals, supervision, and personal care to four or fewer adults who are unrelated to the homeowner/operator. Welcome Home was closed by the State Office of Child and Family Services in July 2004, after the State Police found the residents of the home in the care of a 14-year-old.

Cuomo thanked the New York State Police, the Office of Child and Family Services, and Wendy Wolcott from the Schuyler County Office of the Aging for their cooperation and assistance in this investigation.

The defendants were arraigned by Schuyler County court Judge J.C. Argetsinger and released on their own recognizance. They are due back in court September 6.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Special Assistant Attorney General Timothy McFarland, of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Rochester Regional Office, is prosecuting the above matter. The case was investigated by Supervising Special Investigator Neil Davis, Principal Special Auditor/Investigator Thomas Clarke, Medical Analyst Tina Dentino and New York State Police Investigator Joe Kelly.