Attorney General James Announces Indictment and Arraignment of Westchester Caseworker for Stealing More Than $300,000 from an Elderly Client

Westchester County Caseworker Chantel Chenault Fraudulently Withdrew Funds Belonging to a 95-Year-Old Suffering from Dementia Under Her Care

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced the indictment of Chantel Chenault, 46, of Danbury, CT, on charges of grand larceny and identity theft for stealing more than $300,000 from a 95-year-old woman with dementia while she was under Chenault’s care. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that from March 2017 through April 2022, while employed as a caseworker with Westchester County Adult Protective Services (APS), Chenault transferred over $500,000 from the elderly woman’s retirement accounts to the woman’s checking account and would bring the woman to the bank to make withdrawals multiple times per month.  Chenault also regularly used the woman’s ATM card at casinos without permission. Chenault was arraigned today in Westchester County Court before Judge Maurice Williams. Her next appearance in court is scheduled for June 15, 2023.

“Chantel Chenault used her position as a caregiver to steal from someone who trusted her and who couldn’t protect herself. This betrayal harmed the victim and harmed the reputation of the Westchester County Adult Protective Services,” said Attorney General James. “All New Yorkers deserve safe and secure services to support autonomy later in life. My office will always defend our seniors against those who attempt to exploit their vulnerability and will ensure bad actors are held accountable.”

“There is nothing more insidious than exploiting the most vulnerable among us, especially when families put their trust in a caseworker they believe will treat their loved one with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissoner, New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) “OCFS has zero tolerance for this type of abuse and referred this case directly to Attorney General James’ office for investigation. I commend the subsequent caseworker who reported the alleged criminal activity to the appropriate authorities immediately. Reinforcing what we know in OCFS, the vast majority of human services professionals approach their work with the utmost care and compassion.”

Chenault became the elderly woman’s caseworker in 2017. As the woman’s physical and mental health declined, Chenault was responsible for arranging home health aides from a third-party provider to provide care. Chenault went on medical leave in March 2022, and the new caseworker at APS assigned to the elderly woman noticed there had been a substantial drop in her assets in just a matter of months. Further investigation revealed that the woman’s bank accounts and retirement accounts were entirely depleted and as a result, she could no longer afford home health care. A forensic audit of her bank accounts identified a pattern of suspicious withdrawals and transfers, and the use of her ATM card at times when she was homebound. In total, Chenault is alleged to have stolen more than $300,000 from the woman over a five-year period. 

A Westchester County Grand Jury indicted Chenault on charges of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Identity Theft in the First Degree, and Official Misconduct.

Attorney General James thanks the Office of Children and Family Services for the referral and the Westchester District Attorney’s Office for its assistance in this matter.

The case was investigated by Detective Steven Pratt under the direction of Supervising Detective Anna Ospanova and Assistant Chief Samuel Scotellaro, all under the supervision of Deputy Chief Juanita Bright. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes. The audit was undertaken by Auditor Investigator Bashiri Kirven under the supervision of Deputy Chief Auditor Sandy Bizzarro. The audit team is led by Chief Auditor Kristen Fabbri.

Senior Counsel Russell Satin and Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Kyriacou are handling the prosecution in this matter for the Public Integrity Bureau under the supervision of Bureau Chief Gerard Murphy and Deputy Bureau Chief Kiran Heer, with assistance from Legal Support Analysts Crystal Bisbano and Hannah Mueller. The Investigations Bureau and the Public Integrity Bureau are both part of the Division for Criminal Justice. The Division for Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.