Friday, August 24, 2007

Former Social Worker from Dept of Health and Human Services Joins the Fray Stealing from Elders

AUGUSTA, Maine --A former caseworker with the state Department of Health and Human Services has been jailed for 30 days for stealing more than $9,000 from elderly and incapacitated clients whose interests he was assigned to protect.

Albert Bouchard, 47, of Limestone, who pleaded guilty to theft, was sentenced Friday in Aroostook County Superior Court to two years in prison, with all but 30 days suspended. After his release, he faces five months of house arrest and two years of probation, a time in which he must perform 200 hours of community service.

Over a 15-month period in 2001 through 2003, Bouchard stole money from clients and used it to buy fine jewelry, electronics, gift certificates and furniture for himself, his family and his girlfriend.

"Albert Bouchard worked for the agency that is charged with protecting the elderly from predators like Albert Bouchard. He committed a gross abuse of the trust placed in him by the state to care for our most vulnerable citizens," Attorney General Steve Rowe said Tuesday in a statement detailing the thefts.

Bouchard charged a $300 digital camera to the account of an elderly woman with dementia and made several cash withdrawals from her account, Rowe said. While tapping another client's account to buy a $1,300 large screen television for his home, he delivered a used, 27-inch TV to the nursing facility at which the client was living.

Two other accounts belonging to clients with dementia were charged for several pieces of jewelry, including a $600 diamond anniversary ring and a $700 gold rope chain necklace. Bouchard delivered inexpensive substitutes to the clients, who were then living at nursing care facilities, Rowe said.

Gift certificates charged on three client accounts to the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque Isle were given as Christmas gifts to Bouchard's then wife and children and his girlfriend and her children.

Bouchard entered his guilty plea in May, after a jury was selected and the day before he was scheduled to go to trial. He paid full restitution at the time of sentencing.

"What made this case especially egregious was the calculated and deceptive nature of the theft," Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said.

She said the state has several elder exploitation cases in the prosecutorial pipeline, "but typically, these are not people who are licensed social workers for the state who are stealing from the elderly."

More common, she said, are cases involving theft by a family member or "someone who comes in as a housekeeper, and gets the person's trust -- and checkbook."

Robbin said she was unaware of any similar misdeeds by state caseworkers but noted that the Maine Bureau of Adult and Elder Services has initiated checks within its system to reduce that possibility.

"Bouchard's conduct unfairly tarnishes the reputation of the many other dedicated caseworkers who strive to care and protect the elderly," Rowe said

Titled and bold by blog master for emphasis

Glad the judges are getting tough on Elder abuse and he will serve time, I hope he doesn't get his old job back.

"typically, these are not people who are licensed social workers for the state who are stealing from the elderly."

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