Tuttle Center Caregiver Charged with Trying to Steal from Client

Officials say woman forged and deposited check stolen from 88-year-old Port Washington resident.

A former personal care assistant at the Tuttle Center in Port Washington faces charges after officials say she tried to steal $10,200 from an 88-year-old resident in her care. The center is part of The Amsterdam at Harborside, a retirement community off of West Shore Road.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said that Stephanie Benodin, 25, of Queens Village was arrested Wednesday. She faces two felony charges and up to seven years in prison.

“The abuse of New York’s elderly citizens, often the most vulnerable among us, will not be tolerated by this office,” Schneiderman said, in a statement. “This aide and others like her will be brought to justice and should be barred from caring for the infirm.”

According to the criminal complaint, Benodin waited until the Tuttle Center resident was temporarily admitted to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset to deposit the forged check, which was stolen from the victim’s Tuttle Center home. Benodin, who was hired to assist the resident with mobility, dressing and dining, was caught on video depositing the forged check in November 2012. The check was made out to Benodin’s mother for $10,200 and was deposited into Benodin’s mother’s account.

Police say Benodin deposited the check at a Capital One Bank branch in Queens Village, but the check was returned for insufficient funds. An investigation began after a daughter of the resident reported the attempted theft. Benodin was arrested by Port Washington Police. Schneiderman thanked Port Washington Police, particularly Detective Domenico Morrocu, for their investigative work.

According to officials, Benodin admitted to depositing the check.

And while court papers state that thre resident had not authorized the check, Garden City-based attorney Willian Kephart told Newsday that the resident had approved it, wanting to pay Benodin back for items purchased for her, and to help Benodin pay for her nursing education. 

An order of protection was taken out against Benodin, prohibiting her from going near the resident and the Tuttle Center, according to Newsday.

Benodin is charged with one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, a Class D felony, and one count of attempted grand larceny in the third degree, a Class E felony.

Benodin was arraigned in Nassau County District Court, and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. She was held on $10,000 bail.

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