|TRENTON - Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that the former business office manager of a Passaic County long-term care facility was charged with theft by deception for allegedly stealing $84,000 entrusted to her to cover both patient and facility operating expenses.
Traci Meyers, 38, of Haledon, was charged today in a state grand jury indictment with second-degree theft by deception.
At the time of the alleged crime, Meyers was the business office manager of Advanced Care Center at Lakeview (“Advanced”) in Wayne. In that position, Meyers was trusted with writing checks from two separate “petty cash” accounts. One account was for patients’ daily expenses. It is from this account that the patients receive their monthly allowance. The second account was the facility’s operating account for all miscellaneous needs that may arise (i.e. repair supplies and services, kitchen goods, holiday items, etc.).
“Advanced receives funds for payments for patients’ housing and fees from Social Security and Medicaid, meaning that Meyers’ alleged actions not only defrauded the facility where she worked, but also the hard-working taxpayers of New Jersey who pay into the Medicaid and Social Security systems,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “We will be vigilant in protecting both defrauded victims and all New Jersey taxpayers.”
“As reflected in today’s indictment, investigating and prosecuting professionals who work at facilities involving patient care remains a priority for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor,” Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi said.
The indictment alleges that between April 2011 and May 2013, Meyers stole more than $75,000 by creating the false impression that the checks she was preparing were for funds held in bank accounts under her control that would then be allotted, in their entirety, for petty cash, either for patient needs or operating expenses.
An investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Meyers allegedly cashed the checks or sent others to cash the checks, and then kept most, and on the majority of occasions, all of the cash from those checks, rather than returning the funds to the facility. The investigation revealed that Meyers allegedly stole $84,000 through the scheme. As a result of the alleged crime, Meyers was terminated from her position at Advanced and was arrested in June by the Wayne Police Department.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000.
Deputy Attorney General Gina Galante and Detective Danielle Han coordinated the investigation. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi thanked the New Jersey Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly for referring the matter to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. He also thanked Detective David Collins of Wayne Police Department for his assistance in the investigation.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.