Palm Beach police arrest 2 state employees for stealing from patient

Two state employees allegedly stole thousands of dollars from a patient suffering dementia.

(MIAMI HERALD)   Two women employed by the state to protect a vulnerable elderly woman instead preyed on her, stealing about $20,000 from her bank accounts while she was hospitalized for dementia.

Police said both women were adult protective investigators with the Florida Department of Children and Families. One went so far as to wait in 85-year-old Jane Janssen’s Cocoanut Row apartment and pose as Janssen in case the banks called to verify transactions, according to arrest affidavits made public Wednesday.

This week, Palm Beach Police detective Nicholas Caristo week arrested Mindi Marie Berry, 33, her DCF supervisor, Greta Laverne Lambert, 41, and a third woman, an employee of an escort service who told police she was hired to cash stolen checks.

Police on Wednesday were getting a warrant to arrest a fourth woman in the alleged scheme, which came to light after Janssen’s son, Christopher Janssen, complained last month, police said. Berry and Lambert were fired in November after DCF learned of the police investigation, an agency spokesman said.

Adult protective investigators are responsible for looking out for some of Palm Beach County’s most vulnerable residents, grown men and women who, due to illness or developmental disabilities, can’t take care of themselves. Investigators handle complaints of abuse or neglect, but also probe claims of financial exploitation.

DCF officials last month began reviewing each case Berry and Lambert worked on, a process that nearly is complete, Riordan said.

Berry had been working for DCF for less than a year when she was assigned to Janssen, Riordan said. Police said Berry noticed checks and bank letters scattered around Janssen’s apartment and stole them at Lambert’s and others’ urging.

Described in police records as the scheme’s “mastermind,” Lambert worked for DCF for several years and had risen to the rank of supervisor.

Berry was taken into custody in November, soon after Christopher Janssen’s complaint. After a month-long investigation, Caristo arrested Lambert and Alexis White, 19.

The women face charges of organizing a scheme to defraud, grand theft from an elderly person, credit card fraud and identity theft. Their attorneys couldn’t be reached.

The fourth woman remained on the loose Wednesday, police said.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/southflorida/story/1405428.html

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