Former SNF employee sentenced to 4 years for $170,000 resident theft

A former employee of a Massachusetts nursing home will serve up to four years in jail for stealing $170,000 from resident accounts.

Debora Goyette, 46, was found guilty last week of stealing from the accounts when she worked at Hillcrest Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pittsfield, MA. The thefts occurred between January 2009 and October 2012. Goyette was fired after the thefts were discovered, and charged with three counts of larceny and one count of making false entries in corporate books.

While is was unclear what Goyette's official title was, she had access to the accounts when she worked at Hillcrest. She also created a shopping system residents could use to have items purchased for them, but that system lacked checks and balances to ensure cash was being used appropriately, the Berkshire Eagle reports.

“Ms. Goyette not only failed Hillcrest Commons and its residents by not protecting the funds with which she was entrusted, she deliberately took advantage of her position to steal those funds for her own use,” Paul Hopkins, communications coordinator for Hillcrest's parent company Berkshire Healthcare, said in a statement to McKnight's.

Goyette's attorney suggested another employee later fired for theft was behind the missing $170,000, but authorities said the timelines did not match up.

“Although the original victims of Ms. Goyette's actions were the residents themselves, her conduct also injured the community of Hillcrest Commons and the trust and confidence among residents and the community that the Hillcrest staff works so hard to build,” Hopkins said. “We also want to thank the staff at Hillcrest Commons who handled this situation professionally and who care for their residents each day with compassion and integrity. The incident disturbed them as it did all of us.