Police charge woman with stealing, cashing patient’s checks

PROSPECT — A 48-year-old Waterbury woman is facing multiple larceny and forgery charges for stealing checks from a patient at RegalCare at Prospect while she worked at the nursing home and rehabilitation center.

Police arrested Bernice Harris, 48, Waterbury on a warrant this month. According to a copy of warrant, Harris cashed 13 stolen checks from a man living at the center between Feb 8, 2016 and Oct. 26, 2016. The money stolen totaled $2,245, the warrant states. Harris also tried to cash two checks in November 2016 totaling $500, but the bank stopped payment on the checks, the warrant states.

The victim told police he went to the RegalCare at Prospect on Royal Crest Drive in May of 2015 due to a medical condition. The man told police Harris was one his health care workers at the nursing home.

The victim didn’t discover the money was missing until Nov. 23, 2016 when he tried to withdraw money from the account and was told the account had a negative balance, the warrant states. A bank employee went through the victim’s account, and they discovered the checks the man didn’t write.

One of the stolen checks was written out to Harris, according to the warrant. The man told police he had given Harris $60 on one occasion because she asked for money and he felt sorry for her. When she asked again, the warrants states, the man told her he didn’t have the money. He told police he didn’t write a check to her, the warrant states.

Harris told police in an interview she started having financial troubles in September of 2015 due to being diagnosed with symptoms of Lyme Disease, according to the warrant. She said she was missing a lot of work due to the illness and having trouble paying her bills.

Once she was well enough to go back to work full time, she said she tried to find a second job, but it was difficult because she didn’t have a car. She said the opportunity presented itself one day, and she began stealing checks from the victim’s check book out of desperation, the warrant states.

“Every dollar of the money I stole from [the victim] I used to pay my bills,” Harris states in the warrant. “I am very sorry for what I did and I am ashamed of myself. I was just desperate because I needed the money.”

Harris was arraigned in Waterbury Superior Court and released on bond, according to information on the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s website. She hasn’t entered a plea and is scheduled to appear in court again on Aug. 15.