NJ Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Announces Charges in Three Separate Cases Involving Alleged Crimes in Residential Care Facilities

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Lisa Coryell

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TRENTON – Advancing its efforts to protect elderly and disabled individuals from abuse and neglect in institutional settings, the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) today announced charges against four defendants in three separate cases tied to residential care facilities.

The charges were contained in three separate indictments handed up by a state Grand Jury in Trenton today.

In the first indictment, two women employed as psych aides at Bancroft Neurohealth in Mt. Laurel, were charged with physically abusing a disabled resident in their care at the facility for developmentally disabled adults and children.

Martha Ruiz, 25, of Camden, and Kendall Crouch, 24, of Clementon, who were assigned to care for the man during a shift on June 1, 2018, allegedly struck him in the face, twisted his hand and wrist, forcefully restrained him to his bed, and forced a urine-soaked towel on his face.

Both women were charged with conspiracy (3rd degree), neglect of disabled person (3rd degree), and endangering another person (4th degree).

In the second indictment, a woman is accused of stealing approximately $20,530 from an elderly nursing home resident over whom she had power of attorney.

Karissa-Anne Frannicola, 29, of Caldwell, was charged with theft by failure to make disposition of property received and misapplication of entrusted property (both 3rd degree) in connection with thefts that occurred between April and August of 2017.

In the third indictment, a woman accused of assuming a false identity to work as a Certified Nurse Aide at the Barnegat Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Barnegat in November 2018.

Christine Sanford, 31, of Atlantic City, allegedly assumed the identity of another CNA to obtain work at the facility because her own Nurse Aide certification had been revoked by the New Jersey Department of Health in 2017 after she was found unqualified for certification pursuant to State law.

Sanford is charged with forgery, identify theft, and uttering of false government documents (all 3rd degree).

The indictments obtained today stem from investigations conducted by OIFP’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (“MFCU”), which receives federal funding to investigate and prosecute Medicaid provider fraud as well as the abuse or neglect of Medicaid patients, or patients who reside in facilities that receive Medicaid funding.

Third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000; fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to eighteen months in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $5,000.

The indictments are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Deputy Attorney General Patrick K. Gessner presented the cases to the Grand Jury.
Detective Anthony Iannice coordinated the investigations of all three cases.

Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson thanks the Mount Laurel Police Department for its assistance in the Ruiz/Crouch investigation, the NJ Long-Term Care Ombudsman for its assistance in the Frannicola investigation, and the Barnegat Township Police Department for its assistance in the Sanford investigation.

Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson 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 website 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.


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