ROCHESTER, N.Y. (November 13, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his office has filed charges against a former Rochester-area nursing home aide who allegedly stole a patient’s credit card to purchase personal items, pay bills and make multiple ATM withdrawals. After she was fired from the nursing home, she then allegedly filed a forged and false application with the Monroe County Department of Human Services in order to obtain public benefits.

Certified nurse aide Latoya Harding, 28, of Grafton St. in Rochester, formerly employed at the Blossom South Nursing Home, allegedly took a credit card from a 90 year-old patient suffering from dementia to pay her cable, cell phone and utility bills. She also allegedly purchased items from Wal-Mart and made several cash withdrawals. The felony complaint alleges that between June and August 2009, Harding stole a total of $2,434.57 from the resident.

“Nursing home employees are entrusted with the care of our loved ones,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “We will aggressively pursue anyone who violates that trust and takes advantage of vulnerable patients in their care.”

Harding was arraigned in Rochester City Court before Judge Stephen T. Miller on charges of Grand Larceny in the 4th Degree (class E felony), Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the 1st Degree (class E Felony) and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree (Class D felony). The maximum penalty for Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree is 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison. Harding was released on her own recognizance pending a November 17 court date.

After Harding was fired from Blossom South in mid-August because of the theft allegation, she allegedly applied for unemployment benefits to the Monroe County Department of Human Services Temporary Assistance Program. According to the complaint, Harding submitted an application with a forged signature of a Blossom South employee and falsely claimed that she was laid off from Blossom South. Further, the application clearly stated that only employers can complete and submit the form.

The Attorney General’s Office thanked the administration and staff of the Blossom South Nursing Home, Bank of America, Time Warner Cable, Rochester Gas and Electric, T-Mobile, Aarons Furniture Store, and Wal-Mart for their cooperation in this investigation. Special Assistant Attorney General Timothy McFarland of Attorney General Cuomo’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Rochester Regional Office is prosecuting the case. Special Investigator Douglas Hinchey assisted in the investigation.

The charges against the defendant are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.