CNA charged with check fraud

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 19, 2004

AULANDER – A person hired to provide medical assistance to an elderly family in Aulander apparently performed a service not listed within her job description.

Cassandra Harrell Brown, 29, of Colerain was arrested Friday by the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office. Employed as a CNA (Certified Nurses Assistant) by Interim Healthcare of Ahoskie, Brown was charged with a total of 11 felonies and six misdemeanors stemming from the alleged theft of personal checks.

The arrest came through a combined effort of the Aulander and Ahoskie police departments and the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office. That investigation led Aulander Police Chief Jimmy Barmer to charge Brown with five felony counts of forgery, five misdemeanor counts of larceny, two counts of felonious uttering and one felony and one misdemeanor count each of exploitation of the disabled/elderly.

Meanwhile, the Ahoskie Police Department charged Brown with three felonious counts of uttering a forged paper. According to Chief Barmer’s report, Brown deposited the stolen checks in her savings account at an Ahoskie bank. That led to the involvement of Detective Sgt. Jeremy Roberts of the Ahoskie Police Department.

&uot;What raised a red flag at the bank was that the check number was out of sequence,&uot; said Barmer. &uot;After noticing that, the bank called the victims, informing them that a $600 check had been written and cashed from their account.&uot;

In his investigation, Barmer learned that three checks were missing from the checkbook of one of the elderly victims (Brown was allegedly helping care for an 88-year-old woman and a 70-year-old man).

&uot;The missing checks were each made out to Cassandra Brown and the signature on the bottom of the checks was forged by Cassandra Brown, using the name of one of the victims,&uot; noted Barmer. &uot;I also discovered two other checks where she had signed the name of another of the two victims and cashed those checks at a bank here in Aulander.&uot;

Barmer did not disclose the total amount of money involved in the forged check scheme. He also did not rule out that there might be other missing checks, ones that have not completed their financial cycle through the banking process.

The Aulander Chief said Brown immediately became a suspect in the case due to the fact that she was in the victims’ home on a frequent basis.

&uot;The first thing we do in a case such as this is to see whom is coming and going at the home,&uot; he said. &uot;I discovered that Ms. Brown was a CNA working at this particular home.&uot;

On July 16, Barmer and Sgt. Roberts each had warrants drawn on Brown. She was arrested later that day by the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office.

Brown was taken to the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail under a $25,000 cash bond. Yesterday (Monday) afternoon, a spokesperson at the jail said that Brown remained incarcerated.

Chief Barmer thanked the Ahoskie Police and the Bertie Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in making the arrest. He also offered words of advice for citizens in regards to protecting their financial documents.

&uot;I would suggest keeping your financial items in a safe and secure place,&uot; he stressed. &uot;It’s also a good idea to always keep a close check on your monthly statements from the bank. If anything looks suspicious, get in contact with your bank immediately. In this particular case, it was the bank that noted something that appeared fishy. The prompt attention they paid to this case helped us in quickly finding the person responsible for this crime.&uot;

Barmer said the stolen checks were taken from deep in the checkbook.

&uot;By going deep in the numbering sequence of the checks, a victim, especially an elderly person that doesn’t write a lot of checks, would go a long while before noticing a check was missing,&uot; concluded Barmer. &uot;That’s why it’s so important to safeguard these checks. Put them and keep them in a place only known to you or a trusted family member.&uot;