STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ)– A former employee of Juniper Village at Brookline, a nursing home in State College, is charged with stealing more than $500,000 in checks from former residents of the home.
According to a criminal complaint, 30-year-old Ignacio Pearsall, former aid at the nursing home, is accused of stealing checks from eight residents during his time as an employee.
The first recorded theft was in December of 2019 when it was reported to police that a check was stolen and cashed at a Wells Fargo Bank in North Carolina. The check was made out to an unknown person and had a note saying that it was for kitchen repairs.
In July of 2020, three more checks were reported as forged. Two checks totaling $185,000 were found cashed from a deceased resident’s bank account after the son checked his father’s bank statements online.
One of these checks was cashed when the father was in a coma and another when the father was in a hospital, according to police. The son presented the police with a picture of one of the checks that were stolen and it was determined that the signature was forged.
The third incident of a stolen check, totaling $55,000, was reported by the daughter of two deceased parents after she saw a check was cashed the day after her parents’ death.
According to police, when they spoke to Juniper Village Director, Elizabeth Plonzer-Chalfa, in September of 2020 Chalfa informed them that four more checks were stolen from three additional residents.
Days after speaking to police, she contacted authorities to report two more checks that were stolen and forged. One of the checks was issued in July for $90,000 but was caught by the bank before any money was taken from the account.
On Feb. 24 police went to Pearsall’s residence to speak with him and he admitted to stealing the checks. Pearsall explained that he was stealing the checks and was sending them to Georgia to another person nicknamed “Rich”.
Pearsall then explained to police that he was also scammed. He was supposed to be getting half of the money from the checks but he did not receive any, according to the criminal complaint.
Pearsall admitted that he was a part of the scammers’ group since 2011 and that he had to deactivate his Facebook account because the group would constantly reach out to him.
“In the summer of 2020, Juniper was notified by the State College Police Department of a fraud investigation that potentially involved one of our associates and cooperated with the authorities in the investigation. The associate was terminated. Juniper was directed by law enforcement officials not to release any information about the situation, as it was an ongoing investigation, “Juniper Village at Brookline said, in a press release.
“At Juniper, the safety of our residents and associates is a top priority. Juniper requires individuals to undergo and pass a criminal background check prior to hire,” the group continued.
Pearsall has been charged with numerous counts of theft and criminal conspiracy. He currently awaits a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 11.