Caregiver charged in ID theft; Elderly woman’s credit card used for $18,000 in purchases

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Dec. 5, 2007

NORTH BRANFORD — Police are accusing a New Haven woman of stealing a credit card from an 88-year-old resident of the Evergreen Woods senior complex and using it to charge $18,000 worth of goods.

Police said Tuesday that Maria Severino, 41, ran up the bill at stores in half a dozen towns across the region. Severino was employed as a caregiver by Farmington-based home-care service Companions & Homemakers, and was working with a woman who lived at the Evergreen Woods residence off Notch Hill Road, according to police.

Severino was fired by the private company she worked for after officials from the company conducted an internal investigation two months ago, an attorney for the company said Wednesday.

The head of security at Evergreen Woods said he was not previously aware of the arrest and had no comment.

After the elderly woman’s daughter noticed the credit card charges, she contacted detectives, who began an investigation. They obtained a videotape of Severino using the credit card at a Lowe’s home improvement store, police said.

Severino allegedly used the elderly woman’s credit card to buy groceries, cigarettes and electrical equipment, according to police. Detectives also said she took two checks from the elderly woman’s checkbook and used them to pay for the credit card bill.

She was charged Monday with one count of first-degree larceny, eight counts of illegal use of a credit card, eight counts of first-degree identity theft, 10 counts of third-degree forgery, one count of third-degree larceny and one count of theft of a credit card. She was released on a promise to appear in Superior Court in New Haven on Dec. 13, police said.

Martin Acevedo, general counsel for Companions & Homemakers, said in an e-mail that the home-care company terminated Severino’s employment in October.

Acevedo said that Companions & Homemakers performs a thorough background check on every employee it hires. He added that the elderly woman’s family is continuing to employ another caregiver from Companions & Homemakers.

“I think this is just an unfortunate incident that it is absolutely impossible to predict,” he said by phone Wednesday.

Acevedo said in the e-mail that the company carries liability and employee dishonesty insurance that may cover the losses if the credit card company does not do so.

In March, a former employee of Evergreen Woods was charged with impersonating a family member of an elderly woman and taking two rings, worth $1,500, off her fingers. Last year, a health care aide who worked at the facility and her son were arrested on charges that they embezzled $57,000 from a female resident.

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