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Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Former nurse convicted for second time of stealing $14K from employer

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bergen, crime

It took a jury all of 30 minutes to return a guilty verdict against former Bergen resident Michele Ann Case of grand larceny in the third degree.

This is the second time a jury in Genesee County has found Case guilty of stealing more than $14,000 from her former employer, HomeCare & Hospice.

The first conviction, in March 2012, was overturned on appeal because state justices found that summations of her thefts were improperly prepared and presented to the jury.

Case, 47, was represented in this trial by attorney Larry Koss, who argued before the jury in closing statements this afternoon that the extra compensation received was all just a big misunderstanding.

"The fact that there are discrepancies doesn't mean anything was done intentionally," Koss told the jury. "People make mistakes. I submit to you, if you're in the profession she's in, your primary concern has to be your patients. If you want to be a good nurse, you want to care for your patients. They have to be your primary concern. They have to be what you pay attention to."

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman told the jury that the evidence was clear: Case submitted claims for "call outs" (patient visits supposedly outside of regularly scheduled hours) during her normal work shift; that she submitted claims for call outs that she didn't make; and that she claimed mileage that was greatly exaggerated.

Koss said it was a lack of proper training and clear policies that caused Case to submit inaccurate claims for compensation.

There's nothing in the polices that define what allowable mileage is (to which Friedman responded during his close, "I think the answer is you're expected to record mileage truthfully."

During her employment with HCH, Case submitted 61 mileage claims. Of those, Friedman said, 60 of them contained wildly inflated mileage, up to 100, 200 and 300 more miles than Case possibly could have driven.

For a trip to Crossroads House on Liberty Street from the HCH office on East Main Street, Batavia, Case claimed 30 miles.

When confronted by Det. Charles Dudek (now retired) about the discrepancy, Case claimed at one point her trip that day originated in Warsaw, but even those miles -- combined with the side trips she claimed -- didn't add up, Friedman said.

When she went to Delavan for training, Case claimed mileage that was nearly double the actual trip, even using the longest possible route offered by MapQuest for the drive, Friedman said.

That didn't happen just once, but twice.

Case told Dudek that she forgot to reset her trip counter on her odometer and didn't realize her mistake when submitting her mileage reports.

Friedman said the pattern of Case's inflated claims made it quite clear she was trying to increase her compensation illegally.

On 69 occasions, Friedman said, Case claimed compensation for call-outs during what should have been her normal, salaried working hours. Those claims alone totaled $5,300 in extra compensation.

"There is one common scheme to illegitimately and illegally increase what she saw as her insufficient income," Friedman said.

To Koss's argument that HomeCare & Hospice neglected to spot and correct Case's false claims for two and a half years, Friedman said such fraudulent claims went undetected because they were unexpected.

"The defendant was a registered nurse," Friedman said. "She's a professional and they expected her to be professional and honest when she documented her claims, and it turned out, they couldn't count on that."

At the start of his summation, Koss quoted Oscar Wilde.“The truth is rarely plain and never simple.”*

The case against his client, he said, was complicated and obscured by poorly written policies and inadequate training.

Friedman said at the close of his summation, that actually, the facts of the case were pretty straightforward.

"The plain and simple truth is this defendant stole more than $14K by falsifying time vouchers and mileage records," Friedman said.

With uncommon speed, the jury reached the same conclusion.

NOTE: Wilde's correct quote is, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Batavia PD investigating report of disturbance at State and Lewis

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Batavia PD is responding to State Street and Lewis Place for a report of a disturbance.

The initial call was for a group of people making a lot of noise. Minutes later, a follow-up call said people were fighting.

When the first patrol arrived on scene, the officer said members of the group fled. Some headed toward Bank Street, some are said to be heading north on State Street.

Multiple police units responding.

UPDATE 10:29 p.m.: An officer reports he's out with several individuals at State and Lewis.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Photo: New utility pole on Center Street, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Center Street

Workers with National Grid installed a new utility pole on Center Street. The road was closed for a portion of the morning during the installation. The pole will help accommodate power upgrades for the new call center for the Tompkins Insurance Company going in at that location.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Photos: Basketball camp at John Kennedy School

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, sports

Here are some pictures from today's basketball camp at John Kennedy School. This portion of the camp is for boys and girls going into the 7th and 8th grade.

From the small portion of the camp I watched, high school coaches in the county can anticipate getting some skillful young athletes with a lot of heart in a couple of years.

Coaching at John Kennedy were Tom Redband and Matt Shay.

Yesterday: Photos: Summer basketball camp under way in Batavia

Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Car accident, no injuries, in front of Denny's on West Main Street in the city

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents

A car accident, with no injuries, is reported in front of Denny's restaurant at 364 W. Main St., between Bogue Avenue and Woodrow Road. City fire is responding.

UPDATE 4:25 p.m.: The  city assignment is back in service.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Volunteer Open House Night at Crossroads House!

Volunteer Open House Night at Crossroads House at 11 Liberty St. between 5-7pm for a tour, ask questions, learn how you can become involved. We look forward to meeting you.  

Event Date and Time

September 16, 2014 - 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Annual Crossroads House Garage Sale!

post by Lisa Ace in batavia, crossroads house, garage sale, ny

Annual Crossroads House Garage Sale! 9am – 4pm Daily!  New Location on School St. behind Ficarella’s Pizza shop. Call Jackie at 585-734-0125 for more information.  

Event Date and Time

August 16, 2014 - 9:00am - 4:00pm
Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Annual Crossroads House Garage Sale!

post by Lisa Ace in batavia, crossroads house, garage sale, ny

Annual Crossroads House Garage Sale! 9am – 4pm Daily!  New Location on School St. behind Ficarella’s Pizza shop. Call Jackie at 585-734-0125 for more information.  

Event Date and Time

August 15, 2014 - 9:00am - 4:00pm
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Photo: Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather

After the Tigers Under 6 soccer game this evening, members of the team posed for a picture with a rainbow behind them. Shannon Whitcombe, who took the picture, titled it, "Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow."

Submitted by Jeff Whitcombe.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Nearly three weeks later, results of neighborhood police activity announced

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

City announcement:

On June 26th the City of Batavia Police Department joined by the Genesee County Drug Task Force, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Genesee County Probation and New York State Police participated in a series of neighborhood enforcement details. The purpose of these details was to systematically approach known problem areas within the City and target criminal activity.

The benefits of participating in the joint operation are to provide continual support amongst the agencies, increase familiarity with working with each other, thereby enhancing the ability to curb criminal actvity.

Sixteen law enforcement personnel from four different agencies were partnered in a focused enforcement detail of eight separate locations in the central and south sides of the City. Due to ongoing investigations the exact locations are not being disclosed at this time. This approach to neighborhood sweeps/enforcement was identified in the City’s Strategic Plan with the goal of providing additional resources to focus on quality-of-life concerns for City residents. The following are preliminary results of this year’s first detail:

  • 59 data runs
  • 19 traffic stops
  • 16 probation visits
  • 5 traffic citations issued
  • 3 drug-related arrests, including marijuana and crack cocaine
  • 1 parole violation
  • 1 probation violation
  • 1 drug court violation
  • 1 disturbance call, 2 suspicious activity calls and 1 foot pursuit

Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said “The City of Batavia Police Department is grateful for the assistance provided by the other participating agencies during this special detail. The residents of this City should know that every resource is being utilized to its fullest extent to weed out criminal activity within their neighborhoods. No one should have to feel oppressed in their own home or on their own street; therefore the Police Department is committed to using whatever resources are necessary to curb illegal activity.”

Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha added “This is a fine example of corporation between the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, City of Batavia Police and other law enforcement agencies to improve the quality of life within our community.  We must continue to pool our law enforcement resources to meet citizen expectations and to benefit the taxpayer."

Major Michael J. Cerretto, Troop A commander, New York State Police, continued by stating "In these days of fiscal restraint, it is very important that police agencies work together. The success of this community-policing initiative in the City of Batavia shows how important this cooperation is to the citizens of Genesee County. The relationship between the Batavia PD, the Genesee County Sheriff's Office and the State Police has never been better."

Neighborhood Sweeps/Enforcement Details were outlined in the City’s Strategic Plan as part of the City’s Neighborhood Revitalization efforts. They include dedicated patrols for targeted enforcement with the goal of intercepting and interrupting the flow of illegal drugs, weapons and other contraband as well as locating and arresting wanted persons. All agencies involved expect to continue joint law enforcement efforts in the future. These details are not advertised prior to taking place and locations are selected based on criminal data, the presence of nuisance and illegal behavior and ongoing investigations.

If you see criminal activity or know about a crime that has occurred please contact the Batavia Police Department at (585) 345-6350 or the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370.

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