February 23, 2015
Doris Litle, 79, allegedly used the money to buy lottery tickets instead of paying the cousin's nursing home bills. She was charged with second-degree theft by deception and third-degree Medicaid fraud, according to the New Jersey Attorney General's office.
Litle became her 93-year-old cousin's power of attorney in 2005. Her cousin has been unable to pay the nursing home bill since 2012 due to insufficient funds. The cousin has been in a Camden County nursing home since 2010.
“Because of [Litle's] alleged selfish crimes, the defendant has left her vulnerable relative with no way to pay for her own care, for which she responsibly saved,” said Acting Attorney General John Hoffman. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars saved over a lifetime have been squandered.”
When Litle applied for Medicaid on her cousin's behalf, Camden Board of Social Services staff discovered the alleged theft. Due to the unexplained transfers, Litle's cousin was given a 27-month period of ineligibility as a penalty — she will be ineligible for Medicaid benefits until July 2015.
“Medicaid exists as a safety net for those who need benefits for care when their personal funds have been exhausted, but the defendant allegedly defrauded the program by not acknowledging her alleged theft of her cousin’s nest egg,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi. “The defendant allegedly stole not only from her cousin, but also from the public by stealing from the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program.”
Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.