AG: Ex-personal aide pleads guilty in theft of client's check

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A former personal care assistant pleaded guilty Thursday to forging and depositing a $10,000 check from an 88-year-old client, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced.

Under a plea deal, Stephanie Benodin, 26, of Queens, is expected to get 2 months in jail and 3 years of probation at her April 9 sentencing on fourth-degree larceny, state officials said. She will also be barred from working with incompetent, elderly, infirm or disabled people for three years, Schneiderman's office said.

Benodin admitted taking a check last year from a resident at The Tuttle Center, part of The Amsterdam at Harborside retirement community in Port Washington, and forging the resident's name. Benodin made the check out to her own mother, and bank video showed her depositing the check Nov. 2, authorities said. When it bounced, bank authorities contacted the victim's family and Benodin was fired from her job, state officials said.

Benodin's attorney, William Kephart of Garden City, said his client was happy that a plea deal was settled.

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"She took accountability," he said, "and she'll go forward."

His client had faced up to 7 years in prison if convicted on the original felony charges, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and third-degree attempted grand larceny.

"The abuse of New York's elderly citizens, often the most vulnerable among us, can be criminal -- and in this case it will mean jail time for the perpetrator," Schneiderman said in a statement.

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