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Official: Assisted living aide tried to steal client's money

Personal care assistant Stephanie Benodin, 25, of Queens

Personal care assistant Stephanie Benodin, 25, of Queens Village, was arraigned after officials said she forged a $10,200 check to steal from an 88-year-old resident at an assisted living facility in Port Washington. Credit: NY Attorney General

An aide at a Port Washington assisted living center was caught trying to steal from an 88-year-old resident after the aide deposited a forged check for $10,200, the state attorney general's office said Wednesday.

The check bounced last November, and Stephanie Benodin, 25, of Queens Village, surrendered Wednesday to Port Washington police, which had started investigating after one of the victim's daughters reported the attempted theft, according to Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

Benodin was arraigned on two felonies, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and third-degree attempted grand larceny. She was held pending a $10,000 cash or bond bail.

An order of protection was issued against Benodin, requiring her to stay away from the resident and the center, state officials said.

She faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted.

Court papers said the victim told detectives she had not authorized the check, but Benodin's attorney, William Kephart of Garden City, said the woman approved it.

The resident wanted to reimburse Benodin for items she had bought her and also help the aide pay for her nursing education, Kephart said.

Benodin was a personal care assistant at The Tuttle Center, part of The Amsterdam at Harborside retirement community, and she had been hired to help her client dress, get around and eat, officials said.

According to the complaint, the 88-year-old woman was admitted to North Shore University Hospital on Oct. 31 and left her checkbook in her purse in the apartment.

Benodin tore out check No. 1571, made it out to her mother and dated the $10,200 check Nov. 2, the complaint said. That was the same day that cameras at the Queens Village Capital One branch showed Benodin depositing a check, Port Washington police said.

Blank checks 1570 and 1572 were still in the checkbook, police said.

About Nov. 11, the bank informed the senior's family the check had bounced, and Benodin was fired two days later from the Tuttle Center. The director there told police that Benodin said she had taken the check because she was "researching the purchase of a wheelchair" that was going to cost about $770, court papers said.

Because the assisted living resident shared the bank account with a daughter, the woman denied making out the bounced check, Kephart said.

The woman "didn't want to lose control of her finances," he said.

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