Riverside nursing home staffer charged with stealing checks from relative at the home
DOVER — An East Rochester woman has been charged with fraud after allegedly stealing Social Security checks from a relative who is a resident of Riverside Rest Home. Prosecutors allege Jennifer Bryant, 47, used her job as the nursing home's billing coordinator to fraudulently bring her elderly relative's bill to zero and then spent the money on herself.
Bryant is charged with one Class A felony charge of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. The charges stem from an investigation that began when she was an employee of Riverside Rest Home, operated by Strafford County in Dover.
Bryant, who was released on personal recognizance bail, is charged with taking $74,504 from her relative, said Bryan Townsend, prosecutor for the New Hampshire attorney general's office. Townsend said the charge alleges Bryant misappropriated Social Security checks from May 2019 to May 2022.
"We became aware of this about a year ago," said Strafford County Commission Chair George Maglaras. "We brought it to the attention of the county attorney, who turned it over to the attorney general's office."
Townsend said a new billing coordinator, who took over Bryant's position "discovered several discrepancies in an account and brought it to the attention of the county officials."
According to court documents detailing the allegations filed in Strafford County Superior Court, Bryant's elderly relative moved into Riverside Rest Home in 2018 and is listed as having dementia. Her rent at Riverside was paid partly through her Social Security checks, with Medicaid covering the difference. Bryant, who had worked as the Riverside Rest Home resident account director (billing coordinator) since 2005, was responsible for those payments.
Instead, prosecutors allege she listed the account as owing zero and opened an account at Citizens Bank, depositing the Social Security checks. She allegedly used a debit card from the account 1,550 times, writing 77 checks, signed by her, listed as the power of attorney for her relative. There is no evidence her relative ever used the account, prosecutors allege.
Maglaras said she was terminated on May 4, 2022. He said the County is fully insured for the losses.
Bryant is being represented by Nashua attorney Justin Shepherd, who did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Stolen money allegedly spent on salons, booze, vacations, home improvements
According to allegations in an affidavit filed in Strafford County Superior Court, the money was used as follows:
Retail purchases, $16,262.06
Cash withdrawals, $10,126.03
Checks to Bryant and husband, $6,235
Home improvements, $1,536.68
"Because she was a county employee, and because the attorney general has a Medicaid fraud bureau, we turned the investigation over to them," Maglaras said. "It was certainly an elaborate scheme, but eventually we caught it."
Bryant was fired previously and charged twice for driving intoxicated
Townsend said Bryant "was terminated from her job on May 4, 2022, for reasons unrelated to her arrest."
Maglaras said Bryant was dismissed in early May 2022 after coming to work intoxicated.
"We asked her not to drive and she ignored that and took off," Maglaras said. "We called Dover police and she was arrested for driving under the influence."
What to expect:Dover joins NH Community Power to help residents save money on electricity
Dover police confirmed Bryant was arrested in May for driving under the influence. In 2019, she was arrested by Rochester police for the same charge. Rochester police Capt. Andrew Swanberry confirmed the arrest and said she entered a guilty plea. The disposition of the Dover case was not immediately available.
Maglaras said they were aware of her problem and made efforts to get her help.
What's next in the case
Bryant is scheduled to be arraigned in the Strafford County Superior Court on March 2 at 12:30 p.m. If she is found guilty, she faces a penalty of up to 7½ to 15 years in New Hampshire State Prison and a $4,000 fine.
Authorities advise reporting crimes against elders to local police and the state Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services at 1-800-949-0470.
This article originally appeared on Fosters Daily Democrat: Woman charged with stealing checks from Dover nursing home