SALEM, Mass. (WWLP) – The former business office manager at Penacook Place Nursing Home in Haverhill has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to jail in connection with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from elderly residents, Attorney General Maura Healey.
Bridget Briand, age 50, of Haverhill, pleaded guilty in Essex Superior Court to charges of Larceny over $250 from a Person over 60 Years Old (4 counts), Larceny over $1,200 (2 counts), and False Entry into Corporate Books (6 counts). After the plea was entered, Judge Jeffrey Karp sentenced Briand to two-and-a-half years in the House of Correction, with one year to serve and the balance suspended for four years during which time she will remain on probation. Judge Karp also ordered that, as conditions of her probation, Briand pay $19,050 in restitution to the victims and is prohibited from working in any long-term care facility or acting as a fiduciary for anyone 60 years old or over. Briand paid the restitution in full before being taken into custody.
“This defendant had a duty to advocate for the financial well-being of nursing home residents, but instead abused her position of trust and stole tens of thousands of dollars from elderly victims,” said AG Healey. “My office remains focused on prosecuting fraud and abuse in nursing homes and protecting this vulnerable population from exploitation.”
The AG’s Office began an investigation in early 2020, after the matter was referred by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). Covenant Health Inc. acquired Penacook Place in 2017 and discovered the discrepancies that led to further investigation of the company’s accounting. The AG’s investigation revealed that, between 2018 and 2019, Briand was running a scheme in which she stole thousands of dollars from an 88-year-old resident by writing checks to herself from the resident’s personal bank account.
In an attempt to conceal her theft, Briand typically indicated in the memo line of the checks that it was for the resident’s rent at Penacook Place, when in fact the money was being deposited into Briand’s personal bank account and used for personal expenses. The AG’s investigation also revealed that Briand was writing checks and making electronic payments from the resident’s account to Briand’s personal credit card.
The AG’s Office investigation further revealed that, to hide the theft from the elderly resident and keep the resident’s residential fee up to date, Briand used the reimbursements owed to a number of other residents to pay that fee. When residents of Penacook Place or their insurance carriers overpaid the amount due for a particular month, Penacook Place would owe the resident a credit that was to be deposited into their account at Penacook Place, or the facility would give the resident a check for reimbursement. Briand shifted credits from residents’ accounts and applied them as a payment to the resident’s account from which she was stealing to facilitate her scheme.
In addition, the AG’s Office determined that Briand made regular false entries into the accounting system and the corporate books to misappropriate credits of other residents into the account she was stealing from. Briand was terminated in December 2019.
This matter was handled by Senior Trial Counsel Elisha Willis, Assistant Attorney General Darcy Currey, and Senior Healthcare Fraud Investigator Shelby Stephens, all of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division, and Senior Victim Witness Advocate Megan Murphy, of the AG’s Victim Services Division. DPH, the Essex County DA’s Office, and the Haverhill Police Department assisted with the investigation. The facility referred the matter to DPH and fully cooperated with the investigation.
The Medicaid Fraud Division receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award. The remaining 25 percent is funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.