PITTSFIELD >> A question about an unauthorized $1,000 purchase from a nursing home patient's account in October 2012 led to criminal charges against a city woman accused of stealing about $150,000 from residents over a nearly four-year period.
First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello alleged Debora Goyette, 46, used different methods to bilk the accounts of residents of the Hillcrest Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Valentine Road in Pittsfield between January 2009 and October 2012.
Caccaviello laid out the case against Goyette on Friday as her trial got underway in Berkshire Superior Court. Goyette has pleaded not guilty to three counts of larceny over $250 by a single scheme and one count of falsifying corporate books.
Goyette's attorney, Leonard H. Cohen, in an occasionally animated, 30-minute-plus opening statement, suggested to jurors others who worked in the same building were responsible for the missing money. He said his client made several attempts to tighten security regarding residents' accounts, but those attempts were impeded by management.
Caccaviello said the inquiry into the unauthorized $1,000 purchase of gift cards was just the "tip of the iceberg, claiming Goyette not only raided the patient needs accounts, which she oversaw, but also kept change leftover from shopping trips made on behalf of residents.
Despite the Goyette family having its own financial issues, Goyette made multiple trips to a Connecticut casino and took cruises and beach trips during the period of time being investigated, he said.
Cohen said the cash to pay for those trips came from the family itself, through money they'd earned, proceeds from a court settlement in their favor and proceeds from refinancing a home loan.
Cohen said the casino trips were the result of being offered a room at no cost from a friend of the family who had earned complimentary stays.
Goyette had asked the management of the home to consider tightening up security, including requests to install a camera, safe, a computer for record keeping and a locking filing cabinet, Cohen said.
He said management refused to install the camera and safe, allowing patient money to be stored in a bag instead, but it agreed to the computer and filing cabinet.
However the computer's password was posted on the computer itself and other members of the staff besides Goyette had keys to the filing cabinet, Cohen said.
When she learned she was being fired from her job as a result of the investigation, Goyette claimed she had been set up, Caccaviello said.
The trial continues next week.