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Aide stole $800,000 from elderly patient

Home health aide Jackie Pokuwaah was convicted of stealing cash from an elderly woman under her care. She will be sentenced May 22 and faces up to 15 years in prison. Photo courtesy Queens DA
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An elderly Forest Hills woman bilked out of close to $800,000 over four years by her home health aide said the theft left her feeling shocked and betrayed.

“I gave her money to buy things, but she kept it,” said Renee Fuld, 86, who had been under Jackie Pokuwaah’s care for seven years. “I had no idea it was happening. She was like family for a long time.”

Pokuwaah, 53, was convicted of stealing the cash after convincing her patient to sign hundreds of checks made payable to the defendant, which the health care aide would then deposit in her personal bank account, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Pokuwaah, of the Bronx, was convicted of five counts of second-degree grand larceny and five counts of criminal possession of stolen property, the DA said. She will be sentenced May 22 and faces up to 15 years in prison, said the DA.

Fuld, who is confined to a wheelchair, has limited use of her hands and suffers from cognitive impairment, signed hundreds of checks over to Pokuwaah over a four-year period. In addition to the checks the defendant received, Fuld paid her an annual salary of $81,000 and allowed Pokuwaah and her two children to live in the Forest Hills home rent-free, according to Fuld.

“I trusted her and I’m sorry I did,” said the senior citizen, whose husband died five years ago.

According to the district attorney, Fuld — who relied on Pokuwaah to tell her what the checks were for and the amounts — wrote checks made payable to the defendant in order to pay for food, laundry and other everyday expenses.

An investigation was launched after an employee at a Queens TD Bank became suspicious over the legitimacy of large checks being written from the account, Brown said.

The investigation revealed Fuld’s bank account showed checks totaling $791,054 had been made payable to Pokuwaah between January 2007 and March 2011, the DA said, and in one instance, a check for $1,700 carried a notation indicating that it was for ice cream.

Other checks routinely written for exorbitant amounts indicated they were for such things as laundry and groceries, Brown said.

Pokuwaah, a Ghanaian immigrant who came to the United States 19 years ago, remains in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail, said the DA.

“Home health aides are welcomed into the homes of the most vulnerable in our society. It is essential that they not use their position of trust to victimize those in their care as was done in this case,” Brown said. “The defendant used her influence over the victim to systematically steal her life savings. She must receive a lengthy prison sentence both as punishment and to serve as a warning to those who would target the weak or the elderly.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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respect from jamaica queens says:
Omg wow the nerveof her to take advantage of this woman..just trifling&evil moved her family in talk abt kindness used&abused I've been takin care of ppl since I were a teen..tks to ppl like you I'm becomin a HHA...I has tooked care of mother whom was bed ridden ppl like this triflin no good broad is reason why less family opt to others/strangers to care of their love ones..I hope she served every yr of that bid bein used abused as a bulldagger dozer...smh....salute to TD Bank for catchin it...wow....I can't wait to b/c a HHA...
May 13, 2012, 4:48 am
ana fajardo from harlem says:
shame of the evil im a hha and i cant imagine a person doing that to sombody who trusted her and tread her like a family i hope they give her more than 15 years she has to pay for what she did she is a monster
May 29, 2012, 9:25 pm
Gary Raymond from Warwick, RI says:
Where's the money Jackie? The story of you're kids being alone now doesn't really bother me. The fact that 800 gs is missing does. I appreciate the program Sasame Street is doing bit your case is dispicable.
June 9, 2013, 10:13 am

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