BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — A nursing assistant at the Bertram House assisted-living facility in Salem has been charged with stealing blank checks from an elderly, disabled man and cashing at least one of them for $2,000.
Officers also discovered two more blank checks and a debit card belonging to the victim in Ana Rodriguez’s wallet when she was being booked yesterday morning at the Salem police station. And they believe that there may be other victims at the facility, where Rodriguez had worked for six years, according to a prosecutor.
Rodriguez, 31, of 46 Peabody St., Salem, was arraigned yesterday afternoon in Salem District Court on charges that include larceny from a person over 65, larceny by check, uttering a forged check, receiving stolen property and receiving stolen credit cards. She pleaded not guilty.
Judge Matthew Machera set bail at a total of $3,000 and ordered that if she makes that bail, she must immediately surrender her passport to the court while the case is pending.
Prosecutor Lynsey Legier had sought a total of $10,000, noting that Rodriguez owns a business in the Dominican Republic, has a large extended family there and might pose a flight risk.
Legier told the judge that a family member of one elderly resident noticed a check for $2,000 made payable to a “Virginia Espinal,” who is Rodriguez’s mother.
Rodriguez was also found to be carrying a debit card in that name when arrested.
Security video at the Eastern Bank branch on Loring Avenue in Salem showed a woman fitting Rodriguez’s description depositing a check for $2,000 on Nov. 13.
As the prosecutor spoke, Rodriguez cried.
According to Patrolman Kathleen Rocheville’s report, Rodriguez refused to speak to officers after her arrest, asking for a lawyer.
Her court-appointed lawyer yesterday argued for her release, making much of his case to Machera at the side of the judge’s bench, out of earshot of the rest of the courtroom. But prior to the hearing, he told a reporter and was then overheard telling a prosecutor that his client had an “unusual” situation.
Rocheville’s investigation is continuing, according to Legier.
According to Rocheville’s report, the nursing facility has fully cooperated with the investigation.
A status hearing is scheduled in the case for Friday.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.