BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A former nursing aide at a Salem retirement home was reduced to tears yesterday by a judge who called her actions — stealing more than $15,000 from two elderly residents — “despicable.”
Ana Rodriguez, 32, of 46 Peabody St., Salem, pleaded guilty to a string of larceny, forgery and credit card fraud charges yesterday during a hearing in Salem District Court.
Rodriguez will spend the next six years on probation, paying $15,701 in restitution, including just under $1,700 to a developmentally disabled 81-year-old resident of the Bertram House, an assisted living facility where Rodriguez was working in 2011 and 2012, according to the district attorney’s office.
The second victim was a 92-year-old woman who also lived at Bertram House. Rodriguez stole her credit card.
If Rodriguez doesn’t repay the money, which also includes $12,900 to Sovereign Bank and another $1,104 to Capital One, or if she violates any of the other conditions of her probation, Judge Matthew Machera warned that he will send her to jail for two years. He imposed that sentence yesterday but then suspended it, with the understanding that Rodriguez will be working to pay back her victims.
Machera also ordered Rodriguez to perform 144 hours of community service; stay away from the victims, Bertram House and all of its employees; and to surrender her passport, said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.
Those were all conditions sought by prosecutor Lynsey Legier, who called the allegations “abhorrent.”
Then, Machera added his own condition — ordering that she never work again in the nursing field.
Salem police Patrolman Kathleen Rocheville began investigating Rodriguez after a relative of the 81-year-old man discovered a check for $2,000 that had been made out to a woman named Virginia Espinal. That turned out to be Rodriguez’s mother.
The man’s bank eventually reimbursed him for a total of $12,900 in fraudulent checks.
The investigation eventually turned up the credit card fraud involving the other resident, according to prosecutors.
At her arraignment, Rodriguez was described as having ties to the Dominican Republic, including a business there.
Her attorney, James Craig, said Rodriguez herself has been a victim of theft. He urged Machera to continue the case without a finding, to spare her a record of a conviction.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.