Two therapy aides at Hutchings Psychiatric Center and nine others have been arrested for their roles in a scheme to steal benefit cards from mental health residents and use them to make unauthorized purchases.
State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott says in a release 62-year-old Alphonso Bradshaw and 51-year-old Ethalyn Crowder of Syracuse allegedly stole Electronic Benefit Cards and from 10 residents in their care at locations in Syracuse and DeWitt. Authorities allege they and their nine accomplices rang up more than $17,000 in purchases, including crab legs, steak, and shrimp over the course of two years.
Leahy Scott says the residents were unaware their cards were being used.
"The act of stealing from a system designed to help those who legitimately require assistance is egregious enough. But to steal cards from people who are totally dependent on your care is particularly deplorable."
Leahy Scott says even worse, Bradshaw allegedly sold the benefit cards to friends and family for half the value of the benefits on the cards. He faces felony counts of criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and the misuse of food stamps, plus other misdemeanor counts. Crowder was charged with a single felony count of fourth degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Nine others face similar counts, plus conspiracy charges for allegedly making purchases on the cards they obtained from Bradshaw:
- Tamara Bachus, 44, Clay, N.Y.
- Evelyn Bradshaw, 61, Syracuse, N.Y.
- Rashida (Mays) Cunningham, 33, Syracuse, N.Y.
- Shirley Davis, 59, Syracuse, N.Y.
- Larry L. Homer, 39, Syracuse, N.Y.
- Chandrikka Skipp, 41, Liverpool, N.Y
- Diane M. Houston, 49, Syracuse, N.Y.
- Deborah Johnson, 51, Syracuse, N.Y.
- David Skipp, 49, Liverpool, N.Y.
The defendants were arraigned before Syracuse City Court Judge Kate Rosenthal. DeWitt Police, New York State Police, OMH, and the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office helped investigate, arrest, and prosecute the cases.