Nursing Assistant Denies Charge of Exploiting Elderly Woman

NEWPORT CITY – Orleans County Judge Robert Bent released Kellie Peters on conditions Tuesday after the 26-year-old Newport woman pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of alleged financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.Peters was working for Bayada Nurses when she started taking care of a 66-year-old Newport woman. Court records identify the woman simply as "the client."The client first spoke to Kimberly Emery, a case manager with the Area Agency on Aging, about the problems. Francis Berard, Bayada’s Client Services Manager, initiated an investigation and drafted an incident report detailing conversation with the client on Aug. 9, 2011. Investigators spoke first with the client and then with Peters and received conflicting stories pertaining to the relationship. The client said she signed off on Peters time sheets even though Peters routinely left work early. On Dec. 7, 2011, the client told Detective John Lewis from the Sectary of State’s Office that Peters was her first Licensed Nurses Assistant after she was released from a nursing home. The client said she liked Peters at first and felt Peters cared about her. Peters became manipulative and played on her sympathies, the client then stated. On one occasion, Newport City Police Officer Richard Wells stopped Peters for a traffic violation while the client was in the vehicle. Peters was allegedly driving with a suspended license. Wells issued Peters a criminal citation and transported the client and Peters back the client’s home. The client gave Peters $50 for cab fare, because she knew Peters needed to get to another client’s home. The client said she gave money to Peters on several other occasions. On another occasion, the client gave Peters the client's debit card so Peters could pay the $150 to reinstate her driver's license, but Peters never repaid the loan. Court records state that Peters used the client’s ATM card on other occasions to withdrawal money, and that the client was with Peters at the time.The client said she gave Peters $10 to treat her son and boyfriend to ice cream. The client also took Peters to dinner on numerous occasions. Court records state that Peters, after working with the client for awhile, would often “snap” at the client if the client was unhappy. The client felt Peters had control over her life, including her finances. The client became even more fearful of Peters when the client gave away a table that Peters had planned on selling. The client said Peters yelled at the client when Peters found out.Court records state that the client said she became afraid of Peters and felt Peters would kill her if the two were left alone.Sgt. Darren Annis from the state police and Detective Lewis interviewed Peters at the Newport Police Department on Dec. 20. Peters said she received a letter from the Sectary of State notifying her of the investigation but did not receive a copy of the complaint.Peters told police the client struggled with mental health issues and physical issues. She also said she declined the loan of $50 the client offered her for cab fare and that the client never gave her money to take her family for ice cream. Peters said she and the client would get ice cream together and that Peters often bought the client an ice cream and on several occasions they each paid with their own money. Peters said Vocational Rehabilitation paid her driver’s license reinstatement fees. She said she initially gave the client $150 in cash and the client let her use her debit card to obtain a money order check at the post office to pay traffic fines. After Lewis told Peters it’s important to tell the truth, Peters stated the client loaned her $150 by letting her purchase the check with the debt card. At first, Peters claimed she paid the client back two days later when she received her paycheck, but then said it was a week later.Peters admitted the client took her out to eat on two occasions and she returned the favor by taking the client out to eat once. Peters said the client insisted on paying for her meals.Peters said she left the client’s home with Bayada’s permission. Sometimes it was to put another client to bed and then return. Other times she left when the client went to bed and her work was done.Court records state Peters said four or five times she left 20-minutes early, but put down she worked the entire shift.