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May 22, 2012 - 5:07pm

Nurse who inflated claims to bilk employer of more than $14,000 gets four months in jail, probation

posted by Billie Owens in crime, bergen.

Michele Ann Case, the registered nurse who was convicted by a jury in March of third-degree grand larceny, maintains she never stood a chance at real justice.

This was the overarching message written in a single-spaced, one-page letter the Bergen resident (or former Bergen resident) read before being sentenced this afternoon in Genesee County Court to four months of intermittent jail time and five years probation.

The matter of restitution was held over until next Wednesday morning.

Case was found guilty of submitting inflated mileage claims and fraudulent "call-in" claims whereby $14,650 was diverted from her employer, a hospice care agency. The claims were submitted from January 2009 through January 2011.

Before imposing sentence, Judge Robert C. Noonan noted that the court received a total of 11 letters in support of Case and a slew of emails, too. He said there were also a number of emails showing communications between the emailers and Case.

"Maybe she's convinced herself that she's not guilty, and she's apparently convinced others she's not guilty, but a unanimous jury of 12 found her guilty and she continues to refuse to take responsibility for what she's done," District Attorney Lawrence Friedman told the court.

Public Defender Gary Horton told Noonan he studied the evidence thoroughly and deemed the particulars difficult to understand and likewise the basis on which the claims were made. Horton said his client is "merciful" and has a "history of dedication" and disagreed with portions of the pre-sentencing report.

"I see nothing in Michele Case that indicates she doesn't understand right from wrong -- her sense of right and wrong is highly developed," Horton said, adding that it's not true she that has no conscience, she has a highly developed conscience.

"I do not believe Michele Case had an intention to defraud," Horton said, "...I do not see her as a criminal."

With the exception of a DWI conviction, she has a clean record, Horton said, and in this matter, she misunderstood what she was entitled to claim and the requirements of logging mileage.

When it came time for her to say something on her own behalf, she held forth, detailing all the ways in which she had been wronged.

Wearing brown polyester slacks and a short-sleeved floral knit top, the stout nurse took no prisoners.

In her opinion everyone from Noonan himself, whom she claims ruled inappropriately on a motion and "denied" her defense, and Mr. Friedman "who had it in for me," to the blackballing work supervisor and the "clouded judgment" of Det. Charles F. Dudek of the Batavia Police Department -- each played a role in denying her true justice. Furthermore, the matter was filed purposely in Genesee County because the likelihood she would be convicted here was greater, thanks in no small part to "assumptions" by Dudek and Friedman.

Her letter detailed what "didn't come out at trial": how she stepped up to the challenge of working 70 hours a week when staff was short and the turnover rate was high; how her children's absent father made false statements about her on the record; how she was in an auto accident and yet she was not compensated for the eight days she was absent, moreover, how she was subsequently forced to work for 20 hours despite her injuries; "how hospice really works" and how the organization inflated its findings against her.

As for the record keeping "a real forensic audit was warranted because a computer does not lie."

But in the end "the court only cares about convictions," she said, adding that her's ought to be overturned and a mistrial declared. She indicated she hopes to raise the funds to appeal.

This was a case for the State Labor Board and it should have been left to the State Labor Board, according to Case.

Still, she can take comfort in the many cards and letters from patients and supporters who she said "are dear to my heart."

"I was wrongfully accused of a crime I didn't commit," she told the court, and in the wake she can't find a job, is losing her house, suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome and her two children, ages 10 and 15, are devastated. "I cannot move on with my life."

When she finally finished, Noonan said he would first specify what this case is not about.

"It's not about your nursing skills, or your strong work ethic, as evidenced by the letters and emails," Noonan said. "You should sit back and ask yourself how of all the people responsible for your conviction, there's only one person who has not had a hand in it and that's Michele Case.

"The evidence clearly, clearly indicates you were enhancing your income by the documents submitted. You pumped up the documentation. Perhaps you needed more income. You should reflect on that."

And so the judge decided "some incarceration is appropriate" but "because of the children," it should be intermittent in 48-hour intervals, beginning this Friday at 6 p.m. Case was also told of four orders of protection against her and told that during her probation she cannot hold a job or otherwise be in a position to exercise fiduciary responsibility.

Mark Brudz
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Where does one begin to count this woman's delusions?

Doug Yeomans
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Mark, are you sure about that? We've all heard stories about legal system railroading and I have some serious doubts about SOME of the aspects of her conviction. I certainly don't know enough about the particulars concerning this case but I do know lots of people in the same line of work that she was in.

They do get kicked around and beat up for every minute of their time, every mile they drive, what constitutes overtime or straight time...etc. It's really a shi**y business to be in. When a superior gets a hardon for an employee who demands to be treated fairly and stands their ground, it can get fugly....just sayin....justice is NOT always served with generous dollops of fairness or understanding.

I hope nobody ever ends up on the accused end of the law even if they're innocent because the wheels of justice turn slowly and not without bias. I served on the grand jury in Genesee county and watched cops blatantly lie while giving testimony. Maybe I shouldn't say lie..I should say "be untruthful." I think I'm a good judge of character and I know a liar when I smell one. Sometimes a conviction IS what the case is all about and guilt or innocence be damned.

You do not want to ever find yourself in court, period. Innocent until proven guilty is a fairy tale. It works the other way around.

Mark Brudz
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Doug,

The Judge Refused My Motion
The District Attorney Had it In For Me
Detective Dudek (Who I know myself to be one of the most integral men in the city) had clouded judgement? He is among if not the best investigator in the county let alone the city.

The fact remains 12 jurors weighed the evidence by both parties,if she is correct we will se an appeal real soon

BTW, as I poste don here before, my wife is a nurse and HAS worked in a similar capacity to her in the past I am not blind to the pressures

david spaulding
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i agree with you doug, you are guilty until you prove your innocense..
ever hear a cop say"i had a gut feeling"? about all it takes today...
a gut feeling and they will find whatever the D.A. asks for,to convict.

Doug Yeomans
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I hear ya, Mark. That's why I said "some" of the conviction. I'm sure she has some guilt to bear but is it to the extent that she was found guilty of? I always have some reservations about cases like this one. Maybe it's my soft side surfacing because she obviously is well respected by many people.

As I pointed out, I don't know enough about the details (particulars) of the case but it seems as though her guilt is lesser than what she was found guilty of. I served on a grand jury and I saw people just blindly follow what was presented to them without having the ability to reason, to read between the lines.

I have 4 nurses in my family. Your wife is in a profession that is terribly underrated and unappreciated by so many. They're caregivers, social workers and often catch doctors mistakes..far TOO often. I applaud her.

I hope to never have to rely on the decisions of a jury. Not all juries are created equal.

Michele Case
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What you don't know is that many of the letters were from hospice nurses and employees who are disgusted and told me certain aspects of how this organization fraudulantly conducted themselves in their audit.You also forgot to mention that I did the on call every other week while the others went about every 8 weeks before they were the on call nurse AND you forgot to mention that I volunteered for all the actual callouts regardless of who was actually the nurse on call. I was injured while on call in Dec 2010 and while the nurse supervisor told me initially it was comp, they later had a change in heart and did not want to pay for it so they claimed I never submitted the necessary paperwork.Then they changed the rules and said I wasn't really on a callout, but an "extension of the workday"?? I have the fax proofs that PROVE that my medical excuses and the accident paperwork and other documents were faxed to 3 separate managers as required. This is not the first time they have done this so everyone knows to save your fax proofs! I also have a letter from their lawyer that claims they have NEVER received any of these documents. Hummmm. These allegations surfaced AFTER I sued them civilly. Dudek testified he did not do an investigation because he "believed" hospice. NO INVESTIGATION?? I could not testify on my own behalf or the judge would allow prior allegations in and I would have been defending a previously dismissed charge. The hospice audit was so self serving I would have thought I was guilty myself if I didn't know better. If I was guilty I would not be pursuing the Labor Board to do a real audit of my time!!! Like I said, the computer doesn't lie. BTW, the 20 hours I was forced to work were listed on the audit as hours not worked, after all, they claimed we were not paid for documentation time. What nurse ever heard of that one?

RICHARD L. HALE
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If I bilked my employer everytime I thought they screwed me over, and I did it at the rate she did....I could have retired 15 years earlier!!!

You have to learn to play the game..but you do have to be responsible for your actions.

John Roach
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Michele,
You siad you could not testify (#7). I never heard of the defendant not being allowed to testify. Please explain.

Doug Yeomans
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Michele, I had a feeling there was much more to this story than we could see above the surface. Guilty people often profess their innocence, but not with the absolute conviction that a truly innocent person does. I hope that someone gives you the benefit of a doubt and that a fact finding investigation is conducted. There is something so seriously wrong with your case. It sounds to me like a lot of ass covering was done at your expense.

I originally doubted some parts of your conviction but now I doubt all of it. If anyone sounds irrational, it's not you. You sound pissed off and I would be too if I were in your position.

John Roach
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I'd like to know why she thinks the DA had it in for her.
And is she saying the Public Defender was incompetent?

Michele Case
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There is so much I would like to say but cannot jeopardize my appeal as I know the hospice audit will never survive as it does not include all my hours. I will say I went to an unemployment hearing and won easily after hospice was less than truthful and found to lack credibility. @ John: My son's MIA father claimed I commited a crime in the past involving theft. Even though the charge was dismissed and presumably sealed, the judge ruled it would be brought into this proceeding (to try to make me look bad) if I tried to defend myself. The DA objected to almost all questions addressed to the current nurse witness without an explanation as to why and all objections were upheld so the nurse could not answer. The public defender tried to rephrase several times but was told to move on.....

Mark Brudz
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I will cede this Michele, IF you are successfull on appeal, then we all have to take a hard look at how your case was handled.

As far as the care you gave, no one can take that away from you, and even the Judge did not even take that away from you. I am certain that the letters the judge received actually contributed to what could have been a harsher sentence, but there are many people who have done good deeds and have also made mistakes that have caused them time in jail.

My problem is simply this, a jury convicted you. Not the Judge, not Charles Dudek not even Larry Friedman. That means that the evidnce provided convinced 12 ordinary souls that you are guilty of these charges. Good luck with your appeal, I mean that sincerely. As far as the good things that you have done, again no one can take that away from you.

bud prevost
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It's not me, it's never me! The world is out to get me! A conspiracy to suppress my greatness. blah blah blah

http://thebatavian.com/blogs/howard-owens/police-beat-woman-accused-not-...

http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/police-beat-alleged-mailbox-caper-le...

John Roach
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Michele,
Why did you say the DA had it in for you?

Michele Case
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Dear Bud
So sorry you do not know me. The headlines have a way of distorting things. I do thank you for something you once said about my advice, something to the effect it was the best you had heard in a long time. It was on a Memorial day and I had just attended a hospice death.I was in the office on East Main taking a short break to make a pot of coffee so I could document the death and get prepared for a couple admissions I had planned for that day. The parade was going on out front. Unfortunately documentation time outside the home became time not worked in the hospice audit even though it would never be appropriate to have your face in a laptop when someone just lost their loved one. Hospice benefitted from all my work then changed the rules on me. Preplanned admissions became worthy only of flextime but when applying new rules retroactively and somebody no longer works for you it is kind of hard for them to use flex. I have no doubt many are biased with the barage of pickyune charges over the past 2 years. But to go so far as to refer to me about greatness? I love everyone else more than myself, and God above all. I am just sorry I was the squeaky wheel and brought this upon myself but happy it did make improvements for the others I worked with.

bud prevost
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My sentiment remains......blah, blah, blah, they're out to get me...... blah, blah,blah......I'm misunderstood.....blah,blah,blah

Frank Bartholomew
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John, the public defender is a joke, I read a report from a group commisioned by Judge Kaye on indigent defense systems in N.Y. State. There findings were alarming to say the least.
The prosecution has more resources, and smaller caseloads, enough said.
Let me add this, I have seen a prosecutor twist the truth so bad, it changed what really happened.
He outright lied, and when the judge was informed, he didn't care.
This is Batavia John, and the good old boys system is the rule of thumb.

John Roach
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Frank,
What good old boys?
You have had problems with the courts, and I don't know if your version is true or not.

I asked her if she is saying she was not well represented by the Public Defender, and she decided not to answer.
She also said the DA had it in for her and has not explained why, which she does not have to, but would help establish her credibility. I tend to agree with Bud on this.

Mark Brudz
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Frank 12 average people chosen from a pool of people in the community convicted her, Noonan only passed sentence, Friedman only presented the evidence he had, and Dudek provided the evidence to the DA based on what facts were presented to him.

Justice is not always the outcome that one would think is obvious, justice is the facts from each side being presented to the Jury, and a Jury made it's decision. End of story, the only one that I see trying to make it personal is Michele, and that seems to be onething consistant about her, she never seems to believe that she might be wrong.

Frank Bartholomew
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John, Mark, I made a statement about the state of the public defenders in N.Y.State, as stated, the report I read was commissioned by New Yorks Cheif Justice. The group who studied indigent defense systems, and made a final report was the Spanegenberg Group.
John, I could show you documentation of my claim pertaining to the prosecutor all but flat out lying, I have a copy of the letter I wrote to the judge that spelled this out. I don't have a problem with the courts, the courts have the problem.
I don't think Michelle would object that I answered your question for her. Based on the above mentioned report, it would be virtually imposible for any client to be well represented by the PD's office anywhere in this state.

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