New York State In-depth

Prosecutors: Manager of group home stole from disabled residents

A manager at a St James residential facility was indicated on charges of stealing $30,000 from adults with developmental disabilities, Suffolk County prosecutors said Friday.

Desiree Etheridge, of North Carolina, was indicated on six counts of third-degree grand larceny, Suffolk prosecutors said in a news release. Etheridge is also charged with a scheme to defraud.

Etheridge was placed on supervised release and surrendered her passport following arraignment before Judge Richard Horowitz on Friday.

Between November 2018 to June 2021, prosecutors said Etheridge, 48, who worked as a residential manager, stole funds from ATM cards of six residents while working for Eden II. In her position, Etheridge had access to these residents’ bank accounts and debit cards .

Etheridge was responsible for withdrawing money to place in each resident’s petty cash envelope so they could go on outings to eateries and local stores, prosecutors said. When the coronavirus pandemic hit and no outings were available for residents, Etheridge depleted their bank accounts, traveled to North Carolina and used their ATM cards there.

“This defendant allegedly took advantage of individuals who trusted her and instead of honoring that trust, she stole thousands of dollars from them for her own personal use,” County District Attorney Ray Tierney said in a statement.

In June, Etheridge was indicted by a county grand jury and picked up on a warrant, prosecutors said. Etheridge is due back in court on Oct. 3.

Etheridge’s attorney, Christopher Brocato of Central Islip, could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Instead of keeping the best interests of the residents she was entrusted to care for, Desiree Etheridge allegedly lined her own pockets by stealing from these vulnerable adults,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison in a statement.

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