Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Linwood woman admits to bilking millions from elderly

A Linwood-based company meant to help senior citizens with their finances instead was helping to steal from them, the owner admitted Tuesday.

Jan Van Holt, 59, pleaded guilty to first-degree money laundering in the scheme that included her sister and a Northfield attorney who specialized in elder law.

Under the plea agreement, she faces a 12-year sentence with 5½ years of parole ineligibility. She also will need to make restitution for a not-yet-determined amount.

Her 60-year-old sister, Sondra Steen, also of Linwood, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She must serve 4½ years before she is eligible for parole.

Northfield attorney Barbara Lieberman was the first to plead guilty in the case. She forfeited $3 million in assets and lost her law license as a result. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison with 3½ years without parole.

The group stole more than $2.7 million from 12 elderly clients from January 2003 through December 2012.

Another co-defendant, 58-year-old Linwood resident William Price, admitted to stealing $125,000 from a couple he met while working as a caseworker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services. He received a five-year prison sentence.

Charges are pending against Susan Hamlett, 56, of Egg Harbor Township. She worked as an aide for clients of Van Holt’s company, A Better Choice.

“Van Holt and her sister conspired with an attorney to systematically siphon away the assets of elderly clients, who typically had no family to look after them and trusted their caregivers to treat them honestly,” acting Attorney General Robert Lougy said. “The treatment these vulnerable victims received was anything but honest; it was devious and heartless.”

A fundamental duty of law enforcement is to protect society’s most vulnerable from exploitation, said Elie Honig, director of the state Division of Criminal Justice.

“We rightfully reserve some of the harshest penalties for those who prey on children and the elderly,” he said. “In this case, we have secured prison sentences of 10 years or more for the three women at the heart of this scheme.”

State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes called the crimes “insidious and callous.”

Van Holt was a a case worker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services from 2002 through December 2007, when she was terminated. She used that job to recruit five of the group’s victims.
Van Holt generally was the one to identify potential clients, approaching them to offer the services of A Better Choice and Lieberman.

Once a target accepted Van Holt’s offer of services, Steen usually would be put in place as the victim’s primary caregiver. Lieberman would then be brought in to do legal work, preparing powers of attorney and wills for the clients.

Van Holt and Steen — who lived together — used the money they stole for expenses, including veterinary bills, pool supplies, two Mercedeses and to lease a Florida condominium.

A portion went to the victims’ expenses to help hide the thefts.

If the victim owned stocks or bonds, they were cashed out and the funds deposited into the account allegedly controlled by the defendants. Lieberman would usually name herself or Van Holt as executor when she prepared the victims’ wills, with Steen as beneficiary.

The investigation began after the New Jersey Office of the Public Guardian referred a case involving one of the victims to the State Police.

Van Holt is scheduled for sentencing May 13 before Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury in Mays Landing.

Full Article & Source:
Linwood woman admits to bilking millions from elderly

1 comment:

Ellington said...

Another one bites the dust! I am so glad when I see one of these sob's go to jail!