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10.03.2009 International

US-based Ghanaian nurse defrauds dead woman $1.7M

By Daily Record

The lawyer for the estate of a deceased Pequannock woman told a judge Thursday that he wants answers to how a home health aide and her husband obtained at least $1.7 million in cash payouts from the widow in the 22 months before her death.

A resident of the Cedar Crest adult retirement community in Pompton Plains, Barbara Waldman died on Sept. 26, 2008, in her home at the age of 75.

Her death, attributed to an overdose or "multiple drug intoxication," was labeled a suicide by Morris County Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Carlos Fonseca.

Waldman was depressed, according to some who knew her, over the death on Jan. 19, 2006, of her surgeon husband, Dr. Leonard Waldman.

Her husband's estate had a net worth of $4 million. His widow relocated from their Maplewood condominium to Pequannock after his death but she made another important life change by hiring nurse's aide Leticia Doe Boahene to look after her.

Doe Boahene and her husband, Fred Boahene, of Piscataway, are now the chief targets of a fraud lawsuit filed by Millburn attorney Keith N. Biebelberg, who represents the executor -- attorney Alan M. Stark -- of Barbara Waldman's estate.

At Biebelberg's request, Superior Court Judge Catherine M. Langlois in Morristown on Thursday ordered the Boahenes to provide in 21 days an accounting of monies they say they received from Waldman.

Several other home health aides who were brought in by Doe Boahene to look after Waldman -- including her sister, Angie Johnson of North Brunswick -- also are named in the lawsuit. Their attorneys Thursday said the amounts they received from the widow over 22 months are consistent only with being paid between $30 and $35 an hour.

The judge ordered that depositions take place and set a date of June 25 for the next conference on the lawsuit.

Biebelberg told Langlois that he believes the Boahenes helped themselves to as much as $3 million from the widow. Fred Boahene had nothing to do with the woman's care but was the recipient of $352,460 in cash from her accounts, court records said. The lawyer alleged that Doe Boahene also freely used Waldman's American Express card, charging $58,000 worth of goods from August 2007 through September 2008, including a $1,425 skirt from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Biebelberg noted the couple and many of the aides are from Ghana, and he said he suspects the money -- including $1.38 million he has documented Doe Boahene as receiving -- has been transferred out of the United States.

"I have a grave concern that money is no longer in the U.S.," Biebelberg said.

The Boahenes just days ago retained attorney Gerald Miller, who unsuccessfully asked for a month or two to compile an accounting. After the hearing, Miller said the Boahenes "vehemently deny" any wrongdoing and that it is possible that Waldman freely gave them money as gifts. The Boahenes were present at the hearing but declined comment.

Biebelberg would not comment on whether he has alerted any law enforcement agency to the suspected thefts. He was also cynical in court Thursday about how Waldman was able to commit suicide, as the medical examiner concluded, when she had 24-hour care from nurses' aides and home health aides who were supposed to supervise her medications.

"In 20 to 22 months they relieved her of between $2 (million) to $3 million dollars and took such good care of her that the woman died of a drug overdose," Biebelberg said.

The autopsy report on the tiny, 95-pound woman showed she had ingested a multitude of drugs that included painkillers, antidepressants and sleeping pills. The drugs included the pain-relievers Meperidine and hydrocodone, the anxiety drug Oxazepam, and the sleeping drug Temazepam.

The lawsuit included dozens of photocopies of checks that Doe Boahene, who also is employed as a nurse's aide at Morristown Memorial Hospital, wrote to herself and her husband. For example, she wrote a $4,500 check payable to herself on Aug. 29, 2008, followed on Sept. 4, 2008, by a check for $3,000 in cash and $5,000 to her husband.