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MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged Karen Mason, former Chief Operating Officer and Administrator of Havenwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located at 3333 West Highland Boulevard, Milwaukee, with theft from a Havenwood residents' trust fund and employee retirement accounts, and with neglect of residents.
Mason, 55, of Chicago, was charged in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with the violations, which are alleged to have occurred between 2002 and 2005. DOJ alleges tens of thousands of dollars were deliberately mismanaged for Mason's personal gain.
According to the DOJ criminal complaint, Mason was an authorized signatory for a number of Havenwood's bank accounts including the Havenwood Resident Trust Fund (RTF) checking account. The RTF account was established for the facility residents to use to pay for personal expenses such as insurance, cable television bills, and hair care. The money in the account consisted of money from the residents or their related parties, Social Security and SSI.
The complaint alleges that between January 2002 and March 2005, the bank statements and the facility records for the account did not match. At one point the difference between the balance statements was $68,000. The RTF account was supposed to be used exclusively for the benefit of the residents. RTF records showed that the amounts that should have been properly maintained in the bank account were used for Mason's personal expenses.
An investigator for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration investigated complaints by employees that money had not been deposited into their 401(k) accounts even though the money had been deducted from their paychecks.
The complaint also alleges that equipment necessary for residents' physical therapy rehabilitation was not being delivered by vendors due to non-payment or insufficient funds in the Havenwood bank account when paid by check. Also due to the deteriorating financial condition, call lights went unanswered for long periods of time due to lack of staffing and there were insufficient supplies such as towels and blankets. Numerous persons at Havenwood (which is no longer in operation) brought concerns related to the charges to authorities, leading to the investigation.
Theft and neglect of patients or residents is a serious crime in Wisconsin. If convicted, Mason could face up to 19 and one half years imprisonment and a fine of $30,000. An initial appearance has been scheduled for August 28, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.
The case was investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Storm represents the state.
A criminal complaint is a document accusing a person of a violation of criminal law. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The state has the burden of proving its allegations at trial.