LEOMINSTER – A former Seven Hills social worker is accused of stealing more than $6,200 from her mentally challenged client to expense an E-Z Pass, Amazon online purchases, and parking in Boston from September 2016 to April, according to court documents.
Karen J. Tabales, 50, of 65 Airport Road, Gardner, was summoned to Leominster District Court Wednesday on a charge of larceny valued at more than $250 from a disabled person.
Judge Mark Noonan ordered Ms. Tabales released on personal recognizance. Her pretrial hearing is Nov. 7.
Ms. Tabales had been paired with the client more than three years, taking him shopping and to doctor’s appointments among her duties, the police report said.
She left Seven Hills for another job earlier this year.
In June, Ms. Tabales’ successor came to the police station to report her client had received a bank statement with “suspicious” charges.
The new social worker said the client didn’t know how to use the internet and didn’t own a computer, yet there were internet transactions on his bank statements.
The alleged victim derived income from Social Security and his job at a restaurant, according to police.
A Seven Hills supervisor told police Ms. Tabales had said she opened the E-Z Pass account by mistake, and she would pay the client back. The supervisor said the explanation made sense so she allowed Ms. Tabales to take care of it.
The supervisor said they checked the account again and observed E-Z Pass transactions and suspicious internet transfers.
It is against Seven Hills’ policy to assist in finances of clients.
When police interviewed the victim, he told them he was not aware the social worker had accessed his account, nor had he given her permission to take money from it.
The report said the client expressed concern that Ms. Tabales would be mad at him. The officer explained that if she was stealing from him, she is not a real friend, the report stated.
When police interviewed Ms. Tabales, she told police she was having an affair, and the client was helping her hide it. The report noted that Ms. Tabales' account was in both her and her husband’s name.
She said the Amazon purchases were for both her and the client, but she could not explain what they had purchased, police said.
Ms. Tabales told police she had helped the client pay for things he couldn’t afford and reimbursed herself through internet transfers, with the client’s consent.