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Never has "innocent until proven guilty" been more applicable. Detectives believe a home health aide named Mirline Innocent stole from her client.
It's the latest case of a caregiver accused of stealing from people who trust them.
An arrest report written by a detective with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office detailed what investigators believe Innocent did.
The report said she'd worked as a home health aide for a suburban Boynton Beach couple for three years. The woman passed away about one year ago. This month, the man noticed his deceased wife's Rolex watch was missing.
Detectives found records at pawn shops showing Innocent pawned the Rolex and several other pieces of jewelry from her clients. The report said Innocent would pawn the items, buy them back in the allotted time, and then pawn them over and over.
"She brought in that same watch seven different times," explained Charlie Schisler at Crown Pawn in Lake Worth.
He remembered seeing Innocent bring in jewelry on several occasions and never saw any red flags.
"It breaks my heart because these are innocent individuals," said Stacy Williams.
She launched a new home health agency through Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Services this month called JFS at Home.
She offered these tips:
-Don't give a home health aide access to your bank accounts and credit cards, or put a limit on how much they can spend.
-Make a list of your valuables.
-Place valuables in a safe, or in a safety deposit box.
-Stop by unannounced to check on the aide. Or form a support group between neighbors and friends who can check on your parent, if you live out of town.
Williams said hiring an aide from an agency helps assure they don't have a criminal past.
"We have liability insurance, we cover all the bases to make sure they're are qualified professionals entering your home," she pointed out.
It's unclear if Innocent worked for a registered agency.
This month, a new law went into effect in Palm Beach County requiring caregivers and home health aides to register with the county. Part of the registration process includes a background check. Registered caregivers will have an ID card. Williams suggested you should ask to see that ID before hiring someone.
Innocent is facing 24 criminal charges. She is being held on a $24,000 bond.
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