Former Yale New Haven Health worker pleads guilty in embezzlement scheme

A former employee of Yale New Haven (Conn.) Health pleaded guilty Sept. 1 to fraud offenses in connection with two separate criminal schemes, according to the Justice Department.

Lamont Bethea, 31, was employed as a patient care associate at Yale New Haven Health in June 2020. At that time, Mr. Bethea and Lorita Fair, who worked in the health system's payroll department, allegedly began to embezzle payroll funds, according to the Justice Department.  

"Fair made fraudulent entries in the [Yale New Haven Health] payroll system that resulted in Bethea, Fair and another individual receiving direct-deposited payroll payments that they were not entitled to," the Justice Department said in a Sept. 1 news release. "Bethea and the other individual then kicked back to Fair a portion of the fraudulent payroll payments they received.  As a result of this scheme, which lasted until December 2020, [Yale New Haven Health] sustained a loss of more than $116,260"

Mr. Bethea also participated in a second scheme that began in July 2020, according to the Justice Department. Prosecutors said Mr. Bethea received personal checks that had been stolen from a New Haven resident, whose signature was forged on the checks. The checks were made payable to Mr. Bethea and were deposited into his personal bank account. 

"Using the routing and account numbers on the checks, Bethea also arranged electronic transfers from the victim's bank account and used these transfers to pay personal expenses for himself, his family members and friends," the Justice Department said in its release, adding that Bethea and others stole more than $317,000.

Mr. Bethea faces up to 20 years in prison for one count of wire fraud and up to 30 years in prison for one count of bank fraud, according to the Justice Department. Ms. Fair, 51, pleaded guilty in April to one count of theft in connection with healthcare for her role in the fraud.

In a statement shared with Becker's, Yale New Haven Health said it "is pleased that Lamont Bethea is being held accountable for his actions and restitution will be made. His actions do not represent our values in any way. We have tightened our controls to better protect ourselves in the future."

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