A Queens jury has convicted a home health aide of effectively stealing almost $800,000 from the elderly Jewish woman she was hired to take care of. Jackie Pokuwaah, a 52-year-old Bronx resident, was found guilty of soliciting over 400 checks from Renee Fuld, 86, for her client’s household needs, and then cashing them for herself. The check-writing caper occurred over a four-year stretch, from 2007 until Pokuwaah’s arrest in 2011.
Court testimony revealed that the duplicitous aide would regularly ask Fuld to write her large checks for such expenses as “diabetic ice cream,” “wallpaper” and “laundry,” only to deposit the funds into her own bank account. The senior citizen painstakingly detailed in court the hundreds of checks Pokuwaah convinced her to hand over, including $6,000 for wallpaper, $5,859 for carpeting, $5,000 for vitamins, $1,700 for low-sugar diabetic ice cream and $700 for laundry. Fuld, a childless widow who has no relatives in contact with her, testified that she “never received” any of the allegedly purchased items, and further revealed that Pokuwaah double-dipped on her weekly $1,561 salary.
The scam unraveled when a bank employee became suspicious of the check memos on Pokuwaah’s twice-weekly deposits, and notified investigators about the possible rip-off. When health professionals evaluated Fuld, they determined that she suffered from a number of maladies, including a “mathematical disorder” that prevents her from making basic numerical calculations.
Pokuwaah – who lived rent-free in her elderly client’s Queens apartment with her two children – was found guilty of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and other charges. She could be given as much as fifteen years in jail when she is sentenced on May 22.