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Former Bemidji nursing home aide serves time for stealing checks from former resident

A 22-year-old woman, who formerly worked as a certified nursing assistant at Havenwood Care Center in Bemidji, is serving time in jail for forging $1,370 in four checks on the account of a former resident she helped care for.

Sierra Ann Smith of Bemidji pleaded guilty Dec. 13 and was sentenced Jan. 17 for felony check forgery.

According to court papers, a nursing home staff member notified local police in July 2010 regarding a theft from a resident at the facility. The staff member had received a call from the niece of a former Havenwood Care Center resident who believed checks were forged on her aunt's account.

The former Havenwood resident's niece discovered items had been ordered for her aunt that did not appear to be for her use. The items were six placemats, six shirts and three sets of pajamas not of her aunt's size, an electric shaver and a watch.

A Bemidji police detective reviewed four checks that had been written on the account of the former nursing home resident at a bank in Cass Lake.

One of the checks listed Smith as the payee.

Smith was contacted by a police officer about the matter. Smith said she was a certified nursing assistant with the Havenwood Care Center and had worked there for two and a half years, court documents state.

Smith said she was familiar with the former nursing home resident and said she provided care for her while she was a resident there.

According to court papers, Smith admitted to taking the checks from the resident's room without her permission, forging the checks and cashing them at her bank.

The police detective also spoke to Smith in regards to a theft that had occurred at Havenwood Care Center and eight items of jewelry Smith had recently pawned.

Smith admitted she had stolen a ring from another nursing home resident's room and pawned it, according to court documents.

As part of her sentence, Smith must serve 30 days in jail, five years of probation and pay a $1,000 fine. She also must have no contact with the former Havenwood resident, remain law-abiding and make all future court appearances.

An administrator with Havenwood Care Center could not be reached for comment.