Sunday, March 3

Group home supervisor stole $23,000 from adults with developmental disabilities, Boynton Beach police say

Boynton Beach police say a woman entrusted with the care of five adults with developmental disabilities stole more than $23,000 from them, and used their money to pay for her Amazon purchases and gym membership, along with her Comcast and Florida Power & Light bills.

After a nearly two-year investigation, Murielle Joseph, 31, was arrested Tuesday on five counts of exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult.

According to Joseph’s arrest report, she was the acting supervisor at a now-closed assisted living facility for adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Police said the investigation started in February of 2022 when an operations manager for a company that ran the home found “questionable transactions” on the facility’s financial ledger, including a water bill paid to Joseph’s home near West Palm Beach.

As acting supervisor, Joseph had access to resident funds and managed their financial transactions.

Further investigation revealed that Joseph used the bank and credit card accounts from five adults at the home some of whom had autism, paranoid schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, among other conditions for her personal use between Dec. 1, 2020 and Dec. 2021, the arrest report stated.

Among the illegal transactions were a monthly gym membership at Planet Fitness under Joseph’s name, a $143 FPL bill, $344 in Comcast bills, and at least $1,800 in Amazon puchases for waist trainers, women’s human hair, kids clothing, women’s high heels, gel nail kits, feminine wash and wipes, a tablet case for kids, kids shoe charms, and satin bonnets, Joseph’s arrest report said.

In addition, there were thousands of dollars in unauthorized transactions and ATM cash withdrawals, with the estimated total loss for all five victims being $23,078.

The arrest report stated that on July 19, 2022, Boynton Beach police detectives went to Joseph’s home and spoke to her, where she confirmed she was the program supervisor at group home from 2018 until it closed in 2021.

Joseph added that, during her time at the facility, she was was in possession of the residents’ bank cards and managed their funds.

Police said Joseph initially told them some of the questionable transactions, including her water bill, were “accidentally paid for” with resident bank cards “due to negligence when paying with saved bank card information.”

However, the arrest report said Joseph eventually admitted to using the residents’ accounts to pay for her gym membership, Amazon purchases, and Comcast and FPL bills “for personal gain due to financial hardship, without their knowledge or permission.”

“She utilized their cash for personal purchases to include groceries and fuel,” the report said.

Because the assisted living facility eventually shut down, all five victims were placed in new group homes, police said.

Records show Joseph bonded out of the Palm Beach County Jail overnight Wednesday.

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