A former Rock Hill nursing home office manager turned herself in to authorities Thursday after police said she improperly used more than $60,000 belonging to the home's residents.
Authorities charged Melissa Rice Kelly, 37, of Chester with elder exploitation and forgery, according to a Rock Hill Police Department press release.
Kelly was a business manager for two years for Magnolia Manor at 127 Murrah Drive, according to the release.
An internal audit of Magnolia Manor found that Kelly forged and cashed $65,837 in company checks since April 2006, according to a police report. The report states Kelly was "terminated for this action."
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"We take the care and safety of our residents very seriously," said Joy Patterson, Magnolia Manor administrator. "While we are pleased that internal protocols alerted us to the situation, we are extremely disappointed that an employee chose to violate our trust and the trust of our vulnerable and elderly residents."
At least four residents were affected, Patterson said.
"We immediately made all affected residents' accounts whole again," Patterson said.
Yet, the company has lost money because of the crimes.
Kelly was not available for comment Thursday, but Columbia attorney Hemphill Pride said Kelly wants a jury trial and will plead not guilty.
"She believes that she will get justice," Pride said.
Kelly's trial is slated for March 10, a Rock Hill judge said Thursday. Her charges stem from a forgery probe that resulted in the audit at the nursing home.
"She had access to patient funds," said Ken Moore of the state attorney general's office during a bond hearing Thursday afternoon.
Arrest warrants served Thursday show that around Jan. 10, 2008, Kelly passed a forged $300 check from Magnolia Manor's patient trust/petty cash account and later submitted a forged reimbursement form.
A second arrest warrant shows that sometime between Aug. 1, 2008, and Aug. 31, 2008, Kelly improperly used money that belonged to a man while he was a patient at Magnolia Manor. The warrant doesn't say what Kelly is accused of doing with the money.
Pride said the allegations came as a shock to Kelly.
"She's puzzled and perplexed by the allegations. She's disappointed," Pride said. "She felt like she was a loyal employee and did a good job. She's shocked that they would accuse her of taking any money from anyone."
Until Thursday, officials said, Kelly did not have a criminal record.
Kelly was released on bond Thursday afternoon. A judge has prohibited her from contacting Magnolia Manor employees or patients. Her first court date is set for Feb. 16.