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The original item was published from 8/26/2016 1:26:38 PM to 1/1/2018 12:05:02 AM.

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Posted on: August 26, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Woman Pleads Guilty to Forging

WOBURN – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has announced that a woman has pled guilty in connection with stealing blank checks from a household where she worked, forging names on the checks, and cashing them in order to collect more than $229,000.

Nilce Coffey, 61, of Acton, pled guilty in Middlesex Superior Court to charges of larceny over $250 from a person over 60 years of age, forgery, and trespassing. Judge Thomas Billings sentenced Coffey to 3 years in state prison followed by 5 years probation, with restitution to be determined and a condition that Coffey submit to an evaluation and follow any recommended treatment guidelines.

“Nilce Coffey preyed on the kindness of a senior citizen,” said District Attorney Ryan. “While she was a housekeeper, she secretly took blank checks from the home, forged signatures on them, and cashed them to get money. When the homeowner gave her a chance to turn her life around and he didn’t press charges, she victimized him again. Coffey snuck into the home and stole more blank checks. Shame on her for continuing to prey on this man’s good heart and shame on anyone who would take advantage of the trust placed in them by a senior citizen.”

“The successful resolution of this case is another example of the strong partnership that exists between the Concord Police Department and the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office,” said Concord Police Chief Joseph O'Connor. “Detective Sergeant Joseph Morahan and the District Attorney’s Office conducted a thorough investigation and presented evidence which resulted in Nilce Coffey being held accountable for her crimes.”

Evidence gathered during the investigation showed that in April of 2009, Coffey forged a check taken from a residence where she worked as a housekeeper. Coffey was confronted and admitted to forging a signature in order to cash the check for $6,000. The employer decided not to press charges and Coffey was released from his employment.

Authorities say several years later, the alarm system in the home went off on September 5, 2013. The security company called the residence and the person who answered the phone could not provide a password. Police were sent to the property and found the intruder gone. The security company provided a recording of the phone conversation and the family identified the voice as belonging to Coffey.

Later, in October of 2013, the family reported to law enforcement that numerous checks had been drawn from the household’s bank account and that they were forged and cashed. The amount of the checks ranged from $28 to $25,000. The total amount of the 44 checks that were forged and cashed was $229,892.58. One month later, police executed a search warrant at Coffey’s home, found checks belonging to the family that was victimized, and Coffey was arrested.

District Attorney Ryan says this case should serve as a reminder to senior citizens and to family members about the importance of regularly checking bank statements and other financial documents. Before assuming the position as District Attorney, Ryan served as Chief of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office’s Elder and Disabled Unit, where she prosecuted a myriad of crimes involving financial abuse and physical abuse of the most vulnerable victims. In that role, Ryan collaborated with business and community leaders to conduct risk assessments and develop prevention plans for elders and disabled citizens. Ryan continues to host seminars in community settings to provide advice to residents about how to protect themselves. Some information provided at these forums by Ryan includes reminding people that, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

For example, if someone offers to take over the task of paying your bills for you, make sure that person can be trusted and check financial statements regularly. In addition, be skeptical if you receive a phone call or letter claiming you will get money for providing your social security number or personal information. Ryan says the age-old safety precautions still apply in these modern times: lock your front door, never give personal information to strangers, and don’t allow people into your home even if they say they have an emergency and need to use your phone. Finally, Ryan says if you think you have been a victim of a scam, speak up, and tell someone in authority.

The prosecutor assigned to this case is Assistant District Attorney Doug Nagengast. The Victim Witness Advocate is Lori Riccio.

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