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Clear Lake aide accused of taking client funds

LawClear Lake aide accused of taking client funds

A home-health worker accused of falsifying records and taking hundreds of dollars from a client is not entitled to unemployment benefits, an Iowa judge has ruled.

According to state records, Tara Frank was employed by the long-term company ABCM Corporation as a home-health personal care assistant from January 2022 until February 2024, when she was terminated. She was fired after an elderly client complained about being billed for services that were never rendered by Frank and about Frank’s failure to repay money she’d been loaned.

The client claimed she had loaned Frank small amounts of money that totaled $400 to $500, and that Frank had only repaid $20 of that amount.

Krystal Thoe, the administrator at ABCM’s Oakwood Care Center in Clear Lake, which employed Frank, then spoke to the client who asserted that when Frank came to her home, she would spend much of her time on the couch chatting rather than performing any of the assigned housekeeping and personal-care duties.

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According to ABCM, Thoe then questioned Frank, who admitted that she had been falsely documenting housekeeping services that were never performed. Frank also was alleged to have admitted borrowing money from the client in violation of the company’s policies on abuse and financial exploitation.

Frank was fired and subsequently sought unemployment benefits, which led to a hearing before Administrative Law Judge James Timberland. At the hearing, Frank allegedly admitted falsely documenting services never performed but said she later returned to the client’s home to do the work in her free time. She also acknowledged a year-long pattern of irregular financial transactions involving the client’s funds, but said that what the client described as loans were actually repayments for Frank fronting the cost of the client’s expenses.

“These examples offered by Ms. Frank do not account for the many check-cashing incidents Ms. Frank admits occurred, all of which (she) failed to report to the employer,” Timberland ruled after the hearing. “At minimum, the evidence establishes a pattern of intentionally false documentation of services performed for the client. That conduct exposed the employer to potential legal sanction and reputational harm.”

Timberland denied Frank unemployment benefits, finding she had committed workplace misconduct.

Other unemployment decisions

Other Iowans whose unemployment cases were recently decided include:

Terry A. Niemeyer, who worked as a nurse for Waterloo’s Cedar Valley Hospice from May 2023 until he was fired in December 2023. The company alleged that on Dec. 16, 2023, Niemeyer visited with a patient who was actively dying and, while there, complained about his job and how long it had taken him to drive to the patient’s home. The patient later asked Cedar Valley not to send Niemeyer back to their home under any circumstances.

A month before, a different patient’s daughter had allegedly called Cedar Valley to complain that Niemeyer had made crude jokes, said things that shouldn’t have been said in the presence of a lady, and had unzipped the female patient’s sweatshirt, exposing the woman in front of her family while stating that he hoped he didn’t have to deal with any more patients that day.

On another occasion, Niemeyer allegedly electronically copied, word for word, another care provider’s set of notes and pasted them into a patient’s official medical record rather than conduct and document his own assessment of the patient. A judge denied Niemeyer’s subsequent request for unemployment benefits, finding he had committed workplace misconduct.

Niemeyer’s license is in good standing with the Iowa Board of Nursing.

Dustin Allen, who was employed by the City of Dubuque as a full-time police officer from late 2023 through early February 2024, when he resigned. On Feb. 7, 2024, Allen sent a letter to city officials indicating he had concluded police work was not a good fit for him, stating, “I only recently realized that I hate to give someone a ticket, take someone to jail or even just show up to a call to sort out someone’s problems.”

On Feb. 9, 2024, Allen submitted his letter of resignation, effective immediately. He later collected $1,878 in unemployment benefits. Earlier this month, a judge ruled Allen was ineligible for unemployment given his voluntary resignation and ordered Allen to repay the benefits already collected.

Virginia Berryman, who worked as a medication manager for the Silvercrest Garner Farms assisted living center from February 2001 until she was fired in March 2024. On March 2, a resident of the center was discovered on the floor of their room with low oxygen levels. Berryman tried to call the facility’s listed on-call nurse, unaware the sheet had not been updated to reflect the fact the nurse no longer worked there.

Later that day, the resident was again found on the floor. The next day, the resident fell again and showed additional signs of low oxygen levels. Paramedics who were summoned questioned why they hadn’t been called earlier, given the previous indications of low oxygen levels.

Berryman was fired two days later and the state fined Silvercrest Garner Farms $3,500 for failing to promptly call 911. At a subsequent hearing on her request for unemployment benefits, Berryman testified that it was her understanding that only a nurse had the authority to call for emergency medical services.

Administrative Law Judge Alexis Rowe awarded Berryman benefits, finding that she was one of several workers who had tended to the patient and her conduct, at worst, may have stemmed from a misunderstanding as to her authority. Berryman, the judge ruled, “was acting according to her many years of experience and training … There were also others who were involved and knew about the circumstances who could have acted but did not.”

Police are investigating a body found in a parking lot near the former Corky’s Car Care, 453 W. Parker St., Waterloo, Iowa, on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence.

Originally published on iowacapitaldispatch.com, part of the BLOX Digital Content Exchange.

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