Psychiatric hospital worker stole $17K in patients' welfare to buy crack

May 30, 2014

Syracuse, NY -- A 30-year employee of the state's mental health system admitted stealing patients' welfare benefits to buy crack cocaine.

Afonso Bradshaw, 62, of 108 Bell Ave., took welfare benefits totaling $17,332.90 from nine residents at the Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse, state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said Thursday. A second worker, Ethalyn Crowder, 51, is also accused of stealing benefits from one patient, but the amount has not been disclosed.

In a written confession, Bradshaw admitted stealing from the patients and selling the cards for 50 cents on the dollar. Nine others were also charged with using the stolen cards.

"The past 10 years I have been addicted to crack/cocaine," Bradshaw wrote May 20. "Because of my addition I have been misusing food stamp benefit cards belonging to some of the clients that I take care of."

He also admitting spending some of the benefits at grocery stores like Price Chopper, Sam's Club, Aldi's and Tops. Purchases included crab legs, steaks and shrimp, according to the inspector general's office.

Bradshaw's most frequent way to get cash for drugs involved going to Sabastino's Pizza & Deli, on Ballantyne Road, in Syracuse. There, he would sell the benefits to the store at half price, he said.

"They would only use the amount that I would tell them to take, which was based on how much money I needed for drugs," Bradshaw wrote.

That all ended last year when the person he dealt with at the store was shot to death, Bradshaw wrote.

He did not name the cashier, but Shqair Shqair was murdered Oct. 1, 2013 during an armed robbery. Eric Woody was later arrested but is fighting the charges in court.

"I am sorry that I caused this problem for myself and others, but my addiction to crack/cocaine made me do this," Bradshaw concluded.

Bradshaw faces 29 charges -- including 16 felonies -- for misuse of food stamps and criminal possession of stolen property, among other charges.

Crowder faces three similar charges -- including one misdemeanor -- for preying on one victim.

Here are those charged with buying the stolen benefit cards from Bradshaw:

• Tamara Bachus, 44, Clay
• Evelyn Bradshaw, 61, Syracuse
• Rashida (Mays) Cunningham, 33, Syracuse
• Shirley Davis, 59, Syracuse
• Larry L. Homer, 39, Syracuse
• Chandrikka Skipp, 41, Liverpool
• Diane M. Houston, 49, Syracuse
• Deborah Johnson, 51, Syracuse
• David Skipp, 49, Liverpool

Source: Douglass Dowty, "Psychiatric hospital worker admits he stole $17K in patients' welfare to buy crack," Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY) May 30, 2014.


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