Testimony heard in vulnerable embezzlement case

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:24 PM

Andrea Beth Quigg, 35, was bound over to Ottawa County Circuit Court on charges of embezzlement from a vulnerable person of between $1,000 and $20,000, forgery, and uttering and publishing following a preliminary examination Tuesday morning in 58th District Court.

The Muskegon woman sat quietly at Tuesday's hearing as her attorney, John Karafa, made several objections to witness testimony.

Arraignment in Circuit Court was set for Nov. 11, but Karafa said his client waived her arraignment. A pre-trial conference and trial dates will now be set.

Quigg lost her job when the investigation into the allegations began in early September.

The victim’s niece, Tammy Derooy testified at Tuesday’s hearing that she became suspicious when she checked her uncle’s checkbook in early September.

“I saw a check for $60 written and nothing in the 'pay to the order of' (box)," she said.

The family contacted Community Mental Health and a complaint was filed with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

Lt. Mark Bennett of the Sheriff's Department testified that Quigg told him “she had occasion to write checks 'stupidly' to herself to cash and give (the victim) money for spending.” However, Bennett said his preliminary investigation revealed that Quigg had never given any of the money to the victim.

After she was confronted, Bennett said Quigg admitted to having the victim sign blank checks. She, in turn, would fill in the dollar amount — ranging from $150 to $250 — and put her name in as the payee.

“She had done it eight to 10 times,” Bennett said. “She used it to pay bills, according to her statement. She said her mortgage was the largest.”

The checks were dated near the beginning of each month and some of them were cashed at Fifth Third Bank on Robbins Road in Grand Haven, where Quigg was a customer. Bennett said the checks were written between July 2011 and August 2013, and the total amount was more than $3,000.

Quigg’s former supervisor at Community Mental Health, Stacie Hamstra, said Quigg had been a support coordinator for about 11 years and handled about 40 cases at a time. She agreed with Karafa’s statement that Quigg had received excellent reviews every year prior to the embezzlement charge.

Hamstra said the victim had been one of Quigg’s clients for at least 10 years. She said he was very trusting.

“He has mild retardation,” Hamstra said. "He has limited abilities in problem solving, money management and making decisions.”

In response to questions from assistant prosecuting attorney Karen Miedema, Hamstra said support coordinators are not supposed to handle their client’s money; a family member or contracted person would normally do that.

“It’s not our role to act as a payee,” Hamstra said. “It puts us in a risky position — almost a conflict of interest.”

Hamstra said Quigg’s role was to put the client in contact with the services he needs. One of her responsibilities was to oversee his community living support person — someone contracted through CMH to help with things like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and accessing the community.

Quigg faces up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine if convicted of the embezzlement charge. The forgery and uttering and publishing charges carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

No criminal history in Ottawa County was listed under Quigg’s married or maiden name, Skok. Bennett noted that Quigg was recently divorced.

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