Veterans Home employee convicted of theft

A Blair County jury late Monday convicted an Altoona woman employed at the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home of stealing a television that belonged to a deceased resident.

Lisa L. Carey, 46, took the witness stand in her own defense in Judge Timothy M. Sullivan’s courtroom and denied she took a 24-inch TV in February 2013. The TV was owned by an 86-year-old Army veteran who had died about a week before the theft.

Carey admitted taking a cardboard box that once contained a television from the home but said she had permission to take it.

She needed the box, she said, because she was moving to another home. She said the box was used to carry pictures and other items between her residences.

Carey’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Jason Imler, entered the box she said she took from the Veterans Home as evidence for the defense.

The box had green trim and Carey was asked to come off the witness bench and show the jury how she transported the empty box to her car on Feb. 6, 2013.

She walked across the courtroom grasping the box much like a suitcase and easily swinging it, an indication that it had not contained a TV when she took it.

The prosecutor, led by Assistant District Attorney Ilissa Zimmerman, however, presented a witness, Danielle A. Williams, 24, of Coalport, another worker at the Veterans Home, who testified she saw Carey take the box to her vehicle and said there was a television inside it.

Williams pleaded guilty in January to charges stemming from the theft of a $150 gift card from a home resident.

Court papers on that incident indicated Allegheny Township police were called to the home on March 15, 2013. The card allegedly was stolen while the veteran was taking a nap. Williams eventually told police she found the card, given to the resident by a social worker, lying on the floor next to his bed.

Court papers said she and another person used the gift card to purchase a new cellphone.

Another witness for the prosecution, also a colleague who rode to and from work with Carey, testified she saw a television box in Carey’s car, behind the passenger seat but did not see a television inside.

She did not ask Carey about the box.

Another co-worker said people were collecting boxes for Carey to help with her move to a new home.

Zimmerman presented a surveillance video to the jury showing Carey exiting the rear of Eisenhower Hall at the Veterans Home with a thin, rectangular box.

James DeArmitt, the head of security at the Veterans Home, was asked by Zimmerman on Monday what his duties entailed. One of those duties, he said, was to protect the residents from theft, a point made by Zimmerman during her closing argument.

All questions about the thefts at the home and the two employees now convicted of such theft, were referred to a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Veterans and Military Affairs. The spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Allegheny Township Police Chief P. Richard Books said Tuesday his officers are called to the home periodically to investigate alleged thefts from the residents, but he stated, “I don’t think anything there is excessive or a problem.”

Zimmerman said Tuesday that Carey has no prior record, and according to the state sentencing guidelines, she will be eligible for a probationary sentence.