SALEM, Mass. — A former business manager who stole more than $500,000 from a Lawrence nursing home was sentenced to a year and a half in state prison and also ordered to home confinement and to pay restitution after she’s released.
Sherry Verdick, 45, of Methuen, pleaded guilty to 16 indictments, which included multiple larceny, forgery and related charges associated with the theft of $535,000 from the Berkeley Retirement and Nursing Home, during a Salem Superior Court hearing Tuesday.
The theft occurred through a variety of schemes with Verdick exploiting her “position of trust among a vulnerable population” at the Berkeley home, said Gretchen Brodigan, an assistant attorney general who prosecuted the case.
Verdick said “guilty” aloud in the courtroom as a clerk read each charge and details aloud.
Answering a question from the judge, Verdick said she daily takes Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction on Tuesday. Her defense attorney previously said Verdick developed an opioid addiction after being prescribed OxyContin and Percocet following knee surgery in 2014.
Verdick faces maximum sentences of 5 and 10 years in state prison on many of the charges.
In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Kathleen McCarthy-Neyman sentenced Verdick to five years on probation following her release. She must spend the first 9 months on home confinement and is only allowed to leave her home for medical appointments for herself and her son or to undergo court-ordered drug testing.
Also, while on probation, she is to undergo substance abuse evaluation and treatment, is barred from working in any job where she handles money and must stay away from the Berkeley facility. A restitution hearing will be scheduled after she is released from prison, McCarthy-Neyman explained.
While she pleaded guilty Tuesday, Verdick will not have to report back to court until Oct. 12 to start her sentence.
Prosecutors had wanted Verdick sentenced to two-to-three years in jail or prison, followed by five years probation with a series of conditions including paying restitution.
But her defense attorney Hilary McCamic, in a hearing this summer, suggested a two-year jail sentence against Verdick could be suspended, and she could spend that time on a GPS monitor which only allowed her to leave her home to work and get groceries.
McCarthy-Neyman on Tuesday said she had considered the input from both sides but would hand down the year-and-a-half prison sentence and five years of probation to follow.
From January 2016 to September 2018, Verdick wrote 394 checks totaling $412,000 out to herself, according to the charges.
She also forged her signature on another eight checks, used a corporate credit card to illegally purchase $19,000 in items for herself and arranged for $10,500 in health care costs she should have paid for herself to be paid out of a Berkeley account, Brodigan said.
Verdick is also accused of stealing money from the estate of a deceased Berkeley resident, Brodigan said.
She pleaded guilty five counts of larceny of property valued over $1,200 by a single scheme, larceny over $1,200, larceny over $250 by a single scheme, two counts of making false entries in corporate books with intent to defraud, three counts of forgery, three counts of uttering and obtaining a signature under false pretenses, according to court papers.
Fellow Berkeley workers issued impact statements about the theft, which hurt both the residents of the 40-bed facility and the employees, who have not had raises in years, they said.
One worker noted many of the residents both “trusted and in many cases loved” Verdick.
Nursing director Denise Murray said Berkeley staff pride themselves on excellent, dedicated care for the residents. Verdick’s behavior was “selfish and self-centered,” she said. She described the toll on Berkeley as “ongoing and unnecessary.” Others said the budget remains bare-bones due to the losses.
“Everyday it is on our minds we could lose our jobs and what would happen to our beloved residents?” asked a group of Berkeley management team members in a victim impact statement Brodigan read to the judge.
Through McCamic, Verdick did apologize for her behavior, for the trust she betrayed at the Berkeley home and the impact this has had on her family.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.