Nursing home owner who admitted to stealing millions from workers reveals his side of story in new court filing
A new court filing Thursday revealed the reasons why a former Bridgeport nursing home owner stole money from his own workers - a crime to which he has admitted.
Federal agents raided Bridgeport Heath Care Center three years ago. After former employee Lorna Campbell's retirement money vanished and others' medical bills went unpaid, owner Chaim Stern pleaded guilty to embezzlement and tax evasion.
"All I can say is that, after Mr. Stern came to us, came to me, that we were completely cooperative with the government," says Stern's attorney, Stan Twardy.
Stern has repaid almost $5 million so far. His lawyer says that as the nursing home sank deeper in debt, Stern, "began to take money from wherever possible… to rob Peter to pay Paul."
Stern invested millions in a risky life insurance scheme.
"Basically, people buy life insurance policies on other people's lives. And people can outlive their life expectancy," says Twardy.
Stern’s filing also admits that he spent $1.5 million in nursing home funds on cars, EZPass charges and phone services for his business partners. But Twardy says Stern’s partners were entitled to the money under a real estate arrangement when they purchased BHCC in 1990.
When asked how an abusive family background, lack of education and being a bad businessman could be seen as excuses for Stern, Twardy says, "It's not an excuse. It's a justification. Mr. Stern's education was only an eighth-grade education."
Stern's home is in foreclosure. Twardy says he "is destitute."
"He wants to say, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry for what I did here and I'm going to do everything I can to make it up. I've tried to do it thus far. And I am remorseful and sorry for what I did,'" Twardy says.
Stern will make the case to a federal judge later this month.
Dozens of Stern’s friends and family sent the judge letters
asking for leniency. Stern’s community even donated $1.5 million to help
him pay restitution, according to Twardy.
Stern is facing up to seven years in prison. He's asking for probation.