By ELLEN CONNOLLY
A nurse who stole a wallet from a wheelchair-bound patient and used his credit card to buy thousands of dollars worth of furniture was convicted of fraud charges in Burwood Court yesterday.
Alicia Cerna, 49, a mother of three of Burwood, pleaded guilty to the "despicable" crime, committed while she was employed to care for Mr Nikolaos Kintominas, 25, who has multiple sclerosis.
The court was told her scam was exposed when police obtained photographs from a bank security camera which captured Cerna withdrawing $1,000 from Mr Kintominas's account. Her fingerprints were found on the withdrawal slip.
In convicting Cerna, the magistrate, Ms Jackie Millidge, said: "This is a despicable thing that you did. Mr Kintominas did not deserve to become a victim at your hands."
Cerna, who has seven aliases, pleaded guilty through a Spanish interpreter yesterday to using a false instrument, obtaining money by deception and stealing property.
The court was told she was a nurse at the Alma Road Nursing Home at Padstow at the time of the offences. Mr Kintominas was one of her patients and required constant attention.
Facts tendered to the court stated that Cerna stole Mr Kintominas's keys on November 11 last year and used them to unlock a drawer next to his bed.
She then stole his wallet and went to a bank at Homebush, where she filled out a $1,000 withdrawal slip in his name.
Later that day she used Mr Kintominas's credit card to spend $2,154 at the furniture retailer Joyce Mayne. There she purchased a three-piece wall unit, two leather chairs, a coffee table, a five-piece dining set and a bed and mattress.
Outside the court, Mr Kintominas said he was "shocked and very upset" when he discovered that one of his carers had stolen from him.
"When I found out my bank balance was zero I couldn't believe somebody
would do that," he said. "But I am a Christian, so I forgive." Cerna will
be sentenced on September 30.