A Michigan woman has admitted to embezzling nearly half a million dollars from a trust fund set up to care for her sick son, The Lansing State Journal is reporting.
Kasie Pruden-Rivera, 32, pleaded no contest to embezzling $400,000 from a trust fund set up to care for her sick son.
Back in 2008, Haiden Rivera was born at an Army hospital in Texas – Kasie’s husband at the time, Higinio Rivera, was a soldier. Hours after his birth, Haiden began having seizures and exhibiting signs of brain damage. He was later diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and his parents were told he would never be able to walk, talk, work, or care for himself.
According to a November 2017 Lansing State Journal report, the family sued, and ultimately the Justice Department settled with the boy’s parents for $6.5 million. Most of that money was put into a reversionary trust, meaning that if Haiden dies before the funds are spent, it’s returned to the government. About $550,000 of it went directly to Haiden, to be placed into a trust. Kasie was named executor of that trust.
That money was supposed to go into a special checking account restricted to spending on Haiden and his needs. Instead, however, Pruden-Rivera deposited the $551,979 into her own checking account.
Within a year, according to the bank, that money was gone.
$240,000 of that money went towards a house – a purchase that raised some eyebrows among investigators, but was deemed above-board. Other purchases, such as $60,000 for vehicles; bank transfers to unnamed “other people”; and “wild personal spending” were not.
And as for the rest of the money – it’s gone. And Pruden-Rivera hasn’t given investigators much in the way of answers. That’s largely because she failed to appear at several court-appointed hearings in order to account for the missing money.
One thing she didn’t spend it on was insurance or property taxes on the house. Ken O’Deen, a conservator who was appointed to oversee the distribution of Haiden’s trust fund, says that he paid the taxes and took out an insurance policy on the house himself.
“That was not easy because she wouldn’t let anybody into the house.”
Further, child welfare workers who were called to the home found animal feces, rotting food, garbage, and dirty diapers throughout.
With her guilty plea, Pruden-Rivera could be facing as much as 20 years behind bars. However, considering that she has no prior criminal convictions, she’ll like be sentenced to only about 20 months or so.
Meanwhile, Haiden and the couple’s other son have been placed into the custody of their father.