NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A Queens woman is accused of using money from her daughter's medical malpractice settlement for liposuction, a tummy tuck and a Disney trip.
Megan Mele, 31, of Woodhaven, has been charged with stealing more than $65,000 of her 11-year-old daughter's funds, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.
The money also was spent on airline tickets and shopping, Brown said.
"The defendant is accused of stealing from her own child, who was disabled at birth and had money set aside following a lawsuit settlement," Brown said. "Instead of safeguarding the money for her daughter's future needs, the defendant is alleged to have thought only of herself. She allegedly used the child's bank account as if it were her personal piggy bank."
When Mele's daughter was born she had an injury that caused nerve damage, leaving her with limited function in her right arm, Brown said.
Under a settlement reached in a medical malpractice lawsuit in 2007, Mele's daughter would start receiving payments following her 18th birthday in 2022. A bank account with more than $50,000 was set up for her until then that would require approval before making withdrawals, according to reports.
When a judge denied Mele's request to withdraw $47,000 from the account last March, she forged a document claiming the money was needed to cover her daughter's surgery in San Diego, Brown said. But there was never any record of the girl being at the hospital and Brown said Mele used some of the money to pay for a trip to Disneyland in California.
Over the next few months, Brown said Mele took money out on several occasions using fake court orders, until a bank denied a final request to withdraw the remaining $633.74, Brown said.
Mele is charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument.
If convicted, she could face up to 15 years in prison.
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