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I-TEAM Follow Up: Former NJ Worker Admits He Used Position To Steal From Elderly

By Charlotte Huffman

MAYS LANDING, N.J. (CBS) - A former Atlantic County caseworker admits he used his position with the county to help steal an elderly couple's life savings.

William Price, 57, of Linwood, plead guilty to theft on Friday in Atlantic County Superior Court following an investigation by New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice.

"If you're a caseworker and you are tasked with looking after the elderly, do your job protect them, look, after them," Deputy Attorney General Yvonne Maher previously told the CBS3 I-Team.

Maher is prosecuting the case on behalf of the Division of Criminal Justice.

In pleading guilty, Price admitted he stole $125,000 from a couple he met in 2006 through his job as a caseworker for Atlantic County's Adult Protective Services.

"Price callously betrayed the trust and friendship of an elderly couple to enrich himself," said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. "As a social worker, he should have been all about helping them, but instead he set them up to have their savings stolen by him and his co-defendants."

The state will recommend Price be sentenced to five years in prison and pay the full $125,000 restitution.

Authorities say Price befriended the elderly couple and recruited them as clients for Jan Van Holt, 59, of Linwood, Sondra Steen, 60, of Linwood, and Barbara Lieberman, 63, of Northfield who are believed to have collectively ripped off the couple to the tune of $800,000, including the $125,000 received by Price for his role.

The elderly couple is just one set of victims in what investigators say was a ten year long conspiracy between Van Holt, Steen, Lieberman and others to steal $3.8 million dollars from at least 16 victims.

The CBS Philly I-Team first exposed Lieberman, the so-called "quarterback" of the ring of alleged scam artists during an I-Team exclusive special report last November.

In that larger case, investigators say the group posed as trustworthy caregivers and legal advisors who took control of the finances of their victims by forging a power of attorney or obtaining one on false pretenses, adding their names to the victims' bank accounts or transferring the victims' funds into new accounts they controlled.

"...And most of these (victims) didn't have the capacity to keep an eye on their money and their assets so they were taken advantage of in that way," Maher said.

In March, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Donio sentenced her to ten years in prison. Lieberman took a plea deal and agreed to forfeit $3 million in restitution as well as testify against the others accused.

Others indicted in the case include Van Holt's sister, Sondra Steen, 59, of Linwood; and Susan Hamlett, 56, of Egg Harbor Township.

Dr. Maria Teresa Daclan, 53, of Galloway Township was indicted for allegedly lying to a detective to protect Van Holt.

Charges against Van Holt are still pending. She plead not guilty earlier this year.

An investigation by New Jersey State Police and Division of Criminal Justice has revealed at least 16 victims. With the exception of one, all of the victims are dead.

If you suspect that you or a family member have been victimized you can call the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice's tip line toll free at 866-TIPS-4CJ.

For more information about stopping guardian abuse visit the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse.

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