Social Services Worker Indicted On Charges Of Defrauding A Client Out Of A Car And Lying To The FBI

DOJ - Department of Justice
DOJ - Department of Justice
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CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Rhonda Henderson, 47, of Cheektowaga, NY, with mail fraud and making false statements. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, between September 2013 and January 3, 2014, the defendant devised a scheme to defraud Victim A of a 1999 Honda Accord, which belonged to the victim’s deceased mother. Henderson worked as a social services manager for a local social services agency. The defendant met Victim A, who suffered from a variety of mental health issues and only completed formal education through seventh grade, through her employment at the agency where Victim A received services.

As part of the scheme, Henderson reminded Victim A of the things that Henderson did for Victim A and Victim A’s mother prior to her death, and advised Victim A that Victim A should do the defendant a favor as a result. Henderson asked Victim A to allow her son, D.H., to drive the 1999 Honda Accord for a temporary period of time because Henderson was having financial trouble and could not get her son a car. Victim A gave the defendant and her son physical possession of the vehicle.

Henderson deceived Victim A into signing Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) documents that would allow the defendant to obtain a duplicate title for the 1999 Honda Accord. Henderson took Victim A to the DMV branch on Sheridan Drive in Amherst, NY, at which time Victim A filled out and signed an application for a duplicate title. The application was then processed by L.Y., an associate of Henderson. A duplicate title was issued in the name of Victim A’s deceased mother, but with Henderson’s home address in Cheektowaga listed on the title. Victim A did not fill out the address portion of the form and did not know that it included Henderson’s address.

Subsequently, the defendant forged Victim’s A’s signature on the duplicate title, listing Victim A as the “seller,” and listing herself as the “buyer.” Henderson then registered the 1999 Honda Accord in her name. The defendant’s actions resulted in the DMV mailing the defendant title to the vehicle and defrauding Victim A of the 1999 Honda Accord.

The indictment further alleges that in June 2014, the defendant made several false statements to the FBI when she was questioned pertaining to her actions related to the 1999 Honda Accord.  

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Division of Field Investigation, under the direction of Owen McShane, Director of Investigations. 

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

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