Nurses aide pawned family heirlooms allegedly stolen from elderly patients

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A former nurses aide who allegedly stole money and jewelry from elderly residents in her care, pawned many of the trinkets and traded them for cash, some family heirlooms already destroyed and melted down for the gold content.

Melissa Smith, 33, of Davenport is under arrest and charged with 14 counts of adult abuse and theft. She's accused of taking more than $9,000 worth of cash and items from elderly residents at The Fountains, a retirement community in Bettendorf, Iowa.

"You feel absolutely betrayed and angry," said Kris Ward, The Fountains on-site manager. "Police came to us with pawn shop photographs of jewelry items she had pawned," Ward said.

Ward said one resident's wedding ring was stolen and melted down for its gold. Some of the jewelry, she noted, has been recovered.

Smith worked for The Fountains for about a year. Thefts started in August 2012 and lasted until November.  She has since been fired.

Smith has had some prior run-ins with the law, and was charged with fraud at one point, but doesn't have any convictions for theft or abuse, and she passed the required background check by the state.

"She passed the Department of Human Services check required to work in healthcare facilities," Ward said.

"In the case of Melissa Smith, no prior history of theft was documented on her pre-employment background checks," said Ted Lowndes, President of Dial Corporation, which owns the retirement community.

"The Fountains acted quickly and has assisted the police in ensuring that Melissa Smith is prosecuted to the full extent of the law."