Heidi Lacerte, 48, of Weare, has been sentenced in United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire to 13 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution for embezzling Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs benefits, announced United States Attorney John P. Kacavas.
Lacerte pleaded guilty in November of 2012. She admitted that while she was employed by the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) (a private non-profit corporation that provides guardianship and advocacy services to hundreds of legally incapacitated adults in New Hampshire, including those with developmental disabilities, mental illness, dementia and traumatic brain injury) she embezzled more than $52,000 of federal benefits that had been paid to OPG for the benefit of 23 individuals for whom OPG was guardian. Lacerte also admitted that she accomplished the embezzlement by: 1) having checks written to herself drawn against beneficiaries' funds; 2) having gift cards purchased using money from beneficiaries' accounts; and, 3) taking cash intended for beneficiaries' accounts, and then converting the proceeds for her own benefit, or for the benefit of others. Lacerte, who has been released on bail since being charged, was ordered to report to federal prison to start serving her sentence on April 12, 2013.
The case was investigated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, the United States Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigation, and the Concord, NH Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arnold H. Huftalen.