Homeless Shelter Case Worker Accused Of Theft
By Mike Perleberg
(Aurora, Ind.) – A former homeless shelter employee stands accused of using her employee credit card to pay her personal expenses, though she claims she was trying to help three residents who left the shelter.
Last July, Dearborn-Ohio County Special Crimes Unit detectives began investigating Melissa N. Gabbard, a former case manager at the Heart House in Aurora. Detectives were told by the shelter’s administrator that Gabbard, 45, of Guilford, had made suspicious charges to her employee credit card.
According to a court affidavit, the card charges which included Gabbard’s internet, cable, and utility bills totaled $5,064.55. The payments were made in June and July.
Detectives spoke with Gabbard in September. She explained that she developed a relationship with two residents of the shelter and their children.
“Gabbard told your affiant that she has a soft spot for children and got too close to them giving them her money as well as Heart House money,” the affidavit stated.
Gabbard said that she had given the credit card to a third resident, who eventually left the Heart House with the first two residents to a campground in Carrollton, Kentucky, but did not return the credit card until a number of purchases had been made on it.
The card was given to the former resident once again by Gabbard less than two weeks later, she told investigators. Again, purchases were made by those former residents. Gabbard went to the campground in Kentucky to get the card back a second time, but was told that they no longer had it and no longer had money to pay for the purchases.
Gabbard admitted to police that she had gone to Enterprise Car Rental in Florence and did sign contracts for two car rentals for the former residents, paid for with the credit card.
According to affidavit, Gabbard stated “she knew that what she had done was wrong and that she used poor judgment when she gave Cantine the card knowing that he was no longer a resident.”
Gabbard was formally charged on January 10 with Theft (Class De felony). She was arrested on January 24 and has since bonded out of jail. A jury trial is scheduled for June 9 in Dearborn Superior Court I.