Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

May 7, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that a Dorchester County licensed social worker, Johanne S. Nibblett, was sentenced today as a result of her guilty plea to one count of felony theft. Nibblett, 42, pleaded guilty to stealing $4,445 from some of her vulnerable adult clients while she was employed by the Dorchester County Department of Social Services in its Adult Protective Services unit.

Dorchester County Circuit Court Judge Donald F. Johnson sentenced Nibblett, of 111 E. East Street, Delmar, to a 3-year sentence, with all but 6 months suspended. Nibblett will be allowed to serve the six months in the Wicomico County Detention Center rather than the Dorchester Detention Center because she has a job in Salisbury. Nibblett was also ordered to pay restitution of $2,700, of which $1,350 is due May 11 and the remainder due in the next year; she had already paid partial restitution of $1,745. Nibblett voluntarily reliquished her social worker's license prior to sentencing.

The thefts occurred during a period from May 1998 to July 1999, when Nibblett's responsibilities involved supervising the personal care needs and financial accounts of adults placed in the care of the State. Her duties included setting up and maintaining burial accounts at local banks in the client's names. In the theft that was discovered first, Nibblett withdrew money from the client's burial account and deposited it into her personal bank account. A year later, when questions arose within the agency to the location of the client's burial contract, Nibblett finally purchased a burial contract, but for a lesser sum of money than she had withdrawn from the client's account. She altered the contract documents to make it appear the contract had been purchased the year before, and for the sum of money that had been withdrawn. When the altered document was discovered, Nibblett resigned her position with the DSS. The Office of the Inspector General of the State Department of Human Resources began a fraud audit of the files of the rest of her clients, which turned up thefts from three of her other clients. The case was then referred to the Office of the Attorney General for investigation and prosecution.

The case is part of Attorney General Curran's initiative against elder exploitation. In addition to assistance from the Inspector General of the State Department of Human Resources, assistance was also provided by the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration.

"We will continue to vigorously pursue cases in which people who are too old or too sick to take care of themselves are victimized, and by the very people who are supposed to be helping them," said Curran.