WATERBURY – A 71-year-old New York man who owned a city nursing home pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling millions from a pension and health plan for its employees.
Chaim Stern, of Flushing, N.Y. appeared in federal court in Bridgeport where he pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from thefts from a retirement and health account for Rosegarden Health and Rehabilitation Center, which had operated on East Main Street.
The nursing home filed for bankruptcy last year and state licenses that allowed it to operate lapsed.
Federal authorities say Stern stole about $4.1 million from the Bridgeport Health Care Center, which was a retirement and health plan that he controlled, but that was created for nursing home employees. Stern also owned Bridgeport Manor and Bridgeport Health Care Center, which are nursing homes in Bridgeport.
Stern diverting the money into his own pockets and to his purported charity in New York called “Em Kol Chai, according to federal authorities. Stern also diverted more than $300,000 from the fund that was supposed to pay health insurance claims.
In a warning notice filed with the state Department of Labor in summer 2018, the nursing home announced it would close by September. The home laid off at least 45 employees as a result of the closure.
In 2016, union employees represented by New England Healthcare Employees Union District 1199 picketed outside the business as a result of a dragged-out contract negotiation that froze wages.
That was also the year that Stern was sued by the U.S. Department of Labor for diverting $4 million in retirement plan assets to his charity.
Stern waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty to theft from an employee benefit plan, theft in connection with healthcare, and willful failure to pay taxes.