The Atlantic County Surrogate’s Office is looking into its records after a former court-appointed guardian was charged with stealing millions from seniors.
Barbara Lieberman, 62, is one of four women charged. She allegedly used her position as an elder-law specialist to steal money from those she was supposed to be helping.
“A comprehensive review of all the files in this office is underway, and appropriate Superior Court action is going to be taken,” Surrogate Jim Curcio told The Press of Atlantic City.
The Surrogate Court oversees wills, along with appointments of administrators of estates, and guardians of minors and those deemed incapacitated.
As a court-appointed guardian, she was regularly assigned to cases in Atlantic and Cape May counties.
Curcio said he could not comment on the number of cases Lieberman was connected to, or on the criminal investigation, but said that is part of the review.
“We’ve been working on it. The judges are working on it,” he said. “Our goal now is to safeguard all the parties.”
So far, the Attorney General’s Office has said 10 people in their 80s and 90s were robbed by Lieberman with the help of former Atlantic County Adult Protective Services worker Jan Van Holt. None of those cases is believed to be connected to court-appointed guardianships, but the investigation is ongoing and the Attorney General’s Office has indicated there are likely more victims.
Despite $5 million in assets being frozen, Lieberman was able to post her $300,000 bail shortly after her arrest last week. Van Holt remains in the Atlantic County jail on the same bail.
Van Holt connected with at least one of her alleged victims through her former position with the county, although she was fired in 2006, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said.
“We fired her for violating policies,” he said.
He could not comment on what those policies were.
“But we canned her for them, and then she came back and sued us,” Levinson said of Van Holt. “This was one case I was not going to settle.”
The county won, although Levinson remains frustrated that the taxpayers had to pay for the suit.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is continuing its investigation. Anyone who believes they or someone they know may have been a victim is asked to call the Division of Criminal Justice’s toll-free tipline at 866-TIPS-4CJ or 866-847-7425.
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