PLAINS TWP. — A nurse’s aide at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center was charged with stealing the crucifix of a female patient who died the next day.
Veterans Affairs police allege Warren Thomas Wells, 42, of Moscow, removed a gold chain and crucifix from the neck of Laurel Sywensky, 60, a patient at the medical center on Dec. 18.
Sywensky, of Coplay, died Dec. 19.
Police recovered the chain and crucifix from J.B. Jewelers in Scranton, where Wells allegedly sold the jewelry for $100, according to charges filed.
Wells could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning. He was arrested Wednesday afternoon on charges of robbery, theft and receiving stolen property.
Wells was arraigned by District Judge Diana Malast in Plains Township and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $10,000 bail.
According to the criminal complaint:
Sywensky’s son, Christopher, of Northampton, visited his mother. He told police she had the chain and crucifix around her neck on Dec. 18. Christopher Sywensky left the medical center to have a cigarette and he said that when he returned a man wearing hospital scrubs with a stocky build and receding hairline was in the room.
Christopher Sywensky said he noticed the chain and crucifix missing from his mother after the man had left, the complaint says. After Laurel Sywensky died, Christopher Sywensky and police were unable to find the chain and crucifix when they searched the room.
Police questioned medical center staff members who had contact with Sywensky and could not find any evidence that those questioned committed the theft.
A review of the Precious Metals Database showed Wells allegedly sold a gold chain with a crucifix at J.B. Jewelers on Dec. 19, according to the complaint.
The Precious Metals Act requires jewelry dealers to record transactions and copy identification of the seller, and send the transactions to police within one business day and not sell the purchased item for five days.
Police said in the complaint Christopher Sywensky identified the gold chain and crucifix recovered from J.B. Jewelers as the chain and crucifix that was stolen from his mother.