Po­lice: Lo­cal man scammed nurses union for $100,000

Woonsocket Call - - FRONT PAGE - By RUSS OLIVO ro­livo@woonsock­et­call.com

BURRILLVILLE – A lo­cal man who worked for one of the state’s largest health care unions has been charged by the state po­lice with em­bez­zling more than $100,000 from the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram – a loss that caused the pro­gram to fold.

Christo­pher G. Mat­te­son, 33, of 245 Log Road, was ar­rested at home Tues­day morn­ing on four counts – felony em­bez­zle­ment; forgery and coun­ter­feit­ing; ob­tain­ing money un­der false pre­tenses; and so­lic­it­ing an­other to com­mit a crime, State Po­lice Supt. Col. Ann C. As­sumpico said.

The crimes al­legedly oc­curred from June 2016 through July 2017, while Mat­te­son was em­ployed by the United Nurses & Al­lied Pro­fes­sion­als (UNAP) as the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of its “Step­ping Up” pro­gram. As­sumpico said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan in Au­gust 2017, when rep­re­sen­ta­tives of UNAP/ RI, con­tacted the state po­lice Fi­nan­cial Crimes Unit, say­ing they sus­pected that Mat­te­son had pil­fered funds from the union’s bank ac­counts.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed that Mat­te­son al­legedly stole $109,000 dur­ing the pe­riod he was in charge of the Step­ping Up pro­gram.

The Step­ping Up pro­gram was an ed­u­ca­tional trust co-funded by UNAP/ RI, Rhode Is­land Hospi­tal and grants. The pro­gram pro­vided con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams and job train­ing for health care work­ers at Rhode Is­land Hospi­tal. Union of­fi­cials told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that the fi­nan­cial losses caused by Mat­te­son’s un­law­ful ac­tions

re­sulted in the even­tual col­lapse of the pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to As­sumpico.

UNAP rep­re­sents some 6,500 nurses, tech­nol­o­gists, ther­a­pists, sup­port staff, and other health care work­ers em­ployed at hospi­tals and other health care fa­cil­i­ties through­out New Eng­land, in­clud­ing Land­mark Med­i­cal Cen­ter and Seven Hills Rhode Is­land, both in Woonsocket; Fa­tima Hospi­tal in North Prov­i­dence; and Rhode Is­land Hospi­tal and Women & In­fants Hospi­tal, both in Prov­i­dence.

The union’s web­site de­scribes the Step­ping Up pro­gram as a “highly re­garded

health care ca­reer lad­der pro­gram” that helped un­em­ployed res­i­dents ob­tain ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing for jobs in health care. Dur­ing a three year pe­riod prior to the col­lapse of the pro­gram, Step­ping Up pro­gram pre-em­ploy­ment train­ing, ca­reer coun­sel­ing and aca­demic guid­ance to 128 in­di­vid­u­als – 87 of whom later ob­tained jobs. The pro­gram pro­vided as­sis­tance to an­other 176 en­try-level em­ploy­ees, en­abling them to re­turn to school to pur­sue a de­gree as reg­is­tered nurses and other spe­cial­ized health care jobs.

In just three years, Step­ping Up has pro­vided pre-em­ploy­ment train­ing, ca­reer coun­sel­ing, and aca­demic ad­vis­ing to 128 com­mu­nity res­i­dents (87 of whom later ob­tained jobs), and over 175 en­try-level hospi­tal em­ploy­ees who re­turned to school to pur­sue a de­grees as reg­is­tered nurse or other spe­cial­ized health care pro­fes­sion­als.

Mat­te­son was ar­raigned in Sixth District Court fol­low­ing his ar­rest.

He was re­leased on $10,000 per­sonal re­cog­ni­zance pend­ing an­other hear­ing on Aug. 7, ac­cord­ing to the ju­di­ciary’s web site.

Christo­pher G. Mat­te­son

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