PHOTO: Megan Mele is accused of using a portion of her daughter’s malpractice settlement to fund a trip to Disneyland in California. Photo Courtesy of Furry Foster
By Forum Staff
An 11-year-old Woodhaven girl potentially faces a far more crippling disability than the one for which she was awarded a malpractice settlement in 2007.
Her mother, Megan Mele, 31, was arraigned last Thursday on charges that she bilked her daughter’s account of initial payments from a malpractice settlement totaling more than $65,000. According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, instead of safeguarding the money for her daughter’s future needs, Mele allegedly used the money to purchase plane tickets, shop online, pay restaurant bills, and have multiple liposuction procedures and a tummy tuck.
Charges say that a settlement in a medical malpractice suit was reached on behalf of Mele’s daughter in the early part of 2007 because the child, who was born in November 2004, was diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury to her right arm. As a result, she was left with extremely limited—if any—function from her right shoulder down to her hand.
The settlement provided for the girl to begin receiving payments after her 18th birthday in 2022. However, in March of 2007, as part of the settlement, an account with more than $50,000 was established at Cross County Federal Savings Bank for the child’s benefit.
Last year, Mele petitioned the judge in charge of disbursements to approve a withdrawal of nearly $50,000 from the account that was set up to incur interest on the child’s behalf. But when the judge denied the request for a disbursement, Mele allegedly went ahead and submitted a forged court document to the bank in order to make the withdrawal. She claimed that the money was for her daughter to undergo surgery at a hospital in San Diego; however, an investigation showed there was no record of any such hospital stay planned; instead, the money was allegedly used in part to fund a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.
On three additional occasions later in 2015, Mele allegedly acquired a total of $19,500 in checks made out to her through the use of forged instruments to the bank. In September, she allegedly submitted another request for the remaining funds—$633.74—but the bank denied the request.
“The defendant is accused of stealing from her own child, who was disabled at birth and had money set aside following a lawsuit settlement,” Brown said. “She allegedly used the child’s bank account as if it were her personal piggy bank…Her actions, if proven true, are reprehensible and must be punished.”
If convicted on charges of second-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, Mele faces up to 15 years in prison.