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Lawyer says she withdrew client’s money with her approval

Nancy Vieira

A lawyer accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $80,000 from a quadriplegic client yesterday defended a series of withdrawals and transfers as legitimate.

Nancy Vieira told the Supreme Court the money withdrawn from Kirsten Badenduck’s accounts was used to pay caregivers, provide staff Christmas bonuses and cover expenses — all to Ms Badenduck and her brother’s knowledge.

Ms Vieira said that in July 2015 she was given authorisation to use Ms Badenduck’s debit card to make purchases so that she could assist with grocery shopping, collect medication and pay staff.

“At all times I had authorisation from Tore Badenduck and Kirstin Badenduck,” she said.

“I was also given authorisation to withdraw cash to pay for certain members of staff who were not full-time.”

Ms Vieira said one caregiver who was brought on in September had requested to be paid in cash for the work she had done for Ms Badenduck.

She said that she had been told the worker had planned to leave the island after the death of her husband and closed her bank accounts before taking the job.

Ms Vieira said the payments to the caregiver accounted for a $750 cash withdrawal, along with subsequent transfers from Ms Badenduck’s account to her own.

She explained that she had decided to transfer the money to her account before making the withdrawal because she wanted there to be a record of the transaction.

Ms Vieira said a similar transfer of $1,500 to her account was used to cover the installation of security cameras at Ms Badenduck’s home as the contractor had also requested to be paid in cash.

She said another $3,750 transfer to her account represented payments both to the caregiver, who was given cash, and herself for work done to assist Ms Badenduck.

Ms Vieira said that in December 2015 she made a series of cash withdrawals for Christmas bonuses for the caregivers, although she could not recall how much each received.

She also highlighted other withdrawals were intended to pay for Ms Badenduck’s driver, reimburse staff for expenses and paying other part-time workers.

Ms Vieira, from Pembroke, has denied charges that she dishonestly obtained a $50,000 money transfer from Ms Badenduck between January and July 2016.

She has also denied allegations that she stole $28,615 from Ms Badenduck through unauthorised ATM withdrawals and $7,601 through unauthorised debit card transactions between August 2015 and October 2016.

Ms Badenduck, who was paralysed, died in 2019.

Earlier in the trial, Jacqueline MacLellan, Ms Vieira’s former employer, told the court her firm was hired by Ms Badenduck to remove a caregiver suspected of stealing.

She said she believed the matter had been resolved in early 2016, only to discover Ms Vieira had gained power of attorney over the client and borrowed $50,000 from her to help her to secure a partnership at the firm — something Ms MacLellan said had never been offered or discussed.

Ms Vieira told the court last week she was given power of attorney over Ms Badenduck so that she could close some of her bank accounts and open new ones.

The trial continues.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.