Hospital worker charged with stealing jewelry

Police say an employee of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta stole jewelry from two patients in cases that garnered substantial media attention in the community.

Hospital social services worker Tacuma Jawara is facing two felony charges of theft by taking, according to a statement released by the Atlanta Police Department. The hospital announced Jawara's firing soon after he was charged in the first theft in May.

Local media covered the case extensively as Atlanta resident Alan Armstrong pleaded for help in recovering the wedding and engagement rings belonging to his wife, who recently died at Grady Memorial Hospital after a car accident. Armstrong's wife, a mother of two young children, had created the rings herself, so the unique design helped police detectives recover them.

Jawara was the hospital employee responsible for securing patients' belongings in the trauma unit, so police investigated his possible involvement, according to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.1 Jawara's duties included taking patients' personal property, logging it into inventory and putting it in a safe. Police reports indicate that after several days, Jawara took detectives to a pawn shop to recover the rings. The wedding and engagement rings were valued at $5,000 and had been pawned for $650, according to Atlanta Police Detective P.J. Roberson.

Roberson told the newspaper that a video surveillance camera showed Jawara carrying a plastic bag believed to hold Armstrong's rings. Jawara turned himself in a day after police got a warrant for his arrest.

After the jewelry was returned to Armstrong, in an emotional exchange in front of news cameras, police investigated other reports of thefts at the hospital. They recovered a ring and gold chain worth $600 that was missing after Ron Goyette was treated following a car accident. Goyette's wife told the newspaper that she had noticed the missing jewelry as doctors worked to save her husband but never got an explanation.

When Melissa Goyette saw Jawara's picture on television in relation to the missing Armstrong jewelry, she realized he was the hospital worker who had first told her about her husband's condition and had even helped her look for the missing jewelry. Police report that they found Goyette's jewelry in a pawnshop, held under Jawara's name.

Reference

1. Reid SA. Former Grady worker stole from another patient, police say. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. May 20, 2008. Accessed at: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2008/05/20/jewelry_0521.html?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstab. >