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September 2, 2022

Ex-YNHH employee pleads guilty in payroll embezzlement

PHOTO | File image Yale New Haven Hospital.

A former Yale New Haven Health employee accused of embezzling $116,260 from the health system has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Lamont Bethea, 31, of Hamden, entered the plea Thursday to wire fraud and bank fraud in a proceeding before U.S. District Court Judge Kari A. Dooley in Bridgeport.

Bethea remains free on a $50,000 bond pending his sentencing, currently scheduled for Nov. 23.

Bethea had been charged in connection with two separate schemes, only one of which involved the health system. 

Bethea previously worked as a patient care associate for Yale. In June 2020, Bethea and Lorita Fair, who worked in the system’s payroll department, started embezzling payroll money, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Fair made fraudulent entries so she, Bethea and a third individual received direct deposits for payroll money they hadn’t earned, prosecutors said. Bethea and the unnamed person would then kick back a portion of the money to Fair. The health system lost more than $116,260 through the embezzlement, according to the government. 

Fair, who now lives in South Carolina, pleaded guilty back in April to a theft count. She still awaits sentencing.

According to Yale New Haven Health, the system discovered the embezzlement during routine auditing processes in February 2021 and turned the matter over to the FBI.

The health system on Friday thanked investigators for their efforts.

“Yale New Haven Health is pleased that Lamont Bethea is being held accountable for his actions and restitution will be made. His actions do not represent our values in any way. We have tightened our controls to better protect ourselves in the future,” the health system said, in an emailed statement to New Haven Biz.

In a second fraud scheme, Bethea received personal checks that had been stolen from a New Haven resident. Federal prosecutors said the victim’s signature was forged on the checks, which were made payable to Bethea, who deposited them. Bethea additionally arranged for electronic transfers from the victim’s bank account, then used the proceeds to pay personal expenses, such as for his credit card bills, rent and student loans. Through this scheme, Bethea and others stole more than $317,000, federal prosecutors said.

The investigation is ongoing. 

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at 

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