Theft, perjury pleas given
Prosecutor: Woman lied about cancer
Butler Eagle
Written by:
October 23, 2012

A prosecutor acknowledges that a former office manager probably made herself physically ill knowing that any minute she could be caught stealing thousands from her trusting employer.

But everyone seems to agree that 47-year-old Michele Ann Geyer-Brown of Connoquenessing Township never had the Stage 4 esophageal cancer she reportedly told her employer and its clients was killing her in 2009.

Geyer-Brown in Butler County Court on Tuesday pleaded guilty in two related cases

In one, the state attorney general’s office alleges Geyer-Brown, the former office manager of Festa Radon Technologies in Cranberry Township, falsified more than $20,000 in overtime payments to herself and to her husband, 48-year-old Roy Brown. In that case, Geyer-Brown pleaded guilty to theft by deception, conspiracy, computer trespassing and theft by unlawful taking.

In the second case, Geyer-Brown pleaded guilty to perjury and false swearing for lying to state unemployment compensation officials about the embezzlement as well as her medical diagnosis and treatment.

Deputy Attorney General William Caye said he will recommend for Geyer-Brown a sentence of 11 to 23 months in prison followed by 7 years’ probation when she is sentenced by Butler County Judge William Shaffer on Nov. 15.

“This (plea arrangement) was a compromise,” Caye said after court. “We (prosecutors) didn’t get what we wanted. They (the defense) didn’t get what they wanted. But we all got something we can live with.”

According to court records, Geyer-Brown in 2009 told her employer, a small family owned company, that she she’d been diagnosed with cancer. While the disease was killing her, she reportedly claimed the weekly chemotherapy treatments were leaving her too weak to fulfill her job duties.

So moved by the plight of their trusted office manager of three years, father and son Daniel and Daryl Festa agreed to continue paying Geyer-Brown her full $24,960 annual salary even though she was working only one day a week. And they gave Geyer-Brown’s husband, also an employee, paid time off to drive his wife to weekly chemotherapy appointments.

Court records say Geyer-Brown, who sometimes vomited while at her work station, for five months ending in January 2010 continued to complete one task for the company: the payroll she allegedly used to overcompensate herself and Roy Brown with about $25,000.

Court records say the money issues came to the surface in 2010, when Festa hired another woman to help Geyer-Brown with her duties. That employee noted that Geyer-Brown’s husband was being paid overtime for hours he did not work.

Further problems with overtime for Geyer-Bown and her husband were uncovered after Geyer-Brown completely stopped working and the company hired a bookkeeper, according to court records.

Court records say Geyer-Brown, when confronted by her employer, allegedly became angry and complained that she was not able to afford nice dinners and vacations. She insisted that they ignored her requests for raises. She allegedly told them she felt guilty and had been living in fear of getting caught.

“Geyer-Brown claimed she was convinced that God had made her sick as punishment for what she’d done,” court records allege.

Caye said after the alleged thefts came to light, a search of Geyer-Brown’s medical records turned up no cancer. Court records say Geyer-Brown, who also uses the name Michele Ann Davidson, has never been diagnosed or treated for any form of cancer.

In addition to her employers and their clients, court records say Geyer-Brown lied about the diagnosis and treatment when applying for disability payments to an insurance company as well as while under oath to state labor and industry officials.

And, the records indicate, Geyer-Brown also lied to other medical providers.

According to court records, in 2009 she told a doctor at Allegheny General Hospital that she had brain cancer. In 2000 she told another doctor she had a gynocology-related cancer.

Another doctor in 2000 reported that Geyer-Brown told her she has throat and ovarian cancer as well as a brain cyst. In 2002, she told an emergency room doctor she had ovarian, esophageal and thyroid cancer.

Noting that Geyer-Brown’s medical records confirm diagnoses of migraine headaches and intestinal problems, Caye said, “I think she believed she was ill, and she made herself even more ill because she knew she would probably get caught (falsifying overtime payments).”

Although Geyer-Brown nGeyer-Brown, who has a 2003 conviction for welfare fraud, in court said she plans to seek work release when she is incarcerated. Officials afterward said Geyer-Brown already has a new job as an office manager at a company.

Attempts to reach officials at Festa for comment were not successful.

Roy Brown, who already pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and conspiracy, is scheduled to be sentenced the same day as his wife. He is not expected to face jail time.