116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — A Swisher woman on Friday pleaded guilty to forging checks in the name of an older patient she was caring for.
Tiffany Leigh Koss, 51, was originally charged with eight counts of forgery and one count of first-degree theft, accused of forging eight checks, ranging from $150 to $2,000, on the account of Evelyn LaPlace and using LaPlace’s Amazon account to ship nearly $1,000 in personal items to Koss’ home.
In a plea agreement, Koss pleaded guilty in Johnson County District Court to one count of forgery and one count of second-degree theft. The rest of the charges were dropped.
The agreement states prosecutors will recommend that a 10-year prison sentence be suspended.
The thefts took place between March 2019 and June 2020 while Koss was working as a nurse at Solon Retirement Village in Solon. Koss was arrested and charged in February.
In addition, Koss and Solon Retirement Village are being sued for wrongful death, negligence and breach of contract by Henry Huber, the executor of LaPlace’s estate. LaPlace died Sept. 11, 2020, at age 91.
Huber, in the lawsuit filed in March, contends the Solon facility violated numerous regulations, laws, rights and industry standards, causing LaPlace personal injury and harm, and was negligent in its care of her.
As a result, the lawsuit contends, LaPlace suffered unnecessary or preventable, treatable health conditions, “which ultimately resulted in her untimely death.”
The lawsuit originally alleged dependent adult abuse, but that element was dismissed in June by Judge Paul Miller on the grounds Iowa does not recognize a private right of action based on dependent adult abuse.
Kevin Rasp, the lawyer for Solon Retirement Village, said Koss acted independently of the facility and as soon as the facility found out about the thefts, it fired her and cooperated with law enforcement. The facility denies any negligence led to LaPlace’s death.
“I think it’s unfortunate what has happened,” Rasp said. “Tiffany was a longtime employee of Solon, and I can’t speak to what led to her actions or what caused her to do what she did. But we were as surprised and as disappointed as anyone.
“The burden of proof is still on the estate to show that the facility did something wrong in supervising Ms. Koss, and we deny that we made any mistakes in that supervision.”
Rasp said he feels for LaPlace’s family.
“I hope that her family has some comfort from what happened today,” he said.
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