Indictments accuse residents of exploiting elderly

The Augusta Chronicle

Richmond Co - 

A Richmond County grand jury returned indictments this week that accuse the defendants of taking financial advantage of elderly residents.

Ronald Clayton Newman Jr., of Fenwick Street, was indicted Tuesday on a charge of exploitation of the elderly. According to the indictment, Newman is accused of obtaining money from a 92-year-old woman through undue influence and false representation from May 1 through Aug. 2.

A report in The Augusta Chronicle stated that the daughter of the elderly woman called police after discovering that more than 25 checks on her mother’s bank account had been written to Newman, who reportedly worked as a handyman.

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Cops: Caretakers neglected 76-year-old, stole money to pay college tuition

ajc.com

Clayton Co. GA -

A 76-year-old woman remains in the hospital after police say she was neglected by three women who also stole her money. 

Patricia Neville was found in October in her Lake Spivey Country Club home with wounds and other signs of neglect that nearly killed her, Channel 2 Action News reported. 

Clayton County police arrested Jennifer Rene Lassen, 35, Shelley Dale Lovegrove, 44, and Alexis Ann Messenger, 26, on neglect and elder abuse charges, according to jail records. 

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WHY DID YOU TAKE THIS JOB (LAW ENFORCEMENT)?

An open letter to law enforcement agencies regarding crimes against older adults and adults with disabilities written by a Fraud Unit Sergeant.
 
“I am willing to bet that during your hiring process most of you wrote something to the effect of wanting to help others that cannot protect or defend themselves, or assist those in need. If so, please read this in its entirety (I know that it is lengthy, but it is so important).   
 
Our Nation and State are facing a growing population of citizens in need, specifically “at-risk” adults.  

At-Risk Adults are elderly persons over the age of 65, or adults 18 or older who are mentally or physically incapacitated or have Alzheimer's disease or dementia. It is important that we pay close attention to these victims. The elder population is steadily increasing and, what the media is referring to as the “Silver Tsunami” is upon us. It is estimated that within the next 10 to 15 years over 1/5th of the US population will be 65 or older. Over recent years the number of mandated reporters of abuse, neglect and exploitation (A/N/E) has tripled in Georgia. The referrals are flowing in daily. Bad guys prey on these citizens because they are vulnerable, and have pensions, social security, and/or other retirement savings ripe for the taking. 
 
Crimes that target these at risk victims are serious offenses and can include financial crimes (theft by taking, theft by deception, theft by conversion, Forgery, ID Fraud, etc.), property crimes (burglary, larceny), violent crimes (assault, robbery) and those crimes that occur behind closed doors (battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, aggravated assault, or false imprisonment related spousal and family physical, verbal and emotional abuses, sexual assaults, and neglect of basic life needs such as food, hygiene, and medical care). The latter group of crimes could occur in family homes, hospitals, nursing homes, and/or personal care homes (licensed or unlicensed). Often victims are either unable to report due to isolation or physical limitations, or unwilling to report due to the fear of retaliation or simple embarrassment that they have allowed themselves to be in such a vulnerable position to begin with. Remember that while we all want to live a long time, none of us wants to be “old”. 
 
It is important that we treat these crimes with compassion and understanding. Whenever possible call on units or professionals with specialized knowledge in these areas (CID detectives, Major Fraud detectives, SVU, Domestic Violence, State resources, and/or Homicide in a worst case scenario). Often these victims can be difficult to deal with, not out of any ill will, but simply because of confusion issues or lack of full understanding as to what has actually occurred. Do not dismiss these victims out of hand. Do not simply blow these calls off as a “civil matter”. Perpetrators of exploitation will wave a “Power of Attorney” document at you and hide behind it like a shield. All too often those documents are being abused (my detectives have become very adept at taking away their “shield” and using it against them). If you find yourself on one of these calls take it seriously. Write a report! Write a detailed report with all of the available information. If there is a “caregiver” on scene, get their personal identifiers for the report. Ask how they came to be the caregiver (i.e. family member, agency, “friend”, concerned third party). If you are in doubt write the report anyway. If a situation is reported and later turns out to be a non-criminal matter we can always unfound the report.  This is a far better result than failing to report a crime that did actually occur because you just didn’t know.  Supervisors, please pay attention to the reports that you are signing off on and ensure that these reports don’t fall through the cracks. 
 
If you are making charges on a subject for committing a crime against an at-risk adult, please make sure that the charges for A/N/E are added accordingly. If you are charging one of the crimes above please add the appropriate charges as well:
 
Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) 16-5-102 relates to physical abuses and financial crimes against at risk victims and reads, in part; 
 
                16-5-102. Exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, elder persons, and residents; 
 
(a) Any person who knowingly and willfully exploits a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, willfully inflicts physical pain, physical injury, sexual abuse, mental anguish, or unreasonable confinement upon a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, or willfully deprives of essential services a disabled adult, elder person, or resident shall be guilty of a felony
 
O.C.G.A. 16-5-101 relates to Neglect and reads, in part:
 
16-5-101. Neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident;
 
(a)    A guardian or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge, control, or custody of a disabled adult, elder person, or resident commits the offense of neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident when the person willfully deprives a disabled adult, elder person, or resident of health care, shelter, or necessary sustenance to the extent that the health or well-being of such person is jeopardized.
 
Other important laws to remember are 17-3-2 which allows for a 15 year statute of limitations; 17-4-20 which allows for a warrantless arrest in cases where an officer has probable cause to believe that a crime involving physical abuse has been committed against a vulnerable adult; and 16-5-104 which establishes venue in A/N/E either where the victim resides, or where any portion of the crime occurred. 
 
I am attaching some information that may assist you in the field with handling these calls. One is information on the Georgia Abuse Neglect & Exploitation (GANE) app, http://eyeonapp.com/other-products for smart phones and tablet devices. The GANE app offers a myriad of information to assist you in the field. It has links to the laws above, contact information for non-law enforcement agencies that offer services, cognitive assessment questions to determine victim capacity, and evaluation checklists for officers to assist in making the appropriate decisions and solid cases. Another attachment is a flyer for the 2 day “boot camp” training put on by the Department of Aging Services related to At Risk Crime Tactics. https://actschedule.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/act-flyer-1-24-17-updated.pdf.  ACT is an excellent training to get more in depth information about the things that I am sharing here and to learn to recognize the red flags that you may have missed in previous calls for service. I highly recommend it for officers, investigators and supervisors, and in fact require it of all Major Fraud investigators. “
 

AG Marshall announces arrests of nursing home workers for intentional neglect of an elderly person in Cherokee County

(Cherokee County Herald)

Attorney General Steven T. Marshall announced the arrests Friday, Feb. 24, of three former employees of Cherokee Health and Rehab nursing home in Centre for the neglect of an 84-year-old resident of the facility. Michele Curry, 42, of Centre, was arrested this morning and has been released on bond. Kacey Allen, 28, also of Centre, and Shawna Rogers, 26 of Rome, Georgia, were arrested this afternoon.

The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit presented evidence to a Cherokee County grand jury resulting in indictments* on February 15 charging each defendant with one count of Elder Abuse/Neglect in the second degree. It is alleged that Curry, a licensed practical nurse, and Rogers and Allen, certified nursing assistants, were responsible for the care of the bedridden resident throughout the night of Sept. 3, 2016 into the morning of the Sept. 4. They all charted that they had entered the room numerous times throughout the night. A review of the surveillance video showed none of the three entered the room for approximately 11 hours. When the resident was checked on, it was discovered that she had suffered approximately one hundred ant bites. It is alleged this intentional neglect directly contributed to the injuries to the resident.

Elder Abuse and Neglect II (Ala. Code 1975 §13A-6-193) provides that any person who intentionally abuses or neglects any elderly person is guilty of a class B felony if the intentional abuse or neglect causes physical injury. A class B felony carries a possible sentence of two to 20 years in the Alabama Department of Corrections.

The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is responsible for investigating and prosecuting providers who file false claims to the Alabama Medicaid Agency, as well as for investigating and prosecuting allegations of abuse and neglect in skilled nursing facilities.

Attorney General Marshall commended the staff and administration of Cherokee Health and Rehab for their quick reporting of the incident and his Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for the thorough investigation leading to the indictment of these individuals and for seeking justice for the elderly resident. 

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Elderly multimillionaire nearly dies of neglect


(wsbtv.com)

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Police are investigating a case of elder abuse in which officers suspect the victim's caretakers stole her money to pay for college tuition. Patricia Neville, 75, lives in Jonesboro, Georgia. When police found her in her home last October, she had life­ threatening wounds too graphic to describe.

Police arrested three people who had been hired to take care of her, but instead, may have neglected her. 

"She was near death. She was near death," conservator Elizabeth Williams Winfield said. Winfield said when she was appointed by the courts last November to be the conservator of Neville's estate, Neville was in poor health.

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Attorney General Chris Carr Announces Charges in Elder Exploitation Case

Coosa Valley News

Attorney General Chris Carr today announced a Cherokee County Grand Jury charged Reginald Keith with one count of Racketeering (O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4(a)) and one count of Exploitation of an Elder Person (O.C.G.A. § 30-5-8(a)).

“Elder financial abuse is a tragic and evolving problem in our state, one that is particularly devastating when perpetrated by a family member,” said Attorney General Carr. “We will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute anyone engaging in these criminal activities. The Office of the Attorney General will continue to make it a priority to protect our state’s most vulnerable citizens and will be even more focused in the future on ending the scourge of elder abuse in Georgia.”

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Cobb widow taken for millions sparks debate over elder abuse

(ajc.com) 

COBB COUNTY, Ga -- By the time help arrived, those who Frances Perkins entrusted with her health and financial security had inflicted significant harm on the Marietta widow.

She lived in squalor with dead rats in her home, suffered from dementia and was caught between her two daughters’ estranged relationship, far removed from the days of operating a country general store and gas station with her husband, Charles, in East Cobb.

Over a lifetime, Perkins amassed wealth from family real estate investments and, after her husband died in 1992, she lived frugally by habits forged growing up during the Great Depression, spending little from her nest egg of millions.

That life changed in September 2011 when, just days shy of her 90th birthday and in early stages of dementia, Perkins signed over financial power of attorney to a man who just a couple years before had been a total stranger.

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Four Officers, Prosecutors honored during Senior Week

(L-R: Kathy Floyd, GCOA; Heather Strickland, GBI; Jason Marbutt, Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney; Erikka Williams, Houston County Chief Assistant District Attorney; Justin Von Behren, Gwinnett County Police Detective; Kent Lawrence, Eatonton Police Chief; and, Vernon Keenan, GBI Director)

(L-R: Kathy Floyd, GCOA; Heather Strickland, GBI; Jason Marbutt, Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney; Erikka Williams, Houston County Chief Assistant District Attorney; Justin Von Behren, Gwinnett County Police Detective; Kent Lawrence, Eatonton Police Chief; and, Vernon Keenan, GBI Director)

Honored by Georgia Bureau of Investigation for protecting Georgia’s vulnerable adult population

Atlanta, GA (February 17, 2017) – A Senate and House Resolution presented this week at the Georgia General Assembly honors four public servants who in the line of duty protected vulnerable adults in harm’s way. Senate Resolution 110 was sponsored by Senators Unterman of the 45th, Harper of the 7th and Stone of the 23rd. House Resolution 199 mirrors the Senate resolution and was sponsored by Representative Willard of the 51st and Cooper of the 43rd.

Those honored at the afternoon ceremony were: Eatonton Police Chief Kent Lawrence, Gwinnett County Police Detective Justin Von Behren, Houston County Chief Assistant District Attorney Erikka Williams and Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney Jason Marbutt.     

“These individuals went above and beyond the call of duty to protect at-risk adults in what were critical situations of abuse and then prosecute their abusers successfully,” commented Vicki Johnson, Chair of the Georgia Council on Aging. “We appreciate the stringent laws that help curb elder abuse; Georgia’s vulnerable and older population will continue to increase as will the need to be diligent.”

From Resolution 199:

  • Eatonton police Chief Lawrence and the Eatonton police worked selflessly to ensure the safety of one of its disabled residents who had been severely neglected by her family members.
  • Gwinnett County Police Detective Von Behren worked relentlessly until he relocated 16 residents and indicted eight people on 53 criminal charges for abuse, financial exploitation, and operating an unlicensed personal care home.
  • Houston County Chief Assistant District Attorney Williams worked diligently on a trial and argued for significant prison time for a subject who was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 16 years on probation for multiple counts of exploitation of an 82 year old resident who suffered from dementia.
  • Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney Marbutt worked earnestly on a trial to convict two subjects who were sentenced up to 30 years in prison for 16 counts of abuse and neglect of three mentally ill men who lived in an unlicensed personal care home.
  • “[They] stand as a shining tribute to the strength of human spirit and willpower, and it is abundantly fitting and proper that the outstanding accomplishments of these remarkable and distinguished Georgians be recognized appropriately.”

Gwinnett judge adds to sentence of woman convicted of elder abuse

(Atlanta Journal Constitution)

A Gwinnett County judge had the same question as everyone else when sentencing a woman convicted of abusing a disabled patient in her care.

Judge Tom Davis wanted to know why Lisa Williams punched, kicked and tried to use a dementia patient’s shirt to strangle her back in April.

“Didn’t she have enough going on without you adding to her burdens?” Davis asked in court, according to Channel 2 Action News.

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Mother, daughter appear in court after bones found

(WSB-TV 2)

ATLANTA - A mother and daughter made their first appearance in court Saturday, in connection with a missing elderly woman whose body was found buried in her backyard.

Theresa Frawley and her daughter, Brandy Hodder, face fraud and identity theft charges. Neither are facing murder or abuse charges.

Police said they do not know how or even when the victim, 77-year-old Connie Hodgson, died.

She was last seen alive five years ago. In November, her bones were dug up behind her former home. The house’s new owner made the discovery at the residence on Elsinor Street in East Point. Continue Reading

Former nursing home worker gets prison for assaulting 95-year-old patient

(Rome News-Tribune)

A former nursing home worker who pushed around a 95 year ­old patient and struck her with the patient’s own hand was sentenced to prison Tuesday.

Floyd County Superior Court Judge Bryant Durham sentenced Susan Alane Gipson to 20 years with 5 to serve in prison.

“We’re serious about elder abuse in Floyd County,” said District Attorney Leigh Patterson. “This won’t be tolerated.”

Gipson also lost her nursing license as a result of the incident. Continue Reading

Aging Matters: Abuse & Exploitation

(Nashville Public Broadcasting)

It is estimated that one in ten adults over the age of 60 is a victim.  But the truth is we don’t know for certain how many older adults are suffering from abuse. In the eighth edition of Aging Matters, Nashville Public Television explores the issues behind elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. 

Experts suggest that our understanding of elder abuse lies decades behind that of child abuse and domestic violence. Elder abuse is underreported. It lacks clear legal definition and is complicated by ethical challenges.  The system of response is different depending on where you live.

What are the risk factors, what can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and what is our responsibility to intervene for those in need? The questions are simple, but the answers are not.  Find out more in Aging Matters – Abuse & Exploitation. Watch the Documentary

*Georgia Division of Aging Services' Sharee Rines is a panelist in the video. 

Judge: Cobb, Dekalb men collected dead parents' Social Security

(AJC.com)

Two metro Atlanta men were sentenced for posing as their dead parents and stealing $500,000 of taxpayer money, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Corry Sandlin of Marietta and John W. Jackson Jr. of Decatur lied to Social Security workers about how their parents died, the agency said in a news release.

"Both defendants got away with their lies for years, stealing large sums of taxpayer dollars," said federal prosecutor John Horn. "Theft like this directly impacts others who receive these types of benefits.  Continue Reading

Three arrested after grandmother foils home invasion

(Fox 5)

COWETA COUNTY, Ga.- Two men and a woman have been arrested after grandmother with a gun thwarted an attempted burglary at her home in Coweta County, according to deputies.
“I don’t know why they selected that house, but they picked the wrong one,” Colonel James Yarbrough from the Coweta County Sheriff's Office said.

According to a report, Elaine Stiehl, 78, was getting ready to take a nap when she heard a noise coming from inside her home on Mount Carmel Road around 3 p.m. Friday. Stiehl loaded her gun, opened her bedroom door and saw two men standing in her hallway, the report said. Continue Reading

 

App Raises Awareness of Abuse of Elderly, Disabled Adults

(Cartersville Patch)

A new mobile tool called the GANE App (Georgia Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation App) is now available at no cost to assist at-risk adults, their families and law enforcement.

The GANE App was developed through a collaboration of the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services, the Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

At-Risk adults are persons over age 65 or persons 18 or older who are mentally or physically incapacitated or persons with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Frequently, situations arise where an at-risk adult appears to be abused, neglected, or exploited. Often, the public and law enforcement do not know how to handle these situations. Continue Reading...

 

Helpless patients live hidden away in filth as caretakers pocket pay from Medicaid


(The Telegraph)

An Alaska man developed gangrenous toes. A Philadelphia woman froze to death on the street. An Illinois woman died emaciated, covered in excrement.

These patients suffered as their government-paid caretakers neglected them, collecting paychecks under a Medicaid program that gives elderly and disabled people non-medical assistance at home. In some cases, the caretakers convicted of neglect were the victims’ own family members.

The Personal Care Services program, which exceeded $14.5 billion in fiscal year 2014, is rife with financial scams, some of which threaten patient safety, according to a recent report from the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services. Continue Reading

 

EDITORIAL: Elder abuse an epidemic in Northwest Georgia and statewide

(Rome Times-Tribune)

That message came through loud and clear in a meeting of the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force here in Rome. Law enforcement and state officials from throughout the region and also from Alabama began the work needed to launch a collaborative, multi-jurisdictional effort to cope with this epidemic.

Gwinnett County led the sad statistics statewide with 517 cases of elder abuse prosecuted over the past six-plus years, followed by DeKalb with 311, Houston with 308, Cobb with 263, Laurens 160, and Clarke 140. Next was Floyd County which has prosecuted 112 cases of elder abuse 2010 through mid-year 2016. In other counties of our region, the figures ranged from 33 cases prosecuted in Bartow to 27 in Polk, 10 in Gordon and four in Chattooga. Continue Reading

Sharp increase of elder abuse draws law enforcement groups together in Rome

(Rome Times-Tribune)

The growing number of elder abuse cases across North Georgia was labeled a “Silver Tsunami” by GBI Special Agent Heath Strickland.

The agent was one of many law enforcement officers who spoke Wednesday at a meeting of the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force at the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Rome.

Law enforcement and state officials from Dalton to Dahlonega and even neighboring Alabama met to start what they want to be a collaborative, multi-jurisdictional effort to deal with the issue...Continue Reading