Concerned local citizens in Georgia told authorities that residents of a senior independent living facility were begging for food. Those complaints resulted in the arrest of three people in what was described by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, as a “horrific elder abuse scheme.’’ The residents of this facility were deprived of health care, shelter, and necessary sustenance, the AG said. The scheme also stole the residents’ Social Security benefits.
Unlicensed personal care homes have been a problem in Georgia for some time. Personal care homes are expected to provide food, lodging, and some personal care if needed. The residents of these facilities include seniors and people with mental illnesses and disabilities.
In December, Michelle Oliver, Harold Hunt, and Cynthia Riley were charged in a 17-count indictment with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, along with neglect, exploitation, and intimidation of disabled or elderly adults.
Abuse of the elderly and the disabled has become a top priority for law enforcement in Georgia, according to the GBI. “Abuse, neglect or exploitation of older or at-risk adults will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Carr. “We will investigate and prosecute anyone engaging in these criminal activities in our state, and we will hold the abusers accountable.”
The Department of Community Health, which licenses and regulates health care facilities in Georgia, said it has investigated 250-300 complaints about alleged unlicensed facilities in the past three years, and they have found that 30% of these are unlicensed care homes.
“This has been an ongoing problem in our state,” said Melanie McNeil, the state’s long-term care ombudsman. “Georgia is a leader in the nation for recognizing this problem, developing training and collaborations among law enforcement, prosecutors and state agencies to rescue residents and prosecute the perpetrators.”
Reference: WABE (January 16, 2018) “‘Horrific’ Elder Abuse Case Highlights Crackdown On Unlicensed Ga. Facilities”