Three people have been arrested on allegations that they confined 14 elderly or disabled adults in middle Georgia residences, denying them food and stealing their government benefit payments, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said the defendants participated in “an organized web of abuse” by targeting the elderly in Albany and Macon.
The victims “were begging for food” and didn’t receive adequate medical treatment at Miracle One Care Center Inc., an unlicensed personal care home, Carr said.
“They are dungeons where elderly and disabled persons are warehoused so that their benefits can be syphoned off,” said GBI Director Vernon Keenan. “They’re neglected. They’re abused. They’re financially exploited.”
A 17-count indictment, issued Dec. 13, accuses the defendants of racketeering, neglect, exploitation and operating an unlicensed personal care home. It alleges that they fraudulently obtained benefits from Social Security and Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor and disabled.
Cynthia Riley, 51, a nurse practitioner, was arrested Thursday in Moncks Corner, S.C. She is accused of filling out forms to sign residents up for government benefits. Carr alleged that her co-defendants kept for themselves.
Riley, who couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, faces accusations that she gave the victims injections of psychotropic medications and other drugs but didn’t provide any other medical care.
Michelle Oliver, 39, operated Miracle One Care Center and rented apartments to the elderly. The apartments were condemned by the city of Albany last summer because of poor living conditions.
Police found the elderly victims living at apartments near Miracle One Care Center in Albany, at Oliver’s house and at an apartment in Macon. All 14 victims were relocated to new residences or care facilities. Oliver didn’t return a message Tuesday.
Harold Hunt, 56, was arrested in Suwanee on allegations he obtained Social Security benefits for residents of Miracle One, then sending money belonging to the residents to Oliver and keeping some for himself, Carr said.
Law enforcement officers investigated the case based on tips from Albany residents concerned about the health of their elderly neighbors, said Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards. He said the scheme was worth tens of thousands of dollars.
“We always tell them, if you see something, say something,” Edwards said. “In this instance they did that, and that brought about this investigation and will lead to justice.”
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