Across the United States, nursing-home residents are having their money stolen by people they know: the homes’ bookkeepers and office managers who handle their trust funds and manage their expenses.
It’s a crime that’s been committed against thousands of nursing-home residents, including Leo Foster’s 89-year-old mother at the Vicksburg Convalescent Center in Vicksburg, Miss.
“It made me feel sick at my stomach,” Leo’s wife Phyllis Foster told TODAY’s National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen. “It just didn’t dawn on me that someone would be so low as to steal from a vulnerable adult.”
Police learned that a woman named Lee Ray Martin, a business office coordinator at the Vicksburg Convalescent Center and Shady Lawn Health and Rehabilitation homes, had been raiding residents’ trust accounts.
“In (a) three-month period there were 12 or 15 cash withdrawals,” Phyllis Foster said of her mother-in-law’s account. “And we knew that there was something drastically wrong.”
In August, Martin pleaded guilty to 29 counts of exploitation of a vulnerable person and one count of conspiracy. She is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from 83 residents’ trust funds and going on shopping sprees at stores like J.C. Penney, Gap, Walmart and American Eagle. In one instance, Martin bought a pair of designer jeans and expensed them to an elderly resident with no legs.
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Rossen Reports: Thieves target seniors at nursing homes