Waxahachie Elder Law Attorney Comments On Theft From Nursing Home Residents
Waxahachie, TX (Law Firm Newswire) November 22, 2013 - A recent investigation by USA Today found that thousands of nursing home residents throughout the country have had money mismanaged or stolen from special trust fund accounts, including more than $350,000 stolen from nursing home residents in Waxahachie, Texas.
“Nursing home residents rely on these facilities to properly manage and protect their money,” said Waxahachie elder law attorney John D. Hale. “It is reprehensible that anyone would take advantage of vulnerable senior citizens like this.”
Nursing home residents' trust fund accounts are supposed to be managed with similar oversight to that of ordinary bank accounts, with income, such as Social Security checks, being deposited to pay for the residents' care and other expenses. However, the investigation by USA Today found more than 1,500 cases in which nursing facilities had been cited by state or federal regulators for improper handling of the funds. In hundreds of cases, the facilities had failed to pay interest or adequately insure the funds. In dozens more cases, outright theft occurred, with nursing home workers using residents' funds to pay for their own household expenses and luxury goods.
In one Mississippi case, suspicion arose when the account of a resident who had had both of his legs amputated was charged for a pair of designer jeans. The staff member responsible was eventually charged with misappropriating more than $100,000 from residents of the Vicksburg facility. She pleaded guilty to charges of exploiting vulnerable adults.
The investigation also revisited a 2007 case in Waxahachie, Texas, in which a nursing home worker was charged with misappropriating more than $350,000 from 110 residents. After a bank teller noticed an endorsement signature did not match the signature on file, 145 forged checks were discovered. The staffer pleaded guilty to misapplication of fiduciary property.
Officials from the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center said that trust fund cases can be difficult to detect and many thefts likely go undetected. The funds are required to be insured, so if mismanagement or misappropriation is detected, then residents will likely get their money back. However, some observers have said there should be more oversight in the system.
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