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Six People Indicted Following Elder Financial Abuse

A troubling scheme was recently uncovered involving the swindling of elderly nursing home residents and their families out of tens of thousands of dollars reports the Clarion Ledger.

The plan involved an ex-nursing home social worker who told residents and their families at the Belhaven Senior Care Center that they needed to pay money to ensure that their Medicare benefits were maintained. Ponchie McCollough, one of the perpetrators, would demand checks ranging from $400 to $2,500 from the unsuspecting victims. Of course many families and residents trusted the word of the supposedly honest workers at these facilities to guide them through the process of receiving Medicare benefits. When McCollough demanded money to ensure that the aid was provided and care was continued, many of these families believed her and paid.

The families would make the checks out to McCollough’s co-conspirator, an administrator at the facility who would then cash the checks and the two would pocket the funds. Two other co-conspirators were also involved in parts of the scheme, helping McCollough funnel the money from the unsuspected elderly victims.

To make matters worse, nursing home staff members failed to report the abuse even after it was uncovered. In particular, two employees were indicted by authorities for assisting in the elder abuse by failing to report any of the criminal acts. An operations director and a billing director at the facility have been charged as “accessories” following the theft. They both attempted to help McCollough avoid getting caught and having to return the money. Both of those employees worked for the consulting firm which owned Belhaven.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti continue to be disgusted and disappointed in the lengths that many of these employees go to take advantage of their position when they are supposed to be aiding these vulnerable residents. When six different employees are involved in a scheme that seeks to break the law and harm residents, there is clearly a fundamental nursing home problem. Unfortunately, every day new reports flood in about employees abusing residents in different ways. None of the abuses should be tolerated. Please report any incident of neglect or abuse at nursing facilities near you and help put an end to the problem.