Thousands of U.S. Nursing Home Residents Have Savings Stolen by Trusted Care Facilities

Saturday, October 19, 2013
Lee Ray Martin (photo: Mississippi Attorney General)

Elderly residents by the thousands have had their money stolen or mismanaged by nursing homes across the United States, a USA Today investigation found.


The newspaper said there have been at least 1,500 recent cases of nursing homes cited by state and federal regulators for mishandling patients’ savings placed in special trust fund accounts.


Workers and managers at the care facilities were able to siphon huge sums of money from the trust accounts—as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars by some employees. More than 30% of 100 cases prosecuted involved thefts of more than $10,000. At least 10 of those thefts were for amounts in excess of $100,000.


At the Vicksburg Convalescent Center in Mississippi, employee Lee Ray Martin billed $101,000 in personal expenses to the trust accounts of 83 residents. She pleaded guilty in August to multiple counts of exploitation of vulnerable adults.


Martin and others managed to go so far with their crimes because of lax oversight by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which regulates nearly all of the nation’s 16,000 nursing homes.


“I do think there’s an oversight issue...There aren’t a lot of safeguards in the system,” Ken Moore, a senior assistant attorney general in South Carolina’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which has prosecuted at least a dozen trust fund theft cases in recent years, told USA Today.


“The last thing [nursing home residents] should have to worry about is getting ripped off by the very people they've entrusted with their care,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told the newspaper.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Thefts from Nursing Home Trust Funds Target the Elderly (by Peter Eisler, USA Today)

How Five Thieves Raided Nursing Home 'Trust Funds' (by Peter Eisler and Morgan Fecto, USA Today)

Reports on Nursing Home Fraud and Neglect Get Little Notice (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

92% of Nursing Homes Employ Ex-Convicts (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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