July 2, 2013

Dozens of charges filed in Alzheimer’s center case


Associated Press

COMMERCE — Nearly two-dozen former employees of a Georgia center for people with Alzheimer’s disease are facing more than 70 charges amid allegations of cruel treatment of patients.

The charges stem from a three-month investigation of Alzheimer’s Care of Commerce, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

Agents used a search warrant on Tuesday morning to search for evidence at the center, about 65 miles northeast of Atlanta.

GBI officials say the investigation uncovered accounts of physical abuse, such as staff members striking patients and throwing water on them.

Warrants for the arrests of 21 former and present employees were issued, authorities said. Charges including cruelty to people 65 or older and involve accusations of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

“Information obtained through the investigation indicated that patients were restrained with bed sheets and subjected to inhumane and undignified conditions to include ‘double diapering,’ which is a practice whereby multiple diapers were placed on the patients at once to keep the staff from changing soiled diapers as often,” the GBI said in a statement.

GBI agents say they also learned that patients were being cared for by people with prior felony convictions that include voluntary manslaughter and identity theft.

Telephone messages left at the center by The Associated Press Tuesday morning were not immediately returned.

The facility’s owner, Donna Wright, was also charged with Cruelty to a Person 65 Years of Age or Older; and Abuse, Neglect, Financial Exploitation and Failure to Report under the Protection of Disabled Adults and Elderly Persons statue, authorities said. It wasn’t known whether Wright has an attorney.

Authorities were planning a Tuesday afternoon news conference to discuss the case.