Widespread media reports have shown an uptick of not only domestic violence, but also elder abuse cases due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
In Alabama, Attorney General Steve Marshall has made a career out of protecting the state’s most vulnerable populations and is doing all he can to protect the state’s seniors.
“Let me be clear, doing the work of protecting the most vulnerable in our communities is the commitment of the entire Attorney General’s Office – not just the Attorney General,” Marshall told Alabama Today. “Since taking office in February 2017, I have placed a stronger emphasis on advocating for crime victims, including the elderly.”
He continued, “While most investigations and prosecutions of criminal activity and abuse occur on the local level, I have encouraged agents of Attorney General’s Office – from the Criminal Investigations Division, to the Crime Victims Assistance team, to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, to the Consumer Interest Division – to increase their focus on providing support and assistance in handling criminal cases of abuse. They already do great work with limited staff and resources and they are working even harder today.”
Marshall’s dedication to standing up for those most vulnerable began nearly two decades ago, in 2001, when he was appointed district attorney in Marshall County.
“As district attorney in Marshall County for 16 years, I forged close working relationships with both law enforcement groups and crime victims’ advocacy organizations well before taking office as Attorney General,” Marshall told Alabama Today.
Since his appointment to the state AG’s office in February 2017, Marshall has built upon those connections “to make the Attorney General’s Office a voice for crime victims and as well as an active partner in crime prevention efforts.”
One of the most impactful divisions of the Attorney General’s Office is the nationally-recognized Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which specializes in the credible allegations of financial fraud, abuse, and neglect of elderly residents of Medicaid-funded skilled nursing facilities.
“Our unit also investigates and prosecutes controlled substance theft by nursing staff in these facilities. Much of our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s work stems from information and tips provided by other agencies and even the general public,” Marshall detailed. “The Alabama Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit even provides valuable assistance to similar law enforcement agencies in other states. Since 2016, we have hosted annual conferences of professionals from other state attorneys general offices on best practices in investigating fraud and abuse of elderly at Medicaid-funded nursing facilities. These popular annual conferences, which take place in the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, regularly draw 50 to 60 attendees.”
Marshall’s efforts have noticeable results. Since assuming office in 2017, he has successfully prosecuted a number of cases involving abuse and exploitation of the elderly. Notably, these include:
- [Feb. 28, 2017] AG Steven T. Marshall announces arrest of a Tampa man for elder exploitation of resident in Irondale assisted living facility Roddam obtained power of attorney over his 94-year-old aunt, in order to handle her affairs when she entered a Jefferson County assisted living facility in June of 2015. It was alleged Roddam misappropriated approximately $85,000 from June of 2015 through October of 2016. Attorneys for the facility contacted the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which then initiated an investigation. (Defendant pleaded guilty in June of 2017)
- [Feb. 23, 2017] AG Steven T. Marshall announces arrest of former certified nursing assistant for elder abuse. It was alleged that Tubbs, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Heritage Health Care and Rehab, struck a 71-year-old resident of the facility on the head, causing injury. It is further alleged that Tubbs punched the resident in the face, causing the resident’s eye to swell and bruise. (Defendant pleaded guilty in February of 2018)
- [Feb. 24, 2017] AG Marshall announces arrests of nursing home workers for intentional neglect of an elderly person in Cherokee County. It was alleged that Curry, a licensed practical nurse, and Rogers and Allen, certified nursing assistants, were responsible for the care of the bedridden resident throughout the night of September 3, 2016, into the morning of September 4. They all charted they had entered the room numerous times throughout the night. A review of the surveillance video showed none of the three entered the room for approximately 11 hours. When the resident was checked on, it was discovered that she had suffered approximately one hundred ant bites. It was alleged this intentional neglect directly contributed to the injuries to the resident. (See follow-up below)
- [Dec. 11, 2017] AG Steve Marshall announces conviction of three former Cherokee County nursing home employees in neglect case. Sandra Michele Curry, and Kacey Minerva Allen, both residents of Centre, and Shawna Rogers, a resident of Rome, Georgia, each pleaded guilty in Cherokee County Circuit Court to one count of attempted elder abuse, a class C felony. (This conviction is related to the previous indictments).
If you or someone you know are experiencing elder abuse, the state has a wealth of resources available to you and your family:
- Consumer Interest hotline is 1-800-392-5658 for those who need in assistance in recovering from financial scams. You may file consumer complaints directly at https://www.alabamaag.gov/consumercomplaint.
- Those who suspect elder abuse in nursing homes may contact the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.