On December 2, 2014, a Richmond County Grand Jury issued an indictment against Patsy Sheppard of Augusta, Ga., on three counts of Exploitation of an Elder Person, O.C.G.A. § 16-5-102(a), and one count of Attempted Exploitation of an Elder Person, O.C.G.A. § 16-5-102(a) and O.C.G.A. § 16-4-1.

Sheppard, former caretaker to a 96-year-old Augusta, Ga., nursing home resident with a history of dementia, allegedly stole over $22,000 from the resident’s bank accounts over a three-month period. According to the indictment and other information presented in court: Sheppard made improper use of a power of attorney document to transfer money out of the resident’s accounts into her own accounts, open joint bank accounts giving her access to the resident’s funds, make large in-person withdrawals, and use ATMs in various locations to withdraw the resident’s funds sometimes multiple times per day.

When Sheppard sought access to another of the resident’s accounts at First Community Bank in Augusta, Ga., an employee noticed the resident did not appear to be coherent or recognize Sheppard, leading to the bank’s denial of Sheppard’s request. The bank employee alerted the friends and family of the elderly resident to the suspicious activity, leading to the discovery of tens of thousands of missing funds from other accounts.

“Elder abuse, including financial exploitation, is a serious problem that victimizes some of our most vulnerable citizens, and it will not be tolerated in Georgia,” said Attorney General Olens. “I applaud the bank employee for alerting the friends and family of the elderly victim in this case and encourage anyone who suspects elderly abuse to report it to the authorities.”

Financial exploitation of a disabled adult, elder person, or long-term care facility resident is a felony punishable by one to twenty years in prison and a fine of $50,000. Attempted exploitation is punishable by one to ten years in prison and a fine of $25,000.

Assistant Attorney General Lyndie M. Freeman is prosecuting the case on behalf of the State of Georgia. The case was investigated by Georgia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Investigators Lee Thompson and Johnny Brooks, former Investigator Melody Toddy, Investigative Auditor Rob Jones, Investigative Analyst Tish Murray, Nurse Investigator Beth Ann Teague, and Chief Investigator Cameron Rabbitt, in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Community Health’s Healthcare Facility Regulation and the Georgia Department of Human Services’ Adult Protective Services.

The Georgia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates and prosecutes cases of elder and patient abuse where victims reside in board and care facilities in addition to allegations of Medicaid Fraud throughout the State of Georgia. To report suspected Medicaid Fraud or patient abuse to the MFCU, call 404-656-5400 or email report_medicaid_fraud@law.ga.gov<mailto:report_medicaid_fraud@law.ga.gov>. To report abuse of disabled adults or elder persons residing in long-term care facilities, contact Healthcare Facilities Regulation at 1-800-878-6442. Adult Protective Services investigates reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of older persons and disabled adults residing outside long-term care facilities and can be reached at 1-866-55AGING. For more information, go to https://aging.dhs.georgia.gov/adult-protective-services.