ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr, in conjunction with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia (PACGA), the Dougherty County District Attorney (DA), and various local law enforcement and first responding entities in the cities of Albany, Forsyth, Macon and Suwanee, today announced that their collaborative efforts led to the dismantling of a systematic elder abuse scheme coordinated by three individuals.
“Abuse, neglect or exploitation of older or at-risk adults will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We will investigate and prosecute anyone engaging in these criminal activities in our state, and we will hold the abusers accountable. I am very proud of our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and all of the statewide partners who played a part in dismantling this horrific elder abuse scheme—especially the witnesses who cared enough to report this suspicious behavior to their local law enforcement officials.”
See a breakdown of this case below:
On December 13, 2017, Michelle Oliver, Harold Hunt, and Cynthia Riley were charged in a 17-count indictment with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act; Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Elder Person, or Resident; Exploitation and Intimidation of Disabled Adult, Elder Person, or Resident; and Operating an Unlicensed Personal Care Home (Oliver only). Their respective roles in the scheme are described below:
Michelle Oliver – Unlicensed Personal Care Home Owner
On September 20, 2017, Michelle Oliver, 39, was arrested for operating an unlicensed personal care home by the name of Miracle One Care Center, Inc.
Prior to her arrest, in July of 2017, concerned residents in Albany informed authorities that people living in nearby apartments rented by Michelle Oliver were begging for food. An investigation by state and local agencies led to executing search warrants on Oliver’s various apartments in Albany. The units were condemned by Albany Code Enforcement because of the living conditions. Seven elderly and/or disabled adults were triaged by Dougherty County EMS and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), and the individuals were relocated to licensed facilities.
State and local authorities also executed a search warrant at Oliver’s residence where she was taken into custody. Four elderly and/or disabled adults, who were also living at the house, were relocated to licensed facilities.
During the execution of the search warrants, it was learned that a residence in Bibb County may have also housed victims of Oliver. As a result of this information, authorities found three additional elderly and/or disabled persons who were victims of Oliver at an apartment in Macon. The three individuals were also relocated.
Harold Hunt – Social Security Payee
Harold Hunt was arrested on December 22, 2017. Hunt, 56, was taken into custody at his residence in Suwanee. As part of the scheme, Hunt would assist Oliver in obtaining Social Security benefits for residents of Miracle One. Hunt would then act as residents’ Social Security payee, sending money belonging to the residents to Oliver and keeping funds for himself, as well. Both Oliver and Hunt were depriving the residents of healthcare, shelter, and necessary sustenance and financially exploiting the individuals.
Cynthia Riley – Nurse Practitioner
Cynthia Riley was arrested on January 11, 2017. Riley was taken into custody in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, with assistance from the Berkeley County Sheriff Office, the U.S. Marshall Service, and the South Carolina Office of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. According to residents, Oliver would transport residents to Riley who would give them injections of psychotropic medications and various prescriptions. The residents reported they did not receive any other psychological or medical care. Through the investigation it was also learned that Riley would fill out and deliver to Oliver and Hunt medical forms necessary for Oliver and Hunt to sign residents up for government benefits which Hunt and Oliver would keep for themselves.
The following agencies were/are involved in investigating and prosecuting this case:
- MFCU: Lead Prosecuting Agency, Joint Investigative Agency (financial records and healthcare records)
- GBI: Lead Investigative Agency
- Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office: Local Prosecuting Agency (assisted in navigating local court system and assisted with search and arrest warrants prior to indictment)
- Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia: State-wide Elder Abuse Prosecutor Will Johnson assisting with prosecution
- HFR: Initial Investigation into Unlicensed Personal Care Home (ended with GBI accepting case)
- APS: Assisted with relocating residents
- Albany Police Department: Assisted in investigation and search warrant execution
- Various licensed personal care homes in Albany, GA: Assisted in placement of individuals
- Albany EMS: Conducted patient assessments during search warrant in Albany
- Ombudsman: Attended search warrant and relocation of residents in Albany
- Dougherty County Code Enforcement Officers: Inspected and condemned facility
- DBHDD: Coordinated behavioral healthcare providers
- Various behavioral healthcare providers in Albany, GA: Evaluated residents for mental health treatment
- Monroe County Sheriff’s Office: Assisted in warrant execution
- Various licensed personal care homes in Macon, GA: Assisted in placement of individuals
- Monroe County EMS: Conducted patient assessments during search warrant in Forsyth
- Various licensed personal care homes in Macon: Assisted in placement of individuals