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 entities today announced new charges in the prosecution of a large-scale, systematic operation to exploit and abuse at-risk adults.
“As this case has progressed, we’ve uncovered additional details which have led us to expand the scope of our prosecution and include another perpetrator,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Each person we’ve identified has played a role in a scheme that left 14 older, at-risk individuals to live in conditions so abysmal that it could’ve cost them their lives – lives that include a number of individuals who bravely served our country in the armed forces. This case has demonstrated the very worst of what human beings are capable of doing to one another, and we will continue working with our partners to ensure all involved are brought to justice.”
See a breakdown of this case below, including updated information:
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; Intimidation of Disabled Adult, Elder Person, or Resident and Operating an Unlicensed Personal Care Home (Oliver only).
Based on further investigation by the Georgia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Attorney General, in conjunction with the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia and the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office, presented a superseding indictment on June 20, 2018 charging Oliver, Riley, Hunt and Perry Kirka with the following:
Count 1: Racketeering
Count 2: Racketeering
Count 3 – 78: Neglect and Exploitation and Intimidation of a Disabled Adult, Elder Person, or Resident
Count 79: Unlicensed Personal Care Home (Oliver only)
Count 80: Identity Fraud (Kirka and Riley only)
A historical breakdown of their respective roles in the scheme is 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.
Perry Kirka – Owner and Operator of Paylow Pharmacy
Since these individuals were indicted, subsequent investigation has revealed most of the medications provided to residents of Miracle One were obtained by prescriptions issued by Riley and dispensed by Perry Kirka. Kirka is the owner and operator of Paylow Pharmacy, located in Atlanta. In interviews with the Georgia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigators, Kirka confirmed he aided in the delivery of prescription medications to the former location of Miracle One in Atlanta without regard to whether or not residents received the medications, sometimes allowing mentally ill residents to sign for medications of other residents. Though he expressed he stopped delivering medications to residents of Miracle One when the operation was moved to Albany, he continued to bill the Georgia Medicaid Program for prescriptions provided to residents of Miracle One months after it moved. In addition, further investigation revealed Kirka billed the Georgia Medicaid Program for medications which he purported to provide to residents of Miracle One when in fact those residents were no longer at the facility. Some of those medications were found, unused, in the possession of Riley and Oliver during search warrants executed at their homes in Forsyth and South Carolina.
The following agencies were/are involved in 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