ATLANTA – Attorney General Chris Carr, in conjunction with the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, today announced that on Tuesday, July 30, 3019, Valerie West, Eric West, Erica West, Akeem Dancy, Jadon Dancy, Cynthia Riley, and Ceretha Stephens were indicted on charges related to a coordinated abuse scheme of disabled adults in DeKalb County.
“The neglect and trafficking of at-risk adults is unfortunately a sordid reality in Georgia - as seen through the revolting details of this case,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “These individuals demonstrated a complete disregard for human life, developing a cruel scheme that deprived disabled Georgians of basic necessities to survive and stripped them of their rightful financial benefits. We will work hand-in-hand with District Attorney Sherry Boston’s Office to bring these individuals to justice, and we appreciate the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Community Health, and the DeKalb Police Department for their partnership throughout this investigation.”
“The victims in this case were subjected to egregious living conditions while simultaneously being isolated from their families," said District Attorney for the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit Sherry Boston. "This indictment stands for the right of disabled adults to be treated with respect and dignity and to be provided with certain basic amenities. We will not tolerate this abhorrent behavior in DeKalb County and are thankful for the collaborative efforts of our law enforcement partners in the effort to bring these defendants to justice for their callous actions against one of our most vulnerable populations.”
The charges are as follows:
- Valerie West: Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Trafficking of a Disabled Adult, Terroristic Threats, Depriving a Disabled Adult of Essential Services (4 counts), Aggravated Assault, Exploitation of a Disabled Adult, and Identity Fraud
- Eric West: Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Depriving a Disabled Adult of Essential Services (4 counts)
- Erica West: Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Trafficking of a Disabled Adult, Depriving a Disabled Adult of Essential Services (2 counts), Exploitation of a Disabled Adult (3 counts), and Identity Fraud
- Akeem Dancy: Trafficking of a Disabled Adult
- Jadon Dancy: Trafficking of a Disabled Adult
- Cynthia Riley: Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Failure to Report Neglect of a Disabled Adult
- Ceretha Stephens: Failure to Report Neglect of a Disabled Adult
“These types of cases are only successful when there is a collaborative effort amongst state, county, and local agencies,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds. “Through the At-Risk Adult Work Group, the new law that gives Judicial Circuits the ability to establish Multidisciplinary Teams, and training conducted throughout the state, we have been able to develop the relationships to combat these horrific crimes against Georgia’s most vulnerable population. GBI is proud to be a part of this case, and we look forward to working with our partners on other cases.”
“The Department of Community Health is committed to ensuring the provision of quality health care services to all Georgians, particularly those who are our most vulnerable,” said Department of Community Health Commissioner Frank W. Berry. “DCH is privileged to assist law enforcement and other state agencies in pursuing actions against unlicensed facilities such as this one and will continue to do so alongside our partners.”
The West family, Eric West, Valerie West, and Erica West owned and operated a series of homes which housed elder and disabled individuals, often with serious mental and physical disabilities. The three would obtain control over the individuals’ finances and house them in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. The homes were infested with bed bugs and roaches and at times lacked electricity and hot water. At the same time, the West family at various times operated Mental Wellness Matters, LLC (MWM), Curbside Medical Transporters, LLC (CMT) and The Greatest Minds Counseling Center, LLC (GMCC). The Wests enrolled these corporations as Medicare providers. The West family obtained thousands of dollars by directly using the Social Security funds of disabled and elderly individuals for their own benefit and by trafficking those disabled and elderly adults between their businesses and billing the government.
Cynthia Riley* and Ceretha Stephens served as the primary provider of health care services to residents of the Wests’ homes. Both are registered advanced practice professional nurses. At no time did either of them report visible indications of neglect to Adult Protective Services or law enforcement of individuals living in homes owned by the Wests. These included residents covered in bed bug bites, residents reporting not receiving medications, and residents reporting not being able to use supplemental oxygen and feeding tubes.
Akeem Dancy was employed by a mental health facility and used his position at the facility to identify and recruit disabled adults into the care of the West family. Jadon Dancy assisted the West family in operating the homes and their various businesses.
This case was investigated by our office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Division, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the DeKalb County Police Department, Special Victims Unit and the Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulation Division. The case is being jointly prosecuted by our office and the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.
*Cynthia Riley has also been indicted in this case for her involvement in a similar scheme.