An east Alabama woman is accused of stealing millions of dollars in cash and property from an Etowah County assisted living resident. The woman, Lisa Daugherty, 54, of Attalla, is facing two counts of first-degree financial exploitation of the elderly, the Alabama Attorney General's Office says.
Daugherty was arrested on a warrant in mid-July. The Attorney General, Boaz Police, Etowah County Sheriff, and Etowah County District Attorney took part in the arrest. Daugherty was working as a care technician at Oak Land Assisted Living in Fairhope when she allegedly stole $9 million from a resident, including $1 million in real estate and $8 million in currency. Her cash bond for release is $1 million.
Daugherty's former partner as well as her daughter were also arrested. They each face a charge of first-degree receiving stolen property in the amount of $600,000. News of Daugherty's misdeeds was made public in 2019 when the Northern District of Alabama authorities initially announced charges against her, but those were soon dropped, according to AL.com.
The 2021 charges are a reduction of the 2019 allegations against Daugherty. Whereas she now faces two charges of elderly financial exploitation, in 2019 the charges — that have since been dropped — included wire fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering.
Financial exploitation and elder abuse
Financial exploitation is just one variety of abuse that the elderly face. They are also at higher risk for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse as well as confinement, passive neglect, and willful deprivation, the National Council on Aging says.
It's not clear what tipped off authorities to Daugherty's alleged abuse, but warning signs of financial exploitation often include:
- Fraudulent signatures on financial documents
- Unpaid bills
- Unusual or sudden changes in spending patterns, wills, or other financial documents
Elder abuse at nursing homes and assisted living centers is far too common in the U.S., where 1 out of 10 community-dwelling older adults has experienced some form of abuse within the prior year, according to a recent study. Of all abuse types, financial exploitation is the most common. The situation is worse for women; 1 out of every 6 elderly women has experienced some form of abuse within the last year.
If you believe a loved one is being neglected or abused in an assisted care living center or nursing home, you need to act now.
How to report elder abuse in Alabama
Here are just some of the steps you should take if you believe a loved one is being neglected or abused at a nursing home, assisted living center, or extended care facility.
Call the police.
The abuse may have risen to a level of criminal wrong-doing. The police will investigate the situation and may file charges. Nursing home abuse complaints are also investigated by the Alabama Department of Public Health; the Alabama Department of Senior Services; and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. To report abuse, you may call the National Center on Elder Abuse toll-free at 800-356-9596.
Get them to a doctor.
To get a good understanding of how abuse may be affecting your loved one, take them for an independent exam by a doctor with no connection to the facility. Bringing your loved one to a medical professional right away provides critical documentation of your loved one’s injuries.
Report the problem to the nursing home.
You should report your concerns to an administrator at the nursing home, but keep it brief. Take notes during the meeting and be careful about what you say. If your complaint turns into a legal battle, any statement you make could be twisted around and used against you later.
If after you've reported the problem the nursing home returns and says they couldn't find any issues, you do not have to accept this as the truth. You know what you've seen and heard. Nursing homes and extended care facilities may attempt to cover up incidents of abuse to keep federal and state inspectors away and maintain a decent reputation in the community. Stay calm. Inform them that you disagree with their assessment and that you have informed the police and will be taking your loved one to see a doctor for a full examination.
Now that you've made your complaint and registered your disagreement, don't say or write anything to the nursing home staff and administrators about the situation. At this point, the nursing home is probably preparing a legal strategy to address your claims.
Explore your legal options
A nursing home abuse lawyer can listen to the details of your case and determine if you have legal recourse. An attorney will be able to review medical records, gather testimonies from eyewitnesses, obtain and preserve evidence (e.g., photographs, video, facility records, etc.), and advocate for the best interests of you and your loved one. A lawyer can also handle all settlement negotiations and, if necessary, file a lawsuit and represent you in civil court.
What to expect when you hire an attorney
Attorney Perry Shuttlesworth has the knowledge, experience, and resources to handle every aspect of your nursing home negligence claim. When you reach out to our law firm for help, the first thing we do is listen. After we take the time to learn about your specific case, we'll explain your legal rights and options so that you can decide on the best way to move forward. There are no obligations, everything is confidential, and we will never tell you what to do.
At Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC, we take pride in fighting for the rights of residents and their loved ones. To see how we can help you, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.