Mother and Daughter Convicted of Exploiting Disabled Adults in DeKalb County Housing Scheme

Mother and Daughter Convicted of Exploiting Disabled Adults in DeKalb County Housing Scheme

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announced the conviction of Valerie West, 58, and her daughter Erica West, 36, following a jury trial on charges related to their mistreatment of disabled individuals in DeKalb County. The trial concluded with Valerie West being found guilty of Neglect of a Disabled Person, Terroristic Threats, four counts of Depriving Essential Services to Disabled Persons, Exploitation of a Disabled Person, and Identity Fraud. Erica West was convicted of Neglect of a Disabled Person, two counts of Exploitation of a Disabled Person, and Identity Fraud.

The convictions centered on their operation of subpar housing for disabled adults at multiple locations in DeKalb County between March 2017 and February 2019. During this period, the residences overseen by the Wests were found to have deplorable conditions, including bedbug-infested mattresses on the floor, rodent droppings in empty kitchen cabinets, malfunctioning plumbing, and recurring power outages due to unpaid bills.

Authorities discovered that Valerie and Erica West, who acted as representative payees for several disabled residents receiving government checks, diverted these funds for personal use instead of providing essential services to the residents. Testimony from victims revealed instances where they were discouraged from seeking medical help, leading to severe consequences such as delayed treatment for injuries sustained during altercations within the homes.

Valerie West also faced charges of Identity Fraud for unlawfully cashing Social Security checks for a deceased individual over a five-year period, falsely claiming the funds were used for the deceased’s benefit.

In sentencing, Judge Asha F. Jackson imposed a 30-year sentence on Valerie West, with 5 years to be served in custody and the remainder on probation, including a mental health evaluation. Erica West received a 10-year sentence, with 3 years to be served under house arrest, followed by probation, community service, and restitution.

The investigation and prosecution were led by the Crimes Against Elder Persons and Adults with Disabilities Unit (CAEPAD), with Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jeanne Canavan spearheading the case alongside Senior Assistant District Attorney Franklin Engram and others. Former DeKalb County Police Department Detective Rosalyn Byrd, now a District Attorney Investigator, played a pivotal role in the initial investigation.

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