Adult home at center of police probe still open

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HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Police say the woman who holds the license to an adult foster care facility in Barry County has admitted to stealing from an 80-year-old resident.

“Our detective asked her, ‘Well, why did you do this?’ And she said, well, the victim in this case had dementia so she didn’t feel like she was going to be missing the money,” explained Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt.>>Target 8: Adult foster care flaws exposed

Ruth Brown, 61, is charged with larceny, forgery and embezzlement after a former resident of River Ridge Adult Foster Care in Hastings discovered she was missing several thousand dollars.

Investigators said the victim reported several checks were written and signed by someone other than herself. When confronted by police, Brown admitted forging the victim’s name on checks, authorities said.

While Brown refused to address 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday, her daughter did speak.

“It’s not in her character. She’s never done anything like this before,” said Ruth Alcala.

The victim told police she was out nearly $9,000. However, Brown told police it was closer to $5, 000.

“It’s not really a whole lot, but it’s going to get all paid back. We’re going to do everything by the book,” added Alcala.

“She’s a good person. It’s just, she let things just get a little bit out of control,” said Alcala.

Out of control, maybe, but not out of business.>>Ombudsman: Adult foster care rules ‘need to catch up’

Inside River Ridge Wednesday, a group of elderly people gathered at a kitchen table.

Brown’s daughter confirmed that despite the charges against her mother, the home is operating and the family of current residents have been notified of the case.

Alcala said they are in the process of finding another licensed foster care provider to take over.

If you search the state’s online database, you won’t find any sign of problems at River Ridge AFC. State regulators will only say they are still investigating the home and have not taken action against its license.

The case is prompting officials in Hastings and Barry County to look at ways to better deal with crime against the elderly and vulnerable.

“You’re talking about people who can’t really talk for themselves sometimes,” said Pratt.

Hastings Police, the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office and state agencies are developing an approach similar to that used for child welfare cases.

“If we do the same things with our elder abuse and vulnerable adults people, we can make sure none of those steps are missed,” added Pratt.

As part of the protocol, an officer responding to a complaint will know which other agencies need to be involved.

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