Athens Banner-Herald reported the arrest of Sherrye Dianne Huff, Administrator at the Winterville Retirement Center for five felony charges — three counts of theft and two counts of exploiting an elderly or disabled person — and one count of misdemeanor theft for stealing from the Alzheimer’s patient.

Donna Tower’s uncle told his family that someone was stealing his money, but the family didn’t believe him at first because the staff told them that he had Alzheimer’s.  In the end, Huff was taking his money, and his brother’s, but no one would believe him.  How frustrating that must be.

The investigator discovered while looking into the theft case that elder abuse is more widespread than people realize.  He arrested another Winterville Retirement Center employee on charges she punched another Alzheimer’s patient in the face. The resident died later and authorities are confirming the death was related to the assault.

Huff accepted a donated reclining "lift" chair from the son of a Winterville Retirement Center resident who died, and then sold it, and also pocketed contributions people made to the home in the resident’s memory, according to police.

Soon after, police say another employee of the Winterville Retirement Center stole drugs that had been prescribed for the patient who died, and police later found out the administrator was stealing money from other residents.

The three cases of abuse and financial exploitation happened in less than three months.

"More than likely, (elder abuse) it’s more widespread than we know," said Fulcher, who last week launched a fourth investigation into the possible theft of money from another Winterville Retirement Center resident.

"Elder abuse is one of the most unrecognized and under-reported crimes," said Ravae Graham, a deputy director with the state Department of Human Services. "Many abuse victims don’t realize it, don’t know what to do about it, or are too afraid to report their abuse or neglect."

The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that for each documented case of neglect or abuse, five cases go unreported.


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