A felony arrest warrant was issued Jan. 19 for a Muldrow man accused of exploiting his mother.
Scott A. Smith, 53, was charged with abuse/neglect by caretaker or financial exploitation by caretaker, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 or both.
A Roland officer was on duty Nov. 17, 2020, when he was informed by Adult Protective Services (APS) of a possible financial exploitation case he had been investigating involving a woman living in a nursing home facility, and her son, who is her legal guardian.
Smith's mother has reportedly been a resident of the nursing home for about two years. The APS worker said he was notified Oct. 20, 2020, that the mother had been receiving compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs each month for the past 14 months, but the nursing home had not been receiving any such money on her behalf. Part of that money is supposed to go to the facility as co-pay for her care. The APS worker launched the investigation as soon as he learned of the situation.
A look at the female residents bank records revealed the VA deposits from September 2019 to October 2020, but withdrawals were also made each month, in amounts that basically cleaned out the account each month.
In an interview, Smith admitted to taking money out of the account and said he had promised his mother he would keep paying on her truck and its insurance and her other bills. Asked if he had any receipts as proof, Smith said no The APS worker then asked Smith why he didn’t tell the nursing home where the VA money was going and he replied that there have been two different administrations at the nursing home since his mother had been there. He said he was told the facility can’t touch VA money so “don’t even mention it to the nursing home.” He later said he did make the facility aware of the VA compensation benefits his mother receives, but that was before the new administrator, so there was no one currently at the facility with any knowledge of that.
After interviewing Smith on Dec. 2, investigators contacted the nursing home and learned that on Oct. 14, 2020, the department was called by an employee of the Department of Human Services asking if they were aware of the VA benefits the resident had been receiving from her deceased spouse. The only funds the nursing home was aware of was Social Security payments.
A nursing home representative contacted Smith the same day she spoke with the DHS caseworker and asked him about the VA benefits his mother was supposed to be receiving and Smith said he was not aware of any such funds coming into his mother’s account.
The administrator then brought Smith's mother to her office and together they contacted the VA to get the matter cleared up. A representative from her bank stated that Smith had brought in power of attorney papers on her behalf in 2019, which allowed him to make withdrawals from the account. The representative said Smith had withdrawn about $19,000 from the account since that time.
The nursing home representative said the state sets all nursing home residents’ vendor payments according to their income and allows each resident to keep a portion each month for personal use.
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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