GWINNETT COUNTY, GA (CBS46) Six homes on Towler Road in Lawrenceville are where dozens of adults have gone to seek solace and community.
Each person living with physical or mental disabilities came to Wishes 4 Me in hopes of living more independent lives.
Now, prosecutors say some of them are victims of exploitation and fraud.
A Gwinnett County grand jury has indicted Jennifer Lynn Robinette, the owner and operator of Wishes 4 Me, and three others on charges of racketeering, Medicaid fraud, exploitation, forgery, and identity theft.
Robinette founded Wishes 4 Me Foundation Inc. in 2002, according to the nonprofit’s website. The program provides group home living arrangements for disabled adults, and helps them secure part time jobs, caretakers, and more.
CBS46 first heard complaints when the family of an alleged victim contacted our investigative team. That family claimed Robinette had forced their loved one to open a joint bank account, allowing Robinette access to transfer the victim’s money into her own bank accounts.
The Attorney General’s office says there were 23 at risk adults living in Robinette’s care when she was charged. CBS46 also received an email in June 2018 from a former employee, Tonya Ward, urging us to look into the foundation’s practices. Ward is one of the three employees named in the indictment.
Ward claimed to have witnessed a series of abuses, including overbilling the state Medicaid program, and adding herself to resident’s bank accounts.
Detective Justin Von Behren, with the Gwinnett County Police Department Special Victims Unit, says his office gets five to six reports of abuse from adult protective services every day. “At risk adult crime is generally pretty easy to fall victim to,” says Von Behren. “The family or the loved ones are not being vigilant.”
Von Behren says there are some key things families can do to protect their loved ones. First, notice the red flags. “If a facility wants to schedule your visit or is reluctant to have you just randomly show up, and tends to be restrictive on your access, limits your loved one’s access to a telephone, that should be a concern,” he explains.