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Unlicensed Nursing Home Owner Charged with Murder, Elder Abuse

As an Atlanta Elder Abuse Attorney, I was dismayed to hear the horrifying news of elder neglect that has unfolded over the past week in Greater Atlanta. Steven Easton, who ran an elder care facility out of his home in Monroe, Walton County, was arrested on Wednesday, March 24 on charges of felony murder and cruelty to a person over the age of 65. The reason? Last July, Easton had dropped the elderly Thomas Watkins at Walton Regional Medical Center, telling the staff that Watkins was homeless with no family. The medical center’s staff stabilized Watkins, but then realized he was in serious need of additional care and transferred him Atlanta Regional Medical Center. He died ten days later.

Watkins had been a resident at Easton’s nursing home, yet his state of neglect had rendered him unrecognizable to his own daughters. He had extreme bedsores, including multiple ulcers where bones and tendons were actually visible through his flesh. The sores had gotten infected and progressed to sepsis, then to organ failure, and ultimately his death. However, officials said all of this was preventable, and that to have reached that point probably was the result of months of neglect. Only after Watkins was cremated did his daughter contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about possible Medicaid fraud. She believed not only that Easton had neglected her father’s health, but that he also had taken her father’s remaining money as soon as he unloaded him at the medical center. GBI found no evidence of this, but they did contact the Walton County Sheriff’s Office about a possible elder abuse case.

Among other things, WCSO uncovered that Easton had no license at all for the Walton County facility (his house), out of which he had been “caring” for Watkins. In addition, GBI obtained and reviewed more than 1,000 pages of medical records. Before long, the two law enforcement agencies were able to confirm that Watkins had been severely neglected. On March 19, a bench warrant was issued for Easton’s arrest. He is still incarcerated, awaiting a formal indictment on April 5. Some
of Easton’s clients dispute his guilt
. But law enforcement investigations have made it amply clear that this is indeed a case of wrongful death due to extreme negligence.

Shameful does not begin to describe this situation. But what’s even more of a shame is how common elder abuse has become in the state of Georgia. That’s why Elder Care and Nursing Home Liability is one of my specialized areas of practice. With the baby boom generation transitioning rapidly to senior citizenship, it’s more crucial than ever that we take a stand against those who prey on the elderly. If you have an elder loved one you feel is being taken advantage of–or, heaven forbid, who has been driven to a wrongful death due to negligent nursing–please contact
the Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle, P.C.
As dedicated elder abuse attorneys, we can help you understand what your options are, and fight to get you the compensation and closure you deserve.