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Oct 19, 2011

The Horror In Philadelphia

From the Associated Press:
Authorities in at least two states missed opportunities to help four mentally disabled adults who were discovered locked in a squalid Philadelphia basement while police say a convicted murderer stole their Social Security checks.
Linda Weston, the woman charged with orchestrating the scheme, was legally disqualified from cashing the victims' government disability checks because of her criminal past. ...
Weston, 51, was charged Monday with kidnapping, false imprisonment and other offenses after her landlord stumbled on the four adults, all weak and malnourished, in a dank, foul-smelling boiler room over the weekend. Her bail was set at $2.5 million.
Also charged were Gregory Thomas, 47, whom Weston described as her boyfriend, and Eddie "the Rev. Ed" Wright, 50. ...
Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle declined to provide details of the agency's investigation into Weston but said the agency recently strengthened oversight of payees.
"We are very concerned about this situation," Hinkle said via email.


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    Blogger No Saj said...

    I do find it odd that she was allowed to cash 4 other people's checks. How did she become a representative payee with a criminal record and no evidence that she was supporting their legal interests?

    Anway, the reason I don't blame SSA is because the onus of this is placed on the field office staff, but they are so overburdened that they can't catch all of these problems. Oh wait, that is SSA's fault...

    10:22 AM, October 19, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What was the reason she was disqualified from being a payee? Not all crimes disqualify someone.

    12:56 PM, October 19, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Article says she was a convicted murderer. I would think if certain crimes disqualified you, that one would be on the list...

    2:33 PM, October 19, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    When someone files to be payee, SSA will ask them if they have been convicted of a felony. If they lie and say no, SSA does not have the legal authority or resources to do a background check. If SSA finds out about a felony conviction through some means such as a third party report, the payee is changed. This is a sad situation, but SSA's mission is to appoint the best payee with little ability to throughly investigate. In order to do that, there would need to be a lot more staff, regulatory changes, and a process in place to conduct and pay for criminal background checks.

    3:37 PM, October 19, 2011  

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