BATON ROUGE, La. - A Minden woman has admitted to stealing almost $400,000 from elderly residents in Bienville Parish.
Stephanie Hays, 50, who was arrested last year on charges of money laundering and exploitation, pleaded guilty Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a news release.
Hays stole the money from residents of the Leslie Lakes Retirement Center in Arcadia.
She entered the guilty plea to one count of money laundering in excess of $100,000 and one count of exploitation. She was sentenced to 10 years at hard labor for money laundering and a concurrent 10 years for exploitation.
A civil judgment was also entered against her for $390,537 restitution to the primary victim.
The case was investigated by Landry's office, the Minden Police Department and the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“I commend my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for their hard work in investigating and prosecuting Ms. Hays,” Landry said in the release. “Today, she was convicted for scamming and robbing those entrusted in her care.”
“As I have often said, elderly fraud is an unlawful and immoral act that we will continue to investigate and prosecute,” Landry said. “I am grateful for the work by my office to get justice for the victims, including a Holocaust survivor, and the state.”
At the time of her arrest in May 2017, Hays continued to work at Leslie Lakes Retirement Center as the social services director despite being accused in the past of abusing her position there.
She was initially charged with 15 counts of theft of the assets of a person who is aged or person with a disability, 19 counts of money laundering, one count of forgery and 17 counts of exploitation of persons with infirmities.
Landry said then Hays executed several schemes from September 2012 through February 2016 to gain access to the financial assets of at least one resident of Leslie Lakes.
Hays' first arrest was in December 2013 on a charge of unauthorized use of a movable after she admitted to using a deceased resident’s cell phone to send text messages. The deceased resident’s wife discovered the phone was being used despite assurances from the administrator it was secured.
Hays was not jailed for the offense. Instead, she was placed on pre-trial diversion, which allowed her to continue her employment.