Caregiver neglects and robs thousands of disabled veterans, Brevard MPs say
BREVARD COUNTY, Florida. –A Titusville man who served as the primary caregiver for a disabled veteran was arrested Monday and charged with a felony, including elder neglect and exploitation, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
Kenneth Wells, 31, was paid at least $16,853 by the US Department of Veterans Affairs in 2021 to care for a 77-year-old “100% disabled” veteran who was found living in destitution during several reviews, according to an affidavit.
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Wells took the job in April 2021, in which he applied to care for the veteran by providing food, a clean residence, bathing assistance and other medical needs, the deputies said.
Although he is not a VA-licensed caregiver, he would pay her $1,600 a month to provide the care, which he reportedly told deputies was his sole source of income. Because of how the veteran’s addiction to oxygen kept him from leaving his apartment, deputies said the veteran allowed Wells to make purchases with his credit card and make rent checks in his name. No relevant power of attorney has been filed giving Wells such authority, the deputies said.
The veteran told deputies he authorized Wells to use his credit card for some personal purchases, but not the amounts that were ultimately recorded, according to the affidavit. After subpoenaing the veteran’s bank, deputies said Wells wrote more than $3,000 in checks to himself between April and December 2021, five of which were allegedly amended with inflated values.
Deputies said one of the veteran’s bank accounts was overdrawn by $2,000, although the veteran reported a monthly income of about $5,000. In a review of the veteran’s credit card transactions, between 75 and 120 charges were made each month, which would total between $2,500 and $5,000. Deputies said most expenses did not appear to benefit the veteran, such as charges for bars, cinemas, adult entertainment, GTL prison phone calls and Walt Disney World . Over an eight-month period, deputies said about $18,000 to $20,000 was spent in this way.
Wells moved into the veteran’s apartment and lived there rent-free, but made no attempt to improve the living environment, even after multiple requests and rechecks, according to the affidavit. Acting on a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Children and Families regarding abuse and neglect of an elderly person, deputies who responded to the veteran’s apartment reported seeing “an extreme amount of clutter”, overflowing trash, insect infestation and rotting food.
The veteran was found several times home alone wearing nothing but a diaper, which at times was unchanged, deputies said. A VA social worker who performed driving checks on the veteran noted his declining psychic and mental health, deteriorating living conditions, and growing concern over the missing and constantly requested “Alprazolam,” a drug better known as Xanax, according to the affidavit.
Monday’s booking was Wells’ ninth since Jan. 14, 2012, records show.
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