Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 20, 2014

GBI raids Brooks care home

Agents rescue 10 residents

MORVEN — A two-month Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into allegations of exploitation, abuse and neglect in an assisted-living facility led Thursday to the rescue of 10 disabled residents and the arrest of six people, including the facility’s owner.

Uplift Inc., 7752 Georgia Highway 133, billed itself as an “independent living facility” capable of housing 35 individuals with “mental health issues and those individuals which are homeless,” according to the company’s website.

On Thursday morning, the GBI joined by the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office, Morven Police Department and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office executed two simultaneous search warrants at the Morven facility and at 7478 Chase Way in Hahira, a home that often served as a residence for Uplift’s owner, Tyrone Terrell, 59, of Jacksonville, Fla., said GBI Special Agent Steven Turner.

The investigation was initiated by an incident where an Uplift resident broke into a nearby residence for food, said Turner.

“We had one resident who went over the fence and broke into a house across the street at 5:30 in the morning,” said Morven Police Lt. Terry Griffin. “All he did was raid the fridge, but when the homeowner pushed him out the back door he realized he was from (Uplift).”

The Georgia Department of Community Health, Benchmark Human

 Services, Adult Protective Services, South Georgia Ambulance, the Southern Circuit District Attorney’s Office and Brooks County Victim’s Assistance worked with investigators to transfer Uplift residents to different facilities Thursday morning.

“All these people were hungry. We fed them and got them taken to other homes,” said Griffin. “People started clapping in the breezeway, even crying. They were so happy to leave.”

Turner considers the raid a rescue operation.

“The clients there were making due the best they could. This is a rescue operation,” the GBI agent said. “I feel like they feel they have been rescued and are going to a safer place.”

The owner and several of Uplift’s volunteers and employees who lived at the facility are charged in relation to taking food stamps and other federal benefits from clients and using them for personal gain, said Turner, but details of physical abuse have not been released.

Uplift’s sub-standard living conditions are also at issue and were readily evident Thursday morning. The facility was surrounded by flies, the building did not have air conditioning and it was guarded by a large black dog chained to a post outside of the main entrance. Media was warned not to get too close to the building because it was infested.

“It’s infested with bed bugs, scabbies and crabs. It’s infested bad,” said Griffin.

Agents arrested and charged six individuals Thursday morning. Tyrone Terrell is charged with operating a personal care home without a license, eight counts of exploitation, abuse and neglect of a disabled adult and simple battery. Donald Randall, 56, an Uplift volunteer from Morven, is charged with five counts of exploitation, abuse and neglect of a disabled adult and aggravated assault. Robert Klock, 28, a volunteer from Hahira, is charged with exploitation, abuse and neglect of a disabled adult, aggravated assault and battery. Wilbert Davis, 56, a volunteer from Morven, is charged with three counts of exploitation, abuse and neglect of a disabled adult and simple battery. Paul Graham, 53, an Uplift resident from Morven, is charged with exploitation, abuse or neglect of a disabled adult and aggravated battery. Denise Dermody, 63, an Uplift resident from Morven, is charged with exploitation and abuse and neglect of a disabled adult, reports stated.

“I want to stress that there are people who run personal care homes that do a very good job. They do what they are supposed to do, but when we have a home like this — we had one like this in Thomasville last August — we are sending a message that abusing these people and exploiting these people is not going to be tolerated in the state of Georgia,” said Turner. “We are going to do something about it, and we will bring criminal charges on you if we have to.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 142314-Goodwill.jpg Goodwill hosts the Mexican Consulate

    Mexican citizens living in South Georgia have spent this week lining up at the Valdosta Goodwill to meet with the Mexican Consulate to obtain Mexican government issued identification.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723-Tree001.jpg Chamber plants 100th centennial tree

    Founded in September 1912, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest chambers in the state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723 - Operation M#10E3C7.JPG Veterans First

    With Moody Air Force Base expecting to lose 300 to 400 personnel due to government cutbacks, area organizations are working with military personnel about to enter the civilian work force.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lowndes increases millage rate

    For the first time since 1999, the Lowndes County Commission voted Wednesday to increase the millage rate.

    July 24, 2014

  • dui memorial 1.jpg Memorial honors woman killed in DUI case

    More than a week after the man responsible for her death was sentenced to five years in jail, a memorial sign has been placed at the site where Sheila Foster-Lamb was hit and killed by an impaired driver while she was on her way to work.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • City of Valdosta holds two millage hearings today

    The City of Valdosta adopted its 2015 Fiscal Year budget on June 19.

    July 24, 2014

  • Quitman body identified

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has identified the body of a man found in Quitman Tuesday and have ruled his death a suicide.

    July 24, 2014

  • EOM July 2014.jpg Sgt. Jonathan Yeargin Honored as July 2014 Employee of the Month

    Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Fire Chief Freddie Broome honored Jonathan Yeargin as the July 2014 Employee of the Month at the July 10 City Council meeting.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clay Griner.jpeg Griner wins Lowndes commission runoff

    A long nine-week runoff election between Clay Griner and G. Norman Bennett came to an end Tuesday night with Griner beating Bennett by 1,060 votes, with approximately 70 provisional ballots left to count.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140722-Runoff_Voting003.jpg State Senate District 8 too close to call

    The race for State Senate District 8 appeared too close to call as of The Times print deadline late Tuesday night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results