PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A grand jury in Philadelphia alleges that several disabled adults were confined in subhuman conditions in a scheme to steal their Social Security benefits, and that two people died as a result.
The indictment unsealed Wednesday charges 52-year-old Linda Weston and four others with offenses including hate crimes, kidnapping, murder in aid of racketeering and forced human labor. Prosecutors say it's the first time the federal hate crimes statute has been used to protect the disabled.
The case stems from the October 2011 discovery of malnourished victims locked in the basement of a Philadelphia apartment building. Weston has pleaded not guilty to related state charges.
Authorities say Weston tricked victims into allowing her to be their caretaker. They allege Weston illegally reaped $212,000 in disability payments over 10 years.