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More unlicensed Assisted Living Facilities discovered by St. Pete Police

Healthcare expert shares advice for families
Posted at 6:36 PM, Apr 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-20 18:55:57-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Just a day after her son's unlicensed Assisted Living Facility was shut down by St. Pete Police, Nicole Ford brought a packet of paperwork to the Police Department.

Two St. Petersburg unlicensed adult care homes shut down for deplorable conditions

She says it's proof that her family, and the government, were defrauded by a St. Pete man named Marcus Anderson, who was running that unlicensed facility on 2nd Street South.

"Marcus was receiving my son's disability checks," she says while showing ABC Action News the bank records that go back to 2015.

"He was supposed to provide room and board, three meals a day, housekeeping services which include cleaning of resident's room and provision," adds Ford about Tampa Bay Behavioral Health, Anderson's now-unlicensed company, which he owns and on social media he describes himself as "C.E.O."

St. Pete Police showed up to the facility on Thursday and discovered no fridge, no food, no running water, and that electricity to the home was being illegally wired from a nearby power line.

At least nine people were displaced, says St. Pete Police.

Later on Thursday, two more properties managed by Anderson's "Touched by Faith" operation were also shut down by St. Pete Police for being "unfit for human habitation."

According to Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, those two locations, 345 15th St North and 351 15th St North, were ordered to stop operating in late 2017 due to "a moratorium on admissions, and the license was revoked."

But Anderson continued to house patients, and collect money, according to Ford's bank records.

"He took advantage of the situation," says Ford.

St. Pete Police tell ABC Action News that they, ar the Department for Children and Families, are investigating the case, but no new charges have been brought against Anderson .

Anderson was charged last year with exploiting an elderly, disabled man, taking thousands of dollars out of his bank account.

Anderson is better known to police as the operator of several St. Pete nightclubs.

"You're going to find in the investigations, is the reason people who were placed where they were, is that it was an individual on their own making their decisions, and that's tough. That's a tough way to go," says Joseph "JB" Bensmihen, a licensed health care provider in St. Pete.

Bensmihen says many of the residents affected in this bust likely did not have a guardian properly advocating for them and monitoring the situation, and were instead left to what was once a licensed care facility.

"There is a belief system that if someone is licensed to deliver the care, then even if I never visit the facility, it's on the owner to deliver licensed, qualified, care," says Bensmihen, whose company St. Pete Care at Homeconnects families in Pinellas County with private nursing and personal care services. 

"So if the state agency gave you a license to deliver that care, then even if the family had never visited the facility, it is expected the care would have be at least good," he adds.

We asked Bensmihen what he suggests families ask of Assisted Living Facilities before placing a family member with one.

His response: "Who's here? Why are you so inexpensive? And how long have you been doing this and what's your credentials?