A Landover woman who had been accused of operating a nursing home in Prince George's County without a license and stealing the property of one of the home's residents admitted in Prince George's County Circuit Court yesterday that she illegally tried to appropriate a car belonging to an elderly man who lived at her home.
Juanita Hall West, of 7207 Hawhorne Ter., was originally indicted earlier this year on charges of operating an illegal nursing home and charges of grand larceny. She pleaded guilty yesterday to a reduced charge of forgery and of attempting to use forged documents for her own benefit - and offense called "uttering."
Both crimes care felonies, carrying maximum penalties of 10 years in prison, according to Assistant State's Attorney James S. Nickelsporn.
West admitted yesterday that she forged the signature of an 80-year-old resident of a Seat Pleasant home she owned on the transfer title of his 1971 sedan.
West also attempted to register the title at the state Motor Vehicle Department and was consequently charged with "uttering."
Now free on bond, West is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 30.
Maryland Health Department officials have allged that West operated four small unlicensed nursing homes out of houses in Seat Peasant, Landover and Coral Hills between early 1974 and August 1977.
Health officials said that numerous abuses of state health codes were reported to them by the homes' elderly residents.
West could not be reached for comment yesterday.He attorney, Gary Greenwald, refused to comment on either the court charges or any other allegations about West.
"We never could catch up with them," said Orlando Orsino, a state health facility surveyor who conducted inquiries into West's operations. "Everytime we would move to shut them down, they had moved to another house."
Orsino said that each of the four homes allegedly maintained by West usually housed eight to 10 elderly persons. In all, Orsino estimated, West may have worked with 30 to 40 persons.
In November 1976, according to state health department records, a case worker from the county geriatric evaluation team, Francis Thompson, visited a home at 6704 Drylog St. allegedly operated by West and was told by one resident, Henry Barnett, that another elderly man had been beaten because of his lack of bowel control.
The man was photographed by the health department. According to officials close to the state's attorney's investigation, however, the man, who had strap welts over much of his body, died before his case could be brought to court.
Barnett, who told investigators of other abuses was the owner of the car that West tried to steal, Nickelsporn said.
In addition, state health and county fire department records indicate that a May 1975 fire at the Drylog street home was set by an elderly, unattended woman who was attempting to commit suicide.
The fire, which caused $200 in damage to the one-story, brick and frame house, started when the woman set fire to her bedding with matches, according to Prince George's Fire Capt. William Goodwin.
Goodwin said that fire investigators interviewed the woman, who gave them three reasons why she had tried to commit suicide. Goodwin refused to say what the reasons were, but reports collected by state's attorney's investigators show that the woman said she could not stand her own body oder, according to a source close to the investigation.