Raequel Penny staged a press conference on the Square in Marietta on Thursday and claims she has been misrepresented by the media on charges of elder abuse.
MARIETTA — The woman accused of running an unlicensed adult care home in Marietta is now facing additional charges of elder abuse, neglect and obstruction of an investigation. Raequel Alita Penny, 42, turned herself in to the Cobb County jail Tuesday on misdemeanor charges of operating an unlicensed personal care home at 981 Laurel Springs Lane off Powder Springs Street. She was released on a $1,000 bond the next day. On Wednesday, further investigation into the case by Marietta Police led officers to another unlicensed personal-care home in Atlanta, where Marietta and Atlanta officers found the remaining two of six victims who were last living in Penny’s home, according to a release from Officer David Auld with Marietta Police. “Those victims had been neglected medically and were taken to (Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta) for care and treatment,” the release states. As a result, warrants were issued Thursday afternoon on new charges of felony elder abuse and elder neglect, in addition to misdemeanor obstruction of an elder abuse investigation against Penny. An accomplice, Terry Catron, has also been named in the allegations. The investigation began Aug. 21 after the Georgia Healthcare Facility Regulation Division received a tip that Penny’s home, which she reportedly rented, was in poor condition. When officials arrived at the home, an employee would not let them inside. Police obtained a search warrant a few days later and then went back to the home but found it empty. According to investigators, they discovered that day that there were four to six makeshift bedrooms made of plywood walls and no doors in the basement. There also was only one bathroom without a shower or door and a refrigerator covered in bugs on the inside. The Georgia Department of Community Health, which is also investigating the case but wouldn’t release information about Penny, handles all personal-care home licenses and regulations. Spokesperson Pam Keene said there is no limit to the number of people who can live in a personal care home as long as the minimum square footage of floor space per bedroom for each resident is met. She also said that a license holder’s permit is valid until it is revoked or closed, and that officials with her department visit registered personal care homes regularly. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Detective Daniel Ohmann at (770) 794-5372. Penny trying to plead her case
On Thursday morning, before new charges were brought against her, Penny held a press conference on the Marietta Square to explain she had been misrepresented in the media the last few days and had not kept a filthy home or mistreated her residents. “The care was extraordinary,” she said. “Everyone was just well taken care of and loved and healthy. It was just a wonderful environment.” Penny answered some questions about the allegations but gave a “no comment” when asked if she was licensed to run the home, how many people lived there or why she reportedly moved people out of the home between the Aug. 21 visit by the state department and execution of the search warrant Sept. 5. Penny said the residents were not living in the basement as police alleged and that she has been working in personal care homes for a decade, seven of those years in Marietta. “I genuinely love people,” she said. “I would never hurt or harm anyone. I’ve been taking pride in caring for the elderly for over 10 years. I love what I do.” Veronica Lowe-Mills was one of about 30 senior citizens in Cobb who were on a lunch outing on the Marietta Square with Cobb County Senior Living during the press conference. “This could have been me,” she said when asked about the allegations. “If I didn’t have a daughter or children who could look after me, I would have to depend on someone to take care of me.” The 73-year-old retired from taking care of senior citizens about 15 years ago. She spent 11 years in Florida in the same profession. “You have to stay in the bounds of the law because if you don’t have the bounds of the law to protect people, then everything would be chaos,” she said. “It’s good for us to have some laws to protect us.”