Aside from a few employee layoffs, not much has changed inside a place that's been inundated with reports of abuse and neglect. In fact, both current and former employees of what's now called, “Paramount Care” tell New 3 -- they fear things are only getting worse.
The Department of Family and Protective Services is currently reviewing a total of ten investigations concerning abuse and neglect at a number of homes in Jewett.
"I believe one allegation of abuse and neglect with the elderly is one too many," said Julie Moody, Media Specialist for Region 7 of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
According to DFPS, in fiscal year 2011, APS received 10,981 reports of abuse at facilities across the state. Out of that number – 1,355 of those cases were confirmed with victims of abuse and neglect. In that same year, four allegations of abuse at Ruth Marie’s Country Home Inc. in Jewett were investigated by the state.
“Anyone in the state of Texas can call and report allegations of abuse and neglect. When that happens, Adult Protective Services responds,” said Moody.
At the end of August, the state ordered James Simpson to forfeit operations with Ruth Marie's Country Home Inc. -- a business that, since 2008, has provided long-term care inside group homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. But according to eye witnesses and cell phone video taken inside one home in Jewett, James Simpson is still very much involved. Just one month after operations were discontinued, in the cell phone video, you can see Simpson paying employees in cash.
One former employee, whose identity remains anonymous, said, “A lot of us didn’t think we were going to get paid, so we’re happy about that. As far as paying us in cash, I don’t know why we he paid us in cash; that's the first time that's happened and we didn't even get check stubs.”
We contacted Simpson's attorney to find out what prompted the cash transaction. In a statement emailed to News 3, the attorney writes quote, "The recipients each reviewed their payroll information, received a written receipt for the final pay disbursed and were fully informed that their pay stub would follow by mail."
It's been five weeks since that statement from Simpson's attorney and employees tell News 3 -- they have yet to receive anything from the payroll company by mail. Simpson's attorney hasn't returned our emails or phone calls.
In the meantime, Simpson's alleged girlfriend Gail Champagne is currently in charge of what's now called Paramount Care.
"If anyone suspects the elderly is being abused, call 1-800-252-540 because if we don't know that there is a person in need, then we can't help them," said Moody.
According to Chapter §711.5 of the Texas Administrative Code, if you know or suspect that a person served is being or has been abused, neglected, or exploited or meets other criteria specified you must:
(1) report such knowledge or suspicion to DFPS immediately, if possible, but in no case more than one hour after knowledge or suspicion by calling the DFPS toll-free number at 1-800-647-7418 or by use of the Internet at http://www.txabusehotline.org;
(2) preserve and protect any evidence related to the allegation in accordance with instructions from DFPS; and
(3) cooperate with the investigator during the investigation