OZAUKEE COUNTY — The third of three women, former employees of the McKinley Place senior living community in Cedarburg — accused of stealing from residents at the facility, has been sentenced.
60-year-old Joan Walton Wentz in March pleaded “no contest” to a charge of theft – movable property – special facts. Two other theft charges were dismissed but read into the court record.
In court on Wednesday, May 17th, she was sentenced to serve two years and six months in prison, and two years and six months extended supervision.
That sentence was imposed and stayed, and Walton Wentz was instead placed on probation for three years — with one year conditional jail time.
Walton Wentz is one of three former employees of McKinley Place that were accused of stealing from residents at the facility. They were captured by hidden cameras.
The others charged in this case are 30-year-old Lugenia Taylor and 32-year-old Lafaysha Drew.
Taylor faced one count of theft – movable property – less than $2,500. She pleaded guilty in December of 2016 and was sentenced to serve six months in jail beginning December 16th, 2016.
Drew faced one count of theft – movable property – special facts, and pleaded guilty in March. In April, she was sentenced to serve one year, six months in prison and one year, six months extended supervision.
According to the criminal complaint, on January 26th, 2016, Cedarburg police spoke with two women who showed up at the Cedarburg Police Department for a report of a theft. The women told officers their long-time family friend, an 83-year-old woman with dementia, was victimized at the “McKinley Place” senior living community on McKinley Boulevard in Cedarburg.
One of the women said she served as the financial “power of attorney” for the victim, who had moved into the senior living community around Thanksgiving 2015.
The women told officers that shortly after the victim moved into the facility, they noticed things they felt needed to be brought to the attention of the facility’s administrator. For example, they said they noted that the woman’s medications were not being administered in the proper doses, and that they were given at improper times or skipped altogether. The women also claimed their friend wasn’t receiving showering assistance, and was given a shower once in a two-month period. They claimed her bedding was changed once since her arrival in November.
In addition to these complaints, the woman told police they noticed items missing from their friend’s apartment at the facility.
The women purchased two video recorders which were disguised as clocks, and one was placed in the woman’s bedroom, and the other in the living room of her apartment at the facility.
The women claimed the cameras captured a McKinley Place employee taking three Target gift cards that were lying on their friend’s kitchen counter. They also reported a Pick ‘n Save gift card stolen by an employee.
The complaint indicates one of the victim’s friends was able to show police video recorded on January 25th, which showed an employee the women identified as “Joan” removing the victim’s purse from a dresser drawer in her apartment. “Joan” was seen removing a $20 bill, several $1 bills and a $10 bill from the purse. “Joan” was seen placing the money into her pocket. The video clearly showed “Joan’s” face.
The victim’s friends told police they had two other videos which showed various employees entering their friend’s refrigerator and removing food items for their own consumption.
Cedarburg police on January 31st received 14 videos showing various employees entering the victim’s apartment at McKinley Place and “looking through cabinets, closets, the refrigerator and bathroom vanity.”
“How can you sleep at night? How can you do this to people who can’t defend themselves? This is as bad as abusing a child. Somebody has to protect these people. I hope that people realize you can’t just put someone into assisted living and walk away. It’s very hard to watch this happen to someone you love,” the victim’s friend said.
On February 1st, Cedarburg police spoke with the administrator of McKinley Place, informing him that these two women had set up hidden video cameras in their friend’s apartment. The administrator took a look at the video allegedly showing “Joan” stealing money from the woman’s apartment, and the administrator was able to identify the woman seen in the video as Joan Walton Wentz.
The administrator identified Lafaysha Drew as the person seen on video eating food from the victim’s refrigerator, and taking three Target gift cards from the woman’s apartment, according to the complaint.
The administrator identified Lugenia Taylor as the person seen on video taking a Pick ‘n Save gift card from the victim’s apartment, according to the complaint.
Police spoke with Walton Wentz at the facility. According to the complaint, Walton Wentz said she had “no information to give” regarding any thefts at the facility. When Walton Wentz was notified that hidden camera video had been recorded, showing certified nursing assistants committing thefts, Walton Wentz said she had taken money from a man who lived at the facility. Walton Wentz also told police she had taken money from the purse of a woman living at the facility.
According to the complaint, Walton Wentz said her husband had passed away three years ago, and she had “come on hard times” and needed the money.
When asked if she had committed any additional thefts, the complaint indicates Walton Wentz “adamently” stated that she did not.
When shown the video of “Joan” stealing money from the women’s friend’s apartment at McKinley Place, Walton Wentz then acknowledged she had also stolen money from that woman, according to the complaint.
Police say Walton Wentz admitted to stealing a total of $60 from the three residents at the facility.
Walton Wentz was terminated from McKinley Place.
Drew was also interviewed by police. She was shown video showing a person stealing Target gift cards from the woman’s apartment, and Drew denied taking any gift cards from the victim.
Police asked Taylor to come to the Cedarburg Police Department for an interview in this case, but as of February 8th, she had not done so.
Drew and Taylor were also terminated from McKinley Place.
A representative from McKinley Place told FOX6 News “the safety and well-being of our residents is of the highest importance,” and said they have been cooperating with police.
Court records show a past theft conviction for one of the suspects in this case. McKinley Place officials wouldn’t tell us about any background checks done on employees.