Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced today that Sidney Horton, the former nursing home administrator for The Places at Martinez, pled guilty today in Richmond County Superior Court to a felony count of Theft by Taking. Judge Carl Brown sentenced Horton to three years imprisonment, to be followed by seven years probation, plus restitution in the amount of $161,738.09. Horton has previously repaid over $128,000 of that amount.
In announcing the sentence, Baker lauded the prison term for Horton, saying that "the theft of funds from nursing home residents by someone who was supposed to be looking out for the residents' best interest is appalling. This prison sentence should send a clear message to others who might be tempted to help themselves to someone else's money."
Horton was the nursing home administrator of The Places at Martinez, a nursing home provider enrolled in the Georgia Medicaid program. An audit of The Places at Martinez in November 2008 revealed discrepancies in the patient trust fund account and accompanying documentation. The auditors relayed that information to Ms. Melissa Oden, the owner of The Places at Martinez. She subsequently confronted Horton, and Horton admitted to her that he had stolen funds from the patient trust fund account and improperly reconciled the fund to hide any evidence. State investigators interviewed Mr. Horton and he admitted that during the prior audit, discrepancies were noted regarding the patient trust fund account and that Horton had intentionally held back bank statements because he knew the account would not reconcile. In particular, Horton stated that a detail balance would have revealed a difference in the balance of the ledger statements when compared with the reconciled bank statements. Horton stated that checks written by resident’s family members, for deposit into the nursing home’s operating account, would be deposited into the patient trust account by him. Afterwards, Horton would write a check for cash to himself from the patient trust account. Checks written to him were often deposited into his personal account. His theft scheme occurred over a period of close to two years. Horton stated that management never noticed because he handled everything including paying the bills. Horton admitted that he stole the money from the patient trust fund account in order to pay off gambling debts.
Prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jorge Correa, and the investigation of the case was handled by members of Georgia's Health Care Fraud Control Unit, comprising agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, auditors from the State Auditor's office, and attorneys from the Office of the Attorney General.