3 accused of operating unlicensed assisted living facilities

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The state attorney's office, working in conjunction with the Attorney General's Office, arrested three Duval County residents Friday on charges of operating unlicensed assisted living facilities.

Investigators said Joseph Bell, 69, Vanita McCray, 47, and Barry Smith, 49, did not legally or properly operate their assisted living facilities.

Regulations require facilities be licensed, meet certain staffing requirements, be compliant with local health and fire code regulations, and have trained staff handling prescription medications.

When investigators inspected Smith's facility located at 2306 Lake Lucina Dr., they said they found numerous hazards such as unsafe electrical work, missing smoke detectors, termite infestations and unsanitary conditions. After the inspection, Smith's facility was condemned by the city of Jacksonville Code Enforcement and residents were relocated.

"This facility is the prime example of why inspections are routinely done," said Assistant State Attorney Mike Weinstein. "Unlicensed assisted living facilities are a growing problem in the Jacksonville area. That is why we routinely work with the Attorney General's Office in making sure our senior citizens are properly cared for in these homes."

Bell and McCray are charged with one count of operating an unlicensed assisted living facility. If convicted, both could receive up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Smith is charged with two counts of the same charge and, if convicted, could receive up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Copyright 2012 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.