Gulfport woman fined for unlicensed personal care home

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport woman has been found guilty of operating a personal care home without a license.

A Harrison County judge found Mary Coleman, 52, guilty of two counts of operating a home for the aged or infirm without a license. Coleman was sentenced Thursday.

Testimony from an Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Investigator and a Department of Health Nurse showed that Coleman operated two unlicensed homes located at 11534 Harris Drive and 114 Clarence Drive in Gulfport. The statute requires licensure of any institution of the aged or infirmed when four or more individuals who are unrelated are provided care in said institution.

Judge Ray ordered that Coleman pay the maximum fine allowed under the statute, $1,000, as well as requiring that she pay court costs for a total of $1,324.

The Judge also gave the defendant a stern warning that she was not to operate outside the law. He told her that if she did not understand the law that she needed to contact the Department of Health, which regulates this type homes, for information.

"We appreciate the tough stance taken by Judge Ray as there have been numerous unlicensed homes operating all over the state," said Attorney General Jim Hood. "In many of these unlicensed homes, mentally disturbed individuals are being taken advantage of, all for the benefit of their disability checks. Our office will be sponsoring legislation this upcoming session to make any third misdemeanor offense of operating without a license a felony."

The case was investigated and prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney General's Office.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.