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Two face trial on neglect charges

Apr. 19, 2013 @ 09:56 AM

HUNTINGTON -- A man and woman are awaiting trial on charges they neglected and financially exploited three incapacitated adults at the woman's home in Lesage.

The alleged crimes occurred between August 2011 and August 2012 as the woman, April Fairburn, worked as a family adult care provider through the state Department of Health and Human Resources, according to the indictment and information from the agency.

Fairburn's co-defendant, Brandon Williams, is described as her significant other, according to Tim Murphy, an investigator with the Cabell County Prosecutor's Office.

Both face three counts of neglecting an incapacitated adult, along with single counts of financial exploitation and conspiracy to neglect the same adults. Not-guilty pleas have been entered on their behalfs, and both are free on bond.

The indictment said investigators found the incapacitated clients -- all women -- unattended and dirty, Murphy said. A follow-up visit revealed a dirty home with discarded clothing, untimely administering of medications and indications the clients were not receiving their three daily meals on schedule.

Investigators also learned one of the clients had been wearing shoes that were too small, which caused her toes to curl and sores on her feet. They also discovered a client suffering with an untreated wrist injury from a dog bite, Murphy said.

The financial exploitation count pertains to allegations that Fairburn and Williams intentionally misappropriated or misused more than $1,000 in funds that belonged to the three clients.

Fairburn's attorney, Richard Vital, defended his client Thursday and said she maintains her innocence. He added Fairburn had cared for the alleged victims for a long period of time without any concerns being raised. Attempts to reach Williams' attorney were unsuccessful.

Fairburn had worked as a family adult care provider since 1997, according to Will Jones, assistant state attorney general and acting general counsel for the state Department of Health and Human Resources. Vital described her as carrying on the same work her mother had performed previously.

Jones said state records show no such incidents concerning Fairburn prior to the current allegations.

The three alleged victims were removed from Fairburn's residence and transferred to another facility in Huntington, Murphy said. Fairburn also was removed from the state's list of family adult care providers, according to Jones and Wade Samples, an adult service policy specialist for Health and Human Resources.

The adult family care service is provided to those who are at least 65 years old and in need of low-level supported living, Samples said. The program also serves younger clients who have an established disability with a need for supervised care.

As of late Wednesday, the program was serving 312 clients statewide through the supervision of 309 adult family care providers. In Cabell County, Samples reported 35 clients were being served by 32 providers.

Samples described the program as providing 24-hour supervision, but unlike nursing homes, adult family care does not require awake supervision. That means providers can sleep at night and work outside, however they must have an approved plan ensuring someone will be at the house should they need to leave.

The providers are unlicensed, however each are certified by the department and can house a maximum of three clients, Samples said. Becoming a provider requires an initial home study and criminal background check with annual evaluations thereafter.

Samples compared the service to foster care, saying providers receive $915.90 per month per client. The client receives a $131.50 allowance from his or her Social Security check. Its remainder is allocated to set off a portion of the provider's compensation with any remaining balance paid by Health and Human Resources.

Follow Curtis Johnson via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD and http://facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD.