Former social services director gets 10-year prison sentence for $390,000 theft from resident

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Stephanie Sanders Hays
Stephanie Sanders Hays

The former social services director of a Louisiana senior living community has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $390,537 for stealing money from one of the community's residents.

Stephanie Hayes, who worked at Leslie Lakes Retirement Center in Arcadia, LA, pleaded guilty May 8 to one count of money laundering and one count of exploitation. She received concurrent 10-year sentences for the crimes. The restitution amount applies to one victim, a Holocaust survivor, according to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry , who said other residents may have been affected.

“I commend my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for their hard work in investigating and prosecuting Ms. Hays,” Landry said in a statement.

Hays' arrest was announced in May 2017 by Landry, whose office was assisted by the Minden Police Department and the Bienville Parish Sheriff's Office. She had been charged with 68 counts of criminal violations, including 19 counts of money laundering, 17 counts of forgery, 17 counts of exploitation of persons with infirmities and 15 counts of theft of the assets of a person who is aged or person with a disability.

Authorities at the time alleged that Hays had executed several schemes from September 2012 through February 2016 to gain access to the financial assets of at least one resident of the retirement community, which offers independent living, memory care and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Specifically, authorities alleged, Hayes used her power of attorney authority to empty a resident's bank account, individual retirement accounts, an annuity plan and proceeds from the sale of the resident's home.

Authorities also alleged that Hays used forged retirement center checks at local Walmart stores to pay for items requested by the resident. A portion of the funds allegedly stolen included Social Security payments, pension payments and German reparation payments, authorities said at the time of the arrest announcement.

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