Woman accused of exploiting elderly at illegal assisted living facility

Officers responding to report of suicidal man find 25 'neglected' residents

HIALEAH, Fla. – Hialeah Police Department officers said they found a house of horrors Thursday.

They were responding to reports that a man was feeling suicidal. But it wasn't the man that concerned them the most. It was the "elderly residents who had urinated themselves," the refrigerator that was under lock and key, and that there weren't enough beds, according to a report. 

"Multiple residents stated they sleep on the floor, while others share beds," a police officer wrote in an arrest report. "I observed three people sleeping on the same bed."

Officers said they found 25 adults, ages 20 to 80, in neglectful conditions at 17 E. 10 St., near the Hispanic American United Methodist Church. Officers said they were under the care of Martha Perez Rodriguez. 

The residents of the home accused the 60-year-old woman of regularly administering a drug that made them feel lethargic, police said. 

Some of the residents said they were paying Perez Rodriguez anywhere from $500 to $750 a month to be there. They told police officers she was receiving their disability checks and not giving them a penny. 

Kevin Rotter said he lived in a separate part of the property and said he had no idea that there was neglect inside of the home. He said he later saw the mess inside. The backyard of the home looked like a junk yard. 

"It looked like a crack house," Rotter said. 

Officers arrested Perez Rodriguez who is facing charges of operating an assisted living facility without a license and exploitation of the elderly and the disabled. 

Miami-Dade property records show Felix Cruz Valdes is the owner of the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, where the arrest was made. The home is not the only one in the neighborhood. The licensed Palm Breeze Assisted Living Facility operates next door. 

About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.