COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - A Putnam County facility that once operated under the name "Living the Dream" was raided Thursday as part of an investigation into possible elder abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly, according to the district attorney.
District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway said the facility was the target of one of three search warrants. Investigators also searched the facility's administrative offices at 723 West Jackson Street in Cookeville and a car belonging to the operator, Stephanie Butler.
"The allegations were that the operator of that facility was engaging in financial exploitation and possible elder abuse of some of the residents," Dunaway said.
The DA said that there were "in excess of 40" residents inside the facility, which is regulated by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health.
"That doesn't mean all of them are victims," Dunaway said. "We believe a good many are."
The investigation is being led by Dunaway's office. Also assisting in the searches were investigators from the TBI, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, the Cookeville Police Department and the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force.
Case workers from the Department of Mental Health assisted to ensure that residents received proper care, the DA said.
Dunaway added that the evidence would be reviewed and, if wrongdoing is found, the case would be presented to the Putnam County Grand Jury for possible criminal charges.
Efforts to reach Ed and Stephanie Butler were unsuccessful.
Someone at the facility told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "Please don't call back."
That facility was the subject of a NewsChannel 5 investigation when it was known as "Living the Dream."
Our investigation revealed how the former executive director of the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) poured more than a million dollars of agency money into the facility for the elderly that also became her home.
Wendy Askins later pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.