State officials learn of more unlicensed group homes

Caretaker fatally stabbed at assisted-living site

July 13, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Owners of the unlicensed assisted living facility in Owings Mills where a caretaker was fatally stabbed this week were running four other group homes in the area, health officials learned yesterday.

One of the owners of A Touch of Love Assisted Living Group Inc. told health investigators last night that the company provided service to 24 mentally ill men and women at five group homes in the Owings Mills area. Four of the homes were in the Briarwood apartment complex where the stabbing occurred, and the fifth was nearby.

Most of the two-dozen residents were relocated to other group homes this week.

"There are only three or four remaining to be placed, and that should be done by the beginning of next week," said Carol Benner, director of Maryland's Office of Health Care Quality.

Until last night's 90-minute meeting with Tillenna Wolfe, the facility's co-owner, state officials had been piecing together names of the group home's clients from caretakers and other residents, who don't all know one another.

A Touch of Love is not licensed by the state to provide assisted-living care, state officials said.

According to court records, Kevin Bullock, co-owner of the group home, has criminal convictions for driving with a revoked license. Also, relatives of the 33-year-old live-in caregiver killed Wednesday said the woman apparently had no formal health training.

State health officials are investigating why A Touch of Love didn't have a license, but Benner said the owners "were very cooperative."

The state licenses assisted-living services to help ensure that group homes meet staffing and health care standards. To earn a license, Benner said, a group home must demonstrate: that there is sufficient staff, including round-the-clock supervision; that staff members have been trained; that each resident has been evaluated and that a treatment plan has been outlined for him or her.

Bullock and Wolfe, both of Randallstown, could be charged criminally, state officials said. But no jail time is likely to be involved; the charge of operating an assisted-living facility without a license is a misdemeanor, which typically results in fines.

A Touch of Love lists four employees and annual revenue of $100,000, according to corporate records.

A woman answering the phone at A Touch of Love's office referred all questions to attorney Janice L. Bledsoe, who did not return calls yesterday.

Among the residents of A Touch of Love who were immediately placed in licensed group homes were the housemates of 31-year-old Derrick Anthony Harris, who was charged with killing their caretaker, Valerie Latrisha Johnson.

State officials plan to meet with Wolfe and Bullock again next week.

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