Office of the DeKalb County District Attorney

Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit

Sherry Boston, District Attorney

DEKALB MOTHER, DAUGHTER CONVICTED OF NEGLECT, EXPLOITING DISABLED ADULTS

Friday, June 28, 2024

State v. Valerie and Erica West

Decatur, Ga.- DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announces convictions by jury trial in the cases against a DeKalb County mother and daughter accused of neglecting and exploiting disabled people for their own gain. 

On Friday, June 14, 2024, jurors found Valerie West, 58, guilty on charges of Neglect of a Disabled Person, Terroristic Threats, four counts of Depriving Essential Services to Disabled Persons, Exploitation of a Disabled Person, and Identity Fraud stemming from years of operating subpar housing for disabled adults at locations around DeKalb County. 

Jurors found Defendant West’s Daughter, Erica West, 36, guilty of Neglect of a Disabled Person, two counts of Exploitation of a Disabled Person and Identity Fraud.

The majority of the charges were for crimes that occurred between March 2017 and February 2019. 

Thursday afternoon, DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Asha F. Jackson, who presided over the trial, sentenced Defendant Erica West to 10 years to serve 3 under house arrest with the balance on probation, as well as 100 hours of community service and restitution of $3,458. 

Defendant Valerie West was sentenced to 30 years to serve 5 in custody with the balance on probation, as well as 100 hours of community service and restitution to be determined.  Defendant West must also undergo a mental health evaluation. 

Under the terms of their sentences, neither Defendant is allowed to house elderly or disabled persons, nor become representative payees for any elderly or disabled people. 

According to the investigation, on November 1, 2018, officers with the DeKalb County Police Department executed search warrants at three homes owned by the West family and operated by Defendant Valerie West following complaints from residents and their family members.  The homes were located in the 3700 block of Conley Downs Drive, the 2200 block of Hampton Drive and the 3500 block of Lehigh Way in unincorporated Decatur. 

When officers arrived, they found mattresses on the floors infested with bedbugs, empty kitchen cabinets – some with rodent droppings on the shelves, broken toilets and showers in some of the bathrooms, and trash scattered throughout the homes.  Residents told officers that they rarely had hot water and investigators later discovered that the power company regularly turned off electricity to the homes during the hottest months of the year because the bills were not paid. 

Investigators learned the disabled adults received government checks and that Defendants Valerie West and Erica West became representative payees for several of the residents.  Evidence presented at trial showed the two Defendants used that money to pay their own utilities and personal expenses, while the residents often went without lights, hot water or air conditioning. 

Several of the residents testified at trial about the horrific conditions they lived in and how the Defendants ordered them not to call 911, even if someone was sick or injured.  One resident assaulted another inside one of the houses and the victim did not get any medical treatment for two days because residents were afraid to call for help. 

Defendant Valerie West was charged with Identity Fraud after she continued for five years to cash Social Security checks for a man who died in one of the houses in 2014.  Defendant West even filed paperwork with the Social Security Administration during that time claiming she was using the money to buy the deceased man food and clothing. 

The case, assigned to the Crimes Against Elder Persons and Adults with Disabilities Unit (CAEPAD), was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jeanne Canavan with assistance from Senior Assistant District Attorney Franklin Engram, District Attorney Investigator Charles Maupin, and Victim Advocate Tina Williamson.  Assistant Attorney General Tarrea Williams served as co-counsel at the trial.  Former DeKalb County Police Department Det. Rosalyn Byrd, who is now a District Attorney Investigator, led the initial investigation.