Puerto Rico probes alleged sale of the elderly to care homes


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico officials announced on Monday that they are investigating an alleged scheme in which elderly people are placed into certain care homes in exchange for money.

At least one employee of the island's Department of Family has been suspended, the agency's secretary, Glorimar Andújar, said. She spoke during a legislative hearing and declined further comment, saying it would put the investigation at risk.

It is unclear how many care homes or elderly people were allegedly involved.

Andújar said that depending on what the investigation yields, her department could transfer the elderly people involved and terminate a care home's license.

Puerto Rico Rep. Jacqueline Rodríguez, who oversees a legislative commission looking into the allegations, said it is important to protect the elderly people that might be involved.

"This could affect the health, security and stability of these people and the services that they receive," she said.

Andújar said that overall, her agency investigated 975 complaints tied to 719 establishments in fiscal year 2018. She said that so far this year, officials are investigating 423 complaints involving 259 places.

Puerto Rico's Department of Justice confirmed it also is investigating the most recent allegations.