FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jackson, MS—A Clarksdale nursing home employee has plead guilty to exploitation and embezzlement charges against her, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.
Sonya Coley, age 27, of 207 Author Allen in Jonestown, MS, entered an open plea of guilty to three counts of felony exploitation of vulnerable persons and three counts of felony embezzlement before Coahoma County Circuit Court Judge Albert B. Smith III yesterday. An open plea means the defendant refused to accept the state’s recommended sentence and threw himself on the mercy of the court. The courtroom was packed with wheelchair bound residents from Greenbough Nursing Home who were victims of Coley’s crimes. Also in attendance were family members of the victims, as well as staff from Greenbough.
Coley worked as the Resident Trust Fund Coordinator / Payroll Clerk at Greenbough Nursing Home in Clarksdale. She pled guilty to taking more than $40,000 from the residents and the facility. After her plea, one of the victims addressed the court. The 79 year old gentleman, who is confined to a wheelchair, told the judge that he worked too hard for his money to have someone he trusted take it from him. The administrator, Amanda Kirk, introduced all residents in attendance so that the court could put a face on the victims of Coley’s crimes. One of the residents is 105 years old and was one of Coley’s victims. She wanted to be at the plea hearing to witness the guilty pleas. The victims, family members and staff are hoping that Judge Smith will sentence Coley to prison. They say they plan to attend the sentencing which will be held at a later date as Judge Smith ordered that the Mississippi Department of Corrections conduct a pre-sentencing evaluation.
The maximum sentence the court may impose is 60 years in prison and / or $105,000 in fines. Judge Smith did ask if Coley had repaid any of the money taken. The court was told that she had not.
This case was investigated by Investigator George Ferguson and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Sue Perry of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney General’s Office.