WASHINGTON – Latonja Dashawn Carrera (a.k.a. Latonja Dashawn Martin), 46, was arrested December 8, 2020 and charged via criminal complaint with felony Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person, in violation of D.C. Code § 22-933.01. On the same day, Kim Renee West, 56, pled guilty pursuant to a Deferred Sentencing Agreement to one count of misdemeanor Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult, in violation of the same code provision.
The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin; Karl Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia; and Daniel W. Lucas, Inspector General for the District of Columbia.
According to Court records, Carrera was the Administrator for a Mental Health Community Residential Facility licensed by the District of Columbia Department of Health. In January 2019, Carrera used the account of one of the facility residents – a 73 year-old Veteran – to pay her own personal bills. Carrera used $1,524.36 from the Veteran, whose sole sources of income were benefits from the Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
West pled guilty to financially exploiting a 61-year-old man with profound intellectual disability by taking his debit card from his residence, where she worked, and using the card to make approximately $235.00 worth of purchases for her own benefit. As part of a Deferred Sentencing Agreement, West agreed to complete community service and pay restitution to the victim. If she completes these conditions within six months, the case will be dismissed.
This prosecution is part of the Office’s wider efforts to combat crimes against seniors and vulnerable adults. In 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia simultaneously launched initiatives to address the abuse and exploitation of older adults. The Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Initiative at the U.S. Attorney’s Office expanded its response to criminal and civil violations targeting older adults. The initiative has enabled the U.S. Attorney’s Office to develop and coordinate further its prosecution of these cases and enhance its overall support of older or vulnerable victims. The team consists of experienced prosecutors and victim advocates from across the Office, to include the Superior Court, Criminal, and Civil Divisions, as well as the Victim Witness Assistance Unit. This prosecution is indicative of the continued collaboration between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General to prosecute cases of this kind.
In announcing the arrest and plea, Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin, Attorney General Racine, and Inspector General Lucas commended the work of those who investigated the cases from the District of Columbia’s Office of the Attorney General and Office of the Inspector General. They also cited the efforts of Special Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer C. Mika, on detail from the Office of the Attorney General to handle financial crimes cases involving elderly victims, who investigated and prosecuted both cases for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia with support from Paralegal Specialist Chad D. Byron.