A Philadelphia woman has been keeping mentally disabled adults confined in various basements throughout the country in order to receive disability checks, reports Daily Mail.
Linda Weston, 55, pleaded guilty in September to kidnapping, racketeering conspiracy and murder in aid of racketeering, hate crimes, sex trafficking, and fraud – 196 counts in total. Two of the women she imprisoned died, according to Daily Mail.
At her arraignment, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a life term for Weston. Her lawyers stated that she pleaded guilty by virtue of her children, Daily Mail reported.
During the hearing, Weston said, “I believe in God and God knows what happened.”
Back in 2011, when Weston was in custody, a landlord discovered four disheveled adults locked in a filthy boiler room of a home in northeast Philadelphia. One man was found shackled to a boiler.
Authorities accused Weston of implementing “cunning, trickery, force and coercion” to swindle mentally disabled people to entitle her as their custodian, permitting her to unlawfully gain about $212,000 in Social Security payments over 10 years.
They accused Weston, her daughter, and three cohorts of sequestering the victims like “zoo animals,” habitually in basements, attics, and closets without light at numerous times between 2001 and 2011, according to Daily Mail.
To cut down on costs, Weston and her associates fed the six disabled adults and four children drug-laden beans and ramen to subdue their hunger, reported Philly.com. When supplies were low, she made the victims eat their own and other people’s waste. The victims were also deprived of medical attention and made to use buckets for bathrooms, according to authorities.
“When the individuals tried to escape, stole food, or otherwise protested their treatment, Weston and others punished them by slapping, punching, kicking, stabbing, burning and hitting them with closed hands, belts, sticks, bats and hammers or other objects, including the butt of a pistol,” allege prosecutors.
When the family lived in Texas and Florida, Weston made two of the female victims go into prostitution to earn more money, reported Daily Mail.
On Nov. 5, Weston was given a final verdict of life in prison plus 80 years as punishment. “Her future years in federal prison will be paradise compared to the conditions she imposed on her victims,” said the judge, according to Philly.com.
Two other perpetrators have pleaded guilty and two other defendants are pending trial, reported Daily Mail.