Pastor owes rent money, proof of licensing
BATON ROUGE - The fate of dozens of people with mental challenges who relied on a Baton Rouge pastor to help them is in legal limbo.
Reginald Stewman collected money from his "patients" to meet their daily needs, but has yet to hand over the money to the managers of the apartment complex they're staying in.
Stewman ended ties with Brittany's Place Apartment Complex last week, but management says he still has a responsibility to pay rent for 30 people. No one is licensed to care for these people, but the state Department of Health and Hospitals says you need licenses to operate adult supervised care.
"Assisted living licenses, which means that someone's going to come by and help them with daily chores, perhaps, so personal care attendance, by helping them go get their medication, their groceries," said DHH State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry.
Stewman took part of their Social Security money to pay their rent, cook their meals and help run errands. Despite signing a contract, Brittany's Place management says Stewman owes over $23,000 for April and May's rent.
"We know they gave, that he took the rent money. We know this," said manager Lisa Landry. "We know that he's been paid. All of them have their receipts that he gave them. He just hasn't turned it in and fulfilled his obligations to the owner of this property."
Earlier this year, Stewman moved the group from another complex after a rent dispute, and owes $100,000 in back rent. He has since filed bankruptcy.
Brittany's Place is working with a non-profit organization to set up care for the 30 people, and has reached out to the Salvation Army and various food pantries for help.
A number of state and federal agencies are looking into Stewman's business practices.