News 2 Investigates: Pastor leaves patients
BATON ROUGE - A Baton Rouge pastor, who takes care and shelters mentally challenged people, has walked away from his responsibilities. He owes Brittany's Place thousands of dollars and it's left social agencies scrambling to meet the needs of their patients.
Reginald Stewman says he takes care of these mentally challenged people out of the goodness of his heart, and that God led him to take care of 36 people.
"I am called by God to care for these people," he said. "If I did not take care of these people, these people would not have anyone to take care of them."
Every month, Stewman collects $575 for rent from each person's social security check, but has not paid the apartment complex. He owes them $23,000 for two months back rent.
This incident adds to a long history of debt. Two months ago, Stewman took the 36 people from another Baton Rouge complex after a rent dispute. Stewman filed bankruptcy after owing $100,000 in back rent.
A number of state and federal agencies are looking into Stewman's business practices. The Department of Health and Hospitals says Stewman has no licenses to operate a caregiver service and its investigation is ongoing.
Stewman is also facing a sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to IRS fraud in connection with another business he owned in Baton Rouge from 2000-2010.