Mental health non-profit abandons office, landlord
BATON ROUGE - A landlord says their tenant abandoned all of their belongings. She called 2 On Your Side, concerned some of those belongings include medical documents for mental health patients.
Linda Grace says she suddenly has a lot of paperwork on her hands that she doesn't know what to do with.
"Nobody wants to take responsibility," said Grace.
That's a problem for this landlord, who says she first met her tenant in 2016 when she purchased the building and absorbed the lease agreement. At first, the tenant, Maria Bell-Servick paid the bills on time. Grace says she then paid them sporadically, every three months. In November 2017, the tenant stopped paying the bills altogether.
The tenant was operating a non-profit corporation called Louisiana Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, INC. The non-profit still has an active website.
Grace owns a building at Sherwood Commons and has four tenants. After she didn't hear from the tenant for weeks, Grace visited the location and found the power had been shut off. She says everything looked like it was an operating office suite, without the people.
"She just walked away. It's like they just locked the door and left," she said.
There are file cabinets full of paperwork, boxes upon boxes, computers, copy machines, and offices left untouched. The paperwork includes checks, payments made to various agencies, W-9 forms, employment information and copies of social security cards, handbooks and messages from callers.
Some of that paperwork included payment to the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. The Diocese confirms there was an event in June at the Tracy Center for Louisiana Public Health Institute. The total bill was for $20,032.95. The entire amount was paid for by La. Federation of Families. The Diocese says it was well-attended.
Grace says she did not find medical records of patients, but there is no telling what is on multiple computers left behind.
"Bank statements saying you owe us money, other people saying you owe us, you know. They're delinquent in all kinds of things, so I think they just walked away," she said.
On top of that, Grace is owed about $10,000 in rent after her tenant abandoned the lease.
Thursday, 2 On Your Side was able to contact the tenant's husband who said he'd pass along the message that Grace was trying to get in touch with her. WBRZ was unable to contact Bell-Servick.
WBRZ was able to speak with Bell-Servick's accountant hired to audit LAFFCMH as of June 30, 2017. He says he last spoke with Bell-Servick a couple of weeks ago and while he knew she was moving, was unaware that he she had already moved.
Grace and her family is doing the best they can to clean up the documents and office equipment left behind so they can make room for new tenants.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, INC. is a provider that has a contract with the Department of Health to provide services. The Department of Health says it's taking steps to legally terminate the contract with this provider. In addition, it's working with Grace and her attorney to obtain all client files to ensure patient privacy, should there be any.
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