A Fresno convalescent hospital owner was arrested Thursday after an investigation found he allegedly was stealing money from residents’ trust accounts to cover his own debt, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said.
Michael Fellen, 65, of Madera was booked into the Fresno County Jail, the Sheriff’s Office said. Jail records indicate Fellen was released on $25,000 bail.
Deputies began assisting the California Department of Public Health with the investigation March 10 when suspicions were raised at Sunnyside Convalescent Hospital, which is owned by Fellen and located at 2939 S. Peach Ave.
Thousands of dollars were unlawfully transferred from trust accounts to the hospital’s business account, the Sheriff’s Office said.
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Trust account deposits are made from sources such as pensions and Social Security. The Sheriff’s Office said investigators turned bank records over to the state auditor for review, finding conflicting data from June 2015.
The elderly residents never gave Fellen permission to use the funds, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and the investigation found Fellen altered residents’ monthly financial statements to avoid detection, officials said.
Fellen admitted pocketing the money to cover debt, the Sheriff’s Office said, and the money was used to pay vendors, cover payroll and pay for facility bills.
The Sheriff’s Office said a total of 57 residents fell victim to the crime; six of those seniors have since died.
The California Department of Public Health investigation is continuing. Anyone with information on other cases of elder abuse is asked to contact Detective Skip Swain at 559-600-8025. The public can also contact Crime Stoppers at 559-498-7867 , where callers can remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward.