No charges for owner of dangerous, unlicensed group home

By Lisa Rantala - email | bio

TOLEDO (WTOL) - The house on a local residential street looks like any other, but police say it's an unlicensed group home. The owner has been arrested, and faulty conditions in the home were found to be dangerous.

Toledo police call Lucas County Youth Treatment Counselor Charlton Wallace a predator. "If they start a home like this, they're taking advantage of mentally ill people who can't help themselves," said Detective Liz Kantura with the Toledo Police Department.

Police investigated Wallace's group home for the mentally ill this month. A client there called 911. Once inside, crews saw the oven door was open to heat the home since the furnace was broken.

"Very dangerous," says Kantura, "Carbon monoxide poisoning... the furnace could blow up, and that this wasn't being addressed."

Police say Wallace had opened two other group homes in the last five years. One was on Yates, and the other on Buckingham. Those have closed, but investigators say none of them were licensed and none had trained employees.

One client told us, "I had an incident with the manager where she came in drunk one night. We got into it, and it wasn't pretty." This client lives at Wallace's current group home on Heathshire.

He pays $500 a month for his room and three meals a day, but he doesn't always get it. "We're actually not allowed to answer the door. We're not allowed to answer the phone. We're not allowed to let people in," he told News 11.

Timothy Ide is with the ABLE Ombudsman program. "You have no idea who could be the caregiver, if they have any kind of training whatsoever, if fire extinguishers are available."

Because of cases like this, advocates and even the police want laws to change. Detective Kantura said, "I was absolutely amazed that there was absolutely nothing, nothing criminally that he can be charged with." In the meantime, police were able to charge him with stealing cable.

If you'd like to check out a group home, such as complaints or licensing, you can call the Health Department or the ABLE ombudsman program at 1-800-542-1874.