A Philadelphia judge has thrown out neglect of care charges against three defendants accused of imprisoning, beating and starving four mentally disabled people in a Tacony basement last year to steal their Social Security income.
But ringleader Linda Ann Weston and her alleged co-conspirators still face numerous felony charges including aggravated assault and kidnapping. Weston, 51; Gregory Thomas, 47; and Eddie Wright, 50, are scheduled to go to trial in January, along with Weston’s daughter, Jean McIntosh.
Common Pleas Judge Daniel J. Anders ruled on June 8 that Weston, Thomas and Wright were not the legally designated caregivers of the four victims, so the neglect charges should not apply. McIntosh, 32, was not charged with neglect and did not appear in court last week.
Weston was the designated payee for the victims’ disability checks, although she pocketed the money and kept the naïve victims in the dark with the help of Thomas, Wright and McIntosh, authorities claim.
The defendants allegedly operated the scheme for more than a decade, transporting and imprisoning victims in several states including Texas, Florida and Virginia.
Police rescued four victims last Oct. 15 from the damp, cold, dark and dirty basement of an apartment building on the 4700 block of Longshore Ave. after the landlord discovered them and called 911.
At last week’s pre-trial motions hearing, Anders also quashed a charge of promoting prostitution against Weston, who allegedly had forced a female victim, while outside Pennsylvania, to have sex with others for cash.
Attorneys for Thomas and Wright sought separate trials for their clients, but the judge refused to grant them. Thomas’ attorney, Perry de Marco Jr., reportedly argued that Weston’s growing infamy could negatively impact his client at trial. Authorities have identified Thomas as Weston’s longtime boyfriend.
Meanwhile, Wright’s attorney, Louis D’Onofrio, argued that Weston victimized his client, who authorities have described as a homeless “street preacher.”
Weston, Thomas and Wright remain in jail in lieu of $2 million bail, while McIntosh remains in jail in lieu of $1 million bail. The case is scheduled for another pre-trial motions hearing on Aug. 2. ••EndFragment