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Woman Gets Life Plus 80 Years for Abuse Scheme

(CN) - A Philadelphia woman who held disabled adults captive for years in horrid conditions so she collect their disability benefits was sentenced to life plus 80 years in prison, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Linda Weston, 55, pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2015 to scores of charges stemming from the scheme including racketeering, fraud, engaging in kidnapping that resulted in the death of the victim, forced human labor, involuntary servitude, sex trafficking, murder, making false statements, and theft of government funds.

In sentencing Weston, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe said the irony of sending the woman away forever is that in prison "you will get three meals a day and medical and psychological services ... something you didn't do for your captives."

"You are evil," Rufe told the defendant. "Your acts were unconscionable."

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Weston responded by apologizing for her actions.

"I believe in God, and God knows what happened," she said.

"There are a lot of people in this courtroom who know what happened, too," Rufe reportedly said.

Prosecutors said Weston and her co-conspirators lured their victims into houses she rented in Philadelphia; West Palm Beach, Florida; Killeen, Texas; and Norfolk, Virginia.

Once they were in the homes, the disabled adults were locked in closets, basements and attics.

"While confined, the captives were often isolated, in the dark, and sedated with drugs placed in their food and drive by Weston and the other defendants, the Justice Department said in a written release.

"When the individuals tried to escape, stole food, or otherwise protested their treatment, Weston and others punished them by slapping, punching, kicking, stabbing, burning and hitting them with closed hands, belts, sticks, bats, hammers and other objects, including the butt of a pistol."

The surviving victims' ordeal ended when Weston's landlord in Philadelphia inspected a room in the basement of a home in the city's Tacony section and found several adults in a locked, unlit room.

In all, six disabled adults and four children were victimized by Weston. Prosecutors said one female victim died in 2008 of bacterial meningitis and starvation after being locked for months in a kitchen cabinet; another victim died in 2005 after being kept in a basement and denied the use of a bathroom.

Four other individuals have been charged with participating in the scheme. Two of them, Eddie Wright and Weston's daughter, Jean McIntosh, have also pleaded guilty. Two others, Gregory Thomas Sr. and Nicklaus Woodard, are awaiting trial.

In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Rufe also ordered that $273,463 be repaid to the U.S. Social Security Administration.

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