Board-and-Care Home Operator Sentenced

A Granada Hills woman who pleaded no contest in September to operating an unlicensed board-and-care facility must spend a year in jail, following a judge's finding that she violated the terms of her probation, according to the Los Angeles city attorney's office.

Margaret McClay Garnett, 45, was sentenced Wednesday by Los Angeles Municipal Judge Keith Schwartz, who also presided at Garnett's Dec. 17 probation hearing, City Atty. Jim Hahn said in a statement.

In September, Garnett pleaded no contest to operating an illegal board-and-care facility in the Country Club Park area. Her no-contest plea drew a sentence of 750 hours of community service and three years' summary probation.

Schwartz ruled last month that Garnett had opened another such operation in Palmdale, violating the terms of her probation.

Garnett, who has been in custody since Dec. 17 in lieu of posting $500,000 bail, was ordered to immediately begin serving the jail term, said Deputy City Atty. Keith De La Rosa.

Social service workers discovered the Palmdale facility after hearing from a former resident who said he left the house because he and other residents were denied adequate food, De La Rosa said.

Workers visited the lice-infested home and found 13 men living with very little food. Investigators then determined that many of the Palmdale residents also had lived at the Country Club Park facility, and made the connection to Garnett.

At her probation hearing in December, witnesses testified that Garnett made money by taking in homeless people, putting them in unlicensed homes and taking all or most of their government subsistence checks.

De La Rosa presented evidence in court that Garnett had been designated as a payee for several residents' Social Security checks, which enables board-and-care operators to cash the checks alone.

"It took a while for the pieces to fit together," De La Rosa said. "But eventually, [Social Security officials] caught on to it."

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