Formerly imprisoned nursing home operator faces new theft accusations

A nursing home operator who served seven years in prison has been charged on new counts of stealing more than $300,000 from an elderly person, according to local reports.

Martha Bell, 70, is accused of theft by deception, receiving stolen property and of deceptive business practices, stemming from asking an elderly man to write her 33 checks over a five-month period. The checks totalled $322,300, Allegany County prosecutors said.

The scenario involved Bell saying she had 120 “bed licenses” that she would sell for $25,000 each, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The alleged bed licenses were for Bell's former nursing home, Ronald Reagan Atrium I Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which closed in 2004.

Bell was convicted of healthcare fraud in 2005 in federal court, and involuntary manslaughter and neglect of a care-dependent person in 2007 in state court. She also was convicted of theft.

When reached by a local television station, Bell denied the charges.

"I have been innocent of all charges, including the charges that I was incarcerated for," she said. "I've been a political prisoner."

Bell was released from prison in 2013, two years before the checks from the elderly victim began flowing to her, authorities said.

There will be a preliminary hearing Dec. 1. She also will be back in court for allegedly violating her probation, which is not set to expire until 2023.