Thanks to increasingly tough Georgia laws, seniors are getting better protection against fraud and abuse

We have little sympathy for criminals in the first place.

But there’s something especially repulsive about a person who would prey on the most helpless in our society - children, the elderly and the disabled.

Maxine Donaldson, 53, pleaded guilty Monday in Richmond County Superior Court on charges stating she did precisely that: neglecting older and disabled folks under her supposedly competent supervision and, on top of that, siphoning off financial benefit from them.

The charges spanned two cases - neglect of an elderly person; operating an unlicensed personal care home; and 13 counts of exploitation of an elderly person. In a plea deal, Judge Daniel J. Craig sentenced Donaldson to 15 years in prison and five years on probation.

She was arrested first in 2017 for the exploitation part - specifically, stealing $25,000 from a 69-year-old Alzheimer’s patient she looked after. We hesitate to say that Donaldson actually “cared for” this vulnerable man.

Prosecutors said she told the man’s children she would tend to the man’s needs for $1,600 a month. But a few months later, she upped the fee to $2,600 a month, and by that time she had added herself to the man’s bank account. The man’s children had no idea any of this was going on, prosecutors said.

This took place in Donaldson’s licensed personal care home, Shavonna’s Place. While she was out on bond in that case, an elderly abuse task force found she had been running an unlicensed personal care home on the side, on Belair Road.

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