PHILADELPHIA (January 23, 2013)—Former Killeen resident Linda Weston, 52, is one of five people charged in a case in which mentally disabled adults were held in the basement of a Philadelphia home as part of an alleged Social Security fraud scheme, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Wednesday against Weston, the alleged ringleader, and the four others that alleges Weston and her associates carried out a racketeering enterprise in which mentally disabled victims were targeted as part of a scheme to steal their Social Security disability payments.
It also alleges Weston's scheme of confinement and abuse caused the deaths of two victims.
Charges include hate crimes, kidnapping, murder in aid of racketeering, theft from government and other counts.
The indictment names Weston, her daughter and two others.
It also names a fifth defendant, Nicklaus Woodard, 26, of West Palm Beach, Fla.
Weston earlier pleaded not guilty to related state charges.
Prosecutors said it's the first time the federal hate crimes statute has been used to protect the disabled.
Weston, who, the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier reported, spent eight years in prison for the starvation death of a man held in the closet of her North Philadelphia apartment in 1981, once lived in Killeen.
Online records show that Weston was arrested in 2008 in Bell County on a bad check charge and that the charge was dismissed after restitution was paid.
She was living at a Killeen address at the time, the records show.