For four years, Martin Lacquey lived in group homes and assisted living facilities owned and operated by the notorious St. Petersburg landlord Marcus Anderson and he doesn’t have fond memories.
Last month, code inspectors and the fire marshal shut down two of Anderson’s homes, calling them “unfit for human habitation.” Lacquey, who suffers from schizophrenia and lives on social surety benefits, wasn’t a tenant at the time, but his story is worth telling.
Lacquey paints a grim picture of his years living at the ALF, saying it’s worse than jail, where petty crimes fueled by his mental illness have landed him many times before.
He said the bed bugs were so bad, he resorted to sleeping with a towel wrapped around his head “so they wouldn’t go in my ear and nose,” he said.
“I covered my head up with a towel till they moved me to another house and they had them over there,” he said, adding that Anderson made half-hearted attempts at eradicating the bugs, which never worked.
Anderson has ignored our phone calls and request for comments. Last year, he surrendered his state license to operate ALFs following a number of investigations by the state into the appalling living conditions in his St. Petersburg network of ALFs that catered to adults with mental disabilities and teenagers under extended foster care.
Lacquey’s sister, Debbie Cummings has physical disabilities and can no longer care for her brother like she’s done off and on for much of his life. But when another sister died last December, Cummings went looking for him and after four days filed a missing person report.
Days before Christmas, Cummings finally located Lacquey in Anderson’s care, and was left in shock. “He didn’t have a bed he had a box spring and it was up on its side the other guy had the mattress on the floor,” she said.
Lacquey claims for much of the four years he spent in Anderson’s various group homes he was also hungry because caretakers failed to adequately feed him and the other mentally ill adults living there. “Yeah, they were supposed to but they took us to donation places to get our food,” he said.
Cummings said by the time she found her brother in December he was descending into madness because no one was giving him the daily cocktail of medications he needs to maintain his sanity. His hair had grown past his shoulders and other basic needs were not being met at the group home owned by Anderson.
“He told me he’s not allowed to go inside to go to the bathroom was not allowed inside to get something to eat or drink—didn’t eat at a table—not allowed to take a shower,” Cummings said. He wasn’t allowed in the house and when I got there he was hungry he was thirsty.”
Since then, DCF caseworkers have relocated Anderson to a much better group home where bedbugs and food are not a problem and they even give him pocket money from his monthly social security stipend to buy cigarettes, sodas and snacks.
Cummings doesn’t want us to say where her brother is living now because she fears that Anderson will try to bring her brother back into his care. She vows to never let Anderson do that again.
“If he was standing in front of me so help me God I don’t know what I’d do to him,” Cummings said. “Marcus took advantage of everyone around him and it don’t take a rocket scientist to know what’s going on or to figure it out.”
Tonight at 6 p.m., hear Lacquey has to say about the life he lived in Marcus Anderson’s care and what his sister thinks should happen to Anderson for the way she treated her brother and others in his care.