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Police won’t file charges in alleged ‘granny dumping’

MANATEE — A North Carolina woman who left her 96-year-old aunt at a local homeless shelter before going to Walt Disney World last month will not face criminal charges, authorities said Wednesday.

Bradenton Police detectives found no evidence that Beverly Edwards committed any crimes when she left her aunt, Ruth A. Smith, at the Salvation Army’s 14th Street West shelter May 14, Deputy Chief J.J. Lewis said.

“After a thorough investigation, it was concluded that the family had made prior arrangements with the Salvation Army,” he said. “Nothing we found rose to the level of criminal wrongdoing.”

Edwards, who lives in Arden, N.C., did not immediately return a telephone call Wednesday.

She has defended her actions, previously telling the Bradenton Herald that she had made arrangements to leave her aunt at the shelter so she could be placed in a local assisted-living facility or nursing home.

Army officials acknowledged they made arrangements with Edwards, but contend she misled them into doing it. The Army broke its policy in accepting Smith but did so only because Edwards implied that her aunt was going to be placed in a local nursing home or assisted-living facility within days, Army officials said.

When shelter employees found out otherwise, they called authorities.

That triggered a Florida Department of Children and Families investigation that remains open but is expected to be closed by July, spokesman Terry Field said.

The episode, which Smith’s court-appointed guardian called a case of “granny dumping,” sparked worldwide media attention. Smith was briefly hospitalized before being placed in an unidentified local nursing home, where she remains.

“She’s in complete agreement that this is the best place for her right now,” said Jim Knowles, her court-appointed attorney.

During a court hearing Wednesday, Manatee County Circuit Judge Paul Logan ruled Smith was incapacitated and appointed Aging Safety Inc. as her permanent guardian, Knowles said. Aging Safety had been Smith’s emergency tempoized before being placed in an unidentified local nursing home, where she remains.

“She’s in complete agreement that this is the best place for her right now,” said Jim Knowles, her court-appointed attorney.

During a court hearing Wednesday, Manatee County Circuit Judge Paul Logan ruled Smith was incapacitated and appointed Aging Safety Inc. as her permanent guardian, Knowles said. Aging Safety had been Smith’s emergency temporaryrary guardian.

Those decisions will ensure Smith’s safety, Knowles said.

“We want to make sure she’s protected and not taken advantage of again,” he said.

Duane Marsteller, transportation/growth and development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.

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