Central Florida Group Homes accused of putting residents in danger

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Group homes are supposed to be safe homes for disabled adults who can't take care of themselves, but Channel 9 found some homes are accused of putting residents in danger.

The organization Central Florida Group Homes, which runs 17 homes in four counties, is now in a heated battle with state regulators about the care of their residents.

But despite the allegations that workers are hurting residents, the homes will stay open, Channel 9's Kenneth Craig learned.

The state said that's because they haven't received any major complaints against the organization until now.

Paula Estess has lived next to the group home on Pamlico Street in Orange County for years and she said it's been nothing but trouble.

"When you hear the helicopters, you know that they are looking for somebody from next door," said Estess. "One of them broke up my fence and tore up a bunch of plants. They've been here so long I just got tired of fighting it."

The group operates out of ordinary homes in neighborhoods all over central Florida.

But Estess isn't the only neighbor to have had problems.

"The police are here probably once or twice a month," said neighbor Thomas Eberhardt.

The activity has gotten the attention of the Department of Children and Families and the state, which just filed a complaint against three of the organization's homes for much more serious allegations.

The state said it discovered some residents were physically abused, several have escaped from the homes, some have overdosed and at one home the organization had employed a person with a criminal record.

Central Florida Group Homes wouldn't agree to an interview on camera but told Craig the allegations against them are not true. They said they plan to fight them and the $6,000 fine they're now facing.

The case will now go before a judge, who will ultimately decide what happens to the group homes.