Owner of four allegedly illegal assisted-living facilities speaks out

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. —

WFTV spoke to the owner of four allegedly illegal assisted-living facilities, ordered to shut down for terrible living conditions and mistreatment of patients. WFTV gave viewers an inside look at one of the facilities Thursday night.

Friday, Eyewitness News at 10's Marisa Mendelson asked the owner about a history of problems with her homes.

Mary Alexander is out of jail and wants to tell her side of the story.

"Whatever you want to talk about is fine with me," Alexander said.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office said Alexander kept food and medications locked away from residents. When WFTV went by one of the facilities, there was a lock on a refrigerator.

"We have two refrigerators. One is kept locked; it is because of donated food," Alexander said.

Investigators gave WFTV video of conditions inside the homes. They said they found roaches and bedbugs. Alexander said a pest control company sprays on a monthly basis.

"During the summertime they may have to come out more often, that's when you see more bugs, more whatever that's trying to avoid the heat," Alexander said.

Alexander also denies claims she was running an illegal assisted living facility.

"We do not operate an unlicensed living. We operate a licensed emergency shelter," Alexander said.

She showed WFTV's reporter two licenses from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

"This is our licensing, this is our licensing number," Alexander said.

WFTV checked, and the licenses are to operate "vacation rentals."

This isn't the first time Alexander has faced the same accusations.

According to the documents WFTV uncovered, in April 2011, the Agency for Healthcare Administration fined her $17,000 for operating an unlicensed assisted living facility.

But she didn't want to talk about that when Channel 9 brought it up.

"That case is closed and my attorneys took care of it. You have a nice day," Alexander said.