Legislative candidate’s wife charged with elder abuse, theft

Stephanie Butler, owner of a Cookeville retirement home named Senior Lifestyles, has been charged with elder abuse and theft from residents of the facility, reports the Cookeville Herald-Citizen. She is also the target of a lawsuit stemming from alleged actions in operating a now-closed facility known as Victorian Gardens Retirement Village.

Ed Butler, husband of Stephanie Butler, is the owner of AE Fire Protections, which shares the address of the offices of both Victorian Gardens and Senior Lifestyles. Butler is currently running as the Republican challenger for Tennessee House of Representatives for District 41.

“It’s an ongoing investigation but we don’t believe Mr. Butler to be involved,” (District Attorney General Bryant) Dunaway said. “Mrs. Butler is the target of this investigation.”

…The Senior Lifestyles property was formerly known as Living the Dream, the subject of a comptroller’s audit that found funds were misappropriated and the Upper Cumberland Development District’s former director, Wendy Askins, profited personally from the project.

Askins was indicted by a federal grand jury on counts of conspiracy, embezzlement, bank fraud and unlawful monetary transactions. She pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzling funds from a program receiving federal funds in 2016 and was released from prison in April after serving 18 months.

WTVF TV has this statement from Ed Butler, who lost to Democratic state Rep. John Mark Windle of Livingston in the 2016 general election for state House District 41 and is unopposed for the Republican nomination for another try this year:

“My children and I are devastated by the news of my wife, Stephanie’s arrest. Her behavior violated not only the trust of her patients, but also the trust of our family. Our children are my number one priority. I am helping them cope with the suffering they are experiencing. I have and will continue to cooperate fully with District Attorney Bryant Dunaway’s office as the investigation continues.”

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