A Philadelphia judge has ordered a mental health evaluation of the alleged ringleader in what authorities describe as a Social Security fraud scheme in which mentally disabled victims were held captive in a squalid basement.
Fifty-one-year-old Linda Weston and three others were charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and other offenses after her landlord stumbled on the four victims in a foul-smelling boiler room last month. Authorities say the defendants locked the victims in a basement and wrested control of their disability checks.
On Wednesday, Municipal Judge Martha Neifeld granted the request of Weston's attorney, George Yacoubian, for a mental health examination of his client. Yacoubian says competency could be an issue.
Neifeld also granted a partial gag order in the case. Prosecutors are declining to comment.