PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The case of the four disabled adults found locked in a Philadelphia basement may become one of the first prosecuted under a 2009 federal hate-crimes law.
The FBI is taking a broad look at the apparent Social Security fraud case, which already stretches from Texas to Florida to Pennsylvania.
An FBI official says the case could fall under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The act is named for two murder victims and expands earlier hate-crimes law to include a victim's sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is in the early stages.
Philadelphia police believe alleged ringleader and convicted murderer Linda Weston gained the trust of disabled people before wresting control of their disability checks.