Family of victim speaks out after social worker stole thousands from disabled client

Michael Dickens

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — For the first time a family is speaking out on how a former Virginia Beach case worker stole from them.

In May, 37-year-old Janel Jones resigned after she was confronted with the claims. The audit report states “This employee admitted…that they cashed a client check and utilized the funds for personal use. This employee has since resigned upon being presented with the evidence found from the investigation.” She was arrested in October for felony credit card theft.

Document: Results of investigation into Supportive Living Program 

On November 2, 10 On Your Side went looking for Janel Jones. A man at her Newport News apartment claimed she is innocent.    We wanted to ask her about what happened, but she never called us back, and then 10 days later the victim who lost the most, died.

Michael Dickens, always intellectually disabled, lived in a home as independently as he could. He loved his Church of the Holy Family where he was baptized and sadly, unexpectedly, and accidentally died November 12.

Document: Executive Summary Response to VB Case

The last months of his life he was known as Client # 2 who lost the most just over $24,000 in a felony credit card theft case. An audit report found that his case worker Janel Jones admitted she cashed one of Dickens checks and used it for her own personal use. The family found out when bills weren’t being paid, “The bill wasn’t only not paid for the dentist, it wasn’t paid for rent and he was staying there because they were kind to let him stay there,” says family member Raymond Morris.

Dickens’ brother, Carroll Dickens, lives in North Carolina and told WAVY News by phone he’s getting the run around from the Virginia Beach, “Now I can’t get people on the phone from Human Services. All I’m getting are answering machines.”

Carroll is the executor of his brother’s will but can’t get the money the city admits he is owed, “I got all these bills. I got my brother’s bills. I got the funeral home that has to be paid. I got the headstone that has to be paid for. I got medical bills.”

Carroll Dickens and his family called 10 On Your Side when they say the couldn’t get answers. We went to Human Services and found Director Dannette Smith, “I don’t think we are dragging our feet. I think there is a process that we have to follow, and sometimes it feels longer to family members.”

Human Services hired Janel Jones as a social worker who was supposed to assist Dickens in his home.

Smith added, “I recognize this is a big loss for Mr. Dickens. He is managing all this…but there is a process that we have to follow and we wanted to make sure we gave the money to the right people.”

Smith says she understands the importance of this. Carroll Dickens will be in court December 16 to make it official that he is the executor of Michael’s will, and get back the money they are rightfully due. 10 On Your Side will follow-up to make sure the right things happen for the Dickens family.

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