Olufunmilayo Oduyejo, the 61-year-old owner of a group home registered to Paradise Group Home LLC at 15 Braddock Lane in Palm Coast, faces five felony counts of elderly neglect after two residents at the group home had to be hospitalized and three evacuated Wednesday. The air conditioning in the house hadn’t been working at a time when the heat index in Palm Coast rose past 100 during daytime this week.
Oduyejo was in Georgia when the issues were detected–not by caretakers at the house, who included co-owner Cecelia Olufunmilayo, but by Jacqueline Bello of the Agency For Adults With Disabilities. (Olufunmilayo Oduyejo, a Flagler County Sheriff’s report states, contacted 911 from Georgia and said he was en route back to Palm Coast.) Bello was visiting the house at the time. She discovered that at least two patients needed medical attention and were not receiving it. One, a 63-year-old woman who had recently had hip surgery, had fallen. Her blood pressure was not normal. Another, a 50-year-old man, was suffering from shortness of breath. Both were taken to Florida Hospital Flagler.
The other residents appeared to be in good health, though they are severely disabled and don’t have the ability to communicate, the sheriff’s report notes. They are 50, 36 and 27 year-old men.
The temperature in the house was 91 degrees. Cecelia Oduyejo said the air conditioning unit had stopped working the previous night, and that the air conditioning repair person would be at the house the following day. But she could not provide a deputy with any information about that company. So Bello informed Oduyejo that the remaining three residents had to leave the house immediately, as agency housing regulations require the temperature in group homes to be between 74 and 81 degrees. Oduyejo made arrangements with Econo Lodge and said she would be transporting the residents.
“It should be noted that although the residents appeared to be in good health, they were very sweaty and uncomfortable,” the sheriff’s report states.
Once Olufunmilayo Oduyejo–who is better known by his first name as Funmi–returned to Palm Coast, the deputy made contact with him at the Econo Lodge. “He informed me that he knew that the air conditioner was not working and hasn’t been working in two days,” the deputy reported. Oduyejo then appeared to blame one of his residents: “Olufunmilayo also stated that [the patient who just had hip surgery] likes to exaggerate when it comes to her injuries,” the deputy reported, “but [Oduyejo] always tries to attend to each resident.”
The Paradise Group Home owner then claimed a man called “Mike” would be fixing the air conditioner, but he couldn’t say when. Air conditioning companies generally provide a window of time when a repair call is scheduled.
The Sheriff’s deputy contacted the Department of Children’s and Families, who accepted the agency’s report and said the department would conduct a follow-up investigation. Five counts of felony neglect were forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether to file the charges against Olufunmilayo Oduyejo.
Department of State records indicate Olufunmilayo and Cecelia Oduyejo have operated Paradise Group Home at the Braddock Lane address since February 2010. They have owned the 2,000-square-foot house since 2007. It is not homesteaded. They had also operated the Vinyard Group Home, at 66 Russell Drive, but only until 2015. Currently, the Oduyejos are the listed owners of a vacant property at 21 Birchbark Lane, a homesteaded house they bought in 2015 at 61 Biltvue Place, and a vacant property at 4 Ryan Drive.
In 2009, they were foreclosed at 158 Westwood Drive in Daytona Beach. In October 2002, Funmi Oduyejo had filed for bankruptcy
In a letter to the editor published in the News-Journal in August 2009, Funmi Oduyejo had complained about the bureaucracy of the Medicaid system, which underwrites his operations: “Sometimes, you cannot get a human to speak with for months; most times, you leave a requested detailed message for your supposed contact and nobody cares to call you back. Arguably, one might have been dead, buried and forgotten before his doctor could get a reply to a simple question.”