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Judge orders mental health evaluation of alleged ringleader in Philly basement-captive case
PHILADELPHIA (AP) ' A Philadelphia judge on Wednesday 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.
Linda Weston, 51, 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. Investigators believe the defendants locked the victims in a basement and wrested control of their disability checks.
On Wednesday, Municipal Judge Martha Neifield granted the request of Weston's attorney, George Yacoubian, for a mental health examination of his client. Yacoubian said competency could be an issue.
Neifield also granted a partial gag order in the case. Prosecutors are declining to comment.