Daphne Campbell: Big debts, shady dealings

On October 11, 2005, a 16-year-old named Kendrick, who had been accused of raping another teenage boy, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. A judge ordered him sent to live at a North Miami Beach group home run by Daphne Campbell, a Haitian-American nurse.

Campbell assured the court her employees would provide round-the-clock supervision. After all, it was the second time Kendrick had been accused of such a crime. "Staff will be with him everywhere he goes," she told Judge Lester Langer.

Three months later, Kendrick was staying in a four-bedroom house at 80 NE 174 Dr., part of a ten-facility chain Campbell operated. On December 15, the young man lured M.C., a mentally challenged, schizophrenic, 48-year-old woman with heart problems, into her room and raped her, according to a state investigative report. After the assault, M.C. "suffered episodes of vomiting" and was taken to the hospital. She was quickly released back to the group home but died the following morning. Authorities attributed her death to "natural causes."

M.C. was just one of four disabled people to die while under Campbell's care in a one-year period. On October 12, 2006, the state terminated its contract with her company, Professional Group Homes Inc. But that's not the only stain on Campbell, who this past August 24 won a seat in the state House of Representatives for a district that comprises North Miami, Miami Shores, and Little Haiti.

Her husband is in bankruptcy, two of their properties are in foreclosure, and a pair of Jamaican Seventh-day Adventists whom Campbell met at a church service claim she tricked them out of thousands of dollars. "This woman cannot be trusted," warns Rose White, one of the two. "She is a scammer. I don't care if she's going to Tallahassee."

Campbell denies any wrongdoing but declines to talk about the group homes and deaths. She says the Jamaican women are lying, and adds that her husband's financial problems will not hamper her public service. "I'm a good person," she says. "I'm going to do everything I can to fight the good fight in the capital so that the people in my district have a voice."

Born in Cap-Haïtien, Campbell was raised by her mom. She obtained a nursing degree in Port-au-Prince and in 1981 moved to New York City, where she met her Jamaican husband, Hubert. The couple had two children. The family relocated to North Miami Beach in 1987.

In 2002, the Campbells incorporated Professional Group Homes, a chain of facilities for disabled people in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Lee counties. Daphne was the company's chief executive, and Hubert was the marketing director. The business, which included ten homes, began to unravel after M.C.'s rape and death. Things worsened when three others died in her care:

• In April 2006, a resident at a home in Lehigh Acres was admitted to a hospital with a facial cut and a fungal infection. He passed away soon after.

• In July 2006, a resident at the same property perished after choking on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

• In August 2006, a man living in another of the Campbells' group homes in Miami expired of a suspected bowel obstruction two days after entering a hospital.

Inspectors also found rodent droppings on food shelves, and dead roaches on the floor of the facilities. And employees complained of working 80-hour weeks. In September 2006, the state terminated the Campbells' contract, effectively shutting down all ten homes. Melanie Etters, a spokeswoman for the state Agency for Persons With Disabilities, says Campbell had to relinquish her license to run group homes. "But she can still provide nursing services to the disabled," Etters explains. (Campbell at first claimed the state had overturned its decision, but then she declined to comment when confronted with Etters's statement.)

The company was dissolved in October 2006, right around the time Hubert Campbell met Rose White during a service at the Seventh-day Adventist church where they were all members. (White declined to name it.) A petite 59-year-old mental health counselor with a bob hairdo and a thick Jamaican accent, she had recently received her state license to run a home for the handicapped.

"A fellow church friend informed me the Campbells had a house for sale that was already equipped with a fire alarm system," White recounts. "Hubert told me that he and his wife had a lot of experience in the field because they had operated group homes. He offered their assistance. They did not tell me the state had shut them down.

"Daphne Campbell said, 'God brought you to us,'" White continues. "I felt I was in good hands. It was the biggest mistake of my life." White claims the Campbells used the property to trick her into sharing her credit history and information about her company, Heart of Love Home Care Inc.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.

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