Four months after the Lamb County District Attorney’s Office first confirmed that Littlefield Hospitality owed it’s employees thousands of dollars in wages, Littlefield Hospitality has still not paid back the full amount they owe. Littlefield Hospitality is a nursing home in Lamb County.
The Lamb County District Attorney said Thursday morning that their office has been contacted by 17-18 employees, one service provider, and four to five businesses with complaints about money owed and about hot checks from Littlefield Hospitality. They added that while the police department was still investigating the totals and that the total amount owed was “in flux,” the amount Littlefield Hospitality owed was in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Lamb County District Attorney Scott Say explained this week that his office had given the nursing home until the end of the day November 4 to pay off that amount, or else theft charges would be filed, and arrest warrants would be issued for those responsible.
EverythingLubbock.com called on the phone and went in person on Tuesday to speak with Littlefield Hospitality management about the money they owed, in both instances they declined to comment.
On Thursday afternoon, Say told EverythingLubbock.com that an owner with Littlefield Hospitality, Kristi Porter, came in with a cashier’s check, mentioning that our reporter had been out to visit her. Including the amount she deposited Thursday, she has paid 90 percent of the total her business owes, Say explained. The DA’s Office is processing her payment now and plans to have trust checks available for the victims next week. Say said the remaining amount should be paid off at the end of the month.
Because of Ms. Porter’s recent deposit, the DA’s office has opted to give her another month before they file charges. The DA’s office said they didn’t want to risk the nursing home being shut down and having residents’ care disrupted. The investigation into this case is still ongoing, the DA’s office said.
In early July, Say told EverythingLubbock.com that Littlefield Hospitality owed $17,880.75 dollars and that six employees had come forward with checks that wouldn’t cash. In July, the DA’s office was hopeful that the money would be paid off by the end of the month.
Sylvia Garcia was one of the former Littlefield Hospitality employees we spoke with in July, at the time she said her former employer owed her $2,500 in checks from several pay periods.
“It’s not easy, $2,500 probably to some people out there is nothing. For me, its a lot because it’s money they owe me because I’ve already worked for it. I’m not asking them for a loan, I’m not asking them for something I want, I already have earned that money,” Garcia explained.
Garcia said she had been working as a certified nurse aid at the nursing home for two years. When Garcia would go to cash the checks, time after time she was told there were insufficient funds.
“All of Lamb County and Lubbock County, they don’t get those checks, nobody wants to cash them, they even throw them back at you like take them somewhere else, it’s really embarrassing,” she said. “Like you go into places to [cash] it and they know it’s not your fault, but it’s still your name on the check.”
Garcia said she quit on July 2 even though she loved her job, because during that month she had not been able to cash the checks she was earning. She said caring for the residents at the facility was her passion, but things crossed the line when the lack of payment prevented her from caring for her own family.
“I think we all deserve better than what’s happened to us,” she said.
Since July, Garcia has been receiving some partial payments from Littlefield Hospitality, but she said she is still owed her last check which totals to a little more than $500.
In July, Garcia shared the following text message exchange she said she had with Ms. Porter:
Garcia said, “I need my check cash today they cut off my electricity yesterday and today and I have ’til noon to make my truck payment and I need my money today.”
Ms. Porter replied, “There isn’t any money Sylvia”
Garcia said she still has no answers about why she wasn’t paid the money she was owed. But having all of those payments seriously delayed damaged her financial standing, jeopardizing her bill paying and her ability to support her family. She is still feeling the effects of the checks she wasn’t able to cash.
“It’s not that easy because your life still goes on, your bills pile up, you have to make calls, you have to find some extensions on your payments,” she said.
The stress of trying to cash hot checks and getting behind on important bills has impacted Garcia personally too.
“Emotionally and morally, I am broken. I’ve been depressed, I haven’t been able to perform my job as a CNA at 100 percent because you’re taking care of someone else, I love my job,it’s my passion, but right now I’m broken,” said Garcia. She hasn’t been able to work as a CNA since July, but she hopes once she receives the money she’s owed that she can get a fresh start.
“I know they one day they have to get to a point where they have to face the law, and I feel bad that’s gonna happen,” she said of her former employer. “But if it does happen, I feel bad, because they have families too and I know they are gonna have the problems, maybe the same ones I have.”
Garcia said that she doesn’t have any ill will toward her former employer, she just wants to be paid what she’s earned.
“For me I’m not asking for nothing else, just to be fair and to pay me for what I already have worked for and that’s it,” she said.