Woman, teen accused of forcing children to beg for money

Officers arrested a Baton Rouge woman and teen late Thursday after finding a 12-year-old boy who claimed his relatives forced him and his cousin to beg for money in front of stores in the city.

Jakeri Ellsworth, 21, 1344 Scenic Highway, and Keoril Green, 17, 1350 Scenic Highway, were arrested and booked Thursday into Ascension Parish Prison near Donaldsonville with single counts of cruelty to a juvenile and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, police said in a news release Friday.

Ellsworth and Green are the boys’ older relatives, and police said the boys’ parents did not know what was happening.

The 12-year-old boy, who was found in the Gonzales Wal-Mart parking lot shortly after 5:41 p.m. Thursday, told officers he and his 10-year-old cousin had been dropped off at two different parking lots about 3 p.m. Thursday to beg for money, police said.

Police Detective Sgt. Steven Nethken said the 12-year-old was at the Wal-Mart entrance with no supervision, food or water and “was asking people for money.”

Officers could not immediately find the boy’s younger cousin where the older cousin had said the boy could be found.

Officers did find the 10-year-old later in a car with Ellsworth and Green, who were spotted about 8:10 p.m. Thursday circling the Wal-Mart parking lot looking for the 12-year-old, police said.

Ellsworth and Green later told officers they had dropped the juveniles off to beg for money and went shopping for mobile homes in the area, police said. Ellsworth and Green told officers that earlier on Thursday they had let the two children out in the Kmart parking lot along Airline Highway in Gonzales, sat in the car and watched while the children asked for money.

Nethken said officers do not know how much the boys were able to collect from begging Thursday.

The boys were released to their respective biological parent or guardians, police said.