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MARIETTA, Ga. -- A Cobb County woman pleaded guilty Thursday to operating an unlicensed care center out of a Marietta house.

Raequel Alita Penny admitted she kept six disabled and/or elderly women in the basement of the house on Laurel Springs Lane, and deprived the people in her care of food, medicine and other basic necessities.

Penny was convicted of 47 charges, including false imprisonment, racketeering, theft and deprivation. A Cobb County judge sentenced her to 20 years -- 10 in custody and 10 on probation.

The defendant was arrested in September 2013 after the home's condition was brought to light. Prosecutors said Penny even used plywood walls to turn her basement into "rooms," some as small as 11 feet by 5 feet, for the women in her care.

"This case is about how we treat the elderly and disabled in our community. I hope the message was sent that these sorts of substandard conditions will not be tolerated," Cobb County ADA Jason Marbutt said in court.

After Penny's arrest, Georgia lawmakers passed legislation to strengthen penalties for those found guilty of operating unlicensed care facilities.

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