The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia has reached a civil settlement with the owner of four personal-care homes that were described as unsafe, unsanitary and unfit for the elderly and often disabled people who had been living there.

Under the settlement announced today by U.S. Attorney Patrick M. Meehan, Rosalind S. Lavin agreed to never again own, operate or manage any government-funded or private-pay care facility.

She and the corporate entities controlling the facilities also agreed to pay $700,000 to the government. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerald B. Sullivan said the money would go to the Social Security Administration.

Lavin and her late husband, Robert, owned a $1.8 million house in Villanova with six bathrooms and a tennis court, and Meehan said they enjoyed a "life of Main Line luxury" that was much different from the conditions of the 100 to 200 residents of the four homes.

Meehan said residents were subjected to "grossly inadequate and dangerous" care, though no deaths resulted. He said the investigation began in part because of news reports in The Inquirer and the Delaware County Daily Times.

"This is an area of great concern for us," said Meehan, who said that personal-care homes are much less regulated than nursing homes.

The government contended that the owners and corporate entities diverted SSA benefits from use for the care of residents to the owners' own benefit, including for payment of their personal expenses and salaries, according to the settlement papers.

Three of the personal-care homes have been closed, Meehan said, and the fourth, Ivy Ridge personal-care facility in the 5600 block of Ridge Avenue, is nearly closed. Under the terms of the settlement, Ivy Ridge could be operated as a boarding home.

The three now-defunct homes were the Brookwood personal-care home in Media, and the Conlyn personal-care home in the 5800 block of North 16th Street and Thoroughgood personal-care home in the 400 block of South 40th Street, both in Philadelphia.

Lavin's lawyers, Lawrence J. Tabas and Larry Besnoff, did not return phone calls seeking comment.