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A.G. Schneiderman Announces Homicide Conviction By Jury Of Long Island Nursing Home Healthcare Worker In Resident Death

Criminal Case Focused On Criminally Negligent Homicide And Cover-Up Of Death Of 72-Year-Old Female Resident; Also Results In Conviction Of Four Other Defendants On Charges Related To Death Of Ventilator Patient

Schneiderman: The Trial Has Put An End To The Lies About What Happened At Medford Multicare

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced the conviction of five employees of the Medford Multicare Center for Living, Inc. in Medford, New York. The defendants were tried by jury in Suffolk County Supreme Court, Hon. John B. Collins presiding. Charges are still pending against the corporation operating the home and its administrator for the cover up surrounding the 2012 death.

All the defendants face up to four years behind bars on the ten felony counts for which they have been convicted.

“Today the juries made it clear that callous acts of neglect at a nursing facility will not be tolerated in New York State,” saidAttorney General Schneiderman. “The bottom line is that a patient died and they lied. It is unacceptable to lie and deceive in order to cover up a patient’s death by neglect.”

The jury convicted Kethlie Joseph, 63, of Brentwood, of Criminally Negligent Homicide for the death of the 72-year-old woman who was residing at Medford Multicare Center. Joseph, a licensed respiratory therapist, trained in administering treatment to ventilator-dependent residents, admitted never having read a doctor’s orders requiring the resident to be connected to a ventilator machine at night. As a result, the resident was not connected to the ventilator when she went to sleep, and she died that night, October 26, 2012. Joseph not only ignored alarms for more than two hours, but also ignored messages to her pager when the resident stopped breathing. Furthermore, video surveillance captured Joseph walking toward her office and passing the resident’s room while the alarms were sounding. She did not reappear until much later, after an aide, not assigned to this resident, checked on the resident, who by then had been dead for some time. An anonymous whistleblower – a Medford employee shocked by the cover-up -- later informed authorities of the circumstances.

Another jury in the jointly-conducted trial, convicted:

  • Kimberly Lappe, 33, of Medford, a registered nurse who also failed to respond to the visual and audio alarms for almost two hours. Despite video evidence to the contrary, Lappe also falsely claimed in notes written a day after the incident that nurses had responded to the alarms and that the resident was in stable condition.
  • Victoria Caldwell, 52, of Medford, a licensed practical nurse who claimed to investigators that the resident was alive and “looked up at me” when in fact the resident had likely been dead for some time.
  • Christine Boylan, 50, of Mastic, Medford’s director of respiratory therapy, who concealed computer records documenting the alarms that signified the resident’s distress from the NYS Department of Health (DOH) during the course of its investigation, in an attempt to cover up the incident.
  • Marianne Fassino, 54, of Shirley, a registered nurse who was in charge of the home’s ventilator unit the night of the death and who failed to respond to the visual and audio alarms for almost two hours despite being inches away from monitors.

Previously convicted by guilty plea were two nurse aides: Leona Gordon, 36, of Medford, who provided testimony confirming the criminal conduct, an aide who was responsible for watching the unit’s alarm monitor in the nursing station to ensure that any alarms were answered in a timely manner. Christina Corelli, 37, of East Patchogue, an aide who had falsely claimed that the resident’s respiratory alarms were not beeping and that the resident was breathing normally when she was in the room with the resident.

Sentencing was set for September 15 for all convicted defendants.

Charges are pending against certain other defendants; those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted of crimes.

The Attorney General separately filed a civil lawsuit earlier this year charging the home’s owners with corporate looting and fraud, based on a history of criminal conduct by employees of the home. The suit against the owners of the Medford Multicare Center detailed a long pattern of resident neglect and systematic corporate looting.

Since 2008, an additional 17 licensed and certified employees of the Medford facility have been convicted of neglect and the falsification of records in an attempt to cover up abuse and neglect. Six of the 17 convictions arose out of hidden camera investigations conducted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

The civil complaint filed by the Attorney General details how Medford’s owners lined their pockets with millions in public Medicaid funds while turning a blind eye to persistent neglect of residents by senior management and staff. The complaint alleges that since opening Medford in 2003, the owners systemically looted the facility. That case will move forward upon conclusion of criminal proceedings.

The Attorney General thanked the New York State Department of Health for referring these matters to the Office and for its assistance in conducting the investigations. The Attorney General would also like to thank the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office for logistical support during the trial.

The case was presented to the jury by Special Assistant Attorneys General Veronica Bindrim-MacDevitt and Peter Zadek, with support by Special Auditor-Investigator Sydney Pickman. The investigation was conducted by Senior Special Investigators Dawn Scandaliato and Regina Hogan, Karen Patterson, RN, Confidential Medical Analyst, with assistance from Supervising Special Investigator Greg Muroff, all assigned to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU).

Supervisory support for the trial was managed by Jane Zwirn-Turkin, Regional Director of the MFCU Hauppauge Regional Office, MFCU Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan, Thomas O’Hanlon, Chief of Criminal Investigations-Downstate and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul Mahoney. Amy Held is the Acting Director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit; Kelly Donovan is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice.

Members of the public can report suspected nursing home patient abuse or neglect to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 800-771-7755 or on-line here.