New York Nursing Home Owners and Officials Plead Guilty to Patient Abuse and Neglect

Owners and officials at Mohawk Valley Health Care Center in Ilion, New York, have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges including suppressing incidents of patient abuse and neglect and falsifying business records, according to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“The plea announced today resolves an investigation into troubling acts of abuse and neglect and a cover-up by those who should have been putting patients first,” said Schneiderman, according to CNYCentral.com. “Nursing facilities are entrusted with an important responsibility to treat patients with the dignity and respect they deserve. My office will continue to hold individuals and nursing facilities accountable when they betray the trust of patients and the families who place loved ones in their care.”

The investigation began after it came to light that officials at the center had covered up a serious medication error that went unnoticed for several days and an incident where a resident with dementia engaged in “unlawful sexual conduct” with another resident in an unsupervised dining room, a statement from the attorney general explained.

“The neglect shown by senior leadership at this facility is shocking,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said.

In August 2015, former director of nursing Nicolle Wagner-Stinson pleaded guilty to covering up sexual abuse and neglect at Mohawk Valley Health Care Center. The former employee also admitted to concealing medical records documenting patient neglect and a medication administration record showing that the home failed to provide a patient with doctor-ordered medication.

On November 24, 2015, Gerald Wood III, an owner of the facility, entered a guilty plea to attempted eavesdropping for attempting to listen in on an employee interview being conducted by Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigators. He was sentenced to three years’ probation, which includes a three-year prohibition against owning, working for, working in, or being associated with a residential health care facility. On the same day, co-owner Justin Wood pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the fifth degree for tampering with evidence, according to CNYCentral. He received a fine and is prohibited from owning, working for, working in, or being associated with a residential health care facility for one year.

Gerald (Jerry) Wood III, Justin Wood, and their father, Gerald (Jerry) Wood, Jr., will be required to divest their ownership interests in the facility under the civil settlement.

On December 2, 2015, John Prendergast, former administrator of Mohawk Valley Health Care Center, pleaded guilty to attempted tampering with physical evidence involving the attempted concealing of a witness statement from the NYS Department of Health. He will be sentenced on February 23, 2016, CNYCentral reports.

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