Upstate New York Nursing Officials Plead Guilty to Patient Abuse and Neglect and Falsifying Records

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Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has disclosed that owners and officials at Mohawk Valley Health Care Center (in Ilion, New York) have pleaded guilty to a number of charges including concealing incidents of patient abuse and neglect and falsifying business records.

“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 a report by CNYCentral.com on January 5, 2016. “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 Schneiderman’s office learned 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, according to a statement from the attorney general.

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

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

On November 24, 2015, Gerald Wood III, an owner of the home, entered a guilty plea to attempted eavesdropping for trying to listen in on an employee interview being conducted by Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigators. He was sentenced to three years’ probation, and is under 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., must divest themselves of ownership interests in the Mohawk Valley Health Care Center under the terms of the civil settlement.

John Prendergast, former administrator of Mohawk Valley Health Care Center, pleaded guilty on December 2, 2015, to attempted tampering with physical evidence involving efforts to conceal a witness statement from the NYS Department of Health. His sentencing is scheduled for February 23, 2016, CNYCentral reports.