Operators Of Kingston Adult Residence Accused Of Fraud
Attorney General Spitzer and State Health Commissioner Dr. Antonia C. Novello today announced a civil lawsuit alleging that the operators of a Kingston retirement home drained the life savings of elderly residents. Also today, Ulster County District Attorney Donald A. Williams announced the arrest and arraignment of two defendants in a related criminal probe and grand jury investigation.
Spitzer's civil suit, filed in Supreme Court in Dutchess County, alleges the theft of nearly $1 million from at least 19 residents of the Kingston Adult Residence (KAR) located at 254 Washington Avenue. The suit names the home's top management, including: Linda and Robert Provost, Sr.; their sons, Gary Provost and Robert Provost, Jr.; and the wife of Robert, Jr., Carol Provost.
"Kingston Adult Residence purported to be a sanctuary for the elderly, a place where each resident was told that they were part of a big family," said Spitzer. "However, our investigation revealed that the operators of this facility routinely raided the life savings of elderly residents and then used the funds to buy luxury items."
The allegation of fraud stems from a KAR policy that monthly room and board rates are set on a sliding scale and based solely on a resident's income, rather than their accumulated personal assets.
The lawsuit alleges that over a six-year period, the Provosts made unauthorized withdrawals from personal savings of residents, including many veterans. They did this by establishing joint bank accounts with residents, making unauthorized withdrawals and in one case securing a personalized signature stamp that was fraudulently used to endorse financial instruments and documents.
One of the most egregious acts involved an ailing 88-year-old resident. Investigators believe that more than $334,000 of the man's savings was transferred into an account controlled by Robert Provost Sr. Checks were then drawn on this account, to pay Provost's personal expenses, including $55,000 used to pay off the balance on several car loans, $16,000 to a boat dealer, and an additional $10,000 for custom decorating and design work.
Last month, the New York State Department of Health declined KAR's application to become a certified adult home, and directed it to transfer 60 patients from the 80-bed senior residence to licensed adult care facilities.
Dr. Novello said: "When a facility purports to provide a family environment to our most fragile residents, our seniors, and instead commits fraud upon those they are supposed to help - swift and appropriate actions must be taken. We are forcing the Kingston facility to transfer its residents to certified adult homes, and we have worked closely with the AG's office and we commend them for taking aggressive action to hold the operator of the Kingston facility accountable for his egregious actions."
The Attorney General has asked the court to:
- Appoint a receiver to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the current residents; and to oversee the orderly transfer of residents requiring enhanced adult care;
- Freeze individual and corporate assets controlled by the respondents;
- Impose civil penalties and costs against the respondents; and
- Grant full restitution and damages to aggrieved consumers, and their estates.
- Prohibit the respondents from operating an adult care facility, or being a director, officer, or manager of an adult care facility; and
- Dissolve Kingston Adult Residence and an associated company, Kingston Adult Properties.
Simultaneously, the Ulster County District Attorney announced a parallel criminal investigation resulting in today's unsealing of a four-count indictment charging Robert Provost, Sr. and his wife, Linda Provost, with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree. This indictment alleges that the defendants stole approximately $350,000 from an 88-year-old resident of the home.
The investigation commenced when residents of the adult home filed various complaints with the Ulster County District Attorney's Consumer Fraud Bureau concerning the operation of the facility. The investigation revealed improprieties in the operation of the facility with both criminal and civil overtones. The District Attorney's Office, in conjunction with the New York State Police vigorously pursued the criminal investigation resulting in today's indictment.
The indictment charges not only that defendants stole approximately $350,000 from an elderly resident, but continued in their efforts to bilk another $190,000 from the estate after the victim's death by filing false claims in the Ulster County Surrogate's Court.
District Attorney Donald A. Williams stated: "Crimes that victimize the elderly are particularly abhorrent and must be addressed by all available means. A coordinated effort on both the criminal and civil fronts will best serve to protect the residents of this home and punish these defendants. This office is, and always will, be dedicated to the zealous prosecution of those who choose to victimize vulnerable individuals in our community."
Praising the results of the collaborative efforts, the District Attorney went on to state, "this joint investigation has resulted in a legal assault which greatly outweighs the sum of separate individual efforts."
District Attorney Williams further reported that an Ulster County Grand Jury remains impaneled in this matter and further Grand Jury action is anticipated.