Owner Of Unlicensed Adult Homes Cited For Contempt
Attorney General Spitzer today said that a state judge has punished for contempt the owner of three unlicenced adult homes in Sullivan County housing mentally ill and developmentally disabled residents.
In April of this year, Acting Sullivan County State Supreme Court Justice Mark M. Meddaugh held Frank Cuttita in contempt for his refusal to obey a February 2003 temporary restraining order. This order was obtained by Spitzer’s office to shut down three Liberty facilities at 6038 and 6039 Neversink Road and 428 North Main Street.
In a decision dated December 4th, the judge has now ordered Cuttita to pay a $5,000 fine or face up to six months in Sullivan County jail for his contempt.
The judge’s order also imposed civil penalties of $405,000 against Cuttita and permanently barred him from operating any type of boarding facility, including an adult home, unless he posts a $100,000 performance bond.
In September, the State Welfare Inspector General’s office prosecuted Cuttita, who was found guilty of Knowing Operation of an Adult Care Facility without Written Approval, a Class A misdemeanor.
"Working with the state DOH and Office of Children and Family Services, we will do everything within our power to protect the safety and welfare of the residents of these facilities, many of whom are extremely ill and vulnerable," Spitzer said.
Spitzer’s February legal action came after Cuttita, the owner of three Liberty facilities, defied state officials from the Department of Health (DOH) and the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) who sought to close the facilities. A DOH administrative judge concluded in
January 2003 that more than a dozen residents of the three unlicenced facilities could not live independently and were receiving unsafe, unskilled and inadequate care and that their mental and physical health, safety and welfare were in imminent danger. New York state law requires the licensing of facilities that house persons incapable of living independently.
Cuttita’s facilities were not licensed, although he purported to manage residents’ medications and money to assist them in obtaining physical and mental health services.
DOH began its investigation in March 2000 when Theresa Gugliano, a legally blind resident of the North Main Street facility, was fatally bludgeoned with a brick outside the residence. The next month, another resident of the facility, Hugh Fearon, pled guilty to the crime. Fearon had gone to Cuttita’s Liberty facility after his release in December from a New York City psychiatric ward. In February 2003, one of the North Main Street home residents set fire to the facility.
Spitzer acknowledged the participation and cooperation of the Department of Health, the Office of Children and Family Services, and numerous Sullivan County family service and public health professionals.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office.