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Post date: April 25 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Charges Filed Against 17 Nursing Home Employees For Neglecting Disabled Resident

Hidden Camera Placed In Patient’s Room Reveals Disturbing Pattern Of Neglect

Schneiderman: My Office Will Not Tolerate Nursing Home Residents Being Neglected By Those Responsible For Their Care

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that charges were filed against 17 employees of Highpointe on Michigan Health Care Facility in Buffalo, following an investigation into their treatment of a nursing home resident. The investigation, which relied on a hidden camera placed in the patient’s room, revealed a disturbing pattern of neglect. The eight nurses and nine nursing assistants are being charged with a variety of felony and misdemeanor counts in Buffalo City Court.

The victim, identified in court papers only as “LM” in order to protect his family’s privacy, was a 56-year-old resident who suffered from Huntington’s chorea, a neurological disease that left the resident completely non-ambulatory and bedridden. He was totally dependent on the nursing staff of Highpointe for his care. 

“Nursing home residents are among our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and the perpetual neglect in this case is shameful,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. “The charges filed send the message that my office will not tolerate anyone being neglected by those responsible for his or her care. We will use every tool in our arsenal, including hidden cameras, to ensure that nursing home residents receive the care they need and the respect they deserve.”

According to video footage recorded by the Attorney General’s Office, both nurses and certified nurse’s aides routinely ignored their duties regarding the resident and his documented needs. For instance, on a number of occasions during the surveillance period, nurses failed to dispense pain medication and check on the resident. Aides neglected to check on the resident, failed to give him liquids and failed to perform incontinent care. The nurses and aides then falsified documents in an effort to conceal their neglect.

The nurses and aides were charged with Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (class E felony), Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree (class E felony) and Wilful Violation of Public Health Laws. A class E felony carries a prison sentence of up to 4 years.

The 17 employees charged are:

  • Natalie Galbo, 30, RN, Amherst 
  • Shateeka Stevens, 39, LPN, Cheektowaga 
  • Michael Howell, 40, LPN, Buffalo 
  • Heidi Bowens, 41, LPN, Buffalo 
  • Rochelle McNeair-Tisdale, 55, LPN, Buffalo 
  • Jamie Cunningham, 26, LPN, Buffalo
  • Cynthia Kozlowski, 60, LPN, Getzville
  • Marlene Sims, 58, LPN, Cheektowaga
  • Rubetta Harrell, CNA, 54, Cheektowaga
  • Nicole Baker, 35, CNA, Buffalo
  • Tiffany Heard-Williams, 35, CNA, Buffalo
  • Ruteasha McCray, 35, CNA, Buffalo
  • Kenissa Henderson, 27, CNA, Buffalo
  • Mariah Robinson, 20, CNA, Buffalo
  • Margaret Glass, 23, CNA, Buffalo
  • Amanda Stuart, 34, CNA, Sloan
  • Hazell Clegatt, 43, CNA, Buffalo

Attorney General Schneiderman thanks Kaleida Health for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation. 

The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

The case was investigated by Investigators Katie O’Neill and Milagro Ferrer, Supervising Special Auditor/Investigator Raymond August, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) Buffalo Regional Chief Kathleen Donahue and MFCU Deputy Chief Investigator William Falk. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Thomas N. Schleif of the MFCU Buffalo Regional Office. Gary A. Baldauf is the Regional Director of the MFCU Buffalo Regional Office. Catherine Wagner is the Chief of Criminal Investigations-Upstate. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is led by acting MFCU Director Amy Held. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.

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