A.G. Schneiderman Announces Charges Against Owners & Other Top Officials At Mohawk Valley Nursing Home Over Allegations Of Covering-Up Resident Abuse And Neglect

Defendants Also Stand Accused Of Eavesdropping On Investigators And Destroying Evidence When Incidents Came To Light

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictments and arrests of the owners and top managers of Mohawk Valley Health Care Center, a nursing home in Ilion, New York. Owners Gerald “Jerry” Wood III and Justin Wood, licensed Nursing Home Administrator John Prendergast, and Director of Nursing Nicolle Wagner Stinson, RN, were arraigned today in Herkimer County Court before Judge John Crandall. The 45 count indictment alleges crimes arising from the suppression of two incidents of patient abuse and neglect, and related charges of falsifying records; not all defendants are charged with every crime alleged in the indictment, except for the corporation, MVNH Associates, LLC, d/b/a Mohawk Valley Health Care Center.

“New Yorkers expect that their loved ones will be given appropriate care in a safe environment in nursing facilities across the state,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “When a company and its senior leadership allegedly cover up patient abuse and neglect, it is a serious criminal matter where individuals must be held accountable.”

The indictment details allegations arising from two apparent incidents that took place in May, 2013, and an alleged cover-up of the two incidents. The first alleged incident involved a serious medication error that went unnoticed for several days. The second alleged incident involved a resident suffering from dementia engaging in unlawful sexual conduct towards another resident in an unsupervised dining room. When these incidents came to light, it is alleged that owner Gerald “Jerry” Wood III criminally eavesdropped on investigators from the Attorney General’s Office while they were conducting an interview with a nursing home employee about the incidents. The indictment also alleges a conspiracy involving facility part-owner and technical manager Justin Wood and other defendants destroying electronic evidence of the alleged events.

MVNH Associates, LLC, d/b/a Mohawk Valley Health Care Center is charged with all of the crimes committed by the individual defendants, as it is alleged that these owners and managers were acting on behalf of the corporation

The specific charges against the individual defendants are as follows:

Defendant Gerald “Jerry” Wood III, age 30, of Dix Hills: 2 counts of Wilful Violation of Health Laws; 1 count of Eavesdropping; 1 count of Conspiracy in the 5th Degree.

Defendant Nicolle Wagner Stinson, RN, age 39, of Fort Plain: 2 counts of Wilful Violation of Health Laws; 1 count of Eavesdropping; 1 count of Conspiracy in the 5th Degree; 8 Counts of Tampering with Physical Evidence (E felony); 18 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the 1st degree; (E felony); 1 count of Forgery in the 3rd degree (A Misd.); 12 counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 3rd degree(A Misd.)

Defendant John Prendergast, age 46, of Utica: 2 counts of Wilful Violation of Health Laws; 1 count of Conspiracy in the 5th Degree; 2 Counts of Tampering with Physical Evidence (E felony);

Defendant Justin Wood, age 29, of Dix Hills: 1 count of Conspiracy in the 5th Degree.

The maximum penalty for the felony crimes of Eavesdropping, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, and Tampering with Physical Evidence is 1 1/3 to 4 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor crimes of Wilful Violation of the Health Law, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 3rd Degree, Forgery in the Third Degree, and Conspiracy in the 5th Degree is one year in jail.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The Attorney General thanked the New York State Department of Health for their assistance in this matter.

The case was investigated by Special Investigator Scott Petucci, Senior Investigator Patrick M. Lynch, Senior Special Investigator Thaddeus Kaczor, Senior Investigator Michael J. Ostuni, Special Investigator Keith Hall and Supervising Special Investigator Christopher M. Burns. Also contributing to the investigation were Associate Special Auditor/Investigator Sabrina Stagnitta, Senior Auditor/Investigator Dejan Budimir, Special Auditors/Investigators John O. Collins, Siobhan P. O’Leary and Carri Brooks, and Regional Chief Auditor Thomas J. Goodman. The case is being prosecuted by Ralph D. Tortora, III, Regional Director, Syracuse Regional Office of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with the assistance of MFCU Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney. Catherine Wagner is Chief of Criminal Investigations-Upstate. William Falk is the Deputy Chief Investigator 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.