Louisiana Attorney General arrests nursing home owner after deadly Hurricane Ida evacuation
The owner of seven Louisiana nursing homes that were evacuated during Hurricane Ida to a warehouse where at least seven people died is facing multiple charges of fraud and cruelty to the infirmed.
Bob Dean Jr. was charged Wednesday in Tangipahoa Parish with eight felony counts of cruelty to persons with infirmities, five felony counts of Medicaid fraud and two felony counts of obstruction of justice.
Investigators found Dean “refused to move his residents out of the warehouse following Hurricane Ida, billed Medicaid for dates his residents were not receiving proper care and engaged in conduct intended to intimidate or obstruct public health officials and law enforcement,” Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office said in a release.
The investigation was led by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit and the Louisiana Bureau of Investigations.
Additional legal action may be filed as the investigation is ongoing.
Dean, who lives in Georgia with his wife, flew into Louisiana and self-surrendered Wednesday, his attorney John McLindon said. The judge set the 68-year-old’s bond at $350,000 and he will be released from jail Wednesday afternoon, McLindon said. Dean has permission to return to Georgia.
“We will vigorously defend these charges,” McLindon told the Daily Advertiser.
If convicted of cruelty to persons with infirmities, Dean could face up to a $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison for each charge, according to state law. If convicted of Medicaid fraud, he could face up to a $20,000 fine and five years in prison for each charge.
The Louisiana Department of Health revoked the facilities’ licenses after nursing home residents were evacuated to a Tangipahoa Parish warehouse during Hurricane Ida.
The Associated Press reported that 15 residents died after the evacuation, though some may not be related to the storm or warehouse, and LDH called the conditions unsafe and inhumane.
Background: What to know about nursing home evacuation to Independence, lawsuit
The facilities laid off more than 800 people after that. But in the notice the facilities called the revocation of the licenses “temporary,” and said the decision was being appealed.
A class-action lawsuit also has been filed against Dean, alleging that the nursing home residents “called out to the representatives of defendants for food, water, medicine, and to be relieved of their soiled diapers, clothes and bed linens (for those who were provided linens) but their calls went unanswered.”
The seven facilities that evacuated patients to the Independence, Louisiana, warehouse were located in Orleans, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Jefferson parishes.
Before Hurricane Ida made landfall, the facilities evacuated more than 800 residents to the warehouse. It was ill-equipped for the number of people it housed and there weren’t enough staff to care for residents, according to a lawsuit.
911 calls: Nursing home evacuees called 911 from fetid warehouse where 4 died, but EMTs turned away
About the lawsuit: As conditions at Louisiana warehouse worsened during Ida, staff made toilets from buckets
Mattresses were laid on the floor, just inches from each other, a problem that was exacerbated when rainwater leaked into one of the warehouse’s buildings.
Officials with the department of health made multiple visits to the site but Dean threatened them. They later returned with law enforcement officials and removed residents.
Contact Ashley White at [email protected] or on Twitter @AshleyyDi.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Louisiana nursing home owner arrested after Hurricane Ida evacuation