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9 Arrested In L.I. Nursing Home Probe Following Patient’s Death

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MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Nine people have been arrested following an investigation of a Long Island nursing home by the state attorney general’s office.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, of the nine employees charged, seven of them were arrested in connection with the October 2012 death of 72-year-old patient Aurelia Rios.

Licensed professional Kethlie Joseph is charged with criminally negligent homicide and administrator David Fielding is accused of an alleged cover-up.

Rios, a retired dental assistant and mother of three, suffered from pneumonia and was sent to Medford Multicare Center for six weeks of temporary rehab, McLogan reported.

Authorities said during Rios’ stay, her ventilator became disconnected and workers at the facility ignored alarms for two hours, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

Rios died soon after, and her daughter said the family was told she died of a heart attack, Rivera reported.

“It didn’t sit right with us,” Rios’ daughter, Michelle Giamarino, said. “I cried a lot, but now I’m very angry. … How can you be that negligent? That’s a life.”

Meanwhile, a whistle-blower secretly contacted state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and an investigation into Rios’ death ensued, McLogan reported.

“I didn’t want her to be awake, trying to scream and no sound came out,” Giamarino told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.

In addition to the criminal charges, Schneiderman also filed a civil complaint against the management of the nursing home, citing a pattern of neglect and abuse.

The attorney general said there have been 5,000 incidents and accidents at the facility since 2008.

Schneiderman said employee negligence also caused severe injuries to another patient, while the facility’s owner diverted $60 million in Medicaid funds to line their pockets, McLogan reported.

Medford Multicare Center spokesman Hank Sheinkopf said the center’s most recent review did not uncover any infractions.

“Not only does the facility meet all safety protocols mandated by the state, it has a history of going beyond what is required,” Sheinkopf said. “Over the past five years, the facility has done increasingly well on its Department of Health inspections, and on its most recent review last August, did not receive a single infraction. We are very concerned by the charges filed by the attorney general today, but we know that these allegations are not indicative of the excellent quality of care that we and our dedicated staff provide to residents.”

The lawyers representing the suspects called the charges untrue and trumped up.

Prosecutors, however, said surveillance video confiscated from the nursing home will prove negligence in court, McLogan reported.

All of the defendants have been placed on administrative leave.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)