On January 4, 2016 Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced several guilty pleas in connection with allegations against Mohawk Valley Health Care Center (MVNH) for falsifying business records and covering up nursing home resident abuse and neglect. In a separate civil settlement, MVNH Associates, LLC also agreed to pay a $1,000,000 fine to Medicaid for accepting overpayments from the program. The company will also be required to hire an independent monitor to implement reform and divest ownership of the two convicted defendants and a related investor.
The indictment included details of two incidents that occurred in May 2013 and the alleged cover up of those incidents. The first incident included a medication error that went unnoticed for several days and was then covered up. The second incident involved a resident with dementia who took part in unlawful sexual conduct with another resident. MVNH’s guilty plea resolved these issues, which initially were part of a 45 count indictment. The plea involved admitting to adding an employee’s name to a staffing sheet who was not working. MVNH also had to pay a $5,000 fine. Two owners of the facility, a former administrator and director of nursing, pled guilty to separate charges.
An owner of the facility named Gerald “Jerry” Wood III, allegedly eavesdropped on an employee interview conducted by Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. On November 24, 2015 Wood III entered a guilty plea to allegations of attempting to eavesdrop on an interview; he was sentenced to three years’ probation, precluded him from owning, working for or in, or being associated with a residential health care facility. Co-owner, Justin Wood, pled guilty to Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree for conspiring to tamper with evidence on November 24, 2015. He was fined and sentenced to probation, precluded from owning, working for or working in, or being associated with a residential health care facility for one year. Gerald “Jerry” Wood III, Justin Wood, and their father, Gerald “Jerry” Wood Jr. will all be required to divest their ownership in the civil settlement.
The former Director of Nursing, Nicolle Wagner, pled guilty to two counts of Tampering with Physical Evidence on August 26, 2015 for concealing a medication administration sheet from the NYS Department of Health. Wagner admitted destroying a witness statement that described the events of the sexual assault between two of the nursing homes residents. She also admitted to concealing medical records in an attempt to cover up patient neglect; the records provided evidence of failing to provide patient with a doctor ordered medication. Her sentencing was scheduled for January 12, 2016.
Former administrator, John Prendergast pled guilty to Attempted Tampering with Physical Evidence on December 2, 2015 in an attempt to conceal a witness statement from the NYS Department of Health; his sentencing is scheduled for February 3, 2016.