Medford nursing home administrator, employees indicted on a charges of fatal neglect
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A Suffolk County grand jury has indicted at least six employees of a Medford nursing home, holding them responsible for neglecting a 72-year-old patient who later died and then covering it up, according to court records and attorneys.
The indictment accuses Medford Multicare Center for Living, its administrator, respiratory therapy director and several nurses of neglect leading to the October 2012 death of Aurelia Rios of Central Islip.
Forty-six counts in the indictment handed up May 23 were made public on the website for state courts.
Kethlie Joseph, 63, of Brentwood, a respiratory therapist, faces the most serious charge -- negligent homicide.
Charges against the six include neglect and abuse, falsifying business records, obstructing government administration, tampering with physical evidence and endangering an incompetent individual.
Rios died because she wasn't attached to the ventilator that helped her breathe as ordered by her doctors, according to a lawsuit brought in February by state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, whose office is handling the criminal case.
The other employees indicted are: David Fielding, 57, of Lido Beach, the nursing home administrator; Christine Boylan, 49, of Mastic, director of respiratory therapy; and nurses Victoria Caldwell, 51, and Kimberly Lappe, 32, both of Medford, and Christina Corelli, 37, of East Patchogue.
A seventh employee, Patricia DiGiovanni, 62, of Port Jefferson, was also indicted, but her attorney has not confirmed that the charges are related to the nursing home.
All of the workers were arrested on similar charges in February.
Attorney Jonathan Manley of Hauppauge, representing Joseph, said he didn't know why criminal charges have sprung "from this unfortunate incident."
"She has been doing this job over 20 years, and she has never had a problem before," he said.
Fielding's lawyer, Brian Griffin of Garden City, defended the administrator's career.
"David Fielding has spent a career earning a reputation as someone who has vastly improved the lives of thousands of residents throughout New York State nursing homes," Griffin said. "Although these allegations have brought harm to his stellar reputation, we are confident that it will be returned to him by a jury of his peers."
Attorneys for the other employees said their clients are respected professionals who committed no crimes.
The indictment is under seal until Thursday when the employees are scheduled to be arraigned before Justice John B. Collins in Riverhead.
Although they have not seen the indictment, the defense attorneys said they presume the charges stem from Rios' death, and are similar or the same as those filed previously by the attorney general.
The employees, with the exception of one who was working per diem, have been on paid leave, according to their attorneys and a spokesman for the 320-bed nursing home.
"This is just the next step in the legal process that began in February," said Andrew Moesel, the spokesman. "Medford remains confident that these allegations will be proven false, and it will show that the facility in fact provides excellent quality of care."
None of the for-profit facility's six owners, who collected salaries and compensation totaling $9.9 million in 2011, were indicted, Moesel said.