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Medford nursing home admits to trying to hide circumstances of woman's death

The Medford Multicare Center at 3115 Horseblock Rd.

The Medford Multicare Center at 3115 Horseblock Rd. in Medford is shown on July 31, 2014. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

A Medford nursing home whose owners allegedly paid themselves millions while cutting costs pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to cover up the circumstances surrounding the 2012 death of a resident and agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and settle a lawsuit.

The corporation, Medford Multicare Center for Living -- which was indicted along with nine of its employees for its role stemming from the death of the resident, Aurelia Rios, 72, of Central Islip -- pleaded guilty in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead to one count of first-degree attempted falsifying business records.

Rios died Oct. 26, 2012, hours after a respiratory therapist failed to attach her to a ventilator when she went to sleep for the night.

Michelle Giamarino, 53, of Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, said it has been nearly three years since her mother died and no one from the nursing home has apologized to her and her family.

The only person representing the nursing home in court Thursday was the home's lawyer, Daniel M. McGillycuddy of Manhattan, who left after the 15-minute court proceeding without saying a word to Giamarino.

"With this resolution, Medford will be even more able to meet its mission to provide highest care levels," said nursing home spokesman Hank Sheinkopf in an email.

Giamarino, who drove four hours from her home to Riverhead, had hoped to see one of the owners or one of the board members in court to accept responsibility for her mother's death.

"I know justice was served, but my mother's life was devalued by not having someone there to take responsibility," Giamarino said afterward.

Thursday's guilty plea brings to a close the criminal case as well as the civil case brought by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman against Medford Multicare Center for Living and its owners after a whistleblower reported to the state Health Department the suspicious circumstances surrounding Rios' death.

Under the deal, approved by State Supreme Court Justice John B. Collins, all "participating defendants" agreed to be fully "compliant with all the terms and conditions . . . in settlement of a civil action" by April 1, 2016. Schneiderman's office did not disclose those terms and conditions in court or say who the participating defendants are, and refused to do so later when asked to make the information public.

In the lawsuit, filed Feb. 11, the attorney general accused the nursing-home owners and its management of defrauding the Medicaid program by accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds, but failing to provide adequate care to the residents. The majority of the residents of the 320-bed home are eligible for Medicaid, a health insurance program for the poor.

The attorney general alleged that the owners -- Mordechai Klein, Norman Rausman, and Rausman's kin, Martin Rausman, Michael Rausman, and Henry Rausman, all of Monsey, and Mendel Aschkenazi, who is deceased -- received $280 million in Medicaid funds for a decade since 2003 and "looted" close to $60 million for personal use.

In exchange for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in the criminal matter, Schneiderman's office promised not to prosecute the nursing home for any crime related to Rios' death or its failure to report her death. The attorney general said his office will also drop the three remaining charges against the nursing home.

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