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Health aide pleads guilty to leaving patient

A home health care aide has pleaded guilty to repeatedly leaving her developmentally disabled patient in a parked car outside her home while she worked an illegal second job, prosecutors said Friday.

Esther Reyes, 33, of Freeport, pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny and endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person. She also pleaded guilty to third-degree tampering with a witness after prosecutors say she sent two people to intimidate a witness in the case.

Reyes faces up to 7 years in prison at her Jan. 27 sentencing, but the judge has committed to giving Reyes probation. Her lawyer, Frank Doddato, could not be reached for comment late Friday.

Prosecutors said between July 25, 2006, and Nov. 17, 2008, Reyes worked as a home health aide for a man, now 23, who is autistic and has seizures. Reyes had been hired by the man's parents, a Hicksville couple, to dress and feed their son. But while Reyes drove a school bus during that time, she locked the man in a car in her driveway, prosecutors said.

Reyes violated Medicaid regulations that prohibit care providers from "having secondary employment" during hours they work providing care to patients, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the Nassau County executive's Medicaid Investigations Unit brought the case to their attention.

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