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Ex-nursing home director, three nurses found guilty in patient'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 former Medford nursing home worker and three nurses were found guilty Thursday in the death of a resident.

Christine Boylan, 50, of Mastic, former director of respiratory therapy; and nurses Victoria Caldwell, 52, of Medford; Marianne Fassino, 54, of Shirley; and Kimberly Lappe, 33, of Southold, were convicted on charges that included neglect and falsifying business records.

Prosecutors said the workers attempted to cover up the death of Aurelia Rios and their roles in her death by lying to investigators from the state Health Department and the nursing home, Medford Multicare Center for Living, which launched separate inquiries.

Rios' daughter, Michelle Giamarino, hugged her attorney and lawyers representing the attorney general's office after the verdicts were handed down.

"That was my mom and I don't want to see anybody go to jail or be found guilty of something like this but justice was served," said Giamarino, 53, of Pennsylvania.

"Maybe this makes a statement that this won't be tolerated."

The Riverhead jury's finding comes after respiratory therapist Kethlie Joseph, 63, of Brentwood, was found guilty Wednesday of criminally negligent homicide in Rios' death. The crime is punishable by up to 4 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Joseph failed to attach Rios, 72, to a ventilator, leading to the woman's death on Oct. 26, 2012.

An attorney for one of the nurses said he was surprised by the conviction.

"Based on what Victoria Caldwell did, responding to an emergency, reacting immediately -- I'm very shocked by the verdict," said Caldwell's attorney, Ray Perini of Hauppauge, who said he planned to appeal.

The Rios' family attorney, Andrea Camacho of Manhattan, said: "Our elderly and our disabled are not throwaways. They need to be cared for and they [nurses] can't treat them as though their lives are somehow less important because they're elderly or they're sick or they're disabled."

Boylan's attorney, William Kephart of Garden City, said he also planned to appeal. "I will pursue any and every defense for her on her behalf as we go forward. We just disagree" with the verdict, he said.

In an email Thursday evening, Lappe's attorney, Scott Gross of Garden City, said: "While we always respect the greatest system of justice that exists, sometimes it gets it wrong. This is truly one of those times."

Gross said he will appeal the verdict.

The prosecutor from the attorney general's office declined to comment after court.

The four women were asked to surrender their passports and face up to 4 years in prison at sentencing on Sept. 15.

State Supreme Court Justice John B. Collins conducted one trial but with two juries, one for Joseph and one for the four co-defendants.

Joseph's jury also convicted her of failing to report the circumstances surrounding Rios' death to state regulators. They acquitted her of three other charges of neglect, endangering the welfare of a disabled person and falsifying business records.

Joseph will remain free until she returns to court for sentencing on Sept. 15.

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