The owner of seven Louisiana nursing homes that were evacuated to a warehouse during Hurricane Ida is facing multiple charges of fraud and cruelty to the infirmed after conditions deteriorated at the site and multiple people died.
Bob Dean Jr. was charged Wednesday in Tangipahoa Parish with eight felony counts of cruelty to persons with infirmities, five felony counts of Medicaid fraud and two felony counts of obstruction of justice.
The charges came less than a year after more than 800 nursing home residents were evacuated on Aug. 27 to a former pesticide warehouse shortly before the hurricane made landfall. Conditions in the warehouse were later determined to be unsafe and inhumane, according to state health officials.
Investigators found Dean “refused to move his residents out of the warehouse following Hurricane Ida, billed Medicaid for dates his residents were not receiving proper care and engaged in conduct intended to intimidate or obstruct public health officials and law enforcement,” Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office said in a release.
The investigation was led by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit and the Louisiana Bureau of Investigations.
Additional legal action may be filed as the investigation is ongoing.
BACKGROUND:What to know about nursing home evacuation to Independence, lawsuit
Dean, who lives in Georgia with his wife, flew into Louisiana and self-surrendered Wednesday, his attorney John McLindon said. The judge set the 68-year-old’s bond at $350,000 and he will be released from jail Wednesday afternoon, McLindon said. Dean has permission to return to Georgia.
“We will vigorously defend these charges,” McLindon told the (Lafayette) Daily Advertiser, part of the USA TODAY Network.
If convicted of cruelty to persons with infirmities, Dean could face up to a $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison for each charge, according to state law. If convicted of Medicaid fraud, he could face up to a $20,000 fine and five years in prison for each charge.
The Louisiana Department of Health revoked the facilities’ licenses after nursing home residents were evacuated to a Tangipahoa Parish warehouse during Hurricane Ida.
The Associated Press reported that 15 residents died after the evacuation, though some may not be related to the storm or warehouse.
PREVIOUSLY:Nursing home evacuees called 911 from fetid warehouse where 4 died, but EMTs turned away
PREVIOUSLY:As conditions at Louisiana warehouse worsened during Ida, staff made toilets from buckets
The facilities laid off more than 800 people after that. But in the notice the facilities called the revocation of the licenses “temporary,” and said the decision was being appealed.
Residents “endured horrific and inhumane conditions” at the building, a class-action lawsuit, one of several filed against Dean, alleges.
A lawsuit claims that the nursing home residents “called out to the representatives of defendants for food, water, medicine, and to be relieved of their soiled diapers, clothes and bed linens (for those who were provided linens) but their calls went unanswered.”
The seven facilities that evacuated patients to the Independence, Louisiana, warehouse were located in Orleans, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Jefferson parishes.
The warehouse to which residents were evacuated was ill-equipped for the number of people it housed and there weren’t enough staff to care for residents, according to a lawsuit.
Mattresses were laid on the floor, just inches from each other, a problem that was exacerbated when rainwater leaked into one of the warehouse’s buildings.
Officials with the department of health made multiple visits to the site but Dean threatened them. They later returned with law enforcement officials and removed residents.
Contact Ashley White: [email protected].
Contributing: Greg Hilburn, The Daily Advertiser