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Nursing home operator facing prison for fraud, elder neglect

One of the biggest nightmare scenarios for people whose relatives are in nursing homes is that their loved ones will be inadequately cared for. Elderly people who are in nursing homes should expect that they will enjoy a reasonable standard of care if they are unable to care for themselves.

A sentencing date has been set for the operator of nursing homes who was convicted of several federal charges including health care fraud. However, people familiar with the situation said that in addition to the owner's deceptive business practices, his facilities inflicted a high level of nursing home neglect on their vulnerable residents.

Over a period of several years, the owner and his homes received payments from Medicare and Medicaid of more than $32 million that was supposed to be used for food, medical care and other nursing home services. However, federal authorities said the management either did not provide the promised services or did so at such a low level that they were ineffectual.

The owner's wife pleaded guilty last year to health care fraud; her sentencing date has yet to be set. Federal prosecutors said the man used the money he received from the government to invest in real estate, including hotels and a house, while the people he was tasked with taking care of lived in moldy and otherwise filthy conditions and did not get enough to eat.

The man now faces decades of time in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fines as a result of his convictions.

Source: Rome News-Tribune, "George Houser to be sentenced June 29," Kim Sloan, April 4, 2012

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