Three employees of the Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Far Rockaway, Queens – which owned by Michael Melnicke and Leo Friedman, two prominent hasidim (Friedman is the son of Satmar powerbroker Moshe "Gabbai" Friedman) who are seeking a license from New York State to grow, process and distribute medical marijuana – have been criminally charged for endangering the welfare of a patient.
The AG's press release:
A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrests Of Three Nursing Home Caregivers For Alleged Neglect And Abuse Of A Disabled Resident
NEW YORK, NY - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrests of two nurses and one nurses aide for allegedly dragging a disabled and bleeding patient across the hallway floor at Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located in Far Rockaway, New York, and for neglecting to treat that patient as he lay on the floor bleeding from his head for over twenty minutes. These acts of neglect and abuse were captured by facility-maintained surveillance cameras, according to court papers.
“My office will not tolerate nurses who callously fail to treat or endanger injured patients under their care,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Caregivers must know that we will vigorously prosecute behavior that endangers our most vulnerable citizens. New Yorkers in nursing facilities deserve quality care and their loved ones deserve to know their caregivers act like the professionals they are.”
The charges filed today allege that, on October 23, 2014, Funmilola Taiwo and Esohe Agbonkpolor were both working as nurses at Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Emmanuael Ufot was working as a certified nurse aide. That evening, the 51-year-old resident, who suffered from multiple debilitating conditions including altered mental status, fell in front of Esohe Agbonkpolor while in a hallway at Peninsula. Court papers further allege that, after the resident was left lying on his back on the floor for twelve minutes, defendant Ufot grabbed the injured resident by the arm and dragged him down the hallway into his room.
Around twenty-five minutes later, the resident, wearing only a backless gown that was pulled up over his unclad waist, emerged from his room, crawling along the floor on his back, bleeding profusely from a wound to the back of his head and another serious wound on his jaw. Prosecutors allege in court papers that, for the following twenty minutes, defendant nurses Taiwo and Agbonkpolor, working just a few feet away, largely ignored the resident and never appropriately treated the resident’s wounds, including never attempting to stop the bleeding from his head and neck wounds. Instead, defendant Ufot, in another attempt to get the resident back into his room, allegedly grabbed the resident by his hospital gown that was by then twisted around his neck and dragged him along the floor and dropped him abruptly in front of his room.
Each of the three defendants, Funmilola Taiwo, 34, of Far Rockaway, Esohe Agbonkpolor, 39, of Arverne, and Emmanuael Ufot, 36, of Far Rockaway, were charged with Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, a class E felony, and Willful Violation of Health Laws, a class A misdemeanor.
The entire alleged incident was captured by hallway surveillance cameras maintained by Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Management at Peninsula turned the video over to law enforcement. The Attorney General thanks the management at Peninsula for bringing this incident to the attention of law enforcement and for their continued cooperation and assistance during the investigation.
All three defendants were either terminated or resigned from employment at Peninsula.
The three defendants were arrested by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit on June 24, 2015 and charged with Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, a class E felony, and Wilful Violation of Health Laws, a misdemeanor. The three defendants were arraigned before Judge John Zoll in New York City Criminal Court, Queens County. The cases of Taiwo, Agbonkpolor and Ufot were adjourned for conference on July 30th, 2015 in part APN, New York City Criminal Court, Queens County.
The charges are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by Special Investigator Stephanie Buono of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit with the assistance of Supervising Special Investigator Mitchell Scher and Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan.
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Adam Shlahet of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s New York City Regional Office, with the assistance of the New York City Deputy Regional Director Larissa Payne and New York City Regional Director Christopher M. Shaw. Thomas O’Hanlon is the Chief of Criminal Investigations-Downstate. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is led by Acting Director Amy Held. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.
The security camera footage of the incident: