Friday, January 23, 2009

Court Is Where These Cases Should be Decided

Sometimes justice IS served here in Oregon. From The Statesman Journal...

The former operator of St. Rita's Senior Care Community in Salem will serve a year in jail for neglecting her facility's residents and stealing from them, a Marion County circuit judge ruled this morning.

Peggy Jo Marino, 62, pleaded guilty Monday morning to two counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment.

Following her change of plea, Marion County Circuit Judge John Wilson sentenced Marino to 12 months in jail.

He also ordered that she pay more than $50,000 in restitution.

The Oregon Department of Human Services revoked Marino's license in early 2007 after an investigation revealed incidents of abuse and neglect involving St. Rita's residents.

The department later moved St. Rita's 48 residents to other care facilities.

A follow-up investigation by state prosecutors found that Marino also had stolen a total $58,573 from four residents of the facility.

"She did this by commingling her bank accounts and the residents' bank accounts," Senior Assistant Attorney General Sheen Wu told Wilson during Monday's hearing.

Residents had been allowed to open personal accounts at the facility for small expenses such as buying cigarettes or health and beauty products.

Marino will serve her time in Marion County Jail and afterward will face five years probation. During her probation she will have to pay back the money she stole at a rate of $1,232 per month.

If she violates her probation by failing to make payment or breaking the law, she will be sentenced to an additional 19 months in jail, according to Marino's plea deal.

"This is a real opportunity for you to make up for what you've done by making the payments back and by showing you can be a good citizen," Wilson told her.

In court, Marino only said "yes, sir" and "no, sir" in response to the judge's questions. She declined to speak prior to sentencing. As Wilson signed legal papers closing the case, Marion County deputies snapped handcuffs onto Wilson and immediately took her into custody.

Under the plea deal, Wilson dropped a charge of keeping false business records and four additional counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment.

Marino, who lives in Florida, also will be allowed to transfer her probation there after serving her sentence in Oregon.

The findings of the DHS investigation into St. Rita's included:

-The rape of a developmentally disabled woman in July 2004 by another resident.

-A resident found dressed in feces-caked pants pulled on over pajamas.

-A female resident who suffered a urinary tract infection due to improper changing of her adult diapers.

-A newly hired employee who borrowed $20 from a resident and then threatened the person when they asked for their money back. It turned out the new hire had a criminal history and an active arrest warrant.

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