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Attorney General Lockyer Announces Arrest of 21 to Break Up Alleged Elder Care Fraud Ring Operating in Four Northern California Counties
(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today reported the arrest of the operator of Caring Nurses, a Sacramento nurse registry used by skilled nursing facilities to hire care givers, and 20 individuals posing as trained, certified care givers who were sent to nursing homes in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Placer and Nevada counties. Several of those arrested had prior criminal convictions including grand theft, assault with a deadly weapon, battery, burglary, vehicle theft, and the sale of illegal narcotics.
The arrests, made over three days, stem from a criminal complaint against Esther Ezebunwa of Sacramento, who faces felony charges of conspiracy to commit elder abuse and conspiracy to cheat and defraud nursing homes who used her placement agency.
"Elderly and dependent residents of nursing homes expect and deserve care from qualified, properly trained practitioners," Lockyer said. "Having people pose as certified nurse assistants exposes patients to abuse and poor quality of care. The potential for harm was further heightened because several of those arrested had criminal backgrounds that, under California law, preclude them from working in these environments. In this case, we were able to break up the ring before any harm came to nursing home residents."
The Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse noted that nursing homes have an independent responsibility to ensure that hired care givers are properly trained and certified. Failure to meet this responsibility could result in sanctions against the nursing homes by the state licensing agency.
The complaint alleges four felony counts against Ezebunwa involving the placement of temporary workers posing as certified nurse assistants in 10 nursing homes between May 2000 and February 2001. The facilities involved were: Grass Valley Convalescent Hospital, Nevada County; Wine Country Care Center in Lodi and SunBridge Elm Haven in Stockton, both in San Joaquin County; College Oaks Nursing, Saint Claire's Nursing Center, Florin Health Care Center, and Gramacy Court in Sacramento County;
Foothill Oaks Care Center and Meadow View Manor in Auburn, and Lincoln Manor in Placer County.
Those arrested or being sought on an arrest warrant for allegedly posing as certified nurse assistants include: Mary Alexander (age 43, Sacramento), Stacey Anderson (age 35, Sacramento), Karen Daniels (age 34, Sacramento), Stella Hill (age 38, Sacramento), Keena Jefferson (age 28, Sacramento), Tina Johnson (age 31, San Juaquin) , Lannette Jones (age 47, Sacramento), Vasonda Jones (age 44, Sacramento), Hawa Kamara (age 25, Sacramento), Gwendolyn Keyes (age 46, Sacramento), Jeanette Mayotte (age 28, Nevada County), Rebecca McColgan (age 26, San Mateo), Anthony Perry (age 33, Sacramento) Sandra Pinckney (age 33, Sacramento), Kila Pruitt (age 30, San Juaquin), Charles Sampson (age 34, Sacramento), Olivia Smoots (age 36, Sacramento), Angela Thomas (age 32, Sacramento), Eugene Uzodinma (age 46, Sacramento), and ChiquitaVann (age 27, Sacramento).