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The owner of seven Louisiana nursing homes who sent more than 800 residents to a squalid warehouse lacking proper toilets and medication last year when Hurricane Ida hit the area was arrested on Wednesday on state fraud charges and cruelty, authorities said.

The man, Bob Glynn Dean Jr., 68, was out of state when he ordered the evacuation of residents of the nursing home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on August 26, 2021, asking members of the staff to move everyone to a warehouse in Independence called the Waterbury facility, where they prepared for inclement weather, according to an arrest affidavit.

There, nursing home residents were subjected to overcrowding, the smell of urine and feces, heaps of garbage in addition to puddles, and inadequate food portions, indicates the affidavit. Seven people from nursing homes have died, according to the Louisiana Department of Health, which revoked Mr. Dean’s seven facilities’ licenses to operate as nursing homes. As authorities tried to find out what happened, Mr. Dean refused to cooperate and ordered his employees to do the same, according to an arrest warrant.

Dean, who in May was barred by the Department of Health and Human Services from participating in federal health care programs, was charged on Wednesday with eight counts of cruelty to disabled persons, five counts of Medicaid fraud and two counts of obstruction of justice, according to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office. Cruelty to persons with disabilities, the most serious of the charges, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Mr. Dean had “refused to move his residents out of the warehouse after Hurricane Ida, billed Medicaid for dates when his residents did not receive proper care, and engaged in conduct intended to intimidate or interfere with public health officials and law enforcement,” Landry’s office said. said in a statement.

John McLindon, Mr. Dean’s attorney, said by telephone Wednesday that his client, who was to be released on $350,000 bail, “desperately tried to return to Louisiana” to help with the approach of the Hurricane Ida.

“I don’t know how they can accuse him of cruelty to the infirm when he’s not even here,” he said. He added that Mr. Dean’s mental health was declining.

The charges came nearly 10 months after Hurricane Ida hit the state, causing an intense Category 4 storm that left the power grid in shambles and millions of people without power for days, including in New Orleans.

By August 28, a day before the storm landed, most of the 827 nursing home residents of the seven nursing homes had been evacuated to the Waterbury facility and distributed among its three main buildings, according to an affidavit.

Last year, longtime residents told The New York Times that the warehouse had once been used as a storage factory and was later used to make spray cans before it largely sank, although they said it was still sometimes used to store emergency supplies.

Mr Dean ordered residents of the metal building to move into the concrete one because he felt it was safer, and residents of a cinder block building were later told to do the same, according to the affidavit.

“This transfer of patients resulted in extremely overcrowded conditions in the larger concrete building, which had a significant impact on the care staff were able to provide to residents,” the affidavit states.

Waterbury quickly lost power and its back-up generator went out intermittently, further negatively affecting employees and residents, the affidavit says. On August 30, the Louisiana Department of Health sent inspectors to the warehouse.

They saw people crammed on mattresses placed too close together, residents “in various stages of undressing”, including some in soiled T-shirts and diapers or completely naked, and a kitchen area that was next to the the building’s portable toilet, which contained an inch of water, the affidavit states.

Inspectors also reported “infection control issues, piles of dirty laundry and trash, and negligence by residents and staff,” according to the affidavit.

A Louisiana Department of Health inspector tried to call Dean on Aug. 30 to discuss deteriorating conditions, but he replied, in profanity-laden texts, that he didn’t want to talk to them.

When the inspector received the vulgar texts, she replied, “Hello Mr. Dean, were you planning on sending these messages to anyone else?”

“No, I didn’t,” Mr. Dean said, using swear words later in the text. He added: “Do you realize that you are in a conspiracy theory with the feds.”

A day later, other inspectors visited the warehouse and saw more evidence of worsening conditions.

A Louisiana Department of Health worker who was inside the warehouse said nursing home staff members were running around ‘like chickens with their heads cut off trying to take care of these people’ , says the affidavit.

Residents were not cleaned properly, were not given small portions of food, and were not provided with medically necessary food options, such as a diabetic meal, the affidavit states.

Mr. Dean, authorities said, ordered his staff not to move residents to other shelters “for fear of losing residents to other facilities.”

Mr. Dean had hinted last year in an interview with WAFB in Baton Rouge that the death toll was not atypical.

“We’ve only had five deaths in six days, and normally with 850 people you’ll have two a day,” he said. “So we’ve done really well to take care of people.”

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