Senior Living Company and 3 Managers Charged in 14 COVID-19 Deaths

Prosecutors say the senior living center admitted a patient in March 2020 who came directly from the airport and later tested positive for COVID-19, prosecutors say.

George Gascon
Bryan Chan/County of Los Angeles via AP

A senior living company and three of its managers were charged in connection with 14 C0VID-19-related deaths Tuesday by Los Angeles County prosecutors.

The investigation into Silverado Beverly Place began after the facility reported the April 20, 2020, death of a 32-year-old employee, Brittany Ringo, according to the county's top prosecutor. The center was closed in March 2020 to visitors by Irvine-based Silverado Senior Living Management Inc. in keeping with protocol at the time, but an exception was made to admit a patient from New York, the district attorney's office said.

"Ms. Ringo died from COVID-19 after being exposed while working as a licensed vocational nurse for Silverado when she was directed on March 19, 2020, to admit this new resident who came directly to the facility from the airport," LA County District Attorney George Gascón said at a news conference Tuesday. "This individual had just arrived from a clinical setting in New York -- a COVID-19 hot-spot at the time."

The district attorney said the new resident, who began displaying COVID-19 symptoms the morning after arriving and tested positive that evening, had not immediately been tested for COVID-19 and had not been required to quarantine in isolation prior to admission as required by health protocols in place at the time, according to the district attorney.

"Those protocols were intended to slow the spread of this dangerous virus, especially while working with vulnerable populations," Gascón said. "We have evidence to support that the protocols were not followed due to financial considerations of accepting this patient from New York."

Ringo tested positive for COVID-19 six days after the new resident's arrival and died less than a month later, with 13 of the facility's residents dying and more than 100 other residents and staff members being diagnosed with COVID-19 as a result of the outbreak, according to the district attorney.

The other people who died were identified as Elizabeth Cohen, Joseph Manduke, Catherine Apothaker, Jake Khorsandi, Albert Sarnoff, Dolores Sarnoff, Myrna Frank, Frank Piumetti, Jay Tedeman, Luba Paz, Kaye Kiddoo, Richard Herman and Michael Horn.

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"We do not have to prove that COVID was brought in by this particular patient," said Marc Beaart, the District Attorney's director of fraud and corruption prosecutions. "We simply have to show there was a positive test and that the protocols were not followed."

The company's chief executive officer, an administrator at the time and a vice president were charged with 13 felony counts of elder endangerment and five felony counts of elder endangerment, according to the District Attorney's Office. The national chain, which specializes in caring for elderly residents with Alzheimer's disease and/or dementia, is facing the same charges, Gascón said.

The company has pleaded not guilty, with arraignment set April 4 for the three executives, according to the District Attorney's Office.

A representative for the company could not be reached for immediate comment on the case.

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