By Amir Vera, Amanda Musa and Paul Murphy, CNN
The owner of seven nursing homes across Louisiana that evacuated residents to a warehouse as Hurricane Ida approached last year has been indicted on felony charges after seven residents died at the temporary shelter, officials said.
Bob Glynn Dean was arrested and charged with eight felony counts of cruelty to persons with infirmities, five felony counts of Medicaid fraud and two felony counts of obstruction of justice, according to a Wednesday news release from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
Five of the seven deaths at the warehouse shelter were considered storm-related, state health officials said. In total, more than 800 residents were taken to the facility ahead of the storm.
A joint investigation by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) and the Louisiana Bureau of Investigations (LBI) “revealed Dean refused to move his residents out of the warehouse following Hurricane Ida, billed Medicaid for dates his residents were not receiving proper care, and engaged in conduct intended to intimidate or obstruct public health officials and law enforcement,” the AG’s news release said.
Dean’s attorney, John McClindon, told CNN Wednesday Dean plans to plead not guilty to all charges he’s facing and said Dean’s mental health will factor into the case.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that Bob’s mental health is going to be an issue in this case,” McClindon said. “Bob clearly has some cognitive impairments and did on the day of this incident.”
McClindon said Landry informed him of an arrest warrant for Dean Monday and his client flew from Georgia to self-surrender. He made an initial court appearance in Louisiana Wednesday and was released on $350,000 bond, McClindon said.
McClindon called the charges “very defensible” and said “the evidence will bear out eventually.”
Residents kept in ‘unsafe, unsanitary, and unhealthy’ conditions, officials said
The nursing home residents were taken to the warehouse in Independence, about 57 miles east of Baton Rouge, ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall on August 29.
The state health department said it soon started to hear about deteriorating conditions at the warehouse.
CNN obtained the logs of 61 calls from the warehouse to 911 operators. At least 30 of the calls asked for assistance with medical episodes before and after landfall, including calls for seizures, stopped breathing, and one instance in which a caller says a diabetic patient needed transport because they had “not eaten due to them having no more supplies.”
“Let’s be clear; there is no emergency-preparedness plan that allows for residents to be kept in such an unsafe, unsanitary, and unhealthy condition,” Stephen Russo, director of legal, audit and regulatory affairs for the health department, said last year. “The lack of adequate care for these residents is inhumane, and goes against the rules, regulations, and applicable statutes.”
The seven facilities involved had their licenses revoked and cannot repatriate or admit residents, officials said at the time. The homes also had their Medicaid provider agreements terminated, the health department said.
The Attorney General’s Office investigation is ongoing and additional legal action may be filed in the future, the Wednesday release said.
The next court date for Dean has not been set, but McClindon said it will most likely happen in the next 60 days.
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CNN’s Keith Allen, Rebekah Riess, Jason Hanna, Steve Almasy and Deanna Hackney contributed to this report.