INDEPENDENCE, La. — Despite having an ongoing “open dialogue” with the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, the criminal defense attorney for embattled nursing home owner Bob Dean Jr. said the number and gravity of the felonies that led to Dean’s arrest Wednesday took him by surprise.
In a telephone interview Thursday with WWL-TV, Baton Rouge-based attorney John McLindon said Dean traveled from his home in Georgia to turn himself in at the Tangipahoa Parish jail Wednesday, but he was not prepared to be hit with 15 felonies: eight counts of cruelty to persons with infirmities, five counts of Medicaid fraud and two counts of obstruction of justice.
“I was surprised,” McLindon said. “I still maintain that nothing Mr. Dean did rises to the level of criminal action, but obviously they feel differently.”
Dean, 68, was released after posting bail of $350,000, with conditions that include electronic monitoring, surrender of his passport and remaining confined to Georgia unless traveling for a court date or upon permission by the judge.
The arrest warrant was issued by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which now has 60 days to lodge formal charges. Once that happens, McLindon said he expects the court to schedule an arraignment.
Photos: Nursing home residents die after evacuation during Ida
The criminal case is being heard in Tangipahoa Parish, where Dean transferred more than 800 of his patients to from his seven area nursing homes to a warehouse he owns in Independence to seek shelter ahead of Hurricane Ida.
Patients and caregivers at the warehouse described conditions at the warehouse as “horrific,” with a shortage of supplies, unsanitary conditions, patients jammed together on mattresses on the floor and, ultimately, flooding in parts of the warehouse where the roof leaked.
Several patients died before the Louisiana Department of Health declared an emergency and stepped in to evacuate the warehouse. The state has since revoked Dean’s nursing home licenses, and lawsuits have been filed on behalf of hundreds of the patients who were evacuated.
Mickey Ryan and her brother, Michael Terranova, who was inside the warehouse, say they never thought they’d see the day Dean was charged.
“He’s getting his due, finally. Finally somebody’s getting him,” said Ryan. Her brother, Terranova, is paralyzed on one half of his body. He was at patient at Maison Orleans nursing home in Uptown, and became one of 800 patients placed in the ill-equipped warehouse for Hurricane Ida.
Ryan called him Wednesday to share the news.
“He saw it. He’s in Eunice at a home there and I said ‘guess what’, he said ‘oh, I saw it already’,” she said.
Ryan is part of a class-action lawsuit against Dean, one of many civil lawsuits he faces after the criminal charges have been settled.
“I’m just glad they got him,” said Ryan. “I mean, yeah, and I hope that Louisiana wakes up and doesn’t let this happen again.”
The civil lawsuits, which are being heard in Jefferson Parish, are expected to be put on hold until the criminal case against Dean is resolved.