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Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox Charges Seven in Nursing Home Criminal Background Check Initiative; New Criminal Background Check law to take effect April 1

Lansing, MI - On the eve of the effective date for Michigan's new Nursing Home Criminal Background Check law, Attorney General Mike Cox today announced a third round of charges from his Nursing Home Initiative, which includes an ongoing series of investigations into nursing home employee criminal backgrounds. Cox has charged six individuals with falsifying their employment applications to gain employment in a nursing home and has charged a Licensed Practical Nurse (L.P.N.) with uttering and publishing a false Michigan State Police Criminal Record Response. "Placing a loved one in a nursing facility requires a great commitment of trust," said Cox. "It's imperative that that trust not be breached by employees who falsify their backgrounds for their own gain. My office will continue to work aggressively to ensure that Michigan's residents can feel safe, confident and secure in nursing facilities."

New Law Takes Effect April 1

In addition, legislation proposed by Attorney General Mike Cox that was sponsored by Sen. Patricia Birkholz (R - Saugatuck Twp.) and Sen. Tony Stamas (R - Midland) to enhance laws regarding criminal background checks for residential care facility employees takes effect this coming Saturday, April 1, 2006. The new law, among other things, expands the number of crimes that can disqualify a nursing home applicant from employment -- adding drug and theft offenses -- expands the disqualification period for serious felonies, makes it a crime not to conduct a criminal background check, and mandates fingerprint checks for employees.

Statewide Alert Issued

Attorney General Mike Cox issued an alert to all nursing homes in Michigan as his ongoing initiative also uncovered at least one employee who attempted to avoid her criminal background by using a false identity. The alert focuses on the conviction of Gloria Rayo Urriego, C.N.A. She was charged by Attorney General Mike Cox with falsifying her criminal background in an application for employment at a nursing home in September 2005, and convicted in December. She had 18 aliases, multiple Social Security Numbers, state I.D. numbers, and dates of birth. The Alert also warns of potential employees' use of false information and provides contact information for Cox's Health Care Fraud Division, which is handling the Nursing Home Initiative.

Charges Filed Following Investigation

The statewide investigation is part of Cox's Nursing Home Initiative to ferret out those working illegally and who have employment-disqualifying criminal backgrounds. Since September 2005, Attorney General Mike Cox has filed 24 warrants for employees falsifying nursing home employment applications. To date, the entire staffs of 12 nursing homes, three percent of the total number of licensed nursing homes in Michigan, have been checked for criminal histories. Of the 12 nursing homes, 9 facilities (75%) have had individuals charged. The Nursing Home Initiative was launched as a result of a May 2005 report by Attorney General Mike Cox which reported that 25% of residential care facility employees committing crimes against residents since 2002 had past criminal convictions. The study also found that, of the more than 5,500 C.N.A.'s reviewed, 9% had a total of 836 outstanding criminal warrants and 3%, or 170, had past criminal convictions. These results were confirmed when the backgrounds of the entire employee populations at four nursing homes across Michigan revealed 58 of 618 employees, or more than 9%, had 101 outstanding warrants, and that 68, or 11%, of the staffs had past criminal convictions. In this latest round of charges, Cox alleges in a felony complaint filed in the 16th Judicial District Court in Livonia, that:
  • Earlletta Johnson, age 39, of Dearborn Heights, applied for employment as a L.P.N. on July 23, 2004. Ms. Johnson presented an altered Michigan State Police Criminal Record Response document in order to gain employment. This is the 4th time that Attorney General Mike Cox has charged Ms. Johnson. Currently, Ms. Johnson has 3 other criminal cases pending; two cases of falsifying a nursing home employment application are pending in the 36th Judicial District Court, and a case charging uttering and publishing for falsifying a Michigan Criminal Response Report, which is pending in the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court in Wayne County. All are awaiting trial.
Two individuals have been charged in the 36th Judicial District Court in Detroit with providing false information relating to a criminal record on an employment application. Cox alleges that:
  • Ephriam Allen Ashley, age 26, of Highland Park, applied for employment as a Certified Nursing Assistant (C.N.A.) on August 16, 2005, and again on November 10, 2005, knowing that on April 29, 2003, Ashley had been convicted of Attempted Receiving/Concealing Stolen Property.
  • Jamine Ralph Jones, aka Jeamaine Jones, age 24, of Detroit, applied for employment as a C.N.A. on April 29, 2003, and again on November 11, 2005, knowing that he had been convicted in the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court in Wayne County on September 1, 1999, of the unlawful use of a motor vehicle, and a conviction on October 15, 2001, on 2 counts of felonious Assault with a Dangerous Weapon.
Additional warrants were filed in the 1st Judicial District Court in Monroe County. Cox alleges that the following individuals provided false information regarding their criminal record on a nursing home employment application. Charges were filed against:
  • David Wayne Palka, age 36, of Monroe, applied for employment in housekeeping knowing that he had been convicted of two felonies in Oklahoma; possession of a stolen vehicle and smuggling contraband into a prison.
  • Brandi Rose Nowitzke, age 24, of Monroe, applied for employment as a C.N.A. on June 3, 2005. She failed to advise she had been convicted on or about May 20, 2004, in the 38th Judicial Circuit Court, County of Monroe, on the felony charge of Possession With Intent to Deliver Cocaine.
  • Amaryllis Gilbert, age 40, of Monroe, applied for employment as a C.N.A. on August 29, 2003. Gilbert failed to disclose on the application that she had been convicted of Domestic Violence in the 1st Judicial District Court in Monroe in 1998, and had pled guilty in the 38th Judicial Circuit Court in Monroe to Resisting and Obstructing an Officer in 2000.
Attorney General Cox also filed a single count in the 81st Judicial District Court in Kalamazoo County, alleging that:
  • Susan Dayo-Saukkonen, C.N.A., age 49, of Kalamazoo, lied on an employment application, knowing that she had been convicted of a felony on September 16, 1998, in California, for using a false resident alien card.
The accused employees, and not the nursing homes themselves, face penalties if convicted. The nursing homes were cooperative with the Attorney General's investigation. A criminal charge is an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The penalty for felony uttering and publishing a false Michigan State Police Criminal Record Response is 14 years. The penalty for falsifying an employment application is 90 days and/or $500. To report Medicaid provider fraud or patient abuse in a resident care facility, call the Attorney General's 24-hour Hotline at (800 24-ABUSE [800-242-2873]); e-mail hcf@michigan.gov ; or visit our web site at http://www.michigan.gov/ag .

March 31, 2006

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