NEW ORLEANS — The owner of seven Louisiana nursing homes who sent more than 800 of his elderly residents to a crowded, ill-equipped warehouse to ride out Hurricane Ida last year was arrested Wednesday on fraud and cruelty charges arising from the squalid conditions.
On Wednesday, Dean was in custody in Tangipahoa Parish, facing charges of Medicaid fraud, cruelty to the infirm and obstruction of justice.
Dean’s attorney, John McClindon, said Dean was informed earlier this week of the warrant against him. A Georgia resident, Dean flew to Louisiana and turned himself in on Wednesday. McClindon said Dean was to be released on a $350,000 bond.
Attorney General Jeff Landry said the criminal charges stem from allegations that Dean billed Medicaid for dates his residents were not receiving proper care at the warehouse “and engaged in conduct intended to intimidate or obstruct public health officials and law enforcement.”
McClindon said he could not comment on all the charges because he had not yet read the entire warrant. But he said during a brief interview, “I don’t think Bob Dean did anything that rose to the level of criminal.”
In the days after Ida hit Aug. 29, the state reported the deaths of seven people who had been evacuated to the warehouse in the town of Independence. Five were classified as storm-related deaths.
Dean later lost the state licenses for his seven facilities. In May, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it was prohibiting Dean from receiving federal funding, including Medicare and Medicaid. At the time, McLindon, told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate that Dean is appealing the state license revocations and would be reinstated for the federal programs if the appeals are successful.
Ida blasted ashore last August as one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S., knocking out power to all of New Orleans, blowing roofs off buildings and reversing the flow of the Mississippi River as it rushed from the coast into a major industrial corridor. Ida’s landfall with 150 mph- (240 kph-) winds also marked the first time in recorded historythat a state got back-to-back years of 150 mph winds or more.
At the warehouse where Dean’s residents were taken, state officials said conditions had deteriorated quickly in the storm. Generators used to provide power failed at times. Residents were in close quarters at a time when the state was urging social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some went without food for hours.
Dean’s nursing homes were River Palms Nursing and Rehab and Maison Orleans Healthcare Center in New Orleans; South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab in Lafourche Parish; Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home, West Jefferson Health Care Center and Maison DeVille Nursing home of Harvey, in Jefferson Parish; and Maison DeVille Nursing Home in Terrebonne Parish.