Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced this week that his department filed charges against three caregivers for the death of 86-year-old Hazel Place, a resident of the Cappella Assisted Living and Memory Care facility in Grand Junction.
The three caregivers, Jamie Johnston, Jenny Logan and Letticia Martinez, were found responsible for Place’s death following an investigation by the Grand Junction Police Department and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Colorado Department of Law.
In criminal complaints filed in Mesa County District Court, the trio are charged with negligent death of an at-risk person, which is a class four felony, and criminally negligent homicide, a class five felony. Johnston and Martinez are charged with second-degree forgery, a class one misdemeanor.
According to The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Place died after being left out in the heat for six hours on June 14 when the temperature reached 102 degrees. While details on the death haven’t been provided by Weiser’s office, the forgery charge allegedly involves patient checks and patient medication administration.
“When our loved ones are vulnerable and in need of care, Colorado residents should be able to trust their caregivers implicitly,” Weiser said.
The Cappella facility told the Sentinel in a prepared statement that while it is unable to share details about Place’s death, it immediately reported it to the appropriate regulatory agencies while launching its own investigation. The facility expressed being “saddened by the passing of this beloved resident” and said that it worked with the Attorney General’s Office.
“Cases of this nature are not only difficult for the family and friends of the victim, but for all those involved,” Sgt. Sean Crocker of the GJPD said in a statement. “We are thankful that the outcome of this investigation will provide some closure to the family.”
The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit works to protect the “integrity of the system that provides healthcare to the most vulnerable Coloradans,” according to the Weiser release. The unit investigates and prosecutes Medicaid provider fraud and the abuse and neglect of Medicaid clients in non-institutional settings.
“The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty,” a press release on the charges states.