Former caregiver accused of neglect in death of Reading care-dependent man
HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Bruce R. Beemer today announced the arrest of a former Berks County caregiver charged with criminal homicide following allegations that her neglect of a Reading man resulted in a gruesome infection in his lower extremities that caused his death.
Stacey Ann Cunnius, 43, also was charged today with two counts of Medicaid fraud and one count each of neglect of a care-dependent person, theft by deception and recklessly endangering another person. The charges are the result of an investigation by the Office of Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Section.
Cunnius was being paid to care for Jessie McCrimmon, who suffered from spina bifida. Investigators allege that Cunnius failed to provide proper care to McCrimmon, who died in July 2015 after being admitted to an emergency room with wounds in his feet that were severely infected and filled with maggots.
“It is clear this man endured considerable pain at the end of his life because he did not receive the care that he needed,” Attorney General Beemer said. “The defendant’s failure to provide adequate treatment led to this tragic death.”
According to a criminal complaint filed in support of the charges, McCrimmon was admitted in June 2015 to the emergency room at St. Joseph Medical Center in Reading. He was in septic shock with wounds to both feet. Investigators learned McCrimmon was missing toes on his right foot and had bone exposed. His left foot was only being held on by necrotic flesh. The maggot-filled wounds required an emergency below-the-knee amputation of both his legs, according to investigators.
After that procedure, records show, McCrimmon suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome, severe hypoxia, septic shock and multi-organ dysfunction syndrome. The decision was made July 15 to end medical treatment, which resulted in McCrimmon’s death.
An autopsy report determined that McCrimmon developed “severe decubitus ulcers” in his feet, which appeared to be responsive to treatment he received at a medical facility. However, investigators obtained and reviewed records that confirmed McCrimmon’s last appointment to receive treatment to the ulcers was approximately nine months prior to his hospitalization.
The Berks County Office of the Coroner ruled McCrimmon’s death a homicide, stating that he had a paid caregiver who “failed to provide necessary medical intervention.” Moreover, the infection that he developed was due to “extreme neglect” of his wounds, the coroner’s report stated.
The Attorney General’s office alleges that Cunnius intentionally, knowingly or recklessly engaged in conduct which placed McCrimmon in danger of death or serious bodily injury.
As McCrimmon’s paid caregiver, Cunnius was required to follow a direct care worker agreement and an individual service plan that outlined treatment for McCrimmon. According to those requirements, she was responsible for ensuring that wounds or injuries suffered by McCrimmon received proper medical care.
Investigators also believe there is evidence that shows Cunnius defrauded the Medical Assistance program by knowingly submitting false time sheets related to McCrimmon’s care. It is alleged that Cunnius knowingly or intentionally submitted fraudulent time sheets for services that were of little or no benefit, or below the accepted medical treatment standards.
Cunnius, of the 100 block of N. 4th St., Reading, was taken into custody today. As of early this afternoon, she was awaiting a preliminary arraignment. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 15.
This investigation was the result of a referral from the Adult Protective Services Office, Pennsylvania Department of Aging.
Attorney General Beemer thanked the Department of Aging for its assistance with the investigation. He also thanked the Berks County District Attorney’s Office for its assistance.
This case will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Nathan Giunta of the Office of Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Section.
SOURCE: PA Attorney General’s Office