Berks County man charged for death of neglected mother

Anton Bodanza

HARRISBURG —Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced a charge of criminal homicide against a Berks county man for failing to provide necessary care and medication to his 96-year-old mother, resulting in her death.

Anton Bodanza, 69, of Saddlebrook Drive, Wernersville is charged with criminal homicide following the death of his mother Sarafina Bodanza. Anton Bodanza was Sarafina’s primary caregiver from October 10, 2016 through June 15, 2017.

“This is a horrific case where a man essentially neglected his mother to death,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Neglect Team works every day to protect seniors and vulnerable citizens. We’re using every resource at our disposal to protect care-dependent Pennsylvanians.”

As his mother’s primary caregiver, Bodanza was required to administer life-sustaining medication to his mother on a regular basis. Sarafina, who suffered from congestive heart failure, was prescribed Lasix to reduce the water retention caused by her heart failure.

However, Bodanza did not administer the required medication, leading to his mother’s premature death. Bodanza consistently told medical professionals that the medication made Sarafina urinate too frequently. When confronted by police due to Sarafina’s severely deteriorating health, Bodanza initially said “God doesn’t want her to have medicine and God will take care of her” before later confirming her frequent urination and admitting that he was “tired of cleaning up the mess.”

In an interview with investigators, Sarafina’s daughter, Cheryl Wall, said that she became concerned about her mother’s condition following a recent visit, when she noticed a large amount of swelling on the left side of Sarafina’s body and noted her mother had trouble breathing and moving. Wall estimates her mother had gained about 40 to 50 pounds of water weight between March and June of 2017.

Wall ultimately called Emergency Services on June 15, 2017 out of concern for her mother’s well-being since Bodanza continually failed to provide necessary medication. When EMS arrived, Bodanza refused to acknowledge Sarafina’s dire physical state and was resistant to allowing medical attention.

Sarafina was transported to Reading Hospital, where she was pronounced dead after being treated for five days for fluid overload, congestive heart failure and respiratory failure.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro credits strong law enforcement collaboration with the arrest. “I’d like to thank the Lower Heidelberg Township Police Department and the Berks County Area Agency on Aging for their help with this tragic case.”

Bodanza was arrested and arraigned on the charges on Thursday. The case will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Nathan Giunta and Deputy Attorney General Chris Jason of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Neglect Team.

SOURCE: PA Attorney General’s Office