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Two Nurses Aides Charged with Abusing Residents of Long Island Nursing Homes

May 20, 2013

The Port Jefferson Patch has reported that two certified nurses' aides have been charged with taking “gruesome, illegal” photographs of nearly a dozen patients staying at three Long Island nursing homes, according to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Both pleaded not guilty on Tuesday and were released on their own recognizance, according to online court records.

The aides, who are both Centereach residents, violated the patients' privacy and trust, photographing the bedsores of one patient and filming a video of a dementia-stricken patient "riveted with fear," the attorney general added, according to the report. There were other instances of this "abusive and alarming" behavior as well, Schneiderman said.

“These aides engaged in actions that are illegal and will not be tolerated in New York," Schneiderman said. "The people engaged to take care of our most vulnerable citizens have a special responsibility, and I will do everything in my power to protect the right of every New Yorker to safe, respectful and quality care.”

A total of 11 incidents occurred at Port Jefferson Station’s Woodhaven Nursing Home, Jefferson's Ferry in South Setauket, and the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook.

The two nurses, 25-year-old David Rover and 23-year-old Thomas Mocera, were both arraigned in an all-felony 15-count indictment on Tuesday in Suffolk County Supreme Court, the Port Jefferson Patch reported. Rover is charged with counts for unlawful surveillance, dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image and offering a false instrument for filing. Mocera is charged with counts for unlawful surveillance. Each count carries a sentence of between 15 months and four years of imprisonment.

According to the attorney general, the incidents reportedly occurred between September 2009 and March 2013.

According to the Port Jefferson Patch, photos included one that shows the victim’s feces-covered genitals. Another reportedly shows a victim reaching for ice cream, with Mocera pulling it just out of her reach.

While employed at Woodhaven, Rover texted some photos to a nurse’s aide student, who reported to the administration, the Port Jefferson Patch reported.

The L.I. Veterans Home released a statement saying it  "will never tolerate any egregious actions against any veteran and is fully committed to work closely with the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute any violators to the fullest extent of the law."

Fred Sganga, executive director of the L.I. State Veterans Home, said that one of the 11 incidents had occurred at the veterans’ home, and reportedly involved Mocera, the Port Jefferson Patch reported. Both Mocera and Rover were part-time employees of the nursing home during the period in question; Rover had supposedly exaggerated his resumé to obtain the position.

Both passed a state-certified exam and were given criminal background checks, Sganga said, adding that the nursing home has since "stepped up" its code of conduct, the Port Jefferson Patch reported.  Closer monitoring of cell phone usage while on duty was part of this effort.

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