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Louisiana nursing home owner charged after 7 residents died in Ida evacuation to warehouse

More than 800 nursing home residents were evacuated to a former pest control warehouse during the Category 4 storm.
An EMS technician walks where people were evacuated at a mass shelter in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, on Sept. 2, 2021, in Independence, La.
An EMS technician walks where people were evacuated at a mass shelter in Independence, La., on Sept. 2 in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.Steve Helber / AP file

Louisiana's attorney general has charged a nursing home owner following an investigation into seven deaths when multiple facilities were evacuated into a warehouse during Hurricane Ida last year.

Bob Dean was charged with eight felony counts of cruelty to persons with infirmities, five felony counts of Medicaid fraud and two felony counts of obstruction of justice, according to the attorney general's office.

A joint investigation with the Louisiana Bureau of Investigations alleges that Dean refused to move residents out of the warehouse following Hurricane Ida, despite life-threatening conditions.

Dean is also accused of billing Medicaid for dates his residents were not receiving proper care and engaging in conduct intended to intimidate or obstruct public health officials and law enforcement, according to the attorney general’s office.

The state Health Department revoked the licenses of seven nursing homes owned by Dean last year over a failure to "execute an evacuation plan that upheld residents' human dignity."

Initial inspections found that the facility met a “minimum” standard of safe shelter but that the owner failed to communicate the “dire situation” as conditions deteriorated, the Health Department said at the time.

An estimated 850 residents were evacuated to the warehouse, which was formerly owned by a pest control company.

The Health Department listed the facilities as: River Palms Nursing and Rehab, South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab, Maison Orleans Healthcare Center, Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home, West Jefferson Health Care Center, Maison De Ville Nursing Home and Maison Deville Nursing Home of Harvey.

Carolyn McNulty said in September that her mother, who is blind and has dementia, was a resident at Park Place at the time and went missing for days. McNulty was told her mother would be evacuated if Hurricane Ida reached Category 3 status or higher but was not told where.

Ultimately, McNulty tracked her mother to Baton Rouge, about 60 miles from the warehouse, without any idea of how she got there and no answers from the nursing home staff.

Inmate records from Tangipahoa Parish Jail show Dean was booked Wednesday afternoon. Although online records said he remained in custody Wednesday, NBC News affiliate WDSU of New Orleans reported that he had been released on a $20,000 bond.

Dean, a resident of Georgia, was given permission by the court to leave Louisiana because of his health, according to WDSU.

Dean could not be reached through phone numbers listed for him, and he did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to his email address.