SNF employee sentenced to 10 months in prison for abuse caught on family-placed camera

A former employee at a South Dakota facility will serve nearly 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to abusing and neglecting a 66-year-old resident.

Donald R. Brown, 62, was a nurse assistant at Sturgis Regional Senior Care and originally charged with six counts of elder abuse, and neglect of an elder with a disability. Footage captured on a hidden video camera showed him hitting and suffocating the victim, who was in a wheelchair and had limited communication skills.

Relatives placed the camera in the resident's room, and turned over the videos to police. The incidents captured occured in fall 2015. South Dakota surveillance laws currently prohibit the placement of hidden cameras in private facilities without the consent of the provider and the resident. However, footage was submitted as evidence in the case, and the relatives were not charged for the use of the camera.

Brown pleaded guilty to three felony Class 6 counts in a plea agreement on April 25. He was sentenced to two years in prison on each of the counts, but had all but 10 months suspended by the judge. Brown will be required to give up his Certified Nursing Assistant license and is subject to four years of probation.