Louisiana skilled nursing operator Bob Dean was arrested Wednesday following a 10-month investigation into botched evacuations during Hurricane Ida that left a dozen residents dead.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office arrested Dean, 68, on eight felony counts of cruelty to persons with infirmities, five felony counts of Medicaid fraud and two felony counts of obstruction to justice.
Dean turned himself in on Wednesday and was released on a $350,000 bond later in the day, according to his attorney John McLindon. He moved to Georgia after the events in question and will be allowed to return there, with ankle monitoring in place, and orders not to leave the country, according to reports. Further, he surrendered his passport and will be obligated to make all court appearances in-person in Louisiana.
“I still maintain that what Bob Dean did does not rise to the level of criminal charges,” McLindon told local media outlets. “We will be entering a plea of not guilty and we will see where the case goes from there.”
Public outrage followed the evacuation of more than 800 residents to an otherwise empty warehouse in preparation for Hurricane Ida. The residents were all from facilities owned by Dean, who also owned the warehouse. After conditions at the warehouse declined post-evacuation, state officials revoked licenses and terminated state Medicaid provider agreements for Dean’s nursing homes.
The attorney general’s office on Wednesday said the state’s investigation found that Dean “refused to move his residents out of the warehouse following Hurricane Ida, billed Medicaid for dates his residents were not receiving proper care, and engaged in conduct intended to intimidate or obstruct public health officials and law enforcement.”
The investigation, which is still ongoing, is being led by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Louisiana Bureau of Investigations. The office said additional legal action may be filed in the future.
Since Hurricane Ida and ensuing uproar, Dean has been in the news on several occasions regarding patient handling, blocking health authorities from entering patient areas and his own personal issues. Those include numerous civil lawsuits, which have resulted in his claiming an inability to sit for depositions due to “significant dementia and cognitive impairment.”
Lawmakers have since passed legislation mandating nursing homes to have powered generators.