Image of male nurse pushing senior woman in a wheelchair in nursing facility

An Iowa prosecutor is dropping felony charges against a nursing home operator accused of misusing cash from a resident’s personal funds.

Marc Johnson, whose company runs the Danville Care Center in southeast Iowa, had been charged by Iowa’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit with fraudulent practices and dependent-adult abuse in the form of financial exploitation.

But County Attorney Amy Beavers told the Des Moines Register that the facility’s owner claimed he might have to close the center and evict its three dozen residents if Johnson were convicted.

Johnson is president of Cardinal Care Company. He formed the for-profit company in 2012 and was hired the next year by the Danville Development Co. to run the Danville Care Center. Danville Development President Matthew Hauptman told the Register that closure was “unlikely” but that his company had to guard against the possibility.

The decision not to prosecute doesn’t “pass the smell test,” advocates for the elderly told the newspaper.

“For the county attorney to close her eyes to this and leave this man in a position of authority so the business can remain open just seems absurd to me,” Dean Lerner, an advocate for seniors who once ran the Iowa agency that inspects nursing homes, told the Register.

The case began with the Medicaid Fraud Unit 2016, when the state accused Johnson of spending almost $700 on a television for the facility, using money from the trust account of an elderly resident. Johnson also was charged in connection with making two $500 “donations” from the same resident’s account to the facility, with the money going toward events and equipment.

Though a deferred-prosecution agreement, Beavers promised not to pursue the charges if Johnson paid all court costs associated with the case and doesn’t violate any laws for two years. Beavers said a state audit of the residents’ trust accounts revealed no irregularities.