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Owner accused of elderly abuse

Published Oct. 10, 2005

A rest home owner surrendered to police Thursday after accusations that he denied hospital care to an 87-year-old woman with a huge bed sore because he didn't want to lose her rent.

Joseph Sangi, 35, owner of Victoria Park Manor Senior Citizen's Residence, faces charges of elderly abuse, medical neglect, culpable negligence and financial exploitation of the elderly, police said.

A registered nurse at the home, Diane Petrowski, also surrendered on charges of medical neglect and elderly abuse, both misdemeanors.

The elderly patient was nearly comatose when she was finally taken to Broward General Medical Center on Dec. 2 after another nurse called 911, Detective Sandy Memrick said.

After nearly two months recovering in the hospital, the woman is now in a Dade County nursing home. Meanwhile, results of an investigation by the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS) and police were turned over to prosecutors.

Sangi "knowingly ignored her medical needs and never got her to the hospital, the purpose being financial," Memrick said. "If (the elderly residents) are not there, you never get the money from them."

Sangi's attorney, Steven L. Sommers, said his client is not guilty.

"The allegations that he allowed this to go on because he wanted to collect about $1,400 a month from this woman; that's ridiculous," Sommers said. "(Sangi) does not reside at the facility. He monitors it, but he hires other people _ nurses, aides _ to run the place."

Victoria Park Manor is licensed as an adult congregate living facility. It is meant for older people who can get around and do not have extensive medical needs, the detective said.

Nurses at the home told investigators that the woman's health deteriorated steadily in the two weeks before she was hospitalized.

Police and HRS began the investigation after someone called the state abuse registry, said Emilio Maicas, an HRS administrator in Broward County.

"We get about 30 to 40 complaints (of abuse, neglect or exploitation of the elderly) a month at ACLFs and nursing homes," Maicas said.

A background check found that Sangi had run-ins with the state of New York over similar senior homes he owned there, Memrick said.