7 of 8 Counts Dismissed, Including
One Involving Death Of Civic Leader
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
FLY CREEK – The two executive facing criminal charges in mismanagement of the Focus nursing home today had eight counts against them reduced to one, and will face fines, community service and possible exclusion from going back into the nursing home business.
But no jail time? “I was hoping,” said Betsy Hayes, chairman of Focus’ Family Council, which continues to operate under Focus successor Cooperstown Center, as required by Medicare regulations. She hoped the community service would be in a nursing home.
“I had hoped it would have been a little more severe,” said Bill Dornburgh, who served on the Health Facilities Corp., set up by the county Board of Representatives to sell Otsego Manor; he had voted nay on the Focus sale.
Count #6, which both men pleaded guilty to, involved patient M.P., who was left sitting upright, untended for 41 hours during Memorial Day Weekend 2016.
The agreement dismisses Count #4, which deals with Richard Banta, former longtime chair of the county’s Soil & Water Conservation District, who fell while in Focus’ care and soon died.
Aides to Kathy Boland, who represented the state Attorney General’s Office in today’s proceeding, referred any questions to the AG’s press office.
Focus President Joseph Zupnik and his CFO, Daniel Herman, appeared at 12:39 p.m. for the noon hearing before Town Justice Gary Kuch in Otsego Town Court. Both men were facing the same eight counts.
Today, they pleaded guilty to the single count. The judge scheduled sentencing for 12 noon on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
Separately, a $1 million fine will be levied against the Focus corporation for Herman’s activities; no mention was made in court whether a similar fine will be levied for Zupnik’s activities.
However, Boland – Zupnik’s lawyer, Richard Harrow, had held her job before going into private practice – said the men had agreed to the fine and community service.
She also said they had agreed to be barred from working in the nursing-home field, but Herman’s laywer, Jerry Solomon, amended her assertion: Federal officials will decide if they are to be barred, and will make the decision on July 20, 1919.
Herman’s passport was returned, as he is planning an out-of-country holiday with his family later this month.