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District Attorney Gascón charges Irvine senior living center for 14 COVID-19 related deaths

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón on Tuesday announced charges against several managers of an Irvine-based senior living management company for a number of COVID-19 related deaths that occurred at a residential care facility near the Fairfax District in Los Angeles. 

The senior living center, called Silverado Beverly Place, which is said to specialize in caring for elderly residents with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, was first brought into the public eye on April 20, 2020, when a 32-year-old employee named Brittany Ringo died due from coronavirus after being exposed. 

"As required by the protocols at the time, the facility was closed to outside visitors by Silverado in March of 2020. Yet, despite these protocols, an exception was made to admit a patient from New York," Gascón said at a press conference on Tuesday. "Ms. Ringo died from COVID-19 after being exposed while working as a licensed vocational nurse for Silverado when she was directed on March 19, 2020, to admit this new resident who came directly to the facility from the airport. This individual had just arrived from a clinical setting in New York — a COVID-19 hot-spot at the time."

In the charges, Silverado Senior Living Management Inc. and three managers at the time are named: CEO Loren Bernard Shook, Jason Michael Russo, an administrator, and Kimberly Cheryl Butrum, a vice president. All three have been charged with 13 felony counts of elder endangerment and five felony counts of violation causing death.

According to Gascón, the new resident almost immediately began displaying COVID-19 symptoms the day after being admitted, testing positive that same evening. They were not immediately tested upon arrival nor were they quarantined in isolation upon admission, despite county health protocols in place at the time calling for such measures to be taken. 

"Those protocols were intended to slow the spread of this dangerous virus, especially while working with vulnerable populations. We have evidence to support that the protocols were not followed due to financial considerations of accepting this patient from New York," Gascón said. 

Ringo tested positive for COVID-19 less than a week after the resident arrived. She died less than a month later, becoming the first death of 14 that occurred in coming weeks as the facility was hit with a devastating outbreak. On top of the deaths, more than 100 other residents and staff members contracted COVID-19, Gascón said. 

"We do not have to prove that COVID was brought in by this particular patient," said Marc Beaart, the DA's director of fraud and corruption prosecutions. "We simply have to show there was a positive test and that the protocols were not followed."

Others who died as a result of the outbreak are:

  • Elizabeth Cohen,
  • Joseph Manduke,
  • Catherine Apothaker,
  • Jake Khorsandi,
  • Albert Sarnoff,
  • Dolores Sarnoff,
  • Myrna Frank,
  • Frank Plumetti,
  • Jay Tederman,
  • Luba Paz,
  • Kaye Kiddoo,
  • Richard Herman,
  • Michael Horn.

In a statement provided to KCAL News, Jeff Frum, the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Silverado said: 

"Silverado's top priority is and always has been providing world-class care, respect, and dignity to people living with dementia and a caring environment for our associates. We deny all charges filed against us - they are baseless and egregiously contradict the facts. We look forward to presenting our case during the legal process.  

We will always grieve the loss of the residents to the pandemic and the frontline hero who cared for them. We have taken the pandemic extremely seriously since the start. We recognized COVID-19's unprecedented threat to society, particularly for people living with dementia and their caregivers. Silverado was a leader in developing protocols for people living with dementia and many of these same protocols became standards for the entire memory care industry."

At this time, Silverado has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Their arraignment is set for April 4. 

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