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2 Former Beaver County Health Care Workers Indicted On Hate Crime Charges

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A federal grand jury indicted two former health care workers on federal hate crime charges.

The charges are connected to two men who worked at McGuire Memorial, which cares for individuals with severe physical and intellectual disabilities.

Zachary Dinell and Tyler Smith were named in four lawsuits in 2019 alleging the abuse and assault for four residents.

Dinell was charged with aggravated assault, neglect of a care-dependent person, endangering the welfare of children, recklessly endangering another person, invasion of privacy, and sexual abuse of a child.

Smith was charged with simple assault, endangering the welfare of children, and recklessly endangering another person.

On March 24, a 12-count unsealed indictment named these two on federal hate crime charges.

"The defendants are charged with targeting the most vulnerable members of our community because of their disabilities," said United States Attorney Chung. "The defendants' alleged hate crimes involved victims who were unable to defend themselves or report what happened to them. The U.S. Attorney's Office and our law enforcement partners will continue our work to ensure that these victims—and all victims of a federal crime—have a voice and that those who would perpetrate violence against them are brought to justice."

The indictment stated that Dinell and Smith were members of the direct care staff of the facility which meant they were responsible for providing daily assistance to residents. Between June 2016 and September 207, the two engaged in a conspiracy to commit these crimes against the residents due to their actual or perceived disabilities.

"While not every instance of abuse is a federal crime, it is a federal crime to target people based on their actual or perceived disability," Chung said.

In one exchange Dinell said, "I'm going to (expletive) murder (victim). I choked the (expletive) out of him and now he's coughing and yelling." Smith allegedly said, "(expletive) kill him dude he's better off."

They exchanged text messages where they talked about their dislike of the residence and shared descriptions, pictures and video of their abuse of the residents.

Their alleged attacks included punching, kicking, jumping on them, rubbing liquid irritants in their eyes, and spraying liquid irritants in their eyes and mouths. Some attacks allegedly included spraying ice-cold water on someone hypersensitive to the cold. Other incidents included choking residents.

Dinell and Smith were able to avoid being caught due to the fact that these residents were non-verbal and unable to describe what the two did.

"The defendants could try to attribute any injuries to their health condition rather than to any attack or abuse," Chung said in a press conference on Friday.

"The actions associated with the charges announced today are disturbing, to say the least," said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall. "Our office is committed to combating hate crime, seeking justice, and, most importantly, providing assistance to victims."

Should they be found guilty of hate crimes, they're facing up to ten years in prison along with a $250,000 fine.

McGuire Memorial president and CEO Christopher Shay issued this statement after the federal hate crime charges were announced:

"McGuire Memorial thanks the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI for bringing further justice to the McGuire Memorial community. The advocacy, safety, health, and well-being of the children and adults served at McGuire Memorial is, and always will be, our number one priority.

"The prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's office and FBI is precedent setting towards future advocacy in combating abuse and neglect against persons with disabilities and holding all perpetrators accountable for their actions. Therefore, as we move forward with continued healing, we hope that this announcement finally brings some closure for the victims and their families."

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