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Judge forwards case of assisted-living home owner to circuit court

Dickson Oben Tabi is charged in an incident in which a resident with advanced Alzheimer's disease fell through the floor

September 06, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

The attorney for the owner of an assisted-living home where a resident fell through the floor argued that the felony charges against his client should be dismissed, but a Washington County District Court judge on Thursday found there was probable cause to send the case to circuit court.

Dickson Oben Tabi, 53, of 7701 National Pike, Boonsboro, had his preliminary hearing Thursday on two felony counts of abuse of a vulnerable adult resulting in physical injury and a misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment. Tabi is charged in an Aug. 9 incident at Soma Manor House, a personal care home operated in his residence, according to the statement of probable cause filed by Maryland State Police.

Sometime between 9 and 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 9, Eileen Hope Rindone, 84, a resident with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, went upstairs into a room that had flooring removed, which exposed the floor joists and ceiling drywall of the dining room below, the charging document said.

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Rindone went through the floor and fell approximately 9 feet, sustaining broken vertebrae, a broken pelvis, a broken ankle, several broken ribs and a head injury, Cpl. James Updegraff of the Maryland State Police testified at the hearing. The injuries would have incapacitated Rindone, he testified.

“Abuse requires malice,” defense attorney Raymond F. Anthracite told District Judge Mark D. Thomas in arguing that there was insufficient evidence to charge Tabi with the felonies. “I don’t believe there’s any evidence of cruelty or abuse,” he said.

Anthracite also questioned the two vulnerable adult abuse charges against Tabi, but Assistant State’s Attorney Mark Boyer said the evidence supported the separate charges.

The first charge related to allegations Tabi left doors to the upstairs and to the room where Rindone fell through the floor unlocked, constituting “abuse by way of neglect,” Boyer told Thomas.

The second charge was for leaving Rindone in bed for eight or more hours before seeking medical help, Boyer told Thomas.

“I believe, the way the statute is written, this is acceptably charged,” Thomas said. The statute’s language refers to both abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, he said.

Ambulance personnel found Rindone in her bed when they arrived at about 6 p.m. on Aug. 9, the charging document said.

Tabi initially told investigators he was unaware how Rindone was injured, although Rindone’s roommate later yelled to him that Rindone had an injury to her hand, the charging document said. Tabi told investigators that at about 3 p.m. he tried to contact Rindone’s case manager and then a doctor about the injury, the document said.

Tabi later requested an ambulance that arrived at 6 p.m., the charging document said.

During later questioning, Tabi said he was talking on the telephone and watching television between 9 and 10 a.m. on Aug. 9 when he heard a noise and found Rindone lying on the dining room floor, the charging document said. He told investigators that he neglected to lock the door leading upstairs or the door leading to the room where the flooring had been removed, the document said.

Tabi told investigators he took Rindone to her bed and treated some abrasions on her arm, the charging document said.

The license of Soma Manor was suspended on an emergency basis following the incident, a spokeswoman with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene stated in an Aug. 13 e-mail.

The charges of abuse of a vulnerable adult resulting in physical injury each carry maximum sentences of 10 years in prison, court records said. Reckless endangerment has a maximum sentence of five years, court records said.

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