The Attorney General’s Office says a grand jury has returned indictments against Autumn HealthCare in Zanesville and its owner.
In a press conference in Columbus, Attorney General Mike Dewine said that the grand jury indicted 58-year-old Stephen Hitchens, of Newark, on 39 counts including:
- Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity
- Theft by deception
- 2 counts of Medicaid Fraud felonies of the fourth degree
- 3 counts of Medicaid Fraud felonies of the fifth degree
- 2 counts of Tampering with evidence
- 17 counts of Forgery
- 1 count of Telecommunications Fraud, a felony of the third degree
- 1 count of Telecommunications Fraud, a felony of the fifth degree
- 5 counts of Tampering with evidence
- 1 count of attempted tampering with evidence
- 1 count of Attempted Telecommunications Fraud
- Six Counts of Unlawful Operation of a Nursing home
They also returned indictments against the Zanesville Facility for:
- 1 count of engaging in pattern of corrupt activity
- 1 count of theft by deception
- 1 count of Medicaid Fraud
- 1 count of telecommunications fraud, a felony of the third degree
- 1 count of telecommunications fraud, a felony of the fifth degree
- 2 counts of tampering with evidence
- 9 counts of forgery
The investigation into Autumn Healthcare began in 2012 when family members contacted the Attorney General’s Office about patient neglect. He said cameras were placed in patients rooms with permission of family members caught staff not providing proper medical, nutritional and personal care. Dewine said those cameras caught what he called, "appalling and sickening" conditions.
In June of 2013 Dewine made a move to revoke the license of the 100 room facility and Medicaid said they would no longer reimburse the nursing home for patients.
Dewine said Friday that the state has a moral and legal obligation to protect patients in nursing homes. He considers the grand jury an ongoing process in which additional indictments are possible. These charges only pertain to the Zanesville facility and not to other Autumn Healthcares in the state.
WHIZ attempted to leave a message for Steve Hitchens at the Zanesville Facility and was told we were unable to do so.