Plattsburgh Resident Faces Felony Charges in Cuomo’s Ongoing Probe of Misconduct at Nursing Homes Across New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 6, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced the arrest of a Plattsburgh certified nurse aide (CNA) accused of text messaging a co-worker an inappropriate photo of a nursing home patient under his care.

The felony complaint filed in Plattsburgh City Court charges Shane Spooner, 33, of Standish Street, Plattsburgh, New York, with unlawful surveillance in the second degree and dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image in the first degree, both class E felonies. Spooner, who is no longer employed at the nursing home, was arraigned before Judge Penelope Clute this morning. If convicted of the charges, Spooner faces a maximum of one and one-third to four years in prison.

“These charges are a disgusting example of abuse within the walls of a New York nursing home,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “The employee allegedly violated the privacy rights of his patient, the laws of New York State and the rules of common decency. This Office has zero tolerance for nurses and healthcare providers who disregard the law, and our investigation into this kind of misconduct at New York nursing homes continues.”

The complaint alleges that on March 28, 2009, at the Clinton County Nursing Home in Plattsburgh, Spooner used his cell phone to take a picture of the genitals of a 49-year-old patient suffering from a traumatic brain injury and to send a text message with this photograph to a fellow employee, who was not working at the time. According to the complaint, Spooner admitted his conduct to an investigator from the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and conceded that he took and sent the photograph for his own amusement.

The North Country arrest today is another in a series of charges brought against health care workers who mistreat nursing home residents. Cuomo's office has made protecting the most vulnerable New Yorkers one of his priorities. Other nursing home cases brought this year include the arrest of a Troy man for the sexual abuse of a helpless resident of Northwoods Rehabilitation Center; the conviction of a Tupper Lake man who endangered an 88-year-old wheelchair-bound resident of Adirondack Medical Center/Mercy Nursing Home in Tupper Lake; the conviction of a Rochester woman for kicking an 88-year-old man while he lay in bed in Kirkhaven Nursing Home; and the arrest of a former Edna Tina Wilson Living Center employee who tied up a resident with his nightgown.

Additionally, Attorney General Cuomo’s Office has ongoing hidden-camera investigations at nursing homes across the state. So far, the Attorney General’s crackdown of health care providers who abuse those in their care has led to the arrests or convictions of more than 75 nursing home employees.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Richard Harrow, director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Albany regional office. Special Investigators Michael Connelly and Richard Ellison conducted the investigation.