State Agencies Applaud Manhattan District Attorney's Announcement Today of Indictments Against Operators of Ocean House Adult Home

State Report, Cooperation Helps DA Indict Bad Operators for Unscrupulous Activities at the Expense of Adult Home Residents

Albany, June 27, 2002 - The State Health Department, Office of Mental Health and the Commission on Quality Care for the Mentally Disabled (the Commission) today applauded the announcement of a 34-count indictment by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office against Sherman Taub, a disbarred lawyer who is an officer and de facto operator of Ocean House, and his son Judah ("Jay") Taub, the president of Ocean House, a 125-bed adult home, located in Far Rockaway, New York, and their affiliated company, International Mortgage Servicing Company. In a report issued by the Commission in December 2001, it chronicled how representatives from Ocean House, including the operator, had engaged in unscrupulous activities to benefit themselves at the expense of the residents at the home. The defendants are charged with Grand Larceny in the First and Second Degrees, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and multiple counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.

Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled Chairman Gary O'Brien said, "After a long and extensive Commission investigation, it is gratifying to see the criminal justice system address the unscrupulous practices of individuals who would betray the commitment which the majority of providers of adult home, mental health and home health care services have made to ensure fair and decent services to individuals with mental disabilities. Under Governor Pataki's leadership, New York is doing more than ever to protect adult home residents, as evidenced by the joint surveillance initiatives with the Commission, the State Department of Health and the Office of Mental Health. We will not tolerate those adult home operators who would seek personal financial gain at the expense of residents and their care."

Chairman O'Brien said that the State will continue to be vigilant in its effort to ensure that adult homes are providing the highest quality care. As in the case of Ocean House, if DOH, OMH or CQC reviews identify possible criminal activities, they will refer the case to appropriate law enforcement agencies and work closely with those agencies to help make sure that any criminal activity by bad operators or adult home employees is fully investigated, substantiated and prosecuted.

James L. Stone, Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health, said, "I applaud the District Attorney's actions, which reinforce Governor Pataki's plan for strengthened oversight of adult homes. They also complement the ongoing cooperative efforts of the Office of Mental Health, Department of Health and the Commission on Quality of Care to ensure that all adult homes in New York State provide a safe environment and quality care."

The Commission's report detailed how the operator of Ocean House, Sherman Taub, used the corporation to transfer millions of dollars in public funds for himself and his family, among other questionable activities.

State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello said, "Today's announcement is welcome news. The DOH, OMH and CQC have been working closely together to make sure that residents in adult homes are treated with respect and dignity. Our joint survey teams have been surveying conditions at adult homes, especially among individuals with psychiatric disabilities, to ensure that homes are providing safe, comfortable living conditions and quality care. We applaud District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and his office for their action today.

"Today's announcement should be a signal to other bad operators of adult homes that we are serious about our regulatory responsibility and our priority is to ensure that residents are receiving the best care. And those operators who attempt to enhance their personal finances at the expense of this vulnerable population or at the expense of State taxpayers will have to answer for their actions."

To ensure that adult homes are providing quality care to residents, DOH, OMH and CQC have been conducting joint unannounced focused surveys of adult homes with past histories of violations and in which 25 percent or more of the residents are receiving mental hygiene services. Inspectors are particularly focusing on mental health services, the reporting of deaths and incidents involving residents, medication management, case management, room temperatures and the overall physical conditions of the homes being surveyed.

In addition, Governor Pataki has proposed sweeping changes to the adult home industry that would provide the State with additional tools to meet its regulatory responsibility, including higher fines, involuntary replacement of bad operators at adult homes, "do not refer" list that disqualifies unsafe homes from having new residents placed in the home, quarterly press releases announcing survey results of adult homes, and emergency regulations that require adult homes to report all deaths in a timely manner.

The State has also created an expert workgroup to look at adult home issues. The workgroup has met twice and is looking at issues regarding the funding of adult homes, the model of care provided at adult homes, the composition of residents in adult homes and other pertinent adult home issues. The workgroup is expected to release its recommendations about how to further strengthen the State's oversight of adult homes and ensure residents are receiving appropriate and quality care in September 2002.