Assisted-living facility manager sentenced to 52 months in federal fraud case

The former manager of a Towson assisted-living facility was sentenced Friday to 52 months in prison after he admitted stealing the personal information of elderly residents to open multiple credit cards and run up $75,000 in debt on the accounts.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz followed a recommendation by prosecutors to sentence Salah Eldean Sood, 36, of Lutherville above the sentencing guidelines for the scheme involving residents at the Holland Manor Eldercare facility on Landrake Road.

“He was entrusted to care for these people. Instead, he abused them. … He abused people who couldn’t protect themselves,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Perry told Motz. “Holland Manor itself was a scheme.”

Sood pleaded guilty last November to one count of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. At the hearing Friday, Sood wore maroon scrubs and did not address the court. He rocked back and forth in his chair as prosecutors described the charges against him.

Prosecutors asked the judge to consider the poor conditions at the assisted-living facility, and called a nurse to the witness stand to speak about the lack of care one resident received and who died several days after she left the facility.

Sood previously pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court to charges of operating an assisted-living home without a license and abuse/neglect of a vulnerable adult. He received a two-year sentence, which his attorney said he completed in July.

Sood’s public defender, Michael Oppenheimer, said his client should only receive a 48-month sentence because he has taken responsibility in the case. He said he also disagreed with the government’s assertion that Sood had anything to do with a resident’s death. He said the facility is not a medical facility, and that his client did not have medical training.

Oppenheimer also said that for the bulk of the 11 years that Sood was associated with the facility, Holland Manor passed regular inspections. He also said his client, who has a family, had no criminal record and was suffering from a gambling addiction that was the result of post-traumatic stress he suffered from spending part of his youth in the West Bank.

The bulk of the residents’ money Sood spent was used at casinos to feed his addiction, Oppenheimer said.

No residents of the facility or their families spoke at the sentencing.

Erica D’Alesandro, a registered nurse who served as a patient advocate for one resident at the facility, described how in 2015 she first found Pauline James lying on an air mattress, supposed to be used for patients suffering from pressure ulcers, that was deflated. She and an aide at Holland Manor managed to inflate the mattress.

D’Alesandro said she met James’ daughter two days later after the daughter flew into town, and they visited the facility together. D’Alesandro said the daughter noted “a vast difference” in conditions at the facility, describing how they had worsened. She said James appeared to be dying and should have been placed in hospice care. James was taken to Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, where she died days later.

James’ family could not be reached for comment Friday morning.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Roann Nichols said her office was not presenting evidence that Sood caused the woman’s death, but called the witness to show the poor conditions at the facility. She said Sood turned his back on his responsibility.

She quoted a recent Economist article, saying, “Death is inevitable, a bad death is not.”

State health officials revoked Holland Manor’s assisted-living program license in September 2015.

As part of his plea agreement in the federal case, Sood will must pay full restitution to the victims.

Sood’s attorneys and the prosecutors in the case declined to comment after the hearing.

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