A 41-year-old Bel Air man, who left his elderly mother and aunt in his basement while he went on a trip to Alabama, will not be prosecuted on charges of criminal neglect, a Harford County prosecutor said yesterday.
"It wasn't the horror story that was portrayed," said Mark W. Nelson, an assistant state's attorney. "The investigation revealed that it wasn't that bad."
Wayne Hubert Chancey came under scrutiny in August after a home health care worker -- one of three he had hired to look after his mother and aunt -- reported him to authorities.
His mother, Juanita Chancey, 70, and aunt Maureen Weeks, 88, had been left in the basement of his Bel Air home while he and his family traveled. The home health care worker asserted that the women were left too long alone, with only a few cans of soup and $10 for food.
The women were taken to Harford Memorial Hospital and were reported to have been treated for malnutrition and dehydration.
But yesterday, Mr. Nelson said his review of the sheriff's office investigation showed that Mr. Chancey had made adequate provision for the women while he was away.
He hired two health care agencies to provide three home health workers to check regularly on the women.
"We found that he had made accommodations for professional health care in his absence," said Mr. Nelson. "He had provided the essential services, such as food and nursing care."
Mr. Nelson said the prosecutor's office was not condoning MrChancey's actions.
"By saying there's no criminal neglect, we're not saying it was all right," he said.
Mr. Chancey declined to speak about the incident yesterday, but issued a statement through his attorney, Robert Cassilly. In it, Mr. Chancey describes the home health care arrangements he made for his mother and aunt, and defends his actions.
"Contrary to press reports, neither my mother or my aunt was suffering from malnutrition," Mr. Chancey wrote. His mother was taken to the hospital, he said, for a possible urinary tract infection, and his aunt didn't want to remain alone, so she went also.
"Both had received the level of care that I believed, based upon the medical information provided me, was in excess of the medically indicated level," he wrote.
"My actions were undertaken and guided by my sincere love for both women and my family, and I have been devastated by the
false allegations to the contrary."