Elder abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report of two senior caregivers from Orange County, California who were recently arrested on suspicion of abuse and theft. Police are currently seeking the public's help in finding seniors victimized by these caregivers.
The most recent arrest stemmed from allegations of sexual abuse of a 66-year-old woman. The in-home caregiver, Robert Ligayo, was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff's Department Special Victims Detail in mid-June 2013. The wheelchair-bound victim told authorities that Ligayo had a habit of sexual abuse, spanning a period of about six months. Ligayo admitted to committing elder abuse and sexual battery during the investigation.
Officials are concerned that there may be other possible seniors victimized by Ligayo, who has been a licensed caregiver since 2001. He has been employed by several at-home caregiver companies throughout Orange County. Anyone with information about Ligayo or other possible victims should contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department at 714.647.7000.
Another caregiver, this time 50-year-old Janette Alvarez, was recently arrested on suspicion of property and identity theft. A Fullerton, California police sergeant stated that she stole from at least eight seniors, using their bank accounts to make purchases and stealing jewelry, credit cards, and other property.
Among victims include a former professional baseball player whose 1958 National League championship ring was stolen by Alvarez. The man's ring, along with his wife's matching gold brooch, recently went missing from the Terrace View Rehabilitation Center in Fullerton.
Alvarez worked both for Terrace View and as an in-home caregiver for other elderly Californians. Residents, surprisingly, held Alvarez in high esteem, as she came highly recommended from other health care companies.
Police were notified after fraudulent transactions were realized on victims' bank accounts. Investigators immediately obtained security camera footage from the stores where the suspicious transactions took place. The victims were shown the videos and identified Alvarez as the culprit.
Alverez was subsequently arrested, during which time investigators found several items belonging to victims, such as jewelry, credit cards, and bank account information. Like the Ligayo case, investigators believe there were other victims, and encourage anyone who used Alvarez as a caregiver to contact the Fullerton Police Department. Authorities are also asking anyone with information about the missing championship ring (awarded to members of the 1958 Milwaukee Braves) and brooch to contact Detective Robert Barnes at 714.738.6786.
In efforts to combat the possibility of elder abuse and theft, many families throughout the country are resorting to hidden cameras to track caregivers' behavior. Cameras are indeed an effective tool in exposing abuse, theft or neglect, however, there have been concerns raised about privacy.
It is legal to use a hidden camera to catch or monitor caregiver behavior, however it is extremely important not to violate any privacy laws while using these recording devices. For example, in Illinois, it is illegal to listen or record conversations unless everyone involved consents. Thus, it is critical that the camera being used to capture images does not also record sound. Several other states have created laws specifically regulating the use of recording devices in nursing homes, which typically prohibits staff from tampering with or removing the devices.
Nursing home abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins encourage anyone with an elderly loved one to become familiar with your state's laws on recording devices. Video cameras can be a powerful tool in combating predators like Alvarez and Ligayo. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a nursing home, you may be entitled to significant compensation for any medical bills, emotional distress, or wrongful death.