Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies were facing a crisis: They desperately wanted to close Rosalie Manor, a troubled assisted-living facility, but state regulators weren’t taking any action.
For years, the home’s residents were out of control, roaming the streets, getting into fights and overdosing on narcotics.
Frustrated the home wasn’t being shut down, deputies came up with a plan: charge owner Erik Anderson under Florida’s elder-abuse statute.
Turning to a tragic death case that had been investigated and dropped by the state attorney general’s office, deputies arrested Anderson for neglect and he was soon booted from the business.
“The goal was to shut down Rosalie Manor, and we did,” said former prosecutor Thomas Cope, who pressed the case against the home.
The charges in 2006 demonstrated how county prosecutors were able to use a law that was created to help crack down on dangerous caretakers -- even when another agency passed on the case.
Created a generation ago, Florida’s elder-abuse statute was revamped in 1995 legislation under Gov. Lawton Chiles to let prosecutors charge caretakers who abuse and neglect vulnerable adults.
More importantly, the law allowed prosecutors to file felony charges even when caretakers didn’t intend to cause harm.
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Pinellas County Goal: Shut Down Rosalie Manor