State Watch

Charges dismissed against former top officials at veterans facility where dozens died from COVID-19

Associated Press/Rodrique Ngowi

A Massachusetts judge on Monday dismissed criminal neglect charges made against two officials who were in charge of a veterans care facility where dozens died of COVID-19.

As The Boston Globe reported, Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director David Clinton were indicted on multiple criminal neglect charges in September 2020.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said she sought criminal indictments due to the “worst decision” the facility made: combining two dementia units due to staffing shortages. 

Dozens of patients died from COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home last year, prompting federal investigators to probe whether residents had received proper medical attention, leading to the indictments against Walsh and Clinton that focused on their alleged neglect and abuse of five specific veterans.

However, Hampden Superior Court Judge Edward McDonough Jr. dismissed the 10 counts against the two facility officials, according to the Globe, citing insufficient evidence.

“There is insufficient reasonably trustworthy evidence that, had these two dementia units not been merged, the medical condition of any of these five veterans would have been materially different,” the judge wrote in his decision.

“Therefore, because the evidence does not support a finding of probable cause to believe Mr. Walsh or Mr. Clinton committed any crime, I must dismiss the indictments against both” he added. 

Jillian Fennimore, a spokesperson for Healey’s office, told the Globe that an appeal of McDonough’s decision was being considered.

“We are very disappointed in today’s ruling, especially on behalf of the innocent victims and families harmed by the defendants’ actions. We are evaluating our legal options moving forward,” she said. 

Tags Holyoke, Massachusetts Massachusetts Maura Healey

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