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3 indicted in death of Alzheimer’s patient at Las Vegas group home

Three women were indicted on Thursday in connection with the death of a 68-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who suffocated in 2019 at a group home.

Felicidad Dias, 69, Virginia Cahate, 61, and Lourdes Manguino, 69, were indicted on felony counts of neglect of a patient and neglect of an older or vulnerable person resulting in death in connection with Joshua Santos’ death at the Helping Hands Care Home operated by Manguino, Chief Deputy District Attorney Colleen Baharav said.

Santos was found dead the morning of Sept. 13, 2019, after he had apparently been caught in a bedside railing and suffocated, Baharav said. Prosecutors allege that Dias and Cahate, who were caregivers at the home, did not properly check on Santos during the overnight hours.

“The concern of the family was that he suffocated while people were sleeping because nobody was paying attention,” Baharav said.

Investigators believe Santos died between midnight and 6 a.m. on Sept. 13, 2019. His body was “cold to the touch” when a representative from the coroner’s office arrived at the scene, Baharav said.

“It looked like he hadn’t been checked on for a while,” she said.

But the women’s defense attorney, Chris Rasmussen, said Santos’ death was a “freakish accident,” not a crime.

“You couldn’t have three ladies who are less culpable than these three. These are not criminals, they’re caregivers,” Rasmussen told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday.

Rasmussen said the railing had been provided by Santos’ family to prevent him from sleepwalking or getting out of bed because of his Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the Clark County coroner’s office, Santos died of positional asphyxia, with Alzheimer’s disease listed as a significant condition. The coroner’s office ruled his death an accident.

The three women were first charged in July 2020 in Las Vegas Justice Court, according to online court records. Instead of being arrested, a summons was issued for all three to appear in court.

Manguino is still operating the home, Rasmussen said on Thursday.

Santos’ family filed a lawsuit in September 2020 against Manguino, Dias, Cahate, the group home and the limited liability company Connorgie, which was authorized to conduct business at the group home on Gallant Hills Drive, near the 215 Beltway and Sahara Avenue.

According to the lawsuit, Santos was nonverbal, could not communicate with the group home staff and “needed assistance with daily living activities.”

The lawsuit accused the group home of not being properly staffed and allowing employees to sign forms falsely claiming they had given out medication or performed duties. Employees would sometimes sleep through the night “rather than attend to the residents,” according to the lawsuit.

“The Defendants, and each of them, created a mode of operation within the care home where supervision of staff did not occur, such that staff did not fulfill their duties to the care home or to the residents in their care,” the lawsuit said.

Attorney Kimball Jones, who is representing Santos’ family in the civil case, said Thursday that the parties had reached a $990,000 settlement. But Jones said the care home is appealing the settlement over a dispute regarding confidentiality.

The defendants’ attorney, Michael Nunez, did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Thursday.

Dias, Cahate and Manguino are due to appear in court for an arraignment on Aug. 11.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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