|TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a home health aide pleaded guilty today to neglecting an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s who was under her care. The alleged conduct was captured by the woman’s family on a hidden camera.
Carla Caraballo, 59, of Louisiana, formerly of Plainfield, N.J., pleaded guilty today to a third-degree charge of neglect of an elderly or disabled person by a caretaker before Superior Court Judge Catherine I. Enright in Morris County. She was immediately sentenced on the charge, which was contained in a May 11, 2017 indictment. Judge Enright sentenced Caraballo to one year of probation and ordered her to perform 10 hours of community service. Caraballo permanently surrendered her certification as a certified homemaker-home health aide (CHHA) in New Jersey as part of the plea agreement.
Deputy Attorney General Debra Conrad, who is Senior Counsel for the Specialized Crime Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Gezim Bajrami took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice. The Division of Criminal Justice obtained the indictment as the result of an investigation by the Denville Police Department. Caraballo was initially arrested by the Denville Police on July 9, 2016. The New Jersey Board of Nursing subsequently filed an interim consent order in which Caraballo temporarily surrendered her CHHA certification.
Caraballo worked as a home health aide at a senior living community in Denville where the victim lived. The victim suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s, and the victim’s family installed hidden surveillance equipment in her residence to monitor her care. On July 6, 2016, they captured the incident in which Caraballo neglected to help the victim as she rose from bed, fell and struck her head.
“Caraballo is permanently barred from working as a home health aide in New Jersey, and she is forever branded a convicted elder abuser if she were to try to seek such employment elsewhere,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Justice demanded this outcome for her shocking conduct.”
“This criminal conviction sends a strong message that hired caregivers will be held accountable if they neglect or abuse vulnerable clients,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We are committed to protecting those who cannot protect themselves. I commend the Denville Police Department for immediately recognizing the serious nature of this crime.”
The investigation began when the victim’s family contacted the Denville Police Department and provided them with the video footage. In the video, Caraballo is seen failing to provide assistance as the victim attempted to leave her bed area. Caraballo demanded that the victim remain in bed. She then threatened to leave the elderly patient “on the floor all night” if she got up independently and fell.
Without any assistance, the victim fell as she sought to leave the bed area and struck her head and body on either the floor or the wall, suffering a head injury. Caraballo refused to assist the 91-year old victim as she lay on the floor mere feet from her, despite being aware that she had fallen. Instead of providing assistance and determining whether medical help was necessary, Caraballo remained seated with her legs up on the victim’s wheelchair and scrolled through her cellular phone.
The victim remained on the floor for a prolonged period of time. Caraballo finally approached the elderly victim, wiped blood from her body, and made a remark to the effect that now the woman would remain in bed. Caraballo eventually called the victim’s daughter and explained that the mother fell. The daughter then called for help and the victim was transported to a hospital. Caraballo falsely claimed to have been holding the victim’s hand when she fell.
Deputy Attorneys General Conrad and Bajrami presented the case to the grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith and Deputy Division Director Jill Mayer. They were assisted by Detective Jessica Tattoli of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau. Attorney General Porrino thanked the Denville Police Department for their investigation and ongoing assistance in the prosecution. The lead detective on the case for the Denville Police Department was Sgt. Scott Revis.
Michael Fletcher, Esq., Assistant Deputy Public Defender, Morris County
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