OLYMPIA – The Washington State Attorney General’s Office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) today announced the resolution of cases against two women accused of criminal negligence and fraud at an Eatonville boarding home.
Yesterday, Nurse Practitioner Joanne Hardtke, of Tacoma, pled guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to a count of third degree criminal mistreatment for harming an Eatonville Manor boarding home resident. MFCU prosecutors accused Hardtke of criminal negligence for failing to properly monitor the resident’s medical needs, leading to painful bed sores, hospitalization and surgery. The resident died following the hospitalization and treatment, but his death was not directly related to the lack of care he received. Hardtke will pay a $3,000 fine. Under both the court order and additional action taken by the Washington Nursing Commission, Hardtke is barred for five years from caring for vulnerable people receiving government-funded long-term care. The court also imposed significant limitations on her ability to practice nursing after that.
Today, Jodi Becker, of Puyallup, the former owner of the boarding home, pled guilty to third degree criminal mistreatment for her role in the resident’s harm. Becker is precluded for 10 years from providing paid care to vulnerable clients in long-term settings.
In addition, Becker pled guilty to six counts of first degree theft and one count of Medicaid False Statement for falsifying information given to state regulators regarding her hiring practices. State prosecutors say those practices led to the hiring of untrained and unqualified staff. As a first-time offender, Becker will serve 75 days in jail, six months of community supervision, 12 months of probation and will pay $146,078 in restitution.
In 2011, as a result of the criminal mistreatment, the falsification of training records and other incidents, the Department of Social and Health Services shut down the Eatonville Manor facility and revoked Becker’s boarding home license.
“Justice was done, and health care providers, owners and operators of long-term care facilities should take notice that the State will not tolerate criminally negligent treatment of frail residents who depend on their care givers nor will we tolerate fraudulent behavior. We will doggedly pursue and prosecute anyone committing these criminal acts” said Senior Counsel Carrie Bashaw.
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725