Last Sunday, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office got a call about a “plethora of medical records on different people” found dumped in a pile behind an abandoned Walgreens in Harvey.
Measuring almost 3 feet tall and 7 feet wide, the mound of files was filled with details about the ailments of elderly and infirm former residents of the Maison DeVille nursing home, about 1½ miles away, according to a police report. Maison DeVille, like all seven nursing homes owned by embattled magnate Bob Dean, has been shuttered since his disastrous evacuation of 843 residents to an ill-equipped warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish during Hurricane Ida.
How that nursing home’s medical records wound up in a parking lot five months later is among the newest mysteries involving Dean. The Jefferson Sheriff’s Office is now holding the records for the Louisiana attorney general’s office, which has launched a criminal investigation into Dean’s dealings.
The discovery of those files – how they got there aside – might reflect how Dean’s small empire has begun to crumble, even as he fights to win back his licenses to run the nursing homes.
Legally, Dean no longer controls Maison DeVille; the US Marshals Service seized the building and three other Dean-owned nursing homes in mid-January. US District Judge Wendy Vitter ordered the civil seizures in foreclosure proceedings, placing the properties with a “keeper” to manage them, court records show.
Dean’s lender, Capital Funding, claims that after the state shutdown, Dean failed to make about $135,000 in monthly payments on the four homes. The doors at Maison De Ville were padlocked this week, and a US Marshal “no trespassing” sign was plastered on the entrance.
A different lender, Investar Bank, filed this month to foreclose on Dean’s other three nursing homes: River Palms in New Orleans, Park Place in Gretna and South Lafourche Nursing Center in Cut Off. Those three facilities have not been seized.
All told, Investar is trying to recoup more than $40 million in principal and interest it lent to Dean or various companies he owns, court records show. The loans include several made to Dean Classic Cars, Dean’s used car dealership in Baton Rouge, which received a $10 million line of credit Aug. 2 weeks before the debacle in Tangipahoa.
That’s on top of $27 million in outstanding loans and interest owed by Dean-controlled companies on the four seized nursing homes.
Eric Lockridge, a partner with the Kean Miller law firm who represents Capital Funding, said Dean has had no access to Maison De Ville since the Jan. 14 property seizure, but that it did not appear the discarded files came directly from the closed facility.
He said HGI, the keeper appointed to manage the property, is not cleaning out records from any of the seized nursing homes, and that he claimed no knowledge of the orphaned files.
Attorneys representing Dean did not return requests for comment on this story. A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office did not answer questions about whether they are investigating the dumped records.
Warehouse site of nursing home evacuation for sale
Meanwhile, Dean has placed several other properties for sale through a broker, though none of his seven nursing homes appears to be among them. He is, however, selling the tract in Independence where he sent nursing home residents to ride out the hurricane.
Dean is asking $2.6 million for the 5-acre plot and its seven buildings, including the warehouse where conditions quickly deteriorated before state health officials moved in to shut it down.
Dozens of frail people who were evacuated to the warehouse later died, and many others were hospitalized. Those who survived the warehouse evacuation were spread to nursing homes across the state.
Though they’ve added “for sale” signs and a padlocked fence, the property on Calhoun Street looks much the same as it did immediately after the storm. Linens, half-empty bottles of red Powerade and blue surgical masks are strewn in one doorway, while a couple of wheelchairs and metal folding chairs remain outside one building.
The status quo is by design: two state district judges issued injunctions shortly after the evacuation and initial lawsuits, forbidding Dean from cleaning up the site.
In new federal court filings, Dean’s attorneys say that plaintiff’s lawyers have had two occasions to visit the warehouse and document the evidence of what happened there. Dean wants permission to sanitize and sell the property.
“The site has unfortunately attracted burglars, who have infiltrated the site on at least one occasion,” Dean’s attorneys wrote in a March 3 filing. “There are dirty linens and trash that should be disposed of, and which serve no purpose whatsoever. There are also resident belongings which must be sorted and, where possible, returned to Plaintiffs.”
The linens remaining there have also affected the bottom line for the company who supplied them, Dean’s attorneys wrote. Westport Linens supplied sheets, robes, carts and more for the warehouse evacuation and its business has been “adversely affected by the lack of access to its linens and other supplies.”
Suppliers aren’t the only ones waiting for their possessions back.
A sign saying “I want my mother’s stuff!” with a phone number scribbled on it was taped to the door of Dean’s River Palms nursing home in New Orleans. The person who answered a text to that number said his mother landed in a nursing home in Mansfield, and no one has responded to his pleas for her missing clothes and television.
Dean’s attorneys have claimed in recent court filings that he has dementia and memory loss that should prevent him from testifying in any depositions as he tries to fend off dozens of lawsuits from those who were evacuated in the storm and their family members.