GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A caregiver who pleaded guilty to a felony charge stemming from the 2016 death of an elderly dementia patient got a reprieve on a six-month jail sentence while her attorney pursues an appeal.
Denise Ann Filcek admitted to falsifying records indicating she conducted bed checks on 85-year-old Kathryn Brackett the evening Brackett walked outside. She was found dead several hours later.
Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald A. Johnston on Tuesday sentenced Filcek to six months in jail and placed her on probation for two years. But the sentence was put on hold until late May while an appeal works its way through the legal system.
Defense attorney Matthew P. Smith told Johnston he plans to appeal a ruling that the documents Filcek filled out were medical records.
The offense, intentionally placing false information on a medical chart, is a four-year felony. Smith contends the document had a heading that read ‘Peace Harbor Security Log’ and did not say medical record.
“It was kept on a clip board in the laundry room,’’ Smith said. “We don’t believe it was a medical record. If it’s not a medical record, there’s no crime.’’
Filcek on Oct. 11 pleaded guilty to the offense, but it was a conditional plea, which reserved her right to file an appeal. Smith said.
In an unrelated case, a Grand Rapids District Court judge in late October dismissed criminal charges against several former Grand Rapids Home for Veterans nursing assistants accused of falsifying records two years ago. The judge determined the documents involved did not constitute a medical record. They were charged with the same offense as Filcek. Two of the 11 cases are still pending.
Filcek was working the night of Oct. 26, 2016 when Brackett walked outside the Crystal Springs Assisted Living Center in Kent County’s Gaines Township. Investigators say Filcek filled out a log sheet indicating she checked Brackett’s room in the Alzheimer’s section of the facility at half-hour intervals.
Brackett had been outside for several hours before she was found dead around 6 a.m. on Oct. 27, 2016. The overnight temperature was in the upper 30s, with rain. An autopsy determined she died of hypothermia.
Earlier this month, 21-year-old Yahira Zamora was sentenced to six months in jail for second-degree vulnerable adult abuse, a four-year felony.
Officials said Zamora reset an alarm on the door Brackett used to walk outside without first determining if anyone had left the building.
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