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Adult Caregiver Pleads Guilty to Vulnerable Adult Abuse

PHOENIX (Monday, October 22, 2012) -- A Tucson man employed as an adult caregiver has been convicted of one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult, and will serve prison time and also pay $250,000 in restitution, Attorney General Tom Horne announced today.

Christopher Lopez, 49, a caregiver employed by Comfort Keepers in Tucson, was charged with 2 counts of Vulnerable Adult Abuse / Domestic Violence. He pled guilty to one count of vulnerable adult abuse on October 15, 2012 and is set for sentencing in front of Judge Richard Nichols in Pima County Superior Court on November 15, 2012.

The victim, Cynthia Fisher was an in-home client of Comfort Keepers In-Home Health Services. Having suffered a stroke several years prior she was immobile and required daily assistance with the tasks of everyday living. Lopez, the Victim’s live-in boyfriend was hired by Comfort Keepers to provide full-time care for Ms. Fisher.

In early February, 2012 Ms. Fisher was taken to University Medical Center where she was treated for severe Stage 4 bedsores. The investigation revealed that Ms. Fisher had been left on the floor and not taken care of for a period of over two weeks. Detectives found that Ms. Fisher had not been properly fed, wasn’t assisted to the restroom and was lying in her own waste for that period of time.

“This is a terrible situation for the victim who suffered tremendously, and it is very important that matters such as this are vigorously prosecuted,” Horne said. “When individuals such as Mr. Lopez are entrusted with caring for those who cannot adequately care for themselves and then abuse that trust, it is a situation that needs to be dealt with forcefully.”

The terms of the plea require that Lopez serve a mandatory prison term of .5 to 2.5 years in the Department of Corrections. Mr. Lopez will also be required to reimburse AHCCCS in an amount not to exceed $250,000 to cover the costs of Ms. Fisher’s emergency medical treatment.

The charges, filed June 14, 2012 in Pima County are a result of a joint investigation conducted by the Pima County Sherriff’s Department, the Attorney General’s Special Investigations Section, and the Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section.

Horne added, “I want to commend the work of the Attorney General’s Special Investigations Section, and the Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section, and thank the Pima County Sherriff’s Department for their hard work and cooperation on this case.”

This case was referred to and is being prosecuted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Steven J. Duplissis and Assistant Attorney General Jesse L. Delaney. Copies of the indictment and booking photo are attached.

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