Lackawanna, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced the guilty pleas of two former employees of Baker Victory Services, who were charged with forgery and falsification of investigative records. The documents were related to investigations of abuse and neglect of people with special needs receiving services at Baker Victory.
Kristin Hauser (DOB: 11/4/61) of Williamsville, former Director of Quality Improvement at Baker Victory, pled guilty before the Honorable Christopher J. Burns of Erie County State Supreme Court to three counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D Felony. Hauser is scheduled to be sentenced July 5.
The Justice Center’s investigation found that Hauser forged numerous witness statements and included those forgeries in investigative reports of allegations of abuse and neglect. The forged statements included those of employees and people receiving services who were not aware that their names had been signed and had not consented to having them signed. Hauser then filed the documents with the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) and NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and in Baker Victory’s own business records. Hauser’s conduct came to light during the Justice Center’s investigation into false statements filed by Lori Thomas.
Earlier this month, Lori Thomas (DOB: 04/01/1973) of Angola pled guilty to Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree, a class “A” misdemeanor for falsifying an investigative report she submitted to her employer. Responsible for investigating allegations of abuse and neglect involving individuals receiving services from Baker Victory, Thomas fabricated accounts of witnesses and included them in an investigative report.
Thomas was sentenced to a conditional discharge for one year, with 200 hours of community service. She also waived her right to appeal any administrative finding by the Justice Center as a result of this misconduct. Thomas pled in Lackawanna City Court before the Honorable Frederic J. Marrano.
“Vulnerable persons, their family members and provider staff need to be confident that when reports of abuse and neglect are investigated, the outcomes are based on the facts those investigations uncover,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning. “This conduct was an affront to all those who investigate abuse and neglect allegations.”
Upon learning that the defendant falsified information in this investigation report, the Justice Center has undertaken a comprehensive review of investigations conducted by Baker Victory staff in order to ensure that the integrity of the investigations was not compromised, and that the rights of both subjects and victims to a fair investigation are protected.
Baker Victory Services is licensed by OMH and OPWDD. The Justice Center thanked OMH and OPWDD for their assistance in uncovering the defendants’ misconduct and bringing the matter to the Justice Center’s attention.
Justice Center Supervising Assistant Special Prosecutor Jennifer Whitman prosecuted both cases, which were investigated by Justice Center investigators Lorrie Alvarez, Andrew Gerken, Anthony Fistola, Chris DiPronio and Supervising Investigator Kelly O’Connor. Gunning thanked the office of Erie County District Attorney John Flynn for its support of the Justice Center’s prosecution and the City of Lackawanna Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.
About the Justice Center
The Justice Center operates a toll-free hotline that receives reports of allegations of abuse, neglect and significant incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone who witnesses or suspects the abuse or neglect of a person with special needs can make a report. Mandated reporters who have reasonable cause to suspect that a reportable incident has occurred by staff must report it to the Justice Center immediately upon discovery. The Justice Center is not a first responder, so if a report involves an emergency situation, the caller is instructed to hang up and dial 9-1-1.
The Justice Center is authorized to investigate all reports of abuse and neglect, pursue administrative sanctions against staff found responsible for misconduct and its Special Prosecutor/Inspector General shares jurisdiction with local district attorneys to prosecute criminal offense allegations. The Justice Center notifies local district attorneys of all potential criminal cases.
Justice Center Individual and Family Support advocates provide guidance and information to victims, their families, personal representatives and guardians about the reporting and investigation process, and are available to accompany victims for interviews and court appearances.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2017 Contact: Bill Reynolds 518-549-0200