Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive



Wednesday, October 31, 2001

NURSING HOME EXECUTIVE PLEADS GUILTY TO DEADLY CONDUCT

Conviction Links Rocky Lemon to Abuses at Crane County Facility

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and Crane County District Attorney Michael Fostel have obtained a guilty plea from nursing home corporate executive Rocky R. Lemon, 39, of Los Angeles. Lemon will not apply for a license to operate a long-term care facility in Texas during his two-year term of probation, according to the plea agreement.

The entry of Lemon's plea marks the first time the attorney general's office has obtained the conviction of a top-level executive charged with a criminal offense linked to quality of care in Texas. He was indicted in Crane County in August of 2000 and subsequently arrested in Los Angeles by local authorities.

Lemon's Crescent/TLC nursing center in Crane came under the scrutiny of Cornyn's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit early last year. He pled guilty to deadly conduct for the persistent neglect of a nursing home resident named in the indictment and under his care. By pleading guilty, Lemon admitted to recklessly engaging in conduct that placed the victim in imminent danger of serious injury.

"This case goes to show that top corporate officers in this industry can't shun responsibility, hide behind some perceived cloak of official immunity and recklessly endanger elderly residents," said Attorney General Cornyn. "The state of Texas will not tolerate the abuse of those most in need."

Lemon was sentenced Monday in the 109th District Court to two years deferred adjudication, fined $4,000 and assessed $5,000 for investigative costs. A key provision prohibits Lemon from obtaining a license to operate an elder care facility in Texas for the duration of his probation. The case was investigated by the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and prosecuted by the Crane County district attorney's office.

Complaints about the serious decline in care at this home from a relative of a resident prompted Medicaid fraud officials to investigate last year. They found the resident suffering from severe bed sores and general neglect.

Last March, the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Human Services were tasked with finding experienced trustees to operate 14 of Lemon's nursing homes in northeast and south Texas, which he had abandoned. Some of these residents had to be moved to other facilities for proper treatment.

Lemon has also operated nursing facilities in Oklahoma and California, where similar investigations have occurred.

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