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Center's owner accused of neglect

Authorities say he also allowed a 17-year-old employee of the assisted living facility in Dunedin to dispense medication.

By MELANIE AVE
Published July 16, 2006


DUNEDIN - A sheriff's deputy went to the Rosalie Manor assisted living center in December after receiving a call about a suicidal person.

Pinellas County sheriff's officials say that call became the catalyst for a full-blown investigation of the center, at 534 Howell St., which cared for about 30 elderly and disabled patients.

On Friday, the six-month investigation culminated with the arrest of Rosalie Manor's owner, St. Petersburg resident Erik M. Anderson, 60, of 1620 Park St. N, who sheriff's officials say ran a facility with an ongoing pattern of neglect and abuse.

Anderson was booked into the Pinellas County jail and held on $120,000 bond. He faces 13 charges, including seven counts of neglect of the elderly and disabled, witness tampering, dispensing medication without a license and falsification of a medical log. He also faces one count of child abuse for allowing a 17-year-old employee to dispense medication to patients.

Doris Anderson denied the allegations against her husband, who owned Rosalie Manor from 1994 until recently, when it was sold and renamed Dunedin Assisted Living.

Records show Erik Anderson sold the assisted living facility property to Douglas Coffey of Hudson for $1.3-million. Sheriff's officials say the ownership change of the assisted living facility occurred in the last week.

"Erik is a truthful, compassionate, caring person with good values, and I believe he will be found to be exonerated of these charges," Mrs. Anderson said in a brief interview with the St. Petersburg Times Saturday. "His family and friends stand firmly behind him."

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said problems at the facility became known after the deputy's initial visit on Dec. 16 to investigate a man who was trying to kill himself.

She said the deputy discovered a patient who had been deprived of his prescribed medication, causing him to become mentally unstable. The patient was hospitalized under the Baker Act, the law that allows officers and deputies to detain a person for his or her own safety.

Later reviews of the facility found medications that were missing or mishandled, including some that were administered by a 17-year-old employee who was not authorized to have access to them or give them out, according to deputies. Sheriff's officials say that employee was the one responsible for withholding the medication from the suicidal person.

Deputies also checked for past troubles at the home, reviewing more than 400 of its own reports on Rosalie Manor over a 10-year period. They checked to see how often those reports involved patients. The results of that survey were unavailable, she said.

On June 25, deputies conducted an unannounced spot review of the center in conjunction with the state Attorney General's Office that noted several deficiencies, Pasha said. A followup visit was conducted July 12, that included the assistance of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses assisted living facilities.

On Saturday, Pasha said she had few details about conditions at Rosalie Manor since the investigation is still under way.

"They are pursuing a couple of avenues in this investigation that may result in more serious charges," she said. "I don't know if we've seen the most serious charges."

Records show Anderson's Friday arrest was his first in Florida.

The Andersons made the news several years ago after they opened up the property where their home is located on Park Street for the public's enjoyment.

Located on nearly 3 acres along Boca Ciega Bay, the land contains a Tocobaga Indian mound that was excavated by archeologists.

The couple created a nonprofit agency called Sacred Lands Preservation and Education to allow people to host events on their property and experience the unusual land, which has 500-year-old oaks, peacocks and thick vegetation.

Melanie Ave can be reached at 727893-8813 or mave@sptimes.com.