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South Pasadena nursing home raided in federal probe

June 11, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Federal investigators raid a nursing home in a usually quiet South Pasadena neighborhood. The owners are under investigation. Police say the facility has become a source for an upsurge in crime.

In South Pasadena, police are grappling with a surge in crime where they never expected it.

"We've had about 65 instances of criminal behavior, disturbances, assaults, theft, burglaries," said South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Payne.

All linked to patients at the South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital. Fernando Clifton is a patient who says the patients there need special 24-hour care.

"A lot of us in here is mentally ill, we are sick, diabetes, people have got HIV," said Clifton.

"They have admitted a number of patients that we have some real serious concerns about with criminal backgrounds, mostly drug and alcohol offenses, individuals that may have been released from state prisons, county jails," said Payne.

Now it's the hospital owners under investigation at the federal level. Under a sealed warrant, the FBI and IRS raided South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital and other nursing facilities last week.

At one Eagle Rock center, operators say that agents were looking for evidence of fraud, specifically patients who had been admitted inappropriately, a list of 64 of them on Medicare.

In South Pasadena, administrators declined comment. As the federal probe of hospital management continues, the facility is taking at least one step to control its patients. There's now a private security guard outside. But that may not be enough for police.

"If they would no longer house individuals with criminal behavior, that would make a huge difference here," said Payne.

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