Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that Oregon Adult Foster Home provider Ivan Lemeshko, and caregivers Tamara Lemeshko and Vladimir Lemeshko were convicted of Attempted Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree. All three of the defendants were sentenced Friday by Marion County Circuit Court Judge Terry Ann Leggert to eighteen months probation and to perform 100 hours of community service; each was ordered to pay fines and court costs, including the costs for their court appointed attorneys; each was ordered to voluntarily surrender any care provider license; and each was prohibited from employment in any capacity caring for the elderly or disabled, acting in any fiduciary capacity, including pursuant to a power of attorney, or being employed in any capacity that is directly or indirectly funded by Medicaid or Medicare.
Ivan Lemeshko was licensed to operate Our Family Care Home in Keizer, Oregon. Care providers in the adult foster home included his wife, Tamara, and his adult son, Vladimir. In late August of 2001, Mid-Willamette Valley Senior Services, a division of the Department of Human Services, placed the victim, a 93-year-old woman with a long history of paranoid delusions, in Our Family Care Home.Seven days after the victim's placement in the Lemeshko's home, a Portland attorney received an emergency call from Tamara requesting he travel to Keizer that day to draft a will for an older woman who, he was told, "might not make it through the weekend." The attorney claimed he was told that the woman wanted to leave her entire estate (consisting mainly of a home valued at approximately $115,000) to Tamara, but was not told of the relationship between the Lemeshkos and the elderly woman. The attorney drafted the requested will and a power of attorney, which the victim executed late that Friday night. The Lemeshkos paid the attorney $1,400 cash for his services, twice his normal rates.
"The state paid these caregivers to care for the victim, not to orchestrate the execution of a will to line their own pockets, just seven days after meeting the woman," said Myers. "Hopefully, this prosecution will also serve as a deterrent to others who might consider abusing a position of trust for their personal benefit."
Mid-Willamette Valley Senior Services learned of the Lemeshkos' action approximately two weeks later. Protective service workers immediately began an investigation and were instrumental in attempting to get a permanent guardian and conservator appointed for the victim. However, the victim died in early October 2001, before court hearings could be held. Despite financial exploitation concerns and administrative rule violations, the Lemeshkos held steadfast that they were entitled to the victim's estate. In a probate hearing held in November 2002, Marion County Judge Claudia M. Burton invalidated the victim's will finding it "was a product of undue influence."
Because of the nature of the caregiver-resident relationship in adult foster homes, and the vulnerability of many residents, Oregon Administrative Rules broadly prohibit financial exploitation by adult foster home providers; the prohibition goes so far as to prevent providers from accepting gifts from residents. Oregon's Criminal Mistreatment law provides that it is a crime for a caregiver to take or appropriate money or property from an elderly or disabled person unless it is within the lawful execution of the caregiver's responsibility. Senior Services workers referred this matter to the Oregon Department of Justice Medicaid Fraud Unit (MFU), which has authority to investigate and prosecute allegations of physical or financial abuse arising from the actions of owners or employees of Oregon long term care facilities. Following indictment in January 2003, the case was prosecuted by the MFU, in conjunction with the Marion County District Attorney's Office.
Kevin Neely, Justice, (503) 378-6002
Ellyn Sternfield, Atty. in Charge, Medicaid Fraud Unit, (503) 229-5725 ext. 241