Friday, November 22, 2019 6:55 PM EST
By The Associated Press, AP
FULTON, Mo. (AP) — A central Missouri couple responsible for the care of a developmentally disabled man whose body was found entombed in concrete admitted Friday that they did not seek proper medical care for him when they knew his health was deteriorating and then lied about his death.
Sherry Paulo, 54, and her 59-year-old husband, Anthony Flores, both of Fulton, pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal civil rights charges arising from the death of Carl DeBrodie, whose body was found in April 2017 after he was reported missing from a supported living home in Fulton. They pleaded guilty to failing to provide necessary care for DeBrodie, resulting in his injury and death. Paulo also pleaded guilty to health care fraud for trying to hide that DeBrodie had died.
They still face state charges in DeBrodie’s death, including first-degree involuntary manslaughter and abandonment of a corpse.
The couple were caregivers at Second Chance Homes, which provided housing and care for developmentally disabled individuals. DeBrodie lived at the home from 2008 until he was reported missing. As part of their plea, Paulo and Flores admitted they knew DeBrodie’s health was declining beginning in 2014, when he became seriously underweight and pale. During that time, he sometimes stayed at the couple’s home.
Prosecutors said DeBrodie at one point suffered a medical emergency at the couple’s home, but the couple did not seek medical help for him and he died there. Paulo admitted that she placed DeBrodie’s body in a trashcan and took it to Second Chance, where she and Flores put it in a wooden crate and filled the crate with cement. The crate was then taken to Paulo’s storage unit. DeBrodie was reported missing on April 17, 2017 and his body was found a week later.
DeBrodie’s mother, Carolyn Summers, said in a wrongful death lawsuit that her son was forced to fight another man for the "amusement" of people at the couple’s home and was left to die in a bathtub. She said government agencies responsible for her son didn't provide required care and didn't check on DeBrodie for months. The lawsuit was eventually settled for an undisclosed sum.
Paulo admitted that after she reported DeBrodie missing, she and Flores told police DeBrodie was alive and well. She also admitted that she continued to submit claims to Medicaid for DeBrodie’s care after she knew he was dead. Medicaid wrongfully paid about $106,795 between September 2016 — when DeBrodie is believed to have died — and April 2017.
Paulo faces a maximum of 17.5 years in prison and Flores faces up to about 15.5 years in prison.
“They were responsible to provide care to a vulnerable victim, but today admitted they ignored obvious signs of medical distress and failed to even call 911. Instead, they hid him away in their unfinished basement until he died,” U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison of the Western District of Missouri said in a statement. “They may have thought they could hide the body in a concrete-filled crate and get away with it. But when the civil rights of a vulnerable victim are violated, we will hold them accountable for their inhumane and criminal conduct.”
A nurse who was supposed to provide care for DeBrodie and two other employees of the Second Chance home have pleaded guilty to their roles in his death or the coverup.