SJ Relatives Pleads Guilty to Abuse of Mentally Ill

Prosecutors said the clients are now in a safer place

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012  |  Updated 10:28 AM PDT
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Home Care Bust in San Jose

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SJ Victim Tells Story of Abuse at South Bay Care Home

Binh Nguyen, 58, a schizophrenic who lived at a care home in San Jose, tells NBC Bay Area through his niece how he was starved and neglected for almost a decade. The care home facility owners this week were charged with abusing a dozen mentally ill clients, including Nguyen. George Kiriyama reports.

SJ Family Charged With Abuse of Mentally Ill

A San Jose family of five was charged Thursday with abusing about a dozen mentally disabled clients, all of whom lived in their unlicensed care facility.
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Three San Jose relatives have pleaded no contest to charges of abusing more than a dozen mentally disabled clients and more than 46 dogs found in the home.

All three defendants were released from custody on Tuesday. Two are to be sentenced on Jan. 29 and face up to four years in prison. If they had been found guilty by a jury on all of the counts they were charged with, they could If the defendants are convicted, could have faced up to 18 years in prison.

Five family members were originally charged in July for the abuse discovered in the 3000 block of Cortona Drive.

Of the remaining two, one has not entered a plea, and the other died of a heart  problem. The last defendant  - Margarete Ngo, 27 - was sentenced on the spot to time served and is now free.

Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney Charles Huang said in a prepared email that "many in the community had been in disbelief" over how disabled adults would have been treated in such a "callous way." He added that the defendants' "admissions of guilt" should show that this "abuse was a sad reality."

The two who face up to four years in prison are: Jennifer Ngo, 63, and Charles Nguyen, 25. They were each charged with several felony elder abuse and misdemeanor animal abuse charges.  Pleading no contest is essentially a guilty plea and means the person now stands convicted of a crime.

The family patriarch, George Dac Nguyen, 72, died of a burst aorta in jail in October, prosecutors said. Kathy Le, 41, has yet to enter a plea.

When the relatives were charged, prosecutors said they found more than a dozen disabled adults to be malnourished, beaten and rarely bathed. They were also forbidden, according to prosecutors, to use toilet paper.

"It's really bad," Huang said previously. "There was no running water, they weren't feeding them. These incredibly vulnerable people were treated worse than the animals that were rescued."

The clients, many who suffer from schizophrenia and other severe mental disorders, were taken into the care of licensed care facilities or adult protective custody.

Huang said on Tuesday that all those clients are now "safer" and "happier" in new homes.

Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-432-4758 or lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com.

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