SJ Family Charged With Abuse of Mentally Ill

A San Jose family of five on Thursday was charged with abusing about a dozen mentally disabled clients, all of whom lived in their unlicensed care facility.

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.

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Charles Huang said Margaret Ngo, 27; Jennifer Ngo, 63; Charles Nguyen, 25; George Dac Nguyen, 72; and Kathy Le, 41; were charged with felony counts of dependent adult abuse, and misdemeanor animal neglect. A total of 46 dogs were retrieved from the home in the 3000 block of Cortona Drive.

When NBC Bay Area went to the home Thursday afternoon, it appeared as though the family wasn't home. A man who said he was cleaning up answered the door and declined comment.

Prosecutors said the disabled adults were malnourished, beaten and bathed only once a month. They were also forbidden, according to prosecutors, to use toilet paper.

"It's really bad," Huang said. "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.

The five family members, who were allegedly operating an unlicensed care facility, have posted bail and are out of custody. They are set to appear in court on July 16.

Neighbor Bonnie Medina told NBC Bay Area that she had seen barbed wire in the backyard, but mostly the family "kept to themselves," except for Christmas, when one of the relatives would bring her a plant or a cake. Sometimes, Medina said she saw up to a dozen cars at the home, and she thought many family members were simply living in the same house.

A person who first identified himself and then asked to not have his name used said his aunt had been cared for at the home for five years and had been taken care of well. The 32-year-old said he his shocked at the allegations because he was pleased with the care his aunt received. He said he visited the home and never found it to be disgusting. He saw a few dogs there, he said, but nothing like 46. "I was very satisfied with the care my aunt received," he said. "She was taken away and manipulated into saying things."

San Jose police discovered the abuse and neglect during two visits to the home.

On May 31, relatives of one one of the disabled adults complained to police that they couldn't visit their loved one, according to prosecutors. The person was told the relative didn't even live at the home. Police weren't allowed inside, but an officer saw the client inside. Officers also say they found clients sleeping on mattresses and as though they had been "severely neglected," according to prosecutors. At that point, officers found 25 dogs inside, and whisked most of the residents to other licensed care facilities. Some told police they were kept in small rooms almost all day. They said their clothes were washed once a month, on the day they were to visit their doctors, prosecutors said. The victims said their Social Security checks also were allegedly taken by the defendants.

Police were back on July 2, forced entry, and removed the rest of the residents, prosecutors said. Police found 21 more dogs inside at the time.

If the defendants are convicted, they face a maximum of up to 18 years in prison.

Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-432-4758 or Follow Stephanie Chuang @StephChuang.

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