Surrounded by loved ones of people they allegedly abused, a Wellington couple accepted a plea deal on Tuesday that allows them to escape criminal charges as long as they stay out of the elder care business.
The strange ending to the case against Bhoodram “Ken” Parsaram and his wife, Bibi, over their treatment of elderly people at their suburban West Palm Beach assisted living facility brought little satisfaction to anyone involved.
Mary Steffen, who claims her parent were neglected and other patients were abused at the three-bedroom home off Belvedere Road near Jog Road, said the couple should have been punished.
“I think they should have served some time in jail,” the Lake Worth woman said.
However, Steffen’s sister and nephew and another women whose sister was cared for at the couple’s BP Assisted Living Facility II disagreed.
“I wish everything had been dropped,” said Phyllis Kennedy, a nurse practitioner who vehemently disputed her sister’s characterization of the treatment of their parents. “I think she (Bibi) was set up and I think it’s a sad, sad story.”
Joan MacFarland, who said her sister thrived under the Parsarams’ care, agreed. “It was based on false reports,” she said. “Maybe they tried to damage (the Parsarams) but they damaged the people who were there.” Since the facility was closed in April, she said her sister’s health has failed.
Assistant State Attorney Marci Rex said similar sentiments were expressed in letters written by others whose loved ones lived at the Parsaram’s facility. “I believe this is the best resolution of the case,” she said.
As part of the agreement, the Parsarams agreed to give up their license to operate an ALF. Both also agreed to perform 50 hours of community service, not provide care for any elderly person while on probation and pay $200 for the cost of prosecution. If they successfully complete an 18-month probationary period, the charges of neglect of an elderly person will be formally dismissed.
Attorney Ronald Chapman, who represented Bibi Parsaram, said it will be up to a state licensing agency whether the couple will be allowed to operate an ALF in the future.
State records show Parsarams’ facility was cited for deficiencies in February, including failure to complete health assessments of residents to determine whether they need help taking their medication or require a dietary change, The Palm Beach Post reported at the time.
The facility also was cited for failure to follow hygienic standards in distributing medication when a staff member was observed failing to sanitize his or her hands.
Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies said Ken Parsaram tied patients to their beds with sheets and left residents unattended. But, Chapman said there was scant evidence of neglect.
The couple could have fought the charges, he said. But that would have involved traumatizing fragile elderly people by bringing them to court to testify about their experiences at the Parsarams’ facility.
Instead, he said, the couple agreed to take the plea deal that will eventually allow them to clear their names. “This was the best resolution,” he said.