Former Caregiver Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Investigation Related to Violation of Disabled Resident's Civil Rights
Mary K. Paulo, a former employee of a Missouri residential treatment facility, pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Western District of Missouri to an obstruction of justice charge related to the death of C.D., a Missouri ward of the state with developmental disabilities. Paulo pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly falsifying a document with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence an investigation related to the death of C.D.
“A vulnerable victim died because of the criminal conduct of those responsible for his care and custody. The defendant is being held responsible for her role in obstructing the investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to investigate and prosecute allegations of criminal civil rights violations and those individuals who engage in related obstructive conduct.”
“This caregiver neglected her responsibility to a vulnerable victim, helped cover up criminal activity, and lied to federal law enforcement agents,” said U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison of the Western District of Missouri. “Her complicity is inexcusable, and her obstruction of justice won’t be tolerated. She will be held accountable, alongside her brother and her parents, for her role in this brazen scheme.”
"Today's guilty plea emphasizes law enforcement's unwavering dedication and determination to ensure all individuals responsible for their role in this victim's death are held accountable for their actions" said Timothy Langan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Kansas City, Missouri. "The FBI is the primary federal agency responsible for investigating allegations regarding violations of federal civil rights and we remain committed to seeking justice on behalf of all victims."
“Paulo’s knowing obstruction into the investigation of the death of this vulnerable individual is a severe crime that cannot be tolerated,” said Curt L. Muller, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Coordinating with our law enforcement partners, we are committed to investigating such criminal actions.”
According to the plea agreement, Paulo worked as a caregiver at Second Chance Homes, an organization that provided housing and care for developmentally disabled persons through a Missouri Department of Mental Health initiative. Victim C.D. had been a resident at Second Chance Homes since 2008.
Paulo admitted in her plea agreement that she regularly worked alongside C.D. and his caretakers. Paulo further admitted that in the summer of 2016, her mother – another caregiver at Second Chance Homes – told her to stop coming to work. Paulo did not report to work for a number of months, although she continued to receive pay.
In August of 2016, at her mother’s request, Paulo took another Second Chance Homes resident to one of C.D.’s scheduled medical appointments, presented him as C.D., and obtained a new prescription in C.D.’s name. Paulo did so knowing that the resident was not C.D. and that she had not seen C.D. in months.
Paulo returned to work in the fall of 2016 and noticed that C.D. was no longer present at Second Chance Homes.
In April of 2017, before Second Chance Homes was to be purchased by another company, Paulo’s mother gave Paulo several documents to sign. Paulo signed the documents, many of which attested that she had cared for C.D. in the previous nine months, while knowing that she had not seen C.D. in the previous nine months.
After C.D. was ultimately reported missing to the Fulton Police Department, Paulo wrote and submitted a false statement to the police. Paulo wrote in the statement that she saw C.D. alive and well on April 16, 2017, while knowing that she had, in fact, not seen C.D. in months.
Pursuant to Paulo’s plea agreement, she faces a maximum of 24 months incarceration. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
Paulo’s mother, Sherry Paulo, and father, Anthony Flores, have previously pleaded guilty to criminal civil rights charges stemming from C.D.’s death. Paulo’s brother, Anthony R.K. Flores, previously pleaded guilty to knowingly falsifying a document with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence an investigation related to the death of C.D.
This case was investigated by the Jefferson City Resident Agency of the FBI Kansas City Division and the St. Louis Field Office of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General Kansas City Region. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cindi Woolery and Gregg Coonrod of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Special Litigation Counsel Julia Gegenheimer and Trial Attorney Janea Lamar of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Criminal Section. The Fulton, Missouri Police Department and Callaway County Prosecutor Christopher Wilson contributed significantly to the successful investigation and prosecution of this matter.