“We began this investigation on behalf of the families who lost loved ones under tragic circumstances and to honor these men who bravely served our country,” the state attorney general, Maura Healey, said in a statement. “We allege that the actions of these defendants during the Covid-19 outbreak at the facility put veterans at higher risk of infection and death and warrant criminal charges.”
Each man was indicted on five counts, and the specific charges were for caretakers who “wantonly or recklessly” permit or cause bodily injury and abuse, neglect or mistreatment of an older or disabled person.
Mr. Walsh’s lawyer, Tracy A. Miner, said in an email that he planned to plea not guilty.
“It is unfortunate that the attorney general is blaming the effects of a deadly virus that our state and federal governments have not been able to stop on Bennett Walsh,” she said. Mr. Walsh, she added, “was on the front lines trying his best to do whatever he could to help the Veterans of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, including asking for help from state officials and the National Guard, which arrived much too late.”
A lawyer for Dr. Clinton could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Soldiers’ Home, a state-run facility that provides health care, hospice care and other assistance to veterans, has been under investigation since early April, when the attorney general’s office learned of “serious issues with Covid-19 infection control procedures.”
Investigators focused on the events of March 27, when staff members combined two dementia wards with infected veterans and healthy residents, “increasing the exposure of asymptomatic veterans to the virus,” the attorney general’s office said.
Because of staffing shortages, the facility consolidated the units, which had a total of 42 residents who had different statuses, the office said. Residents who were positive or symptomatic were placed six in a room that typically held four veterans, it said.
Residents believed to be asymptomatic were placed in nine beds in the dining room, where they were “a few feet apart from each other” and next to the room where the infected patients were, it said.