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Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Nursing-home owners charged with negligent homicide

The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. – The husband-and-wife owners of a New Orleans-area nursing home where 34 people died in Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters were charged Tuesday with negligent homicide.

The case represents the first major prosecution to come out of the disaster in New Orleans.

The owners of St. Rita's Nursing Home in the town of Chalmette "were asked if they wanted to move (the patients). They did not. They were warned repeatedly that this storm was coming. In effect, their inaction resulted in the deaths of these patients," Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti said.

Salvador A. Mangano and his wife, Mable, surrendered and were jailed on 34 counts of negligent homicide. Each count carries up to five years in prison.

The attorney general said he is also investigating the discovery of more than 40 corpses at flooded-out Memorial Medical Center, in New Orleans' Uptown section.

The Manganos had an evacuation plan as required under state law and a contract with an ambulance service to evacuate the patients, but they did not call the company, Foti said. They also turned down an offer from St. Bernard Parish officials who asked if the nursing home wanted help evacuating, he said.

Foti said the bodies have not all been identified and he was not sure how many of the victims were patients or staff.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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