Woman Gets 180 Days for Abusing Invalid in Her Care

Times Staff Writer

A Glassell Park woman was sentenced Friday to 180 days in County Jail for having abused an elderly disabled woman entrusted to her care. It was apparently the first case tried under a 1984 state law designed to protect dependent adults.

Her brother, meanwhile, was ordered by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Parker to undergo a 90-day state psychiatric study to help determine his sentence.

In imposing the sentence, Judge Parker called to task the county Department of Public Social Services as well as the defendants, Nadine Pensis, 44, and Michael Pensis, 48.

No Inspection

“I do put a certain amount of blame on the county because it was their duty to inspect the (Pensis) home,” Parker said.

Since her arrest in July, 1984, Nadine Pensis has continued to work through the department’s In-Home Supportive Services program, assisting an elderly woman with chores in the woman’s own home, her lawyer said in court. A social services administrator expressed surprise Friday that Pensis was still employed in an agency program.


The two were convicted last January of one count each of adult endangering and assault of Laura Short, 87, a frail, senile woman who had lived at Nadine Pensis’ home for about three years.

Pensis had been appointed Short’s legal conservator in 1982 under an arrangement in which she cared for the elderly woman in exchange for receiving her monthly Social Security checks.

Reports of Abuse

During a three-week trial, a neighbor testified she saw Nadine Pensis kick Short in the buttocks, and a 15-year-old boy said he once saw Michael Pensis grab Short by the hair and throw her to the ground.

Parker, in passing sentence, ordered that Nadine Pensis cannot have custody over any elderly clients in her home during a three-year probation period. But the judge added that Pensis can continue her current $3.35-an-hour job doing chores in the homes of social services clients.

“I’m surprised to learn she is still a provider,” said social services spokesman Gordon Todd when contacted after the sentencing.

Lack of Communication

The county Probation Department and Deputy Dist. Atty. Wendy Widlus, who prosecuted the case, had recommended maximum five-year prison terms for the two defendants. But Parker said that the offenses did not merit prison time, in part because neither defendant had a previous criminal record.

Michael Pensis, however, may prove unsuitable for probation because “he has a short fuse,” Parker said.