State Lawsuit Tries to Shut 2 Unlicensed Care Homes

Times Staff Writer

The state attorney general's office has filed a lawsuit seeking to close two West Hills board-and-care homes that authorities say have been operating without licenses.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, requests the court-ordered closure of Laguna Gardens, 24330 Welby Way, and Linda's Rose Garden, 24146 Mobile St. It also seeks $500,000 in civil penalties.

The homes are run by Linda G. Marchesini, 43, and her husband, Mauricio, 57, of Woodland Hills. The Los Angeles city attorney's office charged the couple last April with 22 misdemeanor criminal counts relating to health and safety violations, including endangering the health of a dependent adult. Trial in that case is scheduled for next month.

Operate Pending Appeal

No license was ever issued for the Welby Way home, and the license for the Mobile Street home expired in December, 1986, according to the suit. The Marchesinis were denied a license renewal for that home but were allowed to operate it while they appealed.

In October, the state Department of Social Services revoked permission to operate the home, but both homes remained open, the suit said. A hearing on the license renewal appeal is scheduled for Feb. 22.

"It's certainly unlawful to operate facilities without a license, and we've also alleged that there is a danger to the health and safety of residents there," said Deputy Atty. Gen. Donna M. Buntaine.

The health and safety matters cited by the suit include the allegation that residents at both homes were sometimes hosed down in the back yard instead of bathed properly. The suit also states that the homes violated fire codes, had inadequate staff and supervision and maintained incomplete records of residents' care.

Overcrowded, Suit Says

The suit also alleges that the Mobile Street home overcharged residents, administered prescription medications improperly, did not keep an adequate food supply and was often overcrowded.

Bruce C. Hill, a Woodland Hills lawyer representing the Marchesinis, said authorities are "trying to bury somebody with a proliferation of actions. . . . They all address exactly the same issues."

He said the Marchesinis do not have a response to the lawsuit because they have not seen it.

Hill said he expects to argue in the criminal case that the state Social Services Department "exaggerated and overstated" problems at the facilities.

If convicted in the criminal case, the Marchesinis face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine on each of the 22 counts, Deputy City Atty. Ellen R. Pais said.

Neighbors of the Welby Way home gave mixed views on the facility.

Knock Not Answered

One couple, who spoke on condition that their names not be used, said they converted their adult daughter's side bedroom into a den two years ago after she reported hearing screams from the board-and-care home late at night. They said a woman looking for her mother at the home complained to them six months ago that no one answered her knock at the front door.

Another neighbor, Marlyn Dinon, 37, said she was impressed during five or six visits inside the home in the past three years.

Dinon, who said she took baked goods to the residents on holidays, described conditions in the home as "very, very clean. . . . The things I have seen have been very positive. The people are well taken care of."

Hill said the Marchesinis provide an important service to "people in society who need an environment that is pleasant and happy. Many of them cannot afford the conventional or traditional convalescent home care."

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