Group Home Owner, Employees Agree to Leave Industry Amid Probe
State officials said Friday they have reached an agreement with the owner of a Ventura group home and two of his former employees that will ban them for life from working in or obtaining a license to run another facility for troubled youths.
Without admitting any wrongdoing, Angelo Elardo, a retired dentist who owns the four Amberwood juvenile care homes in Ventura, and employees Hector Alvarez and Michael Anthony Brown, agreed to those conditions this week, state officials said.
The agreement comes nearly a month after state officials shut down the four group homes, citing allegations that staff members were not properly caring for the youngsters who lived there. The order suspending Amberwood’s license was accompanied by a 25-page list of accusations against the provider.
None of the three could be reached for comment Friday. But in an interview last month, Elardo defended the care provided in his group homes.
“We have dedicated people and qualified people, contrary to what Community Care Licensing says,” he said.
Dianne Kryter, district manager for the state’s Community Care Licensing division, said the trio initially had appealed the state’s action. That appeal was scheduled to be heard next week.
But Kryter said they apparently decided they would rather settle the matter, agreeing to conditions that will prohibit them from even volunteering at another community care facility.
“There will be no hearing,” she said. “That’s it. It’s done.”
Last month, state officials launched an investigation of the four east Ventura group homes, which were responsible for the care of two dozen troubled youths.
The state’s action was spurred by the accidental drowning of a 15-year-old boy in Amberwood’s care. The administrative charges said Amberwood failed to provide sufficient staff to supervise swimmers during an outing to Zaca Lake in Santa Barbara County.
Furthermore, there were lingering concerns about Amberwood staff and the quality of care in the group homes.
The four licensed group homes were at 10127 Jamestown St., 267 Montebello Ave., 8204 Tiara St. and 8524 Roswell St.
The homes remain closed, Kryter said, and the youngsters who lived there have been relocated to other facilities.