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Seaport Manor ruling

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After four years of legal wrangling, the state closed the book on Canarsie’s scandal-scarred Seaport Manor last week. After a final settlement hammered out with the state Attorney General’s office on December 28, Martin Rosenberg and Baruch Mappa, the former owners of the dilapidated home for the mentally ill on East 104th Street, were forced to pay $100,000 to the residents they subjected to a litany of deplorable conditions in the spring of 2002. If any of the residents cannot be located, the money will go to non-profit organizations that financially assist adult care facilities in New York City, the settlement states. In addition, Rosenberg and Mappa are being forced to pay $49,000 in penalties in interest to the state Department of Health, officials said. Allegations against Rosenberg and Mappa run the gamut, from leaving residents malnourished in rooms filled with cockroaches and other vermin, to doing nothing to prevent an environment where male residents shook down fellow patients for their allowance money and women prostituted themselves for cigarettes, according to a scathing investigation conducted by the New York Times. Despite repeated demands by state officials to correct the horrendous living conditions, Rosenberg and Mappa did nothing, putting the 313 patients in the 342 bed facility in further danger, officials alleged. The stomach-churning stories coming out of the Manor continued for several more months until firm action was taken at the home. The hard line against the Manor wasn’t drawn, however, until after allegations surfaced that a resident had killed herself by setting her clothes on fire. Rosenberg and Mappa were charged with not investigating the woman’s death property, officials said. At the height of its problems, the state health department filed 122 violations against the Manor, declaring that most of the violations were caused by a “lack of supervision” and “inadequate medical care.” Rosenberg and Mappa were in charge of the Seaport Manor up until June 2002, when a judge finally ripped the operation away from them, putting it into the hands of a court-appointed administrator to handle the day-to-day activities. In the years that followed, the Manor was ultimately closed. Its residents were sent to other facilities. Besides the financial hit, the Attorney General’s suit affected Rosenberg and Mappa’s future livelihood. The settlement ordered that Rosenberg and Mappa would be “permanently barred from owning, controlling, operating or administering a licensed adult care facility, or halfway house, hostel or other residential facility or program serving persons with mental disabilities.” Elizabeth Rosenberg, the Seaport Manor’s administrator, was “barred from operating or serving as an administrator, consultant or employee of an adult care facility,” the lawsuit states. The Attorney General’s office took the case on the behalf of the violated and terrorized residents at the end of 2002. A trial court initially dismissed the lawsuit, however, ruling that the state Department of Health’s previous enforcement actions, which included an administrative investigation that led to Rosenberg and Mappa surrendering their licenses to operate the home and paying $20,000 in fines, had already taken place. The Attorney General’s office appealed, and was able to sue Rosenberg and Mappa. The scope of the suit, however, was limited to a three-month period between the Department of Health filing their charges against the Manor and when the court-appointed manager was installed. Critics of both the Department of Health’s investigation and the lawsuit from the Attorney General’s office charged that had the state sustained all of the charges against the Seaport Manor, Rosenberg and Mappa could have been forced to fork over close to a half-million dollars in fines to the residents they had allegedly harmed.

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