March 9, 2011
(Unhappy Franchisee) by Sean Kelly LivHOME, Inc., one of the nation’s largest providers of at-home care for seniors, made news this past October by announcing the launch of its franchise program this past October.
In December, LivHOME made news with the appointment of Brandon Neilson as Director of Franchise Development to lead the new franchise’s recruitment process.
But in recent weeks, media attention for LivHOME took a dark turn when one of its former employees, Norma Ruth Casini, was arrested on charges of stealing more than $600,000 from the LivHOME client in her care, and spending the money on her home lease, dog day care and a “dog whisperer,” orthodontic work, laser eye treatment, shopping, concerts, travel, and other personal items.
The Casini Caregiver Scandal is truly a family affair, as Norma’s husband Leno Casini (a department assistant with the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office) has been arrested on suspicion of burglary and receiving stolen property. Their daughter, Anastasia Darlena Mendezkestler, has been charged with felony counts of accessory after the fact and receiving stolen property, second degree commercial burglary, and fraudulently using an access card.
The story is a public relations nightmare that could not have come at a worse time for the budding LivHOME franchise company.
Meet Norma Casini: Senior Care Employee From Hell
According to reports posted on the Orange County District Attorney’s website, the LivHOME client who was victimized by Casini was an 85-year-old woman with no family support who required 24-hour in-home care. LivHOME entrusted employee Norma Casini to care for Nancy W. from November 2006 to March 2009.
The Orange County District Attorney alleges that Norma Casini stole approximately $610,000 from Nancy W.’s bank accounts and credit cards for personal use.
In March 2009, Casini was terminated by LivHOME after the company determined that the defendant was not in Nancy W.’s home during her shift. A subsequent review of the victim’s bank accounts revealed that her savings had been depleted from over $700,000 in June 2008 to less than $5,000 in April 2009.
Last month, Norma’s husband was arrested after he was linked to stolen engagement and wedding rings from a Nancy W.’s 62-year marriage. Orange County sheriff’s deputies located the rings in a pawn shop and traced them back to Leno Casini. Leno Casini was arrested at the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office in Santa Fe Springs where he works.
Norma Casini faces a possible maximum sentence of 49 years and eight months in state prison.
Husband Leno and daughter Anastasia each face a maximum sentence of 12 years in state prison.
The defendants are each in custody on $610,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond.
The Home Helper who Helped Herself
After being fired by LivHOME for not being in her invalid client’s home during her shift, one would think her career as a caregiver would be over.
One would be wrong.
Norma Casini was hired by senior care franchise Home Helpers, where she worked from December 2010 to January 2011.
As Home Helpers Senior Care Employee-From-Hell, Norma Casini allegedly ripped off an elderly couple by taking the woman’s debit card, changing the password, making purchases, stealing her wedding ring and band for her alleged scumbag husband to sell to the Jewelry Buyers pawn shop.
But Home Helpers’ PR nightmare is another story for another post. One can only describe so much vile depravity at one sitting.
Are Senior Care Franchise Companies Doing Enough to Protect Clients? Will They Cause Their Own Downfall?
Yesterday, I posted a story on a similarly ghastly story involving senior theft on the part of a Home Instead Senior Care franchise employee (See: HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE Franchise Nightmare: Everybody Loses). After this, I will write on the effect this same story will have for the Home Helpers franchise.
In-home health care is a huge and growing market. Senior Care franchises are positioned to meet this need and reap the benefits for years to come, but only if they can earn the degree of trust promised in their well-crafted marketing materials.
Are senior care franchise companies doing enough to screen and supervise employees, and to make sure their franchisees are doing the same?
What could they be doing to better both protect their clients, their brands & the reputation of their franchise chains?
In a business entirely built on trust, are they doing enough to earn it?
WHAT DO YOU THINK? SHARE A COMMENT BELOW.
He can be contacted at seankelly[at]ideafarm.net.