Nursing home director wanted to talk with trustees about Register and reputation; other trustees not told
Perkins Township trustee Bill Dwelle appears to be investigating the Concord Care investigation, according to a Perkins Township police report.
The report said Dwelle met with nursing home administrator Jessica Short and chief executive officer Debra Ifft Wednesday afternoon. The meeting came to light when Perkins police Det. Al Jenkins tried to contact Short and was told she was meeting with Dwelle.
Jenkins spoke to Short after the meeting and learned Short had contacted Township Hall last week to request a meeting with the board of trustees. She was concerned about the home's reputation and problems it has had with the Register.
But Short never spoke to the board. Instead, fiscal officer in-training Diane Schaefer directed her to contact Dwelle, according to the report.
"(Short) believed at first they were going to speak with all three trustees, but instead it was only Dwelle. Ms. Short (said) during the meeting Dwelle began asking questions about the investigation, which she thought was odd," the report said.
Dwelle confirmed he met with the Concord Care officials, but said he didn't discuss any specifics about the investigation.
"There was not one word said about it. It was just a very positive conversation about whether the township had adverse feelings toward Concord Care," Dwelle said. "I said, 'Absolutely not.' The actions of one individual does not represent the entire home."
Dwelle was referring to former Concord Care Rehabilitation Center nurse John Riems, who has been charged with one count of gross sexual imposition and three counts each of rape, sexual battery and patient abuse. Several civil lawsuits have been filed against Concord, and state regulators have cited the facility with six care violations.
Dwelle said he did not call the other Perkins Township trustees, Tim Coleman and Jeff Ferrell, because they were working. Ferrell was not working Wednesday.
Also, Dwelle said if all three trustees would have attended the meeting, it would have been a violation of the Sunshine Laws.
Both Coleman and Ferrell said they were unaware of the meeting between Dwelle and Concord Care before it occurred. Coleman said he heard about the meeting afterward.
"It was my understanding that he knew about this a week ago," Coleman said. "He could have told us about this at the meeting the other night. I find that a bit concerning."
Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter said just talking to Concord Care officials would not necessarily result in criminal charges.
"Talking to someone in and of itself is not interfering with the investigation," he said. "You'd actually have to impede the investigation or somehow interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation."
Fiscal Officer Diane Schaefer did not return a call from the Register.