Sunmount employee accused of abuse

TUPPER LAKE – A second Sunmount employee in two months has been arrested on charges of abusing a developmentally disabled resident of a local group home.

John P. Boyer, 51, of Tupper Lake, was charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent person and official misconduct, according to a press release issued Thursday by the state Inspector General’s Office.

Boyer pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday night before Tupper Lake Town Justice Leonard Young III. He was released of his own recognizance pending future court proceedings.

The case against Boyer stems from incidents that allegedly occurred at a Tupper Lake individual residence alternative facility. Boyer, who has been employed as a direct support assistant, was tasked with providing personal care, treatment and rehabilitation services to four residents of the IRA with developmental disabilities.

Boyer allegedly admitted to authorities that between 2008 and 2009 he was verbally abusive toward a resident and later ranted about the incident in comments that were captured on a cell phone video recording, according to the release.

His arrest was the result of a joint investigation by state Inspector General’s Office, state police and the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, which runs Sunmount. It was the second arrest of a Sunmount employee accused of abusing a resident in the last two months.

Derick R. Mandigo, 46, of Tupper Lake, was arrested on the same charges in April. Police have said he was captured on a cellphone video being verbally abusive toward a Sunmount resident and striking the resident in the face in August 2009. Mandigo pleaded guilty to official misconduct last month and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, which included him resigning from Sunmount.

When OPWDD was first made aware of the alleged incident involving Boyer, the agency says it placed him on administrative leave to ensure the safety of other residents of the IRA. At the same time, the agency referred the matter to the inspector general and state police.

“Mr. Boyer’s alleged conduct fell far below the standards New Yorkers expect and deserve,” Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said in the release. “As was the case two months ago, we were able to remove a danger to residents living in this state facility, and the prosecution of Mr. Boyer should serve as a strong warning against any workers whose aggressive behavior endangers or abuses those in their care.”

“As I have said many times, there can be no tolerance for abuse of those with disabilities – especially by people who are charged with providing care for them,” Franklin County District Attorney Champagne said in the release. “My office stands ready to prosecute those workers accused of perpetrating aggression or violence against our most vulnerable population.”

Boyer’s attorney, Brian Barrett of Lake Placid, says Boyer has worked 26 years for the agency without incident and described the prosecution as harassment.

“These charges are a product of the totalitarian Cuomo regime who wants to cut the state budget by harassing longtime state employees with fringe criminal accusations,” Barrett said in message to the Enterprise. “The comments and press release of Inspector General Leahy Scott is abusive, a violation of state ethics laws and a palpable infringement on my client’s constitutional right to due process of law.”