The owners of failed nursing homes in South Dakota are facing lawsuits across the nation, including from former workers right here in KELOLAND. Yet, despite all of the complaints, they were able to get millions in federal money for coronavirus relief under the Cares Act. KELOLAND Investigates has been looking into the Skyline Saga since 2018.
Back in May of 2018, 900 South Dakota seniors living in 18 nursing homes and one assisted living center were at “immediate risk of irreparable harm,” after Skyline Healthcare couldn’t pay its bills or its employees.
Skyline did the same thing in at least six other states.
The company dissolved but the owners, the Schwartz family, who ran the company above this New Jersey pizza shop, continued to have ownership in nursing homes all across the country under different company names.
In November of 2019, our investigation looked into how employees of Skyline in South Dakota paid for insurance premiums, but Skyline never paid for the insurance. Unknowingly employees sought medical care and were stuck with the bills.
Louis Schwartz was the Vice President of Skyline and he is now one of the owners of New Jersey’s largest nursing home.
In April, following a rash of COVID-19 deaths in a New Jersey nursing home, authorities found 17 bodies piled into a morgue that only fit four people. The victims’ families are now suing the facility and Schwartz.
The Feds fined the facility more than $200,000 for many health and safety issues and the New Jersey National Guard was called in to help clean up the home. The New Jersey Attorney General is still investigating.
Yet, despite the trail of putting elderly patients at risk and failed nursing homes across the country, Schwartz’s two New Jersey homes have received nearly $3 million in federal pandemic assistance.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the five-year agreements require audits and documentation of how the money is spent. If the skilled nursing home fails to meet HHS requirements or commits fraud, it is punishable by civil, criminal or administrative penalties.
The Schwartzes have also failed to respond to the class action lawsuit filed by former employees, including those in South Dakota, accusing them of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, which is a federal law typically used in organized crime cases.
KELOLAND Investigates called Schwartz’ New Jersey office and a woman answering those phone said he “wasn’t available” to speak to a reporter.