Arrest warrant for ex-owner of NJ nursing home that piled up bodies in pandemic
A warrant has been issued for the former owner of Skyline nursing homes in multiple states, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced last week.
Among facilities once owned by Joseph Schwartz — and still co-owned by his son — is a Sussex County nursing home found with a packed, makeshift morgue early in the COVID pandemic.
The 61-year-old Schwartz, of Brooklyn, is accused of eight counts of Medicaid fraud, according to Rutledge, for over-billing in Arkansas by more than $6 million in 2018.
As a result, Schwartz received an overpayment of $3.6 million for the eight nursing home facilities enrolled in the Arkansas Medicaid Program.
Louis Schwartz took half ownership of his father’s facility in Sussex County, alongside Chaim Scheinbaum, back in May 2017, according to Medicare records.
Sometime after the April 2020 grim discovery of 17 bodies piled up in a morgue intended to hold no more than five, Andover was split and renamed the Limecrest Subacute and Rehabilitation Center and Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center.
Federal officials later issued a quarter-million dollars in fines stemming from the unsafe conditions.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which inspects nursing homes, said in a subsequent report that the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II facility failed to follow proper infection control and that its non-compliance "has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury, harm impairment or death to residents.”
Joseph Schwartz is also charged with failing to pay more than $2 million withheld from his Arkansas employees’ paychecks to the state of Arkansas from July 2017 to March 2018.
In 2019, NBC News reported on the financial collapse of Schwartz’s Skyline Healthcare empire, which had grown to more than 100 properties in at least six states before the weight of multiple lawsuits and state probes amid claims of neglect and mismanagement.
The entire operation had been based out of a Bergen County office, above a pizzeria and a barbershop in Wood-Ridge, as previously reported by NorthJersey.com.
A lawsuit filed in federal court in New Jersey in January 2020 accused Joseph Schwartz and his wife, Rosie Schwartz, of stealing more than $2 million from employees’ paychecks that was supposed to pay for their health insurance,.
It was filed by five people who had worked at Skyline-operated facilities in Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, who together sought class-action status, as reported previously by the Associated Press.
“These charges come after a 44-month-long investigation into Skyline’s wrongdoings, and I will not sit idly by while anyone defrauds the State and Federal government out of millions of dollars to line their own pockets,” Rutledge said in a written statement.
The former Andover long-term care facility has been facing a class-action lawsuit, filed by sons of one of the patients who died there in early April 2020.
Bernard and Dante Maglioli, the sons of 85-year-old Joseph Maglioli, have been suing Scheinbaum and his company, Alliance Healthcare based in Lakewood, claiming gross negligence, wrongful death and medical malpractice.
The lawsuit claims that the facility was aware of the emerging pandemic in February 2020, but "failed to take the proper steps to protect the residents and/or patients at their facilities.”
More than 80 patients at the home died, attributed to COVID-19, in the following weeks, according to the suit.
Contact reporter Erin Vogt at Erin.Vogt@townsquaremedia.com. With previous reporting by Sergio Bichao and Dan Alexander