FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 12, 2017

Contact: Diane Ward, Office of Communications

(518) 549-0200

diane.ward@justicecenter.ny.gov

 

Elmira, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning today  announced the arrest and arraignment last week of an Elmira Psychiatric Center employee for allegedly abusing a patient in his care. The center is operated by the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH). 

Michael Lepkoske of Elmira (DOB: 04/04/52) appeared in Elmira City Court on January 6, 2017 before the Honorable Steven W. Forrest on the following charge:

  •          One count of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent Person in the Second Degree, a class “A” misdemeanor.

Lepkoske, who is employed as a mental health therapy aide, is alleged to have grabbed the victim and repeatedly shoved the victim against a metal door frame which resulted in bruising.

“The Justice Center was created to ensure vulnerable individuals are protected from abuse,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning.  “Abusing individuals with special needs, as this defendant is alleged to have done, cannot go unaccounted for.  We will continue, along with the District Attorneys of this state, to bring these cases to light and seek justice for victims.

The defendant was released on his own recognizance and placed on administrative leave.  Lepkoske is due back in court on January 20, 2017. Justice Center Supervising Assistant Special Prosecutor Linda Gafford is prosecuting the case. Justice Center Investigator Scott Evans handled the investigation.

About the Justice Center

The Justice Center began operations on June 30, 2013. It operates a toll-free hotline that receives reports of allegations of abuse, neglect and significant incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects the abuse or neglect of a person with special needs can make a report. Mandated reporters who have reasonable cause to suspect that a reportable incident has occurred by staff must report it to the Justice Center immediately upon discovery.  The Justice Center is not a first responder so if a report involves an emergency situation, the caller is instructed to hang up and dial 9-1-1.

The Justice Center is authorized to investigate all reports of abuse and neglect, pursue administrative sanctions against staff found responsible for misconduct and its Special Prosecutor/Inspector General shares jurisdiction with local district attorneys to prosecute criminal offense allegations. The Justice Center notifies local district attorneys of all potential criminal cases.

Justice Center Individual and Family Support advocates provide guidance and information to victims, their families, personal representatives and guardians about the reporting and investigation process, offer support during criminal court proceedings and are available to accompany victims during interviews and court appearances.

Editor’s note: In compliance with Rule 3.6(b)(6) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, you are advised that a charge is an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.