Lackawanna, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced a quality improvement specialist at Baker Victory Services has been arrested on charges she falsified an investigative report.

Lori Thomas (DOB: 04/01/1973) of Angola, N.Y., is charged with Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class “E” Felony. The defendant is alleged to have falsified an investigative report submitted to her employer. Thomas, who was responsible for investigating allegations of abuse and neglect involving individuals receiving services from Baker Victory, is alleged to have included several fabricated accounts of interviews in an investigative report. If convicted, Thomas faces a maximum of four years in state prison.

Baker Victory Services is licensed by the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) and NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Thomas was arraigned in Erie County Court before the Honorable Frederic J. Marrano and released on her own recognizance. Thomas, who is scheduled to appear in court on March 14, has been terminated from her position.

“Thorough and accurate investigations of cases of abuse and neglect of vulnerable New Yorkers is the Justice Center’s top priority. When anyone responsible for investigating those allegations includes falsified information, as this defendant is alleged to have done, it undermines the integrity of the work,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning.

Supervising Assistant Special Prosecutor Jennifer A. Whitman is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by Justice Center investigators Lorrie Alvarez and Andrew Gerken. Gunning thanked the office of Erie County District Attorney John Flynn for their support of the Justice Center’s prosecution and the City of Lackawanna Police Department for their assistance in 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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2017 - Contact: Bill Reynolds (518) 549-0200