Office of the Attorney General
Two Community Presence Caregivers Plead Guilty in Connection with Death of Patient
Attorney General Jack Conway today announced a plea agreement in the case of two Kentucky caregivers arrested last year on charges relating to the abuse and death of a patient at Community Presence, Inc. Matthew Bortles from Soldier in Carter County pled guilty to Manslaughter II, Tampering with Physical Evidence and Knowing Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult. Branden Starostka from Grayson in Carter County pled guilty to Tampering with Physical Evidence and Wanton Abuse and Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult. The pleas occurred on Tuesday, March 10, in Carter Circuit Court.
“This was a shocking and egregious case and through the hard work of our investigators and prosecutors, working together with local law enforcement, these two men were brought to justice,” General Conway said.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Bortles will serve 8 years and Starostka will serve 5 years in the Kentucky Department of Corrections.
Bortles and Starostka were indicted in Carter Circuit Court in connection with the death of Michael Price, a mentally handicapped adult who was under the care of and resided at Community Presence, Inc. On October 14, 2007, Bortles laid on the victim’s back for more than 30 minutes using an improper restraint. This caused the victim to stop breathing and ultimately caused his death. While this was occurring, Starostka watched television and failed to intervene. After the victim died, Bortles and Starostka attempted to conceal evidence by cleaning up the victim’s blood, concealing a bloody pillow and placing a blood-stained washcloth in the washing machine.
Investigators from the Office of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Division assisted the Grayson Police Department in the investigation of the case and the arrests of both defendants. Prosecutors from the Medicaid Fraud Division handled the prosecution of this case at the request of the Carter County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 20, 2009 in Carter Circuit Court.