Innocence claimed in nursing home deaths

Sept. 14, 2005 at 8:04 AM

BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The lawyer for a Louisiana couple charged with negligent homicide in 34 Hurricane Katrina nursing home deaths says the charges are ridiculous.

Mable Mangano, 62, and her husband, Salvador Mangano Sr., 65, who own St. Rita's Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish were each charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide for failing to adequately evacuate the home as Hurricane Katrina struck Aug. 29.

While about 24 other people at the nursing home were rescued by firefighters and neighbors, 34 died in the flooded building.

However, the couple's lawyer, James Cobb, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune his clients are innocent.

"It's ridiculous to arrest these two people considering the problems with the evacuation at all levels of the government," he said.

However, State Attorney General Charles Foti said the charges are justified, as Mable Mangano refused two evacuation buses the day before the storm, and claimed she also failed to call an ambulance company under contract to provide ambulances and helicopters for patients with special needs.

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