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Dispute over La. nursing home evacuation

Sept. 15, 2005 at 10:48 AM

POYDRAS, La., Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The lawyer for a Louisiana nursing home where 34 people died in Hurricane Katrina's flooding says its owners are heroes and shouldn't face negligence charges.

As owners of the St. Rita's Nursing Home near Poydras, Mable Mangano, 62, and her husband, Salvador Mangano, 65, were charged with 34 counts of criminal negligence Tuesday.

But James Cobb, a New Orleans attorney representing them told the New Orleans Times Picayune that the couple and others scrambled to get boats, in some cases shooting locks off nearby gates, to help save 52 people on Aug. 29.

"They're heroes, not criminals," Cobb said. "Somebody ought to be giving them medals."

The couple also denied claims they refused the offer of two buses from St. Bernard parish before the storm.

State Attorney General Charles Foti said the home is required by law to follow a mandatory evacuation plan filed with parish government for hurricanes stronger that Category 2. Katrina made landfall as a Category 4.

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