Wednesday, November 10, 2010

State lawsuit vs. Bowes owners near end

ELGIN — Another chapter in the story of the now-closed Bowes Retirement Center is nearing an end.

The state expects that an injunction will be granted next week to prevent the former owners of the northeast-side facility from operating another unlicensed nursing home.

“Because the facility is closed and out of business, this will be the last step in the case,” said Maura Possley, spokeswoman for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

“We would only pursue further action if they open somewhere else without going through the necessary licensing process,” she said.

Bowes, at 105 N. Gifford St., was shut down and emptied of residents in late September. The closing was the result of an impending mortgage foreclosure in Kane County and a motion for injunction filed by the state. The motion for injunction filed in July 2009 accused Bowes’ owners of running the facility as an unlicensed nursing home and putting the health and safety of its residents at risk.

The closure marked the end of more than two years of efforts to draw attention to and fix nagging problems at the facility, officials said — problems that ranged from unsanitary conditions to reports of neglect and abuse of its elderly residents.

Bowes’ owners — Angel and Bell Corp. of Palos Heights, Ardent Home Health Care Inc. and Benjamin and Angelina Guzman — are accused of operating Bowes under the guise of a retirement center. Although Bowes advertised that it provided living quarters for independent adults, the state’s suit claims that during 2008 and 2009, several residents there needed assistance to bathe, eat, take medications and move — services that can be provided only by a licensed nursing facility.

Last month, a professional liquidation company was named the new caretaker of the now-vacant Bowes Retirement Center property.

Chicago-based Realization Advisors Inc. was appointed by a judge to secure the historical east-side facility from vandals and ready the property for sale.

“We will be doing two things, basically: safety and security first, and secondary, maximizing recovery,” Michael Kayman of Realization Advisors said.

According to court documents, Angel & Bell Corp. et al advised their bank — Mutual of Omaha — in September that Bowes would close and be empty of tenants by Oct. 1.

“They are really very good people. They just ran into some financial trouble,” said Lawrence J. Stark, one of the Guzmans’ attorneys.

Stark mentioned after a court appearance this week that he thought a company in Ohio had expressed interest in purchasing the center and converting it into a bed-and-breakfast.

Kayman, however, said Realization Advisors did not know of any interested parties. In addition, Kayman said, the foreclosure proceedings need to be complete before the property could be sold. He did not anticipate that would happen before the end of the year.

Assuming the state’s lawsuit is resolved at the next court date, scheduled for Wednesday , the attorney general’s office will monitor Angel & Bell Corp. to ensure the company does not open any more unlicensed nursing homes in the state, Possley said.

“To do that, we would rely on complaints from the public, residents, family members or the Illinois Department of Public Health,” Possley said. “And, of course, if we receive a complaint, we will aggressively investigate.”
State lawsuit vs. Bowes owners near end

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