Pasadena woman jailed in abuse-of-adult case

September 20, 2005|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,sun reporter

A Pasadena woman was jailed yesterday for her role in leaving a mentally disabled relative in a dark, dirt-floored, trash-strewn basement with two dogs, where paramedics found him with festering sores on his dehydrated body, too ill to walk.

Mary Alice Caruso, 56, told Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Nancy Davis-Loomis that her estranged husband, Benjamin Caruso, moved 55-year-old Michael Ebert to the basement to place him closer to the house's only bathroom. Charging documents said Benjamin Caruso, who is scheduled for trial next month on abuse charges, told them Ebert had been urinating on the floor upstairs.

Benjamin Caruso, 56, was the legal guardian for Ebert, who has Down syndrome, said Assistant State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling. Caruso had been caring for Ebert since 2002, according to the charging documents.

Paramedics called to the Caruso home Feb. 15 found Ebert in a basement where, one of them told police, the stench was overpowering. Ebert was on a mattress on the floor, unable to walk, and had lost 30 pounds between July and December, charging documents state. He had feces on his body, and police estimated a sore on his thigh was up to 4 inches in diameter.

Photos from more than a year ago show a robust Ebert who attended a day program near the Carusos' home. But the couple stopped sending him to the program last winter. Victim-witness advocate Shelda George said Ebert is in a nursing home, where he is receiving therapy.

Mary Alice Caruso, who pleaded guilty this month to abuse of a vulnerable adult, was sentenced to two months in the county jail, to be followed by 10 months of house arrest and five years of supervised probation. Benjamin Caruso's lawyer, H. Richard Duden III, said yesterday: "My client would deny that he actively neglected his uncle."

Duden said Benjamin Caruso was trying to get Ebert, who has incontinence problems, placed in a group residence.

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