The Norman Transcript

State/Region

January 26, 2013

AG confirms investigation of veterans system

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into the state’s veterans system, his spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

Diane Clay, Pruitt’s spokeswoman, said the investigation would focus on the entire system, and not just a single veterans center.

“The attorney general’s office is conducting a criminal investigation and has the option of bringing the issue before the multi-county grand jury,” Clay said.

Pruitt’s investigation comes on the heels of published reports of abuse, neglect, rapes and deaths at several of the state’s veterans centers, including the scalding death of World War II veteran Jay Minter in May.

Minter died May 3, a day after he was placed in a malfunctioning whirlpool at the Claremore Veterans Center. A state medical examiner’s report said Minter had burns on more than 50 percent of his body.

Following Minter’s death, two investigations by the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs substantiated charges of abuse and neglect by several members of the Claremore center’s staff, including Cindy Schnell, the center’s director of nursing. The results of those investigations were delivered to Pruitt’s office.

The ODVA’s first report, written in May, recommended that Schnell be suspended from her job. In that report, investigator Steven Pancoast also recommended the termination of Melinda Cross - the certified nurse’s aide who placed Minter into a malfunctioning whirlpool - and the suspension of two other employees at the center.

Cross was subsequently fired, while Schnell and the other employees were suspended with pay.

A second ODVA report written in November and obtained by The Journal Record this week called for Schnell to be charged with criminal negligence over Minter’s death.

In both reports, investigators questioned why Schnell allowed Cross to remain as a nurse’s aide. Investigators cited a history of medical problems and concerns by Cross’ doctor that she was unable to fully concentrate on her work and adequately care for the elderly.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State/Region
  • Oklahoma Senate approves limits on abortion drug

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to further restrict the use of abortion-inducing drugs in Oklahoma in a bill written in direct response to a recent state Supreme Court decision....

    April 16, 2014

  • March Oklahoma revenue misses mark by 9.1 percent

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s finance secretary says collections by the general revenue fund fell 9.1 percent below the official estimate in March....

    April 16, 2014

  • University of Tulsa researchers find new species

    TULSA — A salamander first discovered by a University of Tulsa doctoral student in 2011 is being hailed as a new species in an international journal for animal taxonomy....

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma House passes state trooper pay raise bill

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers could get their first pay raise in seven years under a plan given final legislative approval Tuesday, though it remains unclear whether money will be available in the overall state budget to ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Barresi decries plan to eliminate Okla. tests

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi is raising concern about a bill before the Legislature that would eliminate state testing in social studies and geography....

    April 16, 2014

  • State-mandated minimum wage draws ire across state

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Organizers seeking a higher minimum wage in Oklahoma are upset with Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to sign a bill that prohibits cities in the state from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma’s 8-month streak without tornado falls

    TULSA — After Oklahoma’s eight-month streak without a tornado was snapped this weekend by a pair of suspected twisters, the state’s wild weather jag continued into Monday, with blowing snow from the Panhandle to Tulsa and freezing ...

    April 15, 2014

  • 4 now charged in college player’s death

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A fourth person was charged Monday in the death of an Australian baseball player who was fatally shot as he jogged in a southern Oklahoma neighborhood last summer....

    April 15, 2014

  • Fallin signs minimum wage increase ban

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Cities across Oklahoma are now prohibited from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day requirements under a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Mary Fallin....

    April 15, 2014

  • Opponents carve anti-pipeline message

    NELIGH, Neb. — Opponents of a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from Canada south to the Gulf Coast have stamped a massive message of resistance into a Nebraska field that is in the project’s path....

    April 14, 2014