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Gross Negligence

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Gross negligence can be described as the failure to exercise even the slightest amount of care. Jennifer M. Cote, 45, of Montpelier, Vt., was sentenced for Medicaid fraud and neglect of a vulnerable adult. Montpelier pleaded guilty in October 2019 for her role in the death of a vulnerable adult and for defrauding Vermont’s Medicaid program. (Grab your tissue boxes. This is a very sad tale.)

Cote was sentenced for her role in the death of Jeffrey A. Kittredge II, 20, who died from septic shock due to infected bed sores that were not properly treated. (There’s a vivid image that you just can’t unsee.) It’s important to note that Cote was in a romantic relationship with Jeffery A. Kittredge, Sr. at the time of his son’s death. (The pair went on to marry in 2019. I wonder if that was for the spousal testimonial privilege.)

The younger Kittredge suffered from multiple medical conditions, including spina bifida, a brain development birth defect, and clubbed feet. He required 24-hour care due to his medical conditions. Cote was a former licensed nursing assistant. She served as one of his primary caregivers through Vermont’s Medicaid program, along with his father.

Sadly, Kittredge died at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington where he was admitted in 2016 for extreme bed sores. Dr. Steven Shapiro, the state’s chief medical examiner, told police the younger Kittredge’s sores were the most “disgusting” he’d seen in his career. (The sores were not as disgusting as the apathetic behavior demonstrated by Cote as Kittredge’s caregiver.)

Keep in mind that both Kittredge, Sr. and Cote were receiving Medicaid money for taking care of the younger Kittredge. (They clearly failed to take care of the young man. Their inaction contributed to his untimely death.) Investigators asserted that the duo should not have received the money because they did not provide adequate care.

Cote admitted during her sentencing that her care for the younger Kittredge was “not what it should have been.” (The judge didn’t put it quite so nicely stating that Cote only viewed Kittredge as a means to a paycheck.) Cote was sentenced to one to three years in federal prison for her role in Kittredge’s death and for defrauding the Vermont Medicaid program.

Per her plea agreement, the state dropped a felony count of involuntary manslaughter and three additional felony counts of neglect of a vulnerable adult. Charges against Kittredge, Sr. are still pending. He is facing a felony count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of neglect of a vulnerable adult and a felony count of Medicaid fraud. (While the younger Kittredge suffered from gross negligence, you can be sure that the justice system will not neglect punishing the father for failing to provide adequate care for his vulnerable son.)                                            

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Montpelier woman gets 1-3 years in death of vulnerable adult,” published by The Barre Montpelier Times Argus on January 26, 2021.

BARRE — A Montpelier woman has been sentenced to one to three years to serve for her role in the death of a vulnerable adult.

Jennifer M. Cote, 45, was sentenced Tuesday in Washington County criminal court in Barre on felony counts of Medicaid fraud and neglect of a vulnerable adult. Cote pleaded guilty to the charges in October 2019.

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