ST. PETERSBURG, Fla - Dozens of cockroaches where caught on camera creeping and crawling in a patient's room at a local assisted living facility, and it's not the first time the ALF has had problems with infestations.
“They're crawling up the wall, crawling up on me,” said Geri Cataraso, as she narrates video she shot inside a patient’s room at Bristol Court Assisted Living Facility in St. Petersburg. “We saw them all the time. There's just holes in the wall, where the roaches go through.”
She was visiting her friend John Maddox, a Navy veteran referred there by the VA, after he had a stroke.
“Look at the cockroach walking on the wall right behind where he's sleeping,” she said in one video clip. “25 years in the military, this is where you put him in?”
Maddox also lost 30 pounds in 90 days, she said.
The administrator didn't want to do an on camera interview, but she said that the ALF serves a unique population, including homeless people, who sometimes bring in pests like bedbugs and cockroaches on their shoes.
“That doesn't occur in an hour,” said attorney Jim Wilkes who reviewed the video.
He has sued hundreds of ALFs, including Bristol Court.
“If it's allowed to happen over and over again, the law says it's abuse. If it goes on for weeks and months, it's abuse,” said Wilkes.
Bristol Court claims an exterminator treats the home monthly, but state records say that wasn't always the case.
In 2015, the ALF was fined for failing to professionally treat a "known infestation of bedbugs” which sent residents to the hospital. That same year, an employee shaved seven residents' heads, including four women without proper consent, during a lice outbreak.
“If the person is being treated that way at home, protective services would come out, take them away and arrest the family,” said Wilkes.
There was an arrest of an employee at Bristol Court earlier this year. 20-year-old Alexis Williams was charged with two counts of video voyeurism. She was arrested for posting secretly-filmed videos of two residents having sex on Snapchat.
Maddox recently left Bristol Court, with help from Cataraso, his attorney and a professional guardian. He is now recovering at another facility.
Cataraso shared her videos with state investigators, hoping they'll force Bristol Court to take care of its problems.
“If more people would open their mouth to what they see, we could stop it,” she said.