Judge clears Scottdale woman accused of endangering Vietnam vet
A reckless endangerment charge was dismissed Wednesday against the owner of a Scottdale personal care home who had been accused of letting a Vietnam veteran walk from her facility to the New Stanton area.
District Judge Charles Moore ruled that Leah C. Ilgenfritz, 80, shouldn’t be held criminally responsible because she had been in contact with social service agencies about the resident, who was in his 60s. Ilgenfritz booked a motel room for the man and dropped off his belongings and medication, but he refused to let her drive him there and instead left on foot, according to testimony.
“She got all his belongings to the place that she had paid for,” Moore said.
Ilgenfritz said she was relieved following more than 70 minutes of contentious testimony at her preliminary hearing.
The situation that was reported on July 6, 2018, to the Westmoreland County Elder Abuse Task Force after the man was seen wandering around the New Stanton area, county Detective Ray Dupilka testified. Police said the victim has schizophrenia and a diabetic condition.
A doctor who evaluated him during an involuntary mental health commitment that day told investigators that the man was “at risk of serious bodily injury or death” if left untreated, Dupilka testified.
Four days earlier, Ilgenfritz had packaged his medications and belongings and dropped them off about 9 miles away at the Budget Inn in New Stanton. The man didn’t make it to the motel, police said.
“She didn’t know if he ever made it to the motel or if he received his requisite medication,” Dupilka testified.
Defense attorney Dennis Rafferty asked for the dismissal, arguing that Ilgenfritz never placed the man in danger. She shouldn’t be held responsible for something that happened four days later, Rafferty said.
“There’s no reason for her to do anything more,” he said. “She has no obligation to do anything more. She certainly didn’t do anything on this occasion that amounts to the crime of recklessly endangering another person.”
Assistant District Attorney Kelly Hammers argued that Ilgenfritz did not verify that the man got his belongings and medication, putting him at risk.
“She did not take any steps … to make sure he got to this location,” she said.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .