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Trio convicted of abusing six disabled adults found dehydrating, starving

Three people working at an unlicensed adult care facility in California have been convicted of abusing six disabled clients after the residents were found “emaciated and dehydrated,” officials said.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said Tuesday that the suspects — Joel Ombao, Ronnel Tiburcio and Nimfa Molina — had taken advantage of six “severely disabled” victims who ranged from 32 to 66 years old at the Secured Hands facility in Riverside.

“Investigators arrived at the location to find the residents being housed in squalor,” Bonta’s office said in a statement. “Many of them were emaciated and dehydrated and were not being provided the care they needed.”

Officials said the arrests and convictions came after officials followed up on a 2015 California Department of Justice investigation into Secure Hands, a hospice company owned and operated by Ombao.

At the facility, investigators discovered the horrific conditions the adult residents were being kept in, noting that the hospice did not have the staff or equipment to care for the residents, the attorney general’s office said.

“Caretakers of elderly and dependent adults have the responsibility of protecting their patients’ dignity, safety, and health,” Bonta said. “Instead, the victims, in this case, suffered horrific neglect and lack of care at the hands of those who were trusted with their well-being.”

Along with Ombao serving as the head of the facility, Tiburcio was listed as an assistant at the company, with Molina serving as a registered nurse.

Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez said in a statement that Secure Hands preyed on the vulnerable and was “essentially a form of human trafficking of our elderly.”

The trio’s trial began on June 6 and ended Monday, with Ombao convicted of four counts of elder abuse and facing up to seven years in prison.

Tiburcio was convicted of six counts of elder abuse, which carries a maximum of nine years in jail. Molina was convicted of one misdemeanor count of elder abuse, which could see her jailed for up to six months.

All three defendants are scheduled to return to court for their sentencing on Aug. 25.

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