FREEBURG, Ill. – The reported theft of Vicodin from an assisted living resident was caught on tape, however, prosecutors say it’s not enough to file criminal charges.
The man’s family contacted Fox 2 with concerns it could happen again.
The hidden camera video was shot on two different dates in 2020. The video shows an assisted living caregiver going through an elderly man’s narcotics.
The man’s daughter, Hope Kaemmerer, set up the camera after continuing to find missing meds.
“On one of the videos, he wasn’t in the room when she was there. He was in the dining room and she went into his room and took the medication,” she said.
Freeburg police jumped on the case, writing a 31-page police report and applying for warrants for theft and possession of a controlled substance.
“She had no right to even be touching his medication so that wasn’t her job. She was going way beyond her scope even touching the medicine,” Kaemmerer said.
Cedar Trails also acted immediately, writing to Fox 2, “The safety of our residents is our top concern. We have a no-tolerance policy for criminal behavior and this employee is no longer employed at our community. We have and will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement.”
Kaemmerer worries about a line in the police report.
“We found out through the police report that she was working in a home health situation taking care of elderly in their home. To me, it’s just like giving her a free pass to go and do it again,” she said.
Especially, Kaemmerer says, since the St. Clair County State’s Attorney declined to prosecute.
“In initiating charges against a suspect, a prosecutor has the responsibility to only bring those charges they believe are supported by sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, before a reasonable finder of fact, that the suspect committed the act alleged,” she said.
“In the matter at hand, after a full investigation by the law enforcement agency, the conclusion was reached regarding the warrant application that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect committed the offense of possession of a controlled substance.
“This conclusion was reached after initial and follow-up investigation was completed by the law enforcement agency, and done with full consideration for the seriousness of the allegation and our duties as prosecutors.”
It was disappointing to Kaemmerer who often felt alone advocating for her dad.
“You have to watch out for your parents, the elderly because they are going to be taken advantage of. It’s a form of elder abuse.” She added, “You want to trust people, but sometimes you really have to trust your gut,” she said.
Her father, Harold Klingenberg, died last August from causes unrelated to his medication.
There’s one other safety net Fox 2 learned about in the investigation.
The former employee, who is not named or shown because she was not charged, was reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
An IDPH spokesperson said that the report, by the assisted living center, will show up on a background check under Illinois’ Health Care Worker Registry.