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Hill City care center operator appears in court on 25 criminal charges

Updated: September 25, 2019 06:57 PM

Theresa L. Olson, of Hill City, faced an Aitkin County judge Wednesday morning on 25 criminal charges stemming from her operation of a now-closed assisted living center, Chappy’s Golden Shores.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office charged Olson with more than two dozen offenses Tuesday, including manslaughter in the second-degree, criminal neglect of a vulnerable adult and theft.

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“We are reviewing the charges and awaiting receipt of the State’s evidence,” said Jason Steck, a defense attorney. “Ms. Olson maintains her innocence and looks forward to her vindication in court.”

Court documents list the victim in the manslaughter charge only by the initials, R.M., who died in October 2018.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with Darrell Martin, who identified the victim listed in the criminal charges as his late brother, Russell Martin, a 72-year-old Vietnam Veteran Marine.

Prosecutors said Martin died last fall from complications from an infection, leading them to file a manslaughter charge against Olson for “not providing R.M. with proper care …”

"Satisfaction has started to set in,” Martin said about the charges. “They are going to be held accountable for what happened to my brother."

Russell Martin was born in White Earth, graduated from Minneapolis North High School before joining the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam war from 1967 to 1969.

Steven Nelson, 58, also received care at Chappy's before his death in October 2018.

Prosecutors charged Olson with two counts of criminal neglect of a vulnerable adult regarding Nelson’s care, records show.

"I'm overwhelmed, I'm saddened for all the victims and the families that are going through a hard time," said Nelson’s sister, Connie Billmeier.

Billmeimer, of Champlin, filed a civil lawsuit against Chappy’s after her brother’s death.

'A bad dream': Sister who filed lawsuit against Chappy's, caregivers, alleges beating

Attorney Suzanne Scheller represents Nelson's family in a civil suit against Chappy's, but said the depth of the Attorney General’s Office criminal investigation is unheard of in elder cases.

"In this world of elder abuse and neglect, and abuse and neglect of those who those who have disabilities, it's rare to find something of this magnitude that is investigated thoroughly," Scheller said.

Scheller said the AG’s work of reviewing more than 1 million documents and the time spent on the case provides smaller jurisdictions with a new resource to help with complex elder investigations.

"It's massive, I'd say historic, I'd say sweeping, and necessary," said Scheller.

Olson’s bond was set at at least $100,000, and she’s scheduled to be back in court Nov. 18 in Aitkin County.

Hill City care center charged with maltreatment, fraud, obstruction

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Eric Chaloux

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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