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Valer Catuna Sentenced to 21 Years for Elder Abuse

Arizona Attorney General Mayes Announces 21-Year Prison Sentence for Adult Care Home Owner Valer Catuna for the Abuse and Death of a Vulnerable Adult.

PHOENIX, AZ (STL.News) Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes announced Thursday that Valer Catuna, an owner of a Phoenix-based Adult Care Home, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the homicide of a vulnerable adult entrusted to his care.

William Griswold, a 53-year-old patient diagnosed with numerous health and mental problems, including Traumatic Brain Injury, which was a result of his being struck by a car in 2017, was a patient at the Artemis Adult Care Home from December 4, 2019, until he was killed on October 21, 2020.

“The details of this case are unconscionable.  Mr. Griswold deserved better, as all vulnerable adults do,” said Attorney General Mayes.  “My office will not tolerate fraud and abuse perpetuated against our state’s elderly and vulnerable residents – and those committing these crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Valer Catuna, a part owner of the home, had a dispute with Griswold over Griswold’s request for a cigarette.  The matter escalated, with Catuna eventually pinning Griswold down on his bed and then punching him on the side of his torso, breaking seven ribs and rupturing his spleen.  Catuna’s attack caused internal bleeding.  Catuna failed to call emergency medical services for Griswold for nine hours.  Griswold died from his injuries on the evening of October 21, 2020.

On March 12, 2021, the State Grand Jury charged Catuna with Second Degree Murder, a Class 1 Felony, and Vulnerable Adult Abuse, a Class 2 Felony.  On May 30, 2023, Defendant Valer Catuna pled guilty to Manslaughter, a Class Two dangerous felony.  The Honorable Judge Margaret La Bianca of the Maricopa County Superior Court sentenced Catuna on July 14, 2023, to an aggravated prison term of 21 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections, the maximum term of incarceration allowed for the offense.

Detectives from the Phoenix Police Department’s Homicide Bureau and Special Agents from the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office investigated this case.  Assistant Attorney General Brett Harames prosecuted the case.

Last month, Attorney General Mayes announced the formation of a new Elder Affairs Unit in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to better coordinate and strengthen efforts to combat fraud and abuse against Arizona’s vulnerable adults.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is committed to protecting seniors and vulnerable adults from abuse of any kind, including physical abuse and neglect.  To report an emergency, call 9-1-1.  For non-emergency physical abuse, contact Adult Protective Services at 1-877-SOS-ADULT (1-877-767-2385).  For more information, visit https://www.azag.gov/seniors/senior-abuse.

If you believe you or someone you know has been the victim of fraud, file a consumer complaint by visiting http://www.azag.gov/consumer.  If you need a complaint form sent to you, contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431.

SOURCE: Arizona Attorney General

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