Fresno nursing home owner sentenced for stealing thousands from patients trust funds

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Convalescent hospital owner Michael Fellen receives his sentence after his attorney admits he stole about $20,000 from his patients trust funds. (KFSN)

Convalescent hospital owner Michael Fellen received his sentence after his attorney admitted Fellen stole about $20,000 from his patients trust funds.

Fellen was sentenced to three years of probation and no jail time.

Investigators said the money was taken from over 50 patients-- six of those patients have died since the thefts.

But Fellen's attorney said many times it was no more than $10 or $20 being taken each time, and was only to keep the hospital running and providing care to his patients.

"There's no question it was wrong, but it wasn't taken to take a trip to Vegas or to buy some car or anything else," said Daniel Bacon, defense attorney.

Bacon said Fellen began experiencing financial troubles back in 2014, when the Department of Healthcare Services cut funds to Sunnyside Convalescent Home. Bacon said Fellen borrowed money from family members, banks, and cashed in his life insurance policy but it still wasn't enough.

"It's a tragedy, he's a good man, he was just doing everything he could to keep his patients serviced."

Fellen also found himself in financial trouble back in 2008, when his nursing staff went on strike saying they were not getting paid

"I've used my personal funds, I put my house up," said Fellen.

Fellen's attorney said the state realized they were underpaying the home, and recently sent him a check for $900,000.

The prosecutor on the case has a message for anyone whose responsibility it is to take care of their elders.

"Their golden years should be exactly that-- golden. They should be free from harm, free from sorrow, and certainly free from being the victim of a theft," said Timothy Donovan, District Attorney.

Fellen's attorney said he still owns the nursing home but has lost his license to run it. He has also paid all of the money back plus fines totaling over $70,000.

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theftfraudfresnoelderlyFresno - Central
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