In late March, residents who'd tested positive for coronavirus were allegedly moved into the same unit as asymptomatic veterans

By Chris Harris
September 25, 2020 02:48 PM
Holyoke Soldier's Home
The Holyoke Soldiers' Home
| Credit: Erin Clark for The Boston Globe via Getty

Criminal charges have been filed in Massachusetts against the former administrators of a veterans' home in Holyoke, where more than 75 residents died following a coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday, Maura Healey, the state's attorney general, announced the indictments against Bennett Walsh, 50, and Dr. David Clinton, 71, which allege the two men allowed COVID-positive and symptomatic residents to be placed "within feet of asymptomatic residents, exposing them further to the virus."

A grand jury returned the indictments against Walsh and Clinton on Thursday.

Both men were in charge of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home when the pandemic first hit.

Walsh was employed as the facility's superintendent and Clinton served as its medical director.

"We began this investigation on behalf of the families who lost loved ones under tragic circumstances and to honor these men who bravely served our country," Healey said in a statement. "We allege that the actions of these defendants during the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility put veterans at higher risk of infection and death and warrant criminal charges."

Both men were indicted on 10 felony counts: five for criminal neglect and five counts of serious bodily injury.

Bennett Walsh Soldiers' Home in Holyoke
Bennett Walsh
| Credit: Don Treeger/The Republican/AP

The charges stem from their collective decision to combine 42 veterans into a single unit typically reserved for a maximum of 25 patients. Some of the veterans had tested positive for the coronavirus, while others showed symptoms of the disease.

Eight of the men died over the next five days. Other veterans became ill, as well as some staffers.

The home is run by the state, and provides veterans with health and hospice care as well as other assistance.

The investigation into the deaths at the home began in April.

Walsh and Clinton have not been taken into custody, but will be arraigned at a later date. PEOPLE could not reach them or their lawyers for comment.

According to Healey, the decision to consolidate the units was made because the home, opened in 1952, was understaffed.

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One employee allegedly called the decision to merge the wards "the most insane thing I ever saw in my entire life," according to an investigators' report, released in June.

Walsh was placed on administrative leave on March 30. Clinton resigned after the report was released.

The names of the victims have not been released by officials.

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