Joseph Somera Lolita Somera

Joseph Somera, Lolita Somera

The managers of an assisted-living home in Chandler are facing criminal charges after a resident died last summer from heat exhaustion. 

Joseph and Lolita Somera were indicted by a grand jury this week for contributing to the death of 69-year-old Jon Rader, who died under the couple’s care while staying at Happy Homes Assisted Living. 

Mechanical problems knocked out the home’s air-conditioning unit on Aug. 16, 2018, according to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. As a result, the temperature in Rader’s room rose to 100 degrees. 

Rader and four other residents were allegedly left in the hot house for two days until Lolita Somera called 911 on Aug. 18. Rader was found unresponsive and died later that day from renal complications and pneumonia. 

It was later determined by authorities that heat exposure contributed to Rader’s death. 

The Someras were each charged in Maricopa County Superior Court with one count of vulnerable adult abuse, a Class 3 felony. If convicted, the husband and wife could each face a presumptive prison sentence of 3.5 years.

The Tribune attempted to call Happy Homes and no one answered the phone. 

According to the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services, the home has closed and is no longer in operation. 

Public records show Happy Homes, located at 2120 West Shannon Street, was formed in 2013 and had been licensed to serve no more than 10 residents. 

It charged between $2,950 and $3,600 a month, depending on the level of care, according to its website.

A couple weeks after Rader’s death, the Health Department inspected Happy Homes and issued 11 citations for various infractions. 

Some of the violations included not refrigerating food at proper temperatures, not controlling water temperatures and failing to document it had policies in place for employees to file complaints related to resident care. 

The state fined Happy Homes a civil penalty of $250 in October 2018 for not fixing food temperatures, state records show. 

Rader is not the only individual in Chandler to die while under the care of an assisted-living home within the last year. 

Samuel Contreras, 85, died in January after he snuck out of Amore Manor on Washington Street and was found dead in a canal. He suffered from dementia and had tried to get out of the home before. 

At the time he escaped, the Chandler Police Department found out one caregiver was on shift to care for 23 residents.

Investigators contacted the Department of Health Services with concerns about the home’s staff-to-patient ratios, police reports show. 

A couple days after Contreras’s death, the stated issued more than 20 citations during an inspection of the home. These citations have yet to be corrected, according to the state’s website. 

A message left with Amore Manor’s manager was not returned.

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