Caretaker’s husband
guilty of death

Joe Balacio pleads guilty in
exchange for serving no jail time

The husband of an adult residential care home owner pleaded guilty in Circuit Court yesterday to failing to give a client anti-seizure medication, resulting in his death in August 2001.

Joe Balacio, 49, entered his plea to second-degree assault by omission under an agreement with the state that he not receive jail time. Second-degree assault is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. His wife, Gemma, pleaded guilty to the same charge earlier this week.

Robert Bean, 31, who suffered from a mental disability, died of an epileptic seizure at the Balacios' Salt Lake care home. The Balacios had been instructed to administer his medication twice a day.

Results of a toxicology test showed no detectable levels of prescribed seizure medication in Bean's blood system, said Deputy Attorney General Michael Parrish.

Based on the toxicology results, experts indicated that Bean had probably gone 35 to 48 hours without his medication, he said.

Investigators also learned that the Balacios were supposed to pick up a prescription refill for Bean a month before he died, but never did.

Joe Balacio was a qualified substitute caregiver when his wife was not available.

Parrish said it was important for the state to hold the Balacios accountable for not doing their job.

"There are so many people in our community that rely heavily on certain people who make a living providing them with that care. An obligation flows from that," Parrish said. "When the caregivers breach that obligation, there can be very unfortunate circumstances."

Emmanuel Guerrero, attorney for Joe Balacio, said the failure to administer Bean's medication was a "misunderstanding."

While Balacio was not directly responsible for Bean, he was helping his wife care for clients and, because of that, pleaded guilty, Guerrero said. "Under the circumstances, it was a fair resolution to all parties."

Under the agreement, the state did not seek jail time for Balacio as they did with his wife.

Gemma Balacio, 49, will be placed on five years of probation, with 90 days in jail as a condition, and perform 100 hours of community service. She is also prohibited from working in a care-related setting during her probation.


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