Miami-Dade Police looking for hospice nurse accused of stealing from dying woman

(WSVN) - They’re supposed to provide compassionate care for patients who are at the end of their lives. But one hospice nurse was caught on camera doing something despicable. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.

This is security camera video from inside the bedroom of a 91-year-old dying woman.

That’s her in the bed.

And this is her home hospice nurse going through her jewelry box.

Juan Sotolongo, son: “Very smooth when he takes the ring. He knew what he was doing.”

Juan Sotolongo is the elderly woman’s son.

He hired a company to send out a hospice nurse to make sure his mother was as comfortable as possible before she passed away.

Juan Sotolongo: “The day of the funeral, after she passed away, we went looking for the rings. And they were missing.”

Juan reviewed the security camera video.

And look at what he saw.

The nurse, Felix Chico, looking through his mother’s things. Opening a jewelry box. And then appearing to pick something up.

Both her engagement ring and another ring went missing.

And then Juan saw this on the video.

Juan Sotolongo: “We couldn’t believe it. I mean, imagine. You see the video and this guy actually went to sleep.”

The nurse takes off his name tag. He fluffs up the pillow. Goes over, locks the door, and then lays down.

Juan Sotolongo: “The worst thing is going to sleep when my mom could have been dying — while he is sleeping there. Having to suffer.”

Miami-Dade Police say they are investigating the theft and are working with the State Attorney’s Office to obtain an arrest warrant. The problem is, they say, they haven’t been able to find the nurse.

We went to Chico’s house, but no one answered the door.

Juan says detectives told him they believe he may have fled to Cuba.

Chico worked for the nonprofit OpusCare of South Florida, and they told 7News he is licensed by the Florida Board of Nursing and passed an extensive background check.

The company’s attorney added, “We employ more than 500 staff and have operated without incident for over 26 years. When we were made aware of nurse Chico’s actions, we immediately terminated him for cause.”

Juan Sotolongo: “The most painful thing is really, the way the guy left my mom there like she was nobody. That’s what you’re here for, to take care of the person who is actually dying.”

Juan’s parents were married for 50 years, and he had to bury his mom without her engagement ring. He’s offering a $1,000 reward for information about where the nurse is now.

Miami-Dade Police are asking for information about the whereabouts of nurse Felix Chico.

If you can help, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.

Full statement from OpusCare of South Florida:

“All Licensed Practical Nurses are licensed by the Florida Board of Nursing. Felix Chico was duly licensed by the Florida Board of Nursing. In order to become licensed by the Florida Board of Nursing, an applicant must submit fingerprints to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which are then placed in a clearinghouse accessible to the Board. All applicants must disclose any conviction or plea of guilty, or no contest to any charge other than minor traffic offenses. In addition to these requirements, Opus takes it upon itself to: conduct a very extensive Type II background check; to determine that the applicant is not on the Office of Inspector General’s exclusion list; to verify prior employment; to verify licensure with the Board of Nursing; and to speak to prior employers. Nurse Chico had absolutely no blemishes on his record. OpusCare is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the well-being and comfort of our patients. We employ more than 500 staff and have operated without incident for over 26 years. When we were made aware of Nurse Chico’s actions, we immediately terminated him for cause, reported the matter to law enforcement, and advised the family of our actions.”

– Attorney Eduardo E. Bertran

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