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Caretaker convicted of abusing elderly residents gets life in prison

Los Angeles Times
By Robert Faturechi
May 27, 2010

A jury found Cesar Ulloa guilty of torturing vulnerable seniors at an upscale Calabasas facility. Co-workers and relatives said he laughed as he punched and body-slammed residents.

A former caregiver who was convicted of torturing vulnerable residents at an upscale Calabasas retirement home was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.

Cesar Ulloa, now 21, often laughed as he attacked elderly patients, some of whom had dementia and could not call for help, witnesses said.

A Van Nuys jury found him guilty on eight counts of torture and elder abuse in April.

Judge Martin Herscovitz noted the "bizarre sense of pleasure" Ulloa seemed to derive from abusing his victims, before sentencing the Reseda resident to six years for elder abuse and a life sentence for torture. Ulloa stared blankly ahead as relatives of his victims described the pain he inflicted.

Rita Kittower, 86, called Ulloa a "cruel, evil caretaker" who inflicted "sadistic animal-like torture" on her husband.

"I wish you suffer forever," she said in court.

During the trial, a former co-worker testified that she saw Ulloa clench his right fist and punch a wheelchair-bound man in the stomach.

"Haven't you had enough?" he allegedly said, laughing as the man gasped.

Ulloa was named employee of the month during his tenure at Silverado Senior Living, where he was responsible for bathing residents and escorting them around the facility.

Families pay upward of $70,000 a year to house their loved ones at the elite retirement home. Silverado officials have denied any wrongdoing as an organization, though they said they respected the jury's guilty verdict for Ulloa.

Co-workers recalled shocking stories of abuse during the trial. In one instance, Ulloa was accused of body-slamming a mute 78-year-old woman. In another instance, he leaped off a dresser and landed both knees into an elderly man's abdomen.

His attorney, Daniel Teola, maintained Wednesday that the co-workers who testified against Ulloa were jealous of his success and had committed similar abuses themselves.