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Alleged conflict also cost nurse job in '02

A nurse with the Cabinet for Health and Family Serv­ices who was fired in May for having an unethical relationship with a nursing home operator had been fired six years previously for questions surrounding her relationship with the same Covington nursing home operator, documents obtained by the Herald-Leader show.

Sharon Harris, a nurse with the Department for Public Health, and Moses Young, an assistant director with the Office of Inspector General, were terminated in May for living in two Lexington homes owned by nursing home owner Ralph Stacey Jr. According to documents released by the cabinet, Young and Harris lived in two homes in the Griffin Gate area owned by Stacey. When asked by investigators, the two were not able to produce documents showing that they had paid rent to Stacey, the cabinet says in court documents.

Both Harris and Young are appealing their terminations, according to records with the state Personnel Board.

This is not the first time that Harris’ relationship with Stacey has been questioned. While she was working as a nurse for the Department of Medicaid services, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services recommended that she be terminated after inspectors saw her at Garrard Convalescent Home, which Stacey owns, during a 2002 inspection. The state Personnel Board voted unanimously to reinstate Harris after she appealed the termination decision.

The relationship between Stacey, Harris and Young is also the subject of an investigation by the attorney general’s office, said Allison Gardner Martin, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jack Conway. Young, in his appeal, said he is already under investigation by an administrative agency but it is not clear which agency. Officials with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission would neither confirm nor deny that Harris or Young were under investigation.

Harris and Young could not be reached for comment. Paul Fauri, a Frankfort attorney who represents Harris and Young, was out of the office and could not be reached. Stacey has not returned calls to his Covington office asking for comment.

Young, who oversaw nursing home inspections, was also terminated for calling Stacey before, during and after nursing home inspections, according to cabinet records. Young told investigators that he paid his rent in cash and he or Harris would sometimes take the money to Stacey or he would pick it up.

In his appeal, Young says that his due-process rights were violated when Cabinet Inspector General Sadiqa Reynolds refused to allow him to have his attorney present during interviews.

Harris, in her appeal of the May termination, also said she was not allowed to have an attorney present during questioning. Harris said she should not have been terminated in May 2008 because she was not employed in the inspector general’s office and had no regulatory oversight of Stacey’s facilities and therefore there was no conflict of interest. “In addition, the agency again has attempted to unjustly penalize me as it has unsuccessfully done over the years. I believe I was singled out by the Inspector General and some of the employees therein,” Harris wrote in her appeal.

Harris was recommended for termination by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in 2002, according to state Personnel Board records. State inspectors saw Harris at Stacey’s Garrard Convalescent Home on April 30, 2002, while they were at the home investigating a complaint.

A Garrard Convalescent Home employee told investigators that Harris was shocked when she walked into the facility about 3 p.m. and saw the state inspectors. “They can’t see me, I’m not supposed to be here working,” the employee said Harris told her.

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