Attorney General Ford Announces Sentencing of Unlicensed Group Homeowner after Death of Vulnerable Person

March 14, 2024

Las Vegas, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford announced that Shawna Virginia Cuff, 41, of Las Vegas, was sentenced on a neglect charge for permitting or allowing a vulnerable person to suffer unjustifiable pain or suffering. Cuff operated an unlicensed group home that caught fire while she was absent, trapping a number of the residents inside.
During the fire, one of the vulnerable residents remained trapped in a room that was altered without proper permits; had no windows; and provided no means of egress. The facility also failed to have requisite fire extinguishers, an evacuation plan, a fire sprinkler system, emergency lighting or exit signage. The resident trapped in the facility during the fire sustained second degree burns to her entire body and ultimately died as a result of injuries sustained in the fire.

    “The State of Nevada requires facilities like this to be licensed and for qualified caregivers to be present whenever residents are in the facility,” said AG Ford. “These laws are designed to protect individuals from unfortunate tragedies like the one here resulting from this fire. Like Judge Villani, we are appalled at the facts of this case, but we are pleased with the fair and just sentence. My office continues to vigorously investigate and prosecute individuals who assume responsibility for the elderly and vulnerable for their abusive and neglectful conduct.”
    The Honorable Michael P. Villani adjudicated Cuff guilty of attempted neglect of a vulnerable person, a category D Felony, and sentenced her to 12 to 30 months in the Nevada Department of Corrections. She was also ordered to pay more than $30,000 in costs and penalties.
    The investigation of this case began after the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) received a report from the North Las Vegas Police Department of possible neglect of a vulnerable individual in an unlicensed group home. The North Las Vegas Fire Department, who jointly investigated the matter with the MFCU, reported there was a fire at the facility, resulting in one person being critically injured and not likely to survive.

      The investigation revealed that Cuff rented out a closet to a vulnerable individual knowing that the individual was unable to care for herself. The closet was an illegal structure without permits. The egress door for the large bedroom and the closet door were offset, and when both the bedroom door and the closet door were opened together, the two touched and did not allow enough room for a person to walk through the doorway. The closet also had no window or other means of escape.
      The MFCU investigates and prosecutes financial fraud by those providing healthcare services or goods to Medicaid patients. The MFCU also investigates and prosecutes instances of elder abuse or neglect. The Nevada MFCU receives 75% of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award. The remaining 25% is funded by the State of Nevada, MFCU. Anyone wishing to report suspicions regarding any of these concerns may contact the MFCU at 702-486-3420 or 775-684-1100.

        This case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the North Las Vegas Fire Department and is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Behnaz Salimian Molina. 

        File a complaint with the Office of the Nevada Attorney General.  

        Review the Criminal Information for Shawna Virginia Cuff.