Assisted living facility director pleads not guilty to stealing meds from residents

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WESTLAKE, Ohio -- Gardens at Westlake Executive Director Christina Melaragno, 41, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a 20-count indictment including theft, burglary, drug possession and drug traffic‎king.

Westlake Police arrested Melaragno in October following a year-long investigation that involved the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Police said Melaragno stole prescription pain medications, including Oxycodone, at least 11 times from several Gardens at Westlake residents. In some cases, they said, she replaced the drugs with over-the-counter pills like Tylenol. Police fielded complaints from several residents.

Westlake police said investigators don’t know what Melaragno was doing with the meds. After her arrest, Gardens at Westlake placed Melaragno on leave pending the outcome of the case and hired a new executive director.

The Ohio Dept. of Health also investigated accusations against Melaragno earlier this year, finding Gardens at Westlake violated state rules for handling drugs and wrongly prompted residents to give money to staff.‎

Melaragno said very little during the hearing Wednesday, and refused to answer our questions about the case when we asked her prior to her court appearance.

Bond was continued at $75,000, and a pretrial is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Judge Janet Burnside did order Melaragno to have no contact with any of the victims.

Read more here.

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