Update on March 11: The case in Berea Municipal Court against Gina Criscione was dismissed on Thursday. The court determined there was no probable cause to believe what she did was a crime.
BEREA, Ohio (WJW) – Attorneys say a woman is facing months in jail for posting critical comments on social media about the care local nursing home workers provided to her elderly mother.
Attorneys Brian Bardwell and Subodh Chandra are defending Gina Criscione, who is facing charges in Berea Municipal Court of telephone harassment and menacing by stalking. Criscione has entered not guilty pleas to the charges.
“I don’t know what jury in the world is going to throw a woman in jail for saying a nursing home didn’t take good care of her mother,” Bardwell told the FOX 8 I-TEAM Thursday. “This was a woman who was just grieving.”
Criscione’s mother, Dorothy Mandanici, was a patient at East Park Care Center in Brook Park.
According to a motion filed by the defense, Criscione said that in 2020 she became very concerned with how her was mother was being treated, alleging Mandanici was frequently dehydrated, and regularly cut off from communication with her children.
“Ms. Criscione scrambled to find her mother a new home,” defense attorneys stated in a motion filed with the court. “By the time Ms. Criscione moved her mother to competent care at Mt. Averna Village it was too late. Ms. Mandanici died soon after.”
After her mother died, Criscione began picketing outside of the East Park Care Center and posting online to warn other families, Bardwell said.
The defense also noted in their motion that Criscione left a one-star review for the facility on Facebook. Soon after she was charged, attorneys said.
“Do we still live in America, a country where people are allowed to say this business screwed up?” Bardwell questioned.
According to a Brook Park police report filed last fall, Criscione was accused of making numerous harassing posts online.
However, a court motion filed by Prosecutor Peter Sackett states the charges deal with allegations that Criscione called the nursing home administrator on her personal cell phone over 2000 times in 17 months. The motion says the calls were made in 2019 and 2020 and caused the administrator “great mental stress.”
The motion added that the defendant called the administrator on her scheduled days off and even when the administrator was on a European vacation. Sackett said Criscione’s behavior was an “illegal attack” on the administrator.
“Defendant’s conduct wasn’t just reprehensible, it was criminal,” the motion states.
But defense attorneys disagree and say some of the calls the prosecutor is mentioning were made to the nursing home when Criscione would call to talk to her mother.
Defense attorneys are hoping to have the charges dismissed. A hearing is scheduled for Friday in Berea Municipal Court.
The Brook Park Law Director and prosecutor declined to discuss the case since the matter is still pending.
Calls and emails to the owner of the nursing home were not returned.