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Two investigations lead to arrests of 5 Choate Mental Health employees
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Two investigations lead to arrests of 5 Choate Mental Health employees

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JONESBORO — Two separate investigations led to the arrest of five Choate Mental Health employees on charges of aggravated battery.

In a Wednesday news release, Illinois State Police said two separate investigations, one beginning January and the other in May, revealed alleged abuses by workers at the institution against its residents.

The news release said the ISP Division of Internal Investigations was contacted Jan. 23 to investigate an alleged aggravated battery of one of Choate’s residents. The investigation resulted in the indictment of Kevin Jackson on Sept. 30 by a Union County grand jury.

Similarly, IDD was contacted on May 18 to investigate another possible aggravated battery to one of the facility’s residents, according to the release. The subsequent investigation led to a Union County grand jury indictment of four men on Sept. 30.

Mathew Wiseman, 28, of Marion, and Johnny Brimm, 40, of Jonesboro, were both separately taken into custody on Oct. 6 on charges of aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony, and obstructing justice, a Class 4 felony.

Dalton Anderson, 29, of Jonesboro, and Bobby L. Lee, 33, of Marion, were both arrested separately Oct. 6 on charges of aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony, the release states.

Each was assigned $30,000 bond. Details of the alleged crimes were not immediately available on Thursday.

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Wiseman is scheduled for a bond hearing at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 6. Anderson and Brimm are scheduled for a first appearance at 9:30 a.m. Friday. Lee did not have hearing information posted on online court database Judici as of Thursday evening. Jackson is scheduled for a first appearance at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 6. All are scheduled to appear at the Union County Courthouse.

82 employees, residents of Choate Mental Health test COVID-19-positive in past 10 days

Other Choate employees charged earlier this year

Earlier this year, three other Choate employees were arrested on similar charges brought after a separate investigation. As previously reported in The Southern, ISP responded to Choate on March 22, 2018 to investigate allegations that mental health patients were being abused there. Following their investigation, a Union County grand jury on Jan. 6 handed down indictments charging Sheri L. Fish, 49, of Sherman, Illinois; Cody A. Barger, 25, of Grantsburg; and Jonathan C. Lingle, 29, of Goreville.

Regarding one of the misconduct charges, the indictment alleges Barger, a former mental health technician at Choate, intentionally failed to report seeing another mental health technician allegedly cause "a patient to drink an entire cup of hot sauce.”

Third man arrested in Choate Mental Health misconduct investigation

Barger and Lingle, who was also a mental health technician, both are charged with misconduct for allegedly failing to report an incident that caused a patient to have a broken arm. They both were also charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly giving false information to an Illinois State Police special agent — both allegedly denied knowledge of an incident of abuse. However, Barger’s indictment said that he later allegedly told the agent that he and Lingle grabbed a patient's arm. It was not clear from the court documents whether the two charges were related to the same incident.

According to her indictment, Fish, who was a security officer, is charged with misconduct for allegedly disclosing the identity of a person who had complained about a Choate employee.

Barger is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at 10 a.m. Nov. 12. Lingle is scheduled for a jury trial at 9 a.m. Jan. 11, 2021. Fish is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at 1 p.m. Dec. 3. All are scheduled to appear at the Union County Courthouse.

isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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