A new expert witness report alleges that Burlington County Jail staff, including the nurses, were negligent in the 2014 death of inmate Jerome Iozzia.
Jerome Iozzia, 50-years-old at his death, was arrested in November 2013 when he used his fiancée’s car without permission. His fiancée accused him of having a history of drug abuse and the police say that he resisted arrest. During the arrest, Iozzia was sprayed with pepper spray. He was later transported to a hospital because he was reportedly suffering from heart palpitations. Iozzia had a pacemaker implanted and was released to the custody of the jail. He later died while still in jail custody.
Iozzia’s Family Files Lawsuit
Following Iozzia’s death, his family filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Burlington County Jail, Pemberton police, the state of New Jersey, the Department of Corrections, and prison personnel.
According to the lawsuit, the prison guards ignored the postoperative instructions regarding Iozzia’s care. An autopsy would also reveal that his prescribed medications were not present in his body at death. Iozzia died in jail on February 25, 2014, after reportedly passing out the night before. His death certificate states that he died of pneumonia/empyema/sepsis four days between onset and death.
A human rights organization, Amnesty International, requested that the state and federal law enforcement officials investigate the deaths of Iozzia and another inmate, 75-year-old Robert Taylor, who also died in prison.
Letters sent from Iozzia to his fiancée detail poor treatment from jail staff. He wrote, “Call my mom and tell her they are gonna let me sit here for ever (sic). And are not takin (sic) care of my heart. Got my meds all messed up. And still no follow up visit to adjust my pacemaker,” and “This thing in my chest is really starting to bother me. Need to get out of here to go back to Deborah hospital to get this adjusted, but they won’t send me back.”
Registered Nurse Files Expert Report Critical of Jail’s Staff
In the new expert report filed in court, a registered nurse with more than 20 years experience states that the Burlington County Jail staff was negligent in their duties, resulting in the death of Jerome Iozzia. The report was written by Helen Strasko, a Licensed Professional Registered Nurse in Manchester. Strasko was asked to review the hospital and jail medical records to evaluate the circumstances surrounding Iozzia’s death.
Strasko’s report details the many ways that the medical staff deviated from the Standards of Practice and protocols of nursing and the jail’s own standard operating procedures. The report also claims that the jail staff attempted to cover up their negligence by altering Iozzia’s medical care documents.
Strasko is expected to testify as an expert witness in the case against the Burlington County Jail.
The Burlington County prosecutors have previously stated that Iozzia’s death was not the result of criminal wrongdoing. However, doctors have stated that his death could have been prevented by proper physical care.
Robert Fuggi, the attorney representing Iozzia’s estate has stated that “[t]he prosecutor’s office should reopen the investigations of these two deaths…Somebody should be held criminally responsible.”