SCRANTON — Three women charged with neglecting a family member who died entered guilty pleas Thursday in Lackawanna County.
The district attorney’s office said that Susan Gensiak, Joan Gensiak, and Rebekah Gensiak, all from Taylor, entered guilty pleas in the case involving the death of Robert Gensiak, 32, a care-dependent man with Down syndrome.
Susan Gensiak, mother of Robert Gensiak, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder.
Joan Gensiak, sister of Robert Gensiak pleaded guilty to neglect of a care-dependent person.
Rebekah Gensiak, sister of Robert Gensiak, in return for her cooperation, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of neglect of a care-dependent person. She previously cooperated with prosecutors in the case.
Robert Gensiak died in March of 2013 after being taken to the hospital, suffering from symptoms of severe neglect.
His mother and sisters were arrested in June of 2013.
Authorities say the man with Down syndrome weighed just 69 pounds in when he died in a hospital. The coroner found he died of malnutrition and other ailments due to what prosecutors call complete neglect.
“69 pounds at 32 years old. I would believe the last few weeks of his life he suffered terribly,” said Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Susan Tierney.
Susan Gensiak, Robert’s mother, could end up spending the rest of her life in prison.
The 60-year-old woman from Taylor pleaded guilty to third degree murder. It carries a 20 to 40 year sentence.
“She’s very remorseful. She’s sorry for everything that happened, and she didn’t want to put everybody through a long trial,” said her lawyer Jamie Dench.
Susan Gensiak and her oldest daughter Joan Gensiak took part in a Newswatch 16 Taste Test last year. A Taylor police officer called it a sad irony: Robert Gensiak’s two primary caregivers eating granola bars, just three weeks before his death due, in part, to malnutrition.
“She has a borderline intellect. and I believe that in her frame of mind, it was a little bit more difficult to realize the severity of the illness that Robert had at that time,” Dench said.
Joan Gensiak pleaded guilty to felony neglect. She faces up to 20 years in prison. She could do more time as she also pleaded guilty to failing to provide medical care to her own 2-year-old daughter, now living in foster care.
Robert’s younger sister Rebekah Gensiak pleaded guilty to misdemeanor neglect charges and faces up to five years in prison.
All three are expected to be sentenced in August.