This article was originally published on by Tim Hahn on August 9, 2018 

An Erie man accused by state investigators of causing serious burns to a man in his care in June 2017 was sentenced on Thursday to serve 2½ to five years in state prison, followed by 10 years of probation.

Akeem T. Nixon, 27, was sentenced by Erie County Judge John Garhart Thursday morning on Nixon’s guilty pleas in June to felony counts of neglect of care-dependent person and aggravated assault. Garhart said he was following a sentencing recommendation.

Investigators with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Medicaid Fraud Control Section, Care-Dependent Neglect Team filed the charges in late November, accusing Nixon of causing second-degree burns to a 38-year-old man with cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities while Nixon worked as a direct support professional for Lakeshore Community Services. The incident happened at a residential home in the 1200 block of West Seventh Street on June 17, 2017, according to information in the criminal complaint.

The man who was burned was hospitalized for 17 days, officials said in court Thursday. Investigators wrote in court documents that he suffered burns to his groin, back and abdominal areas and that he was transferred to UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh after he was first taken to UPMC Hamot.

Garhart said in court that Nixon stated in a letter to the judge that he failed to get treatment for the man, but the burning was entirely accidental. When Garhart asked Deputy Attorney General Nathan Guinta what Nixon told investigators about how the burning happened, Giunta said that Nixon indicated to investigators that he was unaware how the injuries to the man occurred.

Garhart told Nixon that his failure to offer an explanation for the burning earlier prevented a “credible” offering of an explanation now.

An official with Lakeshore Community Services told Garhart that the victim was badly burned and traumatized, and he continues to have behavioral issues as a result of the incident.