Kandyce Keeler


State care worker fired from Rochester group home after arrest

  • Article by: BRAD SCHRADE
  • Star Tribune
  • October 5, 2011 - 10:27 PM

A state worker entrusted to care for vulnerable adults lost her job Wednesday after she was implicated in a violent break-in and robbery at her uncle's home.

The arrest from the incident early Tuesday was the latest run-in with the law for Kandyce K. Keeler, 27, who worked as a caregiver at a state-operated group home in Rochester. Keeler and two men entered the apartment and one of the men hit her uncle in the head, knocked him unconscious and stole his $185 television set, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.

The arrest is the second in a week of an employee of the Department of Human Services (DHS) state-operated services division. Devra Stiles lost her state job the day before a felony manslaughter charge was filed against her in the August drowning death of a severely disabled man at a state home in Braham.

Even though the incident Tuesday occurred outside the workplace, Commissioner Lucinda Jesson's agency acted swiftly and dismissed Keeler the same day she was formally charged.

"She was separated from employment," said Patrice Vick, a DHS spokeswoman, who would not elaborate on Keeler's work history other than to say she started in 2007 and worked as a care worker at the six-bed group home serving people with developmental disabilities.

Keeler had past convictions for DWI and check forgery, both misdemeanors, before her employment, state records show. She also was convicted in 2008 for an incident involving disorderly conduct -- brawling or fighting.

State law disqualifies people convicted of violent felonies and other serious crimes from working as caregivers.

Attempts to reach Keeler on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

She is charged with first-degree burglary, aggravated robbery and interfering with a 911 call. Her uncle's girlfriend tried to call 911 during the robbery and Keeler pushed her against a wall, grabbed her hands and broke the phone into pieces, according to the criminal complaint.

In addition to the charges from this week's incident, Keeler was also charged Wednesday for two incidents over the past year. One in February involved an automobile wreck where she was accused of being under the influence of drugs while four juveniles were in the vehicle. She told police she was an "opiate addict," according to a Rochester officer's statement in the court record. An allegation from May 2010 involved an accusation of writing bad checks.

Brad Schrade • 612-673-4777

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