Former Beaver County health care worker pleads guilty to federal hate crime charges

It’s bittersweet for this family. Heather Harold told Channel 11 they were prepared to go to trial to face what happened to her brother, but now they can start to move forward. But before that she had a message for Zachary Dinell.

“Your darkness never ever, ever, ever could touch the light that was inside my brother,” Harold said.

Harold can’t help but smile when she thinks of her brother, Nicholas.

“He was severely handicapped. He never walked or talked, but he had just this light inside him. He was such a sweet soul,” Harold said.

With that smile comes tears, thinking about the abuse he endured at the hands of his caregivers, Dinell and Tyler Smith, at Maguire Memorial Home in Beaver County.

“Every time I’d see a picture of Nicholas, or a memory would come up and we would talk about him, I would immediately start thinking about Tyler Smith and Zach Dinell and what they did to him. That truly… Nicholas’ memory does not deserve to be tied to them,” Harold said.

Court paperwork and video evidence showed the two punched, kicked and tormented their patients, all disabled and unable to report the crimes.

“They had rubbed things into his eyes. He couldn’t lift his hands to wipe it out. He just had to lay there and suffer. He couldn’t report anything or say anything. He couldn’t speak out, and thinking of him sitting there and suffering in silence is one of the worst parts of it,” Harold said.

After years of waiting for their day in court, Dinell pleaded guilty to multiple federal hate crimes for the abuse of Nicholas Harold and more than a dozen other victims.

“No sentence will ever be enough for me or my family, but this is finally getting some closure,” Heather Harold said.

As part of that guilty plea, Dinell may face up to 17 years in prison. As for the other caregiver, Smith, his case has still not gone to trial.

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