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Arizona Boys Ranch Loses License

August 27, 1998

PHOENIX (AP) _ A facility that reforms hard-case juveniles through boot camp-style training lost its license Wednesday after a state investigation found that workers contributed to the death of a California teen-ager.

Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Linda J. Blessing said investigators found that 17 Boys Ranch employees abused and neglected Nicholaus Contreraz, 16, of Sacramento, Calif.

Contreraz collapsed and died March 2 at a facility in Oracle after being forced to do exercises. An autopsy concluded Contreraz had a massive lung infection.

A DES report released Wednesday said workers abused Contreraz and accused him of faking fevers, exhaustion, vomiting and other symptoms of the infection.

``We’re going to try to appeal vigorously, but also were going to work with the DES on a corrective action plan both they can live with and we can live with,″ Boys Ranch President Bob Thomas said.

Blessing said Boys Ranch could get its license back if substantial improvements are made.

The officers accused in Contreraz’ death were either fired, laid off or resigned. Their names were not released.

DES officials said their names will be placed on the state’s child abuse registry so that they cannot take other child care jobs or become foster parents in the state.

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