Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some Groups That Pay Disabled Pennyslvania Workers Below Minimum Wage Not Complying With Law

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered Pennsylvania organizations to pay $118,000 in back wages to workers with disabilities since 2011, according to records PublicSource obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

At the heart of these investigations are people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, many of whom cannot advocate for themselves.

The workers already were earning far below minimum wage because the employers have a special license to pay people with disabilities less.

There is very little oversight on the state or national level of these employers, making it  impossible to know how widespread the pay issues are and whether they are accidental or intentional.

Over nearly four years, the labor department has conducted only 29 investigations in the state, primarily of nonprofits that were granted a federal license to pay ‘special minimum wages’ to workers whose productivity is affected by a disability.

There are currently 126 organizations in the state with the license. About 13,000 disabled Pennsylvanians earn an average of $2.40 an hour in these subminimum-wage work programs, according to a PublicSource analysis of federal labor documents.

The audits resulted in orders for 17 organizations to pay back wages to 1,193 employees, including non-disabled employees in some cases.

Two organizations — Growth Horizons in Bucks County, and Greene Arc in Greene County — were investigated twice in the time period. The inquiries were concluded after the groups agreed to pay back wages and promised future compliance.

The Greene Arc was ordered to pay more back wages than any other group, owing more than $40,000 after a 2013 investigation found that the nonprofit did not use the appropriate standard for setting wages for the workers.

The investigation also found that Greene Arc was deducting the allowed 15-minute breaks from the employees' overall hours worked.

Disabled workers at Greene Arc were earning an average of $3.59 an hour for shredding, food preparation, recycling and greenhouse work, according to its 2012-14 application.

Cynthia Dias, executive director of Greene Arc, said she could not comment on the findings of the investigation because she was traveling.

Full Article and Source:
Some Groups That Pay Disabled Workers Below Minimum Wage Not Complying With Law

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CLICK to see list of groups ordered to pay back wages

Thousands of Disabled Workers in Pennsylvania Paid Far Below Minimum Wage

UAGPPJA: 39 States and Counting

When enacted, UAGPPJA does four simple things to protect older people and their family caregivers:

     1. It outlines a set of rules for transferring guardianship from one state to another.
     2. It allows states to recognize and register guardianship orders from other states.
     3. It creates a clear process for determining jurisdiction by designating the “home state.”
     4. It protects older people against abuse and exploitation because the guardianship order is registered in other states.

While every situation is different, the fact is: Caregiving situations change. And caring for our loved ones across state lines should be consistent when it comes to law.

AARP will continue to fight until UAGPPJA becomes law in every state to ensure that older people and their family caregivers — especially those who provide care across state lines — have the protection they deserve.

Full Article and Source:
39 States and Counting - Caregiving Across State Lines

TX: Home Healthcare Provider Accused of Racking Up $13K on Elderly Patient's Credit Card

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a home healthcare provider they say stole thousands of dollars from an elderly patient.

Pamela Lockett, 41 is charged with Credit Card Abuse against the Elderly and Exploitation of the Elderly.

Sheriff Otto Hanak says Lockett stole a credit card from an elderly woman she cared for and made 88 transactions totaling $13,000.

Lockett is out of jail on $15,000 bond.

Woman Racks Up $13,000 on Elderly Patient's Credit Card

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Jersey Families Angry: Gov. Christie Vetoed, Demanded Changes to Bills Determining Where Disabled People Will Live

Despite earning overwhelming support in the legislature, two bills that would have given families a greater say in where their loved ones with developmental disabilities live and what level of care and supervision they receive have been rejected by Gov. Chris Christie.

The governor conditionally vetoed one bill that would have halted the state Department of Human Services’ plan of transferring about 470 developmentally disabled people living in out-of-state centers — some for decades — into state facilities.

Christie also conditionally vetoed a bill, (S2158) that would have required the department to provide a comparable level of care and supervision in privately-operated group homes to people coming from state-run institutions, known as developmental centers.

The same level of care would be provided, “where feasible,” according to the veto statement.

Lawmakers who sponsored the bills and families who serve as guardians to people affected by the legislation Monday expressed their disappointment with the governor's actions and said they were considering their legal options.

Sue Anderson of Hillsborough said she and other parents were intended to lobby their legislators to override the governor's veto. Her 25-year-old daughter, Kara, needs the one-on-one supervision the Woods in Pennsylvania has provided her for past six years, which her family only found after two placements in New Jersey declined to meet her needs.

"I won't go through that again," she said.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, (D-Bergen), a sponsors of both bills, said she intends to push for an override "to allow any resident currently served out of state to continue to stay in his or her home as long as it is medically appropriate."

Full Article and Source:
Families Angry Christie Vetoed, Demanded Changes to Bills Determining Where Disabled People Will Live

Family Members Accused of Financial Exploitation (Over $400,000)

Three members of a family have been charged with a total of 32 felonies after authorities say they bilked another family member out of nearly $400,000.

Jessica Lynn Polikowsky, 38, and Jason Donald Polikowsky, 30, both of Chatfield, have each been charged with 14 counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Donald George Polikowsky, 62, of Rochester, faces four counts of the same charge.

The case began Nov. 29, 2012, when the Olmsted County Adult Protection team received information about a possible exploitation. A witness from a financial advisement company told the alleged victim's daughter that Jessica Polikowsky had been accessing the victim's accounts frequently and had taken out large amounts. 

The victim had been diagnosed with dementia-Alzheimer's in 2009. 

The financial consultant called the victim to talk about it, the complaint says, and she "seemed confused and didn't understand what was being talked about." Jessica Polikowsky then contacted the consultant and told him to send information directly to her, not the woman.

Full Article and Source:
Family Members Accused of Financial Exploitation

Supported Decision Making in Australia

Disabled people, including dementia sufferers, will be appointed ''supporters'' to help them make decisions as part of an overhaul of the state’s outdated guardianship laws.

AG Robert Clark
The Napthine government will introduce new legislation into Parliament on Wednesday to clarify guardianships rules and expand guardianship orders.

The changes will update and simplify the state’s guardianship laws, which first passed in 1986 and were mainly designed to help people with intellectual disabilities, who were then moving out of institutions and into the community.

A 2012 report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission made 440 recommendations to rewrite the state’s guardianship laws, which are now mainly used by dementia sufferers, the mentally ill and those with acquired brain injuries.

''The new legislation will make it easier for individuals and their families to provide for their current and future decision-making needs through guardianship and administration arrangements,'' Attorney-General Robert Clark said.

Full Article and Source:
Victoria Law Changed to Appoint Supporters for Disabled and Dementia Sufferers

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tonight - A Special Show with Reporter Michael Volpe: Systematic Corruption in Family and Probate Courts

Reporter Michael Volpe joins us to update the story of Norman Hughes, a Korean & Viet Nam war vet being held against his will in an assisted living center, endorsed by the Memphis VA Center. Mr. Volpe initially investigated and reported on the abuse of Hughes, August 1, 2014 on the Daily Caller.

We will also be discussing the “Orwellian recklessness of both family and probate court, corruption on the part of Guardian ad Litem and other professionals, the media’s reluctance to report on it because of the personal nature he said/she said nature of the story, all of which leads to systemic corruption.”

Mr. Volpe is one of those rare reporters willing to actually look at the growing abuses of family and probate courts, and to report it.

Chicago-based writer Michael Volpe spent more than a decade in finance before becoming a freelance journalist. His work has appeared in such national publications as the Daily Caller, FrontPage Magazine, CounterPunch, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Newsletter. His first book, Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni and Louise Marshall was published in October, 2013, and his second book, The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers, was published in 2013.

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

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Korean, Vietnam War Vet Inside VA System Held Against His Will

Korean Vietnam War Vet Inside VA System Held Against HIs Will

NOTE:  The journalist who wrote the article below, Michael Volpe, will be a guest tonight on a special episode of T.S. Radio with Marti Oakley (8:00 pm EST) and he will be speaking about this case. So we thought it appropriate to re-post the article so everyone can re-read and re-familiarize yourselves with it.

After the article was published, Mr. Hughes said hopefully, "Maybe now someone can help me...."

Norman Hughes Jr., 81, is a Korean and Vietnam War veteran who’s currently paying $7,000 per month to live in the Kirby Pines Retirement Home in Memphis even though he told The Daily Caller he wants to live with a caretaker named Debbie McCoy — at her home paying $2,700 per month — where she has run a VA-certified living assistance facility for fifteen years with no complaints until this case.

“I need somebody to help me get out of here,” said Hughes from his room.

In late 2012, Hughes was living with McCoy when he decided to remove his cousin, Mary Ann Phillips, from a bank account he held with nearly $150,000 in it because of a pattern of unpaid bills and missing money.

According to interviews with Hughes, his son Bernard, granddaughter Cavita, ex-wife Doris Jones, and McCoy, Phillips was enraged by the move and approached the VA with a series of unsubstantiated charges which were filed formally on December 29, 2012.

Philips claimed that Hughes was unshaven and dirty, that his room was a mess, and that he had developed a bed sore at McCoy’s home.

But Bernard and Cavita Hughes said they both visited Hughes regularly during this time period and would have noticed if it wasn’t clean and safe.

In early 2013, Norman Hughes went to the Memphis VA to get treated for a form of neuropathy. While in the hospital, Phillips told him he needed to take some tests with another doctor.

Phillips took Hughes to see Dr. Felicie Wyatt, who specialized in internal  and geriatric medicine, telling him he needed routine tests.

Instead, Dr. Wyatt tested Hughes for his mental competency.

Hughes, his son, and McCoy all insist he was tricked into seeing this doctor.

Buoyed by Dr. Wyatt’s competency determination, Phillips and the VA maneuvered the case into probate court where Memphis attorney Keith Dobbs was appointed VA guardian — he named Phillips conservator.

According to court records, Dobbs has been receiving 7% of Hughes monthly retirement income for more than a year.

Full Article and Source:
Korean, Vietnam War Vet Inside VA System Held Against His Will

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Linda Kincaid Reports: Elder Abuse: California Assisted Living Citations Online

Community Care Licensing (CCL), the agency responsible for overseeing California’s assisted living facilities, received intense criticism in past years. Allegations included negligence, incompetence, and corruption.

On February 11, 2014, California’s Human Services Committee held a joint hearing on deficiencies in assisted living facilities and lack of oversight by CCL. Department of Social Services Director Will Lightbourne acknowledged many shortcomings in his department. Elder rights advocates remember Lightbourne for his opposition to a resident’s personal rights in 2012.

A Licensing Program Analyst (LPA) in San Diego County admitted taking bribes from a Ambassador Senior Retreat.

An LPA in San Bernardino County cited Wildwood Canyon Villa for violating a resident’s right to visitation, an offense that constitutes criminal elder abuse. Then the LPA cleared the citation without requiring a correction. Wildwood unlawfully isolated the victim for another year after the citation. The LPA ignored subsequent complaints to CCL.

The San Bernardino County LPA reviewed facility records that substantiated Wildwood Canyon Villa violated a resident’s right to phone calls, another offense that constitutes criminal elder abuse. The LPA stated that she did not issue a citation because her manager had not instructed her to investigate that particular violation.

The same LPA reported in early 2010 that Wildwood Canyon Villa placed some residents’ mattresses directly on the floor, which is a violation of licensing regulations. The LPA did not cite the violation until late 2011, after CCL received a number of complaints about the ongoing violation.

Until recently, the only way to obtain information on facilities with numerous violations was to go in person to the local CCL office and review the paper files. In some cases, CCL offices required the public to make appointments up to a week in advance.

An outcome of the February 2014 hearing is a searchable online database of facility citations.

Searching on Wildwood Canyon Villa returns a list of complaints filed against the facility since 2010.

Click on the Complaints tab to see dates of facility visits in response to complaints.

Full Article and Source:
Elder Abuse: California Assisted Living Citations Online