Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Elderly woman found molded to chair; rescuers forced to wear hazmat suits

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Residents in a Springfield Township neighborhood had no idea one of their neighbors was living in squalor until emergency vehicles lit up their typically quiet street, the Toledo Blade reported.

The smell of human excrement reached the sidewalk as emergency responders worked to remove a 550-pound elderly woman from her living room chair Thursday evening. Barbara Foster, 75, had been sitting in the same place since July 2016 — long enough for her body to weaken and her skin to mold to the chair's shape, according to a Lucas County Sheriff's Office report.

Crews required protective suits because of the home's unsanitary conditions, Assistant Fire Chief Rick Helminski said.

"I was also advised that Barbara was so physically weak that bones in her body were breaking when EMS was attempting to carry her out of the house," the report read.

Ms. Foster was taken to the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio hospital.

A hospital spokesman on Friday said no information was available for a patient by that name.

A bright orange sign posted in Ms. Foster's front window declared the home unfit for habitation Friday after Toledo-Lucas County Health Department officials assessed the dwelling.

Caution tape surrounded the property, and surgical-type face masks were discarded on the front lawn.

Sheriff's investigators believe Ms. Foster moved to the area from Arizona and had taught at Toledo Public Schools. They are not aware of any living relatives in the region, sheriff's Lt. Dave Carter said.

The Area Office on Aging had not had contact with Ms. Foster, but officials called her situation "extreme."

"The hope is not to have something get to this extreme. We don't want this to be the norm," said Pam Wilson, the agency's senior vice president of long-term care. "That's why we're here. We're here to link people up with help."

Ms. Wilson said the Toledo community is rich with resources and services for the elderly and disabled, and help is available to prevent situations from becoming emergencies. All it takes is a phone call to the agency's office or local law enforcement.

"To see somebody not be connected just kind of breaks your heart," she said.

Neighbors said they did not know Ms. Foster but recalled a volunteer from her church regularly stopping by her home. Robbie Zolciak said he believes Ms. Foster has lived next door to him since he and his wife bought their home about 10 years ago. He said he used to smile and wave to her when he mowed his lawn, but he never spoke to her.

"It's been years since I've physically seen her," Mr. Zolciak said.

A volunteer with Our Lady of Lourdes church, where Ms. Foster was also a member, told investigators he had delivered food to her home for the past 10 years. He said he was used to the smell but called 911 on Thursday because Ms. Foster was "not acting herself," according to the sheriff's office report.

He could not be reached for comment, and church officials did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

Ms. Foster's neighbors flocked to their front lawns Thursday evening to witness the commotion. It's a quiet neighborhood, Mr. Zolciak said, so the emergency lights were out of character.

"I've never seen so many people suited up," he said. "It was quite a scene."

Mr. Zolciak added the neighbors looked out for each other in terms of reporting possible vandals and speeding vehicles, but he was unaware Ms. Foster was in poor health.

Bill and Honey Malik have lived on the block since 1995 and said they didn't know Ms. Foster's name until this week.

"We didn't know her," Mr. Malik said. "I've never seen her at all."

Mrs. Malik said she saw her neighbor once years ago walking down her driveway with two canes.

But the next time she saw Ms. Foster was on Thursday as medics moved her to an ambulance on a stretcher.

Detectives are now reviewing the case for any potential crime, Lieutenant Carter said. He declined to specify.

Ms. Foster was nearly $1,400 behind on her property taxes, according to county auditor records. She missed her first payment — $687 — in July, about the time she became confined to her chair.

Investigations of abuse and neglect on the elderly are handled by Adult Protective Services through Lucas County Job and Family Services.

Michelle Niedermier, JFS director, said state law prohibits the agency from confirming investigations of alleged neglect or abuse, including those that could have been the result of an elderly person's own actions.

She said about 12 cases of alleged abuse or neglect were referred to the office in 2016.

In 2006, Ms. Foster filed a complaint with the Lucas County Sheriff's Office against a woman she had allowed to live with her in return for assisting her with chores. Ms. Foster accused the woman of threatening to burn down her house if she didn't give her $3,000, court records show.

Deputies in the sheriff's records office said they received phone calls this year from the Burnham Green address on May 5 to report a burglary and May 29 on a criminal damage incident. No reports were made on either incident, deputies said.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly woman found molded to chair; rescuers forced to wear hazmat suits

El Paso County judge chooses to retire over disciplinary hearing

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - El Paso County Judge Jonathan Walker has chosen to retire instead of face disciplinary proceeding for alleged misconduct according to the Colorado Judicial Department.

Because Judge Walker has agreed to retire from the bench effective Feb. 15, the Commission requested the dismissal of the proceedings pending against him. On Feb. 9, the Colorado Supreme Court approved the recommendation of the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline for the termination of disciplinary proceedings involving Judge Walker.

Judge Walker was suspended on Nov. 8, a reason for his suspension wasn't given. A statement of charges was filed on Nov. 23. The statement of charges and answers contained multiple claims and defenses.

The first claim was that Judge Walker engaged in undignified and disrespectful conduct, including harassment, toward three female Judicial employees. Judge Walker denied the allegations.

Another claim stated Judge Walker retaliated against another Judicial staff member once he learned that the staff member had been interviewed as part of an investigation into his conduct in violation.

Judge Walker again denied the allegations and stated he and the staff member didn't get along and the staff member was a poor performer.

The third claim, Judge Walker improperly modified plea agreements in a number of cases without informing the parties, violating his duty to promote confidence in the judiciary and avoid the appearance of impropriety and unfairness. Judge Walker admitted that he modified plea agreements but stated that his modification was lawful.

The final claim, Judge Walker failed to disqualify himself from cases where his personal attorney was representing a litigant. Judge Walker asserted that he acted in conformance with his duty to disqualify himself.

Walker is a nine-year veteran of the El Paso County courts.

Full Article & Source:
El Paso County judge chooses to retire over disciplinary hearing

See Also:
El Paso County judge suspended pending disciplinary hearing

Woman gets 1 year for nursing home abuse

CHILLICOTHE - A Laurelville woman who assaulted her nursing home patient in March will spend a year in prison.

Ross County Common Pleas Judge Scott Nusbaum told Kali Jo Craiglow, 20, if it had been his mother, he would want to "jump over this bench," eliciting sounds of approval from nearly two dozen people in the courtroom.

"You're going to be placed with inmates that are a lot tougher than an 85-year-old. You may be marked ... Don't allow the stress you're under to take drugs or join gangs," Nusbaum told Craiglow. "You've committed a horrendous offense, but your life is not over."

Stacy Williamson can't say the same for her bedridden mother, Leona Alexander, who she says is constantly scared of being attacked again.

"After the beating that Kali Craiglow gave our mother, we had to have someone sit with her all night for several months, and she would call us at all hours of the night because of how scared she was that someone would beat her again ... The time she has left is miserable thanks to you," Williamson said through tears during her victim impact statement in court.

Alexander had been at Westmoreland Place since 2010 after a stroke mostly paralyzed her, leading her to need round-the-clock care. She can use one hand, but it's weak, Williamson said. Due to her fear, Alexander has since been moved to another nursing home - away from her only living sister who remains at Westmoreland, Williamson said.

"That's all they had was each other and you took that away from her," Williamson told Craiglow.

Williamson described Craiglow as having punched her mother in the face, thrown a glass of water in her face, and threatened she would get worse once they were in the shower. The assault left Alexander's eyes swollen and blackened, the skin on her hand torn. Reports on the assault indicate her clothing also had been torn and there was a bloody pillowcase on the floor.  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
Woman gets 1 year for nursing home abuse

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Arizona: Financial Exploitation of Seniors is Difficult to Prove

Page Giacin became suspicious of the man who was taking care of her terminally ill father last summer. The caretaker was a cowboy the family had known for years, a cowboy Giacin's father, Don Steinman, did not always agree with. But because Giacin and her brother lived far away from their father's Arizona ranch, they understood why Steinman had chosen the cowboy.

Steinman died in August, at around the same time Giacin's stepmother, Barbara, was diagnosed with cancer. The cowboy, whose name we are not disclosing because he is not charged with any wrongdoing, stuck around to take care of Barbara.

"She told me she was scared of being alone and he was willing to stay," Giacin said.

Barbara Steinman died in January. Giacin learned that Barbara had written a will before she died and left the ranch to the cowboy. Now, Giacin and her brother had hoped to keep their father's property in the family for generations.

"This was his legacy to his grandchildren, to all of us," Giacin said. "He's buried on the land. In order to visit the grave, I have to be able to go onto the property."

What caused Don and Barbara Steinman to leave the property to their caretaker is unknown. The attorney who created the latest will told CBS 5 Investigates that Barbara Steinman visited his office in October and appeared competent.

Investigators said it is often difficult to tell the difference between a gift to a caretaker or family member and financial exploitation.

Full Article, News Video, and Source:
Financial Exploitation of Seniors Difficult to Prove

Guardian Blames Nursing Home Operators for Resident's Injuries

A Kanawha County woman is suing Charleston nursing home operators, alleging their negligence caused injuries to a resident.

Elaine Daniels, as guardian of Gail Galloway filed a complaint Jan. 26 in Kanawha Circuit Court against 1000 Association Drive Operations LLC, doing business as Oak Ridge Center, and Genesis Healthcare LLC, alleging they breached their duties to uphold Galloway's nursing home resident's rights.

According to the complaint, beginning in July 2011, Galloway was a nursing home resident at Oak Ridge Center. During the period when she was under the defendants' care, the suit says, she sustained serious injuries resulting in pain and suffering mental anguish and medical expenses.

The plaintiff alleges the defendants failed to provide a safe environment, failed to provide adequate supervision and safety devices to prevent accidental falls and failed to keep Galloway and her family members fully informed of her medical condition.

Daniels seeks trial by jury, judgment for all damages allowable by law, punitive damages, attorney fees and all other equitable relief. She is represented by attorneys Andrew L. Paternostro, Jeff D. Stewart and Shayla M. Rigsby of The Bell Law Firm PLLC in Charleston.

Guardian Blames Nursing HOme Operators for Resident's Injuries

Nevada: Clark County Adult Guardianship Program Taking Shape

A new program in Clark County will provide volunteer advocates for adults who are deemed incapacitated and in need of services, a population considered underserved and vulnerable.

Dennis Royse (Photo Credit Josh Hicks)
Dennis Royse, program director for the budding Clark County Adult Guardianship Program, knows just how important a court-appointed advocate can be. He was formerly a Court-Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, a volunteer group serving children of neglect or abuse.

Like CASA, the adult guardianship program will pair volunteers with someone (in this case someone over 18 years old) who needs an advocate to look out for their wellbeing. For adults, the person must be deemed incapacitated by a judge.

Royse said "incapacitated" could mean several things, including mental illness, developmental disabilities or dementia. He pointed out that not everyone — especially the elderly - has a loved one who is willing or able to look out for them.

In 2015, almost 200 adults were deemed incapacitated and in need of services in Clark County. Data for the first nine months of 2016 were on track to reach the same number, according to Circuit Court Judge Andrew Adams.

"Most of those guardianships we locate an attorney to do it or someone contacts an attorney," Adams said. "This program is for the people who don't have the money to get an attorney. They're out there."

Most of the adults who end up in Adams' court to be evaluated are referred by Adult Protective Services or local longterm care facilities. Royse said he's already getting calls from facilities looking for volunteer guardians.

Full Article and Source:
Clark County Adult Guardianship Program Taking Shape

How to Protect Yourself From an Abusive Guardianship

Most of us don’t think we would ever end up in a nursing home against our will. We can’t imagine having our hard-earned savings drained by someone assigned to take care of us. We would never believe that we might someday be kept away from the people we love the most.

But those are the kinds of nightmares suffered every day by some of the estimated one million to two million people who have been placed under guardianship or conservatorship in the United States.

Ordered by a judge, a guardianship or conservatorship is ideally a protection for older adults. But too often, it is a drastic measure often prompted by warring relatives, nursing homes that want to get paid or a “friend” who gains the trust of an older adult in order to take advantage of him or her. It’s based on a legal determination that the person is “incapacitated” and needs someone else to make decisions.

But there are things you can do now to make sure that becoming a victim of guardianship abuse does not happen to you or a loved one.

“While it is a sensitive topic, it is extremely important to prepare medical and financial powers of attorney in the event that you become incapacitated. The goal of estate planning is to ensure that you and your assets are protected,” said Melissa Cohen, an attorney with O’Reilly Rancilio in Sterling Heights. “Appointing the right person as your power of attorney is one of the most important aspects of estate planning and can prevent exploitation and unnecessary and costly litigation.”


Not only can guardianships and conservatorships be exploitive, the process is public, expensive and time-consuming, said Naomi Karp, senior policy advisor at the Office of Older Americans of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.

The key to avoiding an abusive guardianship – which is likely to be extremely difficult to escape from if it happens – is to plan ahead.

Karp and other experts advise taking the following steps:

• Create a durable power of attorney for finances.
This is a document in which you name a person to make decisions for you if you cannot. (A regular, or “nondurable,” power of attorney ends if you lose mental capacity.) For instance, if you are severely injured in a car accident or incapacitated by a stroke, your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” will be able to sign financial documents, pay bills and buy things you need.

• Create a durable power of attorney for medical care.
With this document, also referred to as an advance directive, you designate a trusted person to make health care decisions for you if you cannot. The “agent” or “health care proxy” can get access to your medical records, talk to doctors about your condition, make decisions about getting you into a hospital or nursing home and grant or withhold permission for tests and treatments.

Full Article and Source:
How to Protect Yourself From an Abusive Guardianship

See Also:
NASGA: Power of Attorney

Monday, February 20, 2017

Family of Judge John Phillips, Who Froze to Death, Settles With Nursing Home

The Brooklyn nursing home where a once-prominent judge froze to death exactly seven years ago has agreed to settle the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family for $750,000 — while the home’s half-dozen remaining residents still suffer in freezing temperatures, according to court papers and a lawyer for the judge’s family.

The late Civil Court Judge John Phillips — known in his heyday as “the kung-fu judge” because of his black belt — froze to death in his Prospect Park Residence apartment, court papers state.

“Judge Phillips froze to death while confined to an unheated apartment at the defendants unlicensed facility in February 2008,” according to court papers filed by Phillips’ estate in 2010.

“The judge’s wrongful death is not an isolated incident,” said lawyer John O’Hara, who represents the Phillips estate.

“He was confined and they were blocking doctors from seeing him and the heat went off and he froze to death seven years ago today. And there are still people freezing in there.”

An elderly woman who currently lives in the facility said the dining room and other common rooms are unheated and that the residents often eat in their rooms so they don’t have to brave the freezing dining room.

“It was really bitter cold [at breakfast this morning.] My fingers were like ice. They had a little space heater but it didn’t generate any heat,” said the woman, who didn’t want her name used because she fears retaliation.

Full Article and Source:
Family of Judge Who Froze to Death Settles With Nursing Home

'Thieving' Lawyer Bought Mom a Condo With Judge's Money: Prosecutors

Judge John L. Phillips  (credit:  Steven Hirsh)
A lawyer charged with stealing nearly $600,000 from the estate of the late Brooklyn Judge John Phillips, a k a the “Kung Fu Judge,” used some of the money to buy his mother a condo, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Frank Racano, 54, pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn Criminal Court to a grand jury indictment charging him with grand larceny for writing more than 300 checks to himself from an escrow account after two of Phillips’ properties were sold.

Of the $587,160 Racano allegedly stole, “several hundred-thousand dollars were used to pay for a condo for his mother,” Assistant District Attorney Frank Dudis said.

'Thieving' Lawyer Bought Mom a Condo With Judge's Money: Prosecutors>/a>