Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ohio Attorney Kevin Purcell Indicted for Theft From Veteran's Estate

A local attorney has been indicted for stealing more $250,000 from the estate of an Army veteran, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced.

The Grand Jury indicted Kevin Purcell, 61, on two counts of aggravated theft and one count of tampering with records; all are third-degree felonies.

The State of Ohio charges that Purcell served first as a guardian for disabled Army veteran John A. Kane, and then as administrator of his estate after Kane died in Columbiana County on March 15, 2012 at age 56.

Purcell used those positions to steal $262,920.24 for his personal use.

The case was referred to the Prosecutor's Office by Cuyahoga County Probate Court.

Kane's sister had filed suit against Purcell after discovering that her brother's funeral bills had not been paid.

On January 9, 2014, Purcell was found guilty in Probate Court of concealing assets belonging to the Guardianship of John A. Kane.

Full Article and Source:
Rocky River Attorney Indicated for Theft From Veteran's Estate

Texas Nursing Homes Rank at Bottom in Care Quality

A recent survey by the AARP gave nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Texas very low marks for a number of metrics including the quality of care patients received and the overuse of anti-psychotics in facilities throughout the Lone Star state.

According to the AARP survey Texas nursing homes ranked:
  • 10th for affordability
  • 49th for quality of care
  • 47th or effective transitions
Although Texas nursing homes ranked 30th overall, homes in state garnered and for the quality of care residents receive and staff turnover. Staffing has a direct impact on the safety and health of nursing home residents. Lacking enough staff or having too many inexperienced employees on a floor can lead to neglect, and creates more opportunities for abuse.

According to the Dallas News, the staff turnover rate for the nursing homes in Texas is 72 percent, much higher than the 38 percent national turnover rate for nursing homes.

Full Article and Source:
Texas Nursing Homes Rank at Bottom in Care Quality

See Also:
READ the AARP survey

MN Woman Charged WIth FInancial Exploitation

Authorities acting on a tip from a Rochester financial institution have brought charges against a Chatfield woman they say spent more than $100,000 of someone else's money.
Ashley Loraine Dotzenrod, 28, faces two counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and one count of theft by swindle, all felonies.

She's scheduled to appear Sept. 18 in Olmsted County District Court. 

The investigation began Sept. 27, when police were told Dotzenrod had deposited about $50,000 in checks written on the alleged victim's account into her own checking account. The victim is described in the criminal complaint as having "significant difficulty in speech and motor movements," as well as having seizures, all the result of a stroke several years ago. 

The woman requires the assistance of others for basic needs, and has a power of attorney to assist in financial matters, the report says, classifying her as a functional vulnerable adult.
In January 2011, the woman named Dotzenrod as her power of attorney; in May 2011, Dotzenrod opened a joint savings account with the woman.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim's former power of attorney said the victim was "frugal" and was "aware of Dotzenrod's spending habits." The woman set up the financial arrangement so if Dotzenrod was going to be paid, the woman would have to write her the check. Since 2009, only one check has been written to Dotzenrod, the records show.

Full Article and Source:
Area Woman Charged With Financial Exploitation

Monday, September 1, 2014

Anna Nicole Smith's Daughter Loses Fight for Marshall Millions

A federal judge has ended what may be the last chance for Dannielynn Birkhead — better known as the daughter of Anna Nicole Smith — to collect tens of millions of dollars from the estate of E. Pierce Marshall, the son of Anna Nicole’s billionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall II.

In an order expressing regret over the outcome, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter dismissed as moot the attempt by Birkhead’s lawyers to win sanctions from the Marshall family over tactics the deceased heir and his lawyers employed in the long-running battle over the Marshall fortune. Carter last year indicated he might award more than $40 million in sanctions for behavior he described as “too pervasive and too egregious to be ignored.”

Carter noted he was “one of the few remaining observers still alive” after nearly 20 years of litigation, which included a precedent-setting ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, and he said the record shows Marshall and his lawyers had “a distinct disinterest in rules or ethics.” But Birkhead’s lawyers failed to provide sufficient evidence of actual damages for him to award sanctions, the judge said.
The Court is not immune to the equitable pleas from Vickie Lynn’s estate. It is tempting to invoke the broad doctrines of discretion, equity, and inherent powers to follow the pull of one’s heart and one’s conscience. But the powers granted to the federal courts are not all encompassing… The Court also must consider the very real concerns attendant in sanctioning Pierce Marshall, who is deceased and therefore cannot be present, cannot attend the hearing, and cannot answer for himself the allegations against him.
The decision appears to ends a case which, aside from its celebrity quotient, triggered important changes in bankruptcy law.

Full Article and Source:
Anna Nicole Smith's Daughter Loses Fight for Marshall Millions

Read the Order

Judge's Attorney Argues for Reprimand Against Suspension

The state Judicial Hearing Board has come down hard on Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Wilfong.  The board has recommended unanimously that Wilfong be suspended for three years without pay, fined $20,000 and be censured.

Judge Wilfong was charged earlier this year with two violations of the Judicial Code of Conduct in connection with an extramarital affair with Travis Carter who was the director of North Central Community Corrections at the time.

The board, in a recommendation released Friday, found Wilfong “demonstrated, over a two-year period, a fundamental lack of candor, judgment, integrity and fairness”  by carrying on the affair in her courthouse office and failing to disqualify herself in matters where her impartiality might be questioned.

One of the attorneys for Wilfong has argued that she should not lose her job because of an affair. Instead, Harry Deitzler said he thinks a reprimand for Wilfong from the state Supreme Court would be appropriate.

“I think that she should be treated fairly and reasonably,” Deitzler said Friday. “You don’t take law licenses and remove from the bench for that kind of thing.”

Deitzler said, even though Wilfong would consult with Carter and others in his office at times, the affair, which she self-reported, did not affect any cases.

“They’re saying, ‘Well, now she’s had this extramarital affair. We can’t trust her as a judge because she had bad judgment.’ That is so ridiculous,” Deitzler said. “She understands that the public had a perception that this was an impropriety, but there was never any effect on any case.”

The Judicial Hearing Board will next offer a recommendation to the state Supreme Court about a possible punishment for Wilfong. It’ll be up to the Supreme Court to make a final decision, though the Court cannot remove Wilfong from the bench. Only the Legislature can do that.

Full Article and Source:
Randolph County Judge's Attorney Argues for Reprimand Against Suspension

See Also:
Read the Judicial Board's Recommendation

US Government Unveils New Resource to Fight Elder Abuse

The federal government has introduced a major new initiative to combat rising abuse and exploitation of the elderly — the “Elder Justice Roadmap,” a comprehensive framework for neutralizing financial, psychological and physical risks to older Americans.

The Roadmap outlines newly launched educational programs and policy steps designed to increase reporting and prosecution, but it mainly focuses on encouraging individuals, families and institutions to identify risks and take steps toward prevention.

Elder law attorney Michael Gilfix recently authored an article entitled “Addressing Financial Elder Abuse: Should the Bar be Lower?” that will appear in the September issue of Trusts & Estates Magazine. He agrees that planning and prevention are the best defenses against elder abuse.

“Decreased cognitive ability and financial strain are two major risk factors for elder abuse,” Gilfix said. “The facts of this report confirm that every family should consider concrete safeguards long before a serious threat or scam appears.”

The Roadmap’s publication followed President Barack Obama’s vow to eliminate the victimization of older Americans. On June 11, President Obama proclaimed World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, stating that the government must improve the criminal justice response and work harder to ensure all Americans have the “right to enjoy their retirement years with a basic sense of security.”

The map attempts to simplify a complex set of decisions that magnify in importance over time. Families can plot their place on the Roadmap to find missed, current and upcoming actions to take. “Durable power of attorney, asset protection and long-term care insurance planning make excellent starting points for many families,” Gilfix added.

According to an article by Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, the Elder Justice Roadmap is the product of an ongoing collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that began in 2012.

Full Article and Source:
US Government Unveils New Resource to Fight Elder Abuse

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Sheila Mathews - The Right to Refuse Psychiatric Services

Sheila Mathews, co-founder the organization AbleChild joins us to talk about the labeling and drugging of children and the Hatch Amendment meant to protect them from this kind of abuse.  Sheila will join the show at 7:45 pm CST.

After Sheila Matthews had her own personal experience with coercion by the education system to label and drug her child, she teamed up with another mother, Patricia Weathers, to found the non-profit organization AbleChild – a national parent’s rights organization, dedicated to protecting fully informed consent and the right to refuse psychiatric services.

Ms. Matthews is a resident of Connecticut and in 2001 she was the first mother to successfully testify on behalf of the first state law in the United States prohibiting school personnel from recommending psychotropic drugs to parents. She continues nationwide participation in conferences and seminars and testifies on the federal level on behalf of AbleChild and families who need AbleChild services.

She has been featured on a number of high profile media outlets, including CNN, FOX, Time Magazine as well as numerous radio stations throughout the country.

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST7:00 pm CST 8:00 pm EST

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

As More Hospices Enroll Patients Who Aren't Dying, Questions About Lethal Doses Arise

Jeff Coffey
Clinard “Bud” Coffey, 77, a retired corrections officer, did the crossword in The Charlotte Observer after breakfast every morning, pursued his hobby of drawing cartoons, talked seven or eight times a day to his son Jeff and, just two weeks before his death, told a pal that he still felt “like a teenager.”

He did, however, have some chronic back pain, and in late March he was enrolled in hospice care “essentially for pain management,” his doctor said. Over a two week period, he received rising doses of morphine and other powerful drugs, grew sleepy and disoriented, and stopped breathing, dying peacefully at home, according to his family and medical records they provided.

His death certificate, which was signed by the hospice doctor, listed the cause as “renal cell carcinoma” or kidney cancer. But that doctor had never examined Coffey, his family said, and medical records from just a few weeks earlier do not mention it.

“My dad wasn’t dying of cancer,” said his son, Jeff Coffey. “Once he was on hospice, their answer for everything was more drugs. Everything we know about his death is consistent with an overdose.”

An attorney for the hospice company, Curo Health, said it could not comment on the case without authorization from Coffey’s family. When Jeff Coffey authorized the company to comment, however, the attorney said that the company would not comment because the Coffey family had hired an attorney in preparation for a lawsuit.

The hospice industry in the United States is booming and for good reason, many experts say. Hospice care can offer terminally ill patients a far better way to live out their dying days, and many vouch for its value.

But the boom has been accompanied by what appears to be a surge in hospices enrolling patients who aren't close to death, and at least in some cases, this practice can expose the patients to the more powerful pain-killers that are routinely used by hospice providers. Hospices see higher revenues by recruiting new patients and profit more when they are not near death.

There are no statistics on how often such abuses may be occurring. But complaints from around the country illustrate the potential dangers of enrolling patients in hospice even though they are not near death, the families involved say.

Full Article and Source:
As More Hospices Enroll Patients Who Aren't Dying, Questions About Lethal Doses Arise

See Also:
Terminal Neglect?  How Some Hospices Treat Dying Patients

Is That Hospice Safe?  Infrequent Inspections Means it May Be Impossible to Know

Rising Rates of Hospice Discharge in U.S. Raises Questions About Quality of Care

Killer Denied Bid to Inherit $250,000 From Estate of Mother in Law He Strangled

In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a Brooklyn appeals court has determined that a killer can’t indirectly inherit his victim’s fortune.

Long Island druggie Brandon Palladino was trying to get his hands on more than $250,000 from his mother-in-law’s estate, despite spending 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

He had admitted to strangling Dianne Edwards, 59, when she caught him stealing her jewelry in 2008. Her will listed her only daughter, Palladino’s high school sweetheart and wife, as the sole beneficiary. Deanna Edwards Palladino, 24, died of overdose about a year later, leaving the killer as the beneficiary of the slain woman’s estate.

Crime was about to pay big time for the Huntington Station man, who’s set to get out when he’s 45. But Edwards’ estranged sister Donna Larsen intervened, arguing a wrongdoer cannot profit from his or her misdeed.

Finding that “there is a clear causal link between the wrongful conduct and the benefits sought,” the appellate panel agreed Wednesday, upholding a Suffolk County court’s decision to strip Palladino, 28, from the dough.

Full Article and Source:
Killer Denied Bid to Inherit $250,000 From Estate of Mother in Law He Strangled