Friday, October 9, 2015

Hearing scheduled for man accused of ripping off incapacitated brother in Lansdale

By Michael Goldberg

LANSDALE >> The case of a 65-year-old Philadelphia man arrested over the summer for allegedly writing checks from the account of his brother — who was incapacitated and a resident of a Lansdale nursing home — without permission in order to pay his own personal bills has been transferred from Lansdale district court to Whitpain district court, with a preliminary hearing that has already been twice continued now scheduled for Nov. 24, according to court records.

Theodore Vogel, of the 1600 block of Faunce Street, was taken into custody and arraigned July 31 before Lansdale District Judge Harold Borek on four counts each of second-degree felony forgery and first-degree misdemeanor bad checks, as well as two counts each of theft, receiving stolen property and possession of an instrument of crime with intent, all graded as first-degree misdemeanors.

According to court documents, a woman reported to Lansdale police that her brother-in-law — who resided at the Golden Living Center on West Fifth Street — was the victim of check fraud; she told police that she and her husband had power of attorney because the man was no longer capable of handling his own affairs.

The woman said she discovered two checks, totaling $1,050, were written from her brother-in-law’s bank account in April and May and advised that Vogel — who had access to his brother’s checkbook as he had power of attorney in the past — was the responsible party, and that no one had given Vogel permission to access the funds, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Criminal charges were filed against Vogel on July 14, records indicate.

Court personnel familiar with the matter were not immediately available Wednesday to discuss why the case was transferred.

Vogel is free on $10,000 unsecured bail while awaiting his hearing before District Judge Robert Sobeck.
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Hearing scheduled for man accused of ripping off incapacitated brother in Lansdale

Conference to focus on growing need, challenges for guardians for elderly Montanans

BILLINGS -- With Montana's population aging rapidly — a quarter will be 65 years or older by 2030, making it the fifth oldest state in the U.S. — the need for services for that population is growing as well.

Big Sky Senior Services will host the Navigating the Challenges of Guardianships conference Oct. 22 in Billings in an effort to educate professionals and the community on issues like guardianships and conservatorships, living wills and power of attorney, and dementia and capacity issues.

"What we hope to accomplish is to help people gain a better understanding of what’s involved in a guardianship and a conservatorship," said Denise Armstrong, executive director of Big Sky Senior Services.

A guardianship is a legal relationship that allows one person, often a family member or other close acquaintance, to make decisions for another relating mostly to medical and personal issues, while a conservator manages mainly property and financial affairs, Armstrong said. In both cases, a doctor must first sign off that a person doesn't have the capacity to make those decisions on their own.

Big Sky Senior Services is a Billings-based group working to enhance the quality of senior citizens' lives and prevent elder abuse. It also runs various related programs and operates the state's only guardianship council.

The all-day conference is geared toward professionals — such as medical personnel, law enforcement officials or attorneys — who may deal with such matters on the job for the first half, followed by lunch and afternoon sessions focusing more on family members and others who are or could be guardians, as well as senior citizens.

"Our main goal, really, is to prevent elder abuse," said Val Young, Big Sky Senior Service's training and outreach coordinator.

It will include breakdowns of various roles and titles and how those relationships work, information on potential frauds and scams and a keynote lunchtime presentation on how to start a successful statewide guardianship program from Diana Noel, senior legislative representative for the AARP in Washington, D.C.

"We’re working with a legislative interim committee to get some kind of state guardianship program established," Armstrong.

Montana does not currently have state standards for guardianship services or training for court officials and guardians and advocates are working with the Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee to study the issue and could eventually develop new legislation.

Getting those standards in place and educating both the public and professionals are key steps in preventing people from taking advantage of senior citizens who need help and ensuring they get necessary care, Armstrong said.

"With this aging population we have in the state, every day we hear more and more stories," she said. 

"There's so much potential for financial exploitation and even elder abuse. We want to take this out to a bigger level. The more prepared we are and more proactive we can be on this, the better off we'll be."

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Conference to focus on growing need, challenges for guardians for elderly Montanans

Palm Beach County Florida Guardianship Fraud Hotline

Using the Guardianship Fraud Hotline, you can anonymously report potential incidents of financial fraud or waste involving court-appointed guardianships over elderly, minor children and incapacitated individuals. This includes but is not limited to:
*  Missing money or property

*  Suspicious loans, funds transfers, opened or closed accounts/lines of credit

*  Suspicious purchase or sale of real or personal property

*  Violations of federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations

*  Guardian has a conflict of interest or exhibits signs of more expensive lifestyle

*  Forced removal from their home or residence

Submissions are sent directly to the Clerk & Comptroller's Division of Inspector General.

If you suspect physical abuse or neglect, please contact the Florida Department of Children and Families at 1-800-96ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).

You may also view our resources page for additional agencies that may be of assistance.

For more information about guardianships, please view our guardianship page.

Palm Beach County Florida Guardianship Fraud Hotline

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New ‘Right-to-Die’ Law May Boost Hospice, Palliative Care Numbers

The passage of so-called “right-to-die” legislation in the nation’s most populous state may lead to an increasing number of people taking advantage of hospice and palliative care — at least that’s the belief of one of the law’s architects.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the End of Life Option Act into state law on Oct. 5. The law will likely go into effect in early 2016, The Washington Post reported.

“We expect and hope that the law will lead to more questions about different options, and will lead to more people being able to take advantage of hospice and palliative care,” Toni Broaddus, Compassion & Choices’ California campaign director, told Home Health Care News.

Compassion & Choices worked to promote the passage of “right-to-die” legislation in California. The nonprofit, which aims to expand choice and improve care at the end of life, offers end-of-life consultation, referrals, guidance and planning resources free of charge.

Broaddus explained that the California law may allow end-of-life care to be discussed more openly amongst doctors and patients than in the past. Additionally, though some home health workers may care for a patient who eventually choses legal physician-assisted suicide, the workers have no obligation to be involved in any way.

“There’s certainly not any requirement for in-home health care services to do anything because of this law,” Broaddus told HHCN. “No one has to participate if they don’t want to.”

In fact, Broaddus said, most patients who take the life-ending medication are with family and loved ones, without a home health care provider present.

Brain cancer patient Brittany Maynard, who chose physician-assisted suicide in Oregon at age 29, became one of the faces of and the inspiration behind the California law. Compassion & Choices chronicled Maynard’s decision in several videos made public online.

The law has inspired fierce advocacy and opposition, and in explaining his decision to sign the bill, Gov. Brown acknowledged the moral quandary that the issues posed and will continue to pose as the law takes effect. In what be another indication of the hot-button nature of the issue, HHCN reached out to numerous home health care operators and provider associations about the legislation in California, and all declined to comment.

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New ‘Right-to-Die’ Law May Boost Hospice, Palliative Care Numbers

Driven to death by phone scammers

The phone calls wouldn't stop.

The man on the other end of the line made promises of a big payoff: millions of dollars in prize money. But first the IRS needed $1,500 in taxes, he insisted, then the jackpot would arrive at the family home, a camera crew ready to capture the excitement.

The calls came a couple of times a day; other times, nearly 50.

Mr. Albert, we need the money to be sent today ...

Don't hang up the phone, Mr. Albert ...

Mr. Albert, don't tell your wife about this ...

Albert Poland Jr. had worked 45 years for the Burlington hosiery factory in Harriman, Tennessee, starting off as a mechanic before rising to become a quality control manager.

He and his wife, Virginia, were living a humble life in the Appalachian foothills near Knoxville, having raised a son and daughter in their 62 years of marriage. The family patriarch was known simply as Daddy.

At age 81, his mind was faltering. He suffered from Alzheimer's and dementia. And the caller -- a man in Jamaica -- preyed on that vulnerability.

Poland's lucidity fluctuated. In February, he went to the local police station and asked if they could make the phone calls from the 876 area code stop. Another time, he went to the post office to send money to his caller. The teller stopped him, talked with him and handed him a brochure on Jamaican lottery scams. He thanked her.

His family tried to intervene numerous times. On one of his good days, he told his wife simply, "I'm in too deep."

On March 21, the caller asked for $1,500. Poland withdrew the maximum $400 from his ATM and sent it via Western Union. He was sure he was going to win more than $2 million. He hoped to pay off his son's mortgage and help his family for years to come.

His son, Chris Poland, was livid when his mother told him his father was talking with the caller again. Chris, 53, had had the same conversation for months with his dad; his father had sent more than $5,000 to the caller. Chris spoke with his father like most any son would. "Daddy, you taught me the value of the dollar. Why are you giving money away?"

As father and son talked by cell phone, the Jamaican called back on Poland's land line.

Mr. Albert ...

The next morning, a Sunday, was like a repeat record. More calls and another tense phone conversation between father and son.

Virginia got dressed for church. Her husband decided to stay home.

It was a beautiful spring morning, with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees and the trees a lush green. Poland strolled around his yard. A neighbor waved: "Looks like we're gonna have to start mowing soon."

"Yeah, looks like it," Poland said.

He walked to the basement of the family home. He carried with him a snub-nose .38 revolver.

In his suicide note, Poland told his family not to spend much on his funeral and said he hoped when more than $2 million arrived tomorrow, it would vindicate him.

'Truly heartbreaking'

Albert Poland was in the grips of a Jamaican lottery scammer -- part of a cottage industry that targets nearly 300,000 Americans a year, most of them elderly, and has enticed them to send an estimated $300 million annually to the Caribbean island nation.

AARP has run campaigns warning about the scams originating from the Jamaican 876 area code. The U.S. Postal Service has published pamphlets and distributed them around the country. The Senate Special Committee on Aging held hearings two years ago about the magnitude of the problem and urged U.S. and Jamaican authorities to do more.

"The Jamaican lottery scam is a cruel, persistent and sophisticated scam that has victimized seniors throughout the nation," says Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the committee's chairwoman. "It is truly heartbreaking that this scam has robbed seniors of hundreds of millions of dollars."

It's such a huge problem in Jamaica that the scams have been dubbed the highest level Tier 1 threat -- a "clear and present danger" to national security, says Peter Bunting, Jamaica's national security minister.

From children to the nation's most tech savvy 20-somethings, from a former deputy mayor of Montego Bay to the most vicious gang members, lottery scams have left few segments of the island nation untouched.

"It is extremely corrosive to the fabric of society," Bunting says. "We have seen where it has corrupted police officers. It has corrupted legitimate business persons who end up playing some role in laundering money."

The Poland family first spoke to CNN in April. Investigators are looking into Albert Poland's case and hope to provide some solace to the family soon; for now, his scammer remains at large.

From there, CNN followed the money, traveling to ground zero of the scams, Montego Bay, where we witnessed a police raid of a suspect's house.  (Continue Reading)

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Driven to death by phone scammers

Kansas panel recommends second suspension for judge Timothy Henderson

The state disciplinary panel wants the state Supreme Court to suspend the judge for 30 days

A state disciplinary panel has recommended a second suspension for a Kansas district court judge who was suspended earlier this year over allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct.

The Commission on Judicial Qualifications found that Sedgwick County Judge Timothy Henderson, 53, wasn’t credible and candid when he testified last year about sexual-harassment accusations against him, according to court documents obtained by The Wichita Eagle ( ).

“Testimony from a member of the Kansas bench that lacks candor and probity is unacceptable under any circumstances - but is particularly perverse when it occurs in the course of a disciplinary proceeding,” the panel said.

The panel wants the Supreme Court to suspend Henderson for 30 days and publicly censure him. The high court will decide what, if any, sanctions Henderson should face.

The state Supreme Court in February suspended Henderson from the bench without pay for three months over the first complaint against him after finding that he made “repeated inappropriate and offensive remarks” to female staff members and female prosecutors appearing in juvenile court.

Henderson did not immediately respond to a phone message left at his office Tuesday.

Henderson’s attorney, Thomas Haney, said he expects to file objections to the panel’s new findings.

Haney argues in a document filed Friday with the state Supreme Court that the panel wants to discipline Henderson again for testimony for which he has already been sanctioned.

Henderson, a Republican, had been the head judge for the juvenile court system in Sedgwick County but has since been reassigned to the court’s civil department.

The first complaint against Henderson alleged that he repeatedly made sexually inappropriate comments in front of female attorneys and staffers. It also alleged he inappropriately used his influence to prevent a local attorney from handling adult guardianship cases and that he tried to get his wife a part-time job with the local school district. Henderson disputed the accusations.

The commission heard evidence in August about whether Henderson’s earlier testimony on the matter was credible.  (Continue Reading)

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Kansas panel recommends second suspension for judge Timothy Henderson

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dead lawyer's family gets to keep his illegal proceeds

The ill-gotten proceeds of a convicted pension fund lawyer will go back to his family – not  Detroit retirees – because he died while appealing his conviction, a federal judge ruled today.

Citing a legal doctrine that forgives the dead, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds erased everything that had to do with the criminal case of pension fund attorney Ronald Zajac: the guilty verdict, the indictment, and the forfeiture order that required Zajac to surrender $150,000 of his ill-gotten gains after a jury convicted him of conspiracy in a bribery scheme that cost the city’s pension funds $200 million in losses.

Edmunds ordered the $150,000 be returned to Zajac’s estate, citing a so-called abatement principle that treats convicts who die pending appeal as  “if he never had been indicted or convicted ” and any “criminal injuries or wrongs … are buried with the offender.”

“As several circuits have recognized, ‘the criminal justice system exists primarily to punish and cannot effectively punish one who has died,’" Edmunds wrote, citing case law.

Zajac, 71, who made $400,000 a year working for the pension funds, died in July of natural causes, just weeks before he was to be sentenced for conspiracy. Following his death, a lawyer representing his estate and wife, Therese Zajac, asked the court to return the $150,000 to Zajac’s estate.  (Continue Reading)

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Dead lawyer's family gets to keep his illegal proceeds

Abbeville woman pleads guilty to exploiting elderly mother

An Abbeville woman received a 5-year prison sentence Monday after she pleaded guilty to the financial exploitation of her elderly mother.

Court records show 49-year-old Karen Elizabeth LaRoche pleaded guilty to felony first-degree financial exploitation of the elderly in front of Circuit Court Judge Larry Anderson.

LaRoche received a 5-year sentence as part of the guilty plea. But LaRoche also submitted an application for probation, which will be heard by the court on Nov. 6. LaRoche was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, a $500 victim’s compensation free and a $525 bail bond fee.

Henry County Sheriff’s investigators arrested LaRoche in October 2014 on the felony charge.

Sheriff’s Investigator Sgt. Steve Sanders told the Dothan Eagle after he made the arrest that the victim in the case was the suspect’s 68-year-old mother, who had given power of attorney over to the suspect after the victim was hospitalized.

“She used power of attorney to steal her mother’s money. It’s going to be in excess of $20,000,” Sanders said. “The daughter went and used her mother’s money to go on a shopping spree.”

Sanders said the sheriff’s office was notified by other relatives after the victim started receiving credit card bills and collection notices for purchases she did not make.

Court records show the charge involved LaRoche moving $30,697.50 out of the victim’s savings account for her personal benefit and obtaining and misusing credit cards for personal benefit.

The charge also alleged the victim suffered a loss of medical benefits due to non-payment of premiums, the victim’s checking account regularly showing overdraft charges, and delinquent medical bills, including an assisted living balance which exceeded $11,000.

Records show the offense occurred between Aug. 26, 2013 and May 28 of 2014. 

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Abbeville woman pleads guilty to exploiting elderly mother

Anti Depressant Drugs Can Cause Violent Behavior

By Kelly Patricia O’Meara
September 22, 2015

That’s what mainstream press such as the LA Times and Reuters are reporting, based on a new study published in a respected medical journal, PLOS Medicine, which found young adults between the ages of 15-24, were nearly fifty percent more likely to be convicted of a homicide, assault, robbery arson, kidnapping, sexual offense and other violent crime when taking the antidepressant than when they weren’t taking the psychiatric drug.

To have heavy-hitters like theLos Angeles Times cover the issue is precedent setting, as the link between psychiatric drugs and violence has long been ignored by mainstream press. But the fact thatantidepressants cause violenceisn’t a new revelation as the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has been at the forefront of exposing this connection for nearly two decades.

CCHR’s efforts to expose the link between violence and antidepressants goes back to 1991 when CCHR helped organize hearings before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where victims and experts gathered to testify that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) cause not only suicide but violence, including homicide.

The testimony by parents, about the violent self-inflicted deaths of their young children, was gut-wrenching. Yet, despite overwhelming data provided by experts, and the first-hand accounts of suicide and violence caused by antidepressants, the FDA Advisory Committee, many of which had financial conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical companies, refused to warn the public of the link between suicide and antidepressants, and did not provide any consideration of whether the antidepressants may be responsible for other violent behavior.