Friday, August 23, 2019


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Award-winning investigative journalist Gretchen Rachel Hammond spent the past 13 months independently investigating a systemic problem at the Oakland County Probate Court, which has allegedly been shielded by the highest levels of Michigan government for the past 30-some years.

The guardianship system isn’t new; in fact, it’s rooted in medieval English law. Every US state still uses some form of the system, which, at its best, is designed to protect citizens who are no longer able to protect themselves by declaring them wards of the state. We know, of course, that the system is rarely at its best, with increasing reports of abuse cropping up nationwide, prompting Congressional calls for reform.

But the level of controversy over how guardianship cases are handled in one Detroit-area probate courtroom has reached such heights, the story reads more like Orwellian fiction than it does a model of the American experience.

An unsettling number of accusations have been leveraged against the court, citing abuse, neglect, robbery, and exploitation, often in cases that arguably didn’t merit guardianship in the first place. In as little as a year, “incapacitated wards” are stripped of the entirety of their savings and possessions and rendered completely reliant upon social services and benefits such as Medicaid. Even high-profile families, including the estates of Rosa Parks and Aretha Franklin, have been drawn into the quagmire.

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Unprotected: Botox, breast, butt implants allegedly bought with cash from elderly victims

By: Ron Regan

CLEVELAND — A portion of the hundreds of thousands of dollars allegedly exploited from an 89-year-old Parma Heights man was used to purchase botox injections, breast implants and butt implants by the woman he trusted.

Details of the alleged scheme were revealed during testimony in a Cuyahoga County courtroom where 38-year-old Latasha Wisniewski is on trial on charges she orchestrated an elaborate plan to befriend the recently widowed victim and ultimately fleece him of his life savings.

Wisniewski has pleaded not guilty to the charges and insists the couple had a romantic relationship that included her moving in with the victim and taking care of him in the months before he died of cancer.

Parma Heights police investigated when the man's family complained.

The testimony came from Wisniewski's aunt, 39-year-old Lisa Dotson, who pleaded guilty earlier Monday in the same courtroom to similar charges in a separate case involving multiple elderly victims.

Dotson faces two to four years in prison and restitution totaling $200,000.

But Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brent Kirvel says both Dotson and Wisniewski collaborated at one point to siphon off hundreds of thousands of dollars from the 89-year-old victim. That money was allegedly used to purchase plastic surgery, an SUV, gift cards and more.

In testimony Monday, Dotson also explained how she would earn a 50% "kickback" from checks she helped cash on the victim's account.

The case follows an exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation--"Unprotected"--detailing the growing crime of elderly financial exploitation and the lack of resources to investigate and prosecute.

Last year, as many as 3,000 elderly people across Ohio filed complaints that left the vast majority unprotected from financial exploitation.

Full Article & Source:
Unprotected: Botox, breast, butt implants allegedly bought with cash from elderly victims

Welch pleads guilty of embezzling $300k from probate court

A Grand Jury style closed hearing was held last Monday August 12th, at the Chambers County Court House where former Probate Clerk Rene Welch, 57, plead guilty to using her official position in the Chambers County Probate Judge’s Office for personal gains. 

Welch was sentenced to 18 months in prison and supervised probation for five years after she pled guilty to the theft of nearly $300,000 from the probate office.

Welch was charged with a class B felony.

Welch was a bookkeeper for the Chambers County Probate Office between the years of 2013 and 2017. She was responsible for verifying the amount of money collected each day and correcting any discrepancies.  Her position’s responsibility was to combine all collected money thru out a workday and prepare a deposit slip and take the money to the bank.

Investigators from the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts noted numerous instances where the amount of cash recorded on the deposit slip by the bookkeeper and the cash deposited into the bank was less than the amount of cash collected by the clerks and verified by the

The plea agreement states that Welch has agreed to pay restitution for the full amount of the stolen funds. Current Probate Judge Paul Story said, “ It will be very hard to recoup the taxpayers money thru restitution.”

“This situation has not been detrimental to the county funds, it has been detrimental to the funds for the probate office itself and affected how it runs,” said Judge Story.

The news of this story was originally released a few days before the general election at which Story beat the seated Probate Judge Brandi Easlick. Story stated, “ We now have further checks and balances within our office, we have increased accountability for not only employees but myself also.”

Full Article & Source:
Welch pleads guilty of embezzling $300k from probate court

Serial Fraudster Pleads Guilty To Scamming Elderly Victims Out Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars In Fraudulent Payment Scheme

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Serial Fraudster Pleads Guilty To Scamming Elderly Victims Out Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars In Fraudulent Payment Scheme

Michael Pizarro Had Previously Been Convicted of a Similar Offense and Continued to Perpetrate the Scheme even after his Arrest

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MICHAEL PIZARRO, a/k/a “Eric Miller,” pled guilty today before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein to defrauding individuals (the “Victims”) by representing to them that they had qualified for a government grant, which could be accessed only upon the payment of an up-front refundable application fee.  In actuality, the government grant did not exist and none of the Victims had been approved for such a grant.  PIZARRO continued to perpetrate this scheme even after he was arrested and released on bail.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted in court, Michael Pizarro preyed on elderly victims and others by charging them up-front fees to get government grant money that was fictitious.  In fact, there were no ‘grants’ and the ‘registration fee’ Pizarro charged his victims was just money he stole from them.”

According to allegations in the criminal complaint, the information, and other documents filed in federal court, as well as statements made in public court proceedings:

Beginning in at least February 2017 through July 25, 2019, PIZARRO called the Victims, many of whom were more than 70 years old, and told them that his name was “Eric Miller” and he was calling on behalf of a company called “National Grants.”  PIZARRO informed the Victims that they had been approved for a government grant, which was being held in escrow at an account with the “Word Bank” in Washington, D.C.  Before the funds could be released, however, the Victims would have to pay a registration fee.  In fact, none of the Victims had been approved for a grant, the grants did not exist, and no Victim ever received any funds.

In April 2018, PIZARRO was charged in New York Supreme Court in connection with his involvement with National Grants from October 2015 through January 2017.  PIZARRO pled guilty in December 2018 and was awaiting sentencing when he was arrested in connection with this scheme on May 2, 2019.  After he was released on bail, PIZARRO continued to seek contact information for additional Victims in furtherance of the scheme.  In total, not including the conduct charged in New York Supreme Court, PIZARRO defrauded the Victims out of approximately $270,000.

PIZARRO, 37, of Brooklyn, New York, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud while on pre-trial release.  That offense carries a maximum prison term of 30 years.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  PIZARRO is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Paul A. Crotty on December 20, 2019.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the New York City Police Department.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kiersten A. Fletcher and Benet J. Kearney are in charge of the prosecution.

If you believe you have been a victim of the scheme described above, including a victim entitled to restitution, and you wish to provide information to law enforcement and/or receive notice of future developments in the case or additional information, please contact Wendy Olsen-Clancy, the Victim Witness Coordinator at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at 866-874-8900, or  You may also report it to Detective Christopher Bastos at 917-480-7167 or

Serial Fraudster Pleads Guilty To Scamming Elderly Victims Out Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars In Fraudulent Payment Scheme

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bitter Reno family battle leads to manhunt, arrests

By Bill Dentzer

RENO –Two days before he absconded with his dementia-stricken, 80-year-old mother from an Alzheimer’s care facility in northwest Reno, Roger Hillygus eagerly showed a Review-Journal reporter a “jury verdict” that he said would make it all legit.

The document was a sham.

By the end of the following week, Hillygus was in custody in California on kidnapping charges; his mother found safe with him. A second man, a former county sheriff, had been charged as an accomplice in the abduction, despite telling Reno police he knew nothing of Hillygus’s intentions. His arrest and alleged involvement, as a former top county cop, propelled the case into the national headlines, garnering media attention as far away as New York.

Meanwhile, the “verdict” document, which Hillygus had submitted multiple times in his mother’s ongoing guardianship case, held no legal weight. He had obtained it online from a citizen’s rights group in Arizona.

Hillygus took his mother, Susan Hillygus, without a confrontation from the Stone Valley Alzheimer’s Special Care Center where she lived on Aug. 8. Two days before, a reporter ran into him by chance, along with the lawman, Stewart Handte, whose 30-year law enforcement career included a stint as Mineral County sheriff. Handte, at Hillygus’s request, was one of two men who went with Hillygus to the care center. After about an hour there, Hillygus left with his mother, later calling the center to say he was not returning.

As events unfolded over the next week, Handte communicated daily with the reporter, repeatedly recounting that day’s events along with day-to-day updates, including his discussions with, and later interrogation by, Reno police, as authorities searched for Hillygus and his mother. A “Silver Alert” — similar to the Amber alerts posted on electronic highway signs in cases of missing or abducted children — was posted in the Reno area on Friday, the day after Hillygus fled the area.

“The FBI’s gonna be coming for me soon,” Handte sardonically told the reporter that afternoon, before recounting the previous day’s events at the care facility.
On that score, he would prove about half-right.

Long-running custody battle 

The one-page document Hillygus thought would cover him, obtained by the Review-Journal from the court file, was his latest legal ploy to win back custody of his mother and control of the family trust that paid for her care. Whether he knew it was worthless is not yet clear, but Hillygus, in that Aug. 6 conversation with the reporter, said it would legitimately restore him as his mother’s guardian, a status he had been stripped of in a long-running guardianship dispute with his sister.

A review of the court docket in his mother’s custody case shows he had submitted the document multiple times since July, the last time on Aug. 8, the day he fled with her.

The reporter had met Hillygus in passing earlier in June at a Reno law office. Handte had met Hillygus through a mutual acquaintance at the law office a few months prior. Hillygus alleged to the reporter that guardianship of his mother had been effectively stolen from him in legal proceedings and he was fighting to regain it. He said he was a victim of a conspiracy involving lawyers, judges, a private guardian and his sister, who wanted to control the family trust that paid for his mother’s care.

Such incidents, where people lose guardianship to unscrupulous third-parties in the courts, do happen, usually when a large estate or trust is involved. The Review-Journal is among the media outlets that have written about the issue. The paper’s reporting prompted the state Legislature, in 2015 and again this year, to tighten licensing procedures for private guardians in the state. Hillygus in fact contacted the Review-Journal reporter who wrote the stories in the spring of 2018, hoping to get coverage for his plight.

A review of Susan Hillygus’ five-year-old guardianship case shows her son filed motion after motion accusing the judge, lawyers, court-appointed guardians and his sister of conspiring against him. Multiple lawyers asked to be replaced as his attorney. He filed so many frivolous and defamatory motions in the case that the opposing lawyer sought to have him declared a “vexatious litigant.” After repeatedly failing to heed court orders or follow through on pledges he made, the judge in the case removed him as guardian in December 2015.

More recently, Hillygus, representing himself, filed an action in U.S. District Court alleging all manner of wrongdoing in the guardianship proceedings. His case was thrown out in December, and again on appeal in June.

Plan to take mother to California 

Hillygus, on the Tuesday before he took his mother, told the reporter and Handte he would show the care center the document. The Review-Journal later obtained a copy from the guardianship court file. Hillygus said he planned to take her to California, later telling Handte that his mother had a brother living there and that he hoped to establish residency there himself.

Hillygus, 52, who is married and lives in Dayton, said he would undertake the trip despite having fallen off a second-story roof at his contracting job a few weeks earlier, suffering several broken ribs, clavicle and a head injury that knocked him out cold. He had asked Handte to go with him to the care center. A third man would join them, videotaping with his phone if things got out of hand, according to Handte’s account to the reporter and police.

Handte, 59, had his doubts about Hillygus’s strategy, but he was also sympathetic. As he had told the reporter once in an earlier casual conversation, he had been involved in a similar custody fight with relatives several years earlier when his mother took ill and died.

During a 30-year career in Nevada law enforcement, Handte served in the state Highway Patrol, twice as a deputy in Storey County, and most recently, as chief of two tribal police forces, the Yomba Shoshone Tribe in Austin, and more recently, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. He was forced out of the Reno-Sparks job in June after just seven months, prior to the Hillygus matter, and is currently trying to win either reinstatement for wrongful dismissal or a severance settlement.

A few days before the abduction, according to Handte, he called Reno Police Chief Jason Soto asking that the department get involved and speak to Hillygus. Soto was out of town in Washington. Reno Police Cmdr. Oliver Miller called Handte back, telling him that Hillygus had been in touch with the department before.

The morning of the abduction, Hillygus met with Reno Police Sgt. Robin Hannafin. Hillygus was told police considered his case a civil matter and would not get involved. Hillygus took Hannafin’s card, which he gave to Handte a few hours later, shortly after 2 p.m., when they met outside the care center. He told Handte what Reno police told him about not getting involved. Handte said he asked if police gave any other guidance. Hillygus said no.

The Review-Journal on Monday asked to speak to Cmdr. Miller. The department declined to make him available. Detective Lt. Zack Thew said Miller “is part of the investigative process and has documented his contact in the police report.”

“I can confirm that there was some contact with the police department beforehand, but not the specific details of what that contact was,” Thew said.

The apartment complex in Bellflower, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, where Roger Hillygus went ...
The apartment complex in Bellflower, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, where Roger Hillygus went with his mother, Susan, after taking her from her Reno care facility. (Peter Bennett/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

A quiet departure

Handte met Hillygus and a third man – known to Handte only by his first name, Tracy – outside the care center about 2:15 p.m.. They spoke for about 15 minutes outside before Hillygus and Handte entered, according to Handte. Hillygus had mentioned an earlier confrontation at the center on a previous visit, and Handte said that if center staff objected to his presence or stopped him for any reason, they would leave immediately.

Handte said he entered the facility with Hillygus, who initially asked to see another woman. After a few minutes, he came back to the lobby where Handte had remained. The third man remained outside. Handte said he later identified the third man to Reno police when detectives showed him a picture from the body cam footage recorded when Hillygus spoke to police.

Hillygus asked to see his mother and a male attendant took him to her, Handte said. After about 10 minutes, Hillygus returned to the lobby with her. They remained in the lobby for five or 10 minutes when Hillygus asked his mother if she wanted to go for a ride. She said yes, and they exited the building with no objection or intervention by staff, according to Handte. They walked across the parking lot, Susan Hillygus shuffling her feet and holding her son’s arm, according to Handte, who walked ahead of them.

Roger Hillygus put his mother in the front seat and fastened her seat belt. He told Handte he was taking her home to Dayton. The third man, Tracy, asked Handte for a ride back to his car, which he had left at a McDonald’s in Sun Valley, about 10 miles away.

Some of the details from Handte’s account are mentioned in the statement Hillygus’s sister wrote in a court filing seeking a protection order after the abduction. Unlike Handte’s account, however, her statement says a witness saw Susan Hillygus being “dragged” to her son’s car.

Staff at the facility on Friday referred the Review-Journal to upper management regarding questions about the incident. Erin Peacock, a spokeswoman for Stone Valley’s parent company, Sunshine Retirement Living of Bend, Ore., said Monday the company “can’t provide any kind of input or answer any questions because we don’t want to jeopardize the investigation.”

After leaving, Handte said he called Hillygus and told him he needed to give the center the paperwork he had brought along. Later, according to the sister’s court filing, Hillygus faxed the sham paperwork to the center, told them he held health care power of attorney for his mother, and was not returning her.

Police get involved

Handte dropped Tracy off and went home. About 11 p.m., Miller, the Reno police commander, called Handte, asking where Roger Hillygus was.

Handte told Miller he didn’t know. He spoke to Reno police several times in the coming days, relaying the same details about the visit he had told the reporter. But Reno police began to doubt his story and challenged his version of events, he said. He had thought Hillygus was taking his mother to Dayton, his home, but recalled Hillygus telling him about his mother’s brother in California, and his interest in becoming a California resident.

That brother’s apartment in the Los Angeles suburb of Bellflower ultimately is where police found Hillygus and his mother one week after he walked her out of the care center unchallenged. The 85-year-old brother’s 80-year-old girlfriend, Wilma Dester, who managed the 16-unit, two-story apartment complex where they lived, told a Los Angeles TV station that the pair showed up last week and that Roger Hillygus had dutifully cared for his mother during their stay.

Dester told the TV station she did not realize Hillygus was being sought until police knocked on her door around 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15. A seven-hour standoff ensued until Hillygus, according to media reports from the scene, nodded off about 2 a.m. He was arrested and booked into a Los Angeles county jail, where he is being held without bail. Susan Hillygus was unharmed. Her current whereabouts could not be determined Monday.

The bedroom where Roger Hillygus stayed with his mother, Susan. (Peter Bennett/Las Vegas Review ...
The bedroom where Roger Hillygus stayed with his mother, Susan. (Peter Bennett/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Friend interrogated, arrested 

Handte had fared only slightly better. On the Tuesday following the abduction, he was interrogated by Detective Allison Jenkins and other Reno police officers for more than two hours. He surrendered his cellphone to them. He had tried to reach Hillygus by phone and text, but Hillygus wasn’t responding.

On Wednesday, the day before Hillygus was found, police arrested Handte outside the Reno law office where he’d gone to discus his employment complaint. He was charged with second-degree kidnapping and conspiracy, both serious felonies.

Handte, speaking to Reno police by phone Wednesday, was told he was getting his phone back that day. According to witnesses at the law office and to those who spoke to him after his arrest, Handte went out to the law-office parking lot when he was met by a half-dozen officers in tactical gear.

“What the hell, Stew? What the f–– are you doing?” one yelled. As he was being handcuffed, another told him to “stop struggling or I’ll take you to the f–ing ground.” An officer then entered the law office to get Handte’s wallet. When a paralegal asked for the officer’s business card, the officer refused.

Thew, the Reno police lieutenant, said Monday the manner of Handte’s arrest “was a tactical decision based on circumstances that were presented at the time.”

Following his arrest Wednesday, police let Handte use his previously confiscated phone.

“I’m actually in custody and being detained right now,” he texted in a reply to the reporter shortly after 5 p.m. The reporter texted back to confirm, doubting that someone under arrest would be given use of his cellphone.

“No. … I actually have it if you can believe that,” Handte wrote. Twenty minutes later, he texted that he was being charged with kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

“This is nuts,” he wrote. “Going to jail now.”

Stewart Handte, a former Mineral County sheriff, charged last week as an accomplice in the abdu ...
Stewart Handte, a former Mineral County sheriff, charged last week as an accomplice in the abduction of an elderly woman from a Reno Alzheimer's care facility on Aug. 8 by her son. He was photographed Monday in Reno. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The reporter asked again why Handte still had his phone. This time, Handte did not respond.

Arrest becomes news

It took about 24 hours for news of Handte’s arrest as an alleged accomplice to get picked up by the media, the headlines focusing on his law enforcement background. Handte was being held without bail at the Washoe County jail – housed in the infirmary, apart from the general population. His police mugshot joined photos of Hillygus and his mother that accompanied the news stories.
On Thursday, a few hours before Hillygus was found, Handte was released without having to post bail, despite facing Class A and Class B felonies. He has a court appearance scheduled for Aug. 29.

Following his release, Handte has declined to speak further publicly because of the charges pending against him. He did consent to having his photo taken, confirmed he was still seeking a lawyer and said he feared his arrest would end his career in law enforcement.

As of Monday, Reno police still had his phone.

Full Article & Source:
Bitter Reno family battle leads to manhunt, arrests

The State of Pennsylvania "Cash for the Elderly" is MURDERING the elderly for the profit of Judges "friends"

Genevieve Bush 89 of Chester County, Pennsylvania

Before the Guardianship


Nearly a decade in, Genevieve Bush, 89, continues to be held in guardianship against her will, against advanced directives, her life savings is nearly depleted. 

The Estate Battle

Bush’s saga started approximately fifteen years ago, when Genevieve Bush’s sons, Joseph and Michael, challenged the estate of her and her husband. 

After her husband had a stroke and was hospitalized in November 2003, they saw an opening, according to a letter she wrote in 2007, to her brother Leon. 

“In April 2004, before Fabian (her husband) passed, Joseph asked me to sign a blank check…Joe asked me to sign more blank checks so he could move the money…In May of 2005, Joe called me and told me he was putting stocks in my name…Then, (a) month later in June, Joe Decided to give papers about me being an estate, like I was already dead.”

At the time, Joseph and Michael had power of attorney power which Genevieve quickly sought to overturn after the squabble turned bitter and wound up in court. 

“I, Genevieve Bush,” she stated in a notice of revocation of power of attorney dated September 6, 2005,  “do hereby revoke any and all powers of attorney given to Joseph Bush.” (she also revoked Michael Bush’s power of attorney at the same time)

Four days later, the Chester County of Pennsylvania  Department of Aging showed up to test Genevieve, according to the same letter, “On September 10, 2005, the Department of Aging came to Mary’s home (where Genevieve was then staying) with the State Police and gave me a competency test.”

Genevieve stated that the Department of Aging came because Joseph complained to them. While she passed the test, her ordeal was not over. 

“September 13, 2005, the Department of Aging came to my house. I told her to leave me alone. 

‘This is all about money.’ That day all three sons called me on the phone. I guess they wondered if I got removed from my home….We started the new year (2006) just great. Joe called threatening to call the Department of Aging again.”

Bush hired attorney Jay Fischer to represent her and he sent a letter to Joseph on November 21, 2005, stating in part. 

“In addition, you are requested to return all funds, investments or other accounts transferred into your name to your mother immediately.”

Fischer continues to practice law in Pennsylvania but did not respond to a voicemail at his office. 

A court fight over the estate resulted and this even included a brutal deposition of Genevieve which lasted  between four and six hours. 

She described it in her letter. “All of them were there with lawyers. I brought a lady friend for support, but they would not let her in. I felt attacked, question for four hours straight.”

The matter was finally decided on October 2007, when Judge Robert Shenkin ruled in favor of Genevieve’s sons, that the monies were “gifted to them” according to a timeline Mary provided. 

The full letter Genevieve wrote is below. 

The Incapacitated Claim

While Genevieve lost, Mary told me she still had over $1 million left after the settlement. She went ahead with her life until 2009, speaking rarely to her sons. 

That all remained until on October 30, 2009, a petition was filed with the Chester County Orphans Court by her two sons to have Genevieve declared incapacitated. 

“Now comes Joseph Bush and Michael Bush, sons of the alleged incapacitated person, Genevieve Bush, through their attorney, Alex Chotkowski,” their petition stated, “and hereby Petition this Honorable Court for the Declaration of Incapacitation and the Appointment of an Emergency Guardian for Genevieve Bush and an injunction.”

An incapacitated person “means that you are not able to receive and evaluate information and communicate decisions and that you are unable to manage your money and/or property, or to make necessary decisions about where you will live, what medical care you will get, or how your money will be spent,” they stated in the petition. 

Chotkowski still practices law and continues to represent Joseph and Michael today but he did not respond to an email for comment. 

When someone is accused of being incapacitated, their case goes to probate court as a guardianship or sometimes called conservatorship. 

This is a civil, not criminal court, where the protections of a criminal court for an accused often don’t apply. 

Chotkowski described the reasons needed for the declaration in the petition. 

“Petitioners believe that guardians should be appointed for the alleged incapacitated person because the alleged incapacitated person cannot manage her financial and cannot care for herself without the assistance of skilled caregivers. The physical condition of the alleged incapacitated person is that she is in poor physical condition due to her advanced age.

The matter wound up in front of Judge Katherine Platt. 

On June 24, 2011, Platt made her decision. 

“The nature of the condition or disability which impairs Respondent’s (Genevieve Bush) capacity to make and communicate decisions is cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s.” Platt stated in ruling her incapacitated. “The extent of Respondent’s capacity to make and communicate decisions is severely impaired.”

But Mary Bush told me the hearing was a farce, Platt made the decision without giving Genevieve Bush any chance to be heard, “Mom never had a single day in court and Judge Platt never met or saw my mother”, Mary told me.

Furthermore, no one had claimed Genevieve ever had Alzheimer’s or claimed she had Alzheimer’s since 2006, even though no such evidence was introduced. 

“The duration of such guardianship shall be permanent.” Platt stated, nonetheless in her decision.

Judge Platt did not return a voicemail at her chambers and a subsequent email to Stacey Witalec, the press contact for the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, was also not returned. 

Judge Platt remains on the case today. 

The Uneasy Set-Up

Initially, there was an uneasy dynamic created. Mary shared guardianship with her brothers. Judge Platt ordered Joseph to be guardian of the estate, while Michael and Mary were made guardian of the person. 

Genevieve initially lived at her home. 

It was a troubled dynamic that continued to be abusive to Genevieve, particularly when her sons petitioned the court for another evaluation.

“AND NOW, this 12th day of February 2013, upon the Motion to Compel an evaluation of Mrs. Genevieve Bush IP., by Movants Michael and Joseph Bush, it is hereby ordered,” Judge Platt’s order stated. 

They did this even though another court appointed evaluator submitted their report on October 21, 2011.

“Dr. Sarah Stookey, court appointed psychologist concluded her evaluation of Genevieve Bush that she became very agitated around Michael and said to her ‘wants none of that’ when reminded of her session with Michael. 

Judge Platt ignored the report from her own court appointed doctor.” Mary stated

This created all sorts of drama, particularly in arranging for this evaluation.

George Zumbano represented Genevieve during this period, and he sent a letter to Judge Platt stating. 

“I write to Mr. Chotkowski’s letter to you. First and foremost, this whole most unfortunate disagreement arises because Mr. Chotkowski failed, contrary to your direction, to circulate the Order to counsel prior to submitting it to Your Honor for signature.

“Be that as it may, let me simply address two brief issues. As to the 10:30AM time frame, we will do our best with Mrs. Bush. My understanding was that she couldn’t be dressed, fed, etc. under her normal routine before 11AM.”

Zumbano continues practicing law but he did not respond to an email at his work email. 

The initial evaluation turned into a nightmare, according to an email from Mary’s then lawyer, Clifford Cohn to Chotkowski from February 13, 2013.

 “Apparently a caregiver had to leave at 9AM. I understand the doctor did not feel comfortable interviewing Mrs. Bush without someone else being present. As nobody else meeting the criteria as set forth in the order had been obtained to stay with Mrs. Bush, she apparently left without doing the interview. I suggest we reschedule as soon as possible.”

Cohn did not respond to a message at his office. 

At around this time, Mary was removed as guardian of the person by Judge Platt, and she was replaced by Elizabeth Srinivasan in 2013. 

Srinivasan is an attorney who sometimes acts as a professional guardian; she did not respond to a message at her office. 

In 2015, the Chester County Pennsylvania Department of Aging stepped in, Mary told me. 

“My mom was punched in her abdomen, (and the) department of aging removed her,” she told me. 

As a result, Judge Platt removed everyone from the guardianship matter and replaced them with Carol J Hershey, who is also a professional guardian. 

Carol Hershey and the Vicious Cycle

Things have only gone from bad to worse for Mary, she told me. Her mother is now in a home, where Mary provided PA Health Department citation evidence, she is not receiving proper care. 

“Based on a review of the facility abuse policy, clinical records, and staff interviews, it was determined that the facility failed to fully investigate allegations of abuse to a resident,” according to a report about one facility Genevieve stayed at. 

Mary also provided photos where her mom also appears isolated and mistreated. 

Hershey, “tried to charge me with trespassing, always maligned me, restricted visits,” Mary said, of the things Hershey has done.

She said Hershey ordered that each visit be supervised and charge from $400-500 for a once a week visit.

Bush remains undaunted. 

On November 1, 2018, Judge Platt denied one of Mary’s motions; this, among other things, asked for Hershey to be removed. 

On November 2, 2018, Judge Platt disregarding a higher courts order gave guardianship of the person back to Michael Bush who did not file a petition, thus ignoring Mary again. The Pennsylvania Superior Courts Order No. 3207 EDA 2015 dated February 21, 2017 (permanently removed Michael Bush as a Co-guardian or Plenary Guardian of Genevieve Bush.) 

February 21, 2017, higher courts decision states on page 8; "The record supports the trial court’s findings and conclusion that Michael’s appointment, as either sole or co-guardian of the person, would not fulfill Mrs. Bush’s best interests. See 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 5521 (duty of guardian of the person to pursue an incapacitated person’s best interest). Michael’s actions have ignored Mrs. Bush’s best interests." “he has been passive about her medical care, physical therapy and encouraging her social life.”

On May 7, 2019, she sent Judge Platt what she referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding. 

“Let this be our Memorandum of Understanding, with all parties copied on the above-referenced issue; that according to statements made by Terri Clark the Chester County Register of Wills/Clerks of the Orphan’s Courts on May 6, 2019, to me Mary Bush, that you have given an Oral Order to the Clerk of the Orphan’s Court, not to allow me access to any of the Guardianship Reports from 2015 to the present times that contains substantive issues.

“As you know I have been a party to this matter of my natural mother Genevieve Bush since the onset of this matter starting in 2009 to the present."  Carol J. Hershey (professional for-profit guardian)  “tried to charge Mary Bush (daughter) with trespassing, always maligned Mary Bush, restricted Mary Bush's visits,”  this is just some, of the things Carol Hershey has done.

Mary Bush said Hershey ordered that each visit be supervised and charge from $400-500 for a once a week visit.

Mary Bush remains undaunted and willing to protect her mother to the best of her ability. 

Written By: Michael Volpe

Full Article & Source:
The State of Pennsylvania "Cash for the Elderly" is MURDERING the elderly for the profit of Judges "friends"

Who watches out for childless retirees? How ‘solo agers’ can stay happy and safe

Solo agers can thrive, if they plan ahead.
by Liz Weston

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.

Retirement coach Sara Zeff Geber visited several Northern California assisted living facilities to interview “solo agers” — people, either single or coupled, who don’t have children to help them as they grow older.

At many facilities, she couldn’t find any. That puzzled her until she realized that adult children are often the ones pushing the move into long-term care facilities.

“Who is it that gets mom or dad to move out of the two-story, single-family home?” says Geber, founder of LifeEncore coaching service in Santa Rosa, California. “The kids badger and cajole.”

Many people won’t have children to look after them as they age, either because they didn’t have kids or the ones they have aren’t available or reliable. Without that help, they face greater risks of isolation, financial exploitation, malnutrition and other ills, says Geber, author of “Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers.”

Who will let them know when it’s time to stop driving? Who will notice signs of physical or cognitive decline and find appropriate help? Who will pay their bills, vet their financial advisers and monitor their bank accounts? Who will hire and supervise caretakers or research nursing facilities when they can no longer care for themselves?

Thinking about these realities is hard but necessary, especially for the baby boomers in or approaching retirement, Geber says. The rate of childlessness doubled with the boomers, with 20% of women ages 40 to 44 being childless in 2005 compared with about 12% in 1986, when the first boomers hit their 40s, according to Pew Research Center. (The childless rate had declined to 15% by 2014.)

“[Solo agers] need to be thinking about how to stay safe and happy and satisfied with their life and connected throughout their life,” she says.
Step 1: Build a community
People who don’t expand their social networks can find themselves isolated and lonely as friends die or move closer to their grandkids. Strengthening ties with relatives and making new friends, particularly younger ones, can counteract that trend. So can cultivating relationships with neighbors, coffee shop buddies and other acquaintances. A 2014 study found people with more of these “weak tie” relationships reported being happier.
Step 2: Choose your home carefully
Your current home may not be the ideal place to grow older, especially if you won’t have many opportunities to socialize after you stop driving. But not everyone wants or can afford 55-plus developments, assisted living or continuing care retirement communities, which require residents to be healthy when they move in but then offer skilled nursing or long-term care to those who need it.

Some communities have organized “villages,” which are nonprofit associations typically created and staffed by residents of a neighborhood to provide services such as transportation and access to vetted service providers. “Cohousing,” where people build clusters of homes around shared spaces that encourage interaction, is another model available in some cities.

Or you could look for “naturally occurring retirement communities” where residents socialize and informally look out for each other. These communities can crop up in a variety of locations, including apartment houses, condos, mobile home parks and even tightknit neighborhoods of single-family homes. Other possibilities include sharing a place with other solo agers — “Golden Girls” style — or renting a room to a younger person.
Step 3: Enlist or hire your future guardians
Estate planning attorneys recommend all adults have documents in place that allow someone else to make decisions should they become incapacitated. These documents include powers of attorney for finances and for health care. (The medical power of attorney may also be called an advanced health care directive). Without this paperwork, solo agers could become wards of the court with strangers making decisions for them, Geber says.

Finding someone trustworthy to take over can be a challenge. A responsible younger friend or relative may be one option. In California and Arizona, people can hire licensed fiduciaries for this role, Geber says. Other states don’t have licensing for fiduciaries, she says, but people may be able to contract with professional guardians. An estate planning attorney or financial planner may be able to put you in touch with the appropriate professional.

Geber urges solo agers to take care of these tasks without delay. A health crisis or other disaster could upend their lives and they won’t have an adult child to help sort things out.

“The biggest problem I see for solo agers and all baby boomers is the denial” of what aging can bring, Geber says. “Open your eyes, do some planning.”

Full Article & Source:
Who watches out for childless retirees? How ‘solo agers’ can stay happy and safe

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

7 indicted, accused of neglecting, trafficking disabled and elderly adults in Georgia

Valerie West
Seven people were indicted in an abuse and trafficking scheme in which they allegedly neglected disabled and elderly adults in Georgia and used their Social Security funds for their own benefit, authorities said.

The suspects were indicted July 30 on various charges related to physical and financial abuse, according to a news release from Attorney General Chris Carr’s office.

According to authorities, the West family — Valerie, Erica and Eric — operated homes for elderly and disabled adults. Those homes were unsafe, bug-infested and at times lacked electricity and hot water, the news release said.

Authorities said the family also operated several health care corporations which they enrolled as Medicare providers. According to the release, the Wests trafficked victims between their homes and businesses and billed the government. 

“This indictment stands for the right of disabled adults to be treated with respect and dignity and to be provided with certain basic amenities,” the District Attorney for the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit, Sherry Boston, said in the release. “We will not tolerate this abhorrent behavior in DeKalb County.”

The Wests were each charged with neglect to a disabled adult and depriving an adult of essential services — four counts of the latter for Valerie West and Eric West and two counts for Erica West.

Valerie West was also charged with terroristic threats, aggravated assault, exploitation of a disabled adult and identity fraud. The Conyers resident was arrested in DeKalb County.

Erica West was also charged with trafficking of a disabled adult, identity fraud and three counts of exploitation of a disabled adult.

The offices of Carr and Boston are jointly prosecuting the Wests and four others, who allegedly assisted the family in their scheme.

Cynthia Riley and Ceretha Stephens, registered advanced-practice professional nurses, served as the primary health care providers to the residents of the Wests’ homes and failed to report visible signs of neglect, such as bed-bug bites and residents reporting that they did not receive essential needs like medication, oxygen and feeding tubes, according to the release.

They have both been charged with failure to report neglect of a disabled adult. Riley, who also faces a neglect to a disabled adult charge, was arrested in January 2017 in a similar case.

Authorities said Akeem Dancy used his employment at a mental health facility to recruit individuals to the Wests’ homes, and Jadon Dancy participated in operating the various properties and businesses. They were each charged with trafficking of a disabled adult, the release said.

Valerie West, Erica West and Cynthia Riley turned themselves in to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and have been released on bond. Warrants are out for the arrests of the remaining four suspects.

Full Article & Source:
7 indicted, accused of neglecting, trafficking disabled and elderly adults in Georgia