Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pearl City woman, 95, wrongfully evicted from her own home

WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 95-year-old Pearl City woman was wrongfully evicted from her home this week, when a property protection company mistakenly identified her home for her next door neighbor's foreclosed unit.

Felicidad Marquez has owned her home since 1969.

But on Tuesday, her locks were suddenly changed and she was forced to leave.

"I felt like this is not mine anymore and it hurts," she said, holding back tears.

Daughter Felicia Marquez-Wong says Ohio-based Safeguard Properties was ordered by mortgage company, Rushmore Loan Management, to lock up the property. But Marquez-Wong says the company confused her mother's home with the adjoining duplex unit, which has been foreclosed and vacant for years.

"We didn't know when we were going to be able to get back in the house so we naturally started to bring things out," Marquez-Wong said. "They locked the wrong house is basically what they had done."

Marquez-Wong says it's a mistake that could have been prevented if proper protocols were taken. The family was never given an eviction notice.

"We felt very violated that they would do something like this without our permission," said Marquez-Wong.

"I don't know the feeling, it's hard," her mother said. "My own place I could not get in."

Two days passed with unanswered calls to Rushmore and Safeguard Properties. Marquez-Wong says it wasn't until she filed a police report that she finally got the code to the lock box.

She also provided documents showing her mother owned the property.

"We didn't get a chance to enter the house until two days later," Marquez-Wong said.

She said Rushmore admitted to the mistake but never apologized. Her mother's door was unnecessarily damaged in the process.

"It's not something you would do to someone's home," she said. "Just create a big hole where you can see inside your doorknob."

Marquez-Wong says it's been a stressful week and is worried other families will fall victim to unfair evictions.

"What you folks did really traumatized my mother and my family," she said. "Please don't do that to other homes."

Hawaii News Now spoke with a local attorney who says the entire process was illegal because no eviction noticed was issued. Homeowners have a right to a court decision first.

Calls to Rushmore Loan Management Services and Safeguard Properties were not immediately answered.

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Pearl City woman, 95, wrongfully evicted from her own home

EDITORIAL: Judicial discipline

Las Vegas Review-Journal

The state Judicial Discipline Commission last week dropped the hammer on Catherine Ramsey, a North Las Vegas Municipal Court judge.

After Judge Ramsey admitted to seven charges of professional misconduct, the panel barred her from seeking re-election next year and suspended her without pay for the final three months of her six-year term.

While it would be preferable if voters determined Judge Ramsey’s professional future, the commission’s action sends a strong message that judges have a responsibility to both the public and the legal profession to maintain high standards of integrity.

And while we’re on the topic of judicial integrity, let’s hope the commission also takes a hard look at the behavior of Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen.

Judge Hafen in May garnered national attention when he ordered a public defender handcuffed and confined to the jury box after she tried to argue on behalf of her client. A group of defense attorney’s subsequently filed a complaint with the Judicial Discipline Commission arguing the judge’s actions showed “a complete disregard for the law.”

Then, earlier this month during a preliminary hearing, the judge banished the relatives of murder victims from his court and threatened to have an R-J reporter arrested for recording audio of the proceedings, a routine practice.

Judge Hafen failed to advance past the June primary election in his effort to secure a second term, so the discipline commission may be inclined to pass on the matter. In fact, though, a strong statement from the panel acknowledging that his behavior was inexcusable and unprofessional might go a long way toward deterring other jurists who may have similar proclivities.

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EDITORIAL: Judicial discipline

Dothan woman charged with financial exploitation of 74-year-old

Nancy Denise Wells
A Dothan resident faces nearly a dozen felony charges in connection with the financial exploitation of a 74-year-old woman.

Dothan Police Lt. Will Glover said police arrested 39-year-old Nancy Denise Wells and charged her with felony second-degree financial exploitation of the elderly and 10 felony counts of fraudulent use of a credit card.

Glover said the victim in all the offenses is a 74-year-old relative of Wells.

“She’s charged with exploitation because she stole approximately $1,000 from the victim by using her credit card approximately 60 times without permission,” Glover said.

Wells was booked into the Houston County Jail on bail totaling $110,000.

According to earlier Dothan Eagle reports, Wells' arrest became the six arrest this year by the Dothan Police Department for financial exploitation of the elderly.

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Dothan woman charged with financial exploitation of 74-year-old

Monday, August 29, 2016

2 probate judges disciplined for inappropriate behavior

DADEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Two Alabama probate judges have been disciplined by a judicial court: one for sexting a litigant and the other for ruling on matters in her father's estate.

According to AL.com (http://bit.ly/2aZ9PZG ) Tallapoosa County Probate Judge Leon Archer was suspended Monday for six months without pay for sexting with a litigant. Archer admitted that sexually explicit Facebook messaging exchanges included photos of his genitals, taken while at the county courthouse.

Probate Judge Earlean Isaac was charged with ethical violations regarding her actions on distributing money from her father's estate. Isaac agreed to resign effective Saturday. She also will never seek judicial office again.

Both Archer and Isaac had worked out agreements with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission on what their discipline would be before the Court of the Judiciary.

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2 probate judges disciplined for inappropriate behavior

New Legislation Provides Tools for Seniors to Combat Elder Abuse

Roxanne J. Persaud, Senator Persaud, New York legislation, elder abuse, senior citizens

Like many states throughout the country, New York State has existing elder laws that were developed with elder safety in mind. Despite lawmakers’ best efforts, some of these existing laws do not offer protection against the types of challenges that many elder citizens face today. In the wake of new exploitation techniques and scams that rely on the unwitting senior citizen, their assets are becoming more and more susceptible to criminal activity. According to Senate Bill S8098, on July 21, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed a new addition into law that was dutifully sponsored by Senator Roxanne Persaud, which provides more tools for New York’s seniors as they fight against various forms of elder abuse.

The bill is unique in that it includes new resources to help combat financial scams that affect senior citizens and their assets. According to Persaud, scams are becoming more and more deceitful and sophisticated as they target individuals who may not otherwise know how to protect themselves.
“Our state will now make sure that we give seniors a chance to learn about what traps are out there, and who to go to if they think someone or some business is offering something too good to be true,” Senator Persaud explained.
The bill to amend New York State elder law provides tips on money management, applying for benefits and raising awareness of the myriad of rip-offs used by predators to separate elders from their money.  The additions to the pre-existing laws were effective immediately upon Governor Cuomo’s signature and were added to New York Elder Law § 217 (1) (d). This bill is another in a long list of legislation proposals that require 21st century considerations. Despite its uniqueness in nature, it recieved unanimous support from the Senate Rules Committee and an equal amount of support on the Senate floor.

If you wish to review the legislation, you can download a copy here: http://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2015/S8098
 
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New Legislation Provides Tools for Seniors to Combat Elder Abuse

Morristown woman pleads guilty

A Morristown woman pled guilty yesterday to Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult.  Northfield police were called to Three Links Care Center in September of last year on report of a resident’s Power of Attorney not paying the bills.  53 year old Loretta Anne Fossum was accused of bilking an elderly Northfield woman out of thousands of dollars over a nearly 2 year period.   

According to a source, Fossum moved into the woman’s home on Meldahl Lane in April of 2014 and started using her bank card for personal purchases soon after.   In October of 2014, Fossum closed the victim’s bank account and opened a new one adding her name.  In the Spring of 2015, the victim moved to Three Links. Fossum continued to live in the victim’s home but stopped paying the bills.  In September of 2105, she convinced the victim to make her Power of Attorney.  By October, debt collectors were calling the victim’s grandson.  Fossum faces up to 5 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.  Her sentencing is scheduled for November 2nd.  FossumLorettacomplaint (1)

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Morristown woman pleads guilty

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Who Guards the Guardians?

Texas counties have stripped thousands of elderly and disabled citizens of their rights — and then forgotten about them.
They paid their tab at the Waffle House and put the plan in motion. Phil and John Bradley guided their mother, Rosamond, to the back seat of Phil’s car, and John took the seat beside her. Driving through the familiar North Dallas streets, it wasn’t long before Rosamond realized they weren’t headed to her home.

“What are you doing?” she asked. It was John who answered, “We’re taking you to Lubbock.”

Though Rosamond protested the whole way, her sons didn’t know what else to do. It was March 2009, and at 73 she insisted on living alone, hours away from them. Sometimes she didn’t take her medication; sometimes she took too much. Phil had been awakened one night recently by a call from the Dallas police. She’d smashed her bathroom window and alarmed the neighbors with her screaming, an incident that landed her in a psychiatric hospital for six weeks.

When they arrived at Rosamond’s new home at an Alzheimer’s care center, she refused to leave the car. According to notes in her medical record, she “did exhibit some aggressive behavior.” Rosamond recalls, “I struggled and kicked John where I shouldn’t have.” A Lubbock psychiatrist described Rosamond as “expressive/noisy,” “hyperactive” and “anxious/suspicious,” noting that she exhibited “bipolar disorder, psychosis and delusions.”

“It was terrible,” Phil recalls. “There were times that she couldn’t feed herself. She would do group therapy and it was just an absolute disaster.” Still, she kept demanding to go home. So, in late April, Phil filed a request in county court for authority over his mother’s affairs. Lubbock County Judge Tom Head reviewed the doctors’ reports and appointed Lubbock attorney David Kerby to advocate on Rosamond’s behalf. Rosamond says she never met the lawyer, who did not return the Observer’s calls. Without Rosamond present, which is common in guardianship cases, Head found her legally incapacitated. Phil won the right to decide where his mother lived, who she saw and how she spent her money, even if she objected — which she did, vehemently.

Rosamond says she was so heavily medicated that she spent much of her time in a fog. She couldn’t leave the nursing home without supervision, and only heard after the fact that her sons had sold her Cadillac and begun moving furniture out of her house. She began to see the move as a ploy by her sons to access her money, and she felt helpless. “I had no contact with anybody,” she recalls. “It was like being all alone.”

Rosamond wasn’t accustomed to traveling solo. In the last 20 years, her usual adventure partner was Jim Bithas, whose late wife had been Rosamond’s high school friend in Highland Park. Together, Rosamond and Jim had filled their golden years with epic vacations — a week in Alaska, a month in Australia, three weeks on a cruise to Antarctica. Theirs, Jim says, is “a long love story,” and with every thousand-mile journey, they inched closer to making the relationship official. At home, Rosamond had a gold ring from Jim, studded with diamonds they’d combined from their jewelry collections. It was to be her wedding ring when they married. Jim says he had no idea Rosamond was being moved to Lubbock. At the nursing home, once Rosamond was able to borrow Phil’s phone, the only person she wanted to call was Jim. “Guess where I am,” she told him.

Rosamond had landed in a little-understood corner of the legal system, a court-ordered, semi-autonomous state in which, for her own good, her most basic rights were given to another person. Guardianship is the state’s last-ditch tool to protect people from neglect or abuse, and although it saves lives, it can be a blunt instrument. More than 53,000 Texans, most of them elderly or intellectually disabled, are under a guardianship today. Some could never make their own decisions; others, in the eyes of a friend or family member, have been making decisions that are dangerously wrong. In either case, the remedy is the same: Their legal rights transfer to a person of the court’s choosing. Proponents credit guardianship for celebrity success stories such as Britney Spears, whose life and career regained stability after her father won the legal authority to step in. But guardianship is in the news much more often for its abuses.  (Click to continue)

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Who Guards the Guardians?

Make a Dementia-Friendly House

VIDEO - HOME IMPROVEMENT: It is important that people living with dementia have the best quality of life possible in their homes. See simple changes that create a more dementia-friendly environment, enhancing emotional well-being and independence.

Inexpensive and simple changes to a house can make it so much more dementia-friendly. See this video for good ideas from the Social Care Institute for Excellence.Below the video are Amazon links to helpful items described in this film clip.

Continued below video...

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Make a Dementia-Friendly House

Living on a Dime and Left Behind

Living on a Dime and Left Behind
 
For more than 70 years, employers holding special certificates issued by the Department of Labor have been allowed to pay less than minimum wage to workers with disabilities - in some cases as little as a penny per hour. 

Also, most employers paying subminimum wage keep employees segregated from the community in sheltered workshops. 

In our newly released report, Living on a Dime and Left Behind: How a Depression-Era Labor Law Cheats Texas Workers with Disabilities, we highlight the details of these discriminatory practices in Texas and recommend solutions to end the injustice.


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Living on a Dime and Left Behind