Saturday, November 22, 2014

I-Team Exclusive: Senior Says She Was Forced Into Nursing Home



PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A prominent attorney and guardian plead guilty to stealing millions from her elderly clients. Now, a woman in a separate case says she too is a victim.

Eyewitness News’ Investigative Reporter, Charlotte Huffman talks to the senior citizen who says she had everything taken from her and is being forced to live in a nursing home.

“I don’t belong here. I want my life back,” said Helen Hugo, an 85 year-old who says she’s been held against her will in a New Jersey nursing home for more than three years.

Hugo says her visitors are turned away.

In order to hear Hugo’s story, the I-Team had to go inside Hugo’s nursing home undercover.

“(People) should be made aware this kind of thing is going on,” said Hugo.

Hugo’s story 

In 2011, Hugo says she was forced out of her apartment at a senior living center and into the nursing home.

She says her IRA was cashed out and her belongings were taken.

“I still haven’t found my jewelry,” said Hugo who has not returned home or seen her cat since she was taken from her apartment in Buena, NJ on July 19, 2011.

Hugo blames her then court-appointed guardian, Barbara Lieberman.

“She steals, she lies, she’s an evil person,” said Hugo.

Guardianship in New Jersey

By New Jersey law a guardian is the person who is given the legal right to be responsible for the decision making and financial management of a person who is determined to be incapable of making their own decisions.

The I-Team obtained documents showing Atlantic County deemed Hugo “a mentally incapacitated person” shortly after she was removed from her apartment.

But a psychiatric evaluation performed in September at the request of Hugo’s family showed no evidence of incapacitation.

Instead, the New Jersey board certified psychiatrist, Joel Glass, M.D. writes in his summary that he found Hugo “is fully competent to decide where she would like to live and to make financial decisions.”

In separate case, Lieberman pleads guilty to bilking other seniors 

Lieberman recently admitted to stealing millions from other seniors who she was supposed to be helping.

On November 3rd in front of Superior Court Judge Michael Donio, Lieberman pled guilty to one first-degree count of financial facilitation.

Back in March, the Atlantic County court-appointed guardian and prominent Northfield attorney who specialized in elder-law was arrested by New Jersey State Police and accused of conspiring with Jan Van Holt and two others to steal from their clients.

Jan Van Holt is the owner of an in-home senior care company, “A Better Choice” and is a former county case worker for Adult Protective Services.

Van Holt allegedly referred clients to Lieberman, and vice versa.

Authorities say the two forced seniors into nursing homes and stole more than $2.4 million from at least 10 victims, most of who have since died.

Lieberman and Van Holt allegedly used the money to pay off six-digit credit card bills and buy things like a BMW and a luxury condo in Florida.

“I’ve got the state’s charges here saying you forged a power of attorney, transferred money into your own bank accounts, even executed wills for the people so you could steal from them after they died. How do you sleep at night?” CBS3 Investigative Reporter, Charlotte Huffman asked Lieberman.

Lieberman would not answer Huffman’s questions. Instead, she hid from cameras and called security.

In exchange for her guilty plea, Lieberman, 62, faces a 10-year prison sentence and has forfeited $3 million for restitution. She will also be required to cooperate with the state by providing information and potentially testifying against the others alleged to be involved.

Van Holt faces pending charges of first-degree money laundering, second-degree conspiracy and second-degree theft by deception. She remains in jail unable to post her $300,000 full cash bail.

The others charged in connection are Van Holt’s sister, Sondra Steen, 59, of Linwood, who helped run “A Better Choice,” and Susan Hamlett, 55, of Egg Harbor Township, who worked for them as an aid for elderly clients. Both face pending charges of second-degree theft by deception.

The charges against Steen, Hamlett and Van Holt are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Because the charges are indictable offenses, they will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.

Full Article & Source:
I-Team Exclusive: Senior Says She Was Forced Into Nursing Home

The Saddest Story in the World


  ANGLETON, Texas (CN) - A Texas evangelist tricked a disabled woman into moving in with him, defrauded her of her $270,000 personal injury settlement and then kicked her out of his house, the woman claims in court.

Marilyn Rupard sued John David Crow and the John David Crow Evangelist Association on Nov. 13, in Brazoria County Court.

Rupard claims that Crow "represented himself as a pastor and investment advisor" when she met him. At the time, Rupard was pursuing a personal injury claim involving artificial hip implants that had disabled her.

When Crow learned about her personal injury claim, Rupard says, he "began to pressure her to reach a settlement as soon as possible."

Crow told her "that once she got a settlement he would assist her in investing her money and that he would take care of her personal needs," according to the complaint.

In September this year, when Crow learned she was about to get "a significant settlement" for her claim, he invited her to move into his home "on the pretext that he could assist her with her daily personal care, and assist her in investing her money," the complaint states.

Rupard says she moved into Crow's house on Sept. 20.

Crow "insisted on accompanying the plaintiff to her attorney's office to pick up the settlement check," which was for $270,000 Rupard says.

She claims that Rupard took the check from her attorney, "and kept it."

With her check in his hand, Rupard says, Crow told her that if she deposited the money in "her name only" she would lose her Social Security disability and Medicaid benefits.

He offered to deposit the $270,000 in his name and put the money under the control of his evangelistic association, Rupard says.

He could only do it, however, if Rupard wrote a letter giving him authorization - so she did, Rupard says.

She claims that Crow had the letter notarized - though she did not appear in front of the notary - and that on Oct. 2 Crow deposited the check into a new Wells Fargo account under both their names and Crow's evangelistic association.

When Rupard asked if she could have a debit card for the account, Crow "said she could not have a debit card and laughed at her," according to the lawsuit.

Full Article & Source:
The Saddest Story in the World

Documentary coming soon: The Economis Rape of America's Secret Wealth Exchanges



This preview of the documentary "The Economic Rape of America: Exposing America's Secret Wealth Exchanges" reveals the economic impact of destruction to America's families and economy as a result of probate courts and frivolous litigation. The wealth exchanges in probate courts are greater than the wealth exchanges on Wall Street. Additionally, $1.5 billion dollars a year goes for attorney fees at the expense of America's families. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America's litigation addiction costs our economy $264 billion dollars per year making America unable to compete globally.

This documentary is a must see for all Americans. America must demand probate reform so that the pillaging of estates by lawyers and non beneficiaries ends. America must wake up and demand better watch dogging of the judicial system which allows for an unfettered abuse of power.

Produced and Directed by Athena Roe, J.D. of theharcompany.org in collaboration with Shaun T. Lally of Still Focus Media.

Source:
HAR Justice presents, The Economic Rape of America's Secret Wealth Exchanges

Friday, November 21, 2014

Supported Decision Making - A Call to Action with Jonathan Martinis



Source:
Supported Decision Making - A Call to Action Jonathan Martinis

Nursing Home Care Levels May Be Much Lower Than Families Think


This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.
 
Many U.S. nursing home patients may not be receiving the level of care their loved ones believe they're getting, a Center for Public Integrity probe has found. 

Staffing levels reported by thousands of nursing homes on a widely-used government website were higher than the staff levels calculated by the Center for Public Integrity through an analysis of annual financial reports submitted by the homes, suggesting that consumers in those facilities may not be getting as many hours of skilled care as they expect. Experts have shown that the amount of care provided by nursing homes is linked to the quality of care. 

The discrepancies raise profound questions about the accuracy of the information in the so-called Nursing Home Compare website that many consumers use to pick a nursing home for family members. The reporting discrepancies occurred for all types of positions, but were particularly high for registered nurses, the most skilled and highest paid workers. 

More than 80 percent of the facilities reported higher registered nurse staffing levels on the public website than those the Center calculated through its analysis of the cost reports. In more than 25 percent of nursing homes nationwide, the amount of staff listed on the public website was at least double the level in the cost reports. 

 
Close to 100 peer-reviewed, academic studies have shown that the amount of care, particularly that provided by registered nurses, is most strongly connected with residents’ quality of care. Lower levels of care are associated with a higher likelihood of injury and even death. 

Eight of the 10 states with the largest levels of discrepancies in the reporting of registered nurse staffing levels were southern. Among them: Louisiana and Arkansas, where the average self-reported levels were at least twice the amount calculated through the cost reports analysis. 


Jon Lowenstein / NOOR
Edna Irvin lies in her bed at the Arkansas Health Center in Benton, Ark. A Center for Public Integrity analysis of more than 10,000 nursing homes across the country found that Arkansas was one of two states where the daily level of registered nurse care listed on public website Nursing Home Compare was at least twice the level the Center calculated from an analysis of annual financial cost reports. The Arkansas Health Center was not included in the analysis.

A systematic problem
Data on the publicly available Nursing Home Compare website, which is promoted by the government for comparison shopping, reflects staffing levels self-reported by nursing homes during a two-week period before annual inspections. Advocates say many homes work hard to prepare for these visits. As a result, critics say, those staffing levels may be artificially inflated. 

In 2005, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for overseeing nursing homes, said cost reports to the Medicaid program, which are harder for the public to locate and understand, are a more accurate source of information than Nursing Home Compare. 

The Center analyzed staffing levels in Medicare cost reports that contain largely the same information as the Medicaid documents, and compared them to those reported by Nursing Home Compare. 

CMS declined to comment on this issue since it had not seen the Center’s analysis. Dr. David Gifford, senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs for the American Health Care Association, the nursing home industry’s largest professional organization, said he is “not surprised by these findings since the way the cost reports collect information on staffing is different than [Compare].” He added in a statement that daily direct care nursing hours have increased for residents at all levels of nursing staff from 2008 to 2013. 

But Robyn Grant, director of public policy for the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group the National Consumer Voice, said the Center’s analysis was shocking. 

“We all recognize the data is flawed, but I am truly stunned by [the] findings and appalled that you’re finding this level of over-reporting” Grant said. 

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), said the self-reported data included on the Nursing Home Compare website shows an “extreme overestimation.” 

Full Article & Source:

Lawsuit Claims Campaign Contributions Influenced Ruling by Former Judge Mike Maggio


CONWAY, AR - Misdeeds by a disgraced Arkansas judge have coming to light as a family that lost a loved one in a central Arkansas nursing home plans to sue. 

A family whose jury-awarded settlement was cut  by former Judge Mike Maggio is planning to go back to court.

In March allegations were made that campaign donations by the owner of nursing homes around the state were in exchange for the reduced jury verdict in a negligence case.

The attention to Maggio began when an Arkansas blog called "Blue Hog Report" revealed the former Judge was the person behind posts revealing a confidential adoption by actress Charlize Theron.

After a judicial investigation, Maggio was stripped of his judgeship by the Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission.

The attorney for the family filed the lawsuit Tuesday (11/18) naming three defendants including Maggio as well as five additional unnamed defendants.

The suit outlined a previous wrongful death suit, the decisions made by Maggio that corresponded with donations by the defendant in that case that's also a defendant in the latest suit.

Now the family wants money they say they're owed.

The lawsuit filed in Faulkner County by the attorney for the family of Martha Bull, who died in a Greenbrier nursing home, claims Maggio received campaign contributions that influenced his decision in the case.

After the 2013 trial a jury awarded Bull's estate $5.2 million.

The defendant in that case, Michael Morton, appealed the amount and Maggio later lowered it to $1 million.

The lawsuit points out that Morton, on the day of the ruling, donated $21k to different political action committees, which were all believed to be funneled to Maggio's campaign for Appellate Judge.

The family claims Morton intended to reduce the jury verdict.

Their lawsuit names Maggio and Morton along with Gilbert Baker, who allegedly acted as an agent for Maggio soliciting campaign contributions.

The family has asked for punitive damages as a result of "judicial corruption and having been denied their constitutional rights".

We spoke to the family earlier this year when they first learned of the claims.

Rosey Perkins said, "To most of us it didn't seem right but we're just a family that tries to take care of ourselves."

As of Tuesday evening, Maggio's attorney says her client has not been served the lawsuit and had no comment on anything the lawsuit claimed.

Full Article & Source:
Lawsuit Claims Campaign Contributions Influenced Ruling by Former Judge Mike Maggio

Decatur mechanic charged with 'financial exploitation' of elderly customer


Billy Hood
An Athens man who owns a Decatur automotive repair shop has been arrested for charging a 75-year-old woman more than $10,000 for bogus repairs and duplicate billings, records show.

However, the mechanic — Billy Wayne Hood, 52, of 21404 Looney Road, owner of Billy’s Liberty 2000 garage in Decatur — told The News Courier Tuesday the customer authorized the work, he performed it, and she told him he did a good job, though he did admit he accidentally duplicated a charge.

Hood was charged Nov. 4 with first-degree financial exploitation of an elderly person. He is accused of charging for work never performed and duplicating charges for work on Bernice Bagwell’s 1953 Plymouth. He was released from the Morgan County Jail after posting a $5,000 property bond, records show.

Decatur Police Sgt. John Harris investigated the case and filed a detailed affidavit showing probable cause why an arrest warrant should be granted. According to that document, a master mechanic at a Madison shop who was asked to look at Bagwell’s car after her brother became suspicious about the repairs said it was the “worst case of fraud” he had seen in his 35 years in business.

In addition, some of Hood’s former employees told Harris that Hood had engaged in “fraudulent business practices for years but intimidated people into not filing reports,” according to Harris’ affidavit. The document did not detail how Hood allegedly intimidated unhappy customers into not filing reports.

The contract

Harris offered the following probable cause in order to obtain the arrest warrant:

On Oct. 7, Bagwell and her brother, Jerry Jacobs, came to Decatur Police Department to file a theft report. They met with Officer Danny Pepper and explained that in August, Bagwell had taken her car to Hood’s shop to have some work done. Bagwell said she told Hood she wanted to get the car in “show car” condition, according to Harris’ detailed affidavit.

Over the course of a month — between Aug. 29 and Oct. 1 — Hood kept the vehicle at his shop and billed Bagwell more than $10,000 for repairs. Bagwell paid Hood in three separate checks over the month. However, when she picked up her car on Oct. 1, the vehicle did not seem any different than when she dropped it off.

Full Article & Source:
Decatur mechanic charged with 'financial exploitation' of elderly customer

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Another Jon Norheim Court-Appointed Guardian Charged With Exploitation

In July, 2014, appointed Clark County Guardianship Commissioner Jon Norheim ignored testimony and evidence indicating financial exploitation by Helen Natko, then awarded Natko full guardianship of the estate and person of 83 year old Delford Mencarelli. Three months later, on October 24, 2014, Natko was criminally charged for converting $37,057.53 from Mencarelli's account to her own use.

This was the second time Commissioner Norheim appointed guardianship to a person who would later be charged with Exploiting Old/Vulnerable Persons. Jon Norheim was appointed to his position by District Court Presiding Judge Charles Hoskin who oversees his court.

In November 2009,  Commissioner Norheim awarded Jared E. Shafer's private fiduciary firm full guardianship of the person and million dollar estate of then-90 year old Guadalupe Olvera.  Guardian Patience Bristol was employed by Shafer's Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc. (PFSN, Inc.) and was charged with looking after Mr. Olvera. Shafer and Bristol enjoyed full power of attorney over Mr. Olvera's estate until a California Superior Court Judge put an end to their exploitation.  '

On May 26, 2014, Patience Bristol was convicted of exploiting the elderly, and is currently serving 3 - 8 years in the Nevada State Penitentiary. Jared Shafer has not yet been charged with a crime.


Judge Charles Hoskin
Appointing Bristol and Natko guardians are just two examples of the many bad decisions Commissioner Norheim made under the supervision of Judge Hoskin, decisions that resulted in the exploitation of millions of dollars from senior citizens and disabled persons living in Clark County, Nevada.  In regard to the Delford Mencarelli case currently on Norheim's court docket, Mencarelli's son in law Richard Black on October 14, 2014 wrote a letter to Norheim's boss Judge Hoskin requesting that he conduct an investigation of alleged wrongdoing in Norheim's court.

READ Richard Black's full letter to Judge Hoskin

[From Black's letter:]

"Below is a list of guardianship cases I have investigated where Commissioner Norheim permanently denied capable family members guardianship, and awarded private guardians.  I have documented over $5.5 Million of wasted assets of 7 of the families listed below in just the last 5 years with no additional services provided to the ward due to Commissioner Norheim's decisions to assign private guardians." 

Such an ex parte communication would usually not receive an answer because most are considered improper contact with a court, but Black's inquiry obviously hit a nerve with Hoskin, and he sent this response in the middle of an ongoing case involving Black: 
READ the full text of Judge Hoskin's "Investigation:"

Full Article and Source:
Another Jon Norheim Court-Appointed Guardian Charged With Exploitation

See Also:
Jared E. Shafer's Bad Laws Legalize the Bilking of Las Vegas Retirees

Marcy E. Dudeck, Nevada/California Victim

Lupe Olvera, Nevada/California Victim

Petition to Correct Nevada Guardianship Law

Please clip, sign and mail or sign the petition online at www.TheVegasVoice.net

(Nevada law requires a guardian be a resident of the state.  Many retirees move to Nevada and their families, still in the workforce,  live in other states; thereby preventing family from being appointed as guardian despite being ready, willing and able to serve -- and the Alleged Incompetent Person's wishes for family to handle his/her affairs rather than a professional guardian or a Public Guardian)