Friday, January 30, 2015

The Vegas Voice: Guardianship: A Legal Sham and Disgrace

Rana has been on her Don(na) Quixote crusade to protect seniors from the abuses and scandal regarding the Guardianship (Nevada Revised Statutes - Chapter 159) laws. For the past few months, she has taken me kicking and screaming into this issue.

On each and every occasion, when I told her that “it could not happen” she provided the paperwork.

As a former attorney, I learned how to read the law, petitions and court orders. More importantly,I was taught how to read between the lines.

From our research and investigation, it is clear that these “Private Guardianships” are nothing short of a racket. It gives “ambulance chasers” a good name.

Let me be very precise in our findings:
Having a private guardian appointed for a senior is like selecting a child molester to run a day care center. It is financial elder exploitation; sanctioned and approved by the Court and Nevada.

One example: According to court records filed by a private guardian, is not ready to release her name yet - but we’re real close) it listed an elderly couple’s (mentioned in Rana’s column) bank account as having approximately $23,000.

The initial court order authorized this private guardian to seize $10,000 for the husband and then an additional ten thousand for the wife (a total of $20,000) for the couple’s on-going expenses AND (of course) the expenses related to the court proceeding.

Just like that - the couple’s bank account was depleted by nearly 90%.

Just like that, the guardian was allowed “reasonable compensation and expenses.”

Just like that, the guardian was allowed to hire an attorney to represent the guardian and to have the lawyer receive “necessary compensation as well as expenses.

While the guardianship laws require an annual accounting, such filing was not done.

What did the court do over this failure? Nothing.

Where did all the money go?

Full Article and Source:
The Vegas Voice:  Guardianship:  A Legal Shame and Disgrace

Petition to Correct Nevada Guardianship Law

Please clip, sign and mail or sign the petition online at http: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).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Journalist Mike Volpe: Corruption in Family Courts

Mike Volpe returns to discuss the abuses occurring in several states via Family Courts.

Volpe's article "Chris Christie named in two lawsuits alleging violations by Family Courts" appears on Rebel Pundit. In Connecticut, children were handed over to pedophile rings after their mothers were arbitrarily determined to be mentally ill.

In New Jersey, "in Bergen County, a lawsuit led by Karin Wolf, including more than forty women, will allege that courts ignore abuse on a widespread basis–be it sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional–and instead label women making these allegations as parental alienators or as having a variety of mental illnesses or defects." REBEL PUNDIT

Later in the show, Mike will discuss Bullied to Death: The Chris Mackney Story his new book about the stalking and harassment of Chris Mackney, a man driven to suicide by the abuses in family and divorce courts resulting in the loss of access to his children, financial ruin and repeated arrests spanning several years.

Family courts are the last place you want to end up.

7:00 pm EST

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later!

Nursing Home Abuse Advocate

Nursing Home Abuse Advocates (NHAA) was formed to help individuals and family members of nursing home residents be informed about their legal rights regarding abuse and neglect of their loved ones.

Questions arise from abuse and neglect of the elderly living in nursing homes. Questions such as, why does my father or mother have bed sores or how did my mother fall and break her hip? We are here to help assist you in finding those answers and putting you in touch with someone who can help you recover and hopefully put an end to abuse and neglect of the elderly.
NHAA has compiled some common Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect situations:
  1. Malnutrition and dehydration
  2. Decubitus ulcers a/k/a bedsores or pressure sores
  3. Sexual abuse by other residents and/or employees
  4. Falls caused by mishandling and lack of attention
  5. Failure to follow medical and physical treatment plans
  6. Failure to contact physician for emergencies and non-emergencies
  7. Unexpected DEATH
Source:
NursingHomesAbuseAdvocate.com

"Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us"

Most people are both repelled and intrigued by the images of cold-blooded, conscienceless murderers that increasingly populate our movies, television programs, and newspaper headlines. With their flagrant criminal violation of society's rules, serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy are among the most dramatic examples of the psychopath.

Individuals with this personality disorder are fully aware of the consequences of their actions and know the difference between right and wrong, yet they are terrifyingly self-centered, remorseless, and unable to care about the feelings of others. Perhaps most frightening, they often seem completely normal to unsuspecting targets--and they do not always ply their trade by killing.

Presenting a compelling portrait of these dangerous men and women based on 25 years of distinguished scientific research, Dr. Robert D. Hare vividly describes a world of con artists, hustlers, rapists, and other predators who charm, lie, and manipulate their way through life. Are psychopaths mad, or simply bad? How can they be recognized? And how can we protect ourselves? This book provides solid information and surprising insights for anyone seeking to understand this devastating condition.

Avaliable through Amazon

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Prosecutors dismiss charges against Solon attorney accused of stealing from military veteran



CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cuyahoga County prosecutors dismissed charges Monday against a Solon attorney who was accused of stealing from the bank account of a disabled Army veteran.

Gary Bakst, 59, was indicted earlier this month on charges of theft and tampering with evidence in connection with what prosecutors had said was the $1,218 theft from Kevin C. Hart, 54, in October. Bakst served as Hart's guardian since 2006, as Hart suffers from schizophrenia.

"This is exactly what we had said: Mr. Bakst did not steal any money from Mr. Hart,'' said defense attorney Andrea Whitaker.

The case is the second involving Bakst's work with veterans. In December, he pleaded guilty in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to identity fraud and tampering with government records. He admitted to using another attorney's identity to bill for legal work in the cases of the veterans.

Prosecutors said Bakst did that to circumvent Probate Court rules that limited his ability to generate fees as both guardian and lawyer of the disabled veterans. He illegally billed $15,301 using the attorney's identity last April. Judge Pamela Barker is expected to meet with lawyers and Bakst on Thursday for a hearing in that case.

On Monday, Matthew Meyer, an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, dismissed the theft charges his office brought against Bakst. Meyer said an investigation into the theft allegations began when Hart's daughter, Alisha, gave multiple statements to authorities that Bakst had failed to reimburse her for the cost of buying her father a mattress for $1,218.

Meyer said that records indicate that Bakst withdrew that amount from Kevin Hart's bank account Oct. 6 by writing a check to cash. After a Probate Court judge removed Bakst from serving as Hart's guardian Oct. 17, Alisha Hart told the new guardian, Paul Silver, that Bakst had failed to reimburse her for buying her father's mattress, Meyer said.

The prosecutor said Silver then wrote Alisha Hart a cashier's check for the $1,218, which was drawn from Kevin Hart's bank account. Last week, Alisha Hart sent an email to prosecutors that she also had received a check for a similar amount from BCH Management Group, a business owned by Bakst.

Hart told prosecutors that she had confused the check with an insurance settlement for property damage to her home and had not realized that Bakst had sent it Sept. 19 as a reimbursement for the bedding because of "the lack of any identifying information on the check or communication from Bakst.''

Hart realized the mistake when she was preparing to file her taxes, Meyer said.

"Although it is unclear why Bakst would have chosen to give money to Ms. Hart from funds that he personally controlled (instead of directly from the guardianship account) or why he would have written a check to cash from the guardianship account to reimburse himself later, the evidence does not indicate that Bakst kept the money taken from Kevin Hart's account,'' Meyer said.

Full Article & Source:
Prosecutors dismiss charges against Solon attorney accused of stealing from military veteran

Thompson Falls man convicted of elder abuse


SUPERIOR — A Thompson Falls man was convicted of neglecting an elderly man with dementia and illegally gaining ownership of his money and property.

After a three-day trial, a Mineral County jury found Daryl Enos Strang guilty on Jan. 15 of abusing or neglecting a victim and exploitation of an elderly person.
 

Prosecutors alleged Strang obtained power of attorney from Ben Poat and used it to take Poat’s 103-acre ranch, two Jeeps and a limited edition Harley Davidson motorcycle via quit claim deed and drain $142,000 from his bank account over the course of a year.

District Judge Ed McLean allowed Strang to remain free on a $50,000 bond until his March 9 sentencing.

One of Poat’s sisters told Mineral County authorities in September 2013 that she believed Strang was exploiting her brother. A social worker who visited Poat’s house found he had been left alone with no other food except milk and peanut butter.

In November 2013, a judge invalidated a 2012 will that left Poat’s estate to Strang, ordered the return of Poat’s personal property and revoked Strang’s power of attorney.

Attorney Lance Jasper, who was appointed as Poat’s guardian, said he was able to find someone to buy Poat’s ranch and allow him to live there until he died of cancer in August 2014 at 84. Jasper said the purchase price helped pay for Poat’s end-of-life care.

“His one wish was to die in his own house and we were able to make that happen,” Jasper said.

Full Article & Source: 
Thompson Falls man convicted of elder abuse

Legal Aid Society publishes brochure on conservatorship


NASHVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 26, 2015–Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Tennessee’s largest non-profit law firm, announced today that it has published a new free brochure on conservatorship in Tennessee. Through a conservatorship, a judge appoints a guardian to manage the affairs of another person who is incapacitated to the point that they cannot make health care or financial decisions for themselves.

The brochure primarily targets two groups: people such as family members, caregivers and friends who want to help someone by becoming their conservator and people who need or already have a conservator making their decisions. It outlines the legal basics of a conservatorship court order, including:

*What a conservatorship is
*The types of conservatorship and what they do
*The legal requirements before a conservator can be appointed for someone
*How to apply for conservatorship of a person and/or their estate
*The rights of the person for whom someone is seeking to become the conservator and their rights after a conservator is appointed for them
*How to end or change a conservatorship

“A conservatorship is a very sensitive and serious legal proceeding. That is, through a conservatorship, another person could be handling your bills, property and health care decisions,” said Steve Christopher, managing attorney for the Gallatin office of Legal Aid Society and one of the authors of the brochure. “By publishing this free brochure, our goal is for those at the crossroads of such important legal and life decisions to not be overwhelmed by jargon or a lack of knowledge, but empowered by this information.”

The free brochure is available on Legal Aid Society’s website, www.las.org. Each of Legal Aid Society’s eight offices will also have free hard copies of the brochure on file for those interested in learning more about conservatorship.

Funding for the brochure was provided by the West End Home Foundation.

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands advocates for fairness and justice under the law. The non-profit law firm offers free civil legal representation, educational programs and advice to ensure people in its region are able to protect their livelihoods, their health and their families. It serves 48 counties from offices in Clarksville, Columbia, Cookeville, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Oak Ridge and Tullahoma. Legal Aid Society is funded in part by United Way. Learn more at www.las.org, or by following the firm on Facebook.

Full Article & Source:
Legal Aid Society publishes brochure on conservatorship

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Steve Duin: The forlorn twilight of Dan and Joan Pyle


Joan & Dan Pyle

If every aging and unsettled family is unhappy in its own way, the twilight of Dan and Joan Pyle is especially daunting.

When the Pyles celebrate their 30th anniversary this summer at their Southeast Portland home, they will do so in the company of a court-ordered guardianship/conservatorship and its omnipresent caretakers.

They are under 24-hour guard. Their credit cards have been cancelled, their drivers' licenses removed. They are stressed and unhappy, so frustrated that when a neighbor, Peggy Gaston, received permission to take the Pyles out for dinner, Joan asked her to ditch the caregiver who was following them in another car. Gaston, quite cheerfully, did.

"We don't mean to sound melodramatic," Joan wrote in a recent email, "but you feel like jumping off of a bridge and ending the misery."

pyles2.jpeg
Dan & Joan Pyle
The elderly couple – Dan turns 84 in March, Joan 80 – are now "protected persons." Their anguish over the loss of autonomy is a window into the complexities of guardianship, family planning, and Multnomah County's probate court, as well as the harrowing toll of grief and loss on the elderly.

And the troubled witnesses peering through that window are sharply divided over whether the Pyles are so vulnerable – or so volatile – that they require the 24-hour supervision that costs them $369 each day.

The guardianship "isn't making them better," says Gaston, who met Dan and Joan before they married. "It's making them depressed. They're the generation that built this country. They worked hard all their lives, and they want to enjoy their retirement. And they're not able to make any decisions."

Dan Pyle is a former Portland longshoreman, dealing – court papers note – with Alzheimer's and congestive heart failure. Joan, his second wife, has long been his primary caretaker.

In 2011, Dan Pyle was hospitalized following a series of falls. "He had this huge wound on his leg that was getting infected," says Rob Pyle, Dan's oldest son. "They (doctors) took one look at him and immediately called Adult Protective Services."

When an investigator interviewed Rob and his sister, Darcy Steele, Rob says, "We told him that Joan loves my dad, but she can't take care of him. She can't stop him when he goes to fall. Their decisions together were not protecting my dad."

The state APS office agreed Dan had suffered neglect. The Pyles were in and out of assisted living and nursing facilities for the next two years while their children – from each of their first marriages – reviewed options.

Money was not an issue. As Orrin Onken, the Pyles' former attorney noted in a request for fees, "The Pyles are estimated to have a conservatorship estate of close to $1 million."

"Pop worked his butt off," says Ken Hieter, Joan's only son. "Mom invested it wisely."

But Joan was so obsessed with safeguarding those trusts, Rob Pyle says, that she added a provision saying the children would be disinherited "if we made any attempt to become guardians."

"All of the kids," Joan acknowledges, "were upset about that."

At wit's end, and concerned about Dan's safety, Hieter says he contacted Dady Blake, an elder-law attorney. She introduced him to Tiffany & O'Shea, a private fiduciary firm that provides guardian, conservator and estate services.

Dan was most in need of care. Joan, however, is the majority vote in the couple's decisions. They agreed to a guardianship, Joan says, because it allowed the Pyles to return to their home, which they did in July.

The honeymoon was brief. When Tiffany & O'Shea petitioned the Multnomah County probate court to extend the guardianship and conservatorship "for an indefinite duration," the Pyles objected.
The ensuing 10-month legal battle was revealing in a number of ways.

The Pyles quickly discovered they were paying the legal fees for both their attorneys and for the attorney – Dady Blake – representing Tiffany & O'Shea, the conservator controlling their finances.
As Melissa Starr, one of their former caregivers, put it, "Joan and Dan are paying the bill for their own demise. If that's not a story, nothing is."

What's more, Dan and Joan were footing the bill for a company that informed the court in its original petition for guardianship that the Pyles are unable to manage their finances and "unable to effectively process information to make decisions for their own safety, health and well being."

Including in the "factual information" he presents to support those conclusions about Joan Pyle, Michael O'Shea states (a) "A former avid reader, she no longer can read," and (b) "She is unable to write out numbers on a check correctly and can not balance a checkbook."

Read? "Of course she can read," Darcy Steele says. A year after O'Shea presented this "evidence," Joan read to me a stirring passage by Sydney Sheldon in her living room. She also nimbly filled out a check.

O'Shea did not respond to numerous requests for comment or clarification.

The hearing to terminate Tiffany & O'Shea as legal guardian and conservator for Joan Pyle was held Oct. 28 before Multnomah Circuit Judge Paula J. Kurshner. (Dan Pyle's request to end his protected status was withdrawn prior to the hearing.)

At the time, caregivers were spending nine hours each day with the Pyles. The two primary caregivers, Melissa Starr and Melissa Conlon, both testified on Joan's behalf, describing the couple's routine and defending their self-sufficiency.

"Joan is a bit delusional," Starr told me. "That doesn't mean she needs a guardian. This is called a difficult case is because they (the Pyles) object. And the reason they object is because they're not incapacitated."

The testimony that dominated the hearing, however, was provided by Polly Fisher, a court visitor. After several interviews, Fisher concluded that Joan's belief system "could be characterized as fixed, paranoid and delusional."

She further argued, "Joan Pyle is vulnerable undue influence and to fraud due to her inability to evaluate reality and her deficits in memory and judgment."

In her closing, Dady Blake insisted the caregivers' assessment of how well Dan and Joan get along actually argues for continuance of the present arrangement.

"It sounds like a lovely existence, quite frankly," Blake says.

Over Dan and Joan's objections, Kurshner ruled it shall endure.

"In March of this year, Mrs. Pyle, represented by counsel, stipulated that she was incapacitated," Kurshner said. "I have heard nothing to indicate anything has changed ...

"I'm glad they're back in the home. The care plan seems ideal for them. I use 'them' intentionally. This (Joan) is not someone I can look at in isolation ... They are together. That's not a fact I can ignore in totality. The care he gets is part of the care she gets."

How does Dan Pyle sum up what he heard in that decision? "Apparently, they think they own us."
In the aftermath of Kurshner's ruling, several things have happened.

Caregivers Melissa Starr and Melissa Conlon both say they were dismissed by Helena Lopes Culp, who runs the in-home care agency hired by Tiffany & O'Shea.

"When I called to tell her (Culp) I'd been subpoenaed to appear," Conlon says, "she told me, 'If you show up in court, your services will no longer be needed.' Quote, unquote."

Asked if that is true, Culp says, "They are contractors. They pick up hours, and there were no more hours."

The bills are coming due. Blake billed the protected couple's estate $19,845.99, Tiffany & O'Shea $13,651, and both of those demands – the most recent on file in a system, Blake says, where accounting is typically done on an annual basis – only cover fees and services through June 30. The Pyles' two attorneys, Onken and Cathryn Ruckle, charged the couple just under $33,000.

And the in-home care – Culp's caregivers are now at the house 24 hours each day – costs more than $11,000 per month, Dan and Joan say. (Continue reading)

Full Article & Source:
Steve Duin: The forlorn twilight of Dan and Joan Pyle