Saturday, October 2, 2010

Editorial: Impeach This Judge

How badly does a Connecticut probate judge have to misbehave before the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct really lowers the boom?

As outrageous as his conduct was, as destructive as it was to the public's trust in the probate system, Southington Probate Judge Bryan Meccariello last week was only censured by a weak-kneed Council on Probate Judicial conduct.

Judge Meccariello deserved harsher discipline for his mishandling of the estate of Josephine Smoron. He deserved the ultimate that the council could hand down — a recommendation for impeachment.

The judge should resign his office immediately or face impeachment by the General Assembly — unless the voters in the newly combined Southington-Cheshire probate district throw him out in the Nov. 2 election.

And if state prosecutors aren't looking for possible criminal conduct on the part of one or more people involved in the virtual hijacking of the Smoron estate, they should.

This is a frightening story.

Full Article and Source:
Impeach This Probate Judge

Public Guardian Suing In Behalf of Mentally Disabled Man

A mentally disabled man lost his life savings when a friend of his late mother's took control of his finances and bilked him of tens of thousands of dollars, Cook County authorities alleged Wednesday.

When that friend died, his son continued the scheme, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars more for gambling and other expenses, according to the sheriff's office and a lawsuit.

Ernest R. Rokosik, 40, of Chicago, was charged with one count each of senior exploitation and theft of more than $100,000, authorities said. Bond was set at $250,000.

Sheriff's officials said that after his mother died in 1998, the 63-year-old victim — said to have the mental capacity of a child — inherited about $600,000, including money he had earned working 26 years in the mailroom of a finance company and held by his mother for safekeeping.

According to the sheriff, Rokosik's father — identified in court records as Ernest W. Rokosik, a Chicago police officer who was said to be a trusted friend of the victim's mother — later obtained power of attorney over the victim and regularly withdrew money from his bank account without his authorization.

After the elder Rokosik's death, his son then persuaded the victim to let him assume the same control over his finances, the sheriff alleged.

The two drained the victim's bank account of more than half a million dollars in less than a decade, according to the sheriff's office.

The lawsuit, filed by the Cook County public guardian on behalf of the victim, showed the victim lived in a "very austere fashion" on just $850 a month.

Full Article and Source:
Chicago Father and Son Accused of Depleting Disabled Man's Savings

Ohio Lawyer Kenneth N. Shaw Suspended

A Warren attorney has been suspended for up to two years for professional misconduct.

According to a statement issued Thursday, the Supreme Court of Ohio suspended Kenneth N. Shaw's law license for two years, with the second year of that term stayed on conditions. The Court said Shaw displayed professional misconduct in his handling of legal matters for two sets of clients. He also failed to cooperate with authorities investigating the complaints against him, the Court said.

In a 6-1 per curium opinion announced Thursday, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that Shaw obtained and then defaulted on a $13,000 personal loan from an elderly client of his law practice, then drew up a trust agreement for the same client that named Shaw's five children as beneficiaries. This action violated the conflict of interest rules.

The Court also found that in a separate case, Shaw collected legal fees from two clients for whom he had prepared a guardianship application without first obtaining the approval of the local probate court. Shaw was found by the probate court to have engaged in concealment of assets in the case, and ordered to refund $1,200 of the legal fees he had improperly collected from those clients.

Full Article and Source:
Warren Attorney Suspended by State Supreme Court

Friday, October 1, 2010

Laurie Roberts - What Fiduciaries are Saying About Probate Abuses

Somebody sent me the e-mails going around among fiduciaries across the state, in response to the The Republic’s stories last weekend on abuses in Maricopa County’s probate system.

The e-mails were written under the heading: AFA Membership Call to Action

Having seen that subject line, I was hoping that it would be a call to fix the problems outlined in The Republic’s Sunday package. But that, apparently, isn’t exactly the action the fiduciaries of the state have in mind. Instead, the talk is about hiring a PR expert, somebody who can “use language and events effectively to the benefit of their clients."

Nice.

Here’s the e-mails going around around yesterday on the Arizona Fiduciaries Association list-serv when they think we can’t hear them. I am taking their names out, but it’s the sentiments expressed that are important – and quite telling, I think.

The string begins with a few words of commiseration from a California colleague:

Dear Arizona Colleagues:
We have been dealing with this nonsense in California since 2000. There were a series of articles in the LA Times which lead to California enacting the Fiduciary Licensing Law SB1550 in 2006. There are a number of factions out there that do not understand the probate law or the courts. They have had some kind of experience, usually when family members have been robbing Mom or Dad blind and get caught, who are quick to criticize and get some newspaper or television reporter to buy into this nonsense. They have personal agendas.

There is a website called StopGuardianAdbuse.org. It has lists of people that are being targeted. It is total nonsense and I am sure they will be all over this story in short order.


And a reply by someone in the Arizona Fiduciaries Association:

They already are. They have been posting comments to all of the articles with a link to their website. Can you send me a private email with your number? I know I had it but I have since misplaced it and I want to chat with you about how fees work in CA since that is one of the examples being brought up by the committee. Thanks!
Also, for those of you not yet aware, I have been elected to the NGA board of directors. I will be attending the conference this weekend in PA and plan to solicit the assistance of the NGA in managing the press/image issues. So I should have more to report on that at the summit.


Full Article and Source:
Here's What Fiduciaries are Saying About Probate Abuses

Conservator Fought Him, Then Billed Him

For 10 weeks, Matthew Keenan lay in a coma, the victim of a hospital error that plunged him into respiratory arrest and cut off oxygen to his brain. A judge appointed his mother to serve as guardian and conservator for her comatose 37-year-old son. Twice, his father called a priest to perform last rites. Then he awoke.

He had no idea where he was. He could move nothing but his eyelids. Then his fingers.

It was the start of a long, remarkable, some might say miraculous recovery. He learned to use his arms again, to sit up, to feed himself, to use a wheelchair, to regain a brain that survived a nearly fatal injury.

Yet when he rolled into a Boulder courthouse three years ago and petitioned to be free of his guardian, he ignited a legal battle that persists to this day.

The bank chosen to manage his money jumped into the case, allying itself with his guardian. Both billed him for the time they spent challenging him in court.

[H]is bid to lose his guardian and conservator escalated into a nasty, costly court fight.

Although Keenan's guardian resigned months later, his conservator — Colorado State Bank and Trust — has charged almost $300,000 for litigation costs before and after a judge summarily replaced it.

Full Article and Source:
Bank Appointed as Disabled Man's Conservator Fought Him, Then Billed Him

Judge Appoints Temporary Guardian for David Leyton's In-Laws

The county’s chief Probate Court judge on Thursday put a temporary guardian in place for county Prosecutor David Leyton’s in-laws after a new report by an elder abuse prevention agency said conditions in their home were getting worse.

Chief Probate Judge Jennie Barkey put Flint attorney Jim Trembly in charge of the day-to-day affairs of the elderly couple. Three of their children — including Leyton's wife, Therese — are fighting a request by another sister for the appointment of a permanent guardian and conservator.

Leyton, who is not a party to the case, has said he has not involved himself in the family controversy, and is simply acting as a support for his wife.

The hearing came after the county's elder abuse prevention team's filed a report this month saying Leyton's in-laws "are not getting the appropriate medical care they desperately require for their declining physical and mental conditions."

Attorneys for Therese Leyton and her siblings have said reports by the elder abuse agency have been inaccurate in describing conditions in the home.

Barkey also ordered a 90-day adjournment in the case after attorneys for Leyton's mother-in-law and father-in-law requested it, saying they believed the cooling-off period could help promote a settlement in the case without a trial.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Reappoints a Temporary Guardian For In-Laws of Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton

See Also:
Judge Orders Investigators Visit David Leyton's In-Laws

CO: Bill Would Clarify Conservator Laws

The clash in the case of a man who came back from a coma could spill over into Colorado's legislative halls next year.

Probate lawyers are working on a bill that would help define how much and when they can be paid.

Chester "Skip" Morgan, Matthew Keenan's attorney, said they are trying to codify into Colorado law the decision a Boulder judge made in Keenan's case — that his former conservator, Colorado State Bank and Trust, and its lawyers deserved to be paid because the bank acted "in good faith" when it opposed Keenan's petition to drop it as his conservator.

The stakes in that case are growing. Keenan, who recovered from a coma and successfully petitioned to lose his guardian and change conservators, asked for a refund of about $65,000 that the bank had spent challenging him in court. In a 2009 trial, the bank successfully argued that it was acting reasonably — and won an additional $222,000 for its costs and legal fees in that case.

"You can fight him and say, 'I didn't think he was ready,' and that's good enough for good faith," Morgan said. "That shouldn't happen to anybody, ever, ever again."

Marc Darling, the lawyer spearheading proposed revisions to the payment rules for guardians, conservators, trustees, estate representatives and others involved in probate cases, calls it "a comprehensive rewrite of the compensation structure" intended to clarify and simplify court decisions.

He said the project was undertaken partly at the request of judges, who found the existing statutes scattered and confusing and wanted laws dealing with payments consolidated in one place. It also sets forth, for the first time, a procedure for resolving fee disputes, he said.

The draft proposal allows court-appointed fiduciaries to charge a percentage of an estate instead of an hourly rate for work, a change that some critics fear will lead to client-gouging.

The current draft also troubles the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, an advocacy group for people with disabilities.

"It still will allow someone to use your money to fight you," said Julie Reiskin, its executive director. "I'm not OK with that."

Full Article and Source:
Bill Would Clarify Conservator Laws

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Edward Abbott Ravenscroft Fights Fiduciary

Edward Abbott Ravenscroft is a wealthy 49-year-old Scottsdale heir. His net worth is over $5 million, and his income is $180,000 a year.

But he has had troubles.

A judge appointed the Maricopa County Public Fiduciary as Ravenscroft's guardian and the Sun Valley Group, a private fiduciary, to oversee his money. By August 2009, Ravenscroft was sober and in February was living on a friend's couch.

Sun Valley was paying the friend $200 a week out of Ravenscroft's assets for his room and board. Ravenscroft said he chose the couch to stop Sun Valley from putting him into a skilled care center.

Ravenscroft went to court early this year to take back control of his life and fortune. In March, a judge permitted the public fiduciary to exit the case, but Sun Valley, using Ravenscroft's money, fought to still manage his finances, saying they were complex and vulnerable to exploitation.

In May, a judge canceled Sun Valley's control of the money and appointed another private fiduciary with Ravenscroft's approval.

Ravenscroft is back in his Scottsdale home. He said his trip through court cost him $800,000 in attorney and fiduciary fees.

"I'm not doing 'Oh, poor me' " Ravenscroft said. "I'm saying, 'How can I help other people so they don't get caught up (in Probate Court)."

Full Article and Source:
Maricopa County Probate Court - Wealthy Heir Fights Against Fiduciary

See Also:
Edward Abbot Ravenscroft Wins Some Say

Judges Do Little to Help

Gary Nichols had seen enough.

As his attorney dueled with other lawyers over how fees would be charged to his mother's trusts, Gary decided a prolonged fight would only deplete her savings. So he told attorney Thomas Asimou to "shut down" the case.

Later, when sanctioning Asimou for ethical violations for his claims about a fee deal among the attorneys involved, Judge Karen O'Connor would call his withdrawal "quite telling." He had "distracted (from) the true focus of the case - resolving the issues in the best interest of Dixie Nichols," she said.

But Gary believed if the judge really cared about his mother's interests, she would have intervened to slash the attorney fees.

"It was and remains my perception that my mother's assets and estate, and her interests, were not being adequately protected by her attorneys," Gary told the court. "I recall that I used the term 'bellying up to the bar' to describe my perception."

O'Connor had raised the possibility of a criminal probe when she removed Gary's sister, Nancy Cork, as her mother's guardian and conservator. The judge ordered Nancy to account for expenses to "allow the parties to discover any alleged financial exploitation," which is a crime. Asimou argued that such a finding would have prevented Nancy from paying her attorney's fees out of her mother's assets. Nancy was never charged with a crime. With the settlement, she agreed to step down as her mother's trustee and relinquish her inheritance and any say in her mother's finances.

O'Connor explained in an e-mail: "No financial exploitation was proven in this case, nor was there an agreement by the parties that it existed."

Asimou appealed the $46,000 fine to the Arizona Court of Appeals alleging the judge abused her discretion.

Full Article and Source:
Maricopa County Probate Court - Judges Do Little to Help

Lindsey Lohan Possibly Facing Conservatorship

Court could appoint a third party for Lindsay Lohan to act as a legal guardian over her affairs.

“Under the California Welfare and Institute Code for Mental Disorders and Chronic Alcoholism, the courts may determine Lindsay unfit to care for herself even though she is an adult,” Fox News quoted former California prosecutor, Robin Sax, as telling Pop Tarts.

“This would be subject to another court hearing separate to the criminal case, and could be determined from a mental health evaluation made when and if she returns to rehab.”

Los Angeles-based criminal defense lawyer and law professor, Jeffrey W. Steinberger, believes Lohan needs someone responsible to legally manage her personal affairs, although the process may take some time.

“What she needs is an emotional conservator, she needs somebody to run the balance in her life and they (the courts) can appoint people to supervise where she is going. They can probably do that after she does this one more stint in jail,” he said.

Steinberger said that Judge Fox, who is currently residing over Lohan’s DUI case, is known to be “compassionate,” and may begin to look for an appropriate conservator between now and Lohan’s Oct. 22 hearing.

Full Article and Source:
Lilo Could Be Placed Under Conservatorship By Court

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NASGA Supports HALT's 'Lawyer Discipline Best Practices Petition'

Make sure your voice is heard - sign HALT's Lawyer Discipline Best Practices petition. We need every member of the legal reform movement to stand up and be counted.

Every year, tens of thousands of people who pour hard-earned money into lawyers' pockets find themselves battling the very person they hired to help them. And every year over 100,000 Americans who file complaints against lawyers with their state's disciplinary agency walk away unhappy. In 2006, more than 123,000 complaints were filed against lawyers, but 92% led to no discipline or only informal "private" discipline. Less than 1% led to disbarment.

Signing HALT's petition is one way you can demand action on ten common-sense reforms that push discipline agencies to:

*Disclose a lawyer's complete and disciplinary history so that consumers can make informed decisions about whether to hire an attorney.
*Host a user-friendly Web site that is easy to find and provides helpful information about the discipline process.
*Discipline lawyers with formal, serious and public measures.
*Permanently disbar lawyers who commit abusive practices against clients.
*Abolish gag rules that prevent people from speaking publicly about complaints they've filed.
*Publicize the availability of lawyer discipline programs through required client notification and local advertising.
*Open lawyer discipline hearings to everyone to increase the public trust.
*Provide ordinary citizens with a majority voice on the panels that decide attorney misconduct cases.
*Grant clients and witnesses immunity from civil liability for any information given to the agency during a disciplinary investigation.
*Allow citizens to appeal initial complaint dismissals and hearing panel discussions.

HALT's reform efforts are having an impact. Oregon, California and Nebraska are just three states that have implemented reforms that improve transparency and accountability.

But we need to show that legal reformers support HALT's efforts in every state. Will you please help?

Our goal is to collect 1,000 signatures from each state.

Sign HALT's Petition

Texas Couple Fights for Custody of Adult Daughter

An Arlington couple is fighting to regain guardianship of their daughter after being stripped of their rights by a judge.

They weren't notified about the hearing and didn't get to tell their side of the story. They found out after it was a done deal.

But what happened was completely legal.

The Covingtons were not notified before their rights were stripped. The ruling came in an ex parte hearing where a judge hears evidence only from the complaining party. The other side isn't given notice of the hearing and doesn't get to respond.

"You just don't understand how this can happen in a democracy." Frank said.

The Covingtons are asking to be reinstated as their daughter's guardians at an upcoming hearing.

"I don't know how we're gonna get her back." Chila said.

The Covingtons are devastated by what's happened. They've accumulated $55,000 in legal bills and they're fearful for their daughter.

But they've made a commitment to keep fighting.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Couple Fights for Custody of Adult Daughter

See Also:
Families Lose Guardianship in Secret Hearings

Las Vegas Lawyer Under Scrutiny

Las Vegas attorney Stanley Walton is not having a good month.

One week after he was arrested for contempt of court in a probate case involving millions of reportedly missing dollars he was supposed to safeguard, Walton failed to file a formal answer to a Nevada State Bar complaint alleging he misappropriated $20,000 given to him by a client in an unrelated case.

Along the way, Walton is alleged to have violated several rules of professional conduct that Nevada lawyers are required to follow, particularly as they relate to relationships with clients.

The complaint, signed by State Bar of Nevada General Counsel Rob Bare, details Walton's relationship with Xiao Ping Wang, which began in 2003 when Walton was appointed a special prosecutor in a domestic violence case in which Wang was the victim.

A month later he was her divorce attorney, and for a brief period, they were intimate. Walton continued to represent Wang in a variety of legal matters and, according to the Bar, she considered him her "general practitioner" lawyer.

According to the Bar, Walton might have offered Wang a deal that sounded too good to be true: A $20,000 investment that just 22 days later would yield $100,000.

Because Walton failed to file a written answer to the Bar complaint within the required 20 days, his law license is imperiled. The Nevada Supreme Court has final control over law licenses.

Potential disciplinary measures range from a private reprimand to permanent disbarment. It is also possible the Bar could file a second complaint regarding the probate case.

In its four allegations of rule violations, two claim Walton had a conflict of interest with Wang, one accused him of failing to protect her property, and the fourth -- and arguably the most serious -- charges him with misconduct for engaging in conduct "involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation."

Full Article and Source:
State Bar of Nevada Acts to Discipline Las Vegas Lawyer

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sister, Fiduciary Had the Same Lawyer!

For years, Dennis Ball was his mother's [Eleanor]caregiver, helped create her trusts and managed her money.

But in 2004, Eleanor was hospitalized, and her estranged daughter, Carol, got a restraining order against Dennis and petitioned the court for temporary guardianship.

Although Eleanor initially protested the petition, she later agreed to the appointment of a neutral third-party conservator and guardian. She specifically asked that the court allow her to continue living at home and keep her estate plan.

The court appointed Southwest Fiduciary to manage her money and care, even though Southwest's attorney was also Carol's attorney.

Billing records show that over the next 22 months, Southwest and its attorneys managed Eleanor's assets and care, consulting more with Carol than Dennis. .Southwest sold off Eleanor's home and rental properties. It assumed control of her trust, took over her bank accounts and placed Eleanor in a nursing homeDennis said Southwest left his mother penniless. An accountant retained by Dennis found that 76 percent of her estate paid Southwest's legal and administrative fees.

Southwest owner Greg DoVico would not discuss the Ball case. But in answering complaints to the Arizona Supreme Court's fiduciary board, the company said Dennis refused to cooperate with the court, was sanctioned by a judge for filing a frivolous motion and financially exploited his mother, which he denies. The company said his complaints were based on half-truths.

Full Article and Source:
Maricopa County Probate Court - Sister, Fiduciary Had Same Attorney

Maricopa Probate Court - Life Savings, Freedoms Taken Away

Outside of being imprisoned, no action in the American justice system deprives a person of so many rights as being declared incapacitated in Probate Court.

First, a judge rules that you can't care for yourself. Then strangers can be given control of every aspect of your life. All that you've worked for and love - your savings, property, even your ability to contact your family - can be taken away and given to professionals to manage, at enormous expense to you.

Wills, trusts and powers of attorney may not matter.

Probate Court is meant to be a safe harbor for people in crisis because of advanced age or illness, a place where a judge helps protect their assets and well-being.

But an Arizona Republic investigation has found that Maricopa County Probate Court allows the assets of some vulnerable adults to become a cash machine for attorneys and for fiduciary companies, which manage their affairs.

The fees charged can drain the savings of even wealthy individuals in less than a year.

Among the investigation's findings:

Issue I: Disputes trigger the problems. Fights among family members lead to protracted, costly legal battles. Judges often fail to step in early to stop the feuding and contain costs.
Issue II: Fees mount quickly. Bills for attorneys, fiduciaries and others can escalate at a staggering pace. Family members contend that professional fiduciaries bill people's assets aggressively.
Issue III: Cozy relationships raise questions. Close ties among judges, attorneys and fiduciaries can result in apparent conflicts of interest. These relationships can endanger the court's ability to hold attorneys and fiduciaries accountable for their billings and other practices.
Issue IV: Objectors take the blame. Relatives or lawyers who try to fight fiduciaries' bills may instead find themselves blamed by the court for causing delays and held responsible for extra costs.
Issue V: Oversight is lax. Judges, who have ultimate responsibility for a vulnerable adult's care and assets, are allowed to scrutinize and reject fees, but substantial denials are rare. The state board that licenses fiduciaries does little to question their conduct, especially if a judge already has ruled on a case.

[C]osts begin to mount when a judge appoints a professional fiduciary because no family member is willing or available to run the person's affairs. The judge also appoints a fiduciary when family members are feuding.

And when family members disagree with one another or with the fiduciary, costs can soar: All parties may have one attorney or more, and most of them are allowed to bill the incapacitated adult's assets.

Lawyers and fiduciaries defend their work, saying they help settle family feuds and arrange care when no one else will. Still, many acknowledge the system needs reform.

Critics say Probate Court has become a vehicle for exploitation.

Full Article and Source:
Maricopa County Probate Court - Life Savings, Freedoms Taken Away

Maricopa Probate Court - Fees Mount Quickly

In a matter of months, lawyers and fiduciaries appointed by the court can rack up tens of thousands of dollars in bills. People who enter the court system flush with cash can end up destitute.

One reason the fees mount so quickly is the number of parties billing.

• The court may appoint two attorneys for the incapacitated person, the ward. One represents the ward's desires, the other the ward's best interests. The two may conflict.

• The ward's trust, which holds assets, also may have an attorney who bills the assets.

• The private fiduciary and its attorney bill the assets.

• One or more of the ward's relatives may have attorneys who may bill the assets.

A probate lawyer charges $175 to $400 an hour. Many private fiduciaries in Arizona charge $100 or more an hour. Attorneys and fiduciaries often discount their fees and perform some tasks for free.

Phoenix attorney Candess Hunter, who represents fiduciaries, says fees have become a huge profit center for some in the probate system: "It all has to do with a few people who have discovered how to create a billing machine to gather significant wealth."

Attorneys and fiduciaries charge for seemingly every task their offices perform - opening mail, writing checks, answering the phone. A judge often reviews the bills only once a year and rarely makes big reductions.

Relatives grow especially angry when a fiduciary delays or denies paying for a ward's needs while still billing for its own fees.

Family members of Dave Coppes, 85, of Carefree, who died last year, say a fiduciary, the Sun Valley Group, paid itself $27,000 in December 2008 about the same time it told them that Coppes could not afford hearing aids.

Full Article and Source:
Maricopa County Probate Court - Fees Mount Quickly

Monday, September 27, 2010

Help Bring Rita Denmark Home

Pennsylvania member Holly Peffer is involved in a pivotal hearing on Friday, October 8, 2010 at 2:30 P.M. at the McKean County Pennsylvania Orphan's Court.

NASGA asks for your support on behalf of Holly and her Mother, Rita Denmark. The State of Florida is currently holding Rita captive in an abusive guardianship and won't let her come home to Bradford, PA.

She is not a criminal. She has done nothing wrong. But, for over three long, miserable years, she has languished in a Florida nursing home, completely isolated from her family and friends, while her daughter, Holly, has battled the legal system for Rita's freedom. Florida doesn't want to let Rita go. But, Rita's not a resident of Florida. She's just caught up in the system and red tape. It's up to the State of Pennsylvania to bring Rita home.

The October 8th hearing is critical.

Please show your support for Rita Denmark and her right to come home and happily live her life with her loving family and friends instead of dying prematurely, alone and afraid in a stark and cold institution, held captive against her will.

You can make a difference! Please show up for the hearing and help send the message that it's not only time for Rita Denmark to come home, it's her right as an American citizen.

After the hearing, a reception will be held at Holly's home. Everyone is welcome!

Please contact Holly Peffer (hlpeffer@yahoo.com) for directions and more information.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
McKean County Court House
500 West Main
East Smethport, PA

Friday, October 8 · 2:30pm - 4:30pm
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

See:
Congressman Joe Sestak's Letter Supporting NASGA Member Holly Peffer

FL: Maggots Found in Eye Socket of Nursing Home Patient

Maggots have been discovered in the eye socket of a 76-year-old man under the care of a Gainesville nursing home with ownership ties to Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, his outraged daughter said.

A state investigation is under way.

"It's absolutely inexcusable," Patrice Ripley said. "Quite frankly, I'm angry."

Her father John Stumpp had been under the care of Gainesville Health Care Center when the maggots were found in an examination at a Veterans Administration facility, according to Ripley.

The Gainesville nursing home is part of a chain that includes Glades Health Care Center in Pahokee, controlled by the family of executive Maxcine Darville of Okeechobee. An investigation by The Palm Beach Post last year found Darville and family members enjoyed salaries above industry norms and spent money on luxury cars and hot tubs while two of three nursing homes in the chain, including the Gainesville home, received the lowest possible one-star rating from state regulators.

A Veterans Administration official confirmed the agency filed a report with the Adult Protective Services unit of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

By November 2009, AHCA had flagged 39 violations at Gainesville Health Care Center in the previous two years on matters ranging from sanitary food storage to maintenance of sprinklers and ventilation. An overall one-star rating from AHCA places the nursing home in the bottom 20 percent of nursing homes in its region.

The nursing home is licensed to the Gainesville Council on Aging, which lists Darville as its registered agent.

"I can't let this go," Ripley said. "I can't let this go for my dad and I can't let anybody else be mistreated either."

Full Article and Source:
Maggots Found in Eye Socket of Man in Nursing Home With Palm Beach County Ties

Sunday, September 26, 2010

PA Judge Facing Discipline for Road Rage Incident

A district judge faces disciplinary charges stemming from accusations that he brandished a gun while driving and talked tough about juvenile crime and graffiti in news stories, which would violate a conduct code for judges.

The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board announced seven charges Friday against Erie District Judge Thomas Carney, who took office in January 2006.

The state Court of Judicial Discipline will hear the charges and can discipline Carney if he's convicted, up to removing him from office.

Last year, state police say Carney made an obscene gesture with his hand toward another driver and held a gun out his car window, though he did not aim it at the driver. Carney pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct.

Carney is also accused of violating a conduct rule that calls for judges to refrain from commenting publicly about ongoing court proceedings.

Full Article and Source:
PA Judge Faces Discipline for Road Rage With Gun

Nurse & Teacher Sentenced to 5 Years Plus Restitution

A nurse and a part-time kindergarten teacher were sentenced to nearly five years in prison and ordered to repay $839,252 they stole from a 94-year-old man in their care.

Deborah G. Johnson, 53, and Anita Esquibel, 69, each pleaded guilty to one count of theft and one count of money laundering in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Johnson, the nurse, and Esquibel, the teacher, gained the trust of Peter Svaldi after meeting him in the apartment building they managed near Graceland Shopping Center. After gaining power-of-attorney for Svaldi, they used his accounts to buy real estate, a car, jewelry and dental work.

A bank officer alerted police after discovering large transactions being made from the accounts of the elderly man, who was known for his frugality.

Full article and Source:
Nurse, Teacher Sentenced for Bilking Elderly Man

See Also:
Nurse and PT Teacher Charged With Theft

Shelter Directors Back Executive Director

New Horizons for New Hampshire's board of directors is backing executive director Michael Tessier despite state and federal criminal investigations into whether he played any role in the case that landed his brother, disbarred Manchester attorney Thomas Tessier, in prison for stealing $2.3 million from relatives.
A Probate Court judge said in a recent order that Michael Tessier, 57, a retired Manchester police captain, "was complicit in those illegal activities, primarily by being both an active and passive conduit for funds taken by his brother, Thomas Tessier."

Scott Colby, chairman of the board of Manchester's non-profit homeless shelter and soup kitchen, said the board has met with Michael Tessier and supports him.

In fact, the board was aware of the investigations when Michael Tessier was hired, according to his lawyer, Mark Howard of Manchester.

Full Article and Source:
Shelter Directors Stand by Tessier as Probe Unfolds