Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Guardianships: A Broken Trust: Judge's Wife Accused of Taking Fees Before Court OK's Them
Elizabeth "Betsy" Savitt, a tennis pro turned professional guardian for incapacitated senior citizens, profits from her marriage to a sitting judge, a Palm Beach Post investigation has uncovered.
As the wife of Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Martin Colin, Savitt wields power in her husband’s Probate & Guardianship Division, where guardians are appointed to take over the lives of seniors no longer able to care for themselves. Fees for guardians and their attorneys are paid from the assets of their elderly wards and approved by the court.
In several cases, Savitt has taken tens of thousands of dollars from their accounts without prior court permission, The Post found in court documents.
The chief auditor for Palm Beach County's clerk and comptroller says that in about 800 guardianship cases he's reviewed, only one guardian has taken money without first getting court approval: Judge Colin's wife.
Some of the seniors’ family members express frustration with what they say are unnecessary legal disputes pursued by Savitt that drive up fees for her and her lawyers, depleting their loved one’s assets. In addition, they say Savitt funneled cash and assets to family members accused of financially, or in one case, even physically abusing the senior she is sworn to protect, court documents show.
In December 2014, Savitt held a “mini estate sale” advertised on Craigslist at Judge Colin’s address. “Cleaned out a home and selling all I could find,” the ad said. A lawyer said in court that he was concerned the items belonged to one of the seniors.
In another case, court records show Savitt, working for a family guardian, seized items inside a home and helped load them onto a moving truck. A lot of the items, however, belonged to the homeowner and not the senior. Sheriff’s deputies and a judge made Savitt and her attorney return the items.
Savitt doesn’t appear in front of her husband. She does appear in front of his colleagues.
Full Article and Source:
Judge's Wife Accused of Taking Fees Before Court OK's Them