Saturday, March 12, 2016

Minnesota Conservator Leaves Trail of Complaints

A Long Lake man appointed by Minnesota courts to oversee the lives and estates of vulnerable adults is resigning from nearly five dozen cases in the wake of complaints about mismanagement and a violent attack on him by one of his clients.

Clarence Coffindaffer has been appointed in 91 vulnerable adult cases, 57 of which remain open, despite a series of criticisms from court auditors and objections to his supervision from some wards and their family members. One of his attorneys, Charles Singer, confirmed that Coffindaffer plans to quit the business as soon as possible.

“This process will take several months as there are several attorneys involved and it is not an easy task to find professionals who will take some of these cases,” Singer said.

Coffindaffer’s pending resignations likely mean added expenses for his clients and a Sisyphean task for the court as it struggles to find acceptable replacements to supervise its wards. The disruption hits Twin Cities probate courts still grappling with the 2014 collapse of another professional guardian and conservator firm known as Alternate Decision Makers Inc. (ADMI), whose founder admitted to pilfering the wards’ accounts.

Coffindaffer inherited a number of ADMI’s former clients, taking control of their finances despite his own background of financial difficulties. His 2005 personal bankruptcy petition in West Virginia was not publicly disclosed in some court records, despite a state law requiring it.

Hennepin District Judge Jamie L. Anderson wrote Coffindaffer in September demanding an explanation for late annual account filings, missing and incomplete support documentation and missing Social Security payments caused by his management failures. In January, she fined Coffindaffer $100 for failing to file required documents in one case and for failing to appear at a December court hearing. This month, she ordered him to appear before her on March 28 for failing to submit several required filings and skipping a February hearing in another case.

Auditors have raised concerns about Coffindaffer routing expense “reimbursements” for his clients through a company he founded called Valtara LLC. The company’s registration lapsed in 2009 and he only renewed it this month, after a reporter’s inquiry.

Some wards and their loved ones say they can’t be rid of Coffindaffer soon enough.

Coffindaffer became a professional guardian and conservator in 2007, two years after filing for bankruptcy. His new profession followed a career as a librarian, college administrator and professor of information technology.

Prospective conservators and guardians have been required to disclose prior bankruptcy filings since August 2013. Court filings since then state that Coffindaffer never filed for bankruptcy, or they remain silent on the issue, or they state that he filed for bankruptcy “more than 20 years earlier” and that the case number was “unknown.”

The Star Tribune obtained his bankruptcy filings online. His debts at the time included $82,000 in unsecured claims to banks and credit card companies. Coffindaffer said in the filing that he was receiving $3,660 a month in disability payments. Singer said the nature of the disability is confidential information.

Full Article and Source:
Minnesota Conservator Leaves Trail of Complaints

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