Monday, September 12, 2016

Guardian accused of illegally placing Mary Montgomery in nursing home

A court-appointed professional guardian for Mary Montgomery — multi-millionaire widow of famed litigator Robert Montgomery — spirited the Palm Beach socialite from her mansion to an undisclosed nursing home where the 86-year-old is kept in a small room, fed institutional-style food and subject to substandard medical care, her daughter alleges in court documents.

Courtnay Montgomery claims guardian John Cramer violated state law by never seeking or obtaining a court order to remove Mary Montgomery — who suffers from dementia — from her Palm Beach home, known as Sin Cuidado, according to a blistering petition filed on Wednesday.

“This guardian has abused his powers and failed to properly discharge his duties,” wrote attorney Jennifer Carroll on Courtnay Montgomery’s behalf. “He has not acted in good faith and has acted contrary to the best interests of his ward.”

Complicating matters is the fact that Courtnay is facing charges she siphoned nearly $200,000 from her mother in Minnesota and has been ordered by the court there not contact her mother until a probable cause hearingis held. Carroll says people in Florida are pushing misinformation to law enforcement for their own agendas and that the Minnesota charges against her client are frivolous.

“This is an egregious case. I took it because I thought both Mary and Courtnay are not being treated right,” she said. “There are so many components to it. It is a mess that has to be unraveled.”
Cramer, contacted through e-mail, referred questions to his attorney, Mitch Kitroser, who said he will be filing a response with the court. Kitroser noted Courtnay Montgomery agreed in March to the appointment of a professional guardian for her mom.

“John Cramer is my client and he’s doing everything that he believes is in Mary’s best interest and any disagreements are best left to the courts and should not be fought out in the public. I’d like to respect the family’s privacy,” Kitroser said.

A Nov. 1 hearing is scheduled to sort out a lot of these issues with the aim of returning Mary Montgomery to her Palm Beach home, he said.

This is not the first time attorney Carroll and Cramer have squared off in a guardianship.

Carroll successfully fought to have Cramer removed as guardian for Boynton Beach senior J. Alan Smith when an appellate court ruled a senior’s advanced health directives trumps the court’s power to appoint a guardian.

Cramer also placed Smith in a nursing home — against the wishes of his wife — and then successfully annulled his marriage. The Smith guardianship is in front of the Florida Supreme Court on the annulment issue.

But unlike Smith, Mary Montgomery is worth millions and her daughter is her sole beneficiary. The octogenarian receives more than $1.5 million every four months from tobacco fee payments stemming from one of her husband’s crowning courtroom achievements, the landmark case that forced tobacco companies to pay $11.3 billion to Florida.

The couple were known for their philanthropy. Robert Montgomery died in 2008 after battling cancer.

‘Liquidate everything’
“This is an attempt to get rid of me so they can liquidate everything and then leave me nothing,” Courtnay Montgomery said. “There is a problem with guardians depleting seniors’ assets.”

The state legislature moved earlier this year to regulate the professional guardianship industry that has come under fire nationwide for bilking and abusing seniors. The Palm Beach Post series, Guardianships: A Broken Trust, found rampant conflict of interest and favoritism.

“The truth needs to come out and people need to know what is going on,” Courtnay Montgomery said.

The drama surrounding Mary Montgomery started last year when a routine trip to visit her daughter ended with her staying in Minnesota and firing all of her staff.

When Mary Montgomery didn’t return to Florida, her accountant Richard Rampell contacted Minnesota authorities. After a welfare check by Olmsted County sheriff deputies, Courtnay was charged with trying to bite an investigator. She was put on probation, but was charged last month in Minnesota with siphoning off more than $188,000 from her mother’s accounts.

Courtnay Montgomery denies the charges. She returned to Florida with her mother in December when a temporary guardianship for her mother expired in Minnesota. Cramer was appointed in March as Mary Montgomery’s guardian in a hearing that was closed to the media.

Cramer on July 14 moved Mary Montgomery to a secret location under the guise that he was taking her to physical therapy, according to the petition. As a professional guardian of person and property, Cramer has complete control over Mary Montgomery’s life and millions of dollars.

“Cramer caused Mary Montgomery to be taken from her family home of 20 plus years — away from her familiar and comfortable surroundings; away from her social life and care by her only daughter; away from her beloved parrots, swans and dogs,” the petition to remove the guardian states.

Courtnay later learned that her mother had been moved to a nursing home in downtown West Palm Beach.

Institutional food
Mary Montgomery is kept in a 500- to 600 square-foot room, fed on trays with “institutional food” and placed in front of a television for entertainment, her daughter claims in the petition. No telephone contact is allowed. Her medications have been replaced with generics in which she is known to be allergic, the petition states.

Cramer has sought the “least expensive” care for Montgomery even though she has the means to received the highest quality and is accustomed to such care, the petition reads.

Carroll argues in the petition that putting Mary Montgomery in a strange environment and away from her daughter is detrimental to the senior’s health. “The reasons advanced by this guardian are unsubstantiated and spurious at best,” the petition reads.

Furthermore, Cramer has canceled Mary Montgomery’s social memberships and she no longer goes to weekly lunches or the opera with her daughter.

“John Cramer removed Mary from an environment where she had social stimulation,” the petition reads. “It is believed that Mary, with the right care, in her home environment, can return to her normal social life once again.”

In a separate complaint filed last month, Courtnay Montgomery is seeking to remove former caregiver Hilda Santana as trustee for her mother. She accused Santana of financial exploitation of her mother.

Santana’s attorney, Ed Downey, said Mary Montgomery is “well taken care of and well provided for.”

“It is not a surprising filing because I just know she (Courtnay) is frustrated about all of the circumstances,” Downey said. “But we are working our way through it. Everything is working fine for Mrs. Montgomery.”

Full Article & Source:
Guardian accused of illegally placing Mary Montgomery in nursing home


Zoey said...

What is happening in this case happens to many. And once the ward is PLACED in a nursing home, there is no escape. I hope the daughter is successful in rescuing her mother.

Boomers Against Elder Abuse said...

Another outrageous case which shows the underlying problem within the guardianship system that removes the rights of the elderly. Exploitation by professional guardians, and mistreatment of their wards must stop!

Carolyn Anderson said...

This case follows the standard pattern. I'm sorry for her. You'd think that persons with wealth would be better able to protect themselves, but that's not the case. They're bigger targets.

Anonymous said...

Once the well,normal, healthy person is placed in a nursing home , they then get physically hurt and no one ever seems to know how it happened, except "they fell". All those notices put all over about being a "fall risk" are put there because the people are drugged. Many were not a fall risk before they were drugged. Who wouldn't fall with that stuff put in your drink and your food?

lalainspace said...

It is so hard for me to read these awful stories. I lived the guardianship nightmare for more than 15 years. My mother-in-law was repeatedly removed from our home, for one B.S. reason or another. The conservator, the conservators attorney, court investigator, court appointed counsel for my mother-in-law and the court all profited greatly every time. During one of the many moves the public guardian came into our home and said mom was broke and he was moving her to a place where she would get the care she deserves. NO court order, no authorization, or notice. While the P.G. was wheeling her out of the house in her wheelchair, he rammed her foot into the door frame causing an injury. The place mom ended up never addressed her wound. Needless to say mom had to have her toe amputated. After I stomped and screamed about the neglect. The court ordered the court appointed counsel to hire a personal injury attorney to look into this case. well as you would probably guessed the personal injury attorney said we didn't have a case against the P.G. Because mom had so much animosity towards the P.G. that mom probably made the story up. So no case was ever filed against the P.G. Only after 3 court hearings and 4 months was mom able to return home. The entire conservatorship was a lie. Nothing the P.G. stated was true. Every time I tried to stand up for myself the judge would badger me and intimidate me. I was at one time afraid for my life. I had never witnessed or even believed something like this was possible. I contacted so many agencies, ombudsman, advocates, and anyone that would listen but I was told more than once that there is nothing I could do to help restore mom's life. Every time I tried it just cost mom more money. I wish I could do to each one of the people involved what they did to our family. These people are the worst things on God's green earth. My God bless each and everyone of us who have had to endure the torture at the hands of the probate court

Mark Taylor said...

Here's the newest gossip and facts in this case. (Courtesy of

April 28, 2017 - Philanthropist Mary Montgomery’s troubled daughter once again has landed behind bars, charged with stealing millions of dollars worth of items from her mother, including a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley, her wine collection and her silverware.
There’s also $5.54 million in jewelry missing from Mary Montgomery’s safe, but her daughter has not been charged with taking those valuables.
Palm Beach County jail records show Courtnay Montgomery — who tried to get her mother’s professional guardian removed — was released from custody early Thursday on $30,000 bond. She is charged with grand theft of more than $100,000 and grand larceny in connection with the taking of assets from her mother’s mansion, Sin Cuidado, at 1800 S. Ocean Boulevard, south of Southern Boulevard. A phone message left for Courtnay Montgomery was not returned. An email to her lawyer in the guardianship matter, Jennifer Carroll, was also not returned. Her receptionist hung up on a reporter trying to leave a message.
Courtnay Montgomery faces five charges in Minnesota involving siphoning more than $188,000 from her mother, who suffers from dementia and was found by a Palm Beach court to be incapacitated in March 2016. Mary has been living at the Lourdes Noreen McKeen nursing home but has been making social engagements recently.
The irony in both criminal cases is that Courtnay Montgomery is the only heir to her mother’s fortune left behind by famed litigator Robert Montgomery. However, when Mary Montgomery was placed in guardianship in wake of the Minnesota incident, the socialite’s assets were placed in the hands of Hilda Santana, a former assistant, and Michael Strickland, managing director of Northern Trust, a wealth management company.
The daughter’s efforts to undo the guardianship imploded this week when a warrant was issued for her arrest and she failed to show up in court on the guardianship matter. Scher ruled in favor of Cramer, finding Mary Montgomery well-cared for at an assisted-living facility.
On Thursday, the trustees of the Montgomery estate asked Scher to order Courtnay Montgomery to vacate the Palm Beach mansion, according to Kitroser.
The thefts were reported by the trustees of Mary Montgomery’s estate when they did an inventory last month at the mansion. They discovered the jewelry and $1.3 million in silverware missing, along with the Rolls-Royce and Bentley, worth a combined $494,000, according to the probable-cause affidavit by the Palm Beach Police Department.
The trustees found the safes empty.
Police tracked the vehicles to the home of Charles David Kelley of St. Lucie County. He told investigators that Courtnay Montgomery had given him the property along with some firearms, according to the police report. He said he sold some of the silverware for $50,000. Besides the luxury vehicles, $592,000 of the silver was recovered at Kelley’s home along with $2,000 in wine.
There is still $542,000 worth of silver missing, according to the police report.
Kelley told police he was introduced to Courtnay Montgomery at a gun club and that he sold her firearms. He said Courtnay Montgomery asked him to hold to the vehicles, silverware and other items for her at his home.
His wife, Denedia Kelley, told police: “Courtney gave us the cars and told us they were registered, go drive the cars and have fun.” She said the silver, wine and shotguns were given to her and her husband as gifts.
During a taped phone call between Kelly and Montgomery on March 2, Montgomery said she was still putting items from the mansion in boxes.
“The trustees are trying to sell everything,” Montgomery said on the call, according the police report. “So basically, obviously we have not done anything wrong. We’re not going to do anything wrong. So basically they are maintaining custody and they are trying to keep it from us.”