Saturday, April 16, 2016

Suspended judge replaced during investigation in Oconee Co.

A Order released today by the South Carolina Courts states that Associate Probate Judge Karen Lee has been appointed by the court system to lead in Oconee County.

This is after Probate Judge Kenneth Johns was put on interim suspension on April 12.

That suspension required him to deliver all books, records, bank account records, funds, property, and documents relating to his judicial office to the Associate Pobate Judge.

Johns is also suspended from access to judicial accounts.

The order does not detail what Johns is being investigated for, only refers to ruling 17b, which states the following:

(b) Other Misconduct. Upon receipt of sufficient evidence demonstrating that a judge poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public or to the administration of justice, the Supreme Court may place the judge on interim suspension pending a final determination in any proceeding under these rules.

Full Article & Source:
Suspended judge replaced during investigation in Oconee Co.

The Older Americans Act Finally Clears Congress

Congress finally just passed bipartisan legislation renewing the Older Americans Act for three years, sending it to President Obama for his certain signature. Passage comes almost 10 years since the Act was last reauthorized, a delay which has been a source of great consternation to older adults and their advocates.

Why should you care? Simply because the legislation keeps core Older Americans Act programs intact, while adding improvements to the law. In essence, the bill allows older adults to remain at home and in the community by providing them with necessary services to maintain their independence. The Older Americans Act also saves Medicaid and Medicare untold millions each year.

What’s In The Bill?

A key feature of the final bill: specific funding levels for the programs, authorizing an increase of 6% over the next three years. The bill also tweaked the formula for allocating funds to the states by allowing increases for states with growth in their 60+ population and minimizing any loss in funding to ones that lose population.

A few specifics of the legislation:
It will help feed America’s elderly poor. Among other things, it maintains separate federal funding for congregate- and home-delivered meals and will continue allowing the transfer of funds from the nutrition program to support other services, such as transportation.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
The Older Americans Act Finally Clears Congress

My auntie Milly didn’t have dementia – she was simply dehydrated

Following his stroke, Fielding is worried that he still can’t get to the end of his sentences properly, but they sound all right to me. Out to dinner last week, he chatted for several hours non-stop, completing his sentences so fluently and perfectly that I couldn’t get some of my sentences in – particularly if I had to wait until the end of one of his, by which time I’d forgotten mine.

Even without a stroke, Olivia and I are finding it increasingly difficult to retain a thought in response to someone else’s sentence unless we can interject midway, which they call “butting in”, and resent because they lose the flow of their sentence, or their grip on some name or other, which was there blobbing around in the memory about to surface, but then never made it because of the butting-in person.

Olivia and I have learned to get at these lost-in-the-mist names sideways: “You know, what’s-er-name with the hat who lives next door to that woman, with the big thingy plant in her garden?” Then we have it. No names necessary.

But it’s very scary, because the disappearing words could signify not-very-early-onset-dementia, our biggest fear. Nothing scared my mother more than the thought of losing her marbles, not even cancer, and even a one-word fade-out would strike terror into her heart. And my Auntie Milly, perfectly fine one evening, had lost it completely by morning. “Alzheimer’s!” cried my mother, white with fear. But it wasn’t. Poor Auntie had a urinary tract infection, leading to “confusion or delerium-like state”, because she hadn’t been drinking enough.

As that was 25 years ago, I was bitterly disappointed to hear last week on the radio that dying people, and I suspect many elderly people, are still not getting enough to drink at home, in hospitals or in care homes, and their poor relatives/chums may have been needlessly terrified about Alzheimer’s when it wasn’t that at all, and the apparently dementing invalids had only needed more water. So I thought I’d better highlight the dehydration problem again and again and again …

Full Article & Source:
My auntie Milly didn’t have dementia – she was simply dehydrated

Friday, April 15, 2016

Commission Reviewing Changes To Nevada's Troubled Guardianship System

Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hardesty
A commission charged with repairing Nevada's troubled guardianship system will meet next week to continue voting on several major policy issues before making its final recommendations later this spring.

Guardianships are needed when children don't have parents looking out for them or when adults are unable to properly care for themselves.

The commission's goal is to better educate legal guardians on their responsibilities, along with holding them more accountable, and, ultimately, preventing abuse.

"Basically, it is time to look at the entire guardianship process top to bottom and how the courts are managing this docket," says Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hardesty.

Several investigative articles by the Las Vegas Review-Journal prompted him to form the commission and promote change.

"The courts of our state have a lot of pending guardianship cases where there hadn't been any inventories or any annual accountings filed for years," Hardesty adds.

He says the courts have not been adequately staffed and funded to keep up with these complex cases.

State Attorney General Adam Laxalt has also announced a new task force to prevent legal guardians from swindling the vulnerable people they should be protecting.

Full Article & Source:
Commission Reviewing Changes To Nevada's Troubled Guardianship System

Financial exploitation charges against EM woman dropped

Rock Island County prosecutors have dropped a financial exploitation case after a judge blocked the use of a message recorded by the alleged victim before his death.

Alice M. Hipes, 59, of East Moline, was accused of taking money from a 92-year-old man who employed her as a private in-home caregiver. The alleged victim gave a recorded statement to police but died in May 2015 before the case could go to trial.

Without use of the video, "There really wasn't much we could do to prosecute the case," Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee said.

The case was dismissed Friday and cannot be refiled.

Ms. Hipes's attorney, Donovan S. Robertson, said his client was relieved to be done with a case that caused "terrible strain" on her life in the last year.

"My client was not guilty," he said, adding Ms. Hipes had "steadfastly" maintained her innocence throughout the process. "At long last, I believe we have achieved justice."

East Moline Police said they were notified in February 2015 that Alternatives for the Older Adult had learned an elderly man possibly was being financially defrauded.

Mr. Robertson said investigators initially claimed $78,000 was missing, but later reduced it to closer to $45,000. He said no forensic accounting was done by investigators and, after learning from Ms. Hipes that the alleged victim paid his bills primarily in cash, he subpoenaed bills and other financial statements, which accounted for the "vast majority" of the money alleged to be missing.

Following the man's death, prosecutors sought to use his recorded statement as evidence at trial. Mr. Robertson resisted, arguing the statements were made during a police investigation and not as sworn testimony in court.

Playing the recording at trial would violate his client's 6th Amendment right to confront and cross-examine the alleged victim, Mr. Robertson wrote in court records. In December, Judge Frank Fuhr ruled in Mr. Robertson's favor.

Mr. McGehee said state law allows for a hearsay exception in financial exploitation of the elderly if the alleged victim was disabled or unavailable to testify. Judges usually consider each case separately, Mr. McGehee said.

In this case, he said, Judge Fuhr was concerned about the defense being unable to cross-examine the alleged victim.

In January, Assistant Rock Island County State's Attorney John McCooley appealed the judge's decision. However, after multiple discussions with the appellate prosecutor's office, Mr. McGehee said his office was not confident they would win the appeal and chose to dismiss it.

"These are very difficult cases to win," he said, adding the appellate court usually gives great discretion to the original judge's ruling.

Prosecutors initially planned to dismiss the case, with leave to reinstate if further evidence was later uncovered, Mr. McGehee said. However, he said Judge Fuhr determined the case should be permanently dismissed.

Mr. Robertson said he could not recall specific details of the alleged victim's statement to police, but he did not believe they implicated Ms. Hipes. He said he did not believe investigators were badly motivated.

"It looked bad, and I think they smelled smoke and thought there was a fire," he said. "But there wasn't a fire."

Full Article & Source:
Financial exploitation charges against EM woman dropped

Complaint: Morristown woman charged after spending vulnerable adult's money

A Morristown woman is facing multiple felonies after police say she spent the money of an assisted living resident without her permission.

Loretta Anne Fossum, 55, is charged with theft by temporary control and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, both felonies. If she is convicted of the maximum, she faces up to 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Dakota County District Court:

In September, Northfield Police officers received a report of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult at an assisted living facility in Northfield. Staff of the facility told police one of the residents had an individual with power of attorney who was not paying bills and completing paperwork for the resident.

Staff identified the power of attorney as Fossum, and said after contacting the banks, they had found a large number of transactions made on the resident's account while she was at the facility - since May 2015.

The unidentified victim told police she had not authorized Fossum to pay for any additional items. The victim said Fossum renovated her bathroom in her townhouse while she was in the facility due to an injury.

She said Fossum has been residing at her townhome.

After examining the bank records, officers noted approximately $2,500 in hardware store sales, $2,500 in ATM withdrawals, in addition to transactions at convenience stores, liquor stores, restaurants and cell phone payments.

Officers also found a transaction in which Fossum rented a floor sander, which was paid for using a debit card under the victim's name and had been signed by the victim.

After speaking to Fossum, she told police she had been paying the victim's bills and had access to her account. She said she had spent some of the money getting the victim's townhouse ready for her to return home.

She also admitted to using some of the victim's money to pay for expenses for her home improvement business, but claimed she was also paying it back.

Specifically, Fossum said she spent $850 on a bed, chair lift and wheel chair. But officers pointed out that an additional $1,700 was unaccounted for. Fossum said she could not remember what it was used for.

Fossum eventually admitted that approximately $1,500 was spent on projects at other people's homes, and that she had used some money for her own cell phone bill, trips to the liquor store and internet service.

She said she had been paying it back, but probably still owed the victim roughly $3,000.

Fossum, who was charged by summons, made her first appearance Monday. Her next hearing is scheduled for June 8.

Full Article & Source:
Complaint: Morristown woman charged after spending vulnerable adult's money

Thursday, April 14, 2016

9 Investigates: Guardianship appointments cost Florida seniors the right to vote

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — In December, Seminole County Resident Miriam Lancaster turned 100 years old.

In March, she went to vote in the Florida Primary and was turned away.

There are more than 3,000 seniors in Florida who have what is known as a “plenary guardian," a guardian appointed by the courts to handle all of the senior’s matters.

Plenary guardians are usually appointed in cases where the senior’s family is either unable or unwilling to oversee day-to-day issues such as bills and living arrangements.

When such a guardian is appointed in Florida, the seniors lose their ability to vote.

“Nothing has changed about me, I still feel the same way I did about the same things,” Lancaster said. “I may be a little slower, but I am not mentally incapacitated.”

Nine Investigates discovered not every state automatically removes the voting rights when a guardian is appointed. According to the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, laws vary wildly from state-to-state.

In Alaska, “an incapacitated person for whom a guardian has been appointed is not presumed to be incompetent and retains all legal and civil rights,” according to the Bazelon Center.

Meanwhile, 24 other states, including Utah and Texas, have no specific laws regarding revocation of voting rights by a person assigned a guardian.

“I just can’t believe they’ve taken away her rights,” said Sally Baptiste, Lancaster's friend.

Florida also uses another form of guardianship, known as a “limited guardian”. Under a limited guardianship, a judge would determine which rights are to retained by the senior.

“I want my voice to mean something,” Lancaster said.

She plans to petition the court to regain her voting rights, a process which will take time and money.

Lancaster will likely also have to undergo mental competency hearing to attempt to regain her rights.

Full Article & Source:
9 Investigates: Guardianship appointments cost Florida seniors the right to vote

Disabled Protesters in DC: “Our Homes, Not Nursing Homes”

Imagine being sequestered in a nursing home from a young age because the resources that would allow you to live integrated into larger society were unavailable. Would you call that a violation of your civil rights?

About two hundred activists in wheelchairs lined up yesterday along the bike racks in front of the White House fence, chanting, “our homes, not nursing homes” and “disability rights are human rights.” This is the second year that ADAPT, a group of activists with disabilities, staged a protest including civil disobedience to call attention to what it sees as the Obama administration’s relative inattention to the civil rights of this population.

ADAPT wants the president to actively advocate for and back legislation that supports people with disabilities living as an integrated part of the community. In particular, it is calling for Obama’s support for the Disability Integration Act (S.2427) proposed by Senator Chuck Schumer. As an overview, the group was demanding the White House do the following:
  • Issue an executive order that acknowledges the inhumane warehousing of people in nursing facilities and other institutions, and implements specific steps to end this practice.
  • Designate Vice President Biden as an “Ambassador for Community Living,” send him on a tour of ten model programs for transitioning people with disabilities into the community, and convene round-tables in ten states to support them in developing effective systems for truly integrating people with disabilities.
  • Issue a statement that the president supports the development of legislation clarifying and strengthening the ADA’s integration mandate.
“It is clear that the Obama administration doesn’t recognize that people with disabilities are an oppressed but resilient community with our own civil rights movement,” said Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer from Rochester, New York. “Every day under the watch of this president, disabled Americans are denied their most fundamental and inalienable rights when they are locked away in nursing facilities and other institutions. We are urging to the president to defend our civil rights instead of looking the other way.”

The group later moved to the Department of Justice, where it emphasized the need for attention to the violation of civil and human rights.

“Research has shown that people who forced into nursing facilities have their lives cut short, and younger people are being institutionalized in greater and greater numbers. How can the DOJ not see this as a civil rights issue?” said German Parodi from Philadelphia. “Disabled lives matter too.”

ADAPT wants Attorney General Loretta Lynch to recognize publicly that “community integration of Americans with Disabilities is a civil rights imperative, and that she will personally oversee efforts to assure that DOJ addresses this injustice.”—Ruth McCambridge

Full Article & Source:
Disabled Protesters in DC: “Our Homes, Not Nursing Homes”

Shifting population in California nursing homes creates ‘dangerous mix’

David Thompson was living at the Midnight Mission on Los Angeles’ Skid Row when he secured a bed several years ago at a South Pasadena nursing home. For a man who had been homeless for 35 years, the arrangement seemed like a stable step forward.

Instead, he discovered that South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital was visited regularly by local police, summoned to the facility to break up fights or investigate alleged drug-dealing and thefts by residents. Thompson, injured decades earlier in a car wreck, recalled how the nursing home had lots of younger patients with no apparent disabilities.

One resident was known to pack a gun in his wheelchair, he said, a story that is corroborated in state documents. Another patient, he heard, smoked meth in the bathroom – a situation also detailed in state inspection records. Thompson said he kept to himself when fights broke out.

“They had so much stuff going on in there,” said Thompson, 79, who since has moved out of the South Pasadena facility and into another nursing home. “I guess the police chief got tired of it.”

The turmoil inside South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital became painfully public in November 2014, when one of Thompson’s smoking companions – 57-year-old Courtney Cargill, a mentally ill resident – left the facility unsupervised, doused her body with gasoline and lit herself on fire. After prodding from the local police chief, and a surge of community outrage, the California attorney general’s office opened an investigation into the facility and whether anyone should be held criminally accountable for her death.

The gruesome case also has shined a light on the divergent population groups that inhabit California’s 1,250 nursing homes – and the risks associated with serving such a wide mix of patients.

Where once skilled nursing facilities were universally thought of as “rest homes” for the frail and elderly, a growing proportion of California nursing home residents are younger, more able-bodied patients, many diagnosed with mental illness. Some residents, like Cargill, enter facilities with long-standing drug and alcohol problems. Others, like Thompson, have histories of homelessness.
Still others are newly released from prison.

Facilities have been able to tap these clients’ Medicare and Medi-Cal benefits and, in many instances, provide long-term housing at government expense.

“The homes that we have known as havens for the frail elderly, as you can see, are no longer safe havens,” said Tippy Irwin, executive director of San Mateo County’s ombudsman services.

Instead, she said, many facilities now have what she described as a “dangerous mix” – old, young, mentally ill, convicted felons, street people in desperate need of care, and younger clients with chronic illnesses, brain injuries and drug abuse problems.

“I don’t think people have a clue,” Irwin said. “I don’t think people give nursing homes a thought unless they’re actually faced with having to use one.”

Between 1994 and 2014, the population of California nursing home residents under age 65 grew by nearly 40 percent, while the number over 65 shrank by 11 percent, according to a Sacramento Bee review of state data. Today, 1 in 5 nursing home residents in California is under 65.

In California, the number of nursing home residents with serious mental illness also is on the rise. In 2014, the Golden State ranked fourth in the nation for the percentage of nursing home residents diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, behind Illinois, Missouri and Louisiana, according to data collected by the Brown University School of Public Health. The rate of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in California nursing homes increased by about 60 percent from 2000 to 2014, to 1 in 7 residents, the data show.

Quality of care appears to be a casualty in the changing patient mix.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Shifting population in California nursing homes creates ‘dangerous mix’

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Linwood woman admits to bilking millions from elderly

A Linwood-based company meant to help senior citizens with their finances instead was helping to steal from them, the owner admitted Tuesday.

Jan Van Holt, 59, pleaded guilty to first-degree money laundering in the scheme that included her sister and a Northfield attorney who specialized in elder law.

Under the plea agreement, she faces a 12-year sentence with 5½ years of parole ineligibility. She also will need to make restitution for a not-yet-determined amount.

Her 60-year-old sister, Sondra Steen, also of Linwood, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She must serve 4½ years before she is eligible for parole.

Northfield attorney Barbara Lieberman was the first to plead guilty in the case. She forfeited $3 million in assets and lost her law license as a result. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison with 3½ years without parole.

The group stole more than $2.7 million from 12 elderly clients from January 2003 through December 2012.

Another co-defendant, 58-year-old Linwood resident William Price, admitted to stealing $125,000 from a couple he met while working as a caseworker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services. He received a five-year prison sentence.

Charges are pending against Susan Hamlett, 56, of Egg Harbor Township. She worked as an aide for clients of Van Holt’s company, A Better Choice.

“Van Holt and her sister conspired with an attorney to systematically siphon away the assets of elderly clients, who typically had no family to look after them and trusted their caregivers to treat them honestly,” acting Attorney General Robert Lougy said. “The treatment these vulnerable victims received was anything but honest; it was devious and heartless.”

A fundamental duty of law enforcement is to protect society’s most vulnerable from exploitation, said Elie Honig, director of the state Division of Criminal Justice.

“We rightfully reserve some of the harshest penalties for those who prey on children and the elderly,” he said. “In this case, we have secured prison sentences of 10 years or more for the three women at the heart of this scheme.”

State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes called the crimes “insidious and callous.”

Van Holt was a a case worker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services from 2002 through December 2007, when she was terminated. She used that job to recruit five of the group’s victims.
Van Holt generally was the one to identify potential clients, approaching them to offer the services of A Better Choice and Lieberman.

Once a target accepted Van Holt’s offer of services, Steen usually would be put in place as the victim’s primary caregiver. Lieberman would then be brought in to do legal work, preparing powers of attorney and wills for the clients.

Van Holt and Steen — who lived together — used the money they stole for expenses, including veterinary bills, pool supplies, two Mercedeses and to lease a Florida condominium.

A portion went to the victims’ expenses to help hide the thefts.

If the victim owned stocks or bonds, they were cashed out and the funds deposited into the account allegedly controlled by the defendants. Lieberman would usually name herself or Van Holt as executor when she prepared the victims’ wills, with Steen as beneficiary.

The investigation began after the New Jersey Office of the Public Guardian referred a case involving one of the victims to the State Police.

Van Holt is scheduled for sentencing May 13 before Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury in Mays Landing.

Full Article & Source:
Linwood woman admits to bilking millions from elderly

Medicare Fraud Case Claims Optum Put Patients in Hospice Care Who Weren't Terminal

A screen capture from Optum Palliative Care's website.
The U.S. Justice Department has decided to join in a federal lawsuit filed by two Colorado whistleblowers; it alleges that a national palliative care provider improperly billed Medicare millions of dollars for hospice services provided to patients who weren't terminally ill. The suit against Optum Palliative and Hospice Care claims that the company offered hefty bonuses to employees who kept the numbers of patients up and fired those who attempted to weed out patients who weren't eligible for hospice benefits.

"Hospice care plays a critical role in our health care system, providing for end-of-life care as opposed to curative life care," said John Walsh, Colorado's U.S. Attorney, in a statement announcing the lawsuit. "When companies overbill Medicare by keeping people in hospice when they don't need to be there, it jeopardizes the important benefit for others under the program."

The Minnesota-based Optum, formerly known as Evercare, operates in eleven states. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2011 by two former employees, Lyssa Towl and Terry Lee Fowler, under the False Claims Act, which allows citizens to sue on behalf of the government to recover funds that were improperly paid. The case was sealed for three years from public view while the feds decided whether to join in the litigation but was finally unsealed late last week.

Towl, at one time the company's executive director for northern Colorado, and Fowler, an RN who became a regional hospice quality manager, claim that up to one-fourth of Evercare's hospice clients at any given time didn't meet the Medicare eligibility requirements. Such care is reserved for patients with a life expectancy of six months or less, but the plaintiffs claim the company billed for patients who suffered from dementia, non-terminal pulmonary problems and other diagnoses such as "failure to thrive" -- and sometimes collected benefits for years. By way of example, the complaint in the lawsuit lists 21 cases involving patients who didn't meet the hospice criteria but generated Optum billings for periods ranging from several months to three years.

Between 2008 and 2010, Towl and Fowler claim, the number of Evercare hospice patients exceeding 180 days of billings rose from 28 percent to 44 percent, suggesting that close to half the cases may have been suffering from something other than a terminal illness and were thus ineligible.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Medicare Fraud Case Claims Optum Put Patients in Hospice Care Who Weren't Terminal

Bill would give state elder abuse programs a federal funding boost

Legislation proposed in the Senate last week would authorize federal assistance to state programs that seek to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

S. 2727, the Elder Protection and Abuse Protection Act, was introduced last Tuesday by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), with Sens. Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Bob Casey (D-PA) co-sponsoring.

The bill would amend portions of the Older American Act of 1965 to define elder abuse as “the knowing infliction of physical or psychological harm or the knowing deprivation of goods or services that are necessary to meet essential needs or to avoid physical or psychological harm.” 

Under the bill, federal funds also would be appropriated for states to establish elder abuse screening, reporting and support programs.

“By requiring tough national standards for screening and reporting, this bill would help hold bad actors accountable for their deplorable behavior and provide critical protections for senior citizens,” Blumenthal said in a statement on the bill.

Just 1 in 23.5 cases of elder abuse is ever reported due to a lack of screening, awareness and prevention resources, according to the bill. The mortality rate of seniors who fall victim to elder abuse is three times higher than those who don't experience elder abuse, and the annual financial loss of those victims is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion, Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal introduced similar bills in 2012 and 2013, but the Senate passed neither.

Full Article & Source:
Bill would give state elder abuse programs a federal funding boost

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Man dies after alleged beatings by parolees

April 6, 2016

Arrested men lived in home south of town contracted by parole board, owner says


A 68-year-old, wheelchair-bound man who was allegedly beaten repeatedly by two men he lived with died March 31 at a skilled nursing facility in Lake Worth.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet ruled whether Alan Abraham Meisel’s death was a result of injuries resulting from those beatings.

Two men – Jack Russell Ryder, 63 and James Glendon Duke, 55 – accused in the beatings were arrested.

Authorities will wait for the medical examiner to rule on the cause of Meisel’s death before deciding whether to pursue additional charges against the two men.

According to probable cause warrants obtained by The Azle News, Parker County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence in the 1200 block of Highland Road after the property owner, Steven Douglas Henry, reported an assault.

The location is south of Hwy. 199 between Azle and Springtown.

Henry told deputies he is under contract with the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles to house parolees.

The home where the assault took place has five bedrooms; parolees pay $600 each per month to rent a room, Henry told the deputies.

Two of the residents informed Henry on March 9 that two other residents, Ryder and Duke had continuously assaulted Meisel.

Meisel was not on parole, but Henry allowed him to move into the house because Meisel was dismissed from a retirement home and had nowhere else to go, according to Henry.

Meisel had lived in the house for about six months, during which time his weight had dropped from about 200 pounds to about 140 pounds, Henry said.

One man reported seeing Duke push Meisel out of his wheelchair onto the floor, kick him in the head causing a cut above eye, hit him in the back with wooden stick, and strike him in the head, back, face and ribs.

Another man said Ryder allegedly hit Meisel with a wooden stick on the back and head. He also reported seeing Duke hit Meisel in the head with a wooden brush and with a wooden stick.
Ryder also took Meisel’s food away from him, that man said.

Meisel himself told deputies that Ryder and Duke hit him after he ate.

Henry also told deputies he took Meisel to Texas Health Azle for laceration above his eye that required eight stitches.

According to the warrant, deputies observed Meisel to have two black eyes, bruising on his back and shoulders and swelling in both knees.

A deputy noted he had trouble understanding Meisel when he spoke, as well.

Both Duke and Ryder were arrested March 10 and charged with injury to a child/elderly or disabled person with intent to cause bodily injury.

Bond has been assessed at $20,000 for each of the men for that charge; both remain in the Parker County jail, where they are also held without bond for parole warrants.

Henry and another man also own another home where parolees are housed in the 200 block of Countryside Court, just down the street from the house on Highland Road, records show.

Full Article & Source:
Man dies after alleged beatings by parolees

Watching out for you: Prosecutor's office creates new program to protect elderly

In response to an increase number of scams and crimes against the elderly, new team formed in Middlesex County

An 87-year-old Linden woman was scammed out of $14,000 by a caller who claimed her son was in jail.

An 77-year-old South Brunswick man paid $5,000 to a man who called claiming to be an IRS agent and allegedly threatened arrest for failure to pay back taxes.

Last week a Brooklyn woman was arrested and charged in connection with allegedly stealing $200,000 from an 86-year-old Monroe relative.

And on April 2 the FBI posted a story about the latest version of the "grandparent scam" in which scam artists are now using personal information from grandchildren's social networking site to scam grandparents into wiring money to rescue a grandchild.

These disturbing stories reflect an uncomfortable trend: The elderly are easy targets for criminal activity.

Now Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey hopes a brand-new initiative will fight back against those who commit crimes against senior citizens.

Carey has formed a new Elder Abuse and Exploitation Team, an in-house unit of detectives, assistant prosecutors, support staff and Agent Andrea Boulton, who formerly served as planner for the Middlesex County Department of Aging and Disabled Services, and has many contacts with senior organizations, senior center directors and grantees in the county.

And Middlesex County isn't alone in looking to ward off those who prey on the elderly.

New acting Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson has plans to create an Elder Abuse Task Force in the Special Investigations Unit.

As part of the task force, a detective and assistant prosecutor would work with the Somerset County Office on Aging and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families would work on elder abuse cases. The task force also would be involved with outreach by educating seniors about the signs of abuse, including internet and telephone scams, distraction burglaries. The task force also will be training officers throughout the county about the signs of elder abuse. (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Watching out for you: Prosecutor's office creates new program to protect elderly

Nonprofit focuses on keeping Alzheimer's sufferers home

Lisa Baron
A St. Louis nonprofit is helping people with Alzheimer's disease stay in their homes longer, which its founder says benefits patients while saving taxpayers money that would otherwise go toward paying for nursing home care.

Lisa Baron, who founded Memory Care Home Solutions, testified Wednesday before the U.S. Senate's Special Committee on Aging during a hearing that focused on the financial and emotional toll that Alzheimer's disease has on the 5.4 million Americans who suffer from the disease and their loved ones.

Baron told the committee that America is "facing a national crisis caused by Alzheimer's and dementia."

Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who co-chairs the committee along with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, cited studies showing that dementia care could cost the nation $1 trillion annually by 2050. She said Medicare and Medicaid pay "the vast majority" of that cost.

"The model of Lisa's organization not only helps seniors to remain in their homes, but also provides critical assistance to family caregivers who are so often overlooked," McCaskill said.

In an interview Thursday, Baron told The Associated Press that she started her nonprofit in 2002, not long after her mother-in-law, suffering from Alzheimer's, wandered away from home. Firefighters later found her. She had fallen and wasn't able to get up, but was otherwise unharmed.

"That was the moment I knew I had to help other families dealing with the destruction of this disease," Baron told The Associated Press.

Baron said she was inspired by the dignity with which her father-in-law treated his stricken wife, allowing her to remain home as long as possible. She said that on average, her clients stay home a full year longer than others at similar stages of the disease.

Memory Care Home Solutions uses donations to help mostly low-income families that are coping with the disease — more than half of the organization's clients earn less than $20,000 annually. Services are provided at no cost.

It isn't just memory that abandons someone with Alzheimer's. Their vision is affected, depth perception, balance. Being forced into an unfamiliar environment often makes things much harder for them, Baron said.

"Therapeutically it's the best thing to stay in their home, the environment they know so well," Baron said.

So her organization trains caregivers to deal with the side effects of the disease, and establish safeguards that can allow the Alzheimer's sufferer to stay out of a care facility as long as possible.

Caregivers are taught the basics, ranging from how to change a diaper to how to lessen the risk of falling out of bed. The organization provides an alarm that sounds if the person with dementia opens a door to the outside. The program also helps the caregiver deal with problems common for dementia patients, such as dehydration, urinary tract infections, hallucinations and falls.

Easing the burden of the caregiver is vital, too.

For example, a common side effect is disorientation when awakening. A person with dementia might wake up in the middle of the night and believe it is breakfast time. Memory Care teaches caregivers to leave breakfast items out at night so that the person with the illness can eat without requiring the caregiver to get out of bed.

Baron estimates that by allowing clients to remain at home longer, her program has saved the Missouri Medicaid program more than $30 million.

"It really helps in terms of quality of life, and it diminishes costs," she said.

Full Article & Source:
Nonprofit focuses on keeping Alzheimer's sufferers home

Monday, April 11, 2016

Feds will take some of disgraced Clark County Judge Steven Jones’ pension

Former Family Court Judge Steven Jones

A federal judge Monday gave the government permission to commandeer the public pension of former Family Court Judge Steven Jones to help pay $2.9 million in restitution owed victims of his investment scheme.

The Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada — which says Jones is eligible for roughly $10,000 per month for life under early retirement — fought the effort in the interest of preserving the integrity of the system for its 155,000 members.

In a ruling from the bench, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey said the government has a right to step into Jones’ shoes and apply a portion of the early retirement benefit to the owed restitution.

Dorsey said federal prosecutors could garnish 25 percent of the $10,000 each month and put the rest of the money in the former judge’s federal prison account. Prosecutors plan to seek the rest of the money at a later date.

PERS General Counsel Christopher Nielsen told Dorsey he would work with prosecutors on a written order setting parameters of the pension grab.

Jones, 58, is serving a 26-month prison term at a federal facility near Bakersfield, Calif. as a result of his conviction for participating in the decade-long investment scheme. His projected release date is April 12, 2017.

He pleaded guilty in September 2014 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and resigned after 20 years on the bench. The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline last month banned Jones from the bench for life.

An October 2012 indictment alleged that Jones and five others persuaded people to lend them money for investment projects under the guise of quick repayment with high interest. Jones later admitted that he used his judicial office to further the fraud. At least 22 victims were swindled out of the $2.9 million.

Full Article & Source:
Feds will take some of disgraced Clark County Judge Steven Jones’ pension

Guilty plea in financial exploitation of elderly Rochester woman with dementia

ROCHESTER, Minn. – A Rochester man has pleaded guilty to stealing from his mentally infirm mother.

Donald George Polikowsky, 64, entered a plea of guilty Thursday in Olmsted County District Court to one count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. He had been facing four counts of the crime for allegedly taking money from his mother’s accounts after she was diagnosed with dementia in 2009.

The specific crime to which Polikowsky is admitting is that between Feb. 17 and Feb. 22, 2012, he wrote two checks from a joint checking account with his mother. Authorities say those checks for a combined $30,400 were issued to Polikowsky and his son, 31-year-old Jason Polikowsky.

Donald Polikowsky is set to be sentenced on June 21.

Jason and his wife, 39-year-old Jessica Polikowsky, are charged with 14 counts each of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult for allegedly taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from his grandmother’s accounts. They have pleaded not guilty and are due to stand trial on June 27.

Full Article & Source:
Guilty plea in financial exploitation of elderly Rochester woman with dementia

Volunteers sought for guardian program


Stark County Probate Judge Dixie Park is seeking volunteers for the probate court's Guardian Visitor Program.

Guardian visitors serve as the court's eyes and ears visiting the wards under guardianship and those who serve as their guardians, a press release from Park said. Guardian visitors report on the well being of the wards.

By law, the probate court is responsible for overseeing cases of people who, due to serious physical or mental disabilities, need help in making decisions about their daily lives.

In Stark County there are about 1,700 ongoing guardianships, according to Park.

Volunteers will receive initial training and ongoing support from the court.

Anyone interested in volunteering as a guardian visitor, call 330-451-7752.

Full Article & Source:
Volunteers sought for guardian program

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tonight on T.S. Radio: FATE (Foundation Aiding the Elderly), Carole Herman, Founder/President

Guest will be: Carole Herman-President and Founder of Foundation Aiding the Elderly (FATE)

Foundation Aiding the Elderly (FATE) is a Sacramento, California based 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation whose objective is to serve as a voice for patients and to bring about national reforms and enforcement of the laws governing the nursing home industry and its regulatory agencies in order to assure proper care, civil rights and meaningful, dignified life for the elderly in long-term care facilities.

Carole will be discussing these two Florida Statutes:

FS 400.0238 Punitive Damages: Limitations (5)This section is remedial in nature and shall take effect upon becoming a law.

FS 400.0239 Quality of Long-Term Care Facility Improvement Trust Fund. (2) b Development and implementation of specialized training programs for long-term care facility personnel who provide direct care for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, residents at risk of developing pressure sores, and residents with special nutrition and hydration needs.


Wrongful Death Victims Families MANDATED to PAY 50% of Punitve Damages awarded by Jurors to Help Improve The Quality of Care in Nursing Homes. Totally Unjust and Unjustifiable.

*** Call to Action*** Florida Residents: Contact Your State Reps and Request REPEAL & REFUND Wrongful Death Victims Family of these two unjust Florida Statutes for 2017 Legislation.

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

State attorney marshals a team to target exploitation of elderly

Alzheimer’s disease took its toll on Joseph Cavallaro.

He couldn’t keep himself fed and in 2010 was found wondering his West Palm Beach neighborhood several times. But just months earlier, the 81-year-old bought a $24,000 Harley Davidson Ultra motorcycle. The octogenarian also bought a Chevrolet Impala and a GMC pickup.

A fleet for a senior who lost his driver’s license for medical reasons in 2006.

Turned out the co-owner of these vehicles was Cavallaro’s live-in professional caregiver, Richard Okray. He had obtained Cavallaro’s power of attorney. Palm Beach County sheriff’s investigators discovered Okray defrauded the senior of more than $246,000.

“One of the big issues we are seeing is that people like to operate under the color of law,” said Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg. “They say, ‘Oh, I have power of attorney or I have a guardianship.’”

It’s cases like these that led Aronberg in January to establish the Elder Affairs Task Force, tapping Chief Assistant Brian Fernandes to head it and assigning two go-get-‘em prosecutors from the white-collar crime unit to look into cases: Kathryn Perrin and Michael Rachel.

Scamming the elderly is as much a characteristic of Florida as the beach and alligators — and it is always a moving target for law enforcement.

Aronberg said he saw a need to coordinate law enforcement, government agencies and outreach groups to better recognize when a trusted relative or caretaker has their hand in the pocket of a senior.

Sheriff deputies got wind of Okray by happenstance when the caregiver was arrested for DUI and Cavallaro ended up alone and struggling at night, according to a sheriff investigator’s report. Okray is now at an upstate prison work camp serving nearly a three-year sentence for exploitation of an elderly person. Cavallaro died in November 2013.

So far there have been three task force meetings involving municipal police forces, the Florida Department of Children & Families, the Legal Aid Society and the Palm Beach County clerk’s auditor overseeing guardianship abuse.

When police learn about suspected exploitation of a senior, this type of fraud involves heavy lifting for municipal police and prosecutors, Aronberg said. Rooting out criminality is a time-consuming task of compiling bank statements and other documents and interviewing the victim suffering from dementia and family members often at cross-purposes.

Mitchell Kitroser, a North Palm Beach attorney specializing in elder law, describes such cases as a “nightmare” for police investigators, especially when the suspect is the grown child of the senior.
Investigators must determine whether the senior is operating out of kindness of heart or under undue influence.

“It is a blurry line. It is very hard for law enforcement under those circumstances,” he said. “But if you don’t prosecute them you are leaving the elderly vulnerable in the community. You have to prosecute the ones you know about so you can deter people from doing it. Otherwise, it is open season on the elderly.”

Perrin said seniors are sometimes reluctant to report financial abuse to police or prosecutors. “A lot of times we don’t see these cases because they don’t want to be embarrassed,” she said.

Seniors targeted often are of the Greatest Generation who are isolated after a spouse dies and whose children live out of state. They are more trusting than their children and grandchildren of authority figures, including caregivers, guardians or seemingly well-intentioned relatives.

A good example, she said, was last year’s conviction of Boynton Beach caregiver Sultane Valcius, who received a 10-year prison sentence for bilking senior Maxwell Stander of $1.4 million in written checks over five years, investigators found. The 95-year-old described Valcius to sheriff’s deputies as “a member of his family” and thought he was helping her pay for schooling and investment properties. When police listened in on his calls to Valcius, the caregiver insisted she was destitute and asked for even more money.

Perrin and Rachel, the prosecutors on the task force, also have been out in the community sounding the alert. Perrin spoke in October to the South Palm Beach County Bar Association, titling her speech: “When Worlds Collide: Criminal Prosecutions Overlapping with Estate and Guardianship Matters.”

Judges appoint relatives or professionals as guardians to handle the affairs of incapacitated seniors. The task force came online as lawmakers in Tallahassee cracked down on reports of unethical court-appointed professional guardians by establishing the state’s first regulatory authority over the industry.

In Palm Beach County, Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock set up a guardianship hotline in 2011, leading to 900 cases investigated and discovery of more than $4.5 million in unsubstantiated disbursements, missing assets and fraud.

Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath also announced reforms in February following The Palm Beach Post’s investigation, Guardianships: A Broken Trust, that discovered cronyism and nepotism involving Circuit Judge Martin Colin and his wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt, a professional guardian who has taken tens of thousands of dollars in fees from guardianship accounts without prior court approval.

Colbath transferred Colin out of the Probate & Guardianship Division and moved his wife’s cases away from south county judges to halt any appearance of favoritism. Colbath also said he planned to have professional guardians randomly assigned to cases, standardize their billing practices and have probate judges and their staff undergo in-house training.

Perrin said she is passionate about protecting the elderly. She came to the State Attorney’s Office about six years ago after spending time in a lucrative private practice because she found public service more rewarding. She said seniors are easy prey for criminals at a time in life when they are in the most need for respect and understanding.

“It’s heart-wrenching what happens,” she said. “I think we all deserve some dignity.”

Full Article & Source:
State attorney marshals a team to target exploitation of elderly

The Spirit of American Slavery Lives On in Probate Court

Marcia DiZenzo was only 46 years old when she says she fell ill and was admitted to a hospital in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. That was some four years ago and DiZenzo was never returned to her rented condo near the beach.

Instead, she says she walked out as a ward of the state of Florida under the command of a professional guardian.

“I didn’t have health insurance at the time and somebody filed an emergency guardianship petition with the local court while I was hospitalized,” said DiZenzo who moved to Florida from Connecticut for the sunny climate.

DiZenzo is among the 58% of Americans who became wards of the state based on a probate court order of emergency temporary guardianship, according to the Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG), an advocacy organization in Florida.

“Probate courts in America have a sordid history,” said Dr. Sam Sugar, founder of the AAAPG in Miami. “They were the primary mechanism for dealing with legal issues in the slave trade until slavery was abolished in 1865. These equity courts committed and continue to commit egregious abuse against the most vulnerable in society.”

When slavery was legal in the U.S., bounty hunters would travel across state lines to reclaim runaway slaves while slave masters thought nothing of heartlessly alienating children from their parents by selling them off to other slave owners. Although DiZenzo is of Italian-American and not African-American descent, she says her family experienced something different but very similar.

“My dad was successful in relocating me back to South Port, Connecticut but the guardian followed us and threatened to charge him with kidnapping if I was not extradited back to Florida,” said DiZenzo of her 86 year old father who has since passed away.

Hiring a personal attorney to fend off an emergency temporary guardianship requires a considerable amount of money, which DiZenzo didn't access fast enough while she was sick.

"When I called the bank to inquire about my bank account, customer service refused to disclose any information," she said.

That’s because once under guardianship an individual becomes a ward of the state and loses all rights, even financial ones.

“A guardian has the power to help themselves to the assets of wards without any oversight," Sugar told Newsmax Finance. "The guardian’s power is total and cannot easily be challenged. They are lord and master over that person's life, assets and existence and in some cases guardians buy and sell wards to one another.” (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
The Spirit of American Slavery Lives On in Probate Court

Seniors deserve compassionate care

Senior citizens in our country deserve nothing but the best. They are parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Sadly, some seniors have no surviving or involved family at all, which is all the more reason they must be looked after.

Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Justice will launch 10 regional elder justice task forces across the country. The priority will be the safety, protection and care of senior citizens. These task forces will bring together federal, state and local prosecutors, law enforcement and agencies that provide services to the elderly to coordinate and enhance efforts to pursue action against nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to residents.

While most nursing homes do things the right way, we sometimes hear about seniors being treated horribly and living in sub-par conditions in nursing homes. Mistreatment of the elderly isn’t limited to physical abuse, it can also be emotional and financial.

There is no place for this in our society, and these task forces should put these facilities on notice that cruel treatment toward seniors won’t be tolerated, and that if it occurs, those responsible will be held accountable.

The first step will be holding periodic meetings with law enforcement and government agencies to streamline the process of getting information into the right hands.

The second role of the task forces is community outreach. Task force members will attend community events to get the word out and make themselves available to hear public comments. It’s important to get the word out to the public that this is a high priority for these task forces.

The final step is working with Medicaid and Medicare programs and making sure any failure to provide proper care is referred to law enforcement.

Overall, the task force wants to ensure that our senior citizens are safe. Establishing these task forces is a great start toward ensuring that our senior citizens are safe and treated well.

Through these task forces, much-needed attention is being brought forward about abuse of the elderly, whether physically, emotionally or financially.

Bowling Green Police Department spokesman Officer Ronnie Ward put it best when he said, “When more attention is focused on a problem, it’s always good for people to be aware and understand what constitutes a crime.”

These task forces will do just that and then some.

— Anyone who suspects elder abuse may call anonymously to a 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-800-752-6200.

Full Article & Source:
Seniors deserve compassionate care