LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - In the past two days, multiple individuals who were supposed to protect our most vulnerable citizens have been indicted, and most are now behind bars.
But their crimes didn't happen in back alleys under the cloak of darkness or in secret back rooms.
Contact 13 continues to investigate the broken guardianship system to see who else should be accountable.
Guardianship cases are handled in Clark County's Family Court, but shockingly, the courtroom is exactly where the accused committed most of their alleged crimes.
Thursday afternoon, Susan Rousselle was indicted on 44 counts of theft and exploitation for stealing more than $50,000 from the special needs trust account of Jason Hanson.
On Wednesday, private, for-profit guardian April Parks was indicted as the alleged ring leader of a group authorities are calling a criminal syndicate.
The four, arrested Wednesday in law enforcement actions across the country, are facing nearly 300 felony counts.
They're charged with isolating elderly and disabled people from their families and systematically draining their life savings in the last months of their lives.
"I'm saddened to say that most of the victims that are part of this criminal indictment have since passed away," said District Attorney Steve Wolfson in a press conference following the indictments.
April Lynn Parks, husband Gary Taylor, business partner Mark Simmons and attorney Noel Palmer Simpson stole over half a million dollars, according to a criminal indictment. It was handed down Wednesday--two years after Contact 13 first broke the story about April Parks and her business bilking those the court assigned her to protect.
"When I get to that age and somebody tries to put me in a guardianship, I'm probably going to come out kicking and screaming too," Parks said in an interview with Contact 13 in early 2015.
She was talking about Rudy and Rennie North, who are among more than 150 victims named in the indictment as having lost money and possessions to Parks.
"We do marshal the assets," Parks explained. "Yes. We absolutely do that. And we are instructed to do that. And that's for safe keeping."
But the Grand Jury indictment says she failed to keep much of anything safe. She's accused of filing hundreds of false documents with the court and committing perjury. Which begs the question, where was the oversight? Every one of Parks' alleged victims were wards of the court, conscripted into guardianship by people like Commissioner Jon Norheim--who's been removed from all adult guardianship cases, and Family Court presiding judge Charles Hoskin.
"There are other agencies and other departments within Clark County that are somewhat responsible for what I call a failure," said District Attorney Wolfson.
Part of that failure even included fraudulent medical records, which the court allowed Parks to use to prove people needed a guardian.
Contact 13 wanted to know why all those phony and altered documents were accepted and whether any judges, commissioners or doctors would be held accountable.
"Some of the operational things down in Family Court--some of the checks and balances that perhaps weren't followed," said Wolfson. "But at the end of the day, I believe changes have been put in place and I'm hopeful that these won't happen again."
We asked Clark County District Court for a response to the District Attorney's comments and questions about how all this fraudulent activity was approved. The Court provided the following statement:
It is the goal of the court, that improvements made over the past two years to the guardianship system including: hiring an investigator and compliance officer, technological upgrades, and case re-assignment to judges, will stop the potential for those intent on defrauding the most vulnerable in our community.
Protecting our most vulnerable requires not only court commitment, but a commitment of resources by funding authorities in the executive branch, and continued leadership from the legislature. We all need to focus on improving guardianship and must continue until all possible improvements are implemented.
When issues with the guardianship system were brought to the attention of the court, the court took immediate action to address issues and called for a commission to determine what needed to be done to get guardianship in line with national best practices. The court has made changes over the past two years to address issues with the guardianship system including: automating daily compliance reports; moving the caseload from a hearing master to judges, working to implement new specialized software. A Guardianship Hotline was established and is still up and running to take concerns and questions at 702-671-4614 and an email...is also available at guardianshipcompliance@for those who have concerns.
CONTACT 13: Guardianship crimes occurred in courtroom