The former Las Vegas woman, 29, has no money to fix a broken-down van her caregivers use to take her on errands.
And she can’t afford to pay those caregivers for a large portion of the help she needs to get through each day with a neurological disorder that has left her with an impaired voice and limited use of her hands and legs.
Dagani, who now lives in Texas, is one of hundreds of former clients whose funds authorities say were stolen by Graham. In all, he is accused of taking $17.2 million over at least a decade from clients who trusted him to guard their savings.
The victims include three young children who survived a car crash that killed their parents in 2010 and the heirs to an estate that was to be their security in retirement.
In interviews with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Dagani and other victims described their frustration with Graham as they fought, sometimes desperately, to get him to turn over their funds in the years and final months before he closed his law practice.
“He stole millions of dollars to feed his ego and desires for wealth and power, and he used his law license to do it,” Janeen Isaacson, a prosecutor for the State Bar of Nevada, said at a disciplinary hearing for Graham last month. “He projected his image through advertisements, expensive houses, nice suits and other trappings of success, but he didn’t get those things through talent and hard work. He got them off the backs of his clients.”
Clark County prosecutors charged Graham, 52, in January with the theft of $2.1 million in three of his cases, with more potential charges on the horizon. He remains in custody on $5 million bail and faces disbarment.
Until Graham walked away from his law practice, Dagani said, she was using about $300 a month from her trust fund to pay an array of personal expenses. The fund also paid for her auto insurance and maintenance for the van and powered wheelchair.
The extra cash helped her maintain control of her life, control she said she is losing.
“Instead of being the boss, I’m now at the caregivers’ mercy,” said Dagani, who corresponded with the Review-Journal in emails and telephone calls.
Cutting back care
Dagani said she relies on her caregivers from the time she wakes up until she goes to sleep.
On a typical day at her rented home in San Antonio, she needs help getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, brushing her teeth, combing her hair and making meals. Caregivers also do her housekeeping and laundry and help with her online business selling decorative fingernail wraps.
Medicaid covers 51 hours a week in home care for Dagani, about 20 hours less than what she needs.
She has no money to pay her three caregivers for the additional time. She has had to cut back on the more pleasurable things in her life, such as shopping for clothes, attending concerts, and taking vacations.
Dagani said she relies on $155 a month in food stamps when she’s able to buy groceries at a store near her home, but doesn’t have money for basic items such as shampoo, soap and toothpaste. She has a 51-inch flat screen television but can’t watch it because she has no money to pay her cable bill.
Her mother, Joan Albstein, who lives in New York where Dagani was born, said she has been trying to help fill the financial void, but doesn’t have the money to pitch in much longer.
Albstein, 62, an elementary school teacher, said she paid for a scaled-down version of her daughter’s auto insurance and has supplemented the salary of her caretakers.
“I was determined not to see her lose what she had become used to,” Albstein said.
She said her daughter had a series of setbacks after she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Her father abandoned the family when she was 1. At age 3, she had surgery to correct a cross-eyed condition.
And when she was 11, Dagani had a cancerous tumor removed from her lower intestine.
“Despite everything she’s been through, she always wakes up with a smile on her face,” Albstein said.
This time, Dagani is counting on her religious faith to get her through her growing financial difficulties.
“I have to believe that God will take care of my needs,” she said.
But she may need more than faith. (Click to Continue)
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Victims of indicted attorney Robert Graham suffer hardship