Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Guardianship reforms’ next phase ushered in

With a new law and a million dollars for implementation, top state and judicial officials on Friday publicly ushered in a new phase of reforming the state’s adult guardianship system that aims to find out how many incapacitated adults in New Mexico are under court protection and assess whether their finances are safe.

The one-time legislative funding will pay for staff to sift through about 20,000 court files to find out how many people are under guardianship and conservatorships, and $300,000 will be devoted to the hiring of three auditors by the State Auditor’s Office for random compliance audits of contract guardians working for the state-funded guardianship program for low-income people.

The Auditor’s Office will also be on call to conduct audits of guardian or conservator cases referred by judges or, in some cases, by the public.

“I want you to know that the three branches of government have come together to solve the problem,” said state Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura, whose court led the reform effort. She appeared Friday with state Auditor Wayne Johnson, state Sen. Jim White, R-Albuquerque, state Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, and state District Judge Shannon Bacon of Albuquerque.

For years, courts have placed people deemed incapacitated, such as those with dementia or brain trauma, under legal guardianship or conservatorships if they are unable to make decisions about their care or manage their finances.

But the system, here and around the country, has come under criticism for lack of oversight by the courts and inadequate accountability, and in some cases malfeasance, by some professional court-appointed guardians.

Nakamura said Friday that the Legislature’s “historic” reforms, accompanied by new court rules, are “significant improvements” that will provide stricter accountability and greater transparency.

Since the law took effect July 1, hearings in the traditionally closed guardianship cases are open to the public and families now have greater opportunity to view confidential reports filed in their loved ones’ cases, if a judge allows.

Guardians no longer have “unilateral” ability to limit visitation by relatives, which Bacon said “created an environment for exploitation.” Unless a judge decides otherwise, financial bonds will also be required of conservators managing an incapacitated person’s assets.

Johnson, who volunteered his agency to help in the reform effort, said, “This is the beginning of the process. I don’t want you to think that this is the end of the road.”

A provision in the new law permits audits of the yearly reports guardians and conservators must file with the court about the incapacitated person’s welfare and assets and expenditures. The law also requires expanded reporting, but that will be phased in as guardians’ and conservators’ annual reports come due.

Random audits of the 20 or so corporate guardianship firms that work for the state’s Office of Guardianship will be undertaken this year.

The audits could include a review of financial transactions undertaken on behalf of the protected person and a review of any grievances filed against the contractor. About 900 incapacitated people are served by the program.

But Johnson said there are legislative fixes needed before his office can initiate its own audits of guardian/conservator cases not involving state funds. Asked whether $300,000 is enough to perform the random audits, Johnson replied, “I hope so.”

He said his audit team will still be able to review cases referred by the court or for which the court has permitted review. Johnson promised to make public reports about the audits, removing confidential information.

Nakamura said the Supreme Court first learned about the depth of the problem from stories published by the Albuquerque Journal, which documented the “painful” experience of families whose loved ones are under corporate guardianships or conservatorships.

“We all read about the horrors some citizens encounter,” Nakamura said, including cases “to put it bluntly, that had fallen through the cracks.”

White, who spearheaded the reform bill unanimously approved by the Legislature in February, said Friday, “We’ve changed the system, not in great volumes but in some details. We want to get the word out both for those doing the guarding and those being guarded.” He added, “We may have to make further changes in future legislation.”

Ely helped amend White’s bill for House approval. He said Friday that most guardians and conservators are dedicated and honest, but added, “This is the beginning of a process to protect the public from the crooks, the bad people (who exploit the incapacitated).”

Just a year ago, federal authorities in New Mexico announced criminal investigations of Ayudando Guardians and Desert State Life Management, which managed conservatorships and other accounts for incapacitated people. The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed fraud and other charges against the principals in both of those now-defunct firms, who are accused of stealing millions of dollars from clients.

While technology impediments have kept the courts from identifying how many guardianship or conservatorship cases are active, part of the special $1 million funding will pay for a special case review that could take six months.

Beyond the new law, Nakamura echoed White and others in pledging to continue to make New Mexico’s guardianship system better.

There is likely to be a need for special funding again next year, Nakamura and White said, depending on what’s learned from audits and other reforms.

But, Nakamura added, “We’re in much better shape today than we were last December (prior to the legislative session.)”

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship reforms’ next phase ushered in

Trial for woman accused of taking from elderly woman will continue Tuesday

Sandra Steinberg
During opening arguments in the trial for a woman accused of stealing money from an elderly woman, the defense and prosecution offered vastly different pictures of the relationship between the two women.

Sandra Steinberg, 50, was charged in April 2017 with exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a class B felony. Police and prosecutors claim that Steinberg stole thousands of dollars, including money from oil royalties, from an elderly woman she had been helping to care for.

In his opening statement, Nathan Madden, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, said the woman Steinberg is accused of stealing from was 74 and barely able to leave home. He said the woman trusted Steinberg enough to add her to her checking account, and that eventually, Steinberg took thousands of dollars from that account.

“Once (Steinberg) started realizing the oilfield checks started coming in, you’re going to see a spike in the money coming out of (the elderly woman’s) account,” Madden told the jury.

Madden said the elderly woman wrote some checks to Steinberg but that Steinberg also wrote out checks to herself in the woman’s name, used the woman’s account to pay her utility bills and that she would deposit part of oil royalty checks while keeping money for herself.

According to police, Steinberg stole $9,500 in oil royalties from last August 2016 through March 2017. She also allegedly withdrew about $5,200 from the woman’s bank account, and wrote several unauthorized checks totaling more than $900.

During his opening statement, though, defense attorney Kevin Chapman said the woman wasn’t vulnerable and that while Steinberg had helped the woman, she hadn’t been an official caretaker, wasn’t in a position of trust and didn’t have power of attorney.

“There was nothing like that,” Chapman said. “They had a joint banking account that they both had the authority to operate out of.”

He said the pair were joint owners of the account, and that they became financially intertwined, but that there was no contract limiting what Steinberg was supposed to use money for.

Chapman also disputed that the woman met the legal definition of a vulnerable adult, saying she was able to drive when she and Steinberg became friends.

He said the woman had done well on a mental acuity test and while she had arthritis and limited mobility, that didn’t meet the legal standard.

“The state tries to equate limited mobility with that, but that’s simply not sufficient,” Chapman told the jury.

Steinberg’s trial had previously been set for April, but was delayed. Also in April, a judge rejected a plea deal between Steinberg and prosecutors. That deal would have given Steinberg a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

Monday was mostly taken up with jury selection, with questioning from attorneys lasting until after 2:30 p.m. and the jury being seated around 3:15 p.m. Testimony from prosecution witnesses is supposed to begin at 9 a.m. today.

The trial is scheduled to last until Wednesday.

Woman who beat elderly husband with 3-hole puncher sent to prison

COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A Cobb County woman is spending the next several years in prison after pleading guilty to charges that she beat her elderly husband with a three-hole punch.

Barbara Joanne Long, 69, admitted in court last week that over a period of three days in August 2016, she used a three-hole punch, a boot, and her fists and feet to attack her husband, who was left lying on the floor in their living room with multiple facial fractures.

Long waited two days to call 911.

The couple had been married for more than two decades, and they were arguing about long-standing marital issues when the beatings took place.

William Long died in early 2017 at age 72.

Barbara Long pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault family violence, one count of elder neglect, and four counts of elder abuse.

“This was a tough case, with strong factors in aggravation and mitigation,” said Senior ADA Jason Marbutt, who prosecuted the case and also is chairman of the Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force. “Justice was done.”

On Friday afternoon, Cobb Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Poole sentenced Barbara Long to 10 years, with five years to serve in prison and the balance on probation. 

Full Article & Source:
Woman who beat elderly husband with 3-hole puncher sent to prison

Monday, July 16, 2018

Tonight on Marti Oakley's T. S. Radio: Abolishing Probate and Theft of Estates and Trusts

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

Our guest tonight is Sharon De Lobo. Sharon produced the documentary: "The Unforgivable Truth"...the story of the theft of the family foundation ranch and funds. The entire Mercedes K. and Chandler H. Kibbee Foundation Fund and ranch were taken by the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association). Mercedes K. Kibbee wanted her ranch and her fortune to be put to good use and for her ranch to be used as a safe, happy place for disadvantaged children. Instead, bad actors such as First Interstate Bank intervened and converted the foundation and all its assets to their own purposes in the name of the YMCA.

Quoted from the legal documents signed by Mercedes,: "I never gave permission for the foundation to be structured in such a way so as to allow its board of directors to be compiled of a majority of people who are also on the YMCA board.". Documents signed December 12, 2006.

From the Kibbee Foundation Board of Directors, Jay McGuiness who is the Executive Director of the Sheridan YMCA is heard at approximately 1:21 mins into the video, responding to questioning saying, "We own it now! Every vehicle, every tool, every painting"....and he goes on.

Estate theft and theft of trusts is common place in the predatory world of elder abuse by professional people and supposedly respectable institutions and organizations. The most common method used is to levy false charges of incapacity against the elderly individual with assets, to then guardianize the elderly individual and begin plundering the estate.

JOIN The Elder Abuse Reform Now Project

READ The Silver Standard News

WATCH The Unforgivable Truth

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

Former guardian of Gatesway Foundation clients charged with embezzlement, exploitation

The former Gatesway Foundation aide also faces exploitation accusation

A former court-ordered guardian of adults with intellectual disabilities at the Gatesway Foundation has been accused of embezzling about $180,000 from people under her guardianship, according to court documents.

Charges were expected to be filed against Leslie Mansfield, who was responsible for clients of the Gatesway Foundation, a Broken Arrow nonprofit that serves adults with intellectual disabilities and has been the focus of a recent Department of Health investigation.

The charges — one count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and one count of embezzlement — were mistakenly filed July 2 against Leslie Ann Mansfield, a 38-year-old retail worker who had no involvement with Gatesway. Charges will soon be filed against Leslie E. Mansfield, a former University of Tulsa law professor.

Officer James Koch, public information officer for the Broken Arrow Police Department, said a “clerical error” was the reason charges were filed against the wrong person. He said new charges are expected to be filed Monday.

Sally Van Schenck, spokeswoman for the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office, said the filed charges “were based on information provided to us by the Broken Arrow Police Department.”

Van Schenck said all charges against Leslie Ann Mansfield were dismissed Wednesday afternoon. The dismissal order was signed by Judge Sarah Smith.

Citing an affidavit filed by the department, the Gatesway Foundation said in a statement that Mansfield allegedly embezzled nearly $90,000 from the trust accounts of four residents beginning in 2012 and withdrew another $90,000 from the trust account of a fifth alleged victim upon his death.

A Gatesway accounting employee reportedly contacted authorities in January after Mansfield reportedly “failed repeatedly to provide documents necessary to complete clients’ required care plans,” according to the Gatesway statement.
“I was sick when I found out the extent of the damage,” that employee said in the statement.

The affidavit apparently details some of Mansfield’s alleged actions, accusing her of purchasing cashier’s checks to a car dealership totaling more than $25,000, according to the Gatesway statement. One client’s account was allegedly stripped of nearly $40,000 from 2013 to 2017.

Many of the foundation’s clients live below the poverty line, and Mansfield managed accounts that included state and federal funds meant to pay for housing, food, medical care and other necessities.

Gatesway officials stressed that Mansfield had no connection to the foundation other than her court-ordered guardianship of its clients. She was employed at the University of Tulsa as an assistant clinical professor of law from 1999 to 2005, according to a university spokeswoman.

Separately, the Gatesway Foundation is facing possible termination from Medicare and Medicaid programs after a Department of Health investigation in May found deficiencies that placed clients in “immediate jeopardy,” according to a June 8 letter to the foundation from the Health Department.

The investigation, which was first reported by The Frontier, a Tulsa online news organization, found that one client who had a “mild intellectual disability” and was incontinent had once soiled herself and was left unattended, an employee reportedly told investigators. Another client was reportedly told to clean up after the woman.

The foundation has submitted a plan to the Department of Health to correct the deficiencies. It has until Aug. 13 to prove it has implemented that plan in order to remain compliant with Medicare and Medicaid requirements.

In May, Gatesway announced that it would begin selling off some of its Tulsa-area properties, the Tulsa World reported at the time. Officials pointed to years of inadequate funding both from the state and private sources as a reason for the decision, which was made to eliminate debt and improve liquidity, ultimately allowing Gatesway “to focus on more efficiently delivering its mission,” its president said at the time.

Full Article & Source: 
Former guardian of Gatesway Foundation clients charged with embezzlement, exploitation

Editorial: Mayor's big-hearted bad judgment

Mayor John Tecklenburg should have known better than to loan himself without court permission $80,000 from accounts he controlled as conservator for an elderly former neighbor. Probate Judge Irvin Condon was right to remove Mr. Tecklenburg from the conservatorship after his violation of state law.

Mishandling Johnnie Wineglass’ finances showed the job should have been done by a professional. The mayor, a real estate agent by trade, said he did not know he needed court permission to loan himself the money.

“I think you meant well, but we can’t set a precedent of self-dealing,” the judge told Mr. Tecklenburg on Tuesday. Mr. Condon’s remark about “self-dealing” particularly stung Mr. Tecklenburg and could have an impact on his professional life.

The mayor agreed to become the woman’s conservator in 2008 — for free — when she started losing her memory and became unable to manage her money. He took out loans of $20,000 in 2011 and $35,000 in 2014 to benefit his wife’s gift shop, which was later sold; a third loan of $25,000 was taken out in 2016 to help him cover living expenses as he transitioned into the job of mayor. All the loans were repaid on time, with 5 percent interest, including an additional $877.22.

Mr. Tecklenburg also used $25,000 of the woman’s money to buy an Edisto Island tax sale property in 2011 and then sold it back to the original owner, yielding a $3,000 profit for her. Special conservators appointed by the court called it a risky move with the potential of leaving the woman with property that could have been difficult to convert into cash to pay her bills.

In the end, no harm was done to Ms. Wineglass’ finances. And by all accounts, Mr. Tecklenburg took on the job out of the goodness of his heart. But he should have sought legal advice about lending himself money. It was a case of big-hearted bad judgment.

In his official capacity, we expect the mayor to be more careful. Mr. Tecklenburg is the leader of the state’s largest city and plays a major role in how it brings in and spends its funds. It’s critical that the public have confidence in his judgment as well as his ability to handle money and follow the law. He will need to work hard to earn back any confidence lost as a result of this episode.

A report prepared for the judge by the special conservators recommended Mr. Tecklenburg continue to manage the woman’s money, as did two of her goddaughters. But Judge Condon was right to remove the mayor from the job. Violating the law is reason enough, even if no harm was done. Being mayor affords Mr. Tecklenburg no special consideration, and the judge would be expected to handle similar cases in the same manner.

Full Article & Source: 
Editorial: Mayor's big-hearted bad judgment

Release Jean Wahab- an American senior citizen imprisoned for no crime.

In 2016, the Oakland County Probate Court in Michigan took Virginia Jean Wahab- a 94 year old woman away from her family and placed her in Lourdes Nursing Home where she is held against her will.

According to a Tablet Magazine article:

Jean was taken away from her daughter Mimi and given a state appointed  guardian Jon Munger because of a past due bill owed to the nursing home where she'd been going for short term rehab.

No evidence was presented at the hearing.

Jean was not in court to speak for herself.

Mimi was not permitted legal representation.

The Judge Linda Hallmark threw out Jean's power of attorney which had named Mimi as her caregiver and replaced it with Jon Munger without giving a reason.

Jon Munger has billed Jean over $6,000 in a three month period.

Jon Munger is trying to take the family home away. 

Jon Munger has broken into the home five times and taken everything of value from it. He locked Mimi out of her home without a valid court order. No hearing was issued before he got it.

He then billed Virginia for the locksmith!

Jon Munger has a bad history of doing this to other people.He has been sued numerous times and fired as a public administrator. Oakland County Probate Court has been investigated by Michigan TV station WXYZ for doing this to other families.

Jean and Mimi have not been allowed to see each other for two years. Jean keeps asking to go home and be with her daughter.

Jean's family says she needs and wants to go home. An independent investigator who looked into the case said “To isolate and prohibit an aging Mother from seeing her daughter is heartbreaking to this GAL. Mimi Brun has priority under the statute and is Virginia’s choice to be her Guardian.”

Why is Jean being held against her will by Jon Munger? Why was she denied a lawyer? Why was a guardian assigned because of a past due bill?

Lawyers have said that what Jon Munger and the Oakland County courts are doing is illegal.

Sign the petition! Help Jean go home. Tell Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette to end the corruption at Oakland County Probate Court which is illegally tearing American families apart and robbing them of everything they own.

Full Article & Source:
Release Jean Wahab- an American senior citizen imprisoned for no crime.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Guardians from Hell: Part 2 Update into Investigation of systemic guardianship abuse in Northern Michigan

After the above article was published detailing elder abuse by professional guardians in Northern Michigan, I visited the Oakland County Probate Court to watch a June 27 hearing on a petition for visitation brought by Mimi Brun who has not seen her mother Virginia Wahab for the two-years since Mimi’s power of attorney was tossed out Wahab had been assigned a professional guardian Jon Munger.What is happening in Oakland County is systemic and in literally hundreds of pages of documents I have already collected, I am seeing the same pattern in multiple cases involving at least six professional attorney/guardians there and three out of the four judges.

The guardians are alerted to a new admission by a nursing home with whom they have a downstream relationship. The nursing home then files a petition for guardianship which is granted by an Oakland County judge regardless of an existing power of attorney or whether or not the senior or his/her/their family is represented by counsel. The guardian then immediately halts visitation by the family members. In complete control of his ward’s medical and financial life, he proceeds to strip the estate, sell the house at far below market cost and bill the ward thousands. Within months, the ward has been declared both incapacitated and destitute. The guardian then applies for Medicaid benefits on behalf of the nursing home. Both the guardian and the nursing home make a tremendous profit while the ward is left to rot, often in a substandard facility.

In the Wahab case, detailed in the article, the reason that Munger had been assigned was stated as a past due-bill owed Lourdes and a need for the organization to apply for Medicaid benefits for Wahab. There is no Michigan statute that allows for a petition to be made or a guardian to be assigned because a nursing facility is owed money. 

Munger has kept Wahab at Lourdes in almost total isolation. However, on the 27th, she had been brought to the court while her daughter’s petition was heard. Wahab was surrounded by at least five Lourdes staff members including the organization’s CEO Maureen Comer. As soon as Munger saw my media badge, he left the court. He was instead represented by his attorney Joseph Ehrlich. Neither would answer any of my questions.

Once mother and daughter were finally together, both were in tears. Wahab repeated, again and again, that she wanted to go home with her daughter; that she did not want to remain at Lourdes any more.

Less than two minutes passed before Ehrlich suddenly barged toward the two and violently ripped the wheel chair from Brun. Virginia was visibly jolted by the experience.

“My turn,” Ehrlich said.

There was a court security camera directly behind us. The incident was witnessed by a half-dozen people. Brun screamed in pain and rage and tried to push Ehrlich away from her mother. He was smiling as a Lourdes aide quickly took Wahab back in to the court room. Even though Ehrlich was neither Wahab’s guardian nor an employee at Lourdes he would later state in a police report that he had been “asked by Lourdes staff to retrieve Virginia.”

In that same report, Ehrlich charged Brun with assault. The report stated that the court’s cameras were not functioning during the incident. Two of the witness statements are missing. Fortunately, I had my own camera rolling. Following a subpoena, that footage is now in the hands of Brun’s attorney.

In court, Brun’s attorney argued that there was no legal reason to keep the two apart and that their love was clearly evident. When Ehrlich addressed presiding Judge Linda Hallmark, his statements made during a 20-minute monologue were replete with inaccuracies including the date that Munger received guardianship. He stated it as June 19, 2016. It was actually ten days later. Yet, Hallmark refused to grant the visitation. Ehrlich instead called for and was granted an evidentiary hearing July 30. Wahab was immediately transported back to Lourdes. Neither she nor her daughter were permitted to speak.

June 27 was petition day at the Oakland County Court. As soon as people saw my press badge, I was approached by at least 15-20 different families all begging me to write about their case. It was as if I had carried a loaf of bread into a village of starving people. Midway through the morning, I was escorted out of the building by at least a half-dozen sheriff’s deputies who were acting on orders of the courts judicial attorney Ryan Deel’s claims that I had not been given permission by the clerk of the court to be there.

I don’t think they were concerned about such an action any more than the Detroit AG Bill Schuette, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder or Oakland County’s senators and house reps were interested in commenting about the issue. They know what I know I know – that the story will go away because it isn’t considered worthy of mass-media attention. The simple truth of American culture is that if my story had been about a 9-year-old girl and not a 94-year-old woman, this would be all over the internet and OpEds across national print and online outlets would be apoplectic in their demand that something be done about Oakland County.

The truth no one wants to admit is that this country has been and will always be a place for the young. It does not serve you to be old in America. Now that the boomers are gathering for what has been termed a “silver tsunami,” the gravy train presently running smack through the center of the Oakland County Probate Court is about to become endless in length.

These boomers face the same fate as Wahab and countless others before them because we are not at a place in America where people are given a chance to look beyond the news that is told because it is popular and focus on the news that must be told because it isn’t.

So here is the news that isn’t. Here is what we do not want to know:

According to an Oakland County case load report, total dispositions of guardianship and conservatorship cases numbered over 1,900 in 2017 alone.

An anonymous source inside Oakland County Probate told me that Munger has had well over 1,600 wards from past and present cases.

I’m going to carry on regardless. If I have to I’ll bet the farm on getting this story finished and the word out about these Probate Courts because something has to be done and someone has to try.

“There was an emperor who asked a shepherd’s boy, ‘How many seconds in eternity?’ The shepherd’s boy replied ‘There’s this mountain of pure diamond. It takes an hour to climb it, and an hour to go around it! Every hundred years, a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on the diamond mountain. And when the entire mountain is chiseled away, the first second of eternity will have passed!’ You must think that’s a heck of a long time. Personally, I think that’s a heck of a bird.”

Full Article & Source:
Guardians from Hell: Part 2 Update into Investigation of systemic guardianship abuse in Northern Michigan

State attorney general praises new law expanding prosecutions of elder abuse

Attorney General Josh Shapiro
The legislation expands prosecutorial powers to go after those who abuse a care-dependent person.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro praised a Berks County lawmaker during a luncheon Friday for his work passing legislation that expands prosecutorial powers to go after those who abuse a care-dependent person.

That legislation, signed into law by the governor last month, had been introduced every session since 2007.

Shapiro credited the legislative success to the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Jim Cox, a Spring Township Republican, Chief Deputy Attorney General Laurie Malone's doggedness and the Reading Eagle's reporting.

“It's hard to get a bill passed,” Shapiro said after his remarks. “It is really hard, especially with all the competing interests, even if it's a subject matter like this that you think can draw strong bipartisan support. But (Cox) stayed with it and he got it done.”

Although tasked with investigating and prosecuting fraud, abuse and neglect, Pennsylvania did not have statutory provisions to prosecute abuse.

On June 28, Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 53 into law, amending the criminal statute to include language that adds abuse of a care-dependent person, as well as neglect resulting in death.

Elder abuse can take many forms and can be physical, emotional, sexual or through neglect or financial exploitation.

First introduced by former state Rep. Mauree Gingrich in 2007 after residents at a Lebanon County assisted living home were fed rotten food and put to work stuffing newspaper inserts, the bill's earlier versions had passed the House but languished in the Senate.

Cox said the media attention helped push the bill along in the Senate.

“The focus I had, essentially, is we've got to care for those who can't protect themselves,” said Cox. “When push came to shove, I couldn't let the abuse continue.”

The new law goes into effect Aug. 27.

Elder abuse is on the rise. Pennsylvania Department of Health data show substantiated abuse in nursing homes more than tripled from 2012 to 2016, the latest available.

The problem is only expected to worsen as baby boomers turn 65.

According to federal data, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has prosecuted the lowest percentage of patient care cases of all states.

State and local officials expressed high hopes Friday that the amended statute would change that.

The new law, however, stops short of including penalties for those who fail to report suspected abuse to law enforcement. It's a problem the Eagle identified in a November investigation that found these crimes frequently go unreported.

Berks lawmakers acknowledged Friday that more needs to be done.

“This is just a landing point,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat. “We have more to do, but it's a good start.”

The Berks County Area Agency on Aging hosted Friday's luncheon, its second annual symposium, at the Inn at Reading, Wyomissing, with the goal of educating those who work in the aging and criminal justice systems to better recognize elder abuse.

Roughly 80 people attended, including Dr. C. Eve Kimball. A West Reading pediatrician for more than five decades, Kimball said elder abuse education should be regarded as being as important as training and reporting requirements for those who work with abused children.

“As a physician, I have not received any training in how to identify or report elder abuse,” Kimball told Shapiro during a question-and-answer session facilitated by Berks District Attorney John T. Adams. “I think we need it badly.”

Full Article & Source:
State attorney general praises new law expanding prosecutions of elder abuse

Cops: Nursing home workers duct-taped patient to chair

Lashron Williams and Phygelle Brudent
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — Two Florida nursing home employees are charged with using duct tape to restrain and quiet a patient with dementia.

Boynton Beach police said in a news release Friday that 52-year-old Lashron Williams and 44-year-old Phygelle Brudent, who worked at Regal Park Assisted Living Facility, duct-taped a 67-year-old woman to a chair and used tape to cover her mouth. They were arrested Thursday and charged with elder abuse and false imprisonment. 

Detectives say Brudent confessed to duct-taping the victim July 3, telling them the woman wouldn’t remain quiet. 

Williams told police Brudent duct-taped the victim. She said she uncovered the patient’s mouth to give her sleeping pills. She said she told Brudent it was wrong to duct-tape patients, but did not report her. 

Both were being held Friday at the Palm Beach County Jail on $3,000 bail.

Full Article & Source:
Cops: Nursing home workers duct-taped patient to chair

Saturday, July 14, 2018

NM guardianship reforms take effect

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Multiple state agencies on Friday outlined the more stringent reporting requirements and oversight mechanisms meant to improve a New Mexico guardianship system rocked by recent scandals.

The changes come courtesy of a new law that took effect July 1.

Senate Bill 19 was designed to prevent abuse and exploitation of thousands of incapacitated people in the state who are under court-ordered guardianship or conservatorship. Guardians make personal and health decisions for those they oversee. Conservators manage finances and sometimes property of those under their charge.

The legislation opens guardianship hearings to the public — previously the law required those to be closed unless the incapacitated person requested an open hearing. It also restricts guardians’ ability to ban family members from visiting their incapacitated loved ones.

Recent changes also mean guardians and conservators must keep the protected person’s financial records for seven years and comply with requirements of any audit of the person’s account, inventory, report or property; and they must submit additional information about the person’s finances and health to district courts, according to a news release.

In addition, the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Office of the State Auditor will begin a pilot project to audit and review guardianship and conservatorship cases, the release said.

District courts can now refer conservatorship cases to the auditor’s office for review and evaluation of the person’s financial affairs. The auditor also can randomly conduct financial and compliance audits of guardians for those served by a publicly funded program through the New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and Office of Guardianship.

“All three branches of government — Legislative, Executive and Judicial — came together and worked cooperatively on guardianship reforms to promote and protect the well-being of New Mexicans unable to manage their own affairs,” Supreme Court Justice Judith Nakamura said in a statement.

The Legislature allocated $1 million to the Administrative Office of the Courts for guardianship reform, and a steering committee representing all branches of government convened to help with the law’s implementation and make recommendations about how to use the money, the release said.

Full Article & Source:
NM guardianship reforms take effect

Little Rock attorney jailed in theft case in court

Matthew Mahlon Henry
A Little Rock lawyer, suspended over questions about more than $400,000 owed to one former client, made his first Pulaski County Circuit Court appearance Thursday to answer a felony theft charge involving $25,000 of another ex-client's money.

Matthew Mahlon Henry, 45, was arrested on the theft charge May 10, but he's been in jail since March 22 for contempt of court after he failed to obey one circuit judge's order to turn over the $25,000 and provide an accounting of his lawyer trust account. The judge has ordered Henry jailed until he surrenders the money.

By law, lawyers who handle money for their clients are required to keep those funds in a special escrow account until the monies can be dispensed.

The state regulators who suspended Henry's law license stated that he "presently poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public and to his clients if he continues to practice law."

Among Henry's legal problems are the findings of a second judge that the divorced father of two owes about $3,400 in child support, which is about two months' worth, although his ex-wife alleges that he owes about twice that much. That judge also found Henry in contempt after he bounced a check trying to pay the money, court filings show.

Thursday, Henry was before his third circuit judge, Leon Johnson, to have his trial on the Class B felony charge scheduled. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Henry appeared without legal representation, so the judge gave him a week to decide whether he will try to retain counsel or ask for a public defender.

Police and prosecutors say Henry stole the money last October from Texas building contractor Chris Irving, who had hired Henry to represent Irving's company, CSI Renovations, and gave Henry the money to put up for a work bond for a job he had in Fairfield Bay.

Two months later, Henry began to claim the money was his, owed to him for the work he'd done for Irving. He sued Irving in December, representing to the court that he had actual possession of the money.

The lawsuit brought him before his first circuit judge, Mackie Pierce. Court records show he asked Pierce to hold the money in a court account until a trial could be held to determine who was entitled to it.

Irving's attorney, Tre Kitchens, rebuffed Henry's claim on the money, telling the judge that Henry had no legal right to the money and could show no evidence he was entitled to it, court filings show.

"The complaint filed by the plaintiff does not contain a legal or factual basis for the plaintiff simply keeping the defendants' money," Kitchens' response to the lawsuit states. "The complaint does not include ... any other justification or basis for the plaintiff keeping the defendants' money."

Pierce sided with Irving in January, dismissing Henry's lawsuit five weeks after it was filed, and gave Henry 24 hours to to turn over the money to Kitchens.

The judge also ordered Henry to turn over copies of the lawyer's trust account bank records for the past four months.

But Henry did not comply. Two days after he missed the judge's deadline, Pierce again ordered him to turn over the records, this time warning Henry he was considering holding the attorney in contempt.

The judge even had his bailiff, Kevin Clifton, go to Henry's Spring Street office to serve the order. Irving's lawyer also had the order served on Henry at the office, court filings show.

Pierce ultimately gave Henry three chances over three months to comply with his orders. He ordered Henry arrested in March when the lawyer did not show up for a hearing on the issue. Finally, at an April 9 hearing, Pierce ordered Henry jailed until he pays Irving the money after Henry declined to answer questions about the case, citing his Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

"Matt Henry is ordered to be held in the Pulaski County jail until such time as he purges himself of contempt by delivering $25,000 to defendants' attorney," Pierce wrote in his order issued that same day.

Henry's attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, challenged the legality of Henry's continuing incarceration, accusing Pierce of illegally punishing Henry for declining to answer questions.

In court filings, Rosenzweig states that Henry, contrary to his initial claim, does not have the $25,000. He argued that Henry should be released because, since Henry cannot come up with the money to satisfy the judge, he will never meet the release conditions Pierce has imposed.

"Civil contempt is coercive in nature, and consequently there is no justification for confining ... a person who lacks the present ability to comply," Rosenzweig wrote in a motion for Henry's release. "Such imprisonment violates the due process guarantees of the United States and Arkansas Constitutions. In addition, the continued incarceration violates the prohibition on imprisonment for debt of Article 2, Section 16, of the Arkansas Constitution."

Rosenzweig argued that Pierce should release Henry and allow prosecutors to file criminal charges, if they deem it necessary, which would allow Henry the opportunity to be released ahead of trial on bail.

Pierce rejected those arguments. The case is now on appeal before the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Henry's law license was suspended on March 7 by the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct.

Court records show that Henry is one of six lawyers suspended this year. Eight were suspended in 2017.

According to the two-page suspension order, about $400,000 from one client that was deposited into Henry's trust account in August 2015 is missing.

Court records show Henry handled the probate case of a 77-year-old man, Keshavial Patel, of Jefferson, who died in India in January 2015. Patel left behind an estate of savings and property worth at least $1.7 million to his only son, a Texas man who hired Henry.

Court filings show that in February, the man hired new legal counsel to take over the case from Henry. But Henry repeatedly failed to complete the necessary paperwork to turn over the case to the new lawyer and has yet to surrender the remaining funds, $403,658, from the estate, court filings show.

The suspension order also cites Henry's failure to obey Pierce's court order to turn over his bank records and the $25,000. The order also notes his child-support issues before Judge Mike Reif and states that Henry has had 10 new grievances filed against him over the past two years.

Full Article & Source:
Little Rock attorney jailed in theft case in court

New staffing law, old struggles bedevil California nursing homes

Gabby Carrillo, a certified nursing assistant, serves a patient a meal at the Californian-Pasadena, a nursing home in Pasadena. A new state law will require that patients receive a minimum number of hours per day from CNAs, but homes fear they won't meet the requirement. (Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times)
 The 93-year-old dementia patient was getting anxious in her wheelchair.

The woman, a resident of the Californian-Pasadena nursing home, wanted to see her husband but had forgotten he was at a nearby hospital.

Holding the chair steady was a composed Gabby Carrillo, a certified nursing assistant who had witnessed this behavior before.

“We try to see things in their shoes,” said Carrillo, a CNA for more than three years. “Doing this job can be exhausting, not just physically but mentally too. Over time, you learn to cope with it.”

Despite the challenges, the 27-year-old professes a love for her job, which involves bathing, feeding and attending to other daily needs of patients. But the stressful work — coupled with low wages and a booming economy — has made it more difficult than ever for nursing homes to fill the position.

Now, state legislation that went into effect July 1 is putting even more pressure on the state’s 1,000-plus nursing homes, which some in the industry say could be forced to turn away or even discharge patients as a result.

The law, championed by organized labor and patient advocates, tightened staffing requirements for direct caregivers and added new ones specifically for certified nursing assistants.
Carrillo assists several patients at the Californian-Pasadena nursing home.
Carrillo assists several patients at the Californian-Pasadena nursing home. (Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times)
The Service Employees International Union, which pushed for the law and represents nursing assistants, acknowledges that nursing homes face a challenge, but said there is an overriding health-and-safety issue.

“There must be enough direct care staff to meet the quality care needs of nursing home residents and ensure a healthy workload for every caregiver,” said an SEIU local representative who declined to be identified.

Quality-of-care concerns have long plagued nursing homes and are well documented, most recently in a May report by California State Auditor Elaine Howle.

The report dinged the California Department of Public Health for its oversight of nursing homes. And it found a one-third increase from 2006 to 2015 in violations of federal regulations that were likely to cause serious injuries or death.

“We are at rock bottom,” said Patricia McGinnis, director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a patient advocacy group. “I don’t ever want to go to a nursing home, and I don’t know anyone who would.

The new law requires facilities to provide 3.5 hours of direct patient care each day, up from 3.2 hours. But the primary worry for nursing home operators is a first-ever requirement that 2.4 of those hours must be filled by CNAs.

The department will begin enforcing the law July 1, 2019, and homes that fail state audits face penalties of $15,000 to $30,000.  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
New staffing law, old struggles bedevil California nursing homes

Friday, July 13, 2018

Adelaide lawyer accused of stealing $850,000 as part of deceased estates 'sham'

Stephen McNamara
An Adelaide lawyer has gone on trial in the District Court accused of stealing $850,000 from deceased estates and fabricating documents to cover his tracks.

Stephen McNamara, 63, who ran a law firm called Commercial and General Law, was arrested in February 2015 after police raided his law firm and seized computers and documents.

He was charged with 17 counts of theft — alleged to have happened between November 2011 and July 2013 — and 16 counts of using fabricated evidence.

In his opening address, prosecutor James Slocombe told the court Mr McNamara was approached by the executor of two deceased estates and the funds were transferred to the law firm's trust account.
"On the prosecution's case Mr McNamara abused the trust that was placed in him and instead of honestly and diligently holding onto the estate funds as he was suppose to do, he took the money to use for his own purposes," he said.
"He used a well-sophisticated and dishonest system involving sham investments to companies to make it look like the money was being carefully invested for the benefit of the two estates."

"What the accused was really doing was not investing the money, it was all a sham."

It is alleged Mr McNamara was moving the money out of bogus investment accounts and into a number of other bank accounts which he used to pay for personal expenses including mortgage repayments.

The court heard when the beneficiaries of one of the deceased estates became fed up with Mr McNamara's "excuses and delay tactics" about why they had not received their share of the will, they made a complaint to the Law Society of South Australia.

"They weren't receiving their entitlement because Mr McNamara had used it all, the money was gone," Mr Slocombe said.
"What they did receive was a run-around, excuse after excuse, delay after delay."
The court heard the Law Society appointed a temporary supervisor to Mr McNamara's law firm while they investigated his practice.

As a result, Mr McNamara launched legal proceedings in the Supreme Court against the Law Society, challenging its decision.

On the prosecution's case, Mr McNamara then fabricated documents, including investment certificates, to cover his tracks and make it look like the estate funds had been properly invested.

"Those bogus documents were designed to hide the true nature of what happened to the estate funds and they were in effect an attempt to seemingly legitimise what were really sham investments," Mr Slocombe said.

It is further alleged that he enlisted the help of his associate, Philip John Pitman, 53, who stands co-accused in the trial of one count of using fabricated evidence.

Craig Caldicott, who is representing Mr McNamara, said that the court would hear evidence about how funds placed into a lawyer's trust account do not earn interest.
"If monies are to remain in a trust account for a long period of time, there can be an obligation of lawyers to invest that money out of the trust account into an investment body whereby interest can be earnt," he said.
The trial before Judge Paul Muscat and a jury is expected to run for two weeks.

Full Article & Source:
Adelaide lawyer accused of stealing $850,000 as part of deceased estates 'sham'

Elderly Alzheimer's patient beaten at Arvada assisted living community; caregiver facing arrest

ARVADA, Colo. — A former caregiver at an assisted living community in Arvada is accused of assaulting an Alzheimer’s patient, Contact7 Investigates has learned.

Arvada police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Gwendolyn Kentris on allegations she assaulted a resident in the Ralston Creek Neighborhood in March.

According to a police report, Kentris denied the abuse but admitted to forcefully restraining 74-year-old Karlene O’Brien because she was “one of the worst patients… who was usually fighting and biting.” Kentris also told police she has no license and received very little training, noting she returned to her previous job making cardboard boxes after the incident.

O’Brien suffered broken bones and several facial injuries along with abrasions on her knee and elbow, according to a police report.

Several Ralston Creek employees reportedly told police they either witnessed or overheard Kentris yelling and cursing at the dementia patient. One employee said she saw Kentris shove the victim and pry her hand off another caregiver’s hand.

One employee told police she heard O’Brien saying “Help me,” and another reported hearing O’Brien say “She’s going to kill me.”

Contact7 Investigates obtained a voicemail placed to the family of the victim the night of the incident in which a Ralston Creek staff member claimed O’Brien had injured herself with a coat hanger.

“She did have an incident not too long ago. We were trying to calm her down because she was hitting one of our workers,” the employee said in the recording. “She ended up scratching up her face with a coat hanger.”

Robert O’Brien, Karlene’s husband, told Contact7 Investigates she had been living at Ralston Creek for less than three weeks when she was attacked. When he visited her in the hospital he was immediately skeptical she could have caused the injuries on her own, as staff had initially told him.

"She was as badly beaten as anybody I've ever seen,” Robert said. “I thought she had been scratched on the face, punched in the mouth... had a black eye... so punched in the eye. She had broken bones in both hands.”

O’Brien said Karlene was diagnosed with dementia ten years ago. He had been his wife’s primary caregiver in their home for years. Two years ago, as her symptoms progressed, their family decided to look for outside help. They said they researched about 20 facilities before settling on Ralston Creek.

After the incident, Robert O'Brien said administrators told him the “memory care” facility was unequipped to care for her and she could not return.

“I would never recommend anybody send their loved one there,” Robert said.

O’Brien’s family filed a lawsuit in April against Kentris and Ralston Creek.

A Colorado Bureau of Investigation arrest history linked to the same name and date of birth as the Kentris facing arrest in the Arvada case show numerous arrests including felony convictions for drugs in 2011, another 2011 conviction for identity theft, and a 2013 drug felony.

A spokesperson for Ralston Creek’s parent company, the Haverland Carter Lifestyle Group based in Albuquerque, N.M., told Contact7 an investigation is currently underway to determine how Kentris passed a background check to work for the facility.

In a response to the lawsuit filed in Jefferson County district court, attorneys representing Ralston Creek said the facility initiated an investigation as soon as it was made aware of abuse allegations.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly Alzheimer's patient beaten at Arvada assisted living community; caregiver facing arrest

Care facility operator sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting disabled resident

Clarence Mielke
As he faced a judge for sentencing Tuesday, Clarence “Skip” Mielke continued to maintain that he was innocent of charges that he sexually assaulted a disabled woman who lived in the care facility he and his wife operated.

Mielke, 74, was convicted by a jury in March of second-degree sexual assault of a mentally ill victim and second-degree sexual assault by an employee of a residential facility. He was found not guilty by the same jury of four similar charges involving the same victim.

While he said he had empathy for the woman who testified at trial that he assaulted her, Mielke continued to deny he had committed any crime.

“I apologize to no one for something I did not do. I never did, nor would I ever do, anything to hurt” the woman, he said Tuesday.

The victim in the case was a resident of Carey Manor, the residential care facility Mielke’s wife owned and operated in Pleasant Prairie. Mielke and his wife lived in an apartment inside the facility, and he acted as the caretaker and financial officer for the business. The woman he was convicted of assaulting has Huntington’s disease, a degenerative neurological disorder

Mielke, who retired as a captain with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, maintained Tuesday that his case received undo attention because of his involvement with law enforcement.

He asked rhetorically whether his case would have received any media attention “if I was average Joe Citizen,” then answered, “I doubt it.”

Judge Chad Kerkman said it was “unfortunate that you are not remorseful” and said that it lends credence to the victim’s testimony that Mielke had told her, “I do what I want” when she had told him she did not want his sexual attention.

Kerkman pointed out that at trial, not only did the victim testify that she had been assaulted, but Mielke’s DNA was found inside the woman’s bra and two employees of Carey Manor testified they had observed what they believed was Mielke forcing the woman to perform oral sex. Those two women reported that incident to Mielke’s wife, and then to police, bringing on the investigation that led to the charges against him.

“The jury pretty much made a finding that you lied,” Kerkman said.

Kerkman sentenced Mielke to five years in prison followed by five years of extended supervision, along with being listed on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life. He will receive credit for 119 days spent in jail since his conviction.

The state had asked for a 15-year prison sentence, saying he took advantage of a disabled woman who is dying of a degenerative disease and who was entrusted to the care of Mielke and his wife.

“That’s pretty reprehensible,” prosecutor Kevin Shomin said. “That’s preying on the vulnerable.”

Defense attorney Frank Parise had argued against a prison sentence, saying that Mielke is in poor health.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the state’s recommendation here is a death sentence,” Parise said.

Full Article & Source: 
Care facility operator sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting disabled resident

Thursday, July 12, 2018

New stakeholders group focused on changes to adult guardianship program meets for the first time

A new stakeholders group established to improve Kentucky’s adult guardianship program has held its first meeting.

House Joint Resolution (HJR) 33, passed during the recent legislative session, recommended creation of a WINGS program to examine adult guardianship and identify needed changes. WINGS stands for Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders.

Guardianship occurs when a court appoints an individual or entity to oversee the care and well-being of an adult who is incapable of self-care. Many such individuals are elderly with no close family relatives. Kentucky utilizes both public and private guardians. The public guardians work within the Department of Aging and Independent Living, part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).

Concurrent with passage of HJR 33, the legislature passed House Bill 5, the first legislative overhaul of guardianship in Kentucky since the 1980s. The new statutes go into effect July 14.

CHFS Deputy Secretary Timothy Feeley said WINGS can help guardianship advocates achieve better outcomes for individuals who need assistance making health and legal decisions.

“As our elderly and disabled populations grow, it is essential that our safety net services for this vital portion of our community keeps pace,” he said. “We must care for those among us who cannot care for themselves, while concurrently working to build self-sufficiency where possible.”

The effort is coordinated jointly by CHFS and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). Twenty-six representatives from agencies throughout the state who work with our adult population were present and participated, exchanging suggestions for improving guardianship care. Subcommittees were formed to examine topics to include legislation and policy and education and outreach.

WINGS will report annually to the legislature regarding care of this vulnerable population with recommendations for building a stronger support system. Kentucky is the 25th state to adopt a WINGS program.

Those interested in contributing time or ideas to this cause, contact the AOC’s Karen Waugh by email at Karenwaugh@kycourts.net.

Full Article & Source:
New stakeholders group focused on changes to adult guardianship program meets for the first time

No bail for ex-Frankfort lawmaker accused of bilking two elderly women of millions

FRANKFORT, Maine (WABI) - A judge denied bail Tuesday for a former lawmaker from Frankfort accused of stealing upwards of $3 million from two elderly women, as well as tax evasion.

53-year-old Robert Lindell, Jr. faces more than a dozen charges.

He was initially arrested in March of last year.

Lindell is a broker and financial adviser who moved to California in 2014.

He served one term in the House of Representatives in 2004.

The Attorney General's Office says while Lindell was in Maine, he handled the estate of a 92-year-old woman in Belfast who died in 2012.

He also managed the Maine assets for a woman in her 80's, living in France.

Lindell was out on bail when prosecutors say he violated his bail this spring, by managing finances, again.

A judge agreed and revoked Lindell's bail.

He'll stay in jail until his trial, which is expected this fall.

Full Article & Source:
No bail for ex-Frankfort lawmaker accused of bilking two elderly women of millions

Man accused of attacking pregnant woman was deemed mentally ill months ago

Click to Watch Video
The case of a man deemed mentally ill in April after a series of violent crimes was back in court Monday charged with attacking a woman who is nine months pregnant.

Anthony Smith in accused of attacking the woman near the LeBlond pool on Riverside Drive.

“Some doctor at Summit made a decision that he was suitable to be released,” said Probate Judge Ralph Winkler.

Winker said the court has little power over what happens after a person is considered to be mentally ill.

“Once he’s mentally ill, it becomes a medical decision, not a court decision. The doctors treating him decide when or if he should be released,” Winkler said.

The victim who is nine-months pregnant said she was walking her dog when Smith attacked her. The victim said Smith attempted to rape her and when she fought back, Smith hit her over and over in the face.

The victim was beaten so severely she had to be hospitalized.

Smith was released from Summit Behavioral Center despite a series of violent attacks beginning in May of 2017.

“They do take history into account. At the end of the day with competency they look at the person’s current state of mind,” said Smith’s probate attorney, James Bogan.

Summit Behavioral Center is part of the Ohio Department of Mental Health. They did not return phone calls about the case.

Full Article & Source:
Man accused of attacking pregnant woman was deemed mentally ill months ago

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Judge rules Charleston mayor can no longer manage elderly woman's finances

Mayor John Tecklenburg (center)
Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon decided Tuesday that Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg can no longer serve as the manager of an elderly woman's finances after finding Tecklenburg made loans to himself from her funds without getting prior approval from the court, which violated state law.

The judge’s decision came after professional conservators appointed to review the details of the case recommended that Tecklenburg be allowed to continue serving as conservator for the woman, Johnnie Wineglass, who is 93. 

Condon disagreed.

"I think you meant well, but we can't set a precedent of allowing self-dealing," Condon said.

In legal terms, self-dealing is when a trustee takes advantage of their position for their own personal gain. The law says "any transaction which is affected by a conflict of interest is void unless the transaction is approved by the court after notice to interested persons and others as directed by the court."

The judge temporarily suspended Tecklenburg from handling Wineglass' funds in an order filed May 1, explaining that the details of the loans were unclear and needed to be reviewed further. The hearing Tuesday was to determine whether those financial documents showed self-dealing, and whether Tecklenburg should be removed or reinstated as conservator.

Tecklenburg took out three loans totaling $80,000 over five years. He borrowed $20,000 in 2011 and $35,000 in 2014 for his wife Sandy Tecklenburg's gift shop, Meeting Street Gallery; and one personal loan in the amount of $25,000 in 2016.

He repaid each loan in full with 5 percent interest before taking out the next loan. Tecklenburg incidentally paid about $877 more than he owed in interest.

He said in a written statement to the court that the interest rate he paid is comparable to a rate he'd pay if he had borrowed the money from a bank.

"My intent with regards to each of these loans was to supplement and grow the limited funds that I was handling for Ms. Johnnie," he said in the report submitted to Condon.

Tecklenburg also purchased a tax sale property on Edisto Island in 2011 with $25,000 of her funds and sold it back to the original owner. The transaction yielded a $3,000 profit for Wineglass.

The special conservators appointed by the court, Catherine Kennedy of Columbia and Ayesha Washington of Charleston, noted in their report that it was a risky move.

"Ms. Wineglass could have been left with real estate that might have been difficult to convert to cash to pay her bills," they wrote.

Wineglass is a former neighbor of the Tecklenburgs and is now in an assisted-living facility. She did not appear in court, but several relatives and godchildren wrote letters to the judge asking that Tecklenburg remain serving as the manager of her finances.

The special conservators, who were appointed for their expertise in probate law, agreed with the family members. Kennedy served as probate court judge in Columbia from 1987 to 1999.

"Although he violated the law, his stated intent was to benefit Ms. Wineglass, and ultimately she was repaid with substantial return exceeding bank interest," they wrote.

They also noted that Tecklenburg is not a lawyer and wasn't represented by one when taking on the conservatorship about a decade ago.

Condon offered Tecklenburg the chance to testify, but he declined.

Reached by phone hours after the hearing, Tecklenburg said the judge's decision took him by surprise.

"I thought he would follow the special conservators' advice," he said. "It was just like his mind was made up. I just respectfully disagree with his opinion."

Condon said the case was difficult for the court, but he did not think Tecklenburg had acted as a responsible conservator as he had made "risky investments" with Wineglass' funds.

"It appears Mr. John Tecklenburg meant well, and did good deeds for the protected person, Ms. Johnnie Wineglass," he said. "But one cannot do a good deed and then take advantage of your position as fiduciary. A fiduciary does not make loans to himself and family-controlled businesses without court approval, especially unsecured loans."

He also indicated that Wineglass herself wanted Tecklenburg removed from the role.

The judge cited a letter he received in January 2009 from attorney Kevin Eberle, who had been Wineglass' next door neighbor for 13 years. A month earlier, Tecklenburg was appointed temporary conservator. In the letter, Eberle said he was concerned because Wineglass had come to him, upset, and "adamant that she did not want Mr. Tecklenburg to serve."

In April 2009, four months after Condon received that letter, Tecklenburg was appointed permanent conservator for Wineglass.

Eberle said late Tuesday that at the time he raised those concerns, he did not realize Wineglass' mental state was deteriorating.

"I wish I had the benefit of hindsight," he said. "I regret that Judge Condon would not have picked up the phone and called me."

In his ruling Tuesday, Condon ordered Tecklenburg to cover all the court fees associated with the case. The judge said he would not be referring the case to another court for further prosecution. Tecklenburg has the right to appeal the decision within 10 days.

Tecklenburg said he didn't know if he would appeal. He's waiting to see a copy of the judge's written orders.

Wingate said one reason they might appeal is because the conservators did not find proof of self-dealing after reviewing the extensive financial records. A court order that suggests otherwise might have wide-ranging consequences for Tecklenburg, who is a real estate agent by trade.

"In his profession, he might have to answer questionnaires from insurers or entities he enters into contracts with (that ask) 'Have you ever had any form of violations under the law?' He might have to answer, 'Yes,' " Wingate said.

In an interview with the newspaper in May, Tecklenburg explained how he became the conservator for Wineglass in 2008.

She became a close family friend when they lived next to each other on Moultrie Street near Hampton Park. After the family moved elsewhere, Tecklenburg said he continued checking on her periodically.

On one visit, he discovered Wineglass had fallen victim to a series of telephone scams and had gone into significant debt. That's when he decided to help her sort out her finances, which he said was like a part-time job for the first few years.

He never charged Wineglass any fees for his services.

Once the house was sold and her debt paid off, she moved into a full-time care facility. The money she had left was about $50,000.

Tecklenburg said his goal was simply to grow that small fund so she could continue paying for her care.

Full Article & Source: 
Judge rules Charleston mayor can no longer manage elderly woman's finances

Nursing Home Employees Record 'The End' Snapchat Video While Vaping Over Dying Hospice Patient

Three assisted living center employees were arrested by Georgia police after the trio appeared in a profanity-laden Snapchat video surrounding a dying elderly woman.

The Jefferson Police Department told the Athens Banner-Herald the three women made the June 13 Snapchat video inside the Bentley Senior Living center in Jefferson, Georgia. The employees were in the hospice care room of a 76-year-old resident and were waiting on a hospice nurse. The employees were seen smoking a vape pen and yelling curse words at the camera as the septuagenarian woman laid dying from a recent stroke in the background. The Snapchat video they posted online was labeled “The End.”

Screen Shot 2018-07-09 at 12 
Three assisted living center employees were arrested by Georgia police after the trio appeared in a profanity-laden Snapchat video entitled, "The End," while standing over a dying elderly woman. Jefferson Police Department 

Jefferson Police charged Jorden Lanah Bruce, 21, of Jefferson; Mya Janai Moss, 21, of Colbert; and Lizeth Jocelyn Cervantes Ramirez, 19, for exploiting an elderly and disabled person. A police spokesman told WSB-TV the elderly resident seen in the video “had a stroke and [the three employees] were waiting on a hospice nurse.” Bruce, Moss and Ramirez were supposed to be monitoring and caring for the critically ill woman but instead, “one of them was smoking a vape pen, they were using profanities and making obscene hand gestures at the camera,” police alleged.

“It was going to be an extensive time before the hospice nurse could be there, so these three employees were supposed to closely monitor the patient,” a Jefferson police spokesman told the Banner-Herald. “They were completely ignoring her and posting the Snapchat video” with the caption “The End.”

Days after the June 13 video recording was made, another employee at the senior living facility discovered and reported the lewd Snap story. All three women were arrested on June 22 and were employed at the facility at the time of their arrest. Administrators did not immediately return Newsweek’s calls for comment on the incident Monday.

The pair of 21-year-old employees, Bruce and Moss, were released from custody after posting bond. But 19-year-old Ramirez is still being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, the Banner-Herald reported. The Georgia Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Disabilities offers a service for family members or people concerned to report potential abuse of at-risk elderly patients.
Georgia’s legal code defines separates elderly exploitation into both felony and misdemeanor crimes. The charge is defined as anyone “who knowingly and willfully exploits a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, willfully inflicts physical pain, physical injury, sexual abuse, mental anguish, or unreasonable confinement upon a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, or willfully deprives of essential services a disabled adult, elder person, or resident.”

Full Article & Source:
Nursing Home Employees Record 'The End' Snapchat Video While Vaping Over Dying Hospice Patient