After Marie Frisby's husband fell prey to an all-too-common financial scam directed at the elderly, Montgomery County's Orphans Court appointed a professional guardian to protect his estate.
The couple, who had separated over mounting debt and increasingly aggressive creditors, reconciled and Marie Frisby moved back into their colonial-style home on a quiet, tree-lined street in Wyncote. With a guardian in place handling the estate, the financial woes that had plagued Marie and Hank Frisby for more than two years finally seemed behind them.
And then a county deputy sheriff knocked on their door.
The Police and Fire Credit Union, the deputy said with an apology, was foreclosing on their property."I was like, 'This can't be true,' " said Marie Frisby, 70.
Then she added, speaking of her husband's court-appointed guardian, "Gloria Byars told me everything was being taken care of."
In 2016, Byars was named the guardian for Hank Frisby, 79, during the time the couple had separated and filed for divorce.
When the court rules an adult incapacitated and appoints a guardian, the individual loses the right to make health care decisions, to determine where he lives or how his money is spent. Guardians make those decisions.
If the Frisbys were astonished to learn the court-appointed guardian had not been paying the mortgage and other bills, their surprise would pale in comparison to the revelations yet to come.
Unbeknownst to them, Byars had been convicted multiple times of financial theft.Her most recent arrest came in 2005. She pleaded guilty to felony fraud and was sentenced to 37 months in a federal prison after cashing $20,000 in blank checks found rummaging through trash cans at a Virginia post office.
Federal dockets show Byars was paroled on supervised release in 2008, the same year - according to her LinkedIn account - she began working in Philadelphia with RES Consulting, which provides guardian services.