Saturday, February 2, 2019

Police: 75-year-old non-verbal woman sexually assaulted at Southport convalescent home

SOUTHPORT - A former patient of a Southport convalescent home is accused of sexually assaulting a 75-year-old woman also living at the facility, police say.

Elias Saldana, 57, was arrested and is facing multiple charges including second degree sexual assault, second degree reckless endangerment, fourth degree sexual assault, and second degree burglary.

Saldana is accused of sneaking into the 75-year-old non-verbal woman's room at Regal Care of Southport and sexually assaulting her.

Police say staff members reported that Saldana was observed exiting the woman's room. Upon further inspection of the patient, an employee discovered the woman's adult diaper had been opened.

Police say family members of the woman reported multiple previous incidents where Saldana had accessed the room specifically against the family's wishes. Police say staff at the home had also put a safety plan in place to prevent Saldana from entering the woman's room.

Police say Saldana has a long criminal history, and numerous convictions out of New York including felony DWI, criminal impersonation, criminal trespass and more.

They say Saldana was a patient at the facility since July 2017 and had a history of alcohol abuse. Saldana was undergoing physical therapy after being hit by a car.

Police say Regal Care has a policy where male patients are not permitted to enter female patients' rooms.

However, Saldana told detectives he would often go into the victim's room to kiss her on the head and face but denied inappropriately touching her.

Regal Care of Southport declined to comment on the incident.

Saldana is being held on a $100,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on Tuesday.


Full Article & Source:
Police: 75-year-old non-verbal woman sexually assaulted at Southport convalescent home

Opinion: Prosecute financial exploitation of elderly

It’s estimated that elder abuse goes unreported in as many as 85 percent of cases, and financial exploitation of elder adults may go unreported in as many as 95 percent of cases. But state enforcement initiatives are bringing greater attention to the problem.


Several organized schemes target older adults in our state. Conmen will attend funerals and glean information from obituaries to generate false reports of debt. Corrupt financial advisers may routinely encourage the purchase of specific annuities that generate considerable commissions for the adviser, preying on only their elderly clientele. Charitable giving, telemarketing and internet fraud schemes abound.

The main perpetrators of financial abuse against the elderly are relatives of the elderly person or someone they hold in their confidence. While these cases are usually isolated to one victim, crimes perpetuated by professionals may escalate into patterns of deceit and exploitation.

Predators may gain a victim’s confidence by feigning family connections as someone they can trust. They prey on older people who are lonely, isolated, uninformed, disabled, trusting or grieving. A predator will look for a victim who is unlikely to become aware of the crime, does not have the health or resources to report the crime, or is someone they can shame and control.
In the last year alone, insurance agents, financial advisers, caretakers and health professionals were all convicted in fraud schemes against their elderly clients in our state. Several received felony convictions, owing restitution to the victim. However, many more victims may have been left uncompensated when they weren’t aware of the deceit.

As recommended by the National Association of Attorneys General, Michigan took direct steps over the last eight years to identify and prosecute elder abuse.

In May 2018, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette expanded the attorney general’s Criminal Division, creating a separate division to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.

Financial abuse of an elder adult is currently prosecuted under the Michigan penal code and rises to the level of a felony when it can be proven that more than $1,000 was obtained fraudulently.

I have introduced Senate Bill 56, which amends the racketeering statute. The bill will make investigations of elder financial racketeering possible when a financial scam against vulnerable adults is perpetrated by an organized group or over a period of time.

SB 56 will help to further educate and prevent financial crimes against the elderly.

State Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, represents Michigan's 15th District.

Full Article & Source:
Opinion: Prosecute financial exploitation of elderly

‘Patients are getting screwed’ as Kentucky’s under-staffed nursing homes go unfixed

At Sunrise Manor Nursing Home in Hodgenville, a frail woman spent a night in 2015 sitting precariously on her bathroom toilet, shouting uselessly for help, shivering with cold, because nobody remembered to return and assist her to bed. The nurse’s aide for that unit later told state inspectors that she had been overwhelmed trying to monitor 26 residents during the graveyard shift.

At Stonecreek Health and Rehabilitation in Paducah that same year, harried nursing staff dealt with a resident screaming about excruciating pain from a neglected urinary catheter — he had an infection that soon would require emergency hospitalization — by removing his speaking valve, a plastic prosthesis in his throat, to render him mute.

At Woodcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Elsemere this year, a resident told state inspectors that he was ordered to empty his bowels in bed when nobody on staff was available to take him to the bathroom. The resident cried and said this was disgusting. A nurse’s aide who often cared for him confirmed this practice to inspectors, adding that “the facility was short-staffed all the time.”

These stories and many others taken from state inspections of Kentucky nursing homes over the last three years show a pattern — vulnerable people frequently are at risk because their caregivers are stretched too thin to be effective.

It’s a big reason why 43 percent of Kentucky’s 284 nursing homes this year were rated as “below average” or “much below average” by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services because of serious problems discovered with the quality of care they provide their roughly 12,500 residents, according to a Herald-Leader analysis of federal data.

That’s among the worst collective ratings for nursing homes in the country.

The state’s nursing home lobby, while complaining about what it called a “gotcha” regulatory system, told lawmakers at a 2015 committee hearing that Kentucky’s facilities received six times as many “immediate jeopardy” deficiencies from inspectors as the national average and fines that were six times larger than the national average.

Fines are levied — and lawsuits are filed — over bedsores, infections, bone-breaking falls, choking, medication errors, untreated pain and neglect, as residents are left to lie in their own feces and urine for hours, according to the newspaper’s review.

“I don’t think the public really understands what goes on in some of these places. Reading the inspection reports, seeing what the citations are for, it opens your eyes,” said Wanda Delaplane, a nursing home reform advocate who has testified to lawmakers.

Delaplane’s 84-year-old father suffered an agonizing death at a Frankfort nursing home in 2002 from what she described as a lack of medical attention for an impacted bowel. Staff was nowhere to be found while he cried out for someone to help him, she said. A jury awarded her family $20 million in damages.

The General Assembly keeps responding to this plight with legislation that would make it harder to sue nursing homes. They have established “medical review panels” composed of doctors deciding the credibility of negligence suits before they can go to court, quickly creating a backlog of cases. They also have proposed placing caps on plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees in such suits and restrictions on how a nursing home’s safety violations can be publicized in lawyers’ advertising.

However, lawmakers won’t touch the underlying problem: There typically aren’t enough nurses and nurse’s aides on duty at nursing homes to properly care for residents. Some inspection reports describe a solitary direct-care employee rushing up and down hallways to assist so many elderly and ailing residents that injuries, even deaths, are almost inevitable.

“It’s the staffing,” said Sherry Culp, executive director of the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass in Lexington. Culp’s nonprofit agency visits nursing homes in Central Kentucky to monitor living conditions and inform residents of their legal rights.

“A lot of the problems we work on, it all comes down to the fact that either there isn’t sufficient staff on hand to care for people or else they’re not being adequately trained, or both. Over and over and over we see this,” Culp said. “If you’ve got one nurse’s aide and 40 residents, there’s no ability to do any basic care, much less to develop any sort of a relationship with people.”


1809XXNursingHomesas001.JPG
Ombudsmen Sue Landis, from left, Sherry Culp, and Denise Wells, all of Lexington, visited with patients Tuesday at Brookdale Senior Living in Lexington.
Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com 
 
The federal government recommends an “expected staffing” level at nursing homes that would allow a resident every day to get more than one hour of care from registered nurses and two hours and 45 minutes of care from nurse’s aides.

Kentucky nursing homes, on average, fall short of that goal, reporting 43 minutes of daily care from registered nurses and two hours and 19 minutes from nurse’s aides, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which collects staffing and resident population data from the facilities.

The state’s many substandard nursing homes have even worse numbers. At Hazard Health & Rehabilitation Center in Perry County, for instance, with $45,861 in fines accumulated from deficiencies over the last three years, residents can only count on 15 minutes daily with a registered nurse on average, CMS reports. (In a recent interview, facility administrator Charlotte Thornsberry said she disputed that figure, but she declined repeated requests to provide a sum that she believes is more accurate.)

Melinda Henshaw, a nurse who has worked as a unit manager in Western Kentucky nursing homes, said she quit because the conditions she witnessed upset her.

“The nurses on the floor are stressed,” Henshaw said. “They are missing so many of the changes in residents — and they know it. It’s not unusual for one nurse to have 30 residents. She’s gonna miss it when things start going bad. She does not have the time to notice everything she needs to and answer the phones and fill out the paperwork she’s supposed to. No one could do all that.”

Henshaw said her own mother was in a Kentucky nursing home and went eight hours on the overnight shift without anyone checking on her because the facility was short-staffed.

“People are going without baths. People are going without following their care plans,” Henshaw said. “I had one resident who was supposed to be up and about four hours a day so he could regain his strength. That wasn’t happening because there wasn’t enough staff to help him.”  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
‘Patients are getting screwed’ as Kentucky’s under-staffed nursing homes go unfixed

Friday, February 1, 2019

There’s No Place Like Home…Especially if they can take yours!

by Marti Oakley

Medicare Advantage: Only an advantage for those glorious “stakeholders”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


“It isn’t the patients who are bankrupting Medicare….its the service providers on all levels. If the states and insurance companies need to “recapture” their expenses…why not start with those who are gaming the system?”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
According to the US Census Bureau, annual home ownership rates between 1982 and 2017 shows the population of those 65 or older represented just over 80% of all homes owned. This statistic has made the elderly prime targets for estate theft by predatory guardians and attorneys, and now under Medicare Advantage, the state/insurance companies can attack the estate because for some reason they have to be able to recapture the costs of long term care that you financed to begin with.

Now, ask yourself why, after investing in Social Security and Medicare over your lifetime, and….having to pay in most cases exorbitant premiums each and every month once you retire, along with co-pays, deductibles and a host of non-covered services, what you could possibly owe to the state or the insurance company?

But under Medicare Advantage, the combining of Medicare and Medicaid, after you having invested a portion of your earnings over your working lifetime, paid premiums, co-pays, deductibles and paid taxes to support these healthcare programs, these “stakeholders”, the [state/insurance company] must recapture the costs associated with long term care you might have needed, once you pass away.

Now think about this. You worked all your life and invested in Social Security and Medicare. You paid income tax every year which helped pay for medical care for the poor called Medicaid. You bought your home and have been assessed property taxes every year just for doing so, and continue to pay property taxes while you remain there, and long after the mortgage has been paid off. If you hadn’t paid those property taxes they would have already taken your property from you!

Currently, the bills in each state covering this “recapture”, prohibit the state from seizing property if there is a surviving spouse living in or on the property. But once the surviving spouse dies or are themselves put into long term care, the state/insurance company can attack the estate in order to recover those costs. Even if there is joint tenancy or co-ownership of property by those who are not otherwise responsible for, or legally bound to the deceased, the state/insurance company has first rights to the assets. And this recapture takes place before any inheritance can be received by the beneficiaries of the estate. Of course there is no intention of anything to remain for heirs.

Medicare Advantage is a prime example of how to deal with a sector of the public that government views as a waste population and desperately desires to be rid of. The elderly. With the federal government now owing Social Security an estimated 3 trillion dollars in stolen surplus funds that they never had any intention of repaying, and the medical industry overall defrauding Medicare of an estimated 30-60 billion dollars each year (this by the government’s own estimates) Medicare Advantage is poised to be the coup de gras. By attaching Medicaid to Medicare under this ubiquitous plan, if you are in long term care or any facility like hospice, the state has the right to attach your estate, take your home and any other assets you might have in order to “recapture” those costs once you die.

Of course these new “advantage” policies include vision, dental, hearing and other items not normally covered by Medicare. But it seems to me, if an effort to stop the massive fraud taking place by the medical industry with regards to Medicare were to be addressed with as much vigor as they apply to finding ways to cut benefits, limit services and deny coverage, we could easily pay for any and all services for the elderly with a few billion annually to spare.

The states routinely request bids from insurance companies to offer these policies. The state does not of itself sell insurance. It negotiates contracts with insurance companies. It is the insurance company that sells the insurance the state is promoting. Several plans offered by several insurance companies at varying rates of cost and coverage are all sponsored by the state via corporate contracts. The state is itself the top stakeholder in the negotiations and they are negotiating to see who will benefit most from contracting against you, the public, for profit.

The question you need to be asking is: Which “stakeholder” is actually going to be entitled to recapture the costs?” Is it the state? Or the insurance company? Or both?


If there is one term that has come to signify corruption, collusion, and an all out assault on the public in any area of government, it is has to be the term “stakeholder’s”. What this term signifies are those entities, organizations, corporations and others who have a vested financial interest in the issue at hand and who will enjoy increased profits even at the cost of human rights, life or liberty. These precious “stakeholders” write the bills, send swarms of lobbyists into the halls of congress and contribute handsomely to the campaign coffers of politicians who willingly sell their votes in lieu of those contributions. And even when commenting is requested from the public, unless the comments are in line with the proposed plan they are summarily ignored and/or disposed of. They don’t care what you think or want anyway. YOU are the commodity they are negotiating over.

The public is not a stakeholder…only a recipient and financier


Both state and federal legislators routinely vote to pass bills they have neither read, nor understand and obviously do not care how adversely it may affect the public at large. A reading of any bill dealing with health, insurance, prescription drugs or other topics makes it readily apparent that the sponsor or supposed author of the bill could not have possibly written the bill themselves, or had any part in it. They don’t have that kind of technical knowledge nor the interest in acquiring it. The bills are written by the corporations who will benefit from it. The bills are presented once the corporations have paid the financing fees, also known as campaign contributions.

Medicare Fraud by Providers is Massive!


It isn’t the patients who are bankrupting Medicare….its the service providers on all levels. If the states and insurance companies need to “recapture” their expenses…why not start with those who are gaming the system?

In 2017, an article from the Center for Public Integrity, titled..Fraud and Billing Mistakes Costs Medicare ..and Taxpayers…Tens of Billions Last Year, written by Fred Schulte:

“Adding in the over-payments for standard Medicare programs, the tally for last year approaches $60 billion — which is almost twice as much as the National Institutes of Health spends on medical research each year.” (end quote)

An article from John Minnino: Medicare Scammers Steal $60 Billion a Year. This Man Is Hunting Them

Luckily, there is another defense against Medicare fraud: whistle-blower lawsuits. Under the federal government’s false claims statute, any insider can sue a company that’s providing fraudulent services, on the government’s behalf. If the whistle-blower lawyers are successful, the plaintiffs collect 15 to 30 percent of the settlement as a bounty. In 2014 there were 469 of these health care fraud settlements—many involving huge pharmaceutical corporations and hospital networks—resulting in $2.2 billion in fines.” (end quote)

As far back as 2010, Forbes was reporting on the massive frauds taking place in Medicare and Medicaid

There are a few common types of Medicare fraud that include:
  • Identity Theft: When a medical professional steals patient information to use to over-bill Medicare.
  • Equipment Substitution: An order for medical equipment may be intercepted, with Medicare being billed for newer or more expensive equipment and the patient being provided with cheap or used equipment.
  • Phantom Billing: A doctor’s office may bill for services never performed.
  • Upcoding: A medical provider may submit bills to Medicare for a more expensive service than the one actually performed.
  • Unnecessary Procedures: A doctor may perform procedures that are not medically necessary in order to bill Medicare for the cost.
  • Generic Drugs: Medicare is often billed for name brand medications when generic drugs were actually provided to the patient.
And why would an insurance company be entitled to your assets after your death after selling you a policy guaranteeing medical coverage if premiums were paid on your behalf by anyone, including the state? Isn’t that the purpose of insurance? The pooling of resources to cover these costs with a built in profit margin. This is fraud! And it is also the legalized theft of property bought and paid for by those “stakeholders” our politicians pander to.

At what point will the public be a consideration in these negotiations that cost us all so much both financially, as well as being the intended recipients of all this corruption?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
https://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/data/charts/fig07.pdf
https://publicintegrity.org/health/fraud-and-billing-mistakes-cost-medicare-and-taxpayers-tens-of-billions-last-year/
https://www.wired.com/2016/03/john-mininno-medicare/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2012/05/31/medicare-and-medicaid-fraud-is-costing-taxpayers-billions/#bac0f8873311
https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardkrooks/2012/10/04/seniors-need-to-be-wary-of-medicare-fraud/#43b553508d07
From: Physicians for a National Health Program
http://pnhp.org/news/cms-is-giving-unfair-competitive-advantage-to-private-medicare-advantage-plans/

CMS is giving unfair competitive advantage to private Medicare Advantage plans

What is really offensive is that they are taking our tax dollars and giving them to the private insurers so that they can increase benefits and reduce cost sharing for those enrolled in the private plans while they are denying those same benefits and reduced premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and stop loss coverage for those of us enrolled in the traditional Medicare program. That is patently unfair. If they were honest about wanting true competition between the private plans and the traditional public program they would fund them at the same risk-adjusted level. Instead they are starving the traditional program – a process that will accelerate – while they are enriching the private insurers, though only temporarily until the traditional program is wiped out (then premium support).

Full Article & Source:
There’s No Place Like Home…Especially if they can take yours!

Roy-based attorney disbarred for 3 years for not responding to clients, billing issues

Ryan Schaffer, left, appeared in court in Ogden with his lawyer Paul Remy on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.
OGDEN — A Roy-based attorney had his license to practice law suspended by an Ogden judge in December after a number of complaints were filed against him in past years, according to court records.

Paul Remy, who was licensed to practice law in Utah and Idaho, was disbarred for three years after a judge ruled that Remy had violated state rules for lawyers multiple times since 2011. The findings in the case were entered into court records on Dec. 19, 2018.

Court documents illustrate six cases where Remy, who has been licensed with the Utah State Bar since 2003, reportedly failed his clients. The complaint against Remy outlines a number of rules he broke while being paid by his clients, including failing to timely file court documents, failing to respond to his clients’ concerns, and collecting fees for meets he did not attend, among other complaints.

In one case, Remy represented a woman in a guardianship matter in 2014 and paid him as a retainer for his services. In January 2015, the court notified Remy that the case would be dismissed unless he filed a response. Remy filed a motion to extend the deadline, however, he did not file any response to the original motion. The case was later dismissed due to inactivity, and he failed to notify the woman that her case was dismissed.

Remy later claimed that he was relying on a paralegal to work on the woman’s case, but later learned the paralegal had not done the work.

In another case named in the report, a woman paid Remy to be on retainer for a bankruptcy matter in 2016. The two met for an initial consultation, but she did not hear back from Remy for over three months. She believed that Remy was still working on her case, but she was unable to meet with him and Remy did not return her phone calls in that time, the complaint says.

Remy’s assistant told the woman to stop by his office to sign some forms and release letters, and required that she pay hundreds for the office visit and forms. No bankruptcy forms were filed, and no work was done to stop creditor harassment, the woman said.

The office later charged her for an office visit that was cancelled. She requested a full refund from Remy’s office and only received part of the money back, the complaint says. By the time she contacted the state bar’s Office of Professional Conduct weeks later, Remy’s office had not sent the woman’s file back to her.

Two other cases would also culminate in complaints filed to the OPC. Those complaints would cause the office to send Remy NOICs, or a Notice of Informal Complaint, to which Remy was instructed to respond within a certain amount of time. In both of those cases, Remy failed to respond to the informal complaints, leading to a formal complaint being filed on Jan. 17, 2018.

During a Nov. 13, 2018 hearing to decide what Remy’s sanctions could be, he did not appear. Judge Mark DeCaria ruled at the hearing that Remy’s license be suspended for three years. A formal letter spelling out the details of Remy’s shortcomings as an attorney and his suspension was filed on Dec. 19, 2018.

Remy was also an accredited attorney in Idaho since 2001, but according to the Idaho State Bar, his license is currently inactive. A public reprimand was filed against Remy in 2017 by the Idaho State Bar, which reported that he took several-month gaps to respond to a civil suit on behalf of his client. The case was later dismissed due to inactivity. Remy told investigators that he relied on a paralegal to do the work in the case, and discovered after she was terminated that she had not done the work.

The public reprimand did not limit Remy’s ability to practice in Idaho, but as of January, his Idaho Bar status is listed as inactive.

Full Article & Source: 
Roy-based attorney disbarred for 3 years for not responding to clients, billing issues

D.A.: Springfield woman stole $337G from her 78-year-old mother

MEDIA COURTHOUSE — A Springfield woman has been charged with stealing more than $337,000 from her 78-year-old mother, according to the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office.

Bernadette Branson-Lawler, 52, of the first block of Meetinghouse Lane, allegedly stole $337,715 from her mother over a period of nearly seven years.

The defendant used the stolen money to pay for various personal expenses such as her interior design business, gym membership, and cell phone, in addition to writing herself personal checks, according to a prepared release.

“Our older residents deserve to fully enjoy their well-earned retirement without the fear of being victimized,” District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland stated in the release. “In this case, Bernadette Branson-Lawler stole that liberty from her own mother, who is not able to speak for herself, betraying the trust of the entire family, and stealing her mother’s life savings for her own leisure and selfish pursuits.”

Charges filed against Branson-Lawler include theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and false impression, and receiving stolen property, all second-degree felony offenses. Her arrest followed an investigation by Detective Sergeant Anthony Ruggieri of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office Criminal Investigation Division Senior Exploitation Unit.

According to Copeland, in September 2017, an investigation was launched after information was received about the possible financial exploitation of a 78-year woman residing at an assisted living facility located in Delaware County where the victim lives in a secure unit for individuals with dementia. She is non-verbal, and is predeceased by her husband, who died in August of 2009.

Following the death of her husband, the victim appointed her daughter, Bernadette Branson-Lawler, as her power of attorney. Branson-Lawler remained as agent for the victim until July 2013 when she petitioned the Orphan's Court of Delaware County to become guardian for her mother due to her diminished mental capacity and other health related issues. Branson-Lawler was appointed plenary guardian by the court until she was removed by the Orphan's Court in October 2017 and replaced by a court-appointed attorney.

In January 2013, Brandon-Lawler sold her mother’s house in Springfield for $269,000. After the sale of the victim’s home, Branson-Lawler moved her mother to an assisted living facility. In July 2017, Branson-Lawler failed to file the annual guardian's inventory and the annual reports of the person and the estate, as required by the Delaware County Orphan’s Court. After failing to submit the required guardian paperwork and not appearing for court, a court-appointed attorney reviewed all of the victim’s financial records and discovered suspicious withdrawals made by Brandon-Lawler. When questioned, Branson-Lawler admitted that she withdrew money from her mother’s accounts for personal expenses, such as her interior design business, her electric and insurance bills and gym membership. She also indicated she wrote herself checks, according to the release.

After receiving this information, Branson-Lawler was removed by court order as victim’s guardian and a criminal investigation into the fraud was launched by Ruggieri. Through the course of the investigation and a forensic analysis of financial records, it was determined that Branson-Lawler stole a total of $337,715.61 from the victim, from January 2011 to October 2017.

“We consider crimes against seniors especially heinous and we will continue to prosecute those who commit these terrible crimes to the fullest extent of the law,” Copeland states. “I would like to CID Detective Sgt. Anthony Ruggieri for his work on this complicated and disheartening case, and our Senior Exploitation Unit in their efforts to diligently to protect our older residents and bring justice for individuals and their families.”

Branson-Lawler was preliminarily arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Wendy B. Roberts on Jan. 25. Bail was set at $10,000 unsecured. Branson-Lawler faces a preliminary hearing on Feb. 5.

It was not immediately known if she had retained an attorney.

Assistant District Attorney and Chief of the Senior Exploitation Unit Erica Parham will be prosecuting the case.

If you suspect a senior resident is being financially victimized, please contact the Senior Exploitation Unit at 610-891-5249 or email seniorcrimes@co.delaware.pa.us.

Full Article & Source: 
D.A.: Springfield woman stole $337G from her 78-year-old mother

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Nurse caught on video laughing as elderly veteran died has been charged with murder



Due to suspicions from his family, 89- year-old World War II veteran James Dempsey’s room at a Georgia nursing home was fixed with a camera. And it is only because of that camera that justice will now be done. You see, as he lay dying and asking for help, his nurses ignored him and laughed while failing to take critical measures that could have prevented his death.1

Mable Turman, a certified nurse assistant, is facing charges of “neglect to an elder person,” former licensed practical nurse (LPN) Wanda Nuckles is facing a charge of “depriving an elder person of essential services,” and former LPN Loyce Pickquet Agyeman is facing charges of both neglect and felony murder.

“These charges come nearly four years after the 2014 incident in which the nurses ignored Dempsey as he cried out for help, saying that he couldn’t breathe. Eventually, he became unresponsive, at which point the nurses failed to perform CPR immediately and didn’t call 911 until 57 minutes after he became unresponsive, according to 11Alive. In the meantime, Nuckles even started laughing while trying to start up an oxygen machine.” 2

It goes without saying that this type of behavior is utterly unacceptable and disgusting.
“The nursing home wasn’t made aware of the video that captured these events until 2015, and the nurses weren’t fired until an additional ten months after that. Finally, the video only became public after 11Alive got approval from a judge to release it this past November as part of a lawsuit filed by Dempsey’s family.
The lawsuit and the 11Alive investigation then prompted local authorities to re-open the case, leading to the new indictments for the three nurses. Arrest warrants have since been issued for all three as well, although no trial date has yet been set.”3
We are grateful for the work of the 11Alive investigation as we are sure his family is as well. Our hearts go out to them now and hope that they can finally have a bit of closure. We will update this story once we have additional information.
SOURCE:
  1. All That Is Interesting
  2. All That Is Interesting
Full Article & Source:
Nurse caught on video laughing as elderly veteran died has been charged with murder

Doctor Says Actor/Comedian is Nonverbal, Bedridden

Emmy-winning actor Tim Conway, who underwent brain surgery in September, is bedridden and cannot speak, according to conclusions reached by his doctor in court papers obtained Monday.

Dr. Maurice Zagha said he evaluated the 85-year-old Conway on Jan. 5. His findings were outlined in court papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by attorneys for Conway’s wife, Charlene. She opposes an effort by her stepdaughter, Kelly, to be named Conway’s conservator. Kelly Conway maintains her father has dementia.

Charlene Conway says her husband does not need to be placed under a conservatorship, but that if a judge decides he needs such protection, she should be the person selected as conservator.

According to Zagha, Conway understands what people are saying to him, but is unable to reply. He said the verbal impediment makes it hard for him to determine Conway’s overall mental capacity, but that over time he has been able to read the actor’s facial expressions.

Zagha says Conway usually shows his emotions only when someone like his daughter visits.

In a separate report filed Jan. 22, Conway’s court-appointed attorney, Michael Harris, says a hearing scheduled in December on the conservatorship issue was delayed until Feb. 5 so that the two opposing sides could try and agree on who would be the best conservator and how to accommodate the person not selected.

Harris said he believes Charlene Conway would be the best choice for a conservator, but that if she is chosen, Kelly Conway should be notified about important issues concerning her father, including when he is uprooted from one facility to another.

Harris said Conway has been moved many times to different places for his care. He said in a previous report filed in December that Conway has been transferred seven times in 12 weeks between rehabilitation centers and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

On Sept. 14, Judge Robert Wada rejected Kelly Conway’s petition for a temporary conservatorship, finding that her concerns about her stepmother’s medical decisions regarding her father were moot at the time because he was hospitalized Sept. 3 and underwent brain surgery.

Conway was a cast member on the 1961-62 ABC variety series, “The Steve Allen Show” before landing the role of Ensign Charles Beaumont Parker on the 1962-66 ABC comedy “McHale’s Navy.” In the 1970s, he became a cast member on “The Carol Burnett Show.”

Conway also starred as the title character in the “Dorf” comedy films and voiced the character of Barnacle Boy in the animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Full Article & Source:
Doctor Says Actor/Comedian is Nonverbal, Bedridden

See Also:
Judge Rejects Conway Daughter’s Temporary Conservatorship Petition For Now

Judge Defers Ruling on Tim Conway Conservatorship Amid Dispute Over Care

Tim Conway, 84, Suffering from Dementia: He's 'Almost Entirely Unresponsive,' Says Daughter

Tim Conway's daughter gets temporary restraining order against his wife over star's care

Reporting nursing-home deaths to Pa. coroners is a necessary change | Editorial

Another year, another report on how too many elder-care facilities and oversight agencies in Pennsylvania are failing in their legal and moral duty to care for the state’s most vulnerable residents.

This month the failing grade comes from the state Inspector General’s office, which, according to the Associated Press, found that county-level agencies are doing a poor job of investigating elder-abuse complaints.

This follows a 2018 investigative report by PennLive, following up on a 2016 PennLive report and an Attorney General’s lawsuit, finding that, again, some problem nursing homes haven’t improved their care.

So now we have yet another report -- the Inspector General’s -- followed by more assurances of improvement, including from the Wolf administration (which hasn’t released the Inspector General’s full report).

Who believes that sustained improvement will happen? Likely not a person who’s had a family member in a nursing home and struggled with the maddeningly frustrating process of addressing even simple issues of comfort and dignity.

Something more concrete has been proposed, however. Admittedly it would be a baby step, and one that will meet self-interested opposition. But it’s valuable nonetheless.

Scott Grim, Lehigh County coroner and past president of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, proposes changing state law to require that nursing homes and assisted living facilities report all deaths to local coroners for potential investigation.

It seems only logical that they would, but currently nursing homes and assisted living facilities contact coroners only for deaths from suspected homicide, suicide or accidents, not those deemed to be the result of natural disease processes.

The nursing home industry points out that the state already requires licensed medical personnel to conduct an examination when a resident dies. Deferring to such “internal” judgment, however, provides a lot of gray area for a negligent nursing home to protect itself from the bother of independent review or the consequences of errors.

Under Grim’s proposal, nursing homes and assisted living facilities would be required to call their local coroner regardless of the cause of death. The coroner would ask a series of questions, such as how the patient died, their medical history and whether they experienced any trauma. Further, the coroner could choose to examine the body, review medical records and conduct a full investigation.

As part of the Q&A, a coroner should talk independently with family members also.

This still would leave too much control in the hands of not-disinterested facility managers but as we said it’s a baby step.

Grim’s proposal needs both the strong endorsement of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association and tireless legislative champions. This should not be a political risky proposal to get behind.

Coroners may be overloaded, especially with the opioid epidemic raging on, so the proposal must ensure they have the resources to provide this oversight. This function will only become more crucial in the future as the number of people in full-time nursing care continues to grow.

Many nursing home residents, unless they have extremely knowledgeable, persistent and available families, tend to be voiceless, with little capacity or opportunity (and sometimes little perceived credibility) to advocate for themselves.

Coroners, though, work for the public, and reviewing and investigating nursing home deaths is another important way for them to represent the public’s interests.

Who could object? While not specifically opposing Grim’s proposal, Adam Marles, president and CEO of Leading Age PA, which represents non-profit nursing homes, told PennLive, “We focus on supporting that family [whose loved one has died] and meeting their needs. Adding another layer of review could increase trauma for families.”

But what families of nursing home residents want most is to know that their loved ones are getting appropriate care and are treated with respect and compassion. And we suspect most would gladly trade a final layer of red tape for the indisputable assurance that their loved one didn’t die from lack of attention or in needless pain.

Full Article & Source:
Reporting nursing-home deaths to Pa. coroners is a necessary change | Editorial

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Food, water restored to comatose man in US Catholic hospital after mom fights for his life

Click to Watch Video
TUCSON, Arizona, January 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Nutrition and hydration have been restored to a 32-year-old man in a coma in an Arizona Catholic hospital after his mom posted heartbreaking videos on social media last week saying that doctors were slowly starving her son to death.

David Ruiz, a father of three, suffered a stroke and subsequent brain injury that left him in a coma on December 31.  Doctors declared David brain dead about two weeks ago, despite him twitching, raising his toes, and moving his fingers when his mother and other family members talked to him.

His mother, Patricia “Tricia” Adames, 51, made an emotional appeal on Facebook last week to anyone who could help save her son.

“As you can see, his body is emaciating. His body is literally deteriorating, it’s disappearing before us because he is being denied nutrition. He is starving in a hospital,” she said in her Jan. 24 video while panning to her son lying in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and monitors.

“I am coming to you...asking, ‘please help me get my son the treatment that he needs, nutrition and hydration.' He’s being starved at this very moment.”

Adames said that she believes that if the heart is beating, “there is life.”

“He’s starving in our country. How can that be okay? How is that humanity? No one in this country should ever be denied food and water,” she said.

Adames told LifeSiteNews that David had not been receiving nutrition since January 9 and that her son was receiving a fraction of the hydration he needed for survival.

Life Legal Defense Foundation heard of the case and organized a news conference yesterday at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tucson where David is being hospitalized.

"Nutrition and hydration are basic human rights. It is outrageous that a hospital would deny these most basic provisions to a disabled patient. Ms. Adames is not looking for the hospital to keep her son indefinitely. She is only asking that they give David the nutrition and hydration he needs in order to be transferred to a facility that can provide appropriate care," stated Life Legal Defense Foundation’s Alexandra Snyder, Esq.

Glenn Beck on his radio show today criticized the hospital for ignoring the mother’s pleas for her son.

“This is wrong to do to people. And we must not go down this road,” said Beck on his show.

It appears that the hospital caved today to outside pressure and restored David’s food and water.

“I am so happy. I am so grateful to God. Hallelujah for this miracle,” said Adames to LifeSiteNews after news came that her son would receive food and water.

“I choose to believe, and I am very very grateful. The hospital didn't have to keep him on.”

“So, I have to say I am so grateful to everyone who has helped and prayed. Glory to God. It's a long road, but through prayer and learning and understanding we can do it. Hopefully, they're going to keep their end of the agreement and continue helping me get David to a place of long-term care and get him stable so he can recover,” she said.

Right to life activist Bobby Schindler also confirmed to LifeSiteNews that hydration and nourishment were being restored to David by the hospital.

In a phone call, Bobby Schindler of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network told LifeSiteNews that it’s critical for the hospital to treat David.

“Right now, even if we were able to find a facility that would accept him he has been without nourishment and little to no hydration for almost three weeks now. He’s medically fragile and I don’t know if we’re able to transfer him,” he said.

Schindler told LifeSiteNews that he cannot understand why “there was such a rush to stop treatment,” adding that the family is now fighting for time to “see if we can get this kid treated and to have the opportunity to improve.”

Adames is seeking to raise funds necessary for air transport to hospitals in other parts of the country that can accept David as a patient. She calculated that the transportation would cost at least $25,000. A GoFundMe page has been established to receive donations.

St. Joseph’s Hospital is part of the Carondelet Health system and traces its origins to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who came to Tucson in the 1870s. In 2015, the Texas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. assumed majority ownership of the Carondelet Health Network. The Catholic hospital chain then went from nonprofit to for-profit. Local media reported at the time that the "joint venture will maintain Carondelet’s Roman Catholic heritage and identity through an agreement with the Diocese of Tucson."

Regarding the provision of life support to patients, according to the National Catholic Bioethics Center, “The Catholic Church teaches that life is an intrinsic good. Even when a person is afflicted with illness, that value remains intact. In fact, the sick and the elderly deserve our special care.” It goes on to say, “The default position for the care of those who are suffering from diminished consciousness and have not begun the death process, as well as for those at the end of life, should be in favor of providing food and water even by artificial means. If the provision of food and water proves to be useless (if they are not being assimilated by the body) or if it causes serious complications (such as aspiration pneumonia or infections), it can be stopped.”

The bioethics center notes that “unfortunately” the removal of nutrition and hydration from incapacitated patients is “fairly common.” It says: “Whenever a recommendation is made to withhold food and water, one should ask, ‘What will be the cause of death?’ If the answer is dehydration or starvation, and assisted nutrition and hydration can be easily supplied and assimilated, then not supplying them is a form of euthanasia. Unconsciousness is not a fatal disease. No one dies from unconsciousness.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.”

Jan. 29, 2019 update: This report contains more information about current ownership of St. Joseph's Hospital. 

Full Article & Source:
Food, water restored to comatose man in US Catholic hospital after mom fights for his life

Delaware County woman stole more than $337K from her elderly mom, authorities say

A Springfield, Delaware County, woman stole more than $337,000 from her elderly mother and spent the money on her interior design business, a gym membership, cell phone charges, and other personal expenses, authorities said Monday.

Bernadette Branson-Lawler, 52, of Meetinghouse Lane, was charged with theft and related crimes, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office said.

Over seven years, she used her role as her mother’s power of attorney, and later legal guardian, to steal from the 78-year-old, who lives in a Delaware County assisted living facility, suffers from dementia, and is nonverbal, authorities said.

“Our older residents deserve to fully enjoy their well-earned retirement without fear of being victimized,” District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland said in a statement. “In this case, Bernadette Branson-Lawler stole that liberty from her own mother, who is not able to speak for herself, betraying the trust of the entire family, and stealing her mother’s life savings for her own leisure and selfish pursuits.”

Prosecutors began investigating Branson-Lawler in September 2017 after receiving a tip about possible financial exploitation.

Investigators found that Branson-Lawler had been appointed her mother’s power of attorney after her father’s death in 2009. A few years later, she sold her mother’s Springfield home for $269,000 and moved her mom to the assisted living facility.

In July 2013, Branson-Lawler went to Delaware County Orphans' Court and successfully petitioned to become her mother’s guardian because of health issues, including worsening dementia. Four years later, she failed to file required yearly paperwork and didn’t appear in court, so a court-appointed attorney reviewed the financial records of Branson-Lawler’s mother, authorities said. The attorney noticed suspicious withdrawals, prompting Branson-Lawler to admit that she used that money for her own expenses — including her electric and insurance bills, her interior design business, and cell phone charges — and that she would write herself checks, authorities said.

Branson-Lawler was then removed as her mother’s guardian and a criminal investigation began.

In part through forensic analysis of financial records, investigators determined she stole $337,715.61 between January 2011 and 2017.

Branson-Lawler could not be reached for comment Monday. No lawyer for her was listed on court documents.

She was released on $100,000 unsecured bail and awaits a preliminary hearing next Tuesday.

The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office asks anyone who thinks an elderly resident is being taken advantage of to contact the Senior Exploitation Unit at 610-891-5249 or email seniorcrimes@co.delaware.pa.us.

Full Article & Source:
Delaware County woman stole more than $337K from her elderly mom, authorities say

Elder Abuse Bills Clear First Steps at Virginia GA

The Virginia Capitol in Richmond.
RICHMOND—Last week, the Virginia General Assembly took its first steps toward the passage of legislation that will help communities fight elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation of senior citizens and incapacitated adults. Southwest Virginia legislators Senator Ben Chafin and Delegate Todd Pillion sponsored the proposals, Senate Bill 1224 and House Bill 2560, at the request of Wise County & City of Norton Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp. Both Mr Pillion and Mr Slemp are Lee County natives.

On Friday, a senate subcommittee unanimously approved Chafin’s SB 1224 and Wednesday a house committee voted unanimously in favor of Pillion’s HB 2560. With broad bipartisan support, these proposals are expected to move forward with full consideration of the General Assembly in the next few weeks.

The legislation sets forth a framework for localities to establish multidisciplinary team reviews of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation cases. Multidisciplinary teams are groups of professionals from diverse disciplines who come together frequently to discuss abuse cases at all stages of investigation and prosecution, to address specific problems with enforcement, and to increase communications between different stakeholders.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp, who testified before committees in Richmond earlier this week, said, “Elder abuse is a growing epidemic in our Commonwealth, but these cases are under-reported and remain very difficult to prosecute for various reasons. Recognizing these challenges, we started a ‘team approach’ to fighting elder abuse in Wise last year and the effort has made a significant difference in countless cases. I am so thankful for the leadership of Delegate Pillion and Senator Chafin on this important issue and I know their efforts will serve to further protect vulnerable adults across Virginia.”

Senator Ben Chafin said, “Everyday, the elderly are taken advantage of financially and abused and it is our responsibility in the General Assembly to help protect the most vulnerable of our citizens. Commonwealth Attorneys and law enforcement need all of the tools available to effectively prosecute elder abuse and financial exploitation. Multidisciplinary response teams will aide in the prosecution of these crimes and will bring these criminals to justice.”

Delegate Todd Pillion said, “Protecting our citizens and their rights is the most important work of government. With an aging population, particularly in rural areas, it’s critical that we form the systems and processes needed to help safeguard folks who may find themselves in abusive situations. We look forward to this legislation passing and hope localities will join Wise County in using this opportunity to address the complex challenges of elder abuse.”

Full Article & Source:
Elder Abuse Bills Clear First Steps at Virginia GA

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

‘No one knew she was dead’: Family demands answers after finding relative dead at nursing home

CHICAGO (WBBM/CNN) - The family of a 41-year-old woman has hired an attorney to investigate the possibility of neglect after they found her dead at her nursing home.

Quinita Bullock, 41, had been living at the Mayfield Health Center in Chicago since having a stroke about a year ago that left her unable to walk and with slurred speech.

Late Monday morning, after multiple unanswered calls, Bullock’s aunt and son went to check on her. They found her dead in her bed. Her body was cold.

“Hate that it had to happen to her like that,” said Blondina Hill, Bullock’s cousin. “I just think that’s unbelievable that no one knew she was dead. So, I wonder if my mom and her son didn’t go, how long would it have been before they noticed?”
Quinita Bullock, 41, had been living at the Mayfield Health Center in Chicago since having a stroke about a year ago. Her relatives found her dead at the nursing home. (Source: WBBM/CNN)
Quinita Bullock, 41, had been living at the Mayfield Health Center in Chicago since having a stroke about a year ago. Her relatives found her dead at the nursing home. (Source: WBBM/CNN)
Hill and other family members went to the medical center and began asking questions about what happened. They wanted to know if Bullock woke up that morning and/or took her medication, but Hill says the staff told them nothing.

The staff was supposed to check on Bullock every hour, according to Hill.

“We had filed complaints before about her being on the floor,” she said.

Police filed a report in which they classified Bullock’s death as non-criminal. Afterward, Hill says the nursing home sent Bullock’s body to a funeral home without their consent and without notifying the medical examiner.

Hill says the family wants to know their loved one’s cause of death.

“I really would like to know because she was fine,” Hill said.

Hill filed a complaint with the state Tuesday, and she believes there should be an investigation.

“It’s going to happen to somebody else,” she said.

Bullock’s family says they’ve hired an attorney to get some answers about how she died and to look into the possibility of any neglect. Plans for her funeral have not been made.

Past inspections at the nursing home noted certain requirements not met regarding patient falls and safety, and ProPublica shows 36 deficiencies since December 2015 but no fines.

Full Article & Source:
‘No one knew she was dead’: Family demands answers after finding relative dead at nursing home

Investigators say man with dementia was severely beaten by caregivers at assisted living facility before he died

HILL CITY, Minn. — A man with dementia died after being severely beaten by caregivers at an assisted living facility in Minnesota, according to state investigators.

The Star Tribune reported that Chappy’s Golden Shores in Hill City recently closed after state regulators suspended its license for “multiple and repeated serious incidents affecting vulnerable persons.”

Steven G. Nelson, 58, was beaten shortly after being admitted to the facility, according to a state investigation. Nelson had cognitive disabilities and depended on a wheelchair.

One employee punched him in the face, another held him down and a third watched, according to the investigation.

Nelson died weeks later at St. Mary’s Medical Center after suffering internal brain bleeding.

Tricia Olson, who owns Chappy’s, said the assault never happened and that the investigation is based on false statements from disgruntled former employees.

Chappy’s has appealed the 90-day suspension of its license and the people living there has been moved to other locations.

The state substantiated 10 incidents of maltreatment at Chappy’s including cases involving abuse, neglect and in one case, financial exploitation, according to the paper.

One employee who had worked at the facility for more than a year was also found to have been registered as a predatory offender, according to state investigators.

Full Article & Source:
Investigators say man with dementia was severely beaten by caregivers at assisted living facility before he died

Former Judge Casey Moreland sentenced to 44 months in prison

Casey Moreland mug photo

Former Nashville Judge Casey Moreland received a 44-month prison sentence Friday.

Moreland pleaded guilty to five counts of relating to obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and stealing money from an organization receiving federal funds in late May.

According to Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cochran, the FBI began investigating back in Jan. 2017 whether or not Moreland offered sexual favors for favorable treatment as a General Sessions Judge.

Moreland later admitted that he actively took steps to obstruct the investigation in Feb. 2017 by paying a witness to sign a false affidavit to recant her previous statements. The Department of Justice also said Moreland planted drugs in the witness's car so she would be arrested and her credibility would be destroyed.

He used a burned phone registered to Raul Rodriguez to carry out these plans, working with someone who would become in an information for the FBI.

Back in March, Moreland faced more charges of tampering with a witness, victim, or informant and destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in a Federal investigation.

Moreland resigned in March 2017 amid an FBI investigation charging him with public corruption.

Full Article & Source:
Former Judge Casey Moreland sentenced to 44 months in prison

See Also:
Casey Moreland to stay in jail after second round of obstruction charges

Undercover Recordings At Center Of Moreland Case

Nashville judge faces federal criminal charges

Casey Moreland to take leave from bench

Judge dismissed tickets, fines for female friend

Metro General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland resigns as presiding judge

Ethics Complaint Levels Charges Against Two Judges, Lewis

Investigation underway into inmate/deputy relationship in judge’s court  

Monday, January 28, 2019

Retirement home raided by the FBI for running elderly fight club, 7 arrests

****UPDATE**** We were alerted by a concerned reader that this article was fake news --- so we checked it out and it turned out to be fake news, just as we were told.  We don't know the purpose of publishing this kind of fake news, but there must be a purpose.  Beware! 

 Seven employees of a nursing home for elderly people were arrested by the FBI this morning in Charlottesville, Virginia, for forcing the elders under their care to fight each other.


According to investigators, the 124 residents of the Retirement Village were forced to fight each other in order to obtain basic things such as food and medical treatments.

The fights were filmed and relayed online on a specialized website, where they often attracted several thousand viewers and astounding amounts of money in bets.

FBI spokesman, Bill Donovan, says the most popular fights were the ones in which contenders were “armed” with canes or walkers.

“The older and more handicapped the fighters were, the larger was the crowd the fight attracted. Some were so weak they used mobility scooters to try and roll on each other.”

Officer Donovan says the staff used several different methods to force the residents to fight, either by through rewards or punishment.

“The nursing home’s staff forced the elders to beat each other up very badly, offering ridiculous rewards such as Jell-O or extra mashed potatoes. Some residents who refused to fight had their dentures or glasses confiscated until they complied.”

According to the FBI, the organizers of this illegal combat ring may have pocketed over $125 million over the 3 years it was in operation, mostly from online bets.

The FBI confirmed it has seized a lot of computer hardware in the Retirement Village as well as several other pieces of evidence like video cameras blood-covered walkers.

The two owners of the retirement home and five other employees were arrested for the role they played in the organization.

The five employees each face numerous criminal charges and could face sentences going from 45 to 85 years in jail if found guilty on all charges.

The owners of the retirement home, Terence and Michelle Aniston, respectively face 37 and 31 accusations and could face over 300 years in prison.

Their trial is expected to begin at the end of June and should draw a lot of media attention.

Full Article & Source:
Retirement home raided by the FBI for running elderly fight club, 7 arrests

Council Hires Lawyers To Tell Court: Social Workers Do Not Know It Is Wrong To Lie.

In what must be one of the most bizarre child protection cases to date, government officials in America are defending a law suit against them which accuses Orange County’s social workers of lying, falsifying records and concealing evidence, all of which led to the unjust removal of two children from their mother.

The line of defense, put together by a law firm specialising in defending police officers in big money cases, goes like this: the social workers involved in the proceedings couldn’t have “clearly” known that dishonesty wasn’t acceptable in court and, even if they did know, they should remain immune from prosecution because they are government employees.

Even more remarkable still, is that this case has been going on for 16 years.

As it’s Friday, we thought we’d share part of the transcript from the case with you:

Exchanges between panel and Pancy Lin, a partner at Lynberg & Watkins, Oct. 7, 2016 

Trott: How in the world could a person in the shoes of your clients possibly believe that it was appropriate to use perjury and false evidence in order to impair somebody’s liberty interest in the care, custody and control of that person’s children? How could they possibly not be on notice that you can’t do this?

Lin: I understand.

Trott: How could that possibly be?

Lin: I understand the argument that it seems to be common sense in our ethical, moral . . .

Trott: It’s more than common sense. It’s statutes that prohibit perjury and submission of false evidence in court cases.

Lin: State statutes.

Trott: Are you telling me that a person in your client’s shoes couldn’t understand you can’t commit perjury in a court proceeding in order to take somebody’s children away?

Lin: Of course not, your honor.

Trott: Of course not!

Owens: Isn’t the case over then?

Trott: The case is over.

Lin: Thus far we have not been presented with a clearly established right that tells us what our clients did which was remove the children pursuant to a court order . . .

Friedland: The issue here is committing perjury in a court to take away somebody’s children and you just said that’s obviously not okay to do.

Lin: According to our moral compass and our ethical guidelines, but we’re here to decide the constitutionality of it and we look to the courts to tell us.

Trott: You mean to tell us due process is consistent with a government official submitting perjured testimony and false evidence? How is that consistent? I mean I hate to get pumped up about this but I’m just staggered by the claim that people in the shoes of your clients wouldn’t be on notice that you can’t use perjury and false evidence to take away somebody’s children. That to me is mind boggling.

Lin: In criminal proceedings we know this to be true because . . .

Trott: No, no! It’s a court proceeding with a liberty interest, a fundamental liberty interest at stake.

Lin: And on the reverse side . . .

Trott: And you’re telling us that these officials [weren’t] on notice that you can’t commit perjury and put in false evidence?

Lin: I understand broadly the principle that common sense tells us that lying is wrong and lying to . . .

Trott: Yeah, but it’s more than common sense. We’re using statutes against this kind of behavior.

Lin: I, uh, I don’t. I was not presented [sic]. I have not been seen [sic] any federal law or case law or law that tells me that in this situation that we were faced in that, which is what we have to look at . . .

Trott: Well, say your clients hired six people to be actors and to go into court and to say, ‘We’re neighbors and we saw all this terrible stuff.’ And then your client presented those witnesses in court. You’re telling me that they would have no reason to believe that you can’t do that because there was no federal case that says you can’t bring actors into court to swear falsely against somebody?

Lin: But again here we’re appealing to a sort of broader definition of what is a clearly established right. I mean we have to find the clearly established right in the context our, um, social workers were presented with, which was they were faced with a court order.

Trott: Again, I cannot even believe for a micro-second that a social worker wouldn’t understand that you can’t lie and put in false evidence!

Owens: Let me ask the question a different way. Is there anything you know of that told social workers that they should lie and that they should create false evidence in a court proceeding?

Lin: No, and, of course, that is, uh, we contend that is not what happened here.

hardwickninthc
U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit panel discussing dishonest Orange County government conduct: judges Stephen S. Trott, John B. Owens and Michelle T. Friedland in October 2016

Another thank you to Charles Pragnell at the National Child Protection Alliance for sharing this item with us.

Full Article & Source:
Council Hires Lawyers To Tell Court: Social Workers Do Not Know It Is Wrong To Lie.