Saturday, June 1, 2019

FBI: Texas Hospice Boss Texted Nurses Execution Orders for Patients

The founder and CEO of a hospice services company instructed nurses to administer fatal overdoses to patients who had ‘been on the hospice service for too long,’ the FBI alleges.

Photo Illustration by Brigette Sueprnova/The Daily Beast
As the FBI tells it, Brad Harris became a one-man private death panel as the owner and CEO of a Texas hospice.

“You need to make this patient go bye-bye,” Harris texted one his nurses at Novus Health Care Services, as recounted in an FBI search warrant affidavit.

The Feb. 5 affidavit, first reported by NBC 5 in Dallas, further alleges that 34-year-old Harris said of another patient, “If this f**k would just die.”

On at least four occasions, the affidavit says, Harris instructed nurses to administer overdoses to patients who had “been on the hospice service for too long.”

In one instance, Harris allegedly texted a nurse to dispatch a lingerer “by increasing the patient’s medication dosage to approximately four times the maximum allowed.”

The motive for the big hurry, the affidavit says, was money. Hospice care is no longer the province of nuns and other noble religious volunteers. It is now a multibillion-dollar industry where companies compete for patients who translate into taxpayer bucks.

To control the greed and the accompanying costs, the federal government imposes an annual “aggregate” cap for hospice care of $27,820.75 per Medicaid/Medicare patient.

But a hospice might bill much more than that for a lingering patient while counting on billing less for somebody who comes in and quickly expires. The FBI reports that Harris spoke of wanting to “find patients who would die within 24 hours.”

The problem business-wise comes if too many patients hang on for too long. The hospice exceeds the cap.

Then comes a greedster’s nightmare. The hospice is required to pay back whatever it has billed over the limit.

And Harris is not in it as even a moderately dedicated doctor might be. He is an accountant in a health-care industry whose principles are less Hippocratic than hypocritical.

Novus says on its website that its name is “Latin for ‘New,’ ‘Extraordinary,’ ‘Innovative,’” and describes itself as “a state of the art healthcare company.”

“Our company name and mantra of ‘Focus on Living’ accurately symbolizes the company’s goal—to ‘redefine hospice and palliative care,’” the site says.

The FBI alleges that Harris’s mantra was to Focus on Profiting and that he redefined hospice and palliative care by texting execution orders to nurses.

“As part of this scheme, Harris, who has no medical training or licenses, would direct his employed nurses to overdose hospice patients with palliative medications such as morphine to hasten death, and thereby minimize Novus’ [exposure] under the cap,” the affidavit says.

According to the FBI, one nurse refused to carry out a death order and resigned. The ultimate result of the three other instances is not clear, and there certainly could be others.

If anybody did die, that would seem to justify a homicide charge. The orders themselves would appear to constitute attempted murder at the very least, whatever the outcome.

As Ron Panzer of the private watchdog group Hospice Patients Alliance noted on Wednesday, “You have the intent to kill, which is murder.”

While texting death orders may be unique in health care, Panzer believes that such hospice killings by overdose are not as unusual as the public imagines. He can think of no prosecutions.

“In a hospice, they say, ‘Well, it’s an expected death,’” Panzer said.

But robbing somebody of life near its end is still killing. Even a few added hours can be time for a loving declaration or a tender reconciliation. A few extra minutes can give a family time to say farewell.

After the FBI affidavit concerning Novus was reported on NBC 5 and then the Dallas Morning News, a Texas woman named Shannon Long posted a message on Facebook:

“This story is absolutely heartbreaking but I felt driven to share it because my family was affected by it. We used Novus Health Care Services Inc. for my grandmother’s hospice care back in February 2015. Within 20 minutes of the hospice nurse’s arrival, he had administered a drug that he said would ‘make her more comfortable.’ Seconds after administering, he told my mother that she ‘might want to contact immediate family members, because they usually go quick after this.’ Within the hour, my grandmother was in a medically induced coma. She passed less than two days later. I really can’t form the right words right now, but I’m praying for the other families that were affected by this and hope that those responsible are brought to justice.”

Long subsequently wrote, “I must add that our family is/was very aware of the role hospice plays, which is making the dying patient more comfortable during their ‘transition.’ However, this nurse administered these drugs before telling us that it would put her in a medically induced coma, immediately. He didn’t ask, he just told us the drugs would relax her, then he medicated her. Had he informed us of this BEFORE administering the drugs, we would have waited for our family to arrive, to say their goodbyes.”

She went on, “At the time, my mother and aunt were so exhausted emotionally. I don’t think anyone knew what to do, or how to react. All we could focus on was making her as comfortable as possible. Even at this point, sharing this post is the only thing I know to do.”

A family friend wrote, “Our mom is in memory care [long-term care for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other memory troubles] now, that’s why this guy is so scary.”

Novus was not making any comment on Wednesday, and Harris could not be reached. He has yet to be charged with any crimes. But the once booming company he founded in 2012 has been on a steep decline since Sept. 17, 2015, when the FBI first showed up at Novus headquarters in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, taking away 18 DVDs of emails.

“[Novus] shot up like a rocket ship, then it crashed and burned,” said Pastor Rodney Sprayberry, until a week ago the chaplain there.

“Except for the guy at the top, it was an incredible company.”

Sprayberry told The Daily Beast, “I never saw anything illegal or immoral” at Novus, but he allowed, “there were whispers and rumors about what might be occurring.”

He said nurses “found it very difficult to work with [Harris] because of the demands he made.”

Sprayberry noted, “Obviously hospice is an industry that is relatively competitive. In this area, very, very competitive.”

In the scramble, Novus allegedly brought in patients who did not actually merit hospice care. The FBI began investigating the company in October 2014 and determined that Harris himself designated which patients qualified, the judgment apparently less medical than monetary.

“He did this by having employees who were not doctors sign the certifications with the names of doctors also employed by Novus,” the affidavit says.

Of course, an accountant was not the best of prognosticators.

“If a patient was on hospice care for too long, Harris would direct the patient be moved back to home health, irrespective of whether the patient needed continued hospice care,” the affidavit says.

The patients he liked best when he was near the annual billing limit were the ones who died within 24 hours. Another patient on the roster added a quick $27,820.75 to the aggregate cap.

“Save my ass from the cap,” Harris is quoted as saying in the affidavit.

Novus had 277 patients in a mid-2014 census, which would have translated to a limit of $6,037,102.75. Anything over that—because billing for lingering patients was not balanced out by quick deaths—meant that Harris would have to give the government money he had figured on keeping as profit.

The FBI alleges that Harris sometimes solved the problem simply by directing the nurse to administer a fatal overdose.

If one of those patients died, then what started as a fraud investigation for the Inspector General’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services could conceivably become a homicide case like none other.

The question would be whether it is murder to kill somebody who was likely about to die anyway.

The answer would seem to be that life is life and that the final moments before the end can be precious beyond the measure of a clock or calendar.

If Harris is ever proven to be a murderer, Texas has a death penalty. And executions there are carried out with exactly what he allegedly texted his nurses to administer: a lethal injection.

Full Article & Source:
FBI: Texas Hospice Boss Texted Nurses Execution Orders for Patients

Chatham County prosecutors charge former Probate Court Clerk Kim Birge in theft scheme

By Jan Skutch

Former Chatham County Probate Court Clerk Kim Birge on Wednesday was indicted on 39 counts including racketeering, theft by taking and violation of her oath as a public officer for alleged thefts from accounts in her office over a two-year-period.

The indictment returned by the Chatham County grand jury identified 18 individual who were alleged victims between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2011, and it is the first time Birge has been charged in a state court proceeding.

Birge, 64, is currently serving a six-year federal sentence imposed in 2015 for her guilty plea to stealing $223,000 from the Probate Court.

The new charges, obtained on evidence presented by Chatham County Assistant District Attorney Scott Robichaux, charged Birge with racketeering activity by obtaining interest in and control of real estate and personal property by improperly managing Probate Court funds and accounts by forging or altering documents related to disbursements and expenditures for her personal use.

It said her scheme grew from early racketeering involving stealing from existing accounts to “become more sophisticated and created dummy accounts into which she would initially deposit and then tqke the monies from these dummy accounts.”

The indictment charged the Birge “pleaded guilty in federal court to charges related to the dummy accounts,” but “has not faced any criminal charges related to the earlier activity of theft and fraud on individual existing accounts, disbursement, and expenditures.”

It then named Birge in separate theft by taking counts for each victim with sums of with a greater or less than value of $500, but did not give a total sum taken.

The indictment theft charged Birge with violating her oath by a public officer with the Probate Court in that she did swear to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the Chief Clerk of Probate Court (of Chatham County) ... and I will receive only legal fees.”

The indictment stated the alleged illegal activity was unknown to the state until on or about Jan. 4 2017, and is thus excluded from the statute of limitations.

Then-Probate Judge Harris Lewis fired Birge on Dec. 2, 2014, in what was described as “in the best interests” of the court. He had placed Birge on investigative suspension without pay Nov. 20, 2014, during a probe of “discrepancies with the services that you are responsible for handling,” Lewis said in a termination letter.

Wednesday’s action was the latest against Birge.

As recently as two weeks ago in Chatham County State Court, Birge agreed to provide half of her contested county retirement to 11 plaintiffs to settle a civil case.

At issue in the civil case were mental pain and suffering after the 11 victims learns the money was gone from Probate Court, punitive damages and attorneys’ fee in what plaintiff attorney Brent Savage contended was more than $409,000 that Birge took from his clients over at least a four-year period.

And Chatham County Director of Internal Audits Jeannie Alday testified that her expanded review of Probate Court ledgers and related records uncovered about 80 victims, not the 42 earlier identified, between 2009 and 2014.

Total thefts from the court totaled “right at $1 million” plus $190,000 involving another estate, she said.

In October 2015, Birge was sentenced in federal court to six years in prison and ordered to make restitution of more than $751,000 for her admissions to stealing $232,000 from Chatham County Probate Court.

U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. also ordered Birge, then 61, to serve three years supervised release after completion of her custody term but imposed no fine citing her inability to pay.

She remains incarcerated in a West Virginia prison, but is expected to be released next year.

At her sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scarlett Nokes told Moore that despite Birge’s battles with both drugs since 2008 and gambling excesses since 2003, she did not seek help until her crimes were discovered.

The case was in court because Birge victimized people who were trusting her to do her job, Nokes said.

Under the terms of her negotiated plea with the government, Birge pleaded guilty to count three of a five-count indictment, charging her with mail fraud and federal program fraud in the scheme the government said lasted between January 2011 and November 2011.

But under federal sentencing guidelines, probation officers can consider all alleged misconduct — including dismissed counts — in reaching their recommendations to the judge.

During Birge’s appearance in court, the judge said he found it a mystery that the 342 checks she had written to cash, 322 were checks for less than $3,000 and only 20 in excess of that number.

When Moore suggested that her conduct suggested she had a reason for the check sums, Birge responded, “I didn’t try to hide anything from anyone. ... Much of the time I didn’t know what I was doing.

“I can’t explain why I did what I did, and I’m sorry and I just pray for mercy.”

Full Article & Source:
Chatham County prosecutors charge former Probate Court Clerk Kim Birge in theft scheme

See Also:
Attorney tells jury Kim Birge stole more than $1 million from Savannah victims

Former clerk Kim Birge sentenced to six years in federal custody, ordered to make restitution

UPDATE: Ex-Probate clerk Kim Birge to plead guilty in theft case on Friday

Kim Birge pleads not guilty to Probate Court fraud charges 

Former Probate Court clerk Kim Birge indicted in theft of more than $700,000 from the court

Man sentenced to prison after swindling elderly couples out of millions

FLINT, Mich. -- A Grand Blanc man was sentenced to serve up to a maximum of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of embezzlement over $100,000.

Jason Bescoe, 48, was sentenced Wednesday.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Bescoe swindled at least 10 clients of more than $4 million in a fraudulent financial investment scheme.

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint about Bescoe in 2017. There were allegations that he was embezzling money from clients who had trusted him to handle their financial investments.

“Embezzlement cases can be complex with thousands of documents and records to sort through, analyze, and piece together,” said Leyton. “I am pleased that with a lot of hard work by my staff and investigators from the Genesee County Sheriff Office’s Elder Abuse Task Force we were able to convict Jason Bescoe and hold him accountable for his actions while at the same time securing restitution for victims who had stood to lose a lot of their hard earned money."

Full Article & Source:
Man sentenced to prison after swindling elderly couples out of millions

Friday, May 31, 2019

'I just want my parents back.' Woman says company imprisoned her parents in their own home


UTICA, Mich. (WXYZ) — A local woman says her parents have been imprisoned in their own home by their caregivers and she wants to know why a Macomb County judge is allowing it to happen. While 7 Investigator Heather Catallo was looking into this story, the caregivers even called the cops on her.

When you become someone's guardian and conservator, you have total power over that person: You can make medical and legal financial decisions for them. Under Michigan law, family members are given priority to become a loved one's guardian. So why would a judge give this power to total strangers?

"I just want my parents back," Marcia Mitchell told Catallo.

Mitchell said she hasn't seen her father or step-mom in more than a month. All she can do is wonder what's happening on the other side of the fence separating Barbara Elbridge and Bob Mitchell from their relatives who live right next door.

"They can't get out, we can't get in. They can't take phone calls because their landline's been disconnected. Their cell phones have been taken, their cars were towed away," Cousin Gretchen Sommer said. "They're literally prisoners in their own home, and they've done nothing wrong."

Family members say both Barb and Bob have been trying to reach them through a six-foot tall privacy fence their caregivers installed. But how did this happen?

Back in November, Marcie says 70-year-old Barb and 72-year-old Bob were having issues with memory and dementia. That prompted Marcie to petition the Macomb County Probate Court to become her parents’ guardian and conservator, so she could hire full-time caregivers and make medical decisions for her dad and step-mom.

But when Marcie appeared in front of Judge Kathryn George, she says the judge blindsided her when the judge appointed an outside company called Caring Hearts Michigan Inc. as guardian and conservator.

"I felt belittled like I didn’t properly take care of my parents when I always thought I had. I was dumbfounded,” said Mitchell.

“How did the judge make you feel?” Catallo asked.

“Like a bad daughter,” said Mitchell.

Caring Hearts Michigan hired a company called Executive Care and brought in multiple caregivers to stay in the home 24 hours a day.

Both companies are owned by Catherine Kirk who, as guardian and conservator, can bill Barb and Bob’s estate for all of that care. The estate is worth around $2.7 million.

In fact, state records show Kirk and her husband, attorney Robert Kirk, have a total of 29 companies all registered to his Clinton Township law firm address.

“It’s a racket. It’s money,” said Sommer.

Family members say when they started questioning why caregivers were sleeping on the job and smoking in the home, they were barred from visiting Barbara and Bob.

“A neighbor said one was outside smoking marijuana before his shift. We know one has a lengthy criminal background. And supposedly these are all bonded, background checked, insured,” said Sommer.

The caregivers have also started calling the police – a lot.

"Utica 911," the call began

"Police please… We’re here as caregivers… The family’s here insisting on coming in," the home caregivers said on the line.

Utica police say they’ve been called 13 times since Kirk’s Caring Hearts and Executive Care took over caring for Barb and Bob.

The day the 7 Investigators were at the home next door to interview family members, the caregivers even called the cops on us.

Police: “Alright, are you guys leaning over the fence there?”

“No!” the Mitchell family responded

“Absolutely not. Is that what they said? They said we were leaning over the fence?” Catallo asked.

Police: “That’s correct.”

After the officers left, someone else showed up.

“I’m Michael Taylor, I’m an attorney for Caring Hearts and Executive Care,” said attorney Michael Taylor.

Taylor works for Robert Kirk’s law firm, and he’s also the mayor of Sterling Heights.

“Why can’t they see their family members?” asked Catallo.

“Because they’ve been giving them illegal drugs, illegal medication,” said Taylor.

“And what proof do you have of that?” asked Catallo.

“We have incident reports filed created by the aides,” said Taylor.

When we asked Taylor to produce visitor logs to back up those claims about medication – he refused to provide them.

Marcie Mitchell says that allegation only surfaced after she sent Cathy Kirk an email in April questioning her father’s medication dosage because he was unable to speak – and she denies giving her parents any drugs.

“Did you?” asked Catallo.

“No! No,” said Mitchell through tears. “No, I wasn’t there that day, and I don’t understand why they didn’t take him to the doctors if they’re going to make an accusation if my dad is that comatose.”

Taylor has also said in court filings that Executive Care is licensed with the state of Michigan, but state officials tell us that’s not true.

And that’s not all: The 7 Investigators have learned that Cathy Kirk’s companies are not on the state health department’s list of approved adult home help agencies.

After the day the cops were called on us, Taylor filed a request with the judge for a restraining order against the family and he’s asking the judge to let them install security cameras inside and outside the home.

Family members are fighting that, and they’re also asking why Bob keeps trying to escape and why recent photos reveal bruised arms.

“It’s absolutely insane. It’s disgusting. And it’s happening right here, it’s a form of trafficking in my opinion,” said Sommer.

Cathy Kirk refused to talk to 7 Action News on camera, but Caring Hearts Michigan did release this statement:
“Caring Hearts Michigan, Inc. was appointed as guardian and conservator in this case due, in part, to its relationship with Executive Care, a CHAP-Certified in-home care company. Caring Hearts does not accept guardianships or conservatorships on a large-scale basis. Prior to its appointment, Robert and Barbara were malnourished and living in dangerous and unsanitary conditions. Now, Robert and Barbara are safe and healthy living in their own home. Caring Hearts will continue to do everything in its power to provide for Robert and Barbara’s safety and wellbeing in the most cost-effective way possible without separating them or causing undue hardship. Their safety and wellbeing is our only concern.”
The family denies that Barb and Bob were unsafe and that the house was unsanitary.

As soon as the 7 Investigators started asking the judge questions about Caring Hearts, the company is suddenly now offering visitation to the family members.

They are all due back in court next month.

Full Article & Source:
'I just want my parents back.' Woman says company imprisoned her parents in their own home

Louisville attorney accused of defrauding clients indicted on theft, forgery charges

A Louisville personal injury attorney accused in multiple lawsuits of stealing money from Hispanic clients has been has been indicted on theft and forgery charges.

The Jefferson County grand jury Thursday accused Andrew Clooney, 51, of settling clients' lawsuits without their consent and pocketing settlement money.

"It is a great development for our clients," said attorney Alex White, who filed suits alleging that Clooney stole more than $160,000 from clients. "We have been screaming to the authorities and the bar and we really needed for the criminal justice wheels to start turning so we can get justice."

The grand jury indicted Clooney on Thursday on seven counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of property over $10,000. 

He also faces nine counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of property over $500 but less than $10,000 and 19 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. 

Clooney's wife, 46-year-old Christel Clooney, and employee Marlene Estrada, 57, were also indicted on the charges Thursday. 

Twenty different victims are named in the indictment. 

Prosecutors say the defendants, between July 2015 and August 2018, would forge clients' signatures on settlement agreements and Estrada would notarize them. 

White said last year that Andrew Clooney targeted those with poor English skills so their complaints wouldn’t be believed or would be chalked up to a misunderstanding.

The defendants, who face a maximum of 20 years in prison if they are convicted, are set to appear June 3 in Jefferson Circuit Court for arraignment.

Clooney was suspended from  practice on April 19 for failing to respond to a charge. The Kentucky Bar Association lists him as a former member.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Doug Meisel is prosecuting the case.

White said one of his clients has won a default judgment against Clooney and that the other lawsuits will be amended to add Christel Clooney and Estrada as defendants.

Full Article & Source:
Louisville attorney accused of defrauding clients indicted on theft, forgery charges

Care worker exploitation: Search cases in Nebraska, elsewhere

Long-term care is a multibillion-dollar industry that has enabled some operators to become wealthy -- while exploiting their workers.

Across the country, scores of caregivers—some of them on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week—earn a pittance to tend to the elderly in residential houses refurbished as care facilities, according to an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The growth of board-and-care homes in neighborhoods across the United States is tied to medical advances enabling aging Baby Boomers to live longer despite debilitating illnesses while requiring the help of caregivers. There were about 29,000 residential care communities in the United States in 2016, according to the most recent federal figures available. About two-thirds are smaller facilities with four to 25 residents.

Some caregivers at these facilities often effectively earn $2 to $3.50 per hour. Some say they end up working much longer than they signed up for or because they don’t know about minimum wage laws. Many report working from dawn to dusk, and at night they have to wake to change adult diapers, dispense painkillers and shift the bedridden every two hours to thwart bedsores.

The search below looks at national wage investigations over the last decade. Search by one or multiple criteria, including employer name, state, repeat or willful violations, amount of back wages paid and number of violations. Click on the 'Details' link for more information about the case.

Full Article & Source: 
Care worker exploitation: Search cases in Nebraska, elsewhere

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Extraordinary Rendition: An Act of War on America’s Seniors

by Marti Oakley

We should have taken a lesson; we should have paid attention because we all know that what the government gets away with in other places will soon be brought home and visited upon us. So it is with what is referred to as “extraordinary rendition”. ( explanation provided below) Now this same methodology is used to cull and and disappear senior citizens. No crime has been committed. No evidence is produced to substantiate the capture, imprisonment, robbing, and eventual serendipitous deaths of America’s senior citizens.

The Rendering of America’s Seniors

We have a system of extraordinary rendition occurring right here at home and utilized to traffic and cull senior citizens. But in this system it isn’t the military or CIA who are taking prisoners. It is attorney’s, predatory for-profit guardians, Adult Protective Services and other “stakeholders” who have been given the green light to capture, isolate, psychologically torture, forcibly medicate, rob and eventually end the lives of seniors. And these prisoners of guardianship are held in secret locations; the floating prisons and black ops sites now replaced with “nursing homes”, “hospice” and of course hospitals where they can languish for years as insurance and medicare is exploited.

As no crime has been committed by the elder that is targeted, that would activate civil or criminal courts, the probate system was constructed to treat them as though some nonchargeable crime had occurred. In this system they have no rights, and are treated worse than a felon with even fewer options.

Every day these predators kidnap unsuspecting elders, snatching them from their homes, from hospitals and from their families, friends and others. Their crime? Usually just aging with assets that the predators have decided should belong to them. We don’t call the elderly prisoners of war, we call them wards of the state. But they are prisoners none-the-less. And even though statutes supposedly restrict isolation, forced medication, and abuse, prisoners of the guardianship system are immediately isolated. No reason needed other than the predator ordered it. Medications are forced on the elderly, and many are left in such neglect and despair that they quickly deteriorate mentally from these things and the forced isolation. Many families have no idea where their family member is being held prisoner.

Who else helps work this system?

Trolls, spotters and other useful low-life’s make a living identifying possible targets. These people troll neighborhoods with a high number of elderly home owners and report back to the people who employ them when they spot a home up for sale, or maybe the yard just isn’t mowed. Anything is an excuse when you are looking for one. They also rifle through property tax files which are a wealth of information and statistics; very useful for identifying potential profit prospects. They can also be the admission clerk at your local hospital, or a floor charge nurse who has a predatory guardian on speed dial. And the ever present and always threatening, social services agent who just wants to visit with you and make sure you aren’t being abused. Even if you refuse the interview, even if you order this person to leave you alone, they will write up a report as if they had a long conversation with you and you showed all the signs of abuse. These individuals are no different than the Egyptian/Saudi kidnappers; they make their money delivering bodies.

Once captured, the elder is immediately guardianized via an emergency petition for guardianship. No due process, no notice of hearing. Not that it matters, the targeted victim would not be allowed to speak anyway. The probate examiner turns a blind eye to the lack of evidence, to random and malicious charges levied against family and friends, and accepts on face value whatever charges are presented as the excuse for what is about to happen.

He Who Claims Must Prove

This is an old maxim of law, and exactly the reason that all guardian cases are administered in tribunals instead of courts of law. In a court of LAW you would have to follow the rules of evidence and the code of Civil Procedure.

In a tribunal you can do what ever you like, no problem. In a probate tribunal, you are not dealing with law, rights, or anything you would recognize as supposedly being integral to the legal system of justice that is supposed to exist in this country. Which is exactly why these tribunals were created; to avoid all that pesky stuff like constitutional rights and protections and actual law.

Usually, these motions for guardianship are granted without notice to the person, without due process, without any verifiable evidence, and are granted without question. What is about to commence is kidnapping, identity theft, isolation, forced medication, abuse, neglect and estate theft. Everyone involved from the hearing examiner on down, including medical providers, will be making money off this one victim. The attorney’s, predatory guardians, medical providers, nursing homes, hospitals, agencies, ..all extracting every last dollar they can using whatever means necessary, to enrich themselves, their agency or organization. 

But what about those charges made, those claims against the elder himself/herself? Or those made against family and/or friends? Have you ever wondered why, not one time after making these charges, all of which are crimes under various state and federal laws,…. no one is ever charged or prosecuted?? There is a good reason for this. This would allow access to actual courts. In a court of LAW you would have to provide evidence, and prove your claims in front of a jury. There wouldn’t be any of this “its true because I said so”. Imagine how things would change if this happened.

As it is a very rare occasion that any such evidence exists, no charges are ever filed. But the person whom these charges were made against now has them listed on their public record as if they were a proven fact. The ministerial clerk, administrative hearing examiner or magistrate or whatever euphemistic title they operate under in your state will accept the charges made by the predators as if they were spoken by the Lord himself.

No, you may not present any evidence refuting these claims.

No, you may not speak up in your own defense, and,

No…your family member, friend, companion.. cannot be the guardian.

If any of these people were the guardian, should one actually be needed, these predators couldn’t steal the estate. They couldn’t convert the real property into their own names and sell it. They couldn’t rifle through personal possessions and steal anything of value, and they most certainly would not be able to access liquid accounts. And to add another level to this sick business, these predators make themselves the assigned payee on all Social Security benefits, and railroad retirement pensions, any military benefits and any other source of dedicated retirement income. After all, according to the probate tribunal, these predators are now in fact….you. The real you doesn’t exist any longer and the law will not recognize you as existing.

But don’t think for one moment that just because you might not have property or liquid assets, that you would be exempt from this human trafficking for-profit scheme. We now have numerous predators across the country who are doing business based on volume. In other words, they capture as many vulnerable seniors as possible who have nothing more than the above mentioned benefits. But multiply those benefits by hundreds of prisoners of guardianship….excuse me…”wards of the state”, held hostage by one of these predators and this provides an individual predator with a hefty monthly income.

The concerted efforts not only here in the US, but globally, to capture, cull and reduce the number of elderly is growing. We have been determined to be a waste population and one that has no other value than the accumulation of whatever level of wealth we have.

In the US, people over 60 are the largest block of actual homeowners and actually comprise at least 50% of the real wealth of this nation. What is happening to us is not only the eradication of the aging population, but a dispossession and disinheriting of generational wealth that was intended to be passed on to the next generation of our families.

And while this generational harvesting machine rolls on, our elected officials mouth platitudes, pass fluff & buff useless bills and pretend they care. They don’t.

Background on extraordinary rendition.

During the Iraq war, and I would assume ongoing even today, was the practice of kidnapping so-called “terrorist” suspects, who were then taken to black ops prisons. No charges. No actual evidence of any terroristic activities, but many times simply kidnapped off the streets and sold for bounty to the US military, CIA and other US agencies and organizations. Egypt and Saudi Arabia made many millions of dollars kidnapping unsuspecting Iraqi’s and others, usually for about $5000 US per head. As the majority of them were never charged with a crime, they were none-the-less held indefintely, some still held in captivity these 18 years later. Most of these “suspects” were imprisoned on floating prisons at sea where US laws and access to courts was not an issue. The floating prisons, the black op sites in several mid-eastern countries and of course the infamous Gitmo were and are notorious for their torture and severe abuse of the detainees. Their families never knew what happened to them, where they were or if they were even still alive. 

https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2018/may/9/us-coast-guard-operating-inhumane-floating-prisons/

http://www.historycommons.org/project.jsp?project=us_torture_abuse

https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/20-extraordinary-facts-about-cia-extraordinary-rendition-and-secret-detention

https://fas.org/irp/congress/2007_hr/rendition.pdf

https://www.vox.com/2014/12/9/7361291/map-cia

Full Article & Source:
Extraordinary Rendition: An Act of War on America’s Seniors

Peter Max And Stan Lee Highlight Financial Elder Abuse Epidemic

by Danielle and Andy Mayoras

Artist Peter Max was recently the subject of an extensive investigative piece in the New York Times about financial exploitation surrounding the popular painter. Max is 81 years old and struggles with dementia. The article detailed how the artist had not produced art in four years, but that reality did nothing to slow down the production of Peter Max paintings. Last year, Peter Max's art studio netted more than $30 million in profits, mostly through cruise line art sales of Peter Max creations.

Artist Peter Max with the Road Show Company exhibit on Sept. 6, 2014, in Northbrook, IL. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP)
Artist Peter Max with the Road Show Company exhibit on Sept. 6, 2014, in Northbrook, IL. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP)
Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP
The problem, according to the Times, is that Max did nothing more than sign the works, while other painters created them. Max, per the report, has not been able to paint since at least 2012. His dementia has progressed to the point that he does not know what year it is or understand the concept of being interviewed by a reporter. He went on cruises to promote art sales until he became too exhausted and confused, even soiling himself at one point.

Peter Max's son, Adam Max, took the helm of his studio, claiming his father asked him to take over active management. Peter oversaw a turnaround that took the studio from bankruptcy to a thriving business based on selling new Peter Max paintings.

When Peter's much-younger wife, Mary Max, filed for guardianship over her husband in 2015, she claimed that Adam had effectively kidnapped Peter, repeatedly moving him and concealing his location from family and friends. Mary won the right to return Peter home to live with her, with an independent guardian being appointed to manage his affairs. Despite her victory, reports surfaced that Mary too was accused of mistreating her husband, demanding more money, threatening divorce, withholding food, and even serving him hidden "large Brazil nuts" in smoothies, presenting an obvious choking hazard.

Through it all, Peter Max kept "working", signing his names to paintings and generating tens of millions of dollars annually.

The story was similar for the late Marvel Comics legend, Stan Lee, who also battled dementia before he died at age 95. He was squarely at the center of a power-struggle between his daughter, a former publicist, and a collector-turned-business parter to Stan Lee, named Keya Morgan. Lee was the subject of an elder abuse court proceeding that led to the appointment of an attorney to serve as guardian at litem to protect him. While we wrote an article calling for a conservator to be appointed to protect Stan Lee, he died a few months later, before anyone filed for conservatorship. The attorney remained as Lee's protector until the end.The true extent of the financial abuse has only recently been revealed. Authorities in Los Angeles took the unusual step of charging Morgan criminally for elder abuse of Stan Lee. Morgan was recently arrested for false imprisonment, grand theft from an elder, and elder abuse. For example, he is charged with pocketing $262,000 in autograph sales from Lee. Morgan is also accused of mishandling more than $5 million, exerting undue influence, and moving Lee from his home to isolate him.

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Peter Max And Stan Lee Highlight Financial Elder Abuse Epidemic

Nursing Home Workers In Elk River Plan 2-Day Strike In June

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of over 100 nursing home workers in Elk River have announced a two-day strike set for early June.

The nursing home workers, employed by Guardian Angels in Elk River, will be holding the two-day “Unfair Labor Practice” strike on Thursday, June 6 and Friday, June 7.

The nursing home workers are members of the union SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, which voted overwhelmingly to authorize the strike earlier in May.

The strike announcement comes after the two sides held over 10 bargaining sessions. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota says the employer has been unwilling to meet the group’s demands for “safe staffing levels, respect for workers who want a collective voice in their workplace, and investment in dedicated staff so they can continue to provide make Guardian Angels a Five Star facility.”

Pickets will take place on the public sidewalk outside the facility and the community is invited to join.
 
Full Article & Source:
Nursing Home Workers In Elk River Plan 2-Day Strike In June

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

'Who steals from the sick and the poor and the dying?': Woman pleads guilty in fraud scheme


While her victims lived with HIV and depended on social security, Paige Bohall enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. The once trusted financial manager of the Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association — or Four A's — is now the bad actor behind what one of the nonprofit's board members calls a "profound betrayal."

Bohall, 38, embezzled more than $105,000 from the nonprofit organization between 2013 and 2017, court records state. She not only misused her company credit card but also took money from individual client accounts to pay her personal bills.

According to its website, the statewide organization provides a range of services to AIDS patients ranging from health care to housing and also manages a needle exchange program.

Thursday, Bohall admitted to scheming to defraud and theft in exchange for a 90-day jail sentence and three months of probation, however, she'll receive credit for time served on an ankle monitor. She's also paid $120,000 in restitution.

Bohall took her friends out to dinner. She bought furniture. Her dogs wore fancy collars — It's knowledge Sarha Shaubach, a dedicated fundraiser for Four A's, says she wanted the court to consider before accepting the plea deal.

/>"I'd like [the judge] to think of how long it has been since Miss Bohall took over $120,000 from social security clients that have HIV and the type of lifestyle that she was living while she was doing that. I was very aware of that," said Shaubach.

She believes that Bohall should have to spend some time in jail.

"Paige has never even been handcuffed during this. The time that she did spend on ankle monitor was spent down in Vegas with her mother-in-law, while she has not had to face her local community at all," said Shaubach.

Candace Bell, a Four A's board member, spoke on behalf of the organization at Bohall's change of plea hearing. (Photo: Rachel McPherron)

Four A's board member Candace Bell addressed the court on behalf of the organization.

"Who does that, your honor?" she asked. "Who steals from the sick and the poor and the dying?"

Bell detailed the extensive fallout from the embezzlement. She said while the restitution is helpful, the measurable cost to date is closer to $160,000. Bell said more than 500 staff hours have been spent dealing with the fraud instead of supporting clients. They've had to trace every instance of theft to try to make things right and pay thousands of dollars in the process for things like forensic audits.

"I would be remiss if I did not admit to the fact that the lightness of the sentence stings," said Bell, "but Four A's as an organization is more inclined toward restoration than retribution and, therefore, we acquiesce to this plea agreement."

Bohall told the judge she is sorry.

"I never meant to hurt anyone with my recklessness," she said, "and I know returning the money that was owed doesn't solve everything, but I do hope the process of healing for the agency does begin with the clients that have had to wait for me to get this back to them."

Paige Bohall, 38, appeared in court for a change of plea hearing on May 17, 2019. (Photo: Rachel McPherron / KTVA)

Unfortunately, for some of her victims, the money can't help them now.

"Some of those clients are no longer living and they will never receive the benefit of the return of the money stolen from them," Bell told the judge.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Erin Marston accepted plea agreement.

"It's especially painful because it was from a charity and people relied upon that money," he said. "On the other hand, she has paid a large amount of restitution. Often I'm in this position where almost nobody gets any money back and it's just kind of a sad tale all the way around."

Bohall pleaded guilty to a class B felony count of scheme to defraud and a third degree theft charge.

As for Four A's, Bell says the organization continues to help those in need, even if it is still recovering from the impact of Bohall's crimes.

"Our mission is alive and well," she said.

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'Who steals from the sick and the poor and the dying?': Woman pleads guilty in fraud scheme

Ex-Norton man sent to prison for bilking elderly father

Anthony Schmitka
NORTON — A former Norton man has been sentenced to serve up to three years in prison for bilking his elderly father out of more than $110,000 in veterans benefits checks, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said Monday.

Anthony Schmitka, 58, was sentenced in Fall River Superior Court after pleading guilty Friday to two counts of larceny from a person older than 60, Quinn said.

Under the sentence handed down by Judge Renee Dupuis, Schmitka must serve at least 27 months in prison.

Schmitka was charged in 2014 in Attleboro District Court but fled on the day of his trial in March 2016. He spent the next three years as a fugitive from justice until his arrest March 6, soon after Quinn unveiled the Bristol County Most Wanted Fugitive List and website to field tips on wanted individuals.

Schmitka was one of the first fugitives highlighted during a news conference with state police and local police chiefs. He was tracked down and apprehended in Woodstock, Vt. by U.S. marshals after Norton police got a tip about his whereabouts.

In February 2013, Schmitka’s father, who is a U.S. military veteran, received a retroactive benefits check for more than $110,000 from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Over the course of a year, the defendant stole the money and used a portion of it to play the lottery and gamble at a local casino, according to the district attorney’s office.

“I am very pleased the defendant was held accountable for stealing more than $100,000 from his elderly father,” Quinn said in a statement. “Not only did the defendant betray his father’s trust, he defaulted from court and fled to Vermont, where he lived off of government assistance.

“The money that he stole was from the Department of Veterans Affairs and was based on the victim’s military service, which makes the defendant’s conduct particularly ‘unconscionable.’”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michael Scott, the chief of Quinn’s Financial Crimes Unit.

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Ex-Norton man sent to prison for bilking elderly father

Britney Spears Dad Extends Conservatorship to Florida, Louisiana and Hawaii

Exclusive Details  
Britney Spears' dad is taking no chances ... he's just filed legal docs stating his intention to make his conservatorship over his daughter valid in 3 key states.

According to the docs, obtained by TMZ, Jamie Spears is giving notice to the California judge who has been handling Britney's 11-year-plus conservatorship that he intends to file the docs declaring him conservator in Florida, Louisiana and Hawaii.

We're told Britney has no plans to visit the 3 states in the immediate future, but our sources say Jamie knows what's up and believes there are people out there in social media pulling the strings in the "Free Britney" movement who might attempt to wrestle her away if she leaves California.

Our sources say in the next 2 hours Jamie will file his conservatorship docs in the 3 states. We're told these are the 3 states that Britney likes to visit.

Full Article & Source: 
Britney Spears Dad Extends Conservatorship to Florida, Louisiana and Hawaii

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Judge sanctions lawyer, clients $222,000 in Thrash case

Laura Martinez, her attorney Phil Ross and her daughter Brittany Martinez wait outside Probate Court No. 1 for the start of a Friday hearing over the annulment of the recent marriage of Charlie Thrash, 81, a ward under a guardianship, and Laura Martinez.
Photo: Carlos Javier Sanchez /Contributor

by John MacCormack, San Antonio Express-News

In a stern rebuke, a judge ordered maverick lawyer Phil Ross and his clients to pay more than $220,000 in sanctions for their serial misconduct during an ongoing guardianship case involving Charlie Thrash, a mentally incapacitated millionaire.

In handing down the hefty penalty, one of the largest in courthouse memory, Bexar County Probate Court Judge Oscar Kazen ruled that Ross and his clients, Laura and Brittany Martinez, had “designed and carried out a vexatious litigation campaign … against Thrash, his property, the guardians and the Court.”

In addition, the judge said, the conduct of Ross and the Martinezes was “intentional, knowing and outrageous.”

The 35-page order cited dozens of specific acts of misconduct. Among the more serious:

Ross assisted in the improper marriage of Thrash and his girlfriend Martinez, which he knew was forbidden by the court because of Thrash’s mental incapacity. The marriage was soon annulled by Kazen.

Ross also was involved in a improper adoption by Thrash of Martinez’s two adult children, which he knew was forbidden, also dishonestly representing himself as Thrash’s lawyer, when he was not. The adoptions were also undone.

Ross improperly interfered with Tonya Barina, the guardian of Thrash’s estate, by attempting to divert Thrash’s Social Security benefits from her.

Ross filed a second recusal motion against Judge Kazen that he knew was groundless, solely “for the purpose of harassment” and to “avoid a hearing on the motion for sanctions.”

Kazen also imposed additional punitive financial sanctions of $2,500 against Laura Martinez and $1,500 against her daughter Brittany.

He ordered all the money be paid to Thrash’s two guardians and his estate.

Ross, who claimed nothing he has done harmed Thrash, said the sanctions just raise more questions about the case.

“How did the judge allow the guardians’ lawyers to bill more than a quarter-million dollars to Charlie’s estate trying to stop his common-law wife Laura and Brittany from trying to help him restore his capacity and to remove the guardians?” he asked.

“The other question is why are they so afraid of us? They are trying to silence us. All we’re saying is that Charlie is not incapacitated and the guardians should be removed,” he added.

Les Katona, one of the lawyers who represented Barina, the guardian of Thrash’s estate, however, said that given the egregious misconduct, the strong sanctions imposed by Kazen were almost predictable.

“Phil Ross and Laura Martinez and her family engaged in utterly outrageous behavior that necessitated the court respond in a very forceful way, in order to preserve the integrity of our judicial system and to protect people like Mr. Thrash from being taken advantage of,” he added.

$3 million estate

Thrash, 81, who since last year has been under the care of guardians, is the longtime owner of a now closed specialty auto repair shop on West Avenue.

For the last four months, he has been at the center of a contentious legal battle between Ross and lawyers representing the two court-appointed guardians.

Thrash’s estate is worth more than $3 million and Martinez says she is the only beneficiary.

The guardians and a court investigator claim that Martinez, who was briefly married to Thrash and claims she loves him, was exploiting and socially isolating him.

In his pleadings, Ross argued that the guardians ruined Thrash’s life and should be dismissed because Thrash has somehow regained his mental competence.

On March 6, guardian Mary Werner, with police assistance, removed Thrash from the spacious home he shared with Martinez in Shavano Park. Werner said she took the extreme action because she feared for Thrash’s safety.

Ross is known for his aggressive and unconventional legal tactics, which have led before to sanctions against him.

During the months of intense litigation, Kazen repeatedly admonished Ross over his behavior, warning at one point that some of his conduct might be criminal.

The judge was also given to repeating the cautionary remark: “We have to be careful that zealous advocacy doesn’t turn into the exploitation of the individual.”

Over the past four months, Ross filed more than 70 pleadings in the probate court, many attacking the two guardians.

All of Ross’s efforts to get rid of them have been rejected by Kazen, prompting additional pleadings by Ross to the 4th Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court, thus far to no avail.

Kazen has also stricken many of Ross’s filings, after ruling that neither he nor his clients qualified for intervenor status.

Along the way, Ross also tried twice to force Kazen’s recusal, failing both times.

And despite the immunity given state judges, Ross recently sued Kazen in state district court, claiming misconduct. That case is pending.

Ross also filed a suit in U.S. District Court against the two guardians. That case is also pending.

Also still pending is an anti-SLAPP case (Stragetic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) filed by Ross against the guardians.

The type of suit is typically filed by whistle blowers or outspoken citizens seeking protection against corporate intimidation.

And although Ross’s filings are often redundant, rehashing old issues, most have required a legal response from the five lawyers representing the guardians.

They claim that Ross’s voluminous filings have already cost Thrash’s estate more than $250,000 in unnecessary legal expenses.

There have also been more than two-dozen court hearings on the case thus far.

And the legal fight is hardly over. On May 30, another hearing will be held, this time on another motion by Ross for a new trial.

Ross, who has received nothing from the estate, says he is representing his clients without charge.

Full Article & Source:
Judge sanctions lawyer, clients $222,000 in Thrash case

See Also:
Judge orders girlfriend of incapacitated millionaire to vacate his estate

Attempt to recuse probate judge fails in Thrash case

Lawyer seeks to remove judge in Thrash case

Judge nullifies mentally incompetent San Antonio man’s adult adoptions, scolds lawyer for misleading him

San Antonio millionaire marriage annulled after abuse, exploitation and ‘abduction’ claims

Tennessee Supreme Court disbars Memphis lawyer

By The Daily Memphian Staff

The Tennessee Supreme Court has disbarred Memphis attorney Paul James Springer. The court’s Board of Professional Responsibility, which supervises attorney ethics, announced the disbarment Friday, saying Springer violated nine rules of professional conduct.

The board’s hearing panel voted last October to disbar Springer following numerous complaints from clients dating back several years. Springer also was ordered to repay six former clients. He appealed the ruling but then failed to meet the deadline to file a brief supporting his appeal.

Springer, who was licensed in 2001, had faced previous disciplinary actions that included a public censure in 2006 and a suspension in 2016.

In February, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich indicted Springer on felony counts of forgery and theft involving his handling a client’s $185,000 settlement check.

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Tennessee Supreme Court disbars Memphis lawyer

Three wills purportedly written by Aretha Franklin found in late singer's home

Aretha Franklin purportedly had three different wills

(CNN)The family of Aretha Franklin is headed to court over three wills purportedly handwritten by the late singer. 

The so-called "holographic wills" were discovered earlier this month by Sabrina Owens, the personal representative of the Aretha Franklin Estate. They contained within them what the estate called "potential areas of protest."
 
Attorneys for Franklin's four sons were unable to resolve the issue and are therefore headed to court to determine if the wills are admissible to probate.
 
Two of Franklin's sons are opposing the admission of the wills. The documents are dated June 21, 2010; October 20, 2010 and March 31, 2014, according to a court filing regarding the matter.
 
CNN has reviewed the documents. The will dated June 2010 makes reference to Franklin's high blood pressure and a mass on her pancreas.
 
The singer died August 16, 2018 from pancreatic cancer. 
 
"As this new development is also a family matter, [Owens] remains neutral and wishes that all parties involved make wise choices on behalf of their mother, her rich legacy, the family and the Aretha Franklin Estate," a statement from the estate read. 
 
According to the court docket, a hearing is expected Thursday at 10 a.m. in Oakland County, Michigan.

Full Article & Source:
Three wills purportedly written by Aretha Franklin found in late singer's home

See Also:
Aretha Franklin's estate in turmoil as police investigate theft

Aretha Franklin's lack of a will could make things rocky for heirs

Aretha Franklin left no will or trust, court records show

Monday, May 27, 2019

Exploring the Senior Co-Housing Trend

Did 'The Golden Girls' have it right all along?


By Elaine K. Howley

Picture it: A hit 1980s sitcom in which four senior women share a home in Miami. Hilarity ensues, and the world falls for "The Golden Girls." But more than just a beloved television show, the concept on which their wise and friend-first adventures were built is becoming a more common arrangement for regular people to age in place and get the most out of their later years with friends by their side.

Senior or elderly co-housing "isn't a new concept," says Sue Johansen, vice president of partner services with A Place for Mom, a senior referral service based in Seattle. "But what is new is that people are trying to explore it in different ways. What we're seeing today is that seniors are wanting to stay in their homes longer," with two primary reasons driving that move: socialization and cost-sharing.

"It's usually the financial piece that's the stronger driver that we've seen," Johansen says. Co-housing offers multiple seniors who'd rather not move into an assisted living community or nursing home another option for staying at home longer while spending less money to keep up a separate household. "It allows both the senior who owns the home and others who rent a room to be in an independent environment for longer, to pool resources financially, to live more comfortably and to share an environment with somebody who may face similar challenges."

For example, if none of the co-housing residents are able to keep up with housekeeping duties, perhaps they can split the expense of hiring a cleaning service. Home health care may also be more economical when delivered in a co-housing situation. "Facilitating care for multiple residents" is a common feature of these sorts of living situations. "They may have a home care company that comes in or they may have a cleaning service or an errand service that can help serve all two or three seniors in a home together," Johansen says.

Similar arrangements can often be found in senior co-housing communities that have been planned to cater specifically to adults of a certain age who are living in co-housing situations. The Cohousing Association of the United States reports there are more than 160 of these communities across the U.S. today, with 130 more in development. "A cleaning service will do multiple homes on a block or a home care company will have multiple clients in a small radius," Johansen says. Grocery or meal delivery services might work with all the residents in a certain neighborhood to improve efficiencies.

For many seniors, that financial piece may play the biggest role in pointing them toward co-housing as their best option, says Roxanne Sorensen, an aging life care specialist and owner of Elder Care Solutions of WNY in Rochester, New York, a case management consultancy. Sorensen says that as older adults live longer, finding an affordable housing option that fits their needs is a challenge that co-housing might be able to help address. "Why not take the model of developmentally disabled group homes and mimic that for seniors?" she asks. By moving several seniors into one home rather than each living alone, that will reduce the cost of procuring home health staff while perhaps also reducing loneliness.

In addition, Sorensen says changes to federal programs such as Medicaid may make co-housing a more attractive option in the future. "The funding keeps drying up. Every time they do something to Medicaid it affects the seniors" and the level of care they can afford. "The people who have paid into the system like the elderly, they shouldn't be penalized," but she says reforms to federal benefits programs like Medicare and Medicaid could curtail their ability to live out their golden years the way they want.

Socialization Advantages


There are lots of reasons why an older adult might find him or herself feeling isolated or lonely. For one, divorce among seniors is on the rise. According to the Pew Research Center, since the 1990s, the divorce rate among adults aged 50 and over (so-called "gray divorce") has more than doubled. For others, death leaves the surviving spouse living alone. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 28 percent of people aged 65 or older lived alone when the census was conducted in 2010. And these individuals are more likely to be female, given that women's life expectancy is 81.2 years versus 76.4 years for men. (Life expectancy in the U.S. has been following a downward trend over the past several years, with an editorial in The BMJ reporting the cause being despair resulting in increased suicide and substance abuse.)

Social isolation and loneliness are associated with higher mortality in older adults, and senior co-housing might be an option for alleviating some of this isolation. Simply living with another person or people – especially if you have shared experiences or other things in common – can provide a wonderful opportunity to socialize and feel part of something bigger than yourself. Who wouldn't want to live with friends? Much like any other shared housing arrangement, this one can yield a new partner or friend with whom to have adventures and good times.

Disadvantages of Senior Co-Housing


There can also be a downside to senior co-housing. As with any roommate situation, conflicts can crop up over everything from dishes in the sink to household expenses. And as vexing as such discord can be when you're in your 20s, it may be compounded later in life by health issues and other age-related factors such as cognitive deficits or reduced mobility. "The bandwidth of dealing with the ramifications if you get into a bad situation tend to be overwhelming. That's the deterrent that has kept this from being a larger portion of what we're seeing in the marketplace in general," Johansen says.

One way to reduce the chances of having a bad match is to carefully select your living partners and to set out all expectations clearly and in writing right from the outset. "If they're going to go into a co-housing situation, the homeowner really needs to take the time and expense to get a rental agreement drawn up," Johansen says. That agreement should call out the specific needs that each senior has and wants to ensure are met.

In addition, when searching for the right roommate for this type of situation, taking a "common-sense" approach to safety should be paramount. "Be smart about how you approach it. Have the initial interviews outside of the home so you can meet somebody and not be inviting people to come into the home." If a child or other loved one is available to assist during this screening process, Johansen says that can help increase safety and the selection of the right co-housing partner or partners.

"The challenge to senior co-housing is it's not a very well developed network, so oftentimes people are having to seek out roommates via more traditional means," such as posting an ad on Craigslist or another roommate search service. Johansen says some services are starting to spring up to cater to this trend, such as Senior Homeshares and the Golden Girls Network. Similar to other roommate matching websites, these services seek to connect compatible seniors to share a home. Senior centers can also be a good way of finding people to share your home with.

The key is to "find that right roommate who's going to add to the experience rather than detract from it," Johansen says, noting that "the downsides are that if a senior moves in with another senior and both are challenged in similar ways, that can be a problem." On the other end of the spectrum "if one has higher needs than another, then one of the two ends up sometimes being the caregiver, which may not be what they wanted or signed up to do."

As with any roommate situation, "you run the risk of getting someone in the home who's not trustworthy, whether that be from a financial standpoint or a danger in another way," such as elder abuse, Johansen says. "Seniors opening up their homes to others can be problematic and risky," so it's important to proceed carefully if you're planning to pursue this option, as making a bad selection could actually lead to increased isolation for the homeowner, rather than the intended connection. "If you get the right person, that can be a great thing. If you don't, it can almost be more isolating to the senior who has the home because if there isn't a good fit, they tend to retreat to their respective spaces within the home and it has the opposite effect."

This is where a larger community might offer a better option for certain individuals, because in a larger community "you're always able to find a small group of people that you resonate with and have a shared interest with versus trying to seek that out with one or two individuals. It's part of the human condition just magnified when you're a senior and have other challenges," Johansen says. Still these arrangements can work with careful vetting, and Johansen recommends having structured activities or a connection to a nearby senior center to help improve the socialization aspect of living with other seniors.

These relationships can take a range of different forms and the details of how you slice up costs and responsibilities will vary widely based on who you're living with. In all cases, Johansen recommends considering what you're missing and what you want to get from a co-housing relationship to help guide you and find the right match. "If I'm a senior and I own my home but I'm no longer able to drive and therefore I don't get that interaction, am I looking for somebody who's still driving and someone socially engaged who can provide that link to me?"

For some seniors, "the finances are the biggest driver, and therefore I don't have a lot of those other softer needs. Rather I want to make sure I set the right price and we talk about who's responsible for what financially. Who's going to buy the food and pay for the electricity?" Johansen says it's important in all cases to get the financial details spelled out and to ensure that all members of the co-housing situation "understand clearly what the priorities are and set up arrangements to make sure their needs are met."

Despite the potential pitfalls, Sorensen says she thinks the co-housing trend is here to stay. "Some people don't want to be in a huge institution or a nursing home. If I'm in a five-person house, I'm home, right? And I still have the care I need." Sorensen says she thinks this approach is going to only grow in popularity in the coming years, as the baby boomer generation ages. "I would love to see it going that way. I think it's going to happen little by little, because I think that's what boomers want."

Full Article & Source:
Exploring the Senior Co-Housing Trend

Attorney known for filing non-ADA compliant lawsuits indicted for falsifying tax returns

Over the years, Scott Johnson has filed "thousands of lawsuits" in California, as the plaintiff and making claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Sacramento-area lawyer known for filing non-ADA compliant lawsuits against businesses has been indicted on tax charges.

Scott Norris Johnson, 57, of Carmichael, has been indicted and charged with three counts of making and subscribing a false tax return, according to a press release from the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Over the years, Johnson has filed "thousands of lawsuits" in California, naming himself as the plaintiff and making claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the California Disabled Persons Act, and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act.

Settlements payments are taxable "unless they were paid because of personal physical injury or physical sickness." Johnson allegedly underreported the settlement payments he received on his income tax returns for tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014, paying "little to no income tax" for those years.

If convicted, Johnson could face up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

Full Article & Source:
Attorney known for filing non-ADA compliant lawsuits indicted for falsifying tax returns

Gbajabiamila Indicted For Stealing Client’s Settlement Money As U.S Records Reveals Age Fabrication

By The Nigerian Voice
Femi Gbajabiamila, who is contesting for the speaker of the House of representatives was in 2007 indicted on multiple counts of embezzlement and fraud by the Georgia Supreme Court in the United States. Gbaja, accepted $25,000 as settlement of a client’s personal injury claims, deposited the money in his attorney’s trust account in 2003, failed to disburse the funds to the poor client, withdrew those funds for his own personal use, closed down the office and ran away to Nigeria, according to the Supreme court.

According to court documents, Gbaja pleaded guilty ann was remorseful for his criminal action and was thus placed on a 36 month suspension after paying back the $25,000 three years after he stole the money. Gbaja offered a feeble and rambling apology that focused more on his own suffering than that of his victim, according to court transcripts.

The indictment paints the picture of an individual who began to run afoul with the law over a decade ago,” Lekan Oreofe, a Lagos lawyer said. Independent reports in the U.S also reveals that Femi Gbaja may also have been involved in age fabrication as documents showed that Gbaja reported his date of birth to United States Government sources as March 9, 1962, this is in disagreement with his date of birth of June 25 1962 also listed in his Wikipedia account and other agencies in Nigeria. It’s infinitely entertaining that the media complex is taking anything Gbaja says seriously.

The man was almost disbarred from practicing law in the U.S and SUSPENDED for stealing. Femi Gbaja has no credibility, Oreofe stressed. In a suit filed at the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, one Mr. Philip Undie, is asking the court to restrain the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and the All Progressives Congress, who are the first to fourth defendants in the matter, from recognising Gbajabiamila as a member of the House of Representatives and as an aspirant for the office of the Speaker of the House.

Full Article & Source:
Gbajabiamila Indicted For Stealing Client’s Settlement Money As U.S Records Reveals Age Fabrication