Tuesday, May 21, 2024

I-Team: The guardianship home grab

by Danielle DaRos

Jan Garwood is just one ward in Florida's guardianship system who lost her home while incapacitated (WPEC).

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Three years ago, the CBS12 News I-Team reported on Jan Garwood's guardianship nightmare: a Florida senior was declared "incapacitated" by a judge, and put under the control of a professional guardian, who quickly moved her into a memory care facility. Garwood was there for three years, until she finally fought her way out of the restrictive guardianship.

But while she won her rights and freedom back, she lost almost everything else.

"I said I wanted to go home, and they said, 'You don't have a home anymore,'" Garwood said.

Her home was sold not long after she was institutionalized.

The guardian did not have her property appraised, and didn't list it in a public database to find a buyer. Instead, Garwood's home was sold to an employee at the very assisted living facility where the guardian had placed her. 

Florida Deputy Inspector General Anthony Palmieri investigates misconduct in the state guardianship system, and he calls Garwood's case one of the worst in an increasingly common trend: questionable real estate transactions in the guardianship system.

"Real estate is definitely something that has ticked up for our investigations," Palmieri said.

When a guardian is suspected of a crime, his Palm Beach County team is able to investigate and refer a case for criminal prosecution. In some cases, he has uncovered real estate sales that seem to enrich a whole network of other people -- leaving the ward without their most valuable asset -- and the security of their home.

Often, guardians petition the court to sell a ward's home, claiming that extra money is needed to pay for their ward's care. But when the sale price falls short of the home's estimated value -- and if the buyer goes on to quickly flip that home for a profit -- then the ward is the one getting ripped off.

"In my book, that's a problem," he said. "The guardianship is to serve the person that needs this intervention and this protection. So anything that's not giving them the fair value [of their asset] is problematic. I want to look at it."

Recently, Palmieri's team looked at a case involving a former real estate agent, turned professional guardian in Seminole County named Dina Carlson. An investigative report mentioned three real estate sales she initiated on behalf of her wards.

For one ward's property in Lake Mary, Carlson hired real estate agents Mark and Kimberly Adams: Mark was the listing agent, and Kimberly completed a "competitive market analysis" instead of getting the property appraised. Investigators wrote that they considered the CMA to be "fraudulent" because it undervalued the home. The Lake Mary property was never offered to the public, but was sold to a buyer for $215,000. Three months later, the new owner flipped it for $347,000.

"Is it a red flag if you see a home is sold and flipped for a much higher price?" The I-Team asked Palmieri.

"Definitely something that I would take notice of," he said. "I would want to understand the relationship, if any, between the guardian, the real estate agent, and subsequent buyers. I would look at those and connect the dots, to see if there are relationships that are improper and should have been reported to the court."

His report highlighted two other real estate sales that seem to include conflicts of interest.

For a ward's home in Apopka, Carlson used real estate agents Mark and Kimberly Adams to sell a home for $120,000. It was sold the very day it was listed. Five months later, that buyer transferred the title of the home to Mark and Kimberly Adams, who then, one month later, sold the house for $298,000.

In a third case, Carlson sold a ward's home in the desirable Orlando suburb of Winter Springs. She again used Mark and Kimberly Adams to sell the three-bed, three-bath property. It went for just $195,000. The buyer who got such a good deal? Realtor Kimberly Adams' brother.

The I-Team reached out to Dina Carlson, Mark Adams and Kimberly Adams multiple times to ask them about these real estate sales, but they never responded to our messages.

Palmieri's report concluded that there was probable cause to suspect the trio had committed multiple crimes, including exploitation of the elderly, grand theft and scheme to defraud, and she sent a referral to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Without explanation, the FDLE declined to pursue those charges, writing in a memo that "no evidence was developed to substantiate a criminal predicate."

In a settlement agreement with the Office of Public and Professional Guardians, Carlson accepted a "reprimand" from the state, and agreed to take eight hours of continuing education courses, including a "Guardian Refresher" class.

"No one is holding anyone accountable," victim-advocate Hillary Hogue said.

After serving on Florida's Guardianship Improvement Task Force, Hogue believes more regulation and oversight must be required before a guardian is allowed to sell a ward's home. She believes requiring a certified appraisal is a start.

Full Article & Source:
I-Team: The guardianship home grab

Many families take patients off life support too soon after traumatic brain injuries: study

By Melissa Rudy

Many patients who died after traumatic brain injuries may have survived and recovered if their families had waited to take them off life support, a new study has found. (iStock)

Many patients who died after traumatic brain injuries may have survived and recovered if their families had waited to take them off life support, a new study found.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and other universities analyzed "potential clinical outcomes" for patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who were removed from life support, according to a press release.

The study included 1,392 patients who were treated in 18 trauma centers across the U.S. over a 7½-year period.

Using a mathematical model, the researchers compared patients for whom life support was withdrawn to similar patients who were kept on life support.

Among the group for whom life support was not withdrawn, more than 40% recovered at least some independence, according to a press release.

The researchers also discovered that the notion of remaining in a vegetative state was an "unlikely outcome" six months after injury.

When designing the study, the team didn’t know what to expect, according to study author Yelena Bodien, PhD, of the Department of Neurology’s Center for neurotechnology and neurorecovery at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

"Our anecdotal experience was that some families are told their loved ones had no chance for recovery, they would never walk, talk, work or have a meaningful relationship again — yet they chose not to discontinue life support and their loved one made a remarkable recovery," she told Fox News Digital.

"On the other hand, clinicians are under a lot of pressure to make early prognoses and do not want to commit someone to a life that would never be acceptable to them, so it could be that those patients who died after life support was withdrawn would have had very significant impairments otherwise."

"I think there are two stories here," said Bodien. 

"One is that some patients with traumatic brain injury who died because life support was withdrawn may have recovered, but the other is that many would have died even if life support was continued."

A patient’s prognosis after severe traumatic brain injury is highly uncertain, she noted. "Sometimes patients with the most devastating injuries survive and make meaningful recoveries."

"Families can advocate for delaying a decision to discontinue life support if this is aligned with what they believe their loved one would want."

The problem, Bodien said, is that health care providers lack the tools required to determine which patients with devastating injuries will recover, to what extent they will recover — and how long that will take.

‘Very important’ study

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, was not involved in the research but said it was a "very important" study.

"Previous research shows a high-level recovery from mild TBI and a significant recovery percentage even with moderate to severe injury," Siegel told Fox News Digital.

"After head trauma, the brain may swell, and the use of mannitol and steroids and even sometimes surgery — where the top of the skull is removed — can be used to decrease pressure on the brain and increase chance of a full recovery," he continued. 

Rehabilitation is also crucial, Siegel added.

"All of these tools should be given a chance to work in most cases."

Based on the study findings, Bodien recommended that clinicians should be "very cautious" with "irreversible decisions" like withdrawing life support in the days following traumatic brain injury

"Families should also be aware of our results so that they can advocate for delaying a decision to discontinue life support if this is aligned with what they believe their loved one would want," she added. 

Limitations of the research

There were some limitations to the study, Bodien said.

"The sample size of the study was small, which made it difficult to find an adequate number of participants who did not have life support discontinued and were clinically similar, or ‘matched,’ to those who had life support discontinued," she told Fox News Digital.

Among the participants who did not have life support discontinued, the researchers were not able to follow all of them for a six-month period.

 Another limitation is that the researchers used clinical variables that were available on the day of, or the day after, hospitalization — but sometimes decisions to discontinue life support are made several days later.

"There are many considerations that may lead to a decision to discontinue life support after traumatic brain injury that we were unable to factor into our analyses," she continued. 

"For example, personal beliefs, religion and advanced directives could all affect decision-making but were not captured in our study."

Bodien also noted that the Harvard study was focused on traumatic brain injury and cannot be generalized to other injuries and illnesses.

Full Article & Source:
Many families take patients off life support too soon after traumatic brain injuries: study

Monday, May 20, 2024

Pillowcase Murders: Suspected Texas serial killer smothered elderly women in upscale nursing homes

Billy Chemirmir posed as a handyman to get into elderly women's upscale assisted living homes, smother them to death and steal their valuables

Accused serial killer Billy Chemirmir looks back during his retrial on April 25, 2022, at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

By Christina Coulter

Billy Chemirmir was convicted in the slayings of two elderly women at high-end Texas retirement homes and indicted for the killings of 20 more, but if one woman had not survived his attempt at smothering her, he may have never been caught.

Less than a year after he was killed by his cellmate, suspected serial killer Billy Chemirmir is the subject of a just-released Paramount+ docuseries "Pillowcase Murders." He was killed in a Texas prison by a cellmate in 2023, officials said.

Over a two-year span, authorities said Chemirmir used his work as a caregiver to prey on elderly women in the Dallas area, posing as a maintenance person or medical professional to get into their homes before asphyxiating them and stealing their valuables, including $30,000 worth of jewelry in one instance.

Smothering leaves little evidence of foul play, and due to the women's advanced ages, their deaths were repeatedly attributed to natural causes. 

The daughter of Marilyn Cardillo Bixler, who was found dead on the floor of her apartment in September 2017, previously told Fox News Digital that she did not suspect her mother had been murdered when she found her dead. 

"I thought it was strange where her body was. I thought it was strange that her glasses were across the room with the frames bent and the lens popped out, so much so that I set them on the console of my car and took a picture. The back of her hair, which she had done every Friday, was an absolute mess and that just didn’t make sense to me," Cheryl Pangburn said in 2022. 

Shannon Dion told Oxygen.com that she found it suspicious that her mother's jewelry, including the gold guardian angel necklace she always wore around her neck, and wallet were missing when her mother died in 2016. Dallas Police Department officers allegedly told her that they believed someone had robbed her after she died of natural causes. 

M.J. Jennings looks at a photo of her mother, Leah Corken, while sitting at her home in Dallas, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Corken was one of 22 women in the Dallas area who Billy Chemirmir was charged with killing. Officials say Chemirmir was killed by his cellmate on Sept. 19, 2023 in a Texas prison. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

"It flat out didn’t make any sense," Dion told the outlet. "But I grew up to trust police. I had nothing else to go on. What else do I do?"

Dion would later learn that her mother, Doris Gleason, was the seventh resident of Tradition-Prestwood to die in under four months, the outlet reported.

In March 2018, a 91-year-old Mary Bartel told police that Chemirmir had forced his way into her apartment at an assisted living community, tried to smother her with a pillow and stole her jewelry. 

Police quickly identified Chemirmir as a suspect, according to the documentary. The next day, they arrested the Kenyan national in the parking lot of his apartment complex while he held jewelry and cash, having just thrown a large red jewelry box into a dumpster. 

Billy Chemirmir, 50, was reportedly murdered in prison by cellmate Wyatt Busby, who was serving a 50-year sentence for a fatal stabbing. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

Documents inside the box led them to Lu Thi Harris, 81, who was found dead in her bedroom, Fox News Digital previously reported. The elderly woman had red lipstick smeared on her mouth, and a matching red stain on the pillow beside her indicated that she had been smothered, Fox News Digital previously reported. 

Detectives looking at unexplained or suspicious deaths of elderly women in the Dallas-Fort Worth area began to connect more deaths to Chemirmir. As details of the suspected killer's crimes became public, more family members came forward. 

The strange details surrounding her mother's death came back to Pangburn when she received a Facebook message from a high school friend. 

"She sent me a message that said, 'My mom was also a victim of Billy Chemirmir. My condolences. If you would ever feel comfortable talking, here's my number,'" Pangburn previously told Fox News Digital. 

Sitting among photos of her late mother, Doris Gleason, Shanon Dion talks about her in Carrolton, Texas, on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

"As I'm sitting in this appointment, I have no idea what she's talking about. I Google search the name Billy Chemirmir, and it just pulls up this serial killer's story," she said. "I'm horrified, but things are starting to make sense." 

During her deposition at Chemirmir's murder trial, survivor Bartel told jurors that the man smothered her until she lost consciousness. However, she survived, came to and went to a hospital. Her gold wedding band, a diamond gold ring, a gold locket with a picture of her late husband, two gold crucifixes and a silver bracelet were missing when she returned home, she said. 

That capital murder trial ended in mistrial after a jury was left deadlocked in an 11-1 vote after 11 hours of deliberation, NBCDFW reported. 

However, in April 2022, Chemirmir was convicted of murder in Harris' death, then was convicted in a separate case in the death of 87-year-old Mary Brooks. 

"I am not a killer," Chemirmir told The Dallas Morning News before his conviction. "I’m not at all what they’re saying I am. I am a very innocent person. I was not brought (up) that way. I was brought (up) in a good family. I didn’t have any problems all my life… I am 100 percent sure I will not go to prison."

Defendant Billy Chemirmir listens to motions and language being discussed and sent to the jury after one juror is hanging up the deliberations in his capital murder trial at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

Rather, Chemirmir told the newspaper he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and noted that he had family members who operated nursing homes in the area. 

"If I was a killer, I could’ve killed all those ladies," he said. "Nobody has been killed there."

In her victim impact statement after his conviction, Ellen French House told Chemirmir that she wanted him to see two photos of her mother Norma French, one when she was still alive and the next after he had allegedly killed her. 

"This is my beautiful mother," House said as she displayed the first photo, according to KHOU 11. "This is my mother after you pried her wedding ring off of her finger that she couldn’t even get off."

Chemirmir was sentenced to life in prison and sent to Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, located about 100 miles southeast of Dallas, Fox News Digital previously reported.

After he was sentenced to life, prosecutors dismissed 20 more capital murder charges against Chemirmir, prompting his alleged victims' families to hold a demonstration. 

"Not only was it another horrible feeling, but the paperwork doesn’t even have her name on it," House told Fox News Digital at the time. "Just a number now I guess." 

Although he was spared the death penalty in Dallas County, families were hopeful that Collin County would pursue capital punishment. 

"She was a joy and she was absolutely thriving where she was, she absolutely loved living where she lived, and it just ended tragically," Pangburn told Fox News Digital. "It's the ultimate crime, it deserves the ultimate punishment." 

However, in September 2023, Chemirmir was beaten and stabbed to death by his cellmate Wyatt Busby, who was serving a 50-year sentence for killing a Houston man in 2016, according to WFAA. Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot told the outlet that Chemirmir had apparently made inappropriate sexual comments about the man's children.

Full Article & Source:
Pillowcase Murders: Suspected Texas serial killer smothered elderly women in upscale nursing homes

Muskegon County caregiver accused of submitting false Medicaid claims

LANSING, MI - A Montague woman is facing prison time after she allegedly lied about providing in-home care to collect Medicaid dollars.

Julia Bland, 28, was arraigned at Ingham County’s 54-B District Court Friday, May 17 on one count of Medicaid fraud, a four-year felony, according to a news release from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Bland, who was employed by GT Independence to provide in-home services for a Medicaid recipient, is accused of submitting false claims between Feb. 23 and July 13, 2023. These claims were then paid by the Medicaid program.

Investigators found Bland used a smartphone app to report the dates and hours she provided services, according to the attorney general’s office. But the app’s GPS location data shows Bland allegedly submitted claims for services when she was not in the area of the Medicaid beneficiary’s home.

Ingham County Judge Molly Hennessey Greenwalt issued Bland a $50,000 bond.

“Providing Medicaid-funded in-home care is critical to keeping vulnerable people in their own homes as long as possible,” said Nessel. “Caregivers who use the program to commit fraud will be held accountable.”

The Michigan Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division, a state and federally funded program, investigated this case. About 75% of the division’s funding comes from a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The remaining 25% totaling $1.8 million is funded by the state.

Bland will next appear in court for a probable cause conference on May 31.

Full Article & Source:
Muskegon County caregiver accused of submitting false Medicaid claims

Police: Brockway woman stole nearly $200k from elderly man

by Rebecca Parsons

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A Brockway woman is in jail after she allegedly stole nearly $200,000 from an elderly man who was in her care, according to police.

Kelly Wright, 55, is facing felony charges after she allegedly exploited an 86-year-old man, according to a report from the Brookville Police Department. Wright transferred nearly $200,000 from the victim in April of 2023.

The transfers were as follows:

  • On 4/21/23: $101,504.11 was transferred from the victim’s account to Wright’s account
  • On 4/28/23: $97,939.08 was transferred from the victim’s account to Wright’s account

According to the criminal complaint, on April 26 the victim signed their power of attorney over to Wright after his physician found him to be in a “mental state of incapacitation” due to memory loss among several cognitive and physical issues. The first transfer that Wright did was before she had obtained power of attorney from the victim, according to the complaint.

Wright allegedly told a representative with the Jefferson County Area of Agenngy that after the transactions were made, she then cashed out the money and gave it to the victim. Officers reached out to Wright to set up an interview. On two separate occasions, she failed to show up to those interviews, according to police. Wright failed to show proof of having used the funds for the victim or the estate of the victim.

According to the criminal complaint, officers obtained the warrants to search Wright’s personal accounts. The accounts showed that Wright had taken the money from the victim and allegedly used it to pay off her loans.

Wright is in Jefferson County Prison after being unable to post 10% of her $200,000 bail. She is facing felony charges of financial exploitation of an older adult or care-dependent person, theft by failing to make required disposition of funds and theft by unlawful taking. 

She has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 27.

Full Article & Source:
Police: Brockway woman stole nearly $200k from elderly man

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Bride, 88, finally gets to wear wedding dress, veil as she marries her first crush

It's the second marriage for the bride and groom, both 88. They fell in love after reconnecting at their 50th high school reunion.

Elaine Hall never got to wear a white wedding dress and a veil when she married her first husband at 18.

Seventy years later, after reconnecting and falling in love with her childhood crush, she had a second chance to get the traditional wedding she always wanted.

“I kept saying at 88, maybe I shouldn’t wear a veil. My daughters said, ‘Mom, quit trying not to look like a bride. You’re a bride. We’re going to do the whole thing,’” Hall tells TODAY.com.

“When I got up there to him, he said to me, ‘You look so beautiful.’”

Hall wanted a wedding dress and a veil for the ceremony.
Hall wanted a wedding dress and a veil for the ceremony. Courtesy Maddy Godt Photography

He is Roland Passaro, also 88. The couple married in Palm Coast, Florida, on March 23, the second marriage for both. They first met 74 years earlier in junior high school and were each other’s first big crushes before going their separate ways.

“When I saw her in 9th grade, I thought she was very beautiful and exciting. … I thought she was, I guess in today’s parlance, quite hot,” Passaro tells TODAY.com.

He says he felt the same way when he saw Hall walking down the aisle in her white wedding dress and veil: “All this time later, I thought she was just as beautiful, just as exciting.”

It’s possible to fall in love at any age, they want others to know.

The newlyweds celebrate with their family.
The newlyweds celebrate with their family.Courtesy Maddy Godt Photography

Apart for 50 years

Hall and Passaro attended the same junior high school in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1950.

She was a cheerleader and he was a star athlete on the baseball team so they often bumped into each other. Hall recalls that Passaro was handsome and very popular, and that she felt a chemistry with him.

The teens socialized at parties and dances, but never dated.

After high school, Hall married another man at 18 in a no-frills ceremony. The military was sending him to Germany, and the couple was in a hurry to get married before then. She wore a blue sun dress that was pretty, but not the white wedding gown she had envisioned.

She had three children and worked at the local newspaper. The marriage didn’t work, and Hall got divorced in 1975. She was single for the next 28 years.

“I always had a special place in my heart for Roland all through those years,” Hall recalls. “I often wondered how he was, if he was happy, had a good life.”

Passaro, meanwhile, went to college after high school and played professional baseball, but a spinal injury ended his athletic career. He married another woman, had three sons and moved to Miami to work for an airline. In 2002, tragedy struck: His wife and one of his sons died within 10 months of each other.

The next year, in 2003, both Hall and Passaro attended their 50th high school reunion in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He came from Miami and she from Atlantic City, New Jersey, where she bought a condo after retiring.

They recognized each other right away, felt their familiar chemistry and exchanged email addresses. At the end of the night, he spontaneously kissed her.

Elaine Hall and Roland Passaro in 2003.
Passaro and Hall at their 50th high school reunion in 2003 where they reconnected.Courtesy Elaine Hall

Soon, they were talking on the phone for hours and emailing every day. Over the next months, the conversations became romantic and she visited him in Florida. By Christmas 2004, Hall moved in with Passaro in Miami.

'What do you think about getting married?'

They enjoyed their relationship, but didn’t discuss marriage for almost 20 years.

When people first met them, they always asked the silver-haired couple: “How long have you two been married?”

After somebody asked them yet again in late 2022, Hall turned to Passaro and said, “What do you think about getting married?” He replied, “I think we should.”

They exchanged vows at the gated community where they live, with family a big part of the wedding. Passaro’s son Jim, an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church, performed the ceremony. His other son was his best man.

Hall’s son died in 2021, so her two daughters walked her down the aisle. The couple’s great-granddaughters were flower girls.

Neither expected to fall in love later in life, but both emphasize it’s absolutely possible.

“It’s wonderful” to be newlyweds as they approach 90, Passaro says.

“I feel the same way as I did at 15,” Hall adds. “I still get the butterflies. I just love him so much.”

To stay healthy in their late 80s, they golf at least twice a week and walk as much as they can. Passaro also exercises at home, including push-ups and sit-ups every night. “You’ve got to keep moving,” he says. “The real deal is not to sit down on the sofa and stay there the rest of your life.”

They read to each other and do puzzles to keep their brains sharp. Good genes play a role, too: Passaro’s parents both lived into their 90s, and Hall’s father did as well.

She’s still surprised by the power of love at any age.

“I thought I had my life all figured out. Retire to the beach, (be with) my friends and my family. But when it did happen, to me it was pure and simple chemistry,” Hall says.

Full Article & Source:
Bride, 88, finally gets to wear wedding dress, veil as she marries her first crush

New York Court System launches guardianship resource webpage

 by Rob Abruzzese

Chief Administrative Judge Joseph Zayas and First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Norman St. George announced the launch of the Unified Court System’s (UCS) new Guardianship in New York Resource Webpage on Tuesday. 

The website aims to provide important information about guardianships and alternatives, helping to protect vulnerable individuals from harm and exploitation.

The online resource offers comprehensive information on the guardianship process, including informational videos with subtitles in multiple languages, a glossary of commonly used terms, and links to essential resources for appointed guardians.

The creation of the Guardianship Resource Webpage was funded by a nearly $1,000,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. Additional components of the grant include the development of a guardianship-specific module in the court system’s case management system and the creation of standard motion and order templates commonly used in guardianship cases.

The initiative aims to modernize and enhance guardianship proceedings in New York State. Partners in this endeavor include Project Guardianship and JASA. 

“Cases involving guardianship of persons who are unable to care for their personal needs or property are very serious matters,” said Chief Administrative Judge Zayas. “While guardianships should be considered a last resort, they are, in certain circumstances, necessary to protect vulnerable New Yorkers from financial exploitation or other abuse. The new website is an excellent resource, providing critical information and tools for appointed guardians, other court users, and the public at large, bringing greater understanding to this complex issue.”

First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge St. George highlighted the user-friendly nature of the site, which includes a wealth of information and links to various resources. He noted that the site is designed to help family, friends, and caregivers navigate the guardianship process and explore social services options and alternatives to guardianship.

Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina Richardson, who oversees the Office for Justice Initiatives and this grant project, commended the court system’s efforts. She emphasized that making courts more approachable for New Yorkers promotes access to justice and expressed gratitude to the judges, non-judicial personnel, and guardianship professionals involved in the project.

Kimberly George, president and CEO of Project Guardianship, expressed enthusiasm for the new resource, noting that New Yorkers have long needed a place to get clear yet detailed information on Article 81 guardianship. Donna Dougherty, JASA’s senior director of legal services for elder justice, added that the new website is an important step towards advancing equal justice for New Yorkers.

Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts Deborah Kaplan, who chairs the New York State Judicial Committee on Elder Justice, praised the new website. She noted that with a growing number of older New Yorkers, the need for guardianships is likely to increase. 

Guardianship grants a person or organization the legal authority to make decisions for someone unable to do so due to serious illness, disability, or other conditions. In New York, there are three types of guardianship: Article 81 for incapacitated adults, which tailors the guardian’s powers to the person’s needs; Article 17-A for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, granting broader decision-making powers; and guardianship of a child, for cases where parents cannot care for the child.

Full Article & Source:
New York Court System launches guardianship resource webpage

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Lifetime movie "The Bad Guardian" based on real accounts of guardianship abuse

Executive producer tells I-Team she wants to educate viewers

For more than a decade, ABC Action News investigative reporter Adam Walser and photojournalist Randy Wright have exposed problems with court-ordered guardianship in our ongoing series “The Price of Protection”. Guardianship is supposed to protect vulnerable seniors, but the I-Team has uncovered it often leads to isolation, exploitation, and abuse. The topic is at the center of a movie premiering on Lifetime Network Saturday.

HOLLYWOOD, CA — For more than a decade, ABC Action News investigative reporter Adam Walser and photojournalist Randy Wright have exposed problems with court-ordered guardianship in our ongoing series “The Price of Protection”.

Guardianship is supposed to protect vulnerable seniors, but the I-Team has uncovered it often leads to isolation, exploitation, and abuse.

The topic is at the center of a movie premiering on Lifetime Network Saturday.

Adam spoke with the movie’s producer about how she hopes the fictional story will educate viewers about the real-life dangers of guardianship.

The movie is called “The Bad Guardian” and stars Melissa Joan Hart and La La Anthony.

“The one way that I saw there was somewhat of a pattern of people getting their loved ones out was through the press, people like you who were shining a light on this story,” said the movie’s executive producer Elizabeth Stephen.

She said she spent years researching guardianship abuse.

“Every single turn of events is true. It's all real. And, you know, it's shocking. I mean, I was looking at some of your pieces this morning, and it reminded me that this is the stuff that really happens,” Stephen said. “What happens is they get into the system, and then, as you know, it's almost impossible to get out.”

She said the fictional story comes from real-life accounts of abusive guardianship she learned about in press accounts or from people who work in organizations to protect vulnerable seniors from abuse.

“It's just shocking. Anybody that I watched the film with, they all talk back to the screen, and they look at me and say, No, this couldn't happen. No,” Stephen said.

The movie airs on Lifetime Saturday at 8 p.m.

If you or your family is a victim of a predatory guardianship, contact the I-Team at adam@abcactionnews.com

Full Article & Source:
Lifetime movie "The Bad Guardian" based on real accounts of guardianship abuse

Eldridge couple accused of stealing from older relative

by: Linda Cook

An Eldridge couple was in custody Friday after police allege they stole thousands from an older relative, court documents say.  

Cassandra Lynn Crafton, Miles Dwayne Crafton (Scott County Jail)

Miles Crafton, 34, faces felony charges of financial exploitation of an older individual – first offense, ongoing criminal conduct – unlawful activity, first-degree theft and money laundering – acquire property, and serious misdemeanor charges of possession of controlled substance – marijuana – second offense and unlawful possession of a prescription drug, court records show.

Cassandra Crafton, 33, faces felony charges of financial exploitation of an older individual – first offense, ongoing criminal conduct – unlawful activity, money laundering – make property available, and first-degree theft, court records show.

Eldridge Police conducted an investigation based upon ongoing criminal conduct by means of theft, and financial exploitation of an older person (a relative,) according to arrest affidavits.

Cassandra Crafton is accused of stealing money from a relative, police allege in affidavits, which show between the dates of Nov. 1, 2022, and April 30, 2024, Cassandra Crafton took and spent about $34,187.95 for personal gain while her husband, Miles Crafton, took and spent about $22,599.10, affidavits show.

Cassandra Crafton “unlawfully electronically wire-transferred the stolen money to Miles through a cash app account while Miles Crafton also received the funds through his cash app account,” according to affidavits. Total loss was $56,787.05.

“When Miles was being arrested, he was found in possession of prescription medication not prescribed to him and he was in possession of a THC vape,” police say in affidavits.

Miles Crafton is being held on a $72,000 bond in Scott County Jail, where Cassandra Crafton is being held on a $70,000 bond. Both are set for preliminary hearings May 24 in Scott County Court.

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Eldridge couple accused of stealing from older relative