Tuesday, October 22, 2019

3 court-appointed guardians embezzled more than $1M from 108 victims, Delco DA says

by Julie Shaw

Three former court-appointed guardians are charged with embezzling more than $1 million from 108 victims in six Pennsylvania counties, using a shell company and a church to launder the stolen money, Delaware County authorities said Monday.

One of the former guardians, Gloria Byars, 58, of Aldan, the focus of a March 2018 Inquirer investigation, had been separately charged in April 2019 by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office with stealing money, family heirlooms, gold coins, and other valuables from four elderly Philadelphians.

Also charged by Delaware County authorities were Byars’ sister Carolyn Collins, 70, and Collins’ husband, Keith, 59, in their roles as guardians and managing partners at Pinnacle Guardian Services in Ridley Park. The couple, who live in Ridley Park, are founders and pastors at the Church of the Overcomer in Trainer. From 2011 to 2015, Carolyn Collins was a legislative assistant to State Rep. Margo Davidson (D., Delaware).
Keith Collins
Keith Collins
Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland announced the charges at a news conference Monday morning in Media, flanked by members of her office’s Criminal Investigation Division, including its chief, Joseph Ryan. Copeland said unauthorized funds taken from elderly clients of all three ex-guardians were funneled through the church and a shell company set up by Byars called ICU Records & Billing (ICURB).

“These defendants were clearly living the high life,” Copeland said, noting that unauthorized money taken from client accounts was used to lease new cars and to buy vacation timeshares and Louis Vuitton merchandise, among other things. In a photo displayed at the news conference, Byars stood next to a white 2016 Lexus SUV, one of her former cars. Byars also spent some of the unauthorized money on a trip to Spain, Copeland said.

All three turned themselves in on Monday. At hearings in Havertown, District Judge Elisa Lacianca set bail for Byars at $500,000 and for the Collinses at $100,000 each. The three were held in the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton on Monday evening.

Byars is charged with theft offenses in connection with 90 victims, and with conspiracy. Carolyn and Keith Collins each is charged with theft offenses in connection with 18 victims. The District Attorney’s Office said the 108 victims were in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Lancaster, and Berks Counties.

Byars, her attorney, Sharon Alexander, and Carolyn Collins declined to comment to reporters. The Collinses did not yet have attorneys.

Keith Collins, interviewed while he sat in a car outside the District Attorney’s Office before being driven to the bail hearing, said he had not ripped off the elderly. “The body of my life’s work will speak for itself,” he said, adding that he’s been a minister for 40 years. “I worked with the poorest people in this county. I don’t have a salary. I don’t get paid.… There’s nothing extravagant about me.”

Copeland said investigators in her office were alerted to the alleged embezzlement scheme in February 2017 after learning that Pinnacle was the court-appointed guardian for a 94-year-old “incapacitated” person whose nursing-home bills weren’t being paid.

At an Orphans’ Court hearing that month, a judge ordered Pinnacle removed from all guardianship cases and required Pinnacle to provide accountings of how it spent money in all 25 cases for which it had served as guardian, Copeland said.

A financial analyst in her office then found that of the 25 cases, financial records for 18 showed “numerous improper cash withdrawals and checks,” Copeland said.

During their investigation into Pinnacle, investigators learned of Byars’ company, Global Guardian Services in Lansdowne, and that in 2012 she had set up a bank account under ICURB’s name “and used this account as a shell company to move stolen money from ward accounts to other shell business accounts,” Copeland said. The ICURB account also was used by the Collinses “to funnel money that was stolen from wards,” people deemed by a court to be incapacitated.

“Instead of simply doing their job, they cruelly embezzled over $1 million from over 100 incapacitated individuals,” Copeland said.

More than $28,000 in improper payments were made from ICURB to benefit the church, Copeland said. Byars and the Collinses also used two other shell companies, ACC Medical and CWR Medical, Copeland said.

Before opening Global Guardian Services, Byars worked for a well-known Philadelphia-area guardian, Robert Stump, at his RES Consulting in Havertown, starting as an office manager in 2008, Copeland said. Stump fired Byars in October 2016, and after reviewing his office accounts, on Dec. 20, 2017, reported to the Delaware County DA’s Office an alleged fraud by Byars involving one of his clients, the district attorney said.

In Philadelphia, the District Attorney’s Office announced in April that Byars was charged with stealing from four elderly victims. Copeland said that those cases would be withdrawn in Philadelphia and handled by her office, adding to the 108 victims.

In most of her Philadelphia cases, Byars was appointed as guardian after a recommendation by the Philadelphia Corp. for Aging.

Byars’ Philadelphia theft charges were related to the estates of Edmund and Margareta Berg of Fox Chase and two other alleged Philadelphia victims.

The Bergs’ niece, Heidi Austin, discovered through a Google search that Byars previously had been charged in Virginia with defrauding people. Court records show that in 2005, Byars was charged in that state with defrauding several people by using their discarded credit-card convenience checks, fished from post office trash cans. She pleaded guilty in October 2005 and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $29,503 in restitution.

After Byars’ past criminal convictions were brought to Philadelphia Orphans’ Court’s attention, guardians in the city were required to affirm that they were not convicted of any crime involving fraud, deceit, or financial misconduct. Also, state criminal history reports became required. The requirements mirrored recommendations proposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules Committee. Last year, the justices approved new statewide rules requiring criminal background checks, which took effect this June.

Full Article & Source:
3 court-appointed guardians embezzled more than $1M from 108 victims, Delco DA says

Financial, Legal Advisors Scamming Elderly Has Become Big Business

By Nick Leiber

Terry Ann McIntosh’s financial nightmare began four years ago, soon after she hired a caregiver through a family services website. McIntosh, then 75 and in a wheelchair, had assumed that the young woman who eventually showed up at her San Mateo, Calif., home wouldn’t steal from her. She was wrong.

In October 2015, Meletofetofe Uhila began logging into McIntosh’s Bank of America account, using the older woman’s credentials. The first time, Uhila attempted to transfer $10,000 into her own account. The bank blocked it, requesting that McIntosh call in to verify her identity. Uhila called instead, pretending to be her.

Though Uhila failed the bank’s security questions, and McIntosh had never made a similar transfer in all the years she held the account, the bank allowed it to go through. Unaware, McIntosh continued to visit her branch every week, as she had done for the past 15 years. No bank employee ever mentioned the transaction.

Over the next nine months, Uhila made 44 additional transfers, ultimately stealing about $245,000 from McIntosh. Though Uhila was eventually caught and convicted, she had only $8,000 left to return to McIntosh. So McIntosh asked Bank of America for her money back. Despite all the seemingly bright red flags raised by Uhila’s conduct, the bank said no.

Uphill Battle

Tales such as McIntosh’s—of being hoodwinked by a criminal only to face an uphill battle to be made whole—are on the rise, consumer and legal experts warn. Already targeted by phone scammers and greedy relatives, elderly Americans have a “bull’s-eye” on their backs, one Iowa assistant attorney general who specializes in elder abuse cases said, adding that the problem is only getting worse.

And while financial institutions are becoming more responsive and incorporating more safeguards to protect against elder fraud and manipulation, America’s most vulnerable face another, more insidious threat. Increasingly, it’s the professionals—the lawyers, insurers and financial advisers that the elderly trust—who are the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

In 2017, financial institutions filed 63,500 suspicious activity reports tied to the exploitation of older adults, quadruple the amount reported four years earlier, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for a total of $1.7 billion in attempted thefts and losses. That estimate, however, is a tiny fraction of the real total. The reports “may account for less than 2%” of actual incidents, the CFPB says. Estimates of total losses ranged as high as $36.5 billion, according to one financial services firm.

One in five older Americans is a victim of financial exploitation, said Jilenne Gunther, who heads the BankSafe initiative at the AARP’s Public Policy Institute, costing U.S. financial institutions $1 billion in deposits annually. The vast majority of such attempts to separate the elderly from their money, both legal and illegal, go unreported.

Shawna Reeves, director of elder-abuse prevention at the Institute on Aging in San Francisco, says few understand that such activity can involve professional firms and companies, including banks, financial advisers, insurers and law firms.

“This is big business, perpetrated by actors people think are legitimate,” said Reeves. According to social workers, prosecutors, and other officials across the country, common stratagems involve attempts to sell the elderly ill-advised annuities and reverse mortgages, as well as solar panel installations and access to veterans’ benefits.

‘Nonstop’ Complaints

At the Iowa attorney general’s consumer protection division, complaints about professionals manipulating elderly clients pour in “nonstop,” said Chantelle Smith, an assistant attorney general in Des Moines. They involve “any type of business you can imagine.”

When Investment News surveyed 591 financial advisers about elder fraud in 2017, it found that 62% said they have seen or suspected financial abuse of an older client at least once. Some 39% of them said the perpetrator was another financial professional—but more than half admitted they didn’t bother to report it.

It’s not just financial professionals doing the fleecing. Doug Chalgian, an attorney with the Michigan-based elder law firm Chalgian & Tripp, said some lawyers build a business model helping adult children take control of their parents’ assets. Others encourage older clients to make financial decisions that aren’t in their best interest.

“There’s a sleazy underbelly to elder law,” Chalgian said.

The consequences of such unethical behavior aren’t just financial. Elderly people who fall victim to financial wrongdoing are more likely to die prematurely, research shows. Losing one’s life savings, worrying about maintaining control over assets that remain or simply being embarrassed at having been taken all play a part, Smith said.

“Where do you go after you’ve been exploited by a professional you thought you could trust, and you are now at perhaps your most vulnerable state? Another ‘trusted’ professional?” Smith asked. “They die. It kills them.”

The night before Barbara Williams died in August 2015, she and her husband Tom decided to leave the bulk of their assets to a nonprofit serving the homeless near their Oroville, Calif., home.

Tom Williams had relied on his wife, a former bookkeeper, to handle their finances. Williams, then 78, called American Family Legal Services, the firm he thought had helped them with estate planning in the past, to update their trust.

Not long after, Victor Pantaleoni arrived at his home. An independent insurance agent, Pantaleoni quickly went about selling Williams on purchasing an annuity—one that, unlike the updated trust Williams sought, would earn Pantaleoni a $9,500 commission, according to a lawsuit Williams later filed in the Superior Court of California in Butte County. The agent had Williams sign a blank check and blank documents, ostensibly needed to modify the trust, according to Williams. Instead, Pantaleoni used them to move $100,000 of Williams’ money into a National Western Life Insurance Co. annuity, according to court filings.

Williams, who intended to use those savings for health-care expenses and emergencies, was left with only about $14,000 in his account. When he tried to cancel the annuity and get his money back, National Western didn’t respond. The company instead told Pantaleoni he had five days to “conserve” the annuity or he would lose his commission, according to court filings. Williams alleged that, as a result, Pantaleoni tricked him into signing a second annuity application. National Western subsequently reissued the annuity.

Williams tried a second time to get his money back. He called and wrote National Western, complaining about Pantaleoni. But instead of investigating, National Western slapped Williams with a surrender penalty of almost $15,000 and allowed Pantaleoni to hold onto his original commission, keeping him as an agent, according to the lawsuit. Though the insurer refunded the rest of his money, Williams had spent thousands of dollars on legal fees and other expenses related to his dealings with Pantaleoni. He sued both Pantaleoni and National Western in late 2017 for elder financial abuse, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

In April, a jury found National Western and Pantaleoni liable of elder financial abuse and negligence, and found Pantaleoni liable for fraud. It awarded Williams $3.1 million, declaring the insurer primarily responsible. The company appealed in September. Pantaleoni did not.

“Pantaleoni couldn’t have done what he did without the complicity of a company willing to turn a blind eye,” said Frank Fox, the attorney representing Williams.

This wasn’t the first time Pantaleoni was accused of improper behavior when working with seniors. In 2015, the California Department of Insurance filed a formal accusation against him, detailing his violation of insurance statutes in his dealings with a 74-year-old widow. The agency fined Pantaleoni and restricted his insurance license.

“I never did elder financial abuse and I never would,” said Pantaleoni, 62. However, in the case of Williams, he admitted he was negligent, in part because he didn’t have errors and omissions insurance, a type of liability policy, at the time. But he nevertheless disputed most of the other allegations in the lawsuit. “I did what the client wanted,” he said.

As for National Western, in 2010 the insurer settled a class action claiming it had misled seniors about penalties for withdrawing money from their annuities. National Western’s settlement included an accord with the California insurance commissioner requiring the company to make reforms in its sales, marketing and complaint procedures. The insurer denied any wrongdoing.

National Western, which uses thousands of independent agents to sell its insurance, had just two employees in its compliance department responsible for handling complaints at the time Williams tried to return the annuity, according to court documents. “Our independent agents are careful to ensure policyholders thoroughly understand the agreements they enter into when they purchase our annuity or life insurance products,” National Western’s chief legal officer, Rey Perez, said in an emailed statement.

Aggressive Strategies

When it comes to luring the elderly into a trap, some strategies are more aggressive than others. Earlier this year, a federal law enforcement officer outside Washington started to get glossy flyers at his home, inviting him to a free meal and a “retirement strategies workshop” at a local restaurant. “Expect to have a little fun and obtain some meaningful information with none of the usual financial double-talk,” one read.

By chance, the officer, who requested anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly, noticed that the retirement planner’s address matched that of an attorney he suspected was targeting the elderly. So on a sticky night in July, he dropped by the dinner, also hoping it might yield clues in a case of suspected elder fraud involving his now-deceased father. The dinner didn’t result in a breakthrough, but it did reveal how a business tries to persuade the elderly to invest in financial products they don’t need.

At an Italian restaurant in Virginia, more than a dozen elderly couples picked at their salads as the presenter asked them to fill out forms describing their assets and then complete worksheets while he extolled the virtues of annuities. “We can get you two to three times as much as a bank and keep you just as safe,” he said.

To the officer, the workshop shared the same traits as so-called trust mills, a term he used to describe schemes in which unscrupulous individuals try to sell seniors questionable investments under the guise of estate or retirement planning. He echoed a warning on the Minnesota attorney general’s website about such con artists: “Once he obtains your financial information, he will usually try to get you to buy an annuity or other insurance product. He may have several meetings with you before he reveals his true intentions: to sell you insurance.”

Kathryn Stebner, the lawyer for Terry Ann McIntosh, is a national expert on elder law. Given how her client’s account was methodically emptied, she said she can’t fathom how the bank missed what happened. “I don’t know how much plainer it could be,” she said.

After discovering what happened, McIntosh became deeply distressed, and not just for her own circumstances; she also needed her savings to support her disabled adult daughter. Last year, she sued Bank of America. As the trial approached this fall, the bank settled. Bank of America spokesman Andy Aldridge said the institution is “working with Ms. McIntosh to help her recover from the criminal actions of her caregiver.”

Detection Software

Financial institutions may have gotten the hint when it comes to making it harder to scam the elderly. According to Marti DeLiema, an assistant professor of research at the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, more banks are investing in detection software and training. Executives, she said, “have really strong incentives, because the problem is only going to get worse.”

DeLiema, a consultant for major banks and broker-dealers, said financial institutions “need better communication across lines of business. For example, the brokerage side needs to talk to the banking side if they suspect a customer is at risk.” She added that banks also could benefit from a rule similar to what the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority put in place last year, allowing broker-dealers to pause a disbursement and investigate without worrying about clients suing them.

She said banks also lack the trusted contact form that broker-dealers are supposed to have clients fill out. “Banks need to do that,” said DeLiema. “Banks need another tool in their toolbox to protect us from ourselves.”

Smith, the Iowa assistant attorney general, started pursuing financial advisers, securities brokers and insurance agents for exploiting older people about two decades ago. She said that elder financial abuse is more than a legal issue. It’s societal.

Financial predators aren’t being prosecuted “in any significant number, relative to how many cases there are,” she explained. And when it comes to lawsuits, “most of them don’t go to court.” Meanwhile, perpetrators seek out and spend time with older people who are isolated and lonely. They know many of their targets won’t report what’s happening for fear of embarrassment or of having their children take control of their finances.

“They target, they stalk,” Smith said. “I tell all the older people I talk to: ‘You have a bull’s-eye on your back.'”

Smith said the only way to stem the rising tide of elder financial exploitation is to get family members, friends and community volunteers more involved in their lives. “The underlying issue here is isolation and loneliness, and a devaluing of older people in our communities,” she said. “It’s ageism.”

Full Article & Source:
Financial, Legal Advisors Scamming Elderly Has Become Big Business

A Utah woman refused to sell her vacant house to a neighbor. Police say he moved in anyway.

By Scott D. Pierce

A Salt Lake City man who refused to take no for an answer when a woman declined his lowball offer to buy her house faces multiple charges after he claimed the property as his own.

In charges filed last week, prosecutors wrote that police first were called to the house at 737 E. Roosevelt Ave. on Aug. 30 when someone reported a “belligerent person” was inside and was taking things without the owner’s permission. The officer told the man not to reenter or make modifications to the house.

The next day, police were called again and found tools and an open window at the house; prosecutors wrote that the same man admitted he had opened the window, that he did not have permission to be there and that he had previously been warned by police. He was given another warning.

On Sept. 11, police again were called to the home when a neighbor reported a possible burglary. Again they found the man on the property, prosecutors wrote. He admitted he had cut down trees, shrubs and bushes; removed a refrigerator from the house; and installed new deadbolts, police wrote. According to police, items had been removed from the home.

The man told police he’d written to the homeowner offering $90,000 for the house — “an amount which is not reasonable for that area and that market,” prosecutors wrote. According to Salt Lake County assessor’s records, the market value of the home is more than $363,000.

When the man did not receive a response to his offer, he went to the woman’s current home, prosecutors wrote. She refused to sell him the house and later told police the man threatened her and told her “he would forge any document needed to get the property from her,” the charges state. She told police she had removed nothing from the house and that her keys no longer worked in the locks, prosecutors wrote.

“The victim in this case, who is an elderly woman, has expressed fear to the police about what the defendant may do,” police wrote.

Police once again told the man not to enter the house and sent him a follow-up email with the same warning. In an email reply that day, the man admitted he’d locked the gate to the house with his own chain and lock.

A day later, the man sent the officer another email, writing that he wanted to remove more plants from the yard “just as long as it builds my case to gaining title to the house,” according to the charges. He also admitted he removed the contents of the home; removed the wood covering a broken window; and “upgraded” the deadbolts.

The man also asked for the police officer’s help to get the water turned on at the house, “complaining … that they wouldn’t turn the water on until he could prove that he owned the property,” prosecutors wrote.

On Sept. 20, he sent an email to police admitting he left the lights on at the house; put mulch in the yard and put air in the tires of the vehicles in the driveway, according to the charges.

Other neighbors told police they had seen the man coming and going from the house, removing items and working in the yard — and that he claimed to have bought the house for $5,000, charges state. One neighbor said he helped remove the refrigerator after the man convinced him he owned the house. Another said the man showed her “a large collection of CDs in his own house … that he had taken from the 737 residence,” prosecutors wrote.

According to neighbors, the man said he had contacted Rocky Mountain Power and gotten the electricity turned on to an account he controls, and he was “thinking about finding a way to get the water” turned on “by forging a note” from the owner, prosecutors wrote.

According to the charges, the man signed an application Aug. 30 for water service in which he “purports to be the owner” of the home.

The man was charged with burglary and forgery, both third-degree felonies; class A misdemeanor stalking; and theft, criminal mischief and three counts of criminal trespass, all class B misdemeanors. A warrant for the man’s arrest was issued on Friday; as of Monday morning, he was not in custody.

Full Article & Source:
A Utah woman refused to sell her vacant house to a neighbor. Police say he moved in anyway.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Tonight on Marti Oakley's TS Radio Network: AUSTRALIA TALKS BACK 10/21

5:00 pm PST…6:00 pm MST…7:00 pm CST…8:00 pm EST...
Australian Government Sponsored Terrorism Against Its Own People

"Our friends in Australia are facing an ever menacing government. The targeting of the elderly for estate theft is rampant. Families who are fighting back are being threatened and harassed. The police appear to be willing accomplices to the kidnapping, isolation and property theft. Quality Aged Care, the equivalent of Hospice here in the States, is quickly dispensing with many of the elderly once the estate has been drained.

The reporting of the abuse of the elderly has been picked up by various media outlets, with promises of publicized reports. Civil tribunals in Australia, populated by what appears to be black robed vultures insures a steady supply of victims for the predators who prey on the public for profit. As this has been exposed, the Australian government is moving ever faster in its terrorizing of its own people.

In addition, the Australian government can now take taxes directly out of personal accounts of all kinds with no notice to the individual being robbed.

Theft of lands sold to foreign corporations, previously unknown to the inhabitants, has stunned large portions of the population..

In an act of unity, the newspapers across Australia blacked out their front pages in protest over the restrictions on freedom of the press and who were bent on reporting to the public, but who were being silenced by powerful actors in the government. I believe the Aussies have had enough!"

LISTEN TO THE SHOW LIVE or listen to the archive later

Nursing Home Blames Incapacitated Sexual Assault Victim

65-year-old Rosa Woodard suffered an alleged sexual assault while living in a Houston nursing home. Despite acknowledging that Ms. Woodard was unable to consent, the nursing home is blaming Ms. Woodard for the crime allegedly committed against her. Now, her family is seeking justice with the help of Houston medical malpractice attorney Charles Brown.

Ms. Rosa Woodard prior to the sexual assault.
Brown, Christie & Green, a Houston medical malpractice law firm, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the heirs of Ms. Rosa Woodard. The Original Petition was filed in the District Court of Harris County, Texas, Cause No. 2018-90891. The plaintiffs are Byron K. Woodard and Rondia Crenshaw. The defendants are Willowbrook SNF and Willowbrook Residence and Rehabilitation Center.

The lawsuit was filed in response to an alleged sexual assault that occurred while Ms. Woodard was a resident at Willowbrook Residence and Rehabilitation Center in March 2018. According to the plaintiffs, Ms. Woodard was allegedly sexually assaulted by a male resident. The lawsuit alleges that a male resident was found in Ms. Woodard’s room undressed from the waist down. The male resident was allegedly forcefully engaging in oral sex with Ms. Woodard.

The plaintiffs allege that Willowbrook was negligent in protecting residents, which resulted in the alleged sexual assault of Ms. Woodard. Records indicate that due to her having Stage IV Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia, that Ms. Woodard was not capable of consenting to sexual activity.

“The law acknowledges that nursing home residents have the right to live free of sexual abuse. Ms. Woodard’s family brought suit to hold Willowbrook accountable for allegedly violating Ms. Woodard’s rights,” said the family’s nursing home abuse attorney Charles Brown.

In addition to the alleged sexual assault, the plaintiff’s claim that Willowbrook leadership and staff made a series of errors in how they managed the alleged assault. It is alleged that Willowbrook staff did not take appropriate measures to contact authorities, get medical treatment for Ms. Woodard, preserve evidence, or notify her family. The Department of Health and Human Services has conducted a thorough investigation into these claims, and it is their opinion that some errors were made.

Willowbrook has responded to the Original Petition by denying that they violated the standards of care. The defendant’s Affirmative Defense states that the alleged injuries sustained by 65-year-old Ms. Woodard, if any, were the result of her “own acts or omissions.”

The alleged assailant is not named in the lawsuit, but is facing criminal charges. He is due to appear in court on July 26, 2019.

Plaintiff’s Family Hopes for Justice

Ms. Woodard’s son and daughter are now looking to the District Court to review the allegations made against Willowbrook. If the court finds that the standards of care were, in fact, violated, the plaintiffs hope that the court will hold Willowbrook accountable for any such failures and the harm that their mother allegedly endured.

Ms. Woodard’s daughter stated, “I placed my mother in Willowbrook believing that she would get the utmost care, attention, and safety. Instead, my mother suffered. I will not rest until the facility is held accountable.”

Full Article & Source:
Nursing Home Blames Incapacitated Sexual Assault Victim

Man charged for letting grandmother live in bedbug-ridden home

Anthony Allen Millard, Jr.
FLINT, MI – A 38-year-old man has been charged with elder abuse after his malnourished grandmother was found living in a Flint home with a bedbug ridden mattress. 

Anthony Allen Millard, Jr., 38, was arraigned Saturday, Oct. 5 in Genesee District Court on a single count of second-degree vulnerable adult abuse.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell told reporters Tuesday morning that Millard moved into her home in 2016 as the sole caretaker.

The sheriff’s office elder abuse task force was notified by adult protective services “that they suspected a woman was being abused and neglected,” said Pickell.

He did not specify what led to the alert.

Investigators discovered the 82-year-old woman had been diagnosed with dementia and the woman was unable to walk or prepare food for herself.

“When the investigators went out there along with adult protective services they found that the bed was ridden with bed bugs,” said Pickell. “There was feces around (the home) and that the victim was extremely malnourished. At the time she was taken to the hospital she weighed 95 pounds.”

Investigators also learned Millard allegedly had not taken his grandmother to a physician for more than one year or provided her with medication for months, Pickell said.

He urged those in the community who may suspect someone is neglecting or exploiting an elderly person to contact adult protective services or the task force, which began in 2007.

“We’ve arrested hundreds and hundreds of people on warrants for elder abuse,” said Pickell. “It’s a very active team. We work very closely in the community with medical people, adult protective services. We’ve trained all the front-line people, police on recognizing elder abuse.”

The training has included information on guardianship and power of attorney to working credit unions and banks to combat the financial exploitation of seniors.

“I don’t know that we’ll ever find a remedy to it,” Pickell said. “It’s just people taking advantage of people, greed in many cases.”

If convicted, Millard faces up to four years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine, or both.

He’s being held in the Genesee County Jail on a $10,000 cash or surety bond.

Full Article & Source:
Man charged for letting grandmother live in bedbug-ridden home

Don't spend that inheritance money until it's yours

Sharon Cermak
Just because you're set to inherit money soon doesn't mean you get to take it before your loved one dies.

DuPage County Judge John Kinsella made that clear Thursday when he sentenced Sharon Cermak of Villa Park to 120 days in jail and three years of probation for stealing more than $100,000 from her 85-year-old uncle's bank account.

"You took it upon yourself to determine, 'Well, he's not going to live that long,' and spent his money -- that's wrong," Kinsella told Cermak.

Cermak, 63, obtained power of attorney to oversee the care and finances of her uncle in June 2013. DuPage County Adult Protective Services began investigating her three years later.

She was arrested in January 2017, two weeks after her uncle's death, on charges of bank fraud and financial exploitation of a person older than 80. The exploitation charge was dropped when Cermak pleaded guilty to bank fraud in August.

Authorities said she took more than $250,000 from her uncle, with Assistant DuPage County State's Attorney Diane Michalak saying Cermak treated his money like a "newfound piggy bank."

"Her justification is: 'There was still money in his account when he died,'" Michalak said.

In court Thursday, Cermak described using her uncle's money to buy a car but said she bought a modest one instead of a Camaro and had intended to reimburse his accounts. She insisted she planned to pay him back for other spending as well, like money she used for a trip to Florida.

"I was not aware I was not supposed to use his money," Cermak said.

Kinsella didn't buy Cermak's explanation.

"I suspect this kind of thing goes on undetected and unreported all the time," the judge said.

Crime pays?

Despite her conviction, Cermak still might get her uncle's estate, which Michalak said could be worth $455,000.

She appears to be the only specified heir left, and no other relatives were to receive anything under the terms of amendments he made to his will in 2014.

But the DuPage County public guardian is disputing those amendments, arguing in probate court that the uncle was incapable of understanding what he was signing due to dementia and that Cermak took advantage of him.

If Cermak had been convicted of financial exploitation, the state's probate law could have prevented her from inheriting the estate. The next court date for the probate case is Oct. 24.

Full Article & Source:
Don't spend that inheritance money until it's yours

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Nevada Legalizes Starving Incapacitated Patients

This is stunning. Nevada has passed a law allowing competent persons to sign an advance directive instructing that all food and water be withheld if they become incapacitated by dementia. In other words, the law allows people to order their future care givers to starve and dehydrate them to death.

From the “End of Life Decisions Addendum Statement of Desires” portion of the advance directive form established in law by SB 121 (my emphasis).
(Insert name of agent) might have to decide, if you get very sick, whether to continue with your medicine or to stop your medicine, even if it means you might not live, (Insert name of agent) will talk to you to find out what you want to do, and will follow your wishes.

If you are not able to talk to (insert name of agent), you can help him or her make these decisions for you by letting your agent know what you want.

Here are your choices. Please circle yes or no to each of the following statements and sign your name below:
1. I want to take all the medicine and receive any treatment I can to keep me alive regardless of how the medicine or treatment makes me feel.


4. I want to get food and water even if I do not want to take medicine or receive treatment.

The highlighted question does not involve feeding tubes, which is a medical treatment. It isn’t about not providing nourishment when someone stops eating and drinking naturally as part of the dying process. Nor does it involve force feeding the patient. No, this provision requires withholding oral or spoon feeding.

Realize that this form could force caregivers to starve patients even when they willingly eat and drink — perhaps even if they ask for food or water. (This has happened before in a feeding tube case in Florida.) Don’t take my word for it. From an article on the Nevada law by bioethicist Thaddeus Mason Pope:
Even after we stop offering food and fluids, other problems may arise. Most problematically, the patient may make gestures or utterances that seem to contradict her prior instructions [to be starved].

Does such communication revoke the advance directive? A recent court case from the Netherlands suggests the answer is “no.” Once the patient reaches late-stage dementia, she is unable to knowingly and voluntarily revoke decisions she made with capacity. But the answer remains uncertain in the United States.
We certainly know the answer that bioethicists like Pope would urge on the courts. Besides, there is nothing in the law requiring that the provision quoted above only apply to “late stage” dementia.

Note also that the law does not require the signer to receive detailed information about the agony that starving and dehydrating entails. Symptoms can include extreme drying, seizures, mottling, and intense pain.

This law doesn’t just impact helpless patients, but also the emotional wellbeing of their caregivers. What kind of a person would presume to force anyone to do such a thing? Imagine the emotional impact! No one should have that right.

And what if doctors or nurses object? Could they be forced at the threat of being sued or professionally disciplined to starve a patient to death?

The Nevada law is silent, but medical professionals have been sued frequently for refusing to comply with advance directives. Besides, bioethicists and the medical establishment are hell-bent on destroying medical conscience by forcing healthcare professionals to engage in actions that violate their religious and/or moral beliefs as the price of licensure. Talk about a prescription for a brain drain!

One last point: The ultimate purpose behind laws such as this isn’t starvation, but rather, to gull us into allowing the aged, disabled, mentally incapacitated, and dying to be killed by lethal injection. After all, the ghouls will say, if we are going to end people’s lives, at least let’s do it humanely.

No! Let’s not do it.

Our cultural death obsession is really getting out of hand. Those with eyes to see, let them see.

Full Article & Source:
Nevada Legalizes Starving Incapacitated Patients

Doctors Refused Mother’s Wish to Treat 20-Year-Old “Brain Dead” Son After Auto Accident, So He Died

by Bobby Schindler

On May 31, 2002, 18-year-old Brenden Flynn was involved in an auto accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was med-flighted to a hospital in Syracuse, New York.

Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to Park Ridge Hospital near Rochester, where doctors notified his mother, MaryJo Flynn, that Brenden had a zero chance of recovery or having any meaningful “quality of life.” They suggested ending his life.

If Brenden were to survive, his doctors said, he would be in a nursing home for the rest of his life. Brenden’s mother, not wanting to make the decision to end her son’s life so quickly, asked the doctors to continue treating him.

On September 9, 2019, 20-year-old Brandon Fuller was involved in an auto accident and experienced a traumatic brain injury and was med-flighted to Sanford Medical Center, located in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Shortly thereafter, doctors informed his mother, Amanda King, that Brandon was “brain dead” and had a zero chance of recovery or any meaningful “quality of life” and suggested ending his life. Brandon’s mother, not wanting to make the decision to end her son’s life so quickly, asked the doctors to continue treating him.

Brenden Flynn was afforded more time. Today, Brenden is happily married to his wife of ten years, Nicole, and they have four beautiful children.

Brandon Fuller was not afforded more time. His mother’s requests were denied. Today, Brandon Fuller is dead.

In response to the death of my sister, Terri Schiavo, in March 2005, my family established the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, which provides a 24/7 National Crisis Lifeline service for families to call if a family member or at-risk patient is having life-sustaining care either denied or withdrawn. Since its inception, the service has assisted on average nearly 20 patients and families in crisis per month, including Brandon Fuller’s mother.

Sadly, it has become disturbingly evident that we are witnessing a deterioration of our health care system, one by which treatment decisions made in the best interest of the patient—as determined by their family—are rapidly abandoned for those made in the best interest of the hospital.

Sanford Medical Center refused King’s request for additional time after the hospital’s ethics committee agreed with their doctor that Brandon was not going to improve. As a result, within a week of Brandon’s brain injury a day and time were scheduled to remove his ventilator. However, Brandon died before this could take place, as a consequence of the hospital’s refusal to treat his blood pressure, which was unstable due to his medical condition.

Full Article & Source:
Doctors Refused Mother’s Wish to Treat 20-Year-Old “Brain Dead” Son After Auto Accident, So He Died