Sunday, January 24, 2021

Tom Girardi's Brother Files for Conservatorship amid Legal Troubles and Split from Estranged Wife Erika

In the petition for appointment of conservator, Tom's "current condition" is described as "sadly deteriorated to the point where he cannot care for himself without assistance"

By Ashley Boucher 

As Erika and Tom Girardi's legal troubles and divorce continue, the 81-year-old trial lawyer is having a difficult time caring for himself his family says.

In a citation for conservatorship obtained by PEOPLE Thursday, Tom's brother Robert Girardi says that Tom is unable to provide for his personal needs and unable to manage his financial resources. 

A court hearing is set for June 9. If Robert is appointed Tom's conservator at the hearing, he will become responsible for deciding where Tom lives as well as appropriate care for him. Robert would also take over control of Tom's property and estate. 

Erika Girardi and Tom Girardi
| Credit: Steve Eichner/AP

In the petition for appointment of conservator, Tom's "current condition" is described as "sadly deteriorated to the point where he cannot care for himself without assistance."

Tom and Erika Girardi on RHOBH
 
"His short-term memory is severely compromised and, on information and belief, he is often not oriented as to date, time or place," the petition says, adding that Tom's housekeeper of 25 years is quitting because he can no longer pay her. 

"While Tom does have family members, such as Petitioner [Robert], and certain friends looking out for him to make sure he has sufficient food and that he makes it to a given appointment on time," the petition says, "left to his own devices, it is highly doubtful that Tom could manage most of the activities of daily living for any significant period of time without assistance."

Erika filed for divorce from Tom in November, telling PEOPLE at the time that it was not "a step taken lightly or easily."

In the filing, Erika sought spousal support and requested the court terminate its ability to award spousal support to Tom. Tom responded by asking the court to terminate its ability to award spousal support to Erika, and to request that the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star pay attorney fees and costs.

Tom and Erika Girardi
| Credit: Bravo

Tom and Erika do not have a prenup, PEOPLE previously reported.

Just one month later, the couple was sued for allegedly using their split to embezzle money. In December, Tom and his law firm, Girardi & Keese (GK), were held in civil contempt and have had their assets frozen by a judge.

Also last month, Tom was hit with another lawsuit, this time from his partner Robert Keese and fellow business partners Robert Finnerty and Jill O'Callahan to dissolve their venture together. The men claim that Tom never paid them approximately $315,000 in income, instead keeping the money for himself, and that he took out loans against their property without their knowledge for his "own personal gain, benefit and use."

Amid all of this, Tom's lawyers have said in court that he "has had issues of his mental competence" and asked a judge to order "mental health exam," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Edelson PC and Erika declined to comment on the case, and Tom did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment at the time.

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Docu-series on Britney Spears' conservatorship to premiere on February 5

File image of Britney Spears. Photograph:( Reuters )

A new docu-series premiering on February 5 is set to dig deeper into Britney Spears’ long-contested conservatorship. A preview of episode 6 was released on Thursday that says, “How we treated her was disgusting.”

Titled ‘Framing Britney Spears’, the docu-series will air on FX and FX on Hulu. 

The official synopsis of the docu-series reads: It re-examines Britney Spears career and offers a new assessment of the movement rallying against her court-mandated conservatorship, capturing the unsavory dimensions of the American pop-star machine.

For those unversed, former pop star Britney Spears has been fighting a battle with her father over conservatorship that gives all her personal and professional rights to her father. For 13 years, she has been living under a conservatorship, which occurs when a court-appointed guardian manages another person’s life due to physical or mental limitations. Conservatorship for Britney Spears has been on since 2008 after several public breakdowns. 

Her father, Jamie Spears has been co-conservator of her estate alongside lawyer Andrew Wallet, who voluntarily resigned his post in March 2019. 

According to an update on her case against the conservatorship, Britney Spears’ lawyer, Sam Ingham has claimed that she is “afraid” of her father and will not perform again while he remains in charge. As of mid-December, a judge ruled that the conservatorship would be extended until at least September of this year.

Though Jamie is still his daughter’s conservator, a corporate fiduciary, the Bessemer Trust, serves as co-conservator over her estate.

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Caregiver charged with elder abuse

A photograph taken in the home of a Waldport woman for whom Patricia Norenberg acted as caregiver shows a soiled wheelchair and mattress.

By: Kenneth Lipp

WALDPORT — A state-provided caregiver has been charged with multiple felony counts of theft, fraud and mistreatment of a disabled senior under her care.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Lincoln County Circuit Court, when the defendant’s client arrived by ambulance at the hospital in Newport after calling 911 Aug. 25, “she had visible wounds to the tendons and bones in her legs, and had live maggots in the wounds.” The emergency room physician told her that her leg might have to be amputated. She was transferred to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, where surgeons were able to save her limb.

Her caregiver, Patricia Dianne Norenberg, 54, of Waldport, was not there when her elder charge called 911, and the victim later told investigators she’d been alone in the house for several days prior to hospitalization. She said she’d lain in bed for several days, soiling herself, before calling 911 in extreme pain. The 77-year-old woman requires regular attention, including wound care, for multiple medical conditions.

While she was hospitalized, her son and daughter-in-law accessed her bank account to make some transactions on her behalf, and they noticed something other than the victim’s physical condition was amiss. 

“There’s no way Mom has ever spent $300 at Walmart. She’s very thrifty. It would never happen,” daughter-in-law Jessica Lindley, a forensic psychologist in Portland, told the News-Times. “But it was the food that initially stuck out. We’d been driving from Portland to Waldport to bring her food. There’s no way she was spending $1,500 a month at Ray’s Food Market,” she said.

They asked the bank for a fraud investigation and ended up disputing $4,780 in transactions made between June 27 and Aug. 21. There was also security footage, later shared with investigators, allegedly showing Norenberg using the victim’s debit card to withdraw $400 from a Waldport ATM on Sept. 5, when her client was in the hospital in Corvallis.

Lindley contacted the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Sept. 10 and reported that her mother-in-law was the victim of elder abuse. She also shared with investigators photographs and a video walkthrough of her mother-in-law’s home she’d taken after her hospitalization. The images revealed a “dirty and disorganized house,” with “carpets full of stains and debris,” as well as a soiled wheelchair and mattress that were “discolored due to bodily fluids,” according to the probable cause affidavit.

Investigators brought Norenberg in for an interview on Nov. 19, during which, according to the affidavit, she admitted that she’d never bathed nor dressed her client during the time she was her caregiver, though those tasks were among her assigned duties. She also told investigators that she’d noticed the “filthy condition” of the wheelchair when she first assumed the caregiver role in May, and said she’d never cleaned it. “Norenberg told me the wheelchair was stained with bodily fluids because (her client) would often urinate or have bowel movements in the chair,” an investigator wrote in the affidavit.

She initially denied using the victim’s debit card to make purchases, saying that she’d been given the card to do some shopping for her client at Ray’s, but “she tried not to memorize the PIN.” After being shown security footage of the ATM withdrawal, she admitted to that and other transactions, including a nearly $300 payment on her personal health care account and $40 for her cellphone bill. 

She told investigators she intended to repay those expenditures, and she said many of the disputed transactions — including purchases of software, copy paper, charcoal, phone activations and a lace kimono — were in fact made for her client, as were multiple point-of-sale cash back transactions. The victim told investigators she did not know how to use a computer, nor was she aware that cash back at the grocery store was a possibility.

According to the affidavit, Norenberg told investigators she did not come to work the day prior to her client’s hospitalization — she said she’d spoken with her by phone, and her client said she wasn’t feeling well and did not want to attend her scheduled wound care appointment in Newport.

At the conclusion of the interview, Norenberg was arrested and charged with three Class B felony counts of aggravated identity theft — for alleged fraudulent use of another person’s PIN 10 or more times within 180 days — as well as Class C felony charges of theft, fraudulent use of a credit card and three counts each of non-aggravated identity theft and first-degree criminal mistreatment. She was also charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal mistreatment and recklessly endangering another person.

In giving grounds for the felony mistreatment charges, an investigator wrote that in addition to wrongfully appropriating money from a dependent person in her care, Norenberg had also recommended to her employer that her client be placed in hospice if she survived her hospitalization and offered to continue as her caretaker, thereby “taking charge of a dependent or elderly person for the purpose of fraud.”

Norenberg is next scheduled to appear in court before Judge Thomas Branford on Jan. 19. She remains in custody in the Lincoln County Jail on $100,000 bond. Judge Amanda Benjamin made “no employment as a care provider” a condition of her bail, should she secure conditional release. She has not yet entered a plea.

Lindley said her mother-in-law has been discharged from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility in Corvallis. “She’s doing much better with her wounds. The wound that had the maggots in it is still healing, but the other leg is completely healed,” she said. There’s currently a large COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, and her mother-in-law has tested positive for the virus.

Lindley enthusiastically credited Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Doug Honse, the chief investigator, for his commitment to the case.

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Guardian waits 12 days to inform family members of their loved one's COVID-19 death

Family calls guardianship a civil rights violation

 
“She dies alone without her family knowing. And two weeks later we find out,” said Terri.
 
By: Adam Walser

DELAND, Fla. — Last July, we reported on a controversial eight-year-long guardianship in which state investigators already uncovered wrongdoing.

New developments have led a family to call court-ordered guardianship in Florida “a civil rights violation."

The I-Team introduced you to retired school administrator Dr. Lillie Sykes White last July.

She was isolated from most of her family by a professional guardian during a legal battle over her trust.

“I never thought anything like this could've happened,” White said, in a 2018 video shared with the I-Team by her niece Terri Kennedy.
 
White was removed from her home in August 2016 and taken to an assisted living facility.

When asked by Terri on the video if she wanted to see her sister, White said, “Of course I do. I’ve always wanted to see her.”

A detective tracked her down, so they bought airline tickets

That reunion of Lillie, her sister Jane and her niece Terri wasn’t supposed to happen.

Her guardian, with a judge’s permission, forbid most of her family from knowing where she was or communicating with her.

But Jane and Terri used the services of a detective, who worked pro bono, to track her down.

“We weren’t even sure she was really there. But the private investigator said there’s a high chance. So we bought a ticket and flew from New York to Florida,” Terri Kennedy said.

lillie white 3.jpg

“We were lucky because it was a holiday or a weekend or something. So the regular people who were supposed to keep us away I guess weren’t on,” said Jane Kennedy, Lillie’s sister. “When I saw her, you never know how great that was. And when she saw me, 'oh my God,' the twinkle in her eyes and the smile and the hugs. Wonderful!”

“My mom had dark glasses on because she had been crying and crying and crying. And didn’t want her sister to see that,” Terri said.

In the months that followed, the guardian ignored requests from Terri and Jane to contact Lillie.

“I just wanted to hear her voice. She probably wanted to hear my voice too,” said Jane.

And the guardian added even more restrictions, supposedly to protect Lillie.

“You needed a passcode to speak with her. No one gave us the passcode,” said Terri.

Watchdog agency found no wrongdoing

In 2019, the Florida Office of Public and Professional Guardians, the watchdog agency assigned to investigate complaints against professional guardians, found that Lillie’s guardian violated multiple sections of Florida’s guardianship law.

But the agency didn’t take any action, saying her conduct was mitigated “by the complexity of the family relationships."

Terri met with Florida Secretary of Elder Affairs Richard Prudom last year.

OPPG falls under his department's jurisdiction.

“Secretary Prudom, when we met in January 2020 said file another complaint. I will expedite it,” Terri said.

But after filing a new complaint, Terri and Jane say they never heard anything from the state.

OPPG’s policy is not to comment on any active or pending investigations.

In November 2018, Lillie’s original guardian resigned and a family member was appointed as her new guardian.

That person is not under the jurisdiction of OPPG, since she is not a registered professional guardian in the State of Florida.

“She dies alone without her family knowing”

The meeting in 2018 was the last time Jane and Terri spoke to Lillie.

“And now my sister’s gone. She’s gone,” said Jane, fighting back tears.

“She dies alone without her family knowing. And two weeks later we find out,” said Terri.

Earlier this week, they received her death certificate, which said Lillie died Dec. 31 of respiratory failure and pneumonia related to COVID-19.

“They should have at least said ok, you can talk to her. She’s not doing well. They didn’t do that. They just let her die,” Jane said.

“Now she’s dying and you still don’t let her 85-year-old sister speak to her? There are no words for that,” said Terri.

Terri says her life’s mission is to tell her aunt Lillie's story and push for changes.

She now operates a website to tell Lillie’s story and has started a fund.

“My aunt’s case reveals the cruelty of unchecked power. Being able to isolate and exploit a senior in secrecy under the guise of protecting her,” Terri said.

“Lillie’s life matters. They have violated her civil rights. My civil rights. The civil rights of all of our family members,” said Jane.

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CVS, Walgreens use different metrics to measure success vaccinating long-term care centers

by Fred Cantu

Texas Governor Greg Abbott often speaks of our seniors, especially those in long-term care facilities, as our most vulnerable Texans. So, it was no surprise he would be upset with the low numbers he's seeing for their COVID-19 vaccination rate.

He shared these numbers in Houston on Tuesday:

“Texas has provided 487,500 doses for nursing homes and long-term care centers. CVS and Walgreens are in charge of administering those doses. They have administered 124,827 of those doses to those who reside in nursing homes or long-term care centers.” He then added, “We, as a state, continue to insist that Walgreens and CVS pick up their pace because while Texas is now administering 78% of vaccines, Walgreens and CVS are only at 26% of their vaccine administrations.”

The math is right, but the participating pharmacies question the metrics he's using to measure their success. CVS tells us the feds allotted them more vaccine than they needed for the job. In a written statement, CVS explains, “The federal government determines weekly vaccine allotments based on facility bed count,” but what they discovered in the real world was, “occupancy is far less than bed count and staff uptake has been lower than expected."

CVS and Walgreens agree a better measure of their vaccination progress is the number of facilities they've completed. Walgreens says it has completed 100% of its assigned skilled-nursing facilities and CVS says it will have all its done by Thursday. And CVS reports it has completed 73% of its assisted living and other long-term care facilities while Walgreens puts its count right at two-thirds.

Both CVS and Walgreens issued statements earlier this month saying they believe they'll meet the deadline the feds set for them. That means they expect to have given every patient in every Texas long-term care facility at least their first dose of the COVID vaccine by January 25.

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"Trustworthy" by Tara K. Wilson

Americans are experiencing the largest generational wealth transfer in history, while questioning their own mortality; now is the time for them to plan and protect their health, wealth and happiness in life through enlightened estate planning.  

Trustworthy explores the evolution of an archaic system built on procrastination, confusion, fear and death into a modern one that focuses on autonomy, transparency and tranquility. 

To facilitate this shift, Trustworthy focuses on maintaining control of one’s dignity and destiny during life; ultimately leading to protection and peace of mind. It answers the five Ws about estate plans, and more specifically, Trusts:* WHO needs one?* WHAT is it?* WHERE do I get one?* WHEN should I make one?* WHY do I need one?

Trustworthy will help you organize your life, protect yourself, your family and your assets, minimize the time, fees, hassles and emotional issues during some of life’s inevitable events and, perhaps, establish a legacy that will live on in perpetuity.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Swedish police arrest woman suspected of confining son for decades

by Jon Henley 

Woman, whose adult son is being treated in hospital, held on suspicion of illegal detention and grievous bodily harm

Police at the apartment block in Haninge, south of Stockholm, on Tuesday, where the woman was alleged to have kept her son confined. Photograph: Claudio Bresciani/AP

Stockholm police have arrested a woman suspected of keeping her 41-year-old son confined to their flat for almost three decades, police and local media have said.

Emma Olsson, a public prosecutor in charge of the preliminary investigation, said the 70-year-old woman, who denies any wrongdoing, was being held on suspicion of illegal detention and causing grievous bodily harm.

Her son was being treated in hospital for physical injuries he had when he was found, Olsson said, but did not specify what they were. She said he appeared to have been kept confined to the apartment for “a very long time”.

According to the Expressen newspaper, the man was found by a relative who entered the unlocked flat, in Haninge municipality about 12 miles south of the Swedish capital, on Sunday evening after hearing that the mother had herself been admitted to hospital.

The relative said she had told authorities 20 years ago that she suspected the woman was “totally controlling her son’s life”, but no official action had been taken and other family members had urged her not to cause trouble.

“But I understood he was in there and he must be afraid,” she told the paper. “I pushed the door and shouted hello. It stank of urine, dirt and dust. It smelled rotten. No one can have cleaned for many years.”

She pushed her way through piles of rubbish to the kitchen, where she found the man sitting in a corner. “I saw him in the light from a street lamp outside,” she said. “At first, I only saw his legs … They looked terrible. Everything up to the knees was just sores.”

The relative said the man could hardly stand, was missing most of his teeth, and his speech was slurred. “He spoke very fast and a little incoherently but he was not afraid of me,” she said. “I’m in shock, but I’m thankful he got help and will survive.”

The state broadcster SVT reported that the woman had lost an earlier child at a young age and given her new son the same name, subsequently becoming “over-protective”. Aftonbladet newspaper said she took the boy out of school when he was 12 or 13.

“She stole his life from him and manipulated the people around her in order to keep her secret … he has been badly let down by all of society,” the unnamed relative told Aftonbladet.

An unidentified neighbour who lived in the same building told the paper they had not seen the man for years. “They almost never went outside, and never even opened the windows for fresh air,” she said. “The apartment was sealed.”

Another neighbour told Aftonbladet she occasionally bumped into the mother. “We talked about small things, as you do,” she said. “Sometimes I asked about the boy, and she just said he was fine. She never really talked about him.”

Many neighbours found the situation strange, she said. “But what can you do? How do you know what’s going on behind closed doors?”

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Attorney arrested

 

Attorney George "Dow" Yoder III is led into Jones County Justice Court on Wednesday. 

(Photo by Mark Thornton)


Former special assistant prosecutor charged with burglary

 •

The term “criminal lawyer” took on a different meaning with an arrest the Jones County Sheriff’s Department made on Monday afternoon.

George “Dow” Yoder III, 49, of Canton — a former state and federal prosecutor who has worked as a defense attorney in several high-profile cases in Jones County — is behind bars facing a felony charge.

He was booked into the Jones County Adult Detention Center charged with burglary of a dwelling after being caught in a home on Rocky Creek Cove, just outside of Ellisville, Sgt. J.D. Carter of the JCSD said.

Yoder was in the living room of the residence when the home owner confronted him and told him to leave, according to the report. Yoder then went outside and walked around the shed and the home owner, who had already called law enforcement, told Yoder to get off the property. Deputies arrested Yoder nearby a short time later.

“He didn’t steal anything,” Carter said, “but it’s not known what he would have done if he hadn’t been confronted.” 

The suspect was not making sense with his explanations of why he was there, a source close to the case said, but there was no evidence he was intoxicated.

“I have no idea what I’ve been accused of,” Yoder said Wednesday at his initial appearance in Jones County Justice Court. “I’ve been unable to make bond.”

Judge David Lyons responded, “That’s because I hadn’t set bond yet.”

Lyons set Yoder’s bond at $5,000. Yoder waived the reading of the indictment and the reading of the ways to make bond, saying, “I understand my rights.”

When the judge asked if he had any questions, Yoder said, “I’m not sure I got all of the questions. I‘m unsure of how I can communicate while I’m in the custody of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department,” saying that his constitutional right was being denied.

He went on to say that “no burglary occurred” and that “no criminal charges are being pursued” by the home owner. Yoder told the judge that the resident worked with his aunt for 30 years in Hattiesburg and “no crime occurred.”

That’s a matter that will have to be discussed in another setting, Lyons said, explaining that the purpose of the initial hearing was to tell Yoder what he was charged with and to set a bond. The defendant said he understood.

Yoder ignored questions from a reporter who was trying to get his side of the story as he was being escorted from the jail to the courtroom.

Yoder’s address is in Canton and his law practice is in Ridgeland, but he had reportedly been staying with family members near where he was arrested. A check of Yoder’s criminal history shows that he was arrested in Marion County on Dec. 27 for violation of a protective order.

Yoder was a candidate for the state Court of Appeals in 2016 after serving as ADA in Madison County and he was special assistant U.S. Attorney in the Jackson Division of the Southern District Court.

He represented James Barnett in a civil suit that was settled with the City of Laurel after two officers were accused of beating his client after a high-speed pursuit into Jasper County in 2018.

Yoder has also represented several defendants in criminal cases in Jones County Circuit Court in recent years.

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Caretaker accused of assaulting elderly Brunswick County man

Maria Oliver (Photo: BCSO)

BELVILLE, NC (WWAY) — A Belville woman is accused of assaulting an elderly man.

Maria Oliver was arrested on Tuesday and charged with abuse disable/elder inflicting serious injury.

An arrest warrant states Oliver was a caretaker for the man and assaulted him at his home, causing injury.

No word on the extent of the injuries.

Oliver is being held in jail under no bond.

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