Friday, August 22, 2008

Elder Abuse by Guardians

Esta Varon was placed in a mental institution and injected with drugs because her court appointed guardian, Sam Rausman, was going on vacation. She says she has been forced into an abusive situation and is now in a facility against her will by the court's appointment of a guardian who is spending all her money. Maydelle Trambarulo was separated from her family in NJ and taken to Connecticut and put into a nursing facility for three years. Her conservator was Mark Dellavalle, a total stranger.

What makes this story so unbelievable is that it is all perfectly legal. Sanctioned by the courts and approved by judges. Nassau Supreme Court appointed Sam Rausman guardian of Esta Varon. She claims that he locked her out of her apartment, cancelled her credit cards and put her in a nursing home against her will. He is also trying to sell her car and her condo. Esta says Rausman's control over her money has widdled her life savings from $235,000 down to a little over $43,000. Esta is not the only one who considers herself a victim of Sam Rausman.

See also:
Fox 5 Investigates: Guardian Abuse

Fox 5 Investigates: Guardian Abuse, Part 2

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Big Money Conservatorship

According to a declaration filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Britney Spears owes $338,414.87 to Stacy Phillips, one of the shorter-term members of her legal team, for $700-an-hour services rendered between March and June. Phillips says that’s a discount, the tab includes “time already deducted as a courtesy,” time “written off” and $75,000 that she expects to get next month.

Attorney Laura Wasser's most recent bill, encompassing two months of counsel, totals $60,075.

And the firm of Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps is requesting $110,000 of the $220,600 it says it’s owed for 402 hours of representing the conservatorship.

Full Article and Source:
Britney Spears owes big money for custody battle

See also:
No Right to Counsel

Bad News For Britney

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Help for Grandparents

Nalani Fujimori, from Legal Aid:
"Legal aid has actually been representing grandparents in a number of different areas. We assist with guardianships and adoptions as well as powers of attorney when the parents know that they're going to giving their kids to the grandparents,"

"Adoptions provide a little more stability and security for grandparents because they actually have full control and ability to raise those children as their own children. When a grandparent takes an adoption they can actually apply for social security for that child."

If not adoption or guardianship, grandparents may want to consider becoming foster parents to the grandchildren.

"And I think some of the recent changes in the law will provide more opportunities for relatives to get more information about becoming foster parents. It puts in new regulations for the Department of Human Services to provide applications for these grandparents."

If you have questions you can call Legal Aid at (808)536-4302 on Oahu or (800) 499-4302 on the Neighbor Islands.

Benefits for Grandparents caring for Grandchildren

Guardian Sentenced

A woman who admitted possessing a sexually explicit photo of a 14-year-old girl was sentenced Monday to 63 months in federal prison and ordered to register as a sex offender after her release.

The term, the maximum recommended under sentencing guidelines, was imposed by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson. The judge said Beth Anne Marie Lake, 36, had violated a sacred trust by failing to protect the teen.

Lake gained guardianship of the victim, who is not related to her, in 2006 with the consent of a relative of the girl.

Lake's children have been taken away from her and she will never have custody of them again, according to her defense attorney.

Full Article:
Guardian sentenced for taking nude photos of girl, arranging sex encounters

Monday, August 18, 2008

Alternative to Trillium - Volunteer Guardians

With scarred minds and unwilling bodies, 1,400 "wards" live in nursing homes, houses and hospitals in Stark County.

They're called wards for short, as in wards of the court. They're people, often senior citizens, who can no longer make good decisions for themselves. They've been declared legally incompetent in probate court. A guardian has been appointed for each to handle his or her affairs.

Most wound up in the care of Trillium Family Solutions, a local nonprofit agency that charges fees to wards and nursing homes for its professional guardianship services.

Stark County Probate Judge Dixie Park said "There were some issues there."

Some of those issues were outlined in a series of stories critical of Trillium's services:

* An agency that is legal guardian for hundreds of area senior citizens should do a better job, according to an independent review committee’s report.
Guardianship agency needs to improve

* On the same day Trillium Family Solutions released a review of its guardianship program, a judge removed the agency as guardian of an 84-year-old woman because it did a poor job.
Trillium removed as woman’s guardian

* An agency that’s guardian for more than 200 incompetent people in Stark County must change the way it does business, says the judge who controls those guardianships. And the agency itself has formed a committee to review how it does its guardianship business.
Trillium aims to improve

* The Repository began this year with an outstanding reporting effort by staff writer Tim Botos. It was his series of stories on the guardianship program at Trillium Family Solutions, a local social service agency. Botos looked at hundreds of cases in which Trillium was handling the affairs of incompetent adults. What he found raised several important questions about how Trillium and Stark County Probate Court were looking after the well being of men and women who had no one else to protect them.
Report from Bittle committee will help Trillium continue to improve

Botos has done a thorough job of looking into Trillium’s work


Trillium made changes in an effort to improve, and still regularly takes on new cases. The judge revamped the way the court handles guardianship cases. The judge also sought out local elder law attorney Sandra Watkins-Cleaver for ideas to provide an alternative to Trillium. Watkins-Cleaver created Guardian Support Services, a stand-alone nonprofit. Its sole mission: Find volunteer guardians for indigent wards.

Full Article and Source:
Volunteer guardians in demand