Saturday, September 27, 2008

DHS Worker Arrested

Tulsa County prosecutors have alleged that a state Department of Human Services employee stole thousands of dollars from a vulnerable adult.

Debra Maxine Roberts, a DHS Adult Protective Services specialist, is accused of abusing, exploiting or neglecting a 74-year-old mentally disabled man.

According to a DHS special agent's affidavit, Roberts received a court order assigning her as a temporary guardian. During that time, she had the authority to use the Ward's money to pay for residential care and daily expenses.

But bank records show that Roberts made five cash withdrawals from the Ward's accounts after her guardianship ended.

Tulsa DHS worker arrested

Fatal Tube Removal

Janet Salas lost her say in her son's treatment when the state turned over custody of him to a case management company.

Adult Protective Services brought a suit to remove Salas as Freddie Nichols' guardian and award guardianship to Erin Ruscetti, owner of Necessity Case Management and Consultation LLC. At the time, the agency's attorney alleged that Nichols was dehydrated and in a "vegetative condition" and had been hospitalized about 10 times during the preceding year for decubitus ulcers, or bed sores.

Salas rejects the allegations that she provided poor care for her son. She contends that her son's bed sores worsened during his stay at a VA hospital. Salas also said she had no opportunity to speak or present evidence at the Aug. 27 hearing. She had a letter from her son's physician who wrote that Salas provided her son with excellent care.

District Judge Richard Brown awarded guardianship to Ruscetti after an Aug. 27 hearing.

Janet Salas paced the sidewalk outside the Raymond G. Murphy Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Albuquerque, demanding that hospital officials restore her son's feeding tube. Salas stood in front of a McDonald's restaurant at Gibson and San Mateo SE nearly all day.

Her hand drawn sign said: "Please Help / The VA is killing my son."

Salas lost the battle when her son, Freddie Nichols, died after Nichols had been without food or water and when hospital officials removed a feeding tube without his family's consent.

Full Article and Source:
Family Opposed To Fatal Tube Removal

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Accused Lawyer Found Dead

A prominent Duncan lawyer found himself on the wrong side of the law and on Thursday, September 18, stood accused of embezzlement and forgery. On Wednesday, September 24, investigators found him dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

Prosecutors said the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) said he spent nearly $150,000 that belonged to a client. The prosecution says he was holding the money for a family's estate, but when they tried to get it back, it was gone.

Barnes' body was found at Washita Point in the Lake Texoma area, and he appeared to have been dead for several days. Authorities say that after Barnes posted bail, he went missing, and the OSBI feared he was on the run or had harmed himself. They say no foul play is suspected at this time.

Barnes had filed an application to resign from the bar, which means to give up his law license, and discontinued his practice. According to court records, Barnes was hired in February, 2007, to handle the probate of Faye Glenn's estate. Her checking account was transferred to Barnes' Attorney Trust Account at BancFirst in Duncan.

According to Stephens County District Attorney Bret Burns, despite the fact that Barnes was supposed to reimburse $150,000 to the executor of the state, Barnes had yet to do so after the probate period ended.

Burns said: "So there was a large sum of money just sitting there, They had been asking for that money back for the past year and they got different excuses, until they finally found out it was gone."

Full Article and Source:
Duncan lawyer accused of embezzlement found dead

See also:
Probate Attorney Jailed

New Legislation Passed

Groundbreaking legislation, marking the most sweeping congressional reform of the U.S. foster care system in more than a decade, has passed the House of Representatives and is on its way to the Senate where it is expected to pass.

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (H.R. 6893) is designed to help thousands of children in foster care by promoting permanent families for them through relative guardianship and adoption.

Among its many provisions:

* the establishment of "Family Connection Grants," which will help families facilitate the adoption of foster children with blood relatives such as grandparents or aunts and uncles

* doubles the amount of money states would receive for promoting and completing certain adoptions

* tribal governments will be able to receive foster care funds directly from the government, thus ensuring that more American Indian and Alaskan Native children can remain in their own communities

* allows states to continue providing support up to the age of 21 for young people in foster care who are pursuing education, training or work

* improves oversight of the educational progress and health care needs of children in foster care

The Honorable Maura Corrigan, Michigan State Supreme Court Justice and a Member of the Pew Commission said: "The need for all children to have safe, permanent families to love, nurture, protect, and guide them was a steady compass throughout our commission's deliberations, State courts see tens of thousands of foster care cases a year. This legislation provides important new policy that will help judges and other professionals ensure that more abused and neglected children can leave foster care to join safe, loving homes."

The Pew Commission, a national, nonpartisan panel established by The Pew Charitable Trusts, undertook a year-long comprehensive assessment of the nation's foster care system and developed practical child-centered solutions to improve outcomes for foster care.

Landmark Adoption Bill Passed By House

See also:
Congress Passes Foster Child Act

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Judicial Investigation

A Supreme Court justice is calling for a Judicial Tenure Commission investigation into a Macomb probate judge who has come under criticism for her appointments to a conservator agency and her alleged inability to handle cases.

Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver also is demanding that Macomb County's Chief Probate Judge Kenneth Sanborn step down because she claims he did not disclose to the state high court and the State Court Administrator's Office the alleged "unsatisfactory performance" of Probate Judge Kathryn George.

George was removed as chief judge after an audit revealed wrongdoing by ADDMS Guardianship Services, an agency to which she appointed an inordinate number of cases during the past two years.

Weaver: "The citizens of Macomb County must be informed and the Judicial Tenure Commission must investigate Judge George's performance."

Justice targets 2 probate judges

See also:

Guardianship Firm Resigning

Shake Up in Probate

Hearing For New Guardians

Guardianship Agency Removed

Macomb County Probate

Probate Judge Removed

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No One with Money is Safe

Here’s my Mom and I.
We have been victims of the guardianship and conservator business since 2004.
We have lost $400,000 of a 1.2 million dollar investment account. Our money is enriching two criminal guardianship businesses, their lawyers, our court appointed lawyer, a guardian ad litem and a trust company – all with the blessings of The Maricopa County Probate Court in AZ. Most of my own money was seized and put into the trust. My income was cut in half and I am subsisting on a $14,000 per year disability.

The litigation has ruined our health – all because a local guardianship business and their lawyer set out to steal our money. My Mother was placed into assisted living at exorbitant cost and the current guardian is billing the trust any amount of money she wants. All with the blessings of the probate court! This is by far the biggest criminal racket going on in AZ and probably the rest of America.

No one who has money of their own is safe.

I have written letters to dozens of agencies to no avail. My complaints to the courts and judges have been ignored. Hundreds of lawyers and racketeers are making millions in Phoenix. The attorney general turns a blind eye. Our government is corrupt beyond our imaginations and it is about time someone did something! Once our funds are exhausted, these criminals will move on to the next victim.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Battle for Guardianship

At issue are the care of 86-year-old Suzanne Munn and whether Christopher Kellogg, her 63-year-old nephew by marriage, is a fit guardian for her and her $5 million estate. Kellogg and his lawyers say yes. Ruth Merchant, who was Munn's fiduciary and health-care surrogate before Kellogg took over those responsibilities, says no.

In June, Kellogg asked the Probate Court to appoint him as emergency temporary guardian for his aunt, who is in failing physical and mental health.

Merchant, in a motion filed with the court, maintains Kellogg should not be appointed permanent guardian because he has previously filed for bankruptcy, was sanctioned for not meeting financial obligations sustained in an acrimonious divorce from his wife, and was arrested for carrying a firearm at a Palm Beach International Airport security checkpoint.

Attorney for Merchant: "Mrs. Merchant was Suzanne Munn's bookkeeper, tax preparer and fiduciary for at least 10 years, She watched out for her interests and cared for her. Then suddenly Mr. Kellogg removes her and puts himself in her place."

Attorney for Kellogg: "When people are perceived as having a little bit of money, there's a cast of thousands who think they know what's best."

Full Article and Source:
Nephew Christopher Kellogg, ex-surrogate Ruth Merchant battle for guardianship of Suzanne Munn

Sunday, September 21, 2008

State Officials Sued

Charles Todd Lee, a 67-year-old photographer has been confined to a nursing home for five years, the victim of a stroke that paralyzed his left side. And he's angry.

Lee said: "Most of the people come here to die, so you want to die, It is a prison. I can't escape it."

Lee is among the Medicaid recipients across Florida challenging the nightmare of the old and disabled: to be forced from comfort and familiarity into a nursing home.

They say the state is illegally forcing them to live in nursing homes when they should be able to live where they choose. Advocates charge that nursing homes, afraid of losing money, have successfully pressured politicians to make qualifying for community care more difficult. They have filed a federal lawsuit seeking class-action status on behalf of nearly 8,500 institutionalized Floridians.

The Olmstead decision, as it is known, involved two Georgia women, both Medicaid beneficiaries with mental retardation who wanted community-based services, but were refused and were treated in institutions. The high court ruled unjustified isolation of the disabled in institutions amounted to discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It said states must provide community services if patients want them, if they can be accommodated and if it's appropriate.

The three defendants, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and Gov. Charlie Crist's office all declined to comment on the litigation. The attorney general's office also declined to comment, which is representing the defendants.

Fla. Medicaid recipients want out of nursing homes

Public Guardian Scandal

Trial begins in thefts at Guardian Office

A prosecutor said: Former Ventura County employee Juanita Browne repeatedly exploited "society's most vulnerable persons" by stealing thousands of dollars and personal possessions from individuals who were severely mentally ill.

According to Senior Deputy District Attorney Howard Wise, Browne stole from 10 clients over a two-year period while falsifying records and intimidating co-workers, including her bosses. He said the paper trail will reveal much about the crime, including Browne's repeated use of the Guardian's Office's "blue slips," which he described as being like blank checks.

An investigation into the office resulted in a scandal and led to the arrest of Browne and her fellow county employees Hiep Quang Le and Esther Anaya Torres.

* Browne is charged with multiple felony counts, including theft from an elder or dependent adult, receiving stolen property and accepting a bribe.

* Anaya Torres is serving three years in prison for stealing more than $90,000 in income checks from clients.

* Le is expected to testify against Browne. Last year, he pleaded guilty to bribing Browne, who is also known as Juanita Canley and Juanita Whiting. Prosecutors claim Browne received a $6,225 bribe from Le.

Full Article and Source:
Jurors get first look at scandal

See also:
Guardian's Office scandal sentencing scheduled for February

Public Guardian Accused of Theft