Saturday, December 6, 2008

Arrests in Torture Case

A woman is being held in a San Joaquin County jail, in connection with the torture and kidnapping of a teen reportedly held captive for nearly a year.

Police said that Caren Ramirez, 43, a felon who was the teen's aunt and had a prior warrant for assaulting and abusing the boy, was arrested at an apartment, a few blocks south of the UC Berkeley campus.

Note: another article reported that Ramirez is not the boys aunt but his former guardian. The relationship is not clear at this time.

"Kelly Layne Lau and husband Michael Schumacher, of Tracy, were charged with 13 counts of abuse and former guardian Caren Ramirez was charged with 10 counts. The boy's relation to Ramirez is unclear. Authorities had earlier identified Ramirez as the boy's aunt but said Thursday they had learned she was a family friend that he called his aunt. Probation documents show that Ramirez claims to be the teen's mother, but the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office said that is not a fact. The office also said that there is no DNA or biological relationship between Ramirez and the teen."
Warrant: Teen Forced To Stay In Fireplace

The boy was abused by his father and placed in the care of Ramirez by CPS in Sacramento County. He was then physically abused by Ramirez who was subsequently charged and sentenced in a plea deal — before being moved into a second foster home. He disappeared from the second home about a year ago.

When he showed up barely dressed and emaciated at the In-Shape Sports Club in Tracy, the boy told employees there he ran away from his second foster home in Sacramento because he wanted to be with his family.

According to court records, Ramirez was convicted in 2007 in Sacramento County of one felony count of inflicting corporal injury on a child. Ramirez also has three outstanding warrants for her arrest out of Sacramento.

Also arrested were Kelly Layne Lau and Michael Luther Schumacher. They are expected to be arraigned on charges of torture, kidnapping, false imprisonment, child endangerment and corporal injury to a child.

Third suspect in Tracy abuse case arrested in Berkeley

See also:
Video - Lau speaks to ABC7 about torture case

Video - Tracy torture suspects appear in court

In court papers, tortured boy describes life

New Details in Abuse Case of Shackled Teen

Abused Teen's Brother: Life Was a "Horror Movie"

California: The aunt and onetime guardian of an emaciated and shackled 17-year-old boy has been arrested

Uniform Power of Attorney Act

The misuse of powers of attorney to exploit the elderly appears to be on the rise, but a new AARP report says that states can improve protections for older people by adopting a model law that addresses this type of abuse.

For most people, the power of attorney (POA) is the most important estate planning instrument -- even more useful than a will. But while a POA avoids the costly and time-consuming process of having a court appoint a guardian or conservator, it also confers a great deal of authority on the agent. This is why advocates for the elderly often call the POA a "license to steal."

Increasingly, it seems, dishonest agents have been taking advantage of this license. AARP says that adult protective services and criminal justice professionals are reporting "an explosion" of financial exploitation cases of this type against the elderly.

In 2006, the Uniform Law Commissioners, which draft and propose model laws for states, approved the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA) to offer states a set of provisions that will protect people who executive POAs and discourage abuse. The UPOAA includes stringent requirements for agents to exercise certain powers and provisions making malfeasant agents liable for damages, attorney's fees and costs.

New Mexico and Idaho -- have enacted the UPOAA and 12 states are considering adopting it in 2009. AARP's study of current state POA statutes found that "a large majority of state laws lack most of the UPOAA's protections for individuals creating powers of attorney."

The AARP report,“Power of Attorney Abuse: What States Can Do About It,” compiled by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging under contract to AARP, offers advocates tips for enacting the UPOAA provisions and includes a list of stakeholders who may want to collaborate in the study and recommendation process.

AARP Report Says States Have Power to Curb Power of Attorney Abuse

See also:
Power of attorney can victimize elderly - Agents can write checks, sell seniors' property

Friday, December 5, 2008

Family Wants Answers

Eileen Devlin and Maureen Faletti are trying to determine why their cousin was maltreated and neglected while in the care of the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD).

Devlin and Faletti reached out to 12th District legislators for help in becoming legal guardians for their cousin Tara O'Leary, who died at the age of 29 on Nov. 10. At the time of her death, she was said to weigh only 43 pounds.

"We're looking for answers and we're looking for justice, and we're very concerned regarding other people this could be happening to."

Devlin said as a family, they are trying to figure out how O'Leary could end up in such a bad situation after they were reassured that she was in the care of a DDD caretaker's home.

She said the family was kept away from O'Leary because of the so-called guardian.

Full Article and Source:
Family members search for answers - Cousins turned to 12th District officials for help with guardianship

See also:
Death Prompts Investigation

Snakes in Suits

When Psychopaths Go to Work

In popular culture, the image of the psychopath is of someone like Hannibal Lecter or the BTK Killer. But in reality, many psychopaths just want money, power, fame, or simply a nice car. Where do these psychopaths go? Often, it's to the corporate world. In their new book, “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work,” Paul Babiak, an industrial-organizational psychologist, and Robert Hare, a psychopathy expert, study office psychopaths. The modern, open, more flexible corporate world, in which high risks can equal high profits, attracts them. They may seem like superstars and corporate saviors, but they can alienate other employees and leave companies in shambles. Babiak and Hare were invited on “Today” to discuss their book.

Snakes in Suits’ unmasks corporate psychos

Snakes in Suits By Paul Babiak, Robert D. Hare

See also:
Profile of the Sociopath

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2008

H.R. 5352: Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2008

A bill to protect seniors in the United States from elder abuse by establishing specialized elder abuse prosecution and research programs and activities to aid victims of elder abuse, to provide training to prosecutors and other law enforcement related to elder abuse prevention and protection, to establish programs that provide for emergency crisis response teams to combat elder abuse, and for other purposes.

Bill Text:
Full Text

Gov Track - H.R. 5352: Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2008

Profile of the Sociopath

It is impossible for us, as normal human beings with a conscience, to understand how the other half (plus?) lives, to understand how these financial predators operate or look in the mirror and feel good about themselves.

When a sociopath is in the guardianship business or any position of trust as an agent of the court or fiduciary and also, look at some judges, they win - we lose.

From experience and observation, I have concluded that we are surrounded by people who fit the descriptions of a sociopath. Not all sociopaths go criminal, but when they do, look out, they have the advantage as predator over their prey.

In our case, Aunt Helen's temporary guardian fit the profile of a sociopath 100%. In my Victim Impact Statement during the sentencing hearing, I used the term "sociopath", I have no regrets and I was right.

We need to know what and who we are up against, we need to know our enemies.

Here is a brief summary, anyone find the character FLAWS familiar?:

* Glibness and Superficial Charm

* Manipulative and Conning
They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.

* Grandiose Sense of Self
Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."

* Pathological Lying
Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

* Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.

* Shallow Emotions
When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.

* Incapacity for Love

* Need for Stimulation
Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.

* Callousness/Lack of Empathy
Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.

* Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.

* Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency
Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet "gets by" by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.

* Irresponsibility/Unreliability
Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.

* Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity
Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.

* Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle
Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.

* Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility
Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.

Other Related Qualities:

1. Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
2. Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
3. Authoritarian
4. Secretive
5. Paranoid
6. Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
7. Conventional appearance
8. Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
9. Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life
10.Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
11.Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
12.Incapable of real human attachment to another
13.Unable to feel remorse or guilt
14.Extreme narcissism and grandiose
15.May state readily that their goal is to rule the world

Profile of the Sociopath

See also:
From TV to Prison

DHS Worker Charged Again

She is accused of financially exploiting a second vulnerable man.

A former Department of Human Services employee is now charged in two separate Tulsa County felony cases with financially exploiting vulnerable adults.

Prosecutors charged Debra Maxine Roberts, who was a DHS adult protective services specialist, with taking nearly $4,500 in funds belonging to 84-year-old James True.

Roberts was a temporary guardian for True. In her guardian's capacity, Roberts had the authority to use True's finances to pay for his residential care and daily living expenses.

In another case, Roberts was charged in September with financially exploiting Claude Spencer — identified by prosecutors as a 74-year-old mentally disabled Sand Springs man — by converting approximately $5,900 of his money to her own use. Roberts became a temporary guardian for Spencer in 2007.

Full Article and Source:
Former DHS worker charged again

More information:
Ex-DHS employee facing new charge

See also:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Guardianship Dispute Ends in Tragedy

Donald Wastler devoted his life to caring for his sick, aging mother. He cooked her meals, took her to doctor’s appointments and managed her affairs. He was a loyal citizen who volunteered on several community boards, including the Proebstel Neighborhood Association.

On Monday, Donald R. Wastler snapped. Clark County sheriff’s investigators believe he shot and killed his 86-year-old mother, Evelyn D. Wastler, a pet cat and then himself.

The shootings came less than an hour after he sent an e-mail to local media and court officials, venting about a guardianship case that restricted his duties as his mother’s personal caretaker.

Donald Wastler served as his mother’s full-time live-in caretaker. He didn’t have outside work and wasn’t married.

Evelyn Wastler suffered from dementia and was bedridden, according to a guardianship case filed in Clark County Superior Court.

Donald’s sister, Patricia J. Lewis, filed a petition on July 7 asking for the appointment of a guardian ad litem to oversee the care of their mother. In it, she raised concern about the care being provided by her brother. Among her concerns were sanitation problems and Donald Wastler’s “dangerous medical condition,” according to the petition.

Wastler was undergoing treatment for an undisclosed mental illness, according to Van Cleve, and became explosive when he didn’t take his medication.

The petition also claimed that Donald Wastler had prevented other family members from communicating with Evelyn Wastler. In addition, the petition stated that he was living rent-free and using some of her money to take care of himself.

In his response to the petition, Donald Wastler portrayed himself as a devoted son.

“I shop, cook, pay bills, keep up the outdoor property, manage her medication, drive and accompany her to all of her doctor and dentist appointments.”

In an Oct. 7 agreement, Donald Wastler was appointed guardian of his mother, with a limited co-guardian who was to check on the home and report to the court any issues about care or cleanliness in the house.

But in his Monday e-mail, Wastler wrote that the claims against him in the guardianship case were unfounded. During their investigation, detectives said they found several notes and journals in the home that were similar to the e-mail.

Full Article and Source:
Details of son’s dark side begin to emerge

See also:
Details emerge in apparent murder-suicide

Clark County mother, son died in murder-suicide

Dispute over mother's care divided family

Denied Access to Probate Court

A retiring judge testified against the county’s current probate judge during a hearing before the state Judicial Merit Selection Commission.

The commission was conducting the first-day screening for the fall 2008 judicial candidates to fill “Seat 1” on the 1st Judicial Circuit held by retiring Judge James Williams.

Williams told commissioners Judge Pandora Jones-Glover abused her authority as judge by denying a citizen the due process of the law.

Williams said that he helped a mother negotiate a settlement for her minor son injured in an automobile accident. The mother was appointed as guardian ad litem or legal guardian to speak for the son. Williams said as far as he was concerned the matter was settled and referred the mother, who did not have an attorney, to the probate court to supervise the conservatorship for the minor.

Williams: "It was not long before ... the court would not even let her file to be appointed as a conservator for her son," also noting the probate office allegedly informed the mother she needed a lawyer to be appointed as a conservator.

"I did not think that was right ... denying her access to the probate court, I think this is an example of an attitude where the authority of the probate judge was misused. It resulted in a citizen of the state being absolutely denied the benefit of the legal system."

Full Article and Source:
Retiring judge testifies against probate judge

See also:
Eight local lawyers contend for 1st Judicial Circuit seat

Politics As Usual

It is politics as usual in Illinois, but it has cost my mother her life. I am not kidding! This only child lost his mother in an Illinois probate court to estate conservation. Mother did not even receive a 2nd opinion from all her funds.

My Dad had a lifelong mental health disability for which he received a pension. His health deteriorated in the last two years of life with cancer and heart attacks. Mom had early stage dementia. When Dad had a heart attack, Mother was admitted to long term care from Dad's hospital room. Mother entered the facility walking, talking, eating and going to the bathroom by herself. Prior to the facility, she ate breakfast out daily with friends who enjoyed her company. She had not been hospitalized in years. She liked to walk with company.

Dad was allowed, (encouraged....this is about money) to place a "Do Not Resuscitate" on Mom (clearly a violation of her human rights and a violation of IDPH's own regs) on admission from his hospital room. It was witnessed by the long term care staff. He did not have POA and she did not have a living will. She was far from terminal as required. After admission, Mom was drugged with the anti-psychotic, Zyprexa, Its off-label, unapproved use for elderly dementia has been shown to cause death and stroke and is associated with difficulty in swallowing, dehydration and agitation.

In addition, family, (NOT THIS ONLY CHILD) wanted Mom to have "the right to refuse to eat". Elderly dementia patients need reminders to drink and several snacks throughout the day. This is tantamount to murder. I found Mother dehydrated and unable to eat, drink, walk or talk. I requested re-hydration and asked what if any new drugs she was on. I learned of the Zyprexa and requested it be removed. And I applied for guardianship and began the process of getting a second opinion. The guardianship, however, was awarded to a half-aunt because of health problems (surgery) I was recovering from at the time.

The half-aunt, promptly enrolled Mom (another human rights violation) in hospice and left her to die. I visited Mom and was shocked. Her belongings were missing, including false teeth and glasses. I knew something was terribly wrong but had no access to care records. Mom was admitted to hospice despite a supposed protection by the Office of Guardian against cessation of life sustaining measures without due process.

Mother died alone 2 hours after Christmas.

My half-aunt did not attend either of my parent's funerals.

The unnecessary, painful, and torturous death of my dear Mother has begun what has so far become a five year journey for justice and accountability for her senseless death.

See also:
Push The Walker

Predatory Trust

Irving Lincoln Fields - Update

Irving Lincoln Fields (1919 – 1991)

The website has been re-established at:

The main directory, with links to materials like the AAPL article by Dr.Perr, is now located at:

The information about Tom Fields own case is now linked to:

Irving's family can be reached by email at:

See also:
Advocate For the Elderly

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Evil Characters

There is nothing short of revolution that can stop the greed that took my mother's life in order to gain her estate. It was done in a thick collusion with the guardian, the Executor appointed to handle my parent's estate, and a sibling.

Soon after my mother's death, the Executor released the guardian of his bond. We had sued the guardian for excess charges and won a return of approximately $97,000. My own property was vandalized, found to be missing, or never arrived after it was supposedly shipped to me - probably in retaliation.

The massive looting of my parent's combined estates was approved by a judge running for election, who divided the remaining spoils with the lawyers and the law firm that had betrayed my father's intent.

Among the missing items, were all photos, memorabilia, personal correspondence, thirteen Banker's boxes of valuable intimate family papers and documents, as well as an inheritance of nearly 30,000 acres in mineral rights. The worst theft of all was of life, family, and happiness.

For anyone who hasn't read Bleak House by Charles Dickens, you will recognize the evil characters.

Written by a NASGA member

See also:
Estates Depleted by Fees

Monday, December 1, 2008

Facing Budget Threats

A powerful voice for the elderly in San Diego County is facing the same budget threats already dismantling similar programs in other counties this fall.

Chris O'Connell, coordinator of San Diego County's long-term care ombudsman program for Aging and Independence Services, or AIS: "It really is going to be devastating."

"Right now we're in limbo," O'Connell said about the future of the program that hears complaints ranging from quality of care to elder abuse in the county's hundreds of long-term care facilities.

Earlier this fall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a line item veto, eliminated the $3.8 million in state funding for the program that trains and oversees volunteer ombudsmen who advocate for the rights of seniors living in long-term care facilities.

The concern is that inspections by other agencies only happen once a year or once every five years, O'Connell said, making the ombudsman the only regular "outsider" to hear and relay concerns.

If the program is cut, "the bottom line is, the residents will suffer."

Full Article and Source:
Cutbacks threaten voice for the elderly

See also:
Terminated Funding

State Budget Stripped

Postponing Protection for Seniors

Court Work Overload

Guardianship Legislation

Adoption Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

A judge ruled that a Florida law that has banned adoptions by gay men and lesbians for over three decades is unconstitutional.

Judge, Cindy S. Lederman: “The best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption,” "The law violated equal protection rights for children and their prospective parents."

A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said the state would appeal, and the case is likely to end up before the State Supreme Court.

Florida is the only state with a law prohibiting gay men and lesbians — couples and individuals — from adopting children. The Legislature voted to prohibit adoptions by gay men and lesbians in 1977.

Some states, like Mississippi and Utah, effectively bar adoptions by same-sex couples through laws that prohibit adoption by unmarried couples. Arkansas voters passed a similar measure.

Full Article and Source:
Florida Gay Adoption Ban Is Ruled Unconstitutional

More information:
The Fight Over Gay Adoption Heats Up

Judge strikes down Florida ban on adoption by gay parents

Judge overturns Florida ban on adoption by gays

See also:
Banning Unmarried Couples

Disbarred Guardianship Lawyer

The Florida Bar said in a release: The disbarment of Jessica Kathleen Miller, a lawyer in Holiday, followed an arrest in August 2007 for contempt of court for violating an order to appear.

She already had violated prior orders to appear on behalf of clients in a guardianship proceeding.

Miller also failed to account for and deliver client trust funds and after being hired to represent several clients, she did not and neglected to return their fees, the release said.

Florida Supreme Court disciplines lawyers

See also:
In The Supreme Court Of Florida (Before A Referee) Florida Bar vs. Jessica Kathleen Miller, No. SC07-662

Supreme Court Of Florida The Florida Bar vs. Jessica Kathleen Miller No. SC07-2376

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Constitutional Rights

The U.S. Constitution guarantees a person can't be deprived of "life, liberty or property" without due process. State law allows a court to appoint a guardian for people who are incapable of making responsible decisions.

Utah Commission on Aging director Maureen Henry says: the statute is vague enough to be problematic, What, for example, does "responsible decisions" mean?

During the past 50 years, the courts have emphasized the due process rights of adults who are mentally ill — requiring that a person admitted to a psychiatric facility be brought before a judge to assure that his confinement is justified; the burden is on the state to prove that the commitment is necessary. But there's no similar system protecting the elderly, charges Henry, who as an attorney specialized in elder law.

If an old person is put in a nursing home or locked Alzheimer's unit and she doesn't want to be there, the burden is hers to work her way out, not on the state to prove to a court that she needs to be confined. And in legal matters, Henry notes, the person who bears the burden of proof is more likely to lose.

Henry says: That's not to say that families or facilities are ignoring the law. But there is no system in place to deal with the complexities of self-determination for old people — "and that forces everyone, nursing facilities, patients, families, caseworkers, into that gray area where no one is really clear about what is right and wrong."

There's no one whose job it is, at any level of government, to look at the folks in nursing facilities or locked units of assisted living facilities to make sure that they either agree to be there or that they were admitted following legal procedures.

Old people are often talked into — occasionally even tricked into — moving into nursing homes and assisted living facilities by well-meaning relatives. In the vast majority of cases, family members don't even try to get guardianships before admitting an elderly relative to a facility, because it's not clear under what circumstances they should, and they're expensive.

It's pretty easy for a family member to get uncontested guardianship, the experts agree (although it can cost thousands of dollars in legal fees). When the Deseret News went to court to watch guardianship proceedings, it was startling how quickly someone could be stripped of all decision-making rights. Once the paperwork is in order, "hearings" average seconds, not minutes.

Full Article and Source:
Who should make choices for the elderly?