Saturday, January 10, 2009

D.A. is Missing

PA - For almost twenty years, Ray Frank Gricar has served as the District Attorney for Center County, Pennsylvania. On the morning of April 15, 2005, he called his girlfriend and told her that he was going to go for a drive in his red and white Mini Cooper automobile along state Route 192 in Penns Valley, Pennsylvania. He was reported missing when he did not return. The car was located in a parking lot in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, near the Susquehanna River, on April 16, 2005; however, Gricar has not been located.

Individuals with information concerning this case should take no action themselves, but instead immediately contact the nearest FBI Office or local law enforcement agency. For any possible sighting outside the United States, contact the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate.

Ray Gricar - FBI Missing Person

The Bellefonte Police Department is at (814) 353-2320

More information:
The Gricar family's Web site

Letter irks county D.A.

Gricar missing for 3 years

Local district attorney missing

River yields no clues in search for missing DA

Gricar's medical files yield no clues

Police: Gricar testing ends

Hard drive found, possibly Gricar's

Wanted For Theft and Fraud

AZ - On paper, John Donald Cody seemed to have it all: a degree from Harvard Law and another from the University of Virginia, a background in military intelligence, and his own law firm in Sierra Vista, Ariz.

But paper rarely tells the whole story. Cody is also a fugitive, accused of bilking his clients out of $100,000 before vanishing in his Corvette in 1985, when he was 36.

By then, Cody was thought not only to be a thief and a fraud, but also a complete oddball -- infamous for his wild accusations, his haphazard appearance and most of all, his bizarre addictions.

After he was reportedly threatened with a contempt citation for making false statements to a judge, he began missing court appearances.

Federal investigators discovered Cody was allegedly skimming money from his clients' probate funds by writing travelers' checks against the accounts, which he transported from Arizona to Virginia. Cody also allegedly made false statements to a bank and brokerage firm to try and get a $25,000 loan.

When authorities clued into Cody's scam, he went on the lam, closing his law office and emptying $100,000 from client accounts, officials say.

In August 2004, the FBI issued a "Wanted" poster. But Cody has eluded authorities nonetheless. Cody is 61-years old now. He is 5-foot-10, an estimated 150 pounds, and he has a scar on his shoulder and a missing fingertip.

FBI investigators say he has used a host of aliases, including Richard Barstow, John Acosta Devine, Richard Larsen, John J. Ocean III, John Redfern, Dennis Reinhart and Harry Walter Phillips.

Anyone with information concerning Cody should contact their local FBI office or the nearest American embassy or consulate. The bureau is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to his arrest.

This is an ongoing series by that looks at some of the most wanted criminals in the United States.

Full Article and Source:
Wanted: John Donald Cody for Theft, Fraud

A Fighting Family

A family fighting over an elder member's will has taken their battle to St. Clair County Circuit Court.

The child and grandchildren of James D. McDaniel argue his other child and grandchildren changed parts of the elder's will and forced McDaniel to make a will while he was not in the right mind capacity to do so.

In their suit, David McDaniel, James McDaniel's son, and grandchildren Jennifer Kay Emery and Melissa Mary McDaniel, also claim that Anita Metzker, James McDaniel's daughter, took $60,000 from his account before his death.

Full Article and Source:
Family feud contestants seek in excess of $60k in damages

The Guardianship of Clara

See also:
Clara's Nightmare

Complicated Adoption

Megan Morgan relinquished her rights to her son, Brett, after he was born. But, after learning his adoptive mother, Angela Vesely, was pregnant, she fought for his return.

In many adoptions it's necessary for the adoptive parents to notify the adoption agency of any "changes in their lives". This includes pregnancy. Some agencies even require couples not to have children under the age of two. In this case the birth mother had also asked that the adoptive parents have no biological children.

After learning Brett's adoptive mother, Angela Vesely was pregnant, the Nebraska Children's Home took back custody of the child.

Morgan family's lawyer P. Stephen Potter: "The consent was based on representations that certain criteria would be made prior to the child being placed for adoption. The criteria weren't met and the Childrens Home took the child back."

For the last 11 months the child has been in the custody of the birth mother's parents while the two sides wrangle it out in court. The child is now in custody of the Nebraska Children's Home. The agency will then give the child back to the Vesely's. The Morgans have already filed motions to get the 14-month-old back.

The Nebraska Supreme Court has recently ruled in favor of the adoptive parents, but the birth family say it's far from over.

Full Article and Source:
Two Families Battle for Custody After Complicated Adoption

EA Unit Files First Charges

A St. Paul man is accused of using his elderly mother’s money to line his own pockets.

Bekis told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS: "Taking advantage of her? No. Caring about her? Yes. And I love my mom."

But the criminal complaint disputes that. It says Bekis became his mother's power of attorney, but never used her money to pay for her nursing home expenses at the Rose of Sharon Manor.

Ramsey County District Attorney Susan Gaertner: "As a result of this investigation, we know the reasons her bills weren't paid, not her fault, but because her son was allegedly stealing the money."

The debt at the home reached more than $49,000. Plus, he took out a reverse mortgage on her home for more than $100,000.

Full Article and Source:
Ramsey County's Elder Abuse Unit files first charges

More information:
Elder Abuse Prosecutors Charge St. Paul Man with Theft by Swindle

Police: St. Paul man swindled ailing mother out of thousands of dollars

Man charged with swindling 83-year-old mom

See also:
Elder Abuse Unit

Friday, January 9, 2009

Group Looking Into Judicial Reforms

The Nevada group looking into judicial reforms is urging the state commission responsible for disciplining judges to be more open and work faster to settle complaints against judges.

A report released by a subcommittee of the Article 6 Commission states that the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission should resolve cases against judges within 18 months. It also recommends that the commission allow people who file complaints against judges to speak openly about the cases.

Under current state law, people who make formal complaints against judges can be punished with contempt if they talk about their complaints.

The proposals, if adopted by the Article 6 Commission, will be sent to the Legislature for possible changes to state law. The Article 6 Commission will hear from the public about the report on Jan. 15 at the Supreme Court's Regional Justice Center courtroom.

Full Article and Source:
Speedier discipline of judges requested

See also:
Article 6 Commission Report

Perrelli in the Justice Department

Barack Obama has named the lawyer who represented Terri Schiavo’s husband Michael in his efforts to kill his disabled wife as the third highest attorney in the Justice Department. Thomas Perrelli, who won an award for representing Schiavo's former husband, had served on Obama's transition team.

The incoming president made Perrelli an associate attorney general and his appointment is generating scorn from pro-life advocates.

Perrelli provided Michael Schiavo with legal advice during his response to the Congressional bill that President Bush signed allowing the Schindler family to take their lawsuit seeking to prevent Terri’s euthanasia death from state to federal courts.

He led the legal team that developed the legal briefs for Michael opposing appeals and he ultimately received the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Pro Bono Award in October 2006 for representing Terri’s former husband at no cost.

Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition: "Obama's appointment of Perrelli is just another death-peddler Obama has added to his list of nominees."

Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council: "Any number of end-of-life issues could involve the Justice Department and having Perrelli involved would be detrimental. If the Justice Department isn't going to do anything about it, the states, what's to stop them from cases like Schiavo and even worse cases."

Full Article and Source:
Obama Makes Lawyer for Terri Schiavo's Husband Third-Ranking Justice Official

More information:
Barack Obama Would Take Back Vote Helping Terri Schiavo Avoid Euthanasia

See also:
Legacy: The Killing Judge

Judge Seals Records

A judge has sealed records in a paternity suit filed by a California man who claims he is the biological son of the late country singer Eddy Arnold.

Probate Judge Randy Kennedy ordered all new filings private.

Forty-eight-year-old Christopher Tanner of Anaheim filed his suit in June, a month after Arnold died at 89.

Arnold's family says Arnold denied fathering Tanner. The family asked the judge to seal records to limit damage to the late singer's reputation.

Judge seals records in Eddy Arnold paternity case

More information:
Judge seals Eddy Arnold paternity suit records - Attorney says star's prestige threatened

Judge seals filings in Eddy Arnold paternity case

Nontestamentary Transfer of Property Act

One legal means of transferring financial accounts at death is to designate a given account as “POD” (“payable on death”) to a named beneficiary. This designation has long been legal in Oklahoma and is recognized by banking entities as a legitimate way of transferring certain types of personal property at death.

Last year the Oklahoma Legislature passed into law House Bill 2639. Entitled the “Nontestamentary Transfer of Property Act,” the legislation basically provides a “POD” type of procedure for real estate.

Found in Title 58 (Probate Procedure) of the Oklahoma Statutes, Section 1252 states as follows: “An interest in real estate may be titled in transfer-on-death form by recording a deed, signed by the record owner of the interest, designating a grantee beneficiary or beneficiaries of the interest. The deed shall transfer ownership of the interest upon the death of the owner. A transfer-on-death deed need not be supported by consideration.”

Further, Section 1252 states that “the signature, consent or agreement of or notice to a grantee beneficiary or beneficiaries of a transfer-on-death deed shall not be required for any purpose during the lifetime of the record owner.”

So, a “transfer-on-death” (hereinafter referred to as TOD) deed does for real estate what a “payable-on-death” designation does for financial accounts. Effective Nov. 1, 2008, the TOD deed allows an adult property owner to file a deed in a county clerk’s office that, unless revoked, would transfer, on the death of the property owner, whatever interest the property owner held in the real estate described in the deed.

Full Article and Source:
New real estate law

See also:
Nontestamentary Transfer of Property Act

A Decade-Long Battle

A Family Court judge had awarded Darryl Davis, biological father, custody of Darryl six years ago.

Hal and Pat Wilcox had wanted to adopt Darryl from the time they took him into their home as foster parents when he was a baby. They still consider him their son.

Darryl, 16, is in the middle, torn between the Philadelphia father he was born to and the Bucks County couple with whom he has bonded. The two homes are less than 30 miles away.

For Darryl, life in limbo began in January 1993 — five months after his birth. His aunt called the city's Department of Human Services and said that Darryl's father had dropped the infant off at her house a week earlier and never returned. She said that Darryl's mother was on drugs and her whereabouts were unknown.

DHS stepped in and placed Darryl in foster care. He spent nearly a year with another foster family before being placed with Pat and Hal Wilcox in 1994.

Last month, Darryl ran away to be with the Wilcoxes, who are again fighting for custody of him in Family Court. They hope to resolve the dispute at a Feb. 4 hearing.

Davis: "He's not with them. I'm the father, They don't seem to understand that I worked hard to get him."

Full Article and Source:
Boy caught in the middle as dad & couple vie for custody

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Guardianship is Like Quicksand

Anyone with assets who becomes vulnerable is apt to lose everything he or she has worked a lifetime to attain, including his or her freedom.

Once trapped in the "system", there's no way out.

It's like quicksand.

Written by a NASGA member

Caregiver Inherits It All

Fletcher Johnson was vacationing last fall when he learned in an email that his stepfather, Warren Cummins, had died at home in Portland on Sept. 24.

The news came from Patricia McIntosh, Cummins’ live-in caregiver. Johnson wrote back that his stepdad’s passing was “sad, even if not unexpected.” Cummins was 91 and relied on McIntosh to provide for his basic needs.

Unbeknownst to Johnson, Cummins signed over his $492,000 West Hills home, plus securities and bank accounts worth up to $400,000, a month before his death. And he rewrote his will, leaving everything else to the same person.

The recipient wasn’t Johnson. Nor was it one of Cummins’ three adopted children. It was McIntosh, who had been his caregiver for just three months.

As Multnomah County investigates allegations of elder abuse in the case, two of Portland’s leading probate attorneys are squaring off in court to decide who should inherit the money Cummins made during his career as an accountant.

While state administrative rules prohibit “using the nurse-client relationship to exploit the client by gaining property or other items,” such cases are notoriously hard to detect and difficult to prove.

As part of Measure 57, which voters approved in November, Oregon launches tough new mandatory sentences this month for people accused of targeting the elderly. But the fight over Cummins’ estate illustrates just how ambiguous and messy such cases can be to sort out.

Full Article and Source:
Estate Of Denial -
Think prosecuting elder abuse will be easy under Newly passed Measure 57? Maybe not.

More information on Measure 57:
The cynical shell game that is Measure 57

Governor proposes slim budget for Measure 57

Oregon Ballot Measure 57 (2008)

Theft at Nursing Homes

AL - Janice Frost Wells, 39, is wanted for second-degree theft in connection with the October theft of a Fentanyl pain patch at Valley View Nursing Home, according to a statement from Madison Police.

Police said Wells has been entering nursing homes and presenting herself as a nurse or Hospice representative and seeking out Hospice patients. Wells has allegedly been removing pain patches from patients at several nursing homes in north Alabama, police said.

Staff at Valley View, Madison Manor Nursing Home and the Alabama Department of Public Health worked with Madison Police to identify Wells, whose last known address was in Trinity.

Anyone with information regarding Wells' whereabouts is asked to call the Madison Police Department at 772-5689 or 722-7190.

Police looking for woman accused of stealing from nursing home patients

Bank Seeks To Collect From The Dead

J.P. Morgan Chase Bank has filed suit against the unknown heirs of a deceased woman, alleging the heirs failed to make payments on a promissory note after her death.

According to the complaint filed in Jefferson County District Court, Azzie Lee McClatchy executed a promissory note with Chase on Nov. 19, 2004, for $20,000 with interest at 6.85 percent. Monthly installments were to begin on Jan. 1, 2005, and to continue until May 1, 2008.

Along with the execution of the note, McClatchy executed a homestead lien contract and deed of trust on the property that conveyed McClatchy's property as the security, according to the complaint.

McClatchy died Jan. 31, 2008. The suit states it appears that no probate proceeding has been opened.

"The total amount of the debt as of the date of this petition consists of $14,705.21, which represents the unpaid principal balance in addition to other charges due and owing."

J.P. Morgan is seeking an order directing the sale of the property or foreclosure on the property.

Full Article and Source:
Bank seeks to collect on note from deceased woman's estate

Elder Abuse Unit

As baby boomers age, Ramsey County anticipates an uptick in crimes against the elderly. So the county attorney's office has created a unit to pursue such cases

The names and the details change, but the heartache remains when a son, daughter or other family member financially exploits, physically abuses or neglects an elderly or otherwise vulnerable relative.

As the population ages, an explosion of such cases is likely, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said in announcing the creation of an elder abuse unit to prosecute crimes against people who are victimized because of their age, vulnerabilities or family relationships.

The elder abuse unit will include two specially trained attorneys to review cases for charges, four trial attorneys and a victim/witness advocate. All will focus on such crimes as physical and sexual abuse, financial exploitation and scams aimed at the elderly.

Full Article and Source:
'Is there anything worse than stealing Grandma's money?'

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

81-Year-Old is Missing

FL - An 81-year-old man who has cognitive difficulties went missing from his home, and deputies are asking for the public's help in finding him.

A court-appointed guardian tried to reach Loui D. Elfrink but couldn't reach him. The guardian visited his home and saw that he and his 2006 silver Lexus were gone.

Tarpon Springs police found the car at a condominium in Tarpon Springs at 1250 S Pinellas Avenue.

Elfrink is described as a white male with gray hair, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds.

Deputies are asking anyone with information to contact Detective Amy Plourde of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Robbery/Homicide Unit at (727) 582-6200, or call Crimestoppers anonymously at 1-800-873-8477 (TIPS).

81-year-old Palm Harbor man is missing

Conservatorship is "Officially Made Permanent"

The conservatorship overseeing Britney Spears' personal and financial affairs was officially made permanent on Monday, January 5, when court papers were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The agreement filed in the court places Britney's finances under the permanent control of her father Jamie Spears and attorney Andrew Wallet, with her personal affairs being placed solely under her father.

Legally, Britney "is substantially unable to manage … her financial resources or to resist fraud or undue influence" and "is unable properly to provide for her personal needs for physical health, food, clothing, or shelter."

Jamie Spears now has the "the power to restrict and limit visitors by any means."

Full Article and Source:
Britney Spears officially placed under a permanent conservatorship

See also:
Conservator Pay Raise

Prisoner People

Permanent Conservatorship

Big Money Conservatorship

No Right To Counsel

Bad News For Britney

Prosecutors Will File to Appoint a Guardian

Prosecutors might drop kidnapping charges against an Ohio woman and her boyfriend accused of forcing her elderly sister from a trash-filled apartment.

Laura Stewart and her boyfriend Earl Cross drove from their suburban Cleveland duplex and wrapped Stewart's 86-year-old sister, Evelyn Poynter, in a duct-taped blanket and drove her to Ohio.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala said other criminal charges probably will stick but the felony charges of kidnapping and conspiracy likely will be dropped.

Zappala: "If they were trying to do the right thing, they did it the wrong way."

Caroline Roberto, the attorney for Cross and Stewart: "It was an inartful rescue attempt but there was no criminal intent. She wasn't taking care of herself. She's not safe there."

Zappala said prosecutors will file a motion in Orphan's Court asking a judge to appoint a guardian for Poynter.

Full Article and Source:
Kidnapping charges may be dropped in 'rescue'

More information:
Pittsburgh district attorney says he might drop kidnapping charges against Shaker couple

See also:
Sister Charged With Kidnapping

Angry Attorneys

York County defense attorneys are reacting with anger to the prospect of not getting paid to represent indigent clients.

The S.C. Commission on Indigent Defense has suspended the payment of legal fees in all noncapital criminal and civil cases, a decision blamed on cuts to the state budget. State money was set to run out, meaning most court-appointed lawyers won't get paid for at least three months.

The commission will meet again to determine whether payments can resume.

Court-appointed lawyers represent poor criminal defendants in cases that can't be handled by public defenders and in a type of appeal known as post-conviction relief. They often are appointed in child abuse and neglect cases in family court.

Full Article and Source:
Halt in pay for indigent work riles S.C. lawyers

Loss in Funding

The director of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus said that lack of money is threatening legal services for the poor in 36 Ohio counties, including Franklin.

With a $1 million loss in funding for the Columbus nonprofit organization during the past year, more staff layoffs are looming.

"It's a grim situation and a big challenge, to have that kind of funding gap in any agency. Most of our costs are personnel, so cutting costs will mean cutting services."

Seven Legal Aid lawyers in Columbus lost their jobs.

Legal-aid lawyers handle such things as landlord-tenant disputes and family-court cases. They advise people who are victims of domestic violence and those facing foreclosure or the loss of benefits from a federal agency, such as Medicaid or Medicare.

Full Article and Source:
Ohio's legal services for poor left destitute themselves by downturn

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Lawsuit Asks - Was He Murdered?

On what would be the final weekend of his life, Tom Carvel drove to his country home in upstate New York, deeply depressed. He’d built a namesake national chain of 850 ice cream shops, developing some of the fast-food and franchising concepts that changed how America eats. His sandpaper-voiced pitches in commercials—“Thinny-Thin for your fatty-fat friends,” he said in one spot—had made Carvel a household name. He golfed with Bob Hope and did a guest turn on Late Night With David Letterman. He had recently sold his chain for $80 million, but he held on to a 100-room motel, 40 properties leased to Carvel franchisees, and a golf course in Dutchess County, New York. At 84, Carvel still was going to work every day.

But there were deepening problems inside his empire. Carvel confided to an associate that he no longer trusted Mildred Arcadipane, his corporate secretary of 38 years, or Robert Davis, his longtime lawyer and close financial adviser. Carvel had come to believe that they were scheming behind his back, maybe stealing from him. After agonizing for months, he arrived at his country home on Saturday determined to march into his office on Monday and fire his lawyer and relieve his secretary—a mercurial woman, according to many who knew her—of her considerable power.

But Carvel never got the chance. He was found dead in his bed that Sunday morning in 1990, the victim, it appeared, of a heart attack. Instead of being dismissed and demoted, Davis and Arcadipane returned to work and began to take command of Carvel’s business and personal finances. The Carvel estate, officially valued at $67 million, spurred what one lawyer calls a “feeding frenzy”; nearly 18 years later, a bitter fight rages on. In most estate battles, family members square off against one another. But the principal fault lines in this case have put Davis, Arcadipane, and the multimillion-dollar charity that Carvel ­left behind on one side, and Carvel’s widow, Agnes, and his niece Pamela Carvel on the other. The Carvels had no children, and Agnes “was frozen out of everything,” Pamela contends. “She was denied millions that Tom wanted her to receive.”

In 2007, after years of digging by private investigators in Pamela’s employ, the case took a bizarre turn. Pamela filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, alleging that Carvel’s death resulted in “fraudsters…controlling all Carvel funds to the exclusion of the Carvels.” She asked that her uncle’s body be exhumed for an autopsy to determine if he was murdered as part of the alleged scheme. The petition concludes with a question: “Will the truth finally be known?” And with that, one of the most contested estate fights in New York history also became a murder mystery.

Full Article and Source:
Cold Case

DCF Closed Case

The cops think of her as "heroin mom": the alleged drug peddler who brought her 7-year-old daughter along on a narcotics deal in West Hartford in December.

The Department of Children and Families was well acquainted with Maribel Marrero and her 23-year history of drug-related child neglect, including the removal of six other children.

Agency case workers had been closely monitoring Marrero until mid July, when the DCF determined she posed a "low risk" and closed the case involving her 7-year-old.

All six of the children born to Marrero between 1985 and 1999 were taken from her because of problems stemming from drug abuse, homelessness and mental health issues.

Guardianship of the first two children was transferred to relatives after hearings at probate court. The next four were removed by DCF case workers. Of those four, two children were taken at birth after testing positive for narcotics, said sources familiar with Marrero's history.

But what of the seventh child? Why was the the mother able to shuttle her daughter around on heroin deals?

Those questions have triggered an investigation by Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein's office into why DCF closed the Marrero case in light of the mother's history.

Full Article and Source:
DCF's Handling Of 'Heroin Mom' Case In West Hartford Is Investigated

Public Guardian Employee Sentenced

A judge sentenced Juanita Browne, a former county Public Guardian employee, to five years probation after a jury convicted her of stealing cash and personal belongings of 10 clients during a two-year period.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Rebecca Riley said Browne, who is also known as Juanita Canley, will serve 270 days in jail and must pay restitution to the victims.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Howard Wise had asked Riley to send Browne to prison for nine years and eight months.

After the sentencing, Wise said he disagrees with the sentence, noting that he spoke at length about why the district attorney felt that prison time was appropriate.

An investigation into the Public Guardian’s Office in 2005 led to the arrest of Browne.

Co-defendant Hiep Quang Le of Ventura, who was accused of bribing Browne to get him jobs cleaning out clients’ homes after they died or were moved to care facilities, pleaded guilty to bribery in 2007 and will be sentenced later.

Also arrested was Esther Torres. She was sentenced to five years and four months in prison.

Public Guardian worker gets jail sentence

See also:
Poor Oversight by Public Guardian

Public Guardian Scandal

Wanted on a Charge of Financial Elder Abuse

CA - Police in California are asking for the public’s help in finding a woman believed to be living in metro Atlanta who is wanted for stealing $300,000 from an elderly woman.

Hazel Whitt Mitchell, 73, is wanted on a charge of financial elder abuse.

Sacramento police Detective Mike Wood: "She is accused of scamming another woman, now 93, out of more than $300,000 between 1994 and 2007."

She was arrested on the same charge earlier this year in the Dallas, Texas, area, but was released from custody for unknown reasons, Wood said.

The scam California police want Mitchell for began in 1994 after the death of the 93-year-old woman’s brother, Wood said.

Mitchell falsely claimed that the dead man owed her money and convinced his sister to pay off the debt over time, Wood said.

The victim made payments to Mitchell on a near-weekly basis until police began investigating in 2007, emptying her own bank account in the process, Wood said.

Anyone with information on Mitchell’s whereabouts is asked to call the Sacramento Area Crime Alert tip line at 800-AA-CRIME.

Elderly woman cheated out of $300,000; suspect sought

Caregiver Suspected of Abuse

CA - A caregiver is suspected of stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly victim.

According to San Diego County Crime Stoppers, Raymond George Wilkins stole $13,000 in cash and Krugerrand gold coins from a 92-year-old victim.

According to police, the 34-year-old Wilkins was living with the victim and acting as a temporary caregiver at the time of the theft.

They say Wilkins is an avid surfer who is known to hang out in Pacific Beach. But investigators also say they think Wilkins purchased a one-way ticket to Oahu, Hawaii.

They describe Wilkins as a while male, 5'9" and weighing 180 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact San Diego County Crime Stoppers. Tips can be anonymous and may can qualify for a reward up to $1,000 if the information leads to an arrest.

Caregiver Suspected of Theft & Elder Abuse

Monday, January 5, 2009


Within days of 4-year-old Jahmaurae Allen's beating death last summer, the leadership of Sacramento County's Child Protective Services laid the blame for the troubled investigation on a single social worker who operated "in isolation."

Her work was described by top CPS management as "shoddy" and "totally inadequate," according to internal e-mails obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

But those documents and recent interviews reveal a broader failure of the county's child protection system that reached into CPS management ranks – before and after the boy's death.

* a supervisor of social worker Adriane Miles did not scrutinize Miles' work as required

* the supervisor did not review any case documentation until the boy was dead – five weeks after the emergency referral

* at least two CPS supervisors went into the boy's case file after his death and altered the records before they were publicly released, a violation of the government code and Child Protective Services' written policy

* the CPS investigation into Jahmaurae's household was so cursory that the agency's top four managers debated by e-mail three days after the child's death how to massage the case file to more closely reflect reality

Ed Howard, senior counsel for the Children's Advocacy Institute: "It sounds as though CPS – instead of taking top-level responsibility for the systemic, stubborn and ongoing failures of its supervisors and leadership – has adopted a policy of trying to throw individual social workers under a bus."

Full Article and Source:
Sacramento County child protection woes extend into management, critics say

See also:
Boy's CPS record altered after death to reflect likely abuse

Critics say Sacramento County child protection managers share blame

Guardian Charged With Unlawful Neglect

The guardian of a toddler who was brought in for treatment of extensive injuries on New Year's Eve has been charged after the child died.

The Greenville County Sheriff's Office has charged Lavonda Maxwell with unlawful neglect of a child which carries a potential sentence of 10 years.

Maxwell was the 29-month-old Samauri Mayes' legal guardian. Mayes had been taken away from her parents in Oct. 2007 because of their addiction to marijuana. The Department of Social Services (DSS) gave legal guardianship to Maxwell -- cousin of the child's parents.

Full Article and Source:
Injured Toddler Dies, Guardian Charged - Social Services Remove 2 Others From Woman's Care

Law Prohibits Judges From Being Sued

A federal appeals court issued a warning to a lawyer that she could face sanctions if she keeps trying to sue local judges.

8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: "We take this opportunity to warn the plaintiffs that future frivolous appeals in this court - including any frivolous petitions for rehearing - will result in the imposition of sanctions."

The opinion affirmed a ruling made by U.S. District Judge T. John Ward concerning a lawsuit filed by attorney Claudene Arrington. The lawsuit named Cass County Judge Donald Dowd; 5th District Judge Ralph Burgess; Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Longview attorney Glenn Perry; local attorney Tommy Johnson; nursing home owner Ann Ellisor; and Lenda Beachum, a relative of one of the men Arrington claims to represent.

Arrington filed the suit when Dees and Perry continued their involvement in the affairs of Billy Ray Johnson even after they litigated and won a $9 million judgment for the mentally handicapped man in a civil lawsuit in April 2007.

During a September hearing before Burgess to address the status of Johnson's guardianship and special-needs trust, Burgess asked Arrington about her position on Johnson's abilities.

"Are you saying a fraud has been committed on this court?" Burgess asked when faced with the proposition that Perry and Dees and the medical experts had made false statements during the civil trial.

Ward dismissed Burgess and Dowd from Arrington's federal lawsuit citing laws that prohibit judges from being sued when working in their official capacities.

Full Article and Source:
Court warns lawyer about frivolous suits

See also:
SPLC Seeks Damages for Injured Man

Linden, Texas: Trust set up for Billy Ray Johnson

Suit filed over which attorney works for beaten man

Swindled and No Real Oversight

January 27, 2008 - Shannon Pitcher went from the obscurity of handling mostly guardianships and conservatorships to the headlines starting in late 2006. Legal guardians and conservators are appointed by Genesee County Probate Court to make routine, day-to-day decisions for those who usually are unable to care for themselves. It's little known and nondescript legal work.

But in Pitcher's case, investigators uncovered a series of incidences in which they alleged the attorney broke her clients' trust by stealing from their accounts.

Her case became more notorious when police found almost $100,000 in cash buried in the yards of two friends and described her wildly cluttered office and disorganized accounting for her clients' money.

Full Article and Source:
Imprisoned lawyer faces up to embezzling conviction

Shannon Pitcher lost her right to practice law when she pleaded guilty to embezzlement, but the Flint lawyer might not have seen the last of the courtroom.

A Michigan state police detective says he will turn over another case involving Pitcher and missing funds to the Lapeer County prosecutor's office, which could file additional criminal charges.

Full Article and Source:
Police question lawyer in prison, more charges possible

Tonya Field and her son, Robert, were forced to rely on area soup kitchens for food and lived in a cold home because they say their guardian stole money from them intended to be used for their well-being.

This is not the first time Pitcher, 36, has been accused of stealing from vulnerable adults she was supposed to protect. She is currently imprisoned in the Robert Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth Township. The attorney was sentenced in November to spend 23 months to 10 years in prison for mishandling the accounts of adults in Genesee County. Officials there determined that Pitcher stole $288,137.

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Authorities say she stole money from vulnerable clients who the court appointed to be their guardian or a conservator.
Investigators say over the last five years, Pitcher stole nearly $500,000 from different clients. Much of the money is unaccounted for, and Pitcher buried it in different back yards.

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Shannon Pitcher charged with 4 counts of embezzlement

Michigan's Judicary has little to no real oversight over its members. With a quarreling Supreme Court, a dysfunctional Judicial Tenure Commission, and a defunct Attorney Grievance Commission, it looks like the system can't be trusted to police itself.

Grievances stacked up unheeded
So many people have complained about attorney Shannon H. Pitcher's erratic behavior, she could have had her own mailbox at Michigan's Attorney Grievance Commission.

But the agency that polices Michigan lawyers never stopped Pitcher from practicing law, In fact, it has never even publicly reprimanded her despite warnings from citizens, police, a prosecutor and at least one judge.

Despite a history of unsatisfied clients and a mountain of personal legal problems, Pitcher still has an unblemished record with the commission two months after her arrest on charges she stole from the clients she was appointed to protect.

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Michigan's Judiciary Has Little to No Real Oversight

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Linda suspected for a while that her father was a victim of financial elder abuse. Unfortunately, she couldn't get her father to see what was going on. Like so many parents who are victims of financial abuse at the hands of a child, Linda's father did not want to believe his daughter, Linda's sister, could treat him so poorly. But she did, and now he is not even allowed in his own home.

"My dad told us that he had 2 people on the conservatorship so that no one person would have control. Then, after mom died, I was told I was off the conservatorship. I asked him about it, but he can't remember if that's true."

Linda says that there are a full 2 weeks that her father does not remember. He went from being completely fine one day to being unable to walk, unable to speak and unable to remember what had happened.

Nurses came to evaluate Linda's father and determined that he needed 24-hour care. Linda's sister said she didn't have time for that, so he was sent to a nursing home to live.

"This is just devastating. It [financial elder abuse] is out there, but it's hushed. It's despicable that a child could do this to a parent. She can't get her act together, so she abuses him. He wants to be home. He doesn't want to live like this."

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Financial Elder Abuse "Despicable"

Video Conference

An elderly St. Louis woman who was hospitalized with dementia always begged her doctor not to make her go to court.

"I hope I don't get the death penalty," she would say every three weeks as paramedics strapped her to a gurney and drove her in an ambulance to the St. Louis Circuit Court.

State law required her to attend a hearing every 21 days because she was involuntarily committed to Barnes-Jewish Hospital's mental ward. The trip scared her every time.

Now the trip is unnecessary, thanks to a new video conference system in the St. Louis Circuit Court. Patients and doctors can appear by closed-circuit television without leaving the hospital.

Installed last spring, it has been hailed by the Missouri Supreme Court and is beginning to be copied by other Missouri circuit courts.

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St. Louis civil commitment process eased by video link to court

Conservatorship Services

A concise and complete summary of how guardianship services for adults is managed in Tennessee will be presented in "Conservatorship Services In Tennessee" during the Senior Moments at American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) program at 10 a.m. Jan. 6 in the auditorium in Oak Ridge.

"Conservatorship Services in Tennessee" will be presented by Carol Silvey for seniors 60 years and up who receive free AMSE admission on Tuesdays to participate.

Participants attending the workshop will get an overview of the statues governing conservatorship. A definition of terms used in this legal process and who the statutes were mandated to protect will be addressed. Discussion of typical scenarios that often lead to the need for conservatorships will be explored. Find out how the powers of attorney and durable powers of attorney differ from conservatorship. Get to know the range of rights that can be placed in the hands of a substitute decision maker. There will be discussion of "best interest" versus "wishes of the individual" to conclude the session.

The final program for Senior Moments at AMSE will be the Health Resource Fair 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 13. For information on AMSE programs, events, exhibits and activities, go online to

AMSE hosts seminar on conservatorship

Case Ends After 15 Years

After 15 years, the landmark child welfare case that brought extensive reform and oversight to the Utah foster care system has finally ended. The California-based National Center for Youth Law and the state jointly asked the federal courts Tuesday to dismiss the case.

But exactly what happened to the child plaintiffs -- including the child known as David C. who was abused in foster care -- is unclear as lawyers struggle to locate them. All of them have left state custody and are now adults.

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Foster care lawsuit ends after 15 years