Saturday, February 14, 2009

Conservator Could Be Out of Business

Melodie Scott, a prominent Inland conservator, could be going out of business after a state board refused to grant her a license last year.

That means Scott, unless she wins an appeal hearing expected in March, will continue to surrender her clients to other conservators or family members who assume responsibility.

Scott is the owner of Conservatorship & Resources for the Elderly Inc. in downtown Redlands.

She once oversaw the care of nearly 100 people in San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties.

On Aug. 7, the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau, a Department of Consumer Affairs panel that licenses professional conservators, denied Scott the license she needs to be a professional financial caretaker.

According to the panel's statement of issues, Scott's application was denied after she knowingly made a false statement on March 31.

The document said Scott falsely stated that "she has never settled or resigned from a case in which she was a fiduciary and a complaint had been filed against her in court."

That case referred to a 2006 lawsuit involving Helen Jones, a Yucaipa woman who sought to remove Scott as her conservator. On March 30, 2006, Superior Court Judge Frank Gafkowski accepted Scott's resignation as Jones' conservator five days before a trial was set to begin.

Full Article and Source:
Prominent Inland conservator to halt work

More information on Scott:

"I could be a shoe salesman at a five-and-dime store yesterday and a professional conservator or guardian today" says Melodie Scott, a Redlands, California, conservator who has been certified by the National Guardianship Foundation, the certification arm of the National Guardianship Association.
Stolen Lives

After a 2-year struggle, a Yucaipa woman is granted removal of a conservator who took control of her finances without her knowledge.
This Widow Wins a Needed Break

Beth claims that conservator Melodie Scott did not properly fulfill her fiduciary duties as her mother’s conservator. She is accusing Scott of nearly dissolving her mother’s savings, worth $239,000, within the first four years of managing Elizabeth Fairbanks’s estate, was faulty in her bookkeeping, and withheld medical care from Elizabeth when she fell out of bed in 2005 and when she died from pneumonia last year.
California Woman Claims Her Late Mother’s Conservator Withheld Medical Care And Kept Faulty Books

The conservator by the name of Melodie Scott is in control of MY grandparents estate currently...people like her need some harsh punishment, I tell you!
Neglect, Isolation and Plundering

Melodie Scott is registered with the National Guardianship Association

Kickback Scheme Judges Sued

A lawsuit has been filed against two Pennsylvania judges accused of taking more than $2 million in kickbacks to send youth offenders to privately run detention centers.

The suit names Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan and 14 other defendants. It was filed in federal court late Thursday on behalf of hundreds of children and their families who were alleged victims of the corruption.

Attorney Michael Cefalo: "At the hands of two grossly corrupt judges and several conspirators, hundreds of Pennsylvania children, their families and loved ones, were victimized and their civil rights violated."

Full Article and Source:
Families sue Pa. judges in kickback scheme

See also:
Web Page For Victims

Tracking Devices

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell teamed up with the Elder Abuse and Prevention Program in Flint to keep vulnerable senior citizens from wondering away from home.

50 GPS devices, weighing less than two and a half ounces were purchased with $9,000 in federal grants. The goal is prevention; caring for seniors who cannot manage on their own.

The GPS tracking devices clip to an elderly person’s clothing. Charge them for six hours, and they last at least five days on that power. Family members or care givers can go to a website that maps a person’s precise location. Police and paramedics can tap into the system if help is needed.

Pickell : “We’re going to monitor this 24/7. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for our Alzheimer’s and Dementia people.”

Full Article and Source:
GPS used to track senior citizens

More information:
Genesee County sheriff has new tracking system

Wanted For Assault

CA - Police are asking for the public's help in finding a man who they say smacked an elderly hospital volunteer in the face earlier this week.

The crime, which police have listed as elder abuse and said was unprovoked, took place at 10:15 a.m. Saturday in the lobby at Tri-City Medical Center, said Oceanside police Sgt. Kelan Poorman.

The 67-year-old victim ---- one of the hospital's many "pink ladies," as the female volunteers are called ---- was pushing two wheelchairs when the man approached.

She told the man to go around because she was moving slowly, Poorman said. The suspect then struck her in the face, knocking the woman's head back, the sergeant said. She suffered minor injuries.

The suspect is described by police as black, between 20 and 30 years old, about 6 feet tall and weighing approximately 185 to 205 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

Poorman said a surveillance video at the hospital captured the incident. He added that the man was in the hospital for less than a minute and fled through the east doors after the assault.

Poorman said the suspect faces a misdemeanor elder abuse charge, punishable by up to a year in jail.

If anyone has information or knows the identity of the suspect, they are asked to call the Oceanside Police Department at (760) 435-4522. Ask to speak with Investigative Assistant Kate Cronin.

OCEANSIDE: Police ask for help in assault on elderly hospital volunteer

Friday, February 13, 2009

Web Page For Victims

As a service to the public, and in compliance with legal obligations, the United States Attorney’s Office is providing a web page as a means for members of the public who believe they have been victimized by alleged public corruption in Luzerne County to remain fully informed of the status of pending prosecutions.

The web page will be updated as court events are scheduled in this matter.

1. United States of America v. Mark Ciavarella, Jr. and Michael Conahan;
Middle District of Pennsylvania Docket Number 3:CR-09-00028
- Link to Criminal Information
- Link to U.S. v. Mark Ciavarella, Jr. Plea Agreement
- Link to U.S. v. Michael Conahan Plea Agreement

2. United States v. William T. Sharkey, Sr.
Middle District of Pennsylvania Docket Number 3:CR-09-00035
- Link to Criminal Information
- Link to Plea Agreement

If you believe that you were a victim of an offense being prosecuted as part of the Luzerne County corruption prosecutions, and if you want to learn more about your rights as a victim, please contact us in writing at the following address:
United States Attorney’s Office,
Middle District of Pennsylvania,
Attention: Laurie Reiley,
P.O. Box 11754, Harrisburg, PA 17108.

Please include details that explain why you feel you are a victim in this case.

Web Page and Source:

See also:
Request to Review Cases

Alleged Public Corruption

Hospice Care Under Medicaid

The New Hampshire State Senate has voted to support a bill to study the potential cost benefits of offering hospice care to Medicaid patients.

Sen. Peggy Gilmour who's sponsoring the bill, says only New Hampshire and Oklahoma do not offer hospice care under Medicaid.

The bill has the support of the American Cancer Society and many health care providers around the state. It now heads to the House.

Full Article and Source:
NH Senate supports study of hospice care

More information:
Hollis senator wants end-of-life care to be included under Medicaid

Man Rightly Kept Alive

A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled against the parents of a severely retarded man who sought to take him off a ventilator after he developed complications from choking on a hairpin.

The state Superior Court said a guardian needs to prove that death is in the legally incompetent person's best interests before the guardian can decline life-preserving medical treatment.

Judge Cheryl Lynn Allen: "In the context of this case, where an incompetent person suffers a medical condition, and recovery appears imminent and the pain is minimal, the ethical integrity of the medical community certainly mandates treatment and the state's interest in preserving life is considerable."

Full Article and Source:
Court: Man rightly kept alive after accident

Call For Election Reform

The chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, in a passionate plea for reform, asked the Legislature to abolish the state's 133-year tradition of partisan judicial elections, saying the influence of politics and money has destroyed public confidence in justice.

In his biennial State of the Judiciary speech to a joint session of the Legislature, Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson also asked lawmakers to create a commission to examine wrongful convictions.

Jefferson reserved the bulk of his speech for what he called "the corrosive influence of money" in judicial elections. Polls show that more than 80 percent of Texans believe campaign contributions influence courtroom events.

Jefferson: "That's an alarming figure — four out of five. If the public believes that judges are biased toward contributors, then confidence in the courts will suffer."

The chief justice advocated a merit selection system, with appointed judges running for re-election without opposition and without party identification. These "retention elections" let voters choose between keeping the judge in office or not.

Full Article and Source:
Chief justice seeks to abolish judicial elections

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Required Reports Not Provided

Obtaining regular reports from Steven T. Rondos, the Brooklyn attorney accused of fleecing guardianship accounts of $4 million, was like "pulling teeth," said one of the court-appointed examiners charged with monitoring Rondos' performance.

Albert E. Spencer, a Manhattan attorney, inherited two cases from prior court examiners in early 2006. He said that Rondos had not provided the required reports for 2004, 2005 and 2006.

After Rondos' indictment last month, the Office of Court Administration acknowledged that court examiners who monitored Rondos' accounts should have detected sooner at least some of the alleged thefts that occurred between 2001 and 2008.

At least 16 examiners had signed off on the accounts that gave rise to the investigation of Rondos.

Full Article and Source:
Indicted Guardian Always Had Excuses for Filing Late, Examiners Say

See also:
Rondos Pleads Not Guilty

Big-Shot Guardianship Attorney

"Inherent Flaws" in the System

County Plans to Appeal

A legal battle that began more than a decade ago may now be headed to the Supreme Court. Following a lengthy executive session with their attorney Charles Kimbrough, Kaufman County commissioners on Feb. 2 voted to appeal a recent decision by the Court of Appeals Fifth District of Texas concerning a lawsuit filed against the county by Kaufman attorney Jo Ann Combs.

On Dec. 30, 2008, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas reversed a decision reached June 2007 by visiting judge John Robert Adamson in the 86th District Court that dismissed a civil suit filed by Combs seeking financial reimbursement for services rendered as a court-appointed legal guardian for Wallace A. Darst, brother-in-law to former Kaufman County Judge Maxine Darst. The appellate court remanded the case for trial on its merits.

On June 24, 1994, Joseph Darst, one of Wallace Darst’s sons, filed for guardianship of his father, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, according to court documents. On July 5, 1994, Darst’s other son and daughter filed to deny the material allegations in the application and to specifically contest their brother’s qualifications as a guardian.

The presiding judge of the county court at the time was Maxine Darst, who recused herself from the case. Attorneys then verbally agreed to let Judge Glen Ashworth, who at the time was serving in the 86th District Court, preside over the case. Ashworth appointed Combs as guardian of Wallace Darst’s estate as well as his ad-litem. Eight years later, Combs billed the county for services in the case.

And that’s where the dispute began.

In 2002, after a contested hearing on Combs’ fee application, Ashworth awarded Combs $143,168.95 for fees and expenses provided and incurred in the performance of her duties as Darst’s guardian.

After failing to receive those fees, in 2006, Combs filed a lawsuit to recover the amount Ashworth ordered in 2002.

In his visiting judge capacity, Adamson, though, dismissed the case in 2007 as the county’s attorneys successfully argued that the 86th District Court never acquired jurisdiction of the case and as a result Ashworth’s judgment concerning the fees was “void and unenforceable.”

Combs then appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeals.

In rendering its opinion, Justice Martin Richter of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals pointed to the fact that no parties involved disputed moving the case to the 86th District Court in 1994.

Richter: “…no one objected to Judge Ashworth’s appointment and, during the eight years the [guardianship] was open, no one objected to his subject matter jurisdiction."

Full Article and Source:
County plans to appeal decision on civil suit

Grandparents Passed Over


Record Number of Complaints

The state's family and children's ombudsman says its office has responded to a record number of complaints about the state Department of Social and Health Services.

In a 102-page report, Mary Meinig, director of the Office of Family and Children's Ombudsman, said there were a "higher percentage of agency violations in 2008 than in any previous year."

The ombudsman office, created in 1996, is the agency that investigates concerns about DSHS.

The office received more than 1,200 complaints in 2007 and 2008. About one-third of the investigations over the two years resulted in an "adverse finding" in which the agency violated a law, policy or procedure or acted unreasonably. In some cases, no violations were found, but "harm to the child or family had occurred as a result of poor practice."

Full Article and Source:
Record number of complaints about state's handling of kids

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

20-Year-Old Cold Case

Marvin L. Maple has been served a warrant for kidnapping of his two grandchildren and is being held on $1 million bond.

The warrant charges that Maple unlawfully and feloniously took a child under the age of sixteen years old with intent to detain or conceal such child from its guardian.

According to information in a sworn statement provided to then Judge James W. Buckner of General Sessions Court in 1989, temporary custody had been awarded to Mr. and Mrs. Marvin L. Maple on May 5, 1988, pending investigation by the Department of Human Services.

The investigation has been conducted and a final hearing in this matter has been set before the Court, March 29, 1989,” read the statement from Karen Hornsby, who was the guardian ad Litem for the children in 1989.

“On Friday, March 10, 1989, (Hornsby).... found that Mr. and Mrs. Marvin L. Maple had placed their home for sale and left the state with the children. Affiant (Hornsby) who has a great concern for the children’s safety is hereby charging Mr. Marvin L. Maple and Sandra K. Maple with the kidnapping of the two children.

Goodwin and Det. Lt. Bill Sharp who have been investigating the 20-year-old cold case, and got a tip that Marvin Maple was in the San Jose, California area.

Full Article and Source:
Affidavit of complaint details 1989 background; states charges against the Maples

More information:
Maple visits with family while awaiting court appearance

No reunion yet for parents, children in 20-year-old kidnapping case

20-year-old missing children case solved

Extradition waived in 20-year-old kidnap case

Authorities never gave up on search - Kids taken from parents 20 years ago

Missing kids' discovery gives hope to other families

Bank Pressure

Man Claims Bank Of America Tried To Pressure Him To Pay His Dead Mother's Debts

When Paul Kelleher's 52-year old mother died of cancer at the end of January, she left no estate. As a courtesy, Kelleher said he called her creditors, including Bank of America, where her debt was about $1,000.

After getting an expression of condolence, Kelleher said the bank representative asked him how he planned to take care of his mother's balance. He told her he wasn't obligated to pay the debt, and added the bank should follow the necessary probate procedures.

Kelleher: "She told me that if it were her mom she would pay for it. And then she added insult to injury, and said that this is why we're in the financial crisis that we're in, that banks were having to write off defaulted loans."

Full Article and Source:
Grieving Son Takes On Banking Giant

More information:
Man, bank in flap over dead mom’s debt

Rise in Elder Abuse

Physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse incidents involving elders in Massachusetts are on the rise partly due to the difficult times residents face.

Dale Mitchell, executive director of Ethos, a nonprofit agency based in Boston, explained that the bulk of cases they have witnessed are linked to overload. As residents lose their jobs, witness their investments shrinks and suffer from foreclosed homes, they often take out on senior citizens who live with them the stress these situations have created.

To make matters worse, programs that help families deal with crises similar to what they are going through such as home care and stress management for caregivers in the family are going through budget reductions.

Full Article and Source:
Massachusetts Reports Rise In Elder Abuse

Nursing Home Incident

A 90 year old hospice resident at the Spring Hills nursing home fell out of his bed at around 3:30 in the morning and police say it was nearly two hours before a staff member at the facility found him.

When we [Fox] visited the nursing home to find out why the man wasn't discovered right away, the facility's executive director, Charlie Goucher, met us at the door but she only said the resident is fine before telling us to leave.

Later a spokesperson for the nursing home said the facility's policy is to check on residents every two hours but Jill Frederiksen said a staff member found the 90 year old within an hour and a half.

This latest incident isn't the first time the first time the nursing home has been investigated for neglect. Three years ago an 89 year old woman had to call 911 when she fell out of bed and couldn't get anyone to help.

The nursing home was named The Gables back in 2005 when Lake Mary Police responded to help the woman but couldn't get anyone to let them in and then found two workers asleep. A lengthy investigation that followed resulted in the arrest of two workers for neglect. The owners were also told to make changes or shut down.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing home under investigation

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clara's Will

See also:
The Guardianship of Clara

Clara's Nightmare

"Kind Care"

State inspectors have shut down a building that housed mentally retarded men brought from Texas to work at West Liberty Foods.

It was reported that the state investigation focuses on Henry’s Turkey Service, the Texas-based company that has employed dozens of mentally retarded men to work in the meat-processing plant since the 1970s.

In a statement, Gov. Chet Culver called the situation “appalling’’ and the conditions “deplorable,’’ and said he is directing Iowa Workforce Development, the state labor agency, to investigate possible labor law violations.

Most of the 21 men who were ordered from the building are in their 50s and 60s. The plant acted as the men’s employer, landlord and caregiver. For instance, Keith Brown, 57, has lived at the bunkhouse since 1979. Payroll records obtained by the Des Moines Register show that in January, Henry’s Turkey Service took $487 from his earnings to pay for his room and board, then deducted another $572 for “kind care.’’

In addition, Culver said the Department of Elder Affairs will help with guardian issues and the Department of Human Services, along with the Attorney General’s office, will assess the men’s needs and “assure that their rights are fully protected.’’

Full Article and Source:
'An embarrassment to Iowa'

More information:
State probes West Liberty plant that employed mentally retarded

Gov. Culver: Statement on Henry's Turkey Service residence

Caregiver Sentenced to 20 Years

A judge sentenced Hyacinth Poouahi, the former caregiver for a pre-teen girl whose injuries while with Poouahi left her with rotting flesh and maimed for life, to 20 years in prison.

The injuries left the now 14-year-old girl deaf, blind in one eye and unable to form words well because of severe damage to her upper lip.

When Big Island paramedics responded to a 911 call on Feb. 7, 2005, they found an unconscious 10-year-old girl with much of her upper lip missing, objects that looked like maggots in a wound on her head, and the stink of rotting flesh fouling the air.

Following a plea agreement, Circuit Judge Glen Hara sentenced Poouahi to 20 years in prison for endangering the welfare of a minor, assault, unlawful imprisonment and terroristic threatening, plus $853,000 in restitution.

By entering agreement, Poouahi avoided trial on a charge of attempted murder.

Full Article and Source:
A Big Isle woman gets 20 years for her role in a child subjected to disfigurement

POA Can Lead to Abuse

Across the country -- and notably in Western Pennsylvania, where the number of vulnerable elderly has compounded the problem -- a simple legal document called a power of attorney is disrupting the ever-lengthening lives it was supposed to benefit.

A durable power of attorney, known less formally as a POA, allows people too busy, too old, too ill or too far away to designate an agent to take care of financial and property transactions. The POA may authorize an agent to pay bills, change documents, write checks, enter into contracts or buy and sell their house. The purpose is to help people unable to attend to their own affairs.

In most cases, it works. When it goes wrong, lives can be ruined, families torn apart and, wealth and savings lost in a mist of legal wrangling and dubious transactions.

Full Article and Source:
Courting Trouble: The document granting 'power of attorney' often leads to abuse

Monday, February 9, 2009

UK Study on Elder Abuse

After surveying 220 adults in the United Kingdom who were tending to relatives with dementia, British researchers recently concluded that elder abuse should be viewed as a “spectrum of behaviors rather than an all-or-nothing phenomenon.” Among other things, their findings expose an old myth — that abuse of elders happens at the hands of paid caregivers, rarely family members.

Led by Dr. Claudia Cooper, a psychiatrist at University College London, the researchers asked caregivers how often in the past three months they had acted in various psychologically and physically abusive ways toward the care recipient. The scientists relied on a common definition of elder abuse used in both the U.K. and in the United States: harming an older person psychologically, financially, physically or by neglect.

More than half of the family caregivers reported having engaged in some abusive behavior — including screaming, insulting or cursing — directed at the person in their care, the researchers found. More than a quarter of the respondents had “at least sometimes” screamed or yelled at their cognitively impaired relatives, and just shy of 20 percent said they had used a harsh tone, or had insulted or sworn at their charges.

Less common, but not unheard of, were instances in which caregivers threatened impaired relatives with nursing home placement or abandonment, or hit or shook them. Some 1.4 percent admitted that they had engaged in significant physical abuse.

The British government has been reviewing current policy for safeguarding vulnerable adults, and both the existing policy and the review have been focused entirely on preventing abuse by paid caregivers. Dr. Gill Livingston, a professor psychiatry at University College London and a co-author of the study, said that any strategy for protecting this helpless group “must be directed toward families who provide the majority of care for older people, rather than exclusively at paid caregivers.”

Full Article and Source:
Elder Abuse: All in the Family?

Marshall Begins Trial

Advocates for the elderly are closely watching the court case over philanthropist Brooke Astor’s estate set to open.

Astor’s son Anthony Marshall and his lawyer, Francis Morrissey, begin trial for allegedly trying to plunder her $200 million estate while she suffered from dementia. Expected to expose rifts within the iconic New York family, others hope the case will shed light on the little-known problem of elder abuse.

The case provides “an opportunity to say who is the face of the elder abuse,” noted Joy Solomon, director of the Weinberg Center, an elder abuse shelter in the Bronx. “Often it’s not someone walking into a police station with a black eye. Sometimes it’s after the bruise is gone. Sometimes it’s financial abuse.”

Full Article and Source:
Elder abuse has its trial - Advocates for elderly say Astor case sheds light on hidden problem

See also:

Rell's Surprise

Nobody knew that Gov. Rell was actually paying attention to the behavior of this rogue judiciary that has been doing as it pleases for the past 300 years. It appeared she was behind the plan recently proposed by the judges to study consolidation of the courts, for the zillionth time.

That is until she told the entire state that the problem isn't merely an outdated, nearly bankrupt and oversized court system that pays full-time salaries for part-time work.

The issue is how vulnerable people are treated. Recall the probate horror stories of Daniel Gross, Marilyn Plank and Margot Claus, who were stripped of their freedom and placed in nursing facilities in probate court-sanctioned kidnappings.

Rell: "It's long since time that bereaved families not add to their anguish by fighting an outdated and sometimes irresponsible probate system. Our system is antiquated and broken. I am proposing an overhaul that will reduce the number of courts, improve services and increase the hours of operation."

Paul Knierim: "The proposal came as a surprise."

John H. Langbein, Yale Law School professor: "Connecticut is widely regarded among known experts in these areas as the worst probate system in America. The core failings include the wasteful size, judges without legal training, the perverse incentives of the court's fee system, which rewards do-nothing court hearings, and self-serving judges who fight reform."

Rep. Bob Godfrey: "Some of my colleagues are going to try to protect their judges. The phone calls have already started."

Rell's bold move represents a devastating blow, eliminating 81 of the system's 117 judges. The last person to suggest an idea like this, former probate administrator James Lawlor, was gracelessly sacked.

Full Article and Source:
Rell Makes Strong Move Against Probate

See also:
Massive Overhaul

Rick Green's column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.

One Star Nursing Home

The lobby smelled of urine. In one room, they found a 97-year-old woman, lying in her own waste. She had severe bruises on her arm, foot and both legs that the staff could not immediately explain. Another resident had a bed sore larger than a golf ball and dripping blood.

This was life in one of Illinois' "one-star" nursing homes.

These health violations—and two dozen more—were documented last year on a single inspection of the Berwyn Rehabilitation Center, contributing to its dubious distinction as one of the area's worst nursing homes.

The federal government is now rating nursing facilities on a 1 to 5 star system. Although conditions at one-star homes are startling, what is perhaps more alarming is their prevalence: About a quarter of U.S. nursing homes, including 81 in the six-county Chicago area, received one star.

A government Web site began posting ratings on these homes in December. Nursing home operators and even some patient advocates have criticized the rankings as superficial and perhaps misleading. And the detailed information behind those ratings is not readily available to the public.

But the Tribune obtained the most recent inspection reports for the area's lowest-rated homes through a Freedom of Information Act request. The conditions described are grim and, at times, deadly—as the Berwyn facility demonstrates.

Full Article and Source:
Misery: Inside a 1-star nursing home

See also:
Nursing Home Ratings

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Grand Theft Charges

Using money she was supposed to safeguard for clients and fees for legal services she never provided, authorities say attorney Jessica Miller and her paralegal went shopping at places like Victoria's Secret and Macy's.

They bought Tampa Bay Rays baseball tickets, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office says, and used the money to fund vacations for the law firm's employees and their families.

Now Miller, who has already lost her firm and her law license, is in jail charged with four felony counts of stealing money. Her former paralegal, Kristen Collins, faces the same charges.

Previously, Miller was handcuffed and led away in open court in August 2007 after a judge found her in contempt for missing three months of guardianship hearings. Miller paid $1,000 and got out of jail after two hours.

Full Article and Source:
Disbarred Port Richey attorney jailed on grand theft charges

More information:
Missing money lands troubled lawyer Jessica Miller back in Pasco jail

Former Port Richey Attorney Arrested On Theft Charges

Report Says CPS Failed

For weeks, a local father begged Child Protective Services to protect his young son from suspected abuse. Three-year-old Michael Kekoa Ravenell died after his mother's boyfriend allegedly choked and beat him.

A blistering new report by the Department of Health and Human Services criticizes CPS for its handling of the case, and warns that the problems with this case may be statewide.

CPS spokesman Thomas Shapley: "Policy wasn't followed, procedure wasn't followed, and that the supervision wasn't adequate to make sure that policy was followed."

The CPS social worker never checked Thomas' background. He had a prior conviction for abusing his own children who were 2 and 4 years old.

The social worker never had a doctor examine the boy even though his father had informed her about the bruises.

The report also questions the then-new social worker's training and supervision, and adds the problems may be statewide.

The report states the current training programs for new employees "are not sufficient to teach and train new employees who have no direct experience or knowledge of child welfare."

Full Article and Source:
Report: CPS failed in abuse case

Wanted for Scamming Elderly Couple

FL - A couple who wanted to build a cabin in Colorado so they could be closer to their children in retirement have been scammed.

That's according to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, who has investigated an unlicensed contractor's plan to take over $17,000 from the couple.

Detectives say the couple, ages 75 and 77, gave Jacob J. Winters, 24, a deposit for the construction of their cabin, and they bought a cabin kit for Winters.

They have since learned that Winters has no contractor's license and has not done any work.

Their efforts to get hold of him so they could get their deposit back have been fruitless, so they contacted police.

Winters is wanted for grand larceny and exploitation of the elderly.

If you know anything that could help detectives find Winters, call Gainesville Crime Stoppers at 352-372-STOP(7867). You will remain anonymous and could receive a cash reward.

Man Wanted for Scamming Elderly Couple

More information:
Officers looking for man who scammed couple

14-Year-Old Property Battle

More than 14 years after Edna Jane Favreau says she got shortchanged in a divorce settlement from a now-dead ex-husband whom she said tried to kill her, Favreau won't quit fighting for what she says is hers.

Short on funds and with no legal aid group willing to take up her case, she's been through federal court and even appealed to the Florida Supreme Court for not being heard in the probate case of her ex-husband.

Favreau made up to $75,000 a year and had property. Now, about all she has left is what she says is her share of the 910-square-foot house, with a property-appraiser value of $71,000. She says she's entitled to more than half of what the property might fetch, because she was a spousal-abuse victim.

When the husband petitioned for divorce from Edna, which she says she granted, the assets were to be divided in half. But Edna says she was tricked into believing the assets, which were tied up in rental properties, would be divided. "They were never disbursed."

Walter remarried after their divorce, and Edna says her share was co-mingled into the new marriage. Some of the houses they owned were sold. When Walter died in Edgewater in 2003 at the age of 67, he left just about everything to his third wife, Anna May Favreau.

When Walter's widow went to probate court, Edna jumped into that case, claiming she had a lien worth $139,000 for her share of the estate.

Circuit Judge C. McFerrin Smith considered but didn't recognize her liens and closed the case in 2007. Filing thousands of self-typed pages, Edna appealed, to no avail, up the chain to U.S. District Court, claiming she'd been victimized.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-wife won't give up on 14-year-old property battle

Bogus Walmart Survey

North Shore Elder Services in Danvers has issued a warning about a bogus survey that purports to come from Wal-Mart. The National Center on Elder Abuse Forum checked with Wal-Mart to verify whether the survey was real or not.

Ashley Hardie at Wal-Mart’s Corporate Offices stated:
“Wal-Mart does not participate in this type of promotion and has no affiliation with the group putting on the survey. If you receive a survey, please contact your local authorities as well as the Federal Trade Commission.”

If you get an e-mail or are otherwise approached about a survey from Wal-Mart, the elder service agencies advise that you report it to the police and the Federal Trade Commission.

Beware: Wal-Mart is not conducting a survey