Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grandmother Seeking Guardianship

Renee Pernice’s mother is seeking guardianship of the missing woman’s two children.

In a court filing, Linda Lockwood said the father of her grandchildren, Shon Pernice, was unfit to be a parent and unable to care for the children.

Lockwood and her husband, Douglas Lockwood, made the filing this month in Clay County Circuit Court. She noted in the petition that her daughter has been missing since early January and that the Clay County prosecutor has said there is substantial evidence that she is dead.

Lockwood said that she and other relatives felt they had to act after Clay County authorities charged Pernice with felony theft for allegedly stealing a neighbor’s handgun.

The petition also contends that Shon Pernice left the boys, ages 9 and 6, alone at their Northland home at least once, brandished a gun in front of the children, and tried to withdraw money from accounts in his wife’s name alone that were set up for the children.

Investigators have said Shon Pernice is a person of interest in his wife’s disappearance. He has not been arrested or charged.

Full Article and Source:
Mother of missing woman seeks guardianship of her two children

More information:
Renee Pernice's Mom Seeks Custody Of Kids

Renee Pernice's Parents Call Husband 'Unfit' Father

Ruling in Lokuta's Favor

The state Supreme Court made a couple of rulings in favor of former Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta.

It stayed the Court of Judicial Discipline ruling that bounced her off the bench, and directed that it re-examine her case. She had been tried after numerous complaints about her conduct in and out of the courtroom.

Lokuta says some testimony against her was part of a plan by former judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan to get rid of her because of some of the things she exposed. Ciavarella and Conanhan admitted they took kickback money relative to a juvenile detention center and are awaiting sentencing.

The high court also ruled that her empty seat should be removed from the ballot.

Full Article and Source:
Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Lokuta

More information:
Pennsylvania: Judge’s Case to Be Reheard

See also:
Lokuta's Motion Denied

Judge Wants New Hearing

Removing "Bully" Judge

Judges Plead Guilty

Two Pennsylvania judges agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges accusing them of taking $2.6 million in kickbacks in return for placing juvenile offenders into certain detention facilities.

The plea agreements for Luzerne County President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan call for sentences of more than seven years in prison. Ciavarella resigned from the bench in a Jan. 23 letter to Gov. Ed Rendell. Conahan has agreed to resign within 10 days of a judge's acceptance of the plea.

Authorities say the judges took kickbacks between 2003 and 2007 in exchange for guaranteeing the placement of juvenile offenders into facilities operated by PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care LLC. In some cases, Ciavarella ordered children into detention even when juvenile probation officers did not recommend it.

Deron Roberts, chief of the FBI's Scranton office: "They sold their oaths of offices to the highest bidders."

Full Article and Source:
2 Pa. Judges to Plead Guilty to Public Corruption

See also:
Class Action Against Judges

"When Judges Stain Our Kids"

Kickback Scheme Judges Sued

Alleged Public Corruption

Attorney Charged with Theft

A Chippewa Falls woman is accused of withdrawing thousands of dollars from one of her client's bank accounts.

Lynda Larson is charged with three counts of theft in a business setting over $10,000.

According to the criminal complaint, Larson was an attorney for Ingvald Melgaard who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and died in March of 2006.

The complaint says Larson had a joint bank account with Melgaard and withdrew more than $200,000 of his money without his consent including about $100,000 she used to purchase a business for herself.

Larson will make her initial appearance in court on April 28.

Full Article and Source:
Attorney Charged With Taking Money From Her Client

More information:
Chippewa Falls woman charged with theft of nearly $375,000

Friday, March 27, 2009

Complaint: Guardian Not Following Orders

Instead of acting in their best interest, a Dunbar woman is alleging a Ripley attorney appointed as her children's guardian has aided and abetted her ex-husband in alienating them from her.

In a complaint filed March 2 with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the investigative arm of the state Bar, Teresa Lowe alleges that Leah R. Chappell has failed to follow court orders granting her regular visitation with the sons she shares with her ex-husband, Troy Welling. Also, Lowe alleges Chappell has fabricated information about her as an excuse to deny her visitation.

Chappell is the guardian ad litem for Lowe's and Welling's sons, T.J., 14, and Eric, 9.

Full Article and Source:
Complaint: Guardian in Jackson family case not following orders

Legal Fees Top $2.7 Million

According to the Los Angeles Times, Britney Spears conservators have hired a total of 17 lawyers and law firms to deal with her affairs over the last 14 months. So far, she's racked up $2.7 million in legal fees -- and counting. But she's had a lot going on, including custody proceedings involving her ex-husband Kevin Federline, her driving-without-a-license trial and the latest restraining order situation with her former manager.

Retired probate judge Arnold Gold says the fees aren't necessarily uncommon for a celebrity, explaining, "It's quite appropriate, particularly in the entertainment field, to incur and have to pay very, very, very sizable attorneys' fees."

Full Article and Source:
Britney Spears Spends Big Money On Lawyers

See also:
Conservatorship is "Officially Made Permanent"

Two Dads on a Birth Certificate

A federal judge has ruled that Louisiana has 15 days to add the names of both fathers to the birth certificate of a boy born in Shreveport and adopted by a gay couple from out-of-state.

The state is asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the ruling by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey, and to halt the order, state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said.

He wrote in a brief e-mailed statement:"The federal district court has significantly misinterpreted Louisiana vital records law, forcing Louisiana to import and adopt New York law."

Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith, who now live in San Diego, but adopted the boy in New York state, want both their names on his birth certificate.

State officials say that's illegal because, under Louisiana law, two single people cannot adopt a child. Zainey ruled in December that because the adoption became formal in New York, the Office of Vital Records must recognize that state's adoption law on the matter.

New York officials decided in January that same-sex couples could list both names on their children's birth certificates.

Full Article and Source:
La. must add 2 dads' names to birth certificate

Looking For Shooting Suspect

AL - The Escambia County Sheriff's Office have released the name and picture of a suspect in the shooting of an elderly man.

Police say Tracy Konewko shot and pistol whipped 81-year-old Charles Moore Thursday afternoon during a robbery at his home on Emory Drive. Fortunately, Moore survived the attack.

If you know where to find Konewko, please call the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at 850.436.9620 and ask for Investigator James O’Hara or call Crime Stoppers at 850.433.STOP.

Woman Wanted For Shooting Elderly Man

Deputies Looking For Shooting Suspect

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Conservatorship Spat Continues

A legal battle between Peter Falk's wife of 32 years and his adopted daughter over whether a conservator should be appointed for the Emmy-winning actor resumed with another court hearing.

In court papers filed Dec. 12, Catherine Falk said her adoptive father, now 81, is no longer able take care of himself due to deteriorating health -- she says he suffers from Alzheimer's disease and dementia -- and should be placed under a conservatorship order to protect him and so she can visit him regularly.

Falk's current wife, Shera Danese Falk, maintains in her opposition papers that there is no need for a conservatorship, but that if one is established, she should be named conservator for her husband.

Alyce Mayo, Falk's former wife, on Friday weighed in with a sworn declaration in which she defends Catherine's position. Mayo was married to the actor from 1960 to 1976 and during that time two girls, Catherine and Jackie, were adopted by the couple.

Mayo says Shera Falk and Catherine had some disagreements, but overall have remained close despite alleged attempts by Shera to keep them from seeing each other.

Full Article and Source:
Hearing set in conservatorship spat between actor Falk's wife, daughter

See also:
Opposite Opinions

War Over Falk

"My Dad Has Alzheimer's"

Lawyers and Trust Accounts

Odiator Arugu was reprimanded and placed on probation for two years, following a Feb. 12 court order. Arugu did not properly maintain his trust account records to support disbursement and receipt of funds to the account; nor did he properly maintain client ledgers and journals. An audit of Arugu's trust records for May 2005 through December 2007 indicated that Arugu was not in compliance with Florida Bar rules regulating trust accounts.

Gregory R. Deal was suspended until further order, following a Jan. 5 court order. According to an emergency suspension order, Deal appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating funds held in trust. The Bar's audit showed that in October 2008, Deal's trust account had a shortage of more than $65,000, which was created by Deal writing checks to himself.

Jay Charles Floyd was suspended until further order, following a Dec. 23, 2008 court order. According to an emergency suspension order, Jay Charles Floyd appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating funds from his trust account. In one instance, a check for $11,000 written on Floyd's trust account was returned due to insufficient funds. In a second matter, Floyd received a settlement in the amount of $5,500 for a personal injury client. He admitted to misappropriating the money for his personal use.

Laura L. Hess was disbarred for five years, effective immediately, following a Jan. 15 court order. Among Hess' violations, she operated a law firm in which her partner was a non-lawyer; she led clients to believe she had deposited their funds in trust accounts, when in fact, she had not; her law firms letterhead improperly reflected addresses for out-of-state law offices; and Hess allowed individuals not licensed to practice law in Florida to represent clients.

Michael Edward Hill was disbarred, effective immediately, following a Feb. 12 court order. Hill admitted that he did not follow The Florida Bar's required rules regarding trust accounts. In May 2008, the Bar was informed by a bank that Hill's trust account check of more than $9,000 had been returned for insufficient funds. The Bar then served Hill with a subpoena for bank account records and other documents. Hill neglected to produce all of the requested items.

Erik Owen Leavell was disbarred effective 30 days from a Feb. 12 court order. In June 2008, The Florida Bar was informed by a bank that Leavell's trust account had a negative balance of more than $18,000. The Bar served Leavell with a subpoena for bank account records, which he failed to produce.

Raymond Earl Miller was disbarred effective 30 days from a Jan. 8 court order. After a complaint was filed against Miller, alleging delays in making the final disbursement in an estate, he made the payment, but failed to provide an accounting. An examination of Miller's trust account records and ledger cards revealed that he failed to maintain a balance in the trust account sufficient to cover the estate. He also failed to maintain records required by The Florida Bar's rules.

Jolyon Wilson Morris was placed on probation for two years, effective immediately, following a Feb. 5 court order. An investigation of Morris' trust account revealed that he was not in compliance with basic trust account rules as required by The Florida Bar, including client ledger cards, receipt and disbursement journals and bank and client reconciliations.

Okechukwu Josiah Odunna was suspended until further order, following a Jan. 5 court order. According to an emergency suspension order, Odunna appeared to be causing great public harm. He failed to record at least 17 original deeds and 21 original mortgages, exposing a title insurance fund to more than $10 million in claims exposure. A Florida Bar compliance audit of Odunna's trust accounting records determined that he misappropriated more than $370,000 in client funds.

Ronald Thomas Rider was suspended until further order, following a Dec. 23, 2008 court order. According to an emergency suspension order, Rider appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating funds held in trust. An audit by The Florida Bar found that Rider had a shortage in his trust account of more than $63,000 as of July 1, 2008, and $87,000 as of Nov. 13, 2008.

Full Article and Source:
Pensacola lawyer one of 35 disciplined by the state courts

$6 Million Settlement

In a child-abuse case that shocked many people, the state and three other parties have agreed to pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit brought on behalf of a boy who was intentionally starved by his father and his girlfriend.

The state and three other parties have agreed to pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit brought on behalf of a boy who was intentionally starved by his father and the man's girlfriend.

The settlement, reached during mediation, stemmed from the case of Shayne Abegg, who weighed only 22 pounds at age 4 when authorities rescued him on March 7, 2007, from his Everett home. A year earlier, when Shayne came to live with his father, he had weighed 38 pounds.

Under the settlement, which requires approval by a judge, the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) agreed to pay $5 million, with the remainder to be split between state-contracted therapist Brad Simkins and two social-service agencies that hired him.

The boy, through his guardian, originally sought $22 million in a tort claim filed with the state.

The lawsuit, filed in Snohomish County Superior Court, alleged DSHS, Simkins and the others failed to protect Shayne, who couldn't sit or walk when he was found. In addition, the boy's temperature had reached the dangerously low level of 87 degrees and his muscles were wasting.

The settlement comes at a time when state legislators are considering privatizing some social services to fix what critics call a broken child-welfare system. The Children's Administration, which is part of DSHS, has been plagued by problems for years, including dozens of child fatalities.

Full Article and Source:
$6M settlement for starved Everett boy

Adoption Ban Trial

A lawsuit seeking to undo Arkansas' voter-approved law limiting access to adoption and foster care survived its first challenge when a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled the case should go to trial.

But Judge Chris Piazza did side with state attorneys in throwing out one part of the 11-point lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union - a challenge to the title of the ballot initiative that became Initiated Act 1 of 2008 by attracting 57 percent of the vote in the November election. The ACLU, representing 24 adults and children, is seeking to overturn the law, which bars cohabiting unmarried adults from fostering or adopting children, claiming the measure is unconstitutional.

Byron Babione, an Arizona attorney representing Family Council Action Committee, the conservative Christian political action committee that championed the law, Cordi contended that the ACLU was trying to fabricate a constitutional right that doesn't exist, a right by children to be adopted or placed in foster care. Adoption and foster care law arises from state statute, not the Arkansas or U.S. constitutions, they argued.

Babione: "There's no deep-rooted right in this nation's laws or history to adopt or foster."

Full Article and Source:
Trial on adoption ban approved

See also:
Halted Efforts

Act One Under Fire

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

No Help for Veteran

This is the story of a World War II veteran and his family who is desperately trying to get him home. We have come to know him as Uncle Charlie. He was lost in the system for years. Now his family wants to bring him back to North Carolina, but no one can seem to help, not the Veterans Administration or even a US Congressman.

He came home in 1947 suffering from shell shock. Laurica says her grandmother talked about how "the war made my son crazy." Uncle Charlie wandered off into the woods and did other things that scared people. Laurica's grandmother contacted the Army who then came for Uncle Charlie. The family says he was placed in the care of the Army and the Veterans Administration.

Uncle Charlie was moved to a VA supervised group home in Tennessee. He stayed there for many years and in the 1960's, Uncle Charlie was moved to another supervised home in Ohio. In 1974, the VA determined that Mr. Newkirk was incompetent and an attorney, Richard Dimond, became legal guardian. Later, Uncle Charlie was diagnosed with schizophrenia by health care professionals. In 2002, Uncle Charlie was admitted to the VA in Chillicothe and has remained there since.

Laurica went to court to try to gain guardianship over Uncle Charlie from Richard Dimond. Richard Dimond was very forthcoming about Uncle Charlie's situation. He said the court was acting in the best interest of the veteran, not the family. Dimond also says the court believed it's too traumatic to move Uncle Charlie with his medical conditions. Dimond admits he does not go to visit Uncle Charlie very often, but he said he was there last week to take him some clothing and new pajamas.

Laurica disagrees and believes the fight is really over money.

Laurica offered to allow Dimond to keep guardianship of Uncle Charlie and control of the money, if he would just not oppose Uncle Charlie to come home to North Carolina.

She turned to the VA who couldn't help because of the court's ruling. Then, she asked Congressman Howard Coble for help.

Congressman Coble personally wrote the VA: "Ms. Oliver has no ulterior motive except for the good will that would be generated within the family to have Uncle Charlie back home. Most of the time we can work through the snafus. But, we've run into a brick wall on this one."

Full Article and Source:
Uncle Charlie's War

Protest Against Budget Cuts

250 petitions demand state restore funds for kin caregivers

Grandparents and other family members raising children took to the streets to protest state budget cuts they say are hurting their kids.

Participants chanted as they marched: "Fight, fight, fight for grandparents' rights."

Carrying signs that read, "Not on the backs of children,'' "No more budget cuts'' and "Old people rock,'' dozens marched the seven blocks from Armory Park, where they held a rally, to the State of Arizona Administration Building, 400 W. Congress St.

About 100 caregivers and children delivered 250 petitions, demanding that legislators restore 20 percent cuts in aid to families caring for the children of relatives. The cuts, made by state legislators last month, impact more than 10,000 Arizona children, according to organizers.

Full Article and Source:
Grandparents, family members protest cuts to state assistance

Attorney Skips Out

Martin “Kirby” Watson was in deep trouble to begin with. The disbarred attorney faces prison if convicted of bilking clients out of $500,000.

But authorities say he made a mistake that no one who went to law school should ever make: He skipped out on his own criminal trial.

Instead of picking a jury, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Christine Hellinger revoked Martin’s $70,000 bond and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Full Article and Source:
Disbarred St. Petersburg attorney skips out on his own trial

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bishop's Estate

Longtime Newport Beach resident and Rat Pack comedian Joey Bishop’s longtime, live-in companion this week settled part of her lawsuit alleging that the late entertainer’s financial planners tried to cheat her out of part of his estate. Now Newport Beach Chabad Center, a Jewish community center and religious organization claims that Bishop intended to leave part of his multimillion-dollar estate to found a children’s charity, court documents obtained by the Daily Pilot show.

Nora Garibotti, Bishop’s former golfing companion, who lived with him in the later years of his life, stands to inherit 70% of Bishop’s residual estate, according to the terms of the settlement, agreed upon in Los Angeles County probate court. The remaining 30% will be divided between Bishop’s agent, Ed “Hook” Hookstratten, who once represented Elvis Presley, and Bishop’s financial advisor, Myles Hymes, according to court documents.

A lawsuit Newport Beach Chabad Center filed in Orange County Superior Court claims that Bishop’s attorney, agent, financial advisor and live-in caretaker blocked Bishop’s final wishes to have part of his estate go toward setting up a charity for special-needs children in Orange County.

Chabad’s suit names Hookstratten, Orange County attorney James “Kimo” McCormick, Hymes and Garibotti.

Newport Beach Chabad is seeking damages in excess of $10 million for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims, according to court documents.

Full Article and Source:
Chabad files suit for estate

See also:
Countersuit Denied

Fees Under Fire

A bill that could limit the amount of attorney fees awarded in fee-shifting cases has riled plaintiffs’ attorneys.

The legislation, introduced earlier this month, would require that where a statute provides for the award of attorney fees to a successful litigant, judges must take into consideration the reasonableness of the fees sought in relation to the amount of damages awarded to the prevailing party.

The bill also contains a provision mandating that if a plaintiff claiming an award of attorney fees rejected a Rule 68 offer of judgment and failed to obtain a verdict in excess of the offer, the plaintiff will not get any fees after the date of the offer.

Opponents of the bill are concerned it will cause attorneys to refuse cases where the amount in dispute is minimal, like some landlord-tenant matters or debt collection cases.

Attorney Michael Bryant, president-elect of the Minnesota Association for Justice: “If you won’t get paid for what you put into it, why do it? Who’s going to do it? To me that’s the problem.”

Minneapolis civil rights attorney Justin Cummins agreed that it’s going to be much more difficult to get the private bar involved if attorney fees are contingent on actual damages awarded. “It would really create a disincentive for the private bar to come forward with public interest cases.”

The legislation could impact any claim for which there is a statutory fee-shifting provision, including cases involving:

Debt collection

Landlord-tenant disputes

Civil rights



Overtime and minimum wage

Failure to pay wages

Full Article and Source:
Attorney fees under fire

Lawyer Claims Dementia

Louis M. Smith Jr. was indicted on four counts of wire fraud for allegedly misappropriating $467,000 from a dead person's estate.

The indictment alleges in part that Smith misrepresented the true value of the estate to heirs, according to a news release issued by the U.S. attorney's office.

He also is charged with two counts of transporting across state lines more than $5,000 belonging to a trust account of another person and the estate of a dead person.

The maximum penalties for the crimes are 100 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

Smith was suspended from practice by the Kentucky Supreme Court in March 2008. He is charged in Jefferson Circuit Court with stealing $680,000 from one client who was elderly and another who is deceased; he is also accused of the unauthorized practice of law and other offenses. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, which is set for trial in May.

Steve Romines, Smith's attorney, could not be reached for comment. But Romines has said in court that his client has been diagnosed with dementia, and he has asserted in court papers that the diagnosis could provide a "complete defense or at the least lessen his criminal responsibility."

Full Article and Source:
Suspended, former lawyers charged

Monday, March 23, 2009

Elder Abuse Course

Lawmakers were told that many doctors, counselors and other professionals who deal with seniors don't always recognize signs of abuse and need to get online training that would help them spot such mistreatment.

AB260 would create an online course on recognizing different kinds of elder abuse and require professionals who deal with seniors to complete the course once a year. The course would highlight problems such as medication mismanagement to keep seniors sedated and identifying bruises resulting from physical abuse rather than accidental falls.

The bill would require at least 30 different types of professionals in fields such as dentistry, optometry, podiatry and chiropractic to take the course, along with other types of workers more traditionally associated with senior care such as medical and nursing home staffers, social workers and group caregivers. Also included are marriage and family therapists, athletic trainers, coroners and ambulance drivers.

Full Article and Source:
Elder abuse course outlined

Wine Tasting Event

Volunteer Guardianship One-on-One will hold its annual Wine Tasting event at Copper Hill Country Club here on Sunday, March 29, 2-5 p.m. It's sponsored by Central Liquor of Flemington.

The wines will vary in price from the extravagant to very affordable. At the end of the event the votes will be tallied to determine which staff member has chosen the most-popular wines.
Tickets cost $50.

Volunteer Guardianship One-on-One, a unique group in New Jersey, provides services for people with no family or friends willing to serve as their guardian.
Proceeds from the event go to support, training and organization that the volunteers need. To reserve tickets, call Central Liquors at 782-2518 or email the store manager at

Second Guessing

Nearly three years before Deshaunsay Sykes-Crowder was allegedly killed by the woman who became her guardian in the wake of abuse by her mother, Dane County pondered whether to bring the two back to Madison to review a protection plan for the girl.

A report issued by the state Department of Children and Families second-guessed the decision by the Dane County Department of Health and Family Services not to bring Deshaunsay and her aunt, Lynda Sykes, back when it became apparent Sykes was not cooperating with the protection plan.

Deshaunsay was 6 years old on July 16 when her guardian, Sykes allegedly inflicted the injuries that killed the girl in Cleveland, Ohio, where they were living. She is charged with aggravated murder, a death penalty offense in Ohio, and is in the Cuyahoga County Jail awaiting a May trial.

Ohio court records show Sykes abused Deshaunsay, leading to her removal from Sykes’ home from May 2007 to April 2008. Then on July 16, she was arrested and accused of killing Deshaunsay.

The state review generally found little fault with the way Dane County Human Services handled Deshaunsay’s history with Sykes, who has a history of violent crime and went to prison in 1996 for stabbing another woman.

But Human Services Director Lynn Green said the state is “Monday morning quarterbacking” in its report when it said it is now requiring Dane County to send child protection cases back to judges whenever they fit the circumstances of Deshaunsay’s case — when a child under protection moves out of state and has no protection plan set up in the new home state.

Green also questioned why Dane County alone must do this, when there is no legal requirement that any other county in the state do the same thing.

Full Article and Source:
State report second-guesses Dane County child protection decision

See also:
Unfit Guardian?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Contested Omnibus Hearing

The attorneys for both of the young women charged as adults in the case of alleged abuse at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea have filed motions in Freeborn County District Court to suppress statements obtained from their clients to law enforcement officials.

Attorney Craig Nelson said he received a notice of motion in the mail from Larry Maus, Brianna Broitzman’s attorney, requesting a contested omnibus hearing for his client.

Nelson said the court will consider issues such as suppression of statements obtained from Broitzman “on the grounds that the statement was obtained in violation of her constitutional rights,” along with an order of the court dismissing the criminal complaint against her for lack of probable cause.

Broitzman’s court appearance was continued to March 30.

Co-defendant Ashton Larson court appearance is still to be held, according to court officials. That could be continued at the last minute to a new date as well, however, depending on the wishes of Larson’s attorney, Evan Larson.

Larson has also requested a contested omnibus hearing. Among other things, he too seeks suppression of the statements obtained from Larson.

Full Article and Source:
Suppress statements in elder abuse case?

See also:
Support Group Formed

Community Outrage

CPS Caseworker Turnover

Child Protective Services has seen greater turnover in caseworkers despite added investigators and reduced caseloads, according to a state audit released this week.

Turnover among caseworkers grew from 23 percent in fiscal year 2004 to 34 percent in fiscal 2007, the audit found.

In Tarrant County, the turnover rate was 31 percent last year, an official said.

Statewide, workers cited poor working conditions, issues with supervisors and better pay or benefits at another job as reasons for leaving.

Full Article and Source:
CPS caseworker turnover up despite changes

More information:
Child Protective Services was designed as a state agency to speak for those who can't. But an audit obtained by FOX 26 News shows that may not be happening. It shows despite the state pumping more than $300 million into CPS over the last three years the agency still has major problems. Bobby Parnell, former CPS worker: "It's scary when our most vulnerable are at risk because our system has failed them."
Officials Release CPS Audit

A new report says legislative efforts in 2007 led to more caseworkers for Child Protective Services but failed to solve high turnover rates and rising overtime costs.
CPS Report: More caseworkers, but less stay

A new audit of Child Protective Services finds there’s a long way to go to protect kids in San Antonio from being abused. That report shows the efforts to cut down on the number of cases for investigators and reduce turnover rate aren’t working.
CPS problems could keep sisters apart

New Elder Abuse Scam

CA - There's a new scam on the streets of Fresno which is targeting seniors.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says that an elderly victim was recently contacted by a male and female at her residence who claimed to be an "undercover" police officer.

The female asked the victim to step out of her home in the area of Hedges and Palm so they could discuss the recent burglaries in the area. When the victim stepped outside into the front yard, the male entered the victims home through a door located in the backyard.

Dyer says the male entered then entered the home taking money and documents which contained personal information from a bedroom.

The two suspects were last seen leaving the area in a black full size van.

Police are now asking for the public's help in locating the suspects. The individuals are described as:

Female Suspect:
A 38-42 year-old Hispanic female
5'01"-5'03", weighing 160-170
With shoulder length light brown hair, brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a black shirt and blue jeans.

Male Suspect:
30-32 year-old White or Hispanic male
5'07", weighing 160-170 pounds
Last seen wearing a baseball cap with the word "POLICE" on it, black T-shirt, and black pants.

Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to contact Detective Richard Jones at 621-6208 or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP.

Fresno Police Warn Of Elder Abuse Scam

Baby Mia

Child Protective Services was granted emergency custody of a newborn who was found abandoned in an old dryer.

The baby girl was found wrapped in a towel inside a trash bag that was put in an old dryer at the Registry Apartments, 6111Winsome Lane near Greenridge Drive, on Tuesday at about 3 p.m.

The newborn was taken to Texas Children's Hospital, where she is listed in good condition.

The baby is black and weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces when found. The hospital's staff named her Mia.

CPS officials released a picture of the baby in hopes that a relative, family friend or anyone might recognize her.

The baby's umbilical cord was still attached. Police said they believe the baby was born sometime between Sunday and Tuesday.

Attorneys Gary Polland and Elizabeth Whyburn were appointed to represent the abandoned baby.

Full Article and Source:
CPS Gets Custody Of Baby Found In Dryer

More information:
A judge granted child welfare officials emergency custody of a newborn girl who was found in a clothes dryer behind a southwest Houston apartment complex. Another hearing is scheduled to determine whether the child, nicknamed Mia, should remain with Child Protective Services. State District Judge Pat Shelton told CPS officials and attorneys for the child to release her photo to the media in hopes that her family members, or someone who knows them, will be moved to contact authorities.
CPS gets custody of newborn found in dryer

She's being called "Baby Mia." The name means "mine." But no one has come forward to claim the tiny newborn, found tossed near some trash. For now, a Family Court Judge says she belongs to the state.
CPS Gets Custody of Baby Found in Dryer