Saturday, May 2, 2009

She Gives Us Hope

Forced into an assisted living facility against her will, Esta Varon was so unhappy that she lost 26 pounds and became very depressed in just a few months. Rather than sit around feeling sorry for herself, Esta did something about it. She began by writing to the media.

Esta heard from a woman named Mary Garofalo from Channel 5, Fox TV, a major NY station. Esta’s story aired Tuesday, February 19 on the 10 o’clock news!

Mary responded to Esta because she was "impressed that an eighty year old lady could write such an eloquent letter."

Esta gives us all hope.

Who's the Boss?

Fox 5 Investigates: Guardian Abuse

Fox 5 Investigates: Guardian Abuse, Part 2

May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month

Office of Children's Services On Trial

The boy was just 6 years old back in 1997 when the state first got a report that his mother's friend was sexually abusing him.

Over the next four years, the reports about a child in danger kept arriving at what's now the state Office of Children's Services, but the agency didn't do its job and the child continued to be molested and worse, a lawyer for the child told an Anchorage Superior Court jury Wednesday.

The man, Claire Thomson, is a retired Anchorage junior high teacher who eventually was convicted of criminal sexual abuse of a minor.

Now it's the state Office of Children's Services on trial.

Lawyers for the boy want $4 million to provide for his medical expenses, support and treatment for the rest of his life, plus an unspecified amount above that to compensate him for his lost childhood.

Full Article and Source:
State knew for years child was in danger, lawyers say

Anti-Fraud Law

After 20 years of ever-increasing health care fraud and abuse in Florida, a bill passed by the Legislature will give the state some of the toughest laws in the nation against those who rip off Medicaid and Medicare.

Sponsored by Senator Don Gaetz and Senator Durell Peaden , Senate Bill 1986 equips law enforcement and oversight agencies with new tools to identify, investigate, put out of business and prosecute individuals and companies that knowingly defraud health care programs designed to care for the elderly and the poor. The bill also makes it easier for the state to recover money from those who abuse the system and provides cash rewards to those who turn in fraudulent providers.

The legislation will require exhaustive background checks for those applying to set up pharmacies, home health agencies, medical equipment companies and clinics. Until now “bad actors” who have abused the system elsewhere have been able to slip through cracks in the law and re-appear under different corporate names in Florida. The result has been an avalanche of fictitious patients, over utilization, improper billing, and kickbacks.

Full Article and Source:
Anti-Fraud Law Goes After Medicaid Cheats

Judge Dismissed Suit

A federal judge has dismissed a sweeping lawsuit that alleged widespread abuse of the children in Department of Children, Youth and Families care, saying the state’s child advocate, who brought the suit on behalf of 10 children, had no standing in the case.

Senior U.S. District Judge Ronald R. Lagueux ruled that Child Advocate Jametta O. Alston and others who backed the suit had no authority to proceed because the children they claimed to represent are already in the jurisdiction of the state Family Court, where their guardians had been appointed.

Alston and the child-advocacy organization, Children’s Rights, pursued the suit in June 2007 on behalf of the 3,000 children now in state custody, with the aim to overhaul Rhode Island’s entire foster-care system. The suit alleged children in DCYF care were being molested, beaten and, in one high-profile case, killed. Her suit claimed staff faced excessive caseloads and that too many children were being placed in institutions and group homes, or being reunited with abusive parents.

The suit named Governor Carcieri, Jane Hayward, former secretary of the Office of Health and Human Services, and DCYF Director Patricia Martinez as defendants, and charged that the child-welfare system is underfunded, understaffed and mismanaged.

The state asked that the case be dismissed in January 2008. Lawyers questioned the remedy sought — namely that Alston wanted the court to take control of the DCYF. They argued the case belonged in family court, not federal court.

Full Article and Source:
Child advocate’s suit over DCYF care dismissed

Friday, May 1, 2009

Foster Children Sue Welfare Agencies

Ten former foster care children are filing a civil rights and negligence lawsuit in New York District Court against the City of New York Child Welfare Administration and four other agencies for failure to prevent ongoing, horrific abuse at the hands of a state-licensed foster parent.

Identified in the filing only by their initials, the 10 plaintiffs seek unspecified damages for up to 20 years of abuse and torture. Dating back to the 1980s, these special needs foster children were locked in cages, handcuffed or zip-tied together at night, abused physically, threatened with firearms, secreted from any public interaction, underfed and malnourished, and deprived of regular education, doctor or dental visits. One child's teeth were in such pain that the child banged her face on the garage floor until knocking her teeth out. Now adults, all suffer rickets and behavioral issues, and require costly, long-term educational, medical, psychological and sociological care.

Foster mother Judith Leekin's fraud included assuming four aliases - often using similar dates and documentation - to adopt a total of 22 children. At no point did New York Child Welfare officials verify the foster mother's false documentation, investigate her fitness as a caregiver, or document the children's care. Ultimately, she collected $1.68 million in payments meant for their care.

When she sensed New York officials finally were closing in, Leekin relocated with the 10 plaintiffs to Florida. Today, Leekin is serving a prison sentence for fraud. The plaintiffs, all of whom currently reside in Florida, are seeking a jury trial.

Full Article and Source:
Severely Abused Foster Children Sue New York City Child Welfare Agencies After their Failure to Help Them

A Man to Ride the River With

Bill Henry Waddell had planned carefully for his old age. Although he was born in Brazil, son of missionaries, he had worked hard all his life in the United States, as an Army Chaplain's Assistant, then as a Social Worker and finally as a Presbyterian minister in rural congregations.

He had been two years to law school, so he gave me, his wife, power of attorney for health care and power of attorney for financial, just as I gave the same to him. And as we loved each other very much, we each willed the other all our worldly goods. The secondary beneficiary for him was his brother and for me my sister.

His brother from Maine had taken note of the fact that I managed money pretty well (having lived at one point on $7000/year in a small rural town). The brother also took note of the fact that I had received a small inheritance. The brother asked to manage our money, which I thought was a joke. The brother also asked me to return to him $33,000 which his parents had given us as a gift because it was "Waddell money."

When Bill began to fail, and I still don't know for sure what he had, but his brother and one of the doctors called it Alzheimer's, in August of 2007, his brother's wife hired a Maine attorney. We'll call him/her Attorney no 1. Attorney no 1, using Attorney/Client confidentiality privilege, hired Attorney no. 2 in Illinois. Attorney no 2 hired a social worker, Amy Suydam, who after visiting Bill in Illinois, chased him over to Jefferson Barracks Hospital in Missouri in order to tell the social workers there that I was a poor caretaker. (They actually let her into all the conferences.) The social worker went before a judge, Judge Metz, Madison County IL, all behind my back so that I could not get a lawyer, and Amy Suydam asked that Sharon Mehrtens be my husband's temporary guardian.

The guardian, who was not even on the State of IL approved list, walked into my husband's rest home room on December 12, 2007. She asked me-- out in the corridor---for me to put her name on our savings and checking account and to also put her name on our safe deposit box. She told me that if I did not tell her where my assets were, she would charge me $35 an hour to find them.

The next day, December 13, Bill was sicker. I could not even take him to the ER room because although I had power of attorney for health care and financial, others were in control through a temporary guardianship obtained by secret hearings (the contents of which I still don't know.)

Bill was very upset by the fact that someone else was guardian. (I don't think he had Alzheimer's.) Bill asked me, "Please, can't I go home to die?"

And I had to tell him I was powerless to take him home. Our last words together were, "May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another." And I told him, "I will always love you." He died at 8:48 AM December 14th, 2007. While he was dying, the rest home could not reach me at our home because, following my brother in law's instructions, I was trying to get a lawyer. The guardianship system was used to take away the man I loved, to harass him until he lost the will to live.

But Bill did not die in vain. As a committed Christian, Bill is with our Lord Jesus.

All during our 38 years of marriage, Bill would tell me how much he loved Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington. So I have established the William H. Waddell scholarship there. It was funded with the $33,000 of "Waddell money" his brother and his brother's wife wanted.

Bill was a brave man. When a gunman captured our church organist and several of our elders at the Veterans Building in Watford City, North Dakota, Bill walked over to the police station at 3 in the morning to offer himself as a hostage negotiator. He would be happy to know today that he might be saving others from terrible suffering.

Bill Waddell was "a man to ride the river with," as the Westerners say. The phrase means a person who is steady, fearless, and dependable, someone who will not flinch and who will bring his companion to the other side. Bill was such a person. He brought me through 38 years to the other shore.

-Mary I. Waddell, his widow
May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month


I often think and pray that I died a sudden death because sickness could lead into an institution.

Memories of the horror I have seen creeps into my thinking.

I want to run away, just don’t know where.

I have missed my grandchildren grow.

I have had problems with my husband.

He has questioned my sanity, and so have I.

But one thing I know, I am not insane, just as the people who have done this to me are still breathing.

My sanity is intact, emotionally I am not.

I have smiled when I wanted to cry.

I suppress my anger.

Hurt and frustration has affected my health.

I can’t sleep thinking that at any time, a single person can take my mother away, my daughter, grandchildren, husband or me, and do as they please and I have no say on it.

There is no protection.

Mental Guardianship Program

To continue shoring up the gap between the legal needs of Brooklyn residents and the legal services that are offered pro bono, the Brooklyn Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project recently started the mental guardianship program, which addresses an “unmet need.”

New York City’s only mental guardianship program was kicked off this month, and will offer free pro bono legal advice and assistance to clients filing for guardianship of mentally disabled adults, usually a family member or loved one.

Jeannie Costello, executive director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), who is enthusiastic about resolving this "unmet need": “This is a very exciting new project, because this service is not offered by any other agency in New York. It’s really a great benefit to the residents of Brooklyn. It can make such a critical difference in a family’s well-being to get guardianship of someone who is legally an adult, but still needs someone to protect them.”

Full Article and Source:
Guardians in the Surrogate’s Court

Fighting For Grandkids

Kathie Good has been fighting for five months to regain temporary custody of her grandkids.

Her voluntary revelation about a 24-year-old incident has become the latest hurdle in her quest and may be one too big to overcome. That she refused to believe her daughter hurt her grandson was one of the first hurdles.

The kids were turned over to the S.C. Department of Social Services in November after doctors were concerned about what they noticed during repeated doctor visits. According to court documents, doctors found bruises on the back and elsewhere of Good's infant grandson, broken blood vessels in his eyes and swelling on his penis.

A specialist at the Medical University of South Carolina concurred with the concerns of the doctors.

Good's son-in-law was charged with abuse.

DSS suspects Good's daughter of neglect.

Good, who had temporary custody, believed the court rulings allowed supervised contact between her daughter and grandkids, which is why she let her daughter visit. DSS and the guardian ad litem said it wasn't allowed.

This isn't about suspected child abuse. That case will play itself out in the courts. The parents will be found guilty or not guilty in due time. This is about a grandmother and her grandkids, foster care and family placement, and the hurdles involved.

Full Article and Source:
Issac Bailey Foster care decision in kids' interest?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Judge Accused of Exploitation

Larry Seidlin, the weeping Anna Nicole Smith judge who has allegedly chiseled more than a half million dollars from an elderly widow in his condo building, has been removed from the woman's will.

Actually, Seidlin's wife and daughter are off the will, since Seidlin kept his name out of it as he worked to take over Barbara Kasler's multi-million dollar fortune.

Kasler's family members, caregivers, and an activist named Lyn Evans have managed to remove Seidlin from the widow's life and possessions.

This news comes after a state investigation began into allegations of abuse and exploitation of Kasler by the Seidlins.

Mrs. Kasler called her niece, Corine Kasler, in Pensacola and asked her to take over her affairs. "With the improvement came her ability to understand that perhaps Larry Seidlin wasn't operating in her best interests. It was the turning point."

The will naming Seidlin's wife, Belinda Seidlin, and daughter Dax has been revoked, says Corine Kasler, and a new will is being worked up that definitely won't involve the judge or his family. The trustee of Kasler's estate, Steve Fuller, and the estate's attorney, Richard Judd, are being fired.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Seidlin's Clan Removed From Widow's Will

More information:
Judge Larry Under State Investigation After Elderly Abuse Complaint

DCF probes gifts to family of former Broward judge

Former judge Larry Seidlin accused of exploiting 83-year-old neighbor

Greer Files Suit

After watching court-appointed officials spend more than $600,000 of her money, Peggy Greer is returning to court to try to win it back.

Greer has filed suit in Hennepin County District Court, claiming that her former guardian and conservator failed to protect her assets, heed her wishes and otherwise fulfill their duties to look after her best interests.

In March 2005, a Hennepin County probate judge ruled that Greer, then recovering from painkiller addiction, was unable to make decisions for herself, and appointed Professional Fiduciary Inc. as her guardian and Wells Fargo Elder Services as her conservator.

Over the next two years, the guardian and conservator spent $672,000 on health costs, attorney's fees and other expenses, despite objections from Greer and other family members that the spending was excessive and unjustified.

Greer won back her rights in July 2007, after her assets were exhausted and the guardian and conservator no longer opposed their dismissal.

The lawsuit accuses Wells Fargo Bank, Wells Fargo Private Bank Elder Services, PFI and Ruth Ostrom, an attorney for PFI, of breach of fiduciary duties, which it says caused Greer "severe emotional distress."

Full Article and Source:
Out of money, Excelsior woman still fighting

See also:
Money Used Up

Lawyer Betrayed Client Trust

Nancy Clifton gave him more than $400,000 of her deceased husband’s life insurance settlement to invest. All of it was gone within three years.

M&D Construction bought a house from him in a foreclosure transaction, only to learn weeks later — and after spending thousands of dollars on renovations — that it already had been sold to someone else.

Eva Bauer sought his help in handling a disbursement from her deceased brother’s estate. Two years later, the money had vanished.

In story after story, those who turned to Kent Desselle for help or conducted business with him came away claiming huge losses that resulted in financial hardship. In the end, it was the $20,000 from a memorial fund for two murdered children that led to the downfall of the former Independence lawyer.

Desselle was disbarred by the Missouri Supreme Court. He was the subject of seven complaints filed last year, most of which accused him of mishandling clients’ money.

In its recommendation to disbar Desselle, the Disciplinary Hearing Panel issued a scathing statement: “Respondent has committed multiple offenses of taking his clients’ funds and using them for his own selfish motives and shown that he is dishonest.”

Full Article and Source:
Testimony shows disbarred lawyer repeatedly betrayed clients’ trust

Judge Under Investigation

The Upshur County district attorney said that he is investigating the Upshur County judge in a matter related to the judge accepting checks from a former lawyer.

According to the Texas Courts Code of Judicial Conduct, "a judge shall refrain from financial and business dealings that ... involve the judge in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court on which the judge serves."

Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler said he accepted checks from former lawyer Robert Bennett, who was sentenced to state prison for theft and misuse of client trust fund money. Fowler said some of the checks were for referrals, which are permitted by the Judicial Conduct Code.

About half of the checks were for personal business, and District Attorney Billy Byrd said he's trying to determine whether there were criminal or ethical violations.

Full Article and Source:
Upshur district attorney investigates county judge

More information:
Former Gilmer Attorney Investigated For Possible Ethical, Legal Violations

Lokuta Not Entitled to New Trial

An attorney for the state Judicial Conduct Board said in court papers that former Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta is not entitled to a new misconduct trial because none of the “after discovered” evidence she has produced would have resulted in a different outcome.

Francis J. Puskas, deputy chief counsel for the JCB, says the myriad of issues Lokuta raised in a 108-page brief filed last week have little to no relevance in her case, constituting an “everything but the kitchen sink” strategy to overturn the Court of Judicial Discipline’s Dec. 9 order that ousted her from office.

Lokuta is seeking to reopen her case or have the charges against her dismissed based on federal charges that were recently filed against former judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella and court administrator William Sharkey.

She contends the charges are proof that there was an ongoing conspiracy within the courthouse, orchestrated by Conahan and Ciavarella to remove her from office because she was a whistleblower who exposed various wrongdoings.

Full Article and Source:
Lokuta request criticized

See also:
Removal of Judge Reconsidered

Lokuta's Motion Denied

Judge Wants New Hearing

Removing "Bully" Judge

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lawyer Bilked Elderly Clients

A disbarred former lawyer faces nearly five years in prison when he is sentenced on charges that he bilked elderly clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars as their health and finances withered away.

Reginald “Reggie” Rogers was like “a son” to several elderly clients — cleaning their homes, cooking for them, singing for them to lift their spirits, and spending weekends and evenings with them. Prosecutors allege it was all an act — that his only interest was getting his hands on his clients’ money.

He has been convicted of emptying out his clients’ bank accounts, spending the money on expensive clothes and airline tickets. Prosecutors John Griffith and Diane Lucas are asking for a 57-month sentence.

Full Article and Source:
Former lawyer bilked elderly clients of big sums of money

That Incestuous Little Group

1998 - The decisions of a Denver Probate Court judge that deprived 83-year-old Letty Milstein of her rights and her money were slapped down by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

The case of Letty Milstein, mother of Denver socialite Judi Wolf, was sent back to the probate court by the appellate court. One of Letty's attorneys, Cris Campbell, says he will seek the return of more than a half-million dollars taken from his client's estate by what Campbell calls "that incestuous little group of lawyers, conservators and guardians down at the probate court."

Although the Court of Appeals decision does not name or criticize Probate Judge C. Jean Stewart directly, it describes--and reverses--error after error in her handling of the case.

Most important, the decision affirmed that Letty--and for that matter, any allegedly incapacitated person--has the right under Colorado law to be represented by counsel and to attend all legal proceedings in person.

Full Article and Source:
Letty Wins

More information:
The fight between socialite Judi Wolf and her brother has turned into the mother of all family feuds.
Mommy Dearest

When a Denver probate judge came calling, Letty Milstein lost her day in court.
To Grandmother's House We Go

Letty Milstein takes her case to the state Supreme Court.
Here Comes the Judge

After eighteen months as a ward of the court, Letty Milstein will finally get her day in court.
Changing of the Guard

See also:
Denver Probate Lawyer

Elder Law Attorney Ponzi Scheme

For five years, an attorney who specialized in elder law arranged community workshops where he sought investors for a bogus financial scheme that would siphon more than $40 million from his unsuspecting clientele, according to a federal prosecutor.

When the scheme collapsed earlier this year and investors began complaining to local police and the FBI, attorney Robert P. Copeland confessed to federal prosecutors in Atlanta, said his Decatur lawyer, Marcia G. Shein.

Shein said that Copeland surrendered to authorities because, "He didn't want to do this any more. He needed to resolve the problem."

In U.S. District Court, Copeland pleaded guilty to a criminal information (charges filed either prior to or in lieu of a grand jury indictment) charging him with a single count of wire fraud. He is free on $100,000 unsecured bond pending his July 10 sentencing.

Full Article and Source:
Ga. Lawyer Used Elder Law Practice to Snare Ponzi Victims

More information:
Georgia attorney pleads guilty to $28 million investment fraud scheme

Guardianship May Circumvent Prenuptial

When he died in November, the author left behind two unpublished books and one real mystery: Will his widow be able to gain control of a substantial part of his estate against his wishes?

Michael Crichton, the bestselling author of science fiction thrillers such as Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, left behind at least one finished novel and part of a second when he died of cancer.

But the prolific Crichton, who was married five times and also created the hit TV series ER, which ended a 15-year run, left behind another, even bigger piece of unfinished business: the fate of a son born three months after the author died.

The son, John Michael Todd Crichton, isn't mentioned in Crichton's will, but as an "omitted child" in legal theory, he may nonetheless be entitled to one-third of the writer's estate. The amount at stake is not known, but may well reach into nine figures: By one account, Crichton earned $100 million a year in his prime.

In a dramatic twist worthy of Crichton himself, his widow—Sherri Alexander Crichton, who signed a prenuptial agreement limiting her share of the estate—is seeking to be named guardian of her son's property. Success would essentially let her circumvent the prenuptial pact.

Full Article and Source:
Crichton's Last Thriller

More information:
Loeb & Loeb, on behalf of the firms client Sherri Crichton, widow of Michael Crichton and the mother of their newborn son John Michael Todd Crichton, today filed a routine petition in Probate Court requesting the Court's blessing that she will not be violating the terms of her late husband's will or trust by acting on their son's behalf to establish his clear legal right to share in his father's estate, as Michael Crichton intended.
Statement Regarding Petitions Filed by Loeb & Loeb on Behalf of Sherri Crichton

Changes to Probate Rules

The Probate and Family Court announces changes to the Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure, the General Rules of the Probate Court and the Supplemental Rules of the Probate Court.

These changes were recommended by the Probate and Family Court Bench/Bar Committee on Rules and were recently approved and promulgated by the Supreme Judicial Court. The rules will be effective May 1, 2009.

Press Release and Amended Rules:

See also:
UPC Takes Effect July 1

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guardian Sues Lawyer

The guardian for an elderly woman has filed a lawsuit against a prominent Milwaukee law firm and a suspended lawyer, claiming the lawyer stole more than $600,000 from her.

Supportive Community Services, the legal guardian for Dorothy G. Phinney, filed the lawsuit against Quarles & Brady and Jeffrey Elverman, a lawyer who was with the firm when the alleged theft occurred between December 2001 and September 2004.

According to the lawsuit, Phinney hired Elverman in 2000 while he worked at Quarles & Brady.

Christopher Stawski, a lawyer representing Phinney, said the money was discovered missing in 2008, shortly after a Milwaukee County judge found Phinney incompetent and appointed Supportive Community Services as her guardian. Elverman fought the appointment, saying that she had given him her power of attorney.

Stawski also said that when Elverman left Quarles & Brady in 2004, he did not tell his new firm, Michael Best & Friedrich, that Phinney was his client. Information regarding her account was sent directly to Elverman's home.

The lawsuit seeks treble damages as well as the cost of the investigation and litigation.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer accused of robbing client


This whole experience has made me personally very cynical about our system of justice.

Unfortunately, hearing others' stories has only added to my feeling that our civil rights are being trampled and disregarded by the very people who are supposed to protect them.

Instead of being protected by the law, the elderly are victimized by it.

My mother's money is being used to fight her family in the courts.

They keep her from us.

If Mom could truly speak for herself, I know she would be the first to condemn those who are perpetrating this evil.

Battle Over Lincoln Artifacts

Nearly 150 years after their great-great-grandfather Gideon Welles served as secretary of the Navy for President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, his heirs are locked in a fierce battle over the possession or existence of artifacts that include a rare rifle fired by Lincoln.

The battle between the Welles and Brainard branches of the family began in attics in several eastern Connecticut homes and is now raging in a Rockville courtroom and in the tiny probate court in Mansfield. There, some relatives are trying the unusual tactic of asking to reopen a 59-year-old probate case.

At stake are priceless historical documents, such as an unused ticket connected to the Gettysburg Address and personal notes from Lincoln to Welles, one of the president's closest confidants, as well as a cane carved out of wood from Fort Sumter.

The battle is tearing the family apart, with threats to report each other to the IRS for not listing income from the sale of artifacts, and accusations of family treason over an anonymous letter mailed to town officials in eastern Connecticut.

John A. Lupton, associate director/associate editor of The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, a project of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.: "Gideon Welles was one of Lincoln's closest confidants during the Civil War period, and I would presume that there would be pretty interesting new items there. The fact that they would be associated with a member of Lincoln's Cabinet makes them even more valuable, and that's probably why there is such a family fight going on."

Full Article and Source:
Gideon Welles' Heirs Battle Over Lincoln Artifacts

Marshall Goes to Trial

Brooke Astor's son stole from his mother to satisfy his wife, a prosecutor charged.

That stunning accusation was levelled at Anthony Marshall as the trial of the saintly socialite's son - and a lawyer pal - got underway at a Manhattan court.

Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Loewy: "Anthony Marshall's preoccupation for getting money for Charlene was actually motivation for the scheme to defraud Astor."

As Loewy painted Marshall as a liar and thief who stole millions from his senile mother, the suspect's wife sat behind her man.

Loewy implicated Charlene Marshall - who is not charged with a crime - as she laid out how the former U.S. ambassador and ex-Marine took advantage of the Alzheimer's-addled Astor to change her will and loot her $200 million fortune.

The prosecutor argued that Francis Morrissey, an estate planning lawyer who also has been charged with fraud and forgery, was Marshall's accomplice.

"This case is about greed, the greed of two men, Anthony Marshall and Francis Morrissey, to increase their own wealth at her expense."

Full Article and Source:
Brooke Astor's son Anthony Marshall goes on trial for stealing from socialite mom

See also:
Marshall's Criminal Trial

Mrs. Astor Regrets

Too Sick for Court?

Monday, April 27, 2009

NO to SB1718 HB5117

NASGA responds to Florida proposed bill to raise filing fees for guardianships of elderly or disabled adults to $5,000, with an emphatic “NO!”

National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse

For immediate release
April 27, 2009

For more information contact:
Annie McKenna
NASGA Media Liaison


NASGA, National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse,
objects to Florida Bill SB1718 / HB5117

NASGA is a civil rights organization comprised of victims and families working to expose and end unlawful and abusive guardianships/conservatorships. NASGA advocates for protection – physical and financial - of wards and their families –through education and outreach.

NASGA strenuously objects to SB1718 / HB5117:

1. Increasing the filing fee for guardianship of an elderly or disabled adult from $1,000 to $5,000 would virtually eliminate family in a protective role as guardian; thereby subjecting innocent and vulnerable wards to control by strangers” and subjecting them to the increased possibility, and likely probability, of guardianship abuse – in a state heavily populated by Senior Citizens – and one in which the courts are known to be uncaring or disinterested in the rights of the vulnerable elderly.
2. The monetary burden of the proposed increased fee will come from the ward’s estate. The law requires that the estate assets be conserved and prudently invested.
3. NASGA advocates that the ward’s estate should be used primarily for that purpose rather than legal and/or administrative fees.

NASGA says “NO” to SB1718 HB5117.

Are Your Parents Safe?

Solutions to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe and Inspirations for Healthy Aging

Featuring real-life events, Saving Our Parents is a startling demonstration of the potential pitfalls facing today's aging adults. Exposing scams and the devious crooks that may have us or our parents in their cross-hairs, this compelling documentary delivers a message that will both empower and motivate.

Professionals, experts and "victims" share life-saving knowledge and inspirational insights with candor, their heartfelt message guiding us, our parents and our loved ones safely into the golden years.

Fourth Grader Abducted

CA - Tomas Betsis-Dunstan, a fourth grade student at Marquez Charter Elementary School, was abducted by a non-custodial parent, George Betsis, on the morning of April 3.

Principal Phillip Hollis: "We did have a custody issue. It is now in the hands of the LAPD."

According to a police report, the child was dropped off at 8:50 a.m. and the father was seen taking him away from the school a few minutes later. Police speculate that the father was waiting for the boy to be dropped off and then grabbed him.

Betsis, an Australian national, is in a custody battle with his ex-wife over guardianship of the child. He asked Australian courts to grant him guardianship, but was denied. A U.S. court ordered Betsis to return his son to the West Los Angeles police station. Betsis called the station and acknowledged the order, but told an officer he would not comply.

Police are now seeking the public's help in locating the 10-year-old boy and his 49-year-old father.

Tomas is white, weighs 110 pounds, has a medium build and has dark hair. His father is described as 5'8' tall, 200 pounds, with brown hair and eyes, a medium build and dark complexion. Betsis is believed to be driving a 2009 gray Kia Sorrento with the California license plate 6ELL191.

Betsis is considered a flight risk. "We've taken precautions so that he won't leave the country, and Australian officials have been notified."

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Betsis or Tomas is asked to call Mounger at (310) 444-1533. After-hours and on weekends, calls may be directed to the West Los Angeles watch commander at (310) 444-0701 or to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-527-3247. Callers may also text 'Crimes' with a cell phone or log on to click on Web tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with 'LAPD.'

Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Marquez Fourth Grader Abducted

42 Indictments by Grand Jury

Some indictments were among 42 handed down by the grand jury last week:

* A 1-year-old boy suffered serious bodily injury, including five broken ribs, burns in his genital area and bruises at the hands of two residents who were taking care of him while his mother was incarcerated. Jacqueline E. Reed and Robert Scott Sencendiver were charged with child neglect causing serious bodily injury.

* A 51-year-old man was indicted on 21 counts of sexual abuse by a parent in a case involving his 14-year-old stepdaughter.

* Three defendants were indicted in a case involving the home invasion of a 71-year-old woman.

* Jeremy Bryan Tomberlin and Thomas Dale Sims were indicted on a charge of misappropriation of funds of an elderly person.

Full Article and Source:
Grand jury hands down 42 indictments

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Removal of Judge Reconsidered

The state Court of Judicial Discipline will hear legal arguments on May 13 regarding whether its order that removed Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta should be modified in light of newly discovered evidence she presented.

The court’s action is in response to a March 25 order by the state Supreme Court that stayed Lokuta’s removal from the bench and directed her seat not be placed on the May primary election ballot.

That order directed the disciplinary court to consider evidence Lokuta presented that tied her case to the ongoing corruption probe of the county judiciary. The court was also directed to consider whether an evidentiary hearing should be held.

Lokuta maintained the witnesses were part of a wide-scale conspiracy orchestrated by former judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella, who wanted her gone because she was a whistleblower who exposed various improprieties.

Full Article and Source:
Removal of Lokuta to be reconsidered

See also:
Ruling in Lokuta's Favor

Elder Abuse Sucks

A Society of Consumerism

Guardianship made me question my sense of values.

As someone who has worked within the criminal justice system, I honestly thought that there was such a thing being innocent until proven guilty, and consequently felt protected.

I thought that if you went to school, worked hard, followed the law, and treated others as you would like other to treat you, you would be a success.

I have realized that all my life I had mislead people; children, and myself into a lie.

The truth is that this is a society of consumerism.

If your shoes tear, they get thrown away --- it is cheaper.

If your TV breaks, you buy a new one --- it is cheaper.

If you get old, you are placed in a nursing home --- it is cheaper.

There is no value in the sentiment of things much less in the value and wisdom of old people.

There is no use for them.

They are also dispensable.

With guardianship, there is no nurturing, no bond, to anyone or anything.

Elderly Scam Gypsies

NV - More victims are contacting police to say they were scammed by two people targeting the elderly.

Judy Stevens, one of the suspects, was in court for an appearance on robbery charges. Her bail was set at $100,000. She and Rick Shawn are accused of stealing at least $91,000 from more than a dozen elderly victims.

Police now say Shawn and Stevens conned at least 19 people over the age of 73 years old in the Las Vegas Valley.

Las Vegas Metro Police now believe that the con may be a family affair. Police sources say relatives of Rick Shawn may be involved in scamming the elderly. This new information comes as Judy Stevens went to court and got a judge to reduce her bail.

CrimeStoppers photos were released in May of 2008. Police say the couple targeted the elderly and the man in the picture may be a close relative of Shawn.

Shawn is also accused of befriending a 79-year-old man suffering from dementia in Cyrpress, California and talking him into handing over $19,000. Shawn is also under investigation in Washinton, Oregon and Arizona.

Police believe there may be more victims who haven't come forward. Investigators are asking them to call the Metro Financial Crimes Unit at 828-3285.

Full Article and Source:
More Details Emerge in Elderly Scam

Revised Probate Fees

California revised the fees and costs charged by the probate Courts for probate cases. The new schedule of probate fees can be read below.

Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles CIVIL FEE SCHEDULE Effective January 1, 2009