Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sheila Gast Sentencing

Sheila Gast’s sentencing date is on 7/7/2009 at 1:15pm.

If you are a victim, please write a victim statement to the judge before July.

1. How have you suffered from Sheila Gast and her lawyers?

2. How much money did Sheila Gast and her lawyers take from you?

3. How much have you emotionally suffered from Sheila Gast and her lawyers?

Robert M. Small
Hennepin County District Court Courts
Tower C-1251
Hennepin County Government Center
300 South 6th Street Minneapolis, MN 55487

See also:
Investigators: The Power of One - May 2009

Judge Accused of Assaulting Mom

A part-time judge, who sometimes works at Fulton County Juvenile Court, is accused of assaulting her mother.

Judge Jacqueline Gibson and two siblings are all charged following a fight that broke out over custody of the 92-year old woman.

Some believe the family feud surrounds the mother's property and it all came to a head recently at a sibling’s home.

According to documents obtained by Channel 2 Action News reporter Tom Jones, Judge Gibson and her brother, Gary Gibson, went to their sister's house to take their mother away, since Gary Gibson is the guardian. With an Atlanta Police officer there, one side says the mother didn't want to leave.

Attorney Elizabeth Rogan, who represents Gibson’s sister Blair King: “She did not want to go. She resisted. And a fight broke out. It's a very complicated unhappy story.”

Full Article and Source:
Judge Accused Of Assaulting 92-Year-Old Mom

"Disruption of Congress"

2005 - Activist Elena Sassower annoyed congress, her trial judge, and defenders of free speech—all the way to jail

Two days before Christmas, Elena Sassower walked out of the Washington, D.C., jail where she'd just finished serving a sentence that should frighten anyone inclined to protest in the halls of power.

For reading a 24-word request to testify at a judicial appointment hearing on Capitol Hill, an act that qualified as "disruption of Congress," Sassower was hit with six months' incarceration—the maximum allowed by law. Despite the grave constitutional implications of her case, not one of the dozen civil rights organizations she'd asked for help came to her assistance: not the ACLU, not Public Citizen, not People for the American Way, not Common Cause.

Her real crime, it seems, was her penchant for being a pest. Reached by the Voice, attorneys from three such organizations refused to comment or spoke only off the record. One attorney privately told the Voice that his group's unwillingness to lend Sassower a hand had "nothing to do with the merits of her claims" and "everything to do with her being a very difficult person." Sassower ended up acting as her own lawyer, doing herself no favors in the trial.

Full Article and Source:
The Scourge of Her Conviction

Friday, June 19, 2009

Elderly Sues Judge Seidlin

An 83-year-old woman has filed a lawsuit against former Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin over accusations that Seidlin exploited her frail health for personal gain.

Barbara Kasler's suit also lists Seidlin's wife, Belinda, and his in-laws, Barbara and Oren Ray, as defendants.

The lawsuit was filed less than a month after the state ended an elderly-abuse investigation and found no wrongdoing in Seidlin's relationship with Kasler, a wealthy, bed-ridden widow who is his neighbor in the Marine Tower condominiums on Las Olas Boulevard.

That investigation was triggered in March after Kasler's niece and a caregiver jointly called the state's elder-abuse hotline, alleging neglect and financial exploitation by Seidlin, his wife and his mother-in-law.

Full Article and Source:
Former Broward Judge Larry Seidlin sued by elderly neighbor

See also:
Seidlin Cleared in 2nd Probe

Judge Accused of Exploitation

New Protection for Estates

Local advocates for the elderly are praising a new law that prevents anyone who abuses, neglects or financially exploits vulnerable adults from inheriting their money.

House Bill 1103, sponsored by Rep. Jim Moeller was signed into law May 18 by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Longview resident Tom Deutsch, who advocates for vulnerable adults in Southwest Washington, calls the new law “great progress” in addressing a sharp rise in senior exploitation cases.

Full Article and Source:
New protections for estates of abused seniors making an immediate impact

Judge's Guardianship Guide

Parents looking to establish guardianship over their adult children with disabilities are getting a leg up from a local judge.

Judge Lawrence Kirkwood prepared a guide to walk parents through the often confusing process of seeking guardianship.

Until last year Floridians needed a lawyer to seek guardianship, which could cost thousands of dollars. But a recent act of the state’s legislature made it so that parents can file for guardianship on their own.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Offers Guide For Parents Seeking Guardianship

More information:
Judge's help called a 'lifeline' for parents

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Accountant Becomes Guardian

After reading last month's News-Democrat stories about problems with guardianship of impaired adults accountant Charles Fike decided to intervene.

Fike: "What concerned me is the lack of accountings, the lack of showing where the money's going."

He told Judge Stephen Rice, who oversees probate court in the county, that he'd like to get into the guardianship business. He has visited with health care providers, such as Memorial Hospital in Belleville, to let them know they can turn to him when trying to find a guardian for a patient.

Since last week, he has been appointed as guardian for three people.

"I see the need for this, and I believe I can do it," Fike added that he thinks his more than two decades of experience as an accountant and his responsibility in caring for his parents provides the perfect background for this type of work.

Full Article and Source:
Belleville accountant offers to be guardian for impaired adults

Kristal Estate Settlement

A settlement has been reached in the long and often bitter battle over the estate of former CBGB proprietor Hilly Kristal, CBGB Made Hilly Kristal a Millionaire—His Ex Got Nothing.

At the center of the dispute: whether Kristal's ex-wife Karen, who was the legal owner of CBGB throughout the club's entire existence, signed the business over to her former husband in 2005. The document was unwitnessed, and today, Karen Kristal says she has no memory of signing it. But her daughter, Lisa Kristal Burgman, who was the chief beneficiary of the more than $3 million dollar fortune her father left behind when he died in 2007, maintains that her mother did willingly sign, and that the club and the money was therefore rightfully her father's, and now hers.

"The thing that I'm mad about is the guardianship," says Dana, who explains his and his mother's decision to settle as the result of legal blackmail by his sister, whose lawyers threatened a guardianship over his mother in the midst of the now two years worth of legal wrangling.

"I was told they could actually put my mother in a hospital. That's why we felt we had to agree...You never know what's going to happen in a guardianship, and I didn't want that threat over my mother."

Full Article and Source:
The Final CBGB Settlement: Hilly Kristal's Estate Takes Its Last Legal Bow

Missing Teen

TX - CCPD is seeking the assistance of the public in locating the following missing, possibly endangered, person:

Ryan Ramirez, age 16. Ramirez was last seen at this grandparents' residence in the 1200 block of Florida street on April 3, 2009 at approximately 10:00 PM. Ramirez left behind a note indicating he intended to run away and has not been heard from nor seen since. His grandparents, who have guardianship, are worried because he also left behind prescribed medication. Ramirez, who is 5'6" tall, 120lbs with black hair and brown eyes, may have traveled to San Antonio to visit a girlfriend or family members.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Ryan Ramirez is urged to call Sr. Officer J. Lerma in CID at 886-2677 or 886-2840.

Family members are extremely worried about his well-being and are desperately hoping for any confirmation that he is in good health.

CCPD Seeks Public's Help In Locating Missing Teen

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Testamentary Capacity

A lawyer testified that if New York socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor could not recognize her only son, that would indicate she was mentally incompetent to approve changes to her will.

G. Warren Whitaker, an expert in trust and estates law, said a person's inability to recognize her own child shows she is probably unaware of what she is doing when she signs a will and thus lacks legal "testamentary capacity.''

Whitaker, despite overruled defense objections, was asked by Assistant District Attorney Joel Seidemann whether a person would be considered mentally competent to sign a will if she thought her only child was her husband.

Witnesses have testified in the eight-week-old trial that Astor referred to son Anthony Marshall as "my husband."

Whitaker: "That would certainly be an indication of lack of testamentary capacity."

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer Tells Of His Role in Astor Will Fight

Eli Lilly and Zyprexa

Eli Lilly & Co. urged doctors to prescribe Zyprexa for elderly patients with dementia, an unapproved use for the antipsychotic, even though the drugmaker had evidence the medicine didn't work for such patients, according to unsealed internal company documents.

In 1999, four years after Lilly sent study results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showing Zyprexa didn't alleviate dementia symptoms in older patients, it began marketing the drug to those very people, according to documents unsealed in insurer suits against the company for overpayment.

Regulators required Lilly and other antipsychotic drug- makers in April 2005 to warn that the products posed an increased risk to elderly patients with dementia. The documents show the health dangers in marketing a drug for an unapproved use, called off-label promotion, said Sidney Wolfe, head of the health research group at Public Citizen in Washington.

Wolfe: "By definition, off-label means there is no clear evidence that the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks. The reason why off-label promotion is illegal is that you can greatly magnify the number of people who will be harmed."

Full Article and Source:
Lilly Sold Drug for Dementia Knowing It Didn’t Help, Files Show

See also:
Bitter Pill

Judiciary Committee Public Meeting

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Legislation Does Not Address Fraud

Legislation that would require certification of some guardians of impaired adults is expected to be signed by the governor, but one lawyer involved in Illinois guardianship reform efforts said it doesn't address the biggest problem.

Mark Heyrman, a clinical professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School who led a task force that in 2001 came up with recommendations for guardianship reform in Illinois, said he supports the new bill and thinks it'll provide needed training for some guardians who don't know how to do their job.

However, he doesn't believe good training will stop someone who wants to steal a person's money.

Heyrman: "I think it's a nice, interesting piece of legislation. I don't think it will address the primary problem, which is fraud."

Full Article and Source:
New rules for adult guardians likely on the way

See also:
A Situation That's Ripe For Abuse and Neglect

Unfairly Barred

Ailing and elderly, Gladys McManaman says she's miserable because a nursing home has limited the time she can visit her disabled daughter. McManaman's 61-year-old daughter, Patricia, who can neither walk nor talk, lives at Riverside Convalescent Hospital in Chico.

Gladys McManaman, 85, said the nursing home's administration will only let her visit Patricia between 9 a.m. and noon on weekdays.

There are no exceptions. She couldn't visit on Mother's Day, Easter or her daughter's birthday.

And if she stays a bit longer than the three hours she's allowed, a staff member will tell her sharply, "It's four minutes past noon — you have to go!"

McManaman's lawyer, Joe Earley, said Riverside officials claim the mother is a danger to her daughter, but they raise only vague fears.

Earley said he doesn't accept that story. He's convinced the facility's administration is retaliating against McManaman for filing complaints about the place.

McManaman said Patricia has had many falls and has often been neglected by the staff. Also, the facility has not responded quickly when her daughter has needed medical care.

McManaman said she had been Patricia's conservator. But while she was in the hospital, her conservatorship was taken away, and the Public Guardian became the conservator. That seems to have left her without any rights concerning her daughter.

Full Article and Source:
Mother says she's unfairly barred by nursing home

Save Reta

Reta Cook Pleads Mercy

This is my mom.

She transferred her money to my brother, and he and I paid for attorneys and care in and to save my mom from Santa Clara County.

They said she was a victim of financial abuse, I feared for my life.

Mom got sick, and my son was disabled.

She gave him money after selling her home and moving into assisted living.

NO ONE knows how nosey assisted living social workers are - mom said it is none of their business and told them she was there for care and she could leave whenever.

But the public guardians started sniffing around.

The next thing I know, my son is being accused of financial abuse cause grandma bought him a car when she sold her house.

She was deemed incompetent, demented, needed locked up and drugged.

I took her away, to southern California where she was deemed mentally alert and competent by two doctors within a week.

Guardianship needs reform.

More people need to sue the guardians and win MILLIONS for the loss of their parents and defamation of character.

My mom is still fighting. Getting weaker physically but not mentally.

Monday, June 15, 2009

NASGA Celebrates World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse

For immediate release

June 15, 2009
For more information contact:
Annie McKenna
Media Liaison

NASGA Celebrates World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15, 2009
NASGA is a civil rights organization comprised of victims and families working to expose and end unlawful and abusive guardianships/conservatorships.

It is fitting that on this day of global recognition, NASGA brings to public attention a shocking truth: elderly and/or disabled and vulnerable people are often abused – physically and financially - by their court-appointed “protectors.”

The abuse is enabled under color of law by uncaring or corrupt courts presiding over guardianship / conservatorship cases.

Unlawful and abusive guardianships constitute elder abuse at its worst.
Guardianship wards are often isolated from family and friends and forcibly removed from their homes to nursing homes where they die prematurely, alone and afraid; completely unaware of their families’ constant struggle – almost always in vain - to free them.

The court-appointed fiduciaries and their lawyers engage in dissipating their victims’ assets by exorbitant and/or fraudulent billing, leaving them indigent, to ultimately become a burden on the US taxpayers under Medicaid – quite contrary to the intent of the “protective” statutes.

Many families go to the Office of the Attorney General for help - only to be turned away because the abuse has been court sanctioned.

Americans should be outraged by this public sanctioning of abuse. NASGA calls for legislative reform to stop this insidious crime foisted upon our most vulnerable citizens - the elderly and disabled – by misapplication and misuse of law actually intended to protect them.

Rell Signs Legislation

Gov. M. Jodi Rell says she has signed legislation overhauling Connecticut's 300-year-old probate court system.

The measure consolidates the current 117 probate court districts to between 44 and 50. It's part of an effort to cut costs and streamline the deficit-plagued system.

It also sets regular schedules of 40 hours per week in those courts -- some of which are open part time now -- and requires future probate judges to be attorneys.

Full Article and Source:
Rell signs Conn. probate reform bill

See also:
Nearing Reform

Guardians Needed

The need for legal guardians for people with disabilities and for the elderly is on its way to a crisis point, with more than 100 people who once lived in the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center or another state institution on a state-funded guardianship program waiting list. Add to that the number of young adults with disabilities each year who reach 18 and must have a court-appointed guardian.

The nonprofit Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana and Easter Seals Arc are hosting a free informational meeting at the Allen County Public Library for parents and caregivers of teens or adult children with disabilities. It is an educational outreach of VLP's Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults, which finds volunteer guardians for adults with no family or friends able or willing to oversee services such as housing or health care. A guardian of the estate may also be appointed.

Although Tuesday's forum is targeted at families with adult or soon-to-be adult children with disabilities, training for volunteer guardians for older adults and others through VLP-VASIA will be offered later this year. In some cases, an incapacitated person may have medical or other urgent issues requiring intervention but even when family is found, “They will not step up because they're afraid of being financially responsible,” said attorney Catherine Christoff with Christoff & Christoff, also active with VLP-VASIA.

Although no one denies the guardianship need is significant, just how serious of a problem it is remains uncertain, said Julie Cameron, coordinator of Mental Health in America in Allen County's Adult Guardianship Services. There is no good tracking in Indiana's public or private guardianship programs of how many people on waiting lists may die before a guardian is found or perhaps a distant relative accepts the role. The guardianship process needs to be deliberate and taken very seriously, Houk said, noting “We're talking about suspending people's civil rights. It's important there are barriers.”

Full Article and Source:
Needed: Guardians for Indiana's disabled, elderly

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lost Trust

My family has been traumatized.

We have spent day in and day out trying to find someone to help us.

There are no words that describe the kind of pain you have watching your loved ones get locked away.

And then you are told that you can not go visit them.

I am sure that they were scared.

We were scared.

We feel lost.

We only knew a life of being together as a family. But it is gone.

We do not trust anyone that works for the justice system.

We do not trust the county we live in.

We are constantly looking over our shoulder to see what the people are doing.

We believe they are murderers and thieves.

Guardian Shot Grandson

Robert Clark Jr. could quickly move from playing with his 6-year-old grandson to yelling at him, said a neighbor.

Michael Levigne, 6, and his younger brother lived with their grandparents for about four years, since guardianship was switched by a probate court.

Police say Clark shot and killed the boy in an incident that may have been triggered by the boy dropping a watermelon or cutting into it before his grandfather wanted him to. Clark also shot and wounded his wife before police shot him, according to Commerce Police Chief John Gaissert.

State Child Advocate Thomas Rawlings said Tuesday that his office is looking into the child’s death. He wants to know whether DFCS performed any assessment of the grandparents as adequate care providers.

Chief John Gaissert said there were “no flags” that suggested that Robert Lewis “Bobby” Clark was set to explode.

Full Article and Source:
Neighbor: Slain boy was yelled at often

Services for the Elderly

Advocates for the elderly in California say recent budget cuts are dramatically affecting the ability of social service programs to keep up with demand at a time when the state's elderly population - and the incidents of elder abuse - are exploding.

One example is Contra Costa County, where the Aging and Adult Services Program laid off two-thirds of the staff who investigate abuse complaints of elderly and dependent adults. The county is now turning over virtually all of its self-neglect cases to some other agency - often, the police.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell is proposing to allow an additional 30,000 seniors to enroll in the state's prescription-drug program for older residents, a move called essential to helping them survive the difficult economic times.

Rendell says he is working with House Democrats to push through legislation that would raise the current income eligibility limits for seniors to qualify for the state's popular PACENET program. The money for the program, which is funded by the Pennsylvania lottery would be augmented by requiring pharmaceutical companies to give the state the same drug rebates that it gives to the federal government's Medicaid program.

Full Article and Source:
As Calif. Budget Shrinks, Services For Elderly Slip