Saturday, October 17, 2009

Judge Grants Visitation to Daughter

A circuit judge has granted temporary visitation rights to a daughter fighting a Bradenton public guardian for the right to care for her father.

Circuit Judge Paul E. Logan ruled Thursday that Beverly R. Newman may visit her father, 89-year-old Al Katz, for three hours per day, beginning today, at Casa Mora Rehabilitation Center.

“That’s what we asked for. Thank God,” Newman said. “I think in three hours my father can understand I haven’t ditched him. We can be able to stabilize Dad.”

Newman and her husband, Lawrence T. Newman, both of Indianapolis, are contesting the emergency guardianship of Katz granted to Aging Safely Inc., on Sept. 18. Beverly Newman hasn’t seen her father since Sept. 24, the day he was placed in the psychiatric ward at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

During a two-day hearing, Aging Safely said Newman should not be allowed visitation based on the wishes of Katz’s health care surrogate, Jackie Steuerwald, of Indiana, and because she might try to interfere with his care. Newman also has pending litigation against her father in a separate case.

Logan’s order said “during the visits Dr. Newman shall not interfere with her father’s care and she shall not discuss any pending litigation, including this guardianship proceeding, with her father.”

Aging Safely attorney Erika Dine did not return a message left for her Thursday.

Meanwhile, Katz’s girlfriend, Beverly Ervin, spoke for the first time about Newman’s battle for guardianship. She said Aging Safely is the right agency to take care of Katz. He does not want to see his daughter, she said.

“I went to visit with him yesterday and the day before,” Ervin said. “I think he’s in a wonderful place. I hope he stays right where he is.”

A hearing to determine permanent guardianship for Katz will be Oct. 26 in Logan’s court.

Full Article and Source:
Judge: Woman Can Visit Her Father Before Hearing

See Also:
Ward Isolated From Daughter

Indiana Family Challenging Father's Guardianship

County Board Member Guilty of Exploitation

Adams County Board member John Hibbert was found guilty Wednesday after a two-day trial of taking about $210,000 last November from longtime friend and neighbor Eleanor Lutes, 93.

The jury deliberated for an hour and 20 minutes before finding Hibbert guilty of financial exploitation of an elderly person and theft over $10,000. He will be sentenced Dec. 7 by Judge Michael Roseberry, with probation a strong possibility.

“I would be surprised if he didn’t get it (probation),” said Hibbert’s attorney, Drew Schnack.

“This is not a crime that cries out for a long prison sentence,” special prosecutor Ed Parkinson said.

Full Article and Source:
Adams County Board Member John Hibbert Found Guilty of Financially Exploiting Elderly Neighbor

See Also:
93-Year-Old Woman Testifies in Her Behalf

GA Judge Pleads Guilty to Federal Corruption

A former Georgia Superior Court judge has pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge, in a deal with proseutors that keeps him out of prison.

The plea by Brooks E. Blitch III ends a lengthy investigation by state and federal authorities who toppled him as one of rural Clinch County's most powerful politicians. The plea Friday morning came before U.S. District Court Judge Hugh Lawson.

Blitch pleaded guilty to a single count of honest service fraud conspiracy for granting favors to defendants outside of court. He admitted to reducing sentences and bonds and terminating probations without hearings or notifying prosecutors.

The 74-year-old Blitch resigned last year to settle misconduct charges by a state agency that investigates judges.

Federal prosecutors indicted him on criminal corruption charges two months later.

Full Article, Press Release from the Georgia AG, and Source:
Former Clinch Judge Pleads Guilty

CA: Assembly Bill 215

The Governor has signed Assembly Bill 215, legislation that will help families seeking a nursing home for a loved one by requiring skilled nursing facilities prominently to post quality of care ratings. The bill, jointly authored by Assembly members Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita) enjoyed strong bipartisan support throughout the legislative process.

“Families trying to choose a nursing home for their loved ones need more information so they can compare quality of care information and make the right decision,” said Feuer. “Soon nursing homes will post their federal ratings, and families confronting this very difficult choice will be better informed. Most important, their loved ones will be better protected.”

Full Article and Source:
Governor Signs Bipartisan Bill Ensuring Patient and Family Access to Nursing Home Information

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lawyer Indicted

An embattled San Antonio lawyer was indicted Wednesday on charges she looted a substantial inheritance intended for her grandmother.

Michelle Lorenz Valicek, 51, faces up to life in prison if convicted of felony misapplication of fiduciary property.

Valicek's grandmother, a 95-year-old retired ballet instructor diagnosed with dementia, was determined by a probate court in 2006 to be the sole heir to her reclusive nephew's fortune. Robert Bonner had amassed an estimated at $2.38 million by the time he died in 2005.

Valicek became administrator of Margaret Lorenz's inheritance in 2006, but she was removed from the position 2 ½ years later. A probate court report indicated that, at one point, she was spending $25,000 a month of her grandmother's money on items ranging from a baby grand piano to two homes.

The total loss from the inheritance is believed to be in excess of $500,000, said Adriana Biggs, chief of the district attorney's white collar crimes division.

Lawyer Indicted for Spending Grandmother's Money

See Also:
Lawyer Ordered to Vacate

Lawyer Accused of Elder Abuse

Conahan Tied for Decades

As varied as the property deals were that Michael T. Conahan handled as an attorney, a familiar name often appeared with his on the paperwork.

Conahan represented members of the Scalleat family in their sale and purchase of real estate and mortgaging of the properties over the past 26 years.

With his wife, Barbara and sister, Elizabeth, Conahan purchased the Fort Lauderdale condominium from Albert and Rose Scalleat for $10 in 1989, according to Broward County property records. The Conahans would later obtain a $100,000 mortgage for the property in the Sea Ranch Club condominium and satisfy the loan as paid in full in 1997.

At the time of the purchase Conahan was a district justice in Hazleton and Albert Scalleat had been linked to organized crime by the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.

It would not be the first time Conahan’s name would come up for being associated with organized crime figures. Testimony at a recent appeal of a defamation case in Luzerne County court put Conahan and reputed mob boss and Bufalino associate William D’Elia together.

Robert Kulick testified he and D’Elia met regularly with Conahan for breakfast and discussed cases pending in the court. A county security guard said she delivered envelopes to Conahan from D’Elia, who parked in the rear of the courthouse.

Full Article and Source:
Conahan, Scalleats Tied for Decades

See Also:
Conahan Linked Again

Group of 20 Argues Against Immunity for Ciavarella, Conahan

NASGA Member Attends Hearings

When Solo Lawyers Get Sick

Herb Dubin never thought he’d get sick.

The Rockville solo practitioner had always been in great health and had a strict no-doctors policy. But when he’d had the same painful cough for three months in March 2008, his wife diagnosed a cracked rib and made him go to the hospital for an X-ray.

Her insistence saved his life. He had double pneumonia and a nasty bacterial infection, which landed him in the hospital for 12 days and kept him out of the office for more than a month after that.

Dubin had no plan for what would happen to his practice if he were incapacitated.

“Does the shoemaker ever take care of his own shoes?” said Dubin, whose practice includes personal injury, legal malpractice and attorney discipline defense, criminal defense and commercial litigation.The other solos with whom he shares an office swooped in and kept things running until he got back, but he can’t imagine what would have happened had they not been there.

“The bottom line was, I just happened to be sharing space with a good bunch of guys,” he said. “Suppose I was practicing the way a lot of new, young lawyers are: from my house, by myself.”

Experts say too few solo and small-firm lawyers have made plans for what will happen to their practice if they suddenly get sick. Not planning can leave attorneys open to malpractice claims or the loss of money and clients.

“We’re trying to get attorneys to think about this more often so that they plan for retirement and plan for absences due to illness or the like, because these things happen,” said Maryland Bar Counsel Melvin Hirshman, whose office sometimes has to pick up the pieces of a practice when a lawyer fails to plan.

Full Article and Source:
When Solo Lawyers Get Sick

93-Year-Old Woman Testifies in Her Behalf

A 93-year-old woman who had more than $200,000 removed from her bank accounts by Adams County Board member John Hibbert last November has testified that she did not give him permission to take the money, and does not remember signing power of attorney documents.

Hibbert's trial on charges of exploitation of an elderly person and theft began Tuesday morning in Quincy.

Hibbert is accused of taking about $210,000 in certificates of deposit, money market accounts and a checking account from Eleanor Lutes after she fell and broke her hip a year ago. Lutes signed over power of attorney documents and a will while in Blessing Hospital and a Camp Point nursing home, where she now lives.

Full Article and Source:
Adams County Board Member Tried for Elderly Theft

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ward Isolated From Daughter

An Indiana woman contesting a local elder advocate’s guardianship of her father said in court Tuesday she should be permitted to visit him because she is his “solace and comfort.”

Beverly R. Newman, of Indianapolis, asked Circuit Judge Paul E. Logan to allow her to care for her father, 89-year-old Al Katz, until an Oct. 26 hearing to determine permanent guardianship. Failing that, she asked for the right to visit him at least three hours per day.

“The state of Florida is supposed to try and keep families together, not split them apart,” Newman told the judge.

Newman has been allowed no contact with Katz since Sept. 24, when he was placed in the psychiatric ward at Manatee Memorial Hospital by doctors and Aging Safely, the local public guardian, according to a motion filed by Newman.

Newman and her husband, Lawrence T. Newman, have filed a motion to vacate Aging Safely’s emergency guardianship of Katz, awarded Sept. 18 by Judge Janette Dunnigan, because Beverly Newman was not listed as next of kin on court documents nor informed of the emergency guardianship hearing.

Erika Dine, Aging Safely’s attorney, told Logan that Katz’s health care surrogate, Jackie Steuerwald, of Indiana, is opposed to Newman visiting Katz. And Aging Safely representative Ashley Butler testified that Katz told her he did not want to see his daughter.

Logan continued the hearing until 1:30 p.m. today. After the hearing, the two sides met in hopes of coming to a visitation agreement to submit to the judge. But Newman rejected Dine’s proposal of a one-hour, three-day-per-week visitation agreement and insisted on daily access to her father.

Full Article and Source:
Daughter Seeks Visitation Before Father's Guardianship Hearing

See Also:
Indiana Family Challenging Father's Guardianship

Former Probate Judge Going to Prison

Attorney General Troy King announced that the Alabama Supreme Court today denied certiorari review in the case of former Covington County Probate Judge Sherrie Phillips.

In declining to hear the case, the Court issued a Certificate of Judgment of Phillips’s conviction for felony theft and ethics violations prosecuted by the Attorney General last October.

Phillips’s appellate bond now requires her to surrender to the county sheriff within 15 days. Phillips faces two concurrent sentences of 10 years, which were split for her to serve three years incarceration followed by three years of supervised probation.

Attorney General King said, “It is appropriate that Sherrie Phillips begin to serve her prison sentence.

We are sending a strong message that no one is above the law.

This verdict proves that even judges who break the laws they apply are accountable for their actions.

My commitment to the people of Covington County and to citizens throughout Alabama is that, as their Attorney General, I will prosecute those who break the law and betray the public trust, and that I will take action to preserve the integrity of our government.

Today, we make good on that pledge”

Phillips was found guilty by a jury in Covington County Circuit Court on October 29, 2008.

Full Press Release and Source:
State Supreme Court Denies Cert in Covington Probate Judge Case

See Also:
Where the Rumors Were Coming From

2008: The Year That Was

Others Feel Victimized

Probate Judge Convicted

Judge on Trial

FL Bar Disbars A Dozen Lawyers

The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 27 attorneys, disbarring 12, suspending eight and placing five on probation. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. Seven attorneys were publicly reprimanded. One was ordered to pay restitution.

The following lawyers are disciplined:
• Frank Michael Costanzo
• Kenneth J. Dunn
• Justin Edward Gould
• Kurt S. Harmon
• Caswell Adington Hart
• Andrew William Menyhart
• Jerome David Mitchell
• John Michael Moody II
• Charles Houston Richards Jr.
• David Michael Scott
• William Francis Sullivan IV
• Jerrold Keith Wingate
• Jeffrey Scott Campos
• Jason Andrew Cobb
• Brian Alan Coury
• Guillermo Napoleon Lopez
• Lawrence Daniel Montekio
• Michael A. Moulis
• Donald Joseph Murray
• Joel Lee Sherman
• Carl Roland Hayes
• Martin Ralph Mallinger
• Margaret Blot
• Julio Ricardo More
• R. Eric Rubio
• Marc Stuart Schiller
• Robert H. Springer

Full Article and Source:
A Dozen Disbarred by Courts, None From Area

Caretaker Charged with Forgery and Exploitation

A husband and wife were arrested by Jones County investigators for forging an elderly woman’s checks.

The couple also made several purchases with the victim’s debit card.

Elizabeth Myrick, 38, and Shan Myrick, 36, were arrested Oct. 7.

Sheriff Alex Hodge said Elizabeth Myrick was hired as a caretaker for a 77-year-old woman, and she later charged purchases of more than $1,300 with about $700 charged at Coast casinos.

Elizabeth Myrick faces charges of forgery and exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Shan Myrick faces charges of exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

The couple remains jailed in the Jones County Adult Detention Facility.

Full Article and Source:
Couple Charged For Exploiting Elderly Woman

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NJ Superior Court Judge Under Fire

A New Jersey Superior Court judge is coming under fire from a wide array of victims and their families, some of whom have filed lawsuits alleging violations of their civil rights, racketeering, elder abuse and severe unethical behavior, among other crimes.

In one of the more recent cases, Judge Mary Margaret McVeigh is accused of sentencing 96-year-old Blanche Zwerdling to live in nursing home - against her wishes and those of her family - to ostensibly gain control of her trust fund and bank accounts. Full details can not yet be disclosed because the case and a potential investigation are ongoing, but further reports will follow.

According to a family member and court documents, the judge appointed three $300 per hour lawyers for Zwerdling - one as a guardian - while she was placed involuntarily in an assisted-living facility in New Jersey. In addition, her money is being wasted by the court while her health deteriorates, the family member said.

"My mother in law was so happy and comfortable in Florida," said her son-in-law. "Is this how you protect her? Spend her money without discretion, and say in open court: 'she has it so we can spend it.'"

Her grandson, who was the lawful trustee of the trust, was illegally removed without explanation, according to the son-in-law. The court-appointed guardian was subsequently put in charge. The granddaughter, who had lived with and cared for the woman for seven years, was thrown out on the street while the judge slapped her with a restraining order. No family members are allowed to speak with the elderly woman about her situation. And over $200,000 has been drained from her bank account by the court and the three lawyers so far, while many of her belongings were discarded at the whim of her "guardian."

Speaking to investigators, another son-in-law accused McVeigh of illegal eviction, illegal separation, illegal takeover of a trust, violation of the right to choose an attorney, failing to provide an accounting of the money that was being spent and even refusal to allow an assessment of the property after the unlawful eviction. The judge is also facing allegations of a conflict of interest in the case. Susan Champion, the court-appointed guardian, is allegedly a "very close friend" of McVeigh, the son told investigators. "It makes me think back to Nazi Germany," he added.

This is far from the first case that has called McVeigh's ethics and behavior into question.

Full Article and Source:
New Jersey Judge Under Fire for Alleged Corruption

Increasing Penalties

Senator Gretchen Whitmer will be introducing legislation today that will better protect Michigan’s elderly citizens by increasing penalties for abusing or exploiting senior citizens in Michigan. These bills are part of a broader elder abuse prevention legislative package, with more legislation addressing the physical and financial protection of our seniors to be introduced soon.

The initial components of the package being introduced today will:

· Make it a felony to obtain a senior’s signature through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or coercion. The penalty is 15 years in prison and a fine of $15,000 or three times the value of the money or property obtained, whichever is greater

· Prohibit someone from receiving any benefits from a victim’s estate if they are charged with a related felony count of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

· Add fraudulently obtaining a signature of any person with the intent to cheat and defraud them to the state’s definition of racketeering and strengthening sentencing guidelines accordingly.

· Increase protections for seniors with variable annuity investments and cracks down on financial scams.

Full Press Release and Source:
Whitmer: Elder Abuse Reform Cannot Wait

New Community Collaboration

Family Eldercare announced its selection by the Federal Administration on Aging to receive a national grant in the amount of $1,376,064. This grant will fund a new community collaboration called “A Better Way to Live at Home: Education, Resources and Supports for Older Adults”.

Family Eldercare is one of 13 awardees nationwide and will serve as the lead agency, partnering with several other area public and non-profit agencies including; The Housing Authority of the City of Austin, Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area, Austin Groups for the Elderly (AGE), Helping the Aging, Needy and Disabled (HAND), Meals on Wheels and More, New Connections, and the University of Texas-Austin.

The collaboration will provide innovative strategies linking older individuals to programs and services that maintain physical and mental health, enhance mental acuity, and create a community where older adults are active and engaged.

Full Article and Source:
Family Eldercare Wins Grant

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Abusers Can Simply Move On

THE PHOTOGRAPHS of Michael Ferrara's face tell much of the story.

Blood pooling under his swollen eyes showed that the 25-year-old had been punched - hard. The marks around his neck were a clear sign of strangulation, his doctor said.

But Michael, who was living in a Delaware County group home for mentally handicapped adults at the time of the February 2008 assault, couldn't tell police what happened.

Born with a genetic mutation that caused severe brain damage and left him unable to speak or communicate normally, Michael can't identify his assailant.

"He can't even tell you who hurt him and what they did and how they did it," said his mother, Judi. "He's 25 years old, but he's like a child."

As a result, no charges were filed. And without a criminal conviction, whoever attacked Michael - police say most of the evidence pointed to his overnight caregiver - is free to work with similarly disabled adults.

"These people can continually work in the field," Ferrara said. "They can leave one agency and go to another agency."

That's because Pennsylvania is one of only five states in the nation without an adult-protection law that gives county or regional agencies the authority to investigate and record incidents of alleged abuse or neglect of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Children and the elderly are already covered.

Full Article and Source:
No Law to Protect Vulnerable Adults

Abuse Charges Dropped

Last month, Ohio County prosecutors dropped charges against a Northwood Health Systems employee accused of hitting and swearing at an elderly woman with a developmental disability in a Kroger parking lot in May.

Now, the woman's guardian and one witness are questioning why those abuse charges were dismissed.

The alleged victim in the case, 64-year-old Mary Ann Kaib, lived at Northwood's Ritz Avenue Group Home in Wheeling.

She died Sept. 21, one of three Northwood clients to die while under their care in the last two months. There is no indication the incident in May is related to her death.

Two of these deaths and other allegations led the state Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification to decide not to renew Northwood's license to operate, effective Oct. 1. But state officials are allowing Northwood to stay open during negotiations.

Full Article and Source:
Witness, Guardian Ask Why Abuse Charges Were Dropped Against Northwood Employee

Florida Silver Alert Plan's One-Year Anniversary

Governor Charlie Crist today recognized the one-year anniversary of Florida’s Silver Alert Plan and praised its success in helping return 18 missing elderly persons back home safely.

“I’m pleased and proud of the way this program has worked as a safety net for some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Governor Crist. “I thank our citizens for paying attention to the Silver Alerts, and for doing their part to call in the information law enforcement needs to safely locate these seniors.”

Florida’s Silver Alert Plan was made effective by an Executive Order signed by the Governor on October 8, 2008, and is a standardized system to aid local law enforcement in the rescue of an elderly person with a cognitive impairment who goes missing.

The plan calls for the broadcast of important information via the media and highway message signs (in cases involving a vehicle) to enlist citizens in the search for an endangered senior. To date, 115 Silver Alerts have been issued – 110 individuals were located safely, with 18 of those recoveries attributed directly to the Silver Alert.

Press Release and Source:
Governor Crist Recognizes One-Year Anniversary of Florida's Silver Alert Program

Violation of Trust

An Ogden man — already awaiting trial for allegedly exploiting an elderly man for financial gain — is facing four new felony charges.

Ricky Edward McClain, 45, befriended a 96-year-old man, then used that relationship to bilk the man out of $30,000 in the past year, said Ogden Police Sgt. Danielle Croyle.

Croyle said McClain began the friendship by offering to perform services that the alleged victim could no longer perform for himself. It's a ploy that scam artists typically use to gain their victims' trust, the sergeant said.

"One of the services he offered was to shovel snow for him," Croyle said. "(McClain) would shovel snow and then he'd pay him, and then he would give him a story about how he had sick kids and he'd pay him more money."

"The thing that's sad about this is that (McClain) befriended him," Croyle said. "It's a violation not only of your financial stability, but your trust."

Full Article and Source:
Ogden Man Accused of Bilking 96-Year-Old

Financial Exploitation

It is a sad fact that most people who financially exploit the elderly get away with it. They often find it so easy that they do it time and time again. Each time the Exploiter becomes more and more bold. They act as though they are entitled to this money and no one else deserves it. This is why they must be prosecuted. There will be another victim.

Prosecuting these crimes is difficult for the State Attorney because of how it is done. In my career as a Professional Geriatric Care Manager in South Florida I have noticed a definite step-by-step process, almost a formula, that these Exploiters use to separate elders from their life savings. In many cases the Exploiter actually gets permission from the elder to take their money. Because of this, it can be argued that the elder "allowed" their assets to be taken and therefore, no crime took place. Furthermore, to argue that an elder was easily influenced by the Exploiter is to imply that the elder is incompetent and perhaps should not be in control of any of their finances. Few elders want to admit that. Instead they justify the theft or even cover it up. Once the elder realizes that they have been victimized, they may feel responsible, guilty or embarrassed. Few will testify against the one who stole from them.

Full Article and Source:
When Seniors are Financially Exploited by Friends, Family and Caregivers

Monday, October 12, 2009

Experts Heartened

During the long months of testimony in the Astor trial, as the courtroom emptied of spectators and the headlines shrunk, prosecutors and other professionals involved in elder abuse cases were still paying close attention. In fact, some were biting their fingernails, especially as the jury’s deliberations grew heated and stretched to 12 days.

“I’ve been very worried about it,” confessed Lori Stiegel, senior attorney at the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging. If the prosecutors, including the head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s pioneering elder abuse unit, had failed to win a conviction, she said, “it could have been perceived as reinforcing the notion that these cases are just too difficult to bring and that juries will have trouble understanding the issues.”

Financial exploitation robs the elderly of an estimated $2.6 billion (PDF) each year, according to a study published earlier this year by the Metlife Mature Market Institute, Virginia Tech and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Like all forms of elder abuse and neglect, the crime is believed to be substantially underreported.

And it’s particularly tough to prosecute. When adult protective services caseworkers suspect financial abuse and approach prosecutors, “they routinely get rebuffed,” Mr. Hafemeister said. “The prosecutors say they’re too difficult to try.”

“The percentage of these cases that occur within families is very high, about 90 percent,” said Joy Solomon, a former prosecutor, now director of the first shelter for elder abuse victims at the Hebrew Home in the Bronx. “You may have a victim who doesn’t want to involve the criminal justice system” in what’s seen as a family problem.

The Astor verdict, Ms. Solomon continued, is “a win for those of us in the criminal justice world trying to support prosecutions of these cases.”

Full Article and Source:
Abuse Experts Heartened by Astor Verdict

See Also:
Astor's Son Found Guilty

SC Supreme Court Orders Creation of Elder Task Force

The S.C. Supreme Court has issued an order mandating the creation of a task force to study elder issues in the state’s courts.

The task force will examine issues related to elder abuse, adult guardianships and conservatorship. It will then make recommendations to the Supreme Court to aid in its responses.

The task force is charged with the following:
■Collecting data to aid in determining needs, promoting beneficial outcomes and fostering overall system accountability.

■Fostering training and education for judges, court personnel, attorneys, court-appointed guardians, guardians ad litem, conservators, mediators, law enforcement and others on matters affecting the elderly, such as dementia, financial exploitation, physical abuse and neglect.

■Recommending changes in court structure, laws, regulations or rules in order to protect the legal rights of the elderly, promote process fairness and facilitate the economic use of available resources.

■Reporting the status of its work to the Supreme Court and other interested parties by July 1.

Full Article and Source:
Supreme Court Orders Creation of Elder Task Force

Project $cams Charges Six For Scamming Seniors

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox Thursday announced criminal charges against six people accused of financially exploiting senior citizens.

The charges are a result of Project $CAMS (Stop Crimes Against Michigan Seniors), an initiative to protect nursing home residents from scams, misappropriated resources and embezzlement.

The suspects are –

•Kevin Mark Crothers of Williamston, accused of embezzling his father's Social Security funds to play Keno, gambling away more than $200,000 of his father's assets
•Alice Faye Wells of Detroit, accused of cashing and pocketing her aunt's Social Security and pension checks over the course of three years
•Tamara Lynne Hoppe of Interlochen, accused of selling a truck belonging to a resident of Kalkaska County Adult Foster Care Facility and pocketing the money
•Kenneth Nicholas Nebor, Jr. of Prudenville, accused of using his elderly father's money to pay for his own expenses, including gas, groceries and phone bills
•Luwillis Gibson, Jr. of Muskegon, accused of diverting and spending the Social Security and pension income of a Muskegon nursing home resident
•Susan Mary Kubsch of Stevensville, accused of stealing Social Security and pension income from an elderly nursing home resident.

Full Article and Source:
Six Charged With Scamming Seniors

Charged With Felony

Earlier this week, the Orange County District Attorney charged Susana Duran, 38, with one felony count of financial elder abuse by a caregiver, 149 felony counts of using a debit card without authorization, 10 felony counts of forgery, and white collar crime sentencing enhancements for fraud and loss over $100,000 and loss over $65,000. If convicted, Duran faces a sentence ranging from two years in state prison up to a maximum of 111 years in state prison. The large range in the potential sentence is because there are a large number of counts and each count has a minimum and maximum. For the maximum total sentence, each individual count would need to get the maximum, plus, the sentences for every count would need to run consecutively, not concurrently.

Duran was scheduled for arraignment yesterday, but it was continued to October 19. Her bail was set at $250,000, but she did not post it and remains in custody.

According to Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit, when Duran was arrested on Monday, she had nearly $18,000 cash on her as well as the victim’s debit card. Duran was arrested as she was reporting for work at the victim’s home.

Full Article and Source:
Caregiver Charged With Stealing $250,000 From 92Year-Old Woman

Caregiver Arrested for Murder

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division (CID) arrested Geraldine H. Shockley this afternoon, September 30, 2009, and charged her with an open count of murder in the death of the woman she had been hired to care for – 94 year old Bessie Borth.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office was already investigating Geraldine Shockley after being contacted by a local financial institution due to irregularities in the banking accounts of Bessie Borth. The BCSO had in turn contacted the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Adult Protective Investigators who assisted with the case. Family members of Ms. Borth had been contacted concerning the investigation and investigators had questioned Ms. Borth’s care giver Geraldine Shockley, whom they suspected had been taking money from Ms. Borth’s accounts.

This morning at about 6:15 a.m. a 911 call was made by Geraldine Shockley to BCSO dispatch stating that she had just found Bessie Borth dead on the floor of her apartment at 112 Fairway Blvd on Panama City Beach after apparently falling. Deputies arrived, and numerous CID investigators along with the BCSO Crime Scene Unit were called to the scene and a full death investigation was initiated.

After a review of Shockley’s original account and an inspection of the scene, investigators found several discrepancies in Shockley’s original story.

Full Article and Source:
Caregiver Arrested for Murder of Elderly Woman

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nursing Home Rights in TX

Although they sometimes aren't aware of the extent of their rights, residents of nursing homes can leave if they wish, refuse medication and make choices about what foods they will and won't eat.

Such personal decisions, said managing local ombudsman for the Area Agency on Aging Cindy Oglesby, may seem basic. But for some living in residential care facilities these are rights they may not be aware they have.

Volunteers with the Area Agency on Agency, which is sponsored locally by the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission and funded by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, work to ensure nursing home, assisted living and retirement home residents are aware of their rights. But, Oglesby said, some still don't know and they're taking this week -- being recognized nationally as Residents' Rights Week -- to provide a reminder.

"They have the right to be treated with respect and dignity," Oglesby said.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Rights

CT Doctors Ask for Clarification on Suicide Law

Two Fairfield County doctors are asking the Connecticut courts to clarify a 40-year-old law in a way that would prevent physicians from being prosecuted for prescribing drugs to end a person's life.

Attorneys for the doctors, Gary Blick of Norwalk and Ronald Levine of Greenwich, are seeking a ruling on the current law that says a person is guilty of second-degree manslaughter if "he intentionally causes or aids another person, other than force, duress or deception, to commit suicide." They want to ensure that the provision would not apply to licensed physicians who prescribe drugs for mentally competent, terminally ill patients.

"Obviously, the crux of this case is what is suicide and what is aid in dying," said Kathryn Tucker, an attorney who for the doctors and legal director for Compassion & Choices. She called the issue "a case of first impression," one that has not been decided by the courts.

The lawsuit is guaranteed to prompt controversy both in the courts and in the legislature.

Full Article and Source:
Fairfiled County Doctors Seek Clarification on Suicide Law

"Caregiver" Headed to Prison

A former nursing home employee has been sent to jail for fraud and exploitation of the elderly.

State prosecutors say Heather Whitehouse worked at The Arbors residential care home in Shelburne, where she stole jewelry and credit cards from vulnerable adults she cared for, mostly people suffering from memory disorders.

Whitehouse was sentenced to serve six months in jail.

Caregiver Headed to Prison

See also:
Charged with Bilking Seniors

Caregiver Arrested

Marketing Reverse Mortgages to Seniors

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill warned Tuesday that aggressive marketing of reverse mortgages to seniors could be the nation's next financial fiasco if Congress doesn't enact legislation to bolster consumer protections and curb potentially abusive practices.

Most reverse mortgages are government-insured loans that enable seniors to convert part of the equity in their homes into tax-free income without having to sell the home, give up the title or take on a new monthly mortgage payment.

While reverse mortgages can help seniors who need additional income in retirement, they can be complicated and may not be the best choice for everyone.

A recent boom in the industry combined with aggressive marketing to a vulnerable population should make "everybody's antenna" stand up, McCaskill said.

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McCaskill Warns About Marketing Reverse Mortgages to Senior Citizens

Canadian Public Guardian Sentenced to Three Years

A government employee who stole $1.2 million from her mentally incompetent clients was handcuffed and sent to jail yesterday after a judge rejected her lawyer’s request for leniency.

Preadorshani (Prea) Biazar cried quietly as she was led away by police after Justice John Moore sentenced her to three years in prison for hatching an elaborate series of frauds perpetrated over 12 years at Ontario’s Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT).

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Government Employee Who Stole $1.2 from Her Clients Sentences to 3 Years in Prison