Saturday, November 14, 2009

Judge Ordered to Pay Woman More Than $180K

A jury socked Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Willis Berry Jr. with an order to pay a woman more than $180,000 after finding that he defrauded her in a real-estate deal more than a decade ago and that he had acted outrageously in doing so.

Berry, 67, sitting at the defense table, just shook his head.

The outcome stunned the judge who presided over the three-day trial. After the jury was dismissed, Common Pleas Senior Judge Charles B. Smith, an out-of-county judge who was asked to hear the case, told the attorneys and other observers in the City Hall courtroom: "I am, of course, shocked like most of you are."

Berry's attorney, Samuel C. Stretton, said afterward that he plans to file a post-trial motion before Smith to have him reconsider the verdicts and the damages.

Full Article and Source:
Jury Finds Judge Bilked Client, Hits Him For $180G

New Hampshire Committee Votes Against Assisted Suicide

A bill to legalize assisted suicide in New Hampshire lost key backing Tuesday from a legislative committee when both supporters and opponents joined forces to reject it.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 14-3 against the bill that would let terminally ill patients over age 18 obtain lethal prescriptions, with safeguards to prevent abuses.

Supporters of assisted suicide said the bill was flawed and teamed up with opponents to vote against recommending the measure to the full House. The committee has been working on the bill since September.

The House votes on the recommendation in January. If the chamber accepts the committee recommendation, legislative rules make it nearly impossible for the issue to be brought up again next year.

Oregon has approved assisted suicide ballot questions twice. Washington state followed suit last year.

Full Article and Source:
NH Committee Votes Against Assisted Suicide

More Trouble for Former Guardian

A 35-year-old former Washoe County legal guardian jailed last week for bringing an unloaded gun into a Reno court was booked additionally for possessing prescription drugs after deputies found them during a search of her jail cell.

Angela Cheri Dottei was arrested Nov. 3 on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon into Reno Justice Court. An unloaded firearm was allegedly found in her belongings as she went through the court’s metal detector. Authorities said she had gone to the court for a scheduled hearing. She was arrested on-site and later ordered jailed in lieu of $25,000 cash bail.

Dottei is also under investigation by Reno police for allegedly financially exploiting her elderly wards. A Washoe Family Court investigation revealed she was allegedly stealing money from her wards while in her role as a legal guardian through her company, Assurity Guardian Resources. A judge in September placed sanctions upon her, fined her hundreds of thousands of dollars and suspended her license to work as a guardian.

Wednesday, during a search of her jail cell, deputies found a plastic bag containing multiple types of prescription drugs hidden in hygiene products, said Deputy Brooke Keast. She was booked additionally on two counts of suspicion of possessing a controlled substance by an inmate, which is a felony.

Deputies were still investigating how she possessed the drugs.

Full Article and Source:
Reno Woman Facing Elder Abuse and Concealed Weapon Charges Allegedly Found With Drugs in Jail Cell

See Also:
Former Guardian Brings Unloaded Gun to Court

Note: Despite the suspension of her license, Angela Dottei continues to be listed as a national "Master Guardian" with the National Guardianship Association.

'Covetous Adult Children'

When a New York City jury convicted Anthony Marshall, 85, the only child of millionaire-socialite-philanthropist Brooke Astor, of 14 counts of fraudulently squeezing huge sums out of his late mother’s $180 million estate, many observers thought it was an isolated case of financial patricide.

No way.

Abuse of wealthy elderly parents by their greedy adult children and other relatives is as common as sin — so common that legal eagles have coined a name for it: elder abuse. More than 500,000 reports of such abuse against elderly Americans are sent to legal authorities every year, and millions more cases are thought to go unreported.

A comprehensive survey by the MetLife Mature Market Institute concludes that financial loss by victims of elder abuse is at least $2.6 billion a year. Figuring that there are still plenty more cases to be found, district attorneys have set up their own elder abuse offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Brooklyn, Seattle and many other places.

Full Article and Source:
Halt Elder Abuse: Protect Yourself Against Covetous Adult Children

State Had Complaint Against Kids-For-Cash Judges Since 2006

Joseph A. Massa [pictured], senior counsel for the state Judicial Conduct Board, told a state panel investigating the kids-for-cash scandal today that the board acted properly when it referred allegations against two Luzerne County judges to federal prosecutors, allowing the judges to remain on the bench for two years.

The judges, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, were charged in January with accepting $2.8 million to direct county contracts and juveniles to a for-profit detention center.

“To allege the board members put their heads in the proverbial sand while juveniles in this county were sent to the hoosegow is a disgrace,” Massa told the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice.

The commission was appointed by the General Assembly, Gov. Ed Rendell and the Supreme Court to investigate the scandal and recommend measures to prevent similar situations. The commission is to issue its report by May 31.

Witness: State Had Complaint Against Kids-For-Cash Judges in 2006

See Also:
Thousands of Juvenile Convictions Overturned

Friday, November 13, 2009

DCF Worker Arrested for Fraud & Grand Theft

A case worker for the state Department of Children and Families has been arrested on charges of stealing from an elderly woman with dementia whose case she had been assigned to investigate.

Mindi Marie Berry, 33, is accused by police of copying the 85-year-old Palm Beach woman's financial documents and making ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases from the woman's bank account — to the tune of more than $1,500.

When confronted, Berry told Palm Beach police detectives that she knew the woman had already been the victim of identity theft and thought that her actions would be blamed on the previous culprit, according to an arrest report.

Berry was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on charges of organized scheme to defraud, grand theft from a person 65 years or older, fraudulent use of a credit card and fraudulent use of personal I.D. information.

Full Article and Source:
Police: DCF Worker Stole From Elderly Woman She Was Assigned to Investigate

Feds Seizing Rothstein's Properties

Federal authorities are seizing Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein's properties -- sports cars, waterfront homes, power boats and bank accounts -- as part of a criminal investigation into his alleged multimillion-dollar investment scam.

Shortly before 10 a.m. Monday, two FBI agents, an IRS agent and two truck drivers were spotted in downtown Fort Lauderdale seizing Rothstein's fire engine red Ferrari Spider convertible.Authorities are able to obtain warrants to seize Rothstein's properties -- even before criminal charges are filed in federal court -- because they have evidence to support that the lawyer acquired those assets with ill-gotten gains from his alleged investment scam. The U.S. attorney's office is using the tool of a civil forfeiture action. Eventually, if Rothstein is indicted, prosecutors could transfer the inventory of his properties for criminal forfeiture.

Rothstein, who is staying at an undisclosed location under federal surveillance, has been accused by investors of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars and by his law partners of wiping out their firm.

Full Article and Source:
Feds Seize Embattled Lawyer Scott Rothstein's Property

See Also:
Lawyer Facing Federal Fraud

$100K Lawsuit Against Nursing Home

The second lawsuit to arise from reported sexual abuse at the La Salle County Nursing Home was filed Monday in La Salle County Circuit Court.

Marilyn Wig filed a suit, in her role as guardian of a female resident at the home, seeking at least $100,000 from the nursing home. Wig said in her suit that home staff allowed a sexually active male resident to have contact with the female resident between Jan. 17 and May 26. Those are the same dates between which the Illinois Department of Public Health said the male resident molested a number of female residents. The male resident was later moved to a psychiatric facility.

Another suit claiming a female resident was molested was filed Oct. 26.

State and federal authorities have moved to each fine the county $20,000, saying staff at the home did not take steps to prevent the molestations.

Full Article and Source:
La Salle County Nursing Home: Another Suit Filed Over Sex Abuse

Responsible for Woman's Financial Demise

By all accounts, Frances Joy Taylor was generous, free-spirited and even slightly mischievous. Up until she began to suffer from dementia in her late 80s, she was still pursuing adventures, buying roller skates and going paragliding.

By the time she died in February at age 97, however, the woman who had once had assets of more than $1.5 million — which she intended to leave to children in Africa — was destitute and living as a ward of the state.

A King County Superior Court jury concluded last month that Tyrone Dash, 60, was largely responsible for her financial ruin. Dash, a tax preparer who befriended Taylor around 2000, was convicted of first-degree theft for gradually draining Taylor's estate, writing checks to himself, liquidating her assets and making numerous ATM withdrawals from her account.

To the end, he denied wrongdoing — even on Friday, as a King County judge sentenced Dash to 5-½ years in prison.

Full Article and Source:
Prison For Bilking Old Woman

See Also:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One Patient: Sixty Seven Different Drugs

The scariest wrinkle in the Omnicare kickback case is just how vulnerable old people in nursing homes are to schemes in which drug companies allegedly induce pharmacies to prescribe drugs they otherwise wouldn’t.

One patient cited by the government’s complaint received 67 — sixty-seven! – different drugs under Omnicare’s “care”. Those drugs included Cipro, Neurontin, Heparin, Pepcid, Oxycodone and Seroquel or their generics, according to the complaint.

Omnicare, the country’s largest nursing home pharmacy chain, paid $98 million to settle the case.

There’s no suggestion that these drugs were prescribed needlessly (some patients are indeed very sick), however this patient seems to have been “cycled” through various drug categories — hence Seroquel and Neurontin, and Pepcid and Zantac. (Ironically, Risperdal seems to be the only drug the patient didn’t get.)

Full Article and Source:
In Risperdal Kickback Case, One Nursing Home Patient Received 67 Different Drugs

Download the Complaint from the Phillips and Cohen Website

Sentenced for Roles in Removing Man From Nursing Home

Two attorneys and a couple from Michigan were sentenced for their roles in removing a man with Alzheimer's disease from a Summit County nursing home.

Among the defendants was Dr. Sharon Rothstein Steinberg, daughter of a former prominent Akron anesthesiologist, who is a licensed physician herself, and her husband, David Steinberg, the former chief financial officer of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The couple avoided a six-month prison term and $2,500 fines when sentenced Tuesday by Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judith Hunter.

Michigan attorneys David Gunsberg and Bryan Schefman were ordered to serve 30 days in Glenwood Jail and pay a $500 fine for their role in removing the man from the nursing home.

The case stems from a strange series of events Feb. 24, 2008, in which the Steinbergs orchestrated the removal of Dr. Lawrence Rothstein, who practiced at Akron City Hospital for 31 years, from Arden Court in Bath Township.

The couple had been prevented by a court order from removing Rothstein from the nursing home.

''This is not a happy day,'' said Bath resident Lani Rothstein, who has been married to Lawrence Rothstein for more than 50 years. ''We've lost sleep over this. We have had nightmares over this. My children have lost time at work over this.

''I don't want another family to ever have to go through what we have gone through.''

Lani Rothstein also requested that Hunter order her daughter, Sharon Rothstein Steinberg, and David Steinberg, to stay away.

''I don't want to be bothered by those defendants,'' she said.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Sentences Four in Nursing Home Case

Retired Judge Sentenced

A retired judge accused of stealing from a client of his Detroit-area law practice has been sentenced to six months in jail.

Seventy-five-year-old William Cannon also has to pay nearly $75,000 in restitution and serve five years of probation.

Cannon pleaded no contest to a charge of embezzlement in September and was sentenced Tuesday. A no-contest plea isn't an admission of guilt but is treated as one at sentencing.

Cannon retired from the 41-B District Court in Macomb County's Clinton Township in 2005 after nearly three decades on the bench.

He's accused of stealing from a Clinton Township man while serving as his estate custodian.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Judge Sentenced to Jail After Embezzlement Plea

Man Perfect Fraud Victim

Wilson Smith met a nice woman in Las Vegas. They spent two days together, it seems, before Smith, in town for only a short visit, headed to a high school reunion and then back home to California — and his new friend started calling.

Smith was 78 and in the early stages of dementia. She was 20-something and persistent. In three years she gutted Smith’s bank accounts, used his financial information to obtain at least 28 credit cards and spent $750,000.

When the fraud was finally exposed, so was the depth of Smith’s Alzheimer’s. He wired her money until there was none, bought her a car, gave her his bank information and let trash bags full of unopened bills pile up in his basement. And yet, when accountants walked Smith through the financial wreckage, the former banker was as shocked as anybody by his unwitting hand in the nightmare.

The woman remains wanted by police. Smith is now in an assisted-living facility. His story, meanwhile, was shown on Capitol Hill in October, part of a short documentary created by advocacy groups seeking passage of the Elder Justice Act. Though 150 short videos were made in this effort, it was Smith’s case — one of the worst horror stories — that was selected to be shown during the Washington briefing.

Full Article and Source:
Elderly, a Bit Senile, Visiting Vegas - Man was Perfect Fraud Victim

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse

For immediate release
November 11, 2009
For more information,
contact Annie McKenna, Media Liaison

Veteran’s Day 2009
On this day, we pause to honor our nation’s Veterans – the brave men and women who have served our country, past and present. We marvel at the depth of their sacrifices and height of their great accomplishments. We owe them our unwavering appreciation.

Our Veterans of past wars are aging. Many Veterans of our present war have been disabled, some totally. NASGA's focus is on those Veterans whose youth or strength have gone and those suffering from mental disability who may now find themselves recipients of unlawful or abusive guardianships as a result of their vulnerability.

Gary E. Harvey served in the Army as a Special Forces Ranger during the Vietnam War. He was honored with a National Service Defense Medal and as an expert M16 rifleman. He was honorably discharged in 1971.

Over three years ago, after surviving a serious injury, he became a ward of the state. Chemung County was appointed as his guardian. He has been institutionalized ever since – even though his wife pleads to be allowed to take him home and care for him.

All medical decisions, including those of life and death, are made by strangers – instead of Mr. Harvey’s wife. His wife is only allowed to visit him on a strict schedule – and always “under guard.” She recently learned even supervised visitation is in jeopardy; she may not get to see her husband at all. She is not given timely and complete medical information regarding Mr. Harvey’s condition and not allowed to view his medical records. In effect, the county has "divorced" the previously happy couple.

This spring, the County attempted to terminate Gary Harvey’s life, putting him on DNR status and removing his feeding tube, in effect to kill him by starvation and dehydration. Mrs. Harvey was informed of the decision, and when she asked for her husband’s medical records and for a second opinion, her request was denied.

She then took her husband’s plight to the court of public opinion: the media. Her husband rallied and the County was forced to relinquish. She saved her husband’s life but has been unable to change his circumstances. He remains under the control of the very people who attempted to end his life. All she wants to do is bring her husband home where he can spend his final days in the comfort of familiar surroundings, with the love of his wife and friends. But the County won’t allow it. Why?

Today, NASGA asks that you remember and pray for Gary E. Harvey and the other Gary Harveys who suffer the same nightmare.

Pray for Gary Harvey’s life, his wife’s strength, and for justice to prevail.

Gary Harvey Custody Battle Rages On

It's a custody battle that rages on in Horseheads. Sara Harvey is fighting to be the guardian of her husband, Gary, who has been in a vegetative state since 2006. But a judge has ruled she is unfit to take care of him properly.

Sara says on May 29th of this year, the county and the ethics committee at St. Josephs Hospital decided to end Gary's life by removing his feeding tube.

"The doctors consulted and discussed what his medical needs were and what course of procedure would be most appropriate given his very severe needs and they came out with a course of action," said [Chemung County Attorney] Maggs.

Sara says she was able to get the decision overturned but fears that it may happen again. She wants to care for Gary herself at their home and she has everything he needs to do so.

"I want my husband home for the holidays. He's a veteran. He's fought for freedom and he's denied his freedom," she said.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Horseheads Woman Battling for Guardianship of Vegetative Husband

Veterans Beware!

Over 30,000 Americans have been injured to date during the current war on terror - a war that may continue for years. Many have returned to service but others have been disabled, some very severely.

Our heroes of past wars also fall victim to unlawful and abusive guardianship / conservatorship, either as a result of disability or advanced age. The numbers continue to grow.

The pirates target our young disabled Veterans - lured by their veteran's benefits, disability pensions, and now even their Social Security benefits. Our aging Veterans are even more tempting - perhaps they have well-managed, nice sized estates to go with their pensions.

Denied the very rights and liberties they fought for; confined in nursing homes; left to languish; receiving perhaps just a pittance for their personal use from their guardians - after years of service and sacrifice to our country, is this what our Veterans have to look forward to?

Supporting the troops and our fallen heroes should mean supporting them not only when we need them - but also when they need us. And they need us fighting for them when they become vulnerable.

Gary E. Harvey served in the Army as a Special Force Ranger during the Vietnam War. He was honored with a National Service Defense Medal and as an expert M16 rifleman. He was honorably discharged in 1971.

After suffering a serious accident, Gary became a ward of the state.

His wife has been trying to get him home for over three years. All medical decisions, including those of life and death, are made by strangers.

Please pray for him.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gary Harvey - Isolation is a Form of Torture

Gary Harvey is the brain injured man from New York, who seems to have his own private “death panel” determined to kill him off and to make his and his wife’s life as miserable as possible, until the sentence is carried out. One might think it could get no worse than it has been. One should never think such thoughts, lest one(or more) be shown that — for however bad — things can actually get worse!

Though it wasn’t Sara sitting on the so-called ethics committee that determined Gary should be starved and dehydrated to death — the Guardian and County (who actually were involved in the attempted death of an innocent person) — have suggested she is a danger to her husband.

Huh? Did I miss something there?

Hasn’t a DNR been placed on Gary? If something does go wrong — that’s it, isn’t it? Those in charge have made it clear they have no intention of lifting a finger to save his life, but yet, it is Gary’s wife, Sara, that is considered the danger to him?

The Twilight Zone has competition!

Isolation is a form of torture. It causes failure to thrive. So now, when those in control of Gary didn’t get him starved and dehydrated to death, and have not been able to implement the DNR — they are going to deny him his wife’s visits? Who are they trying to punish? Gary for being disabled or Sara for fighting to bring her husband home?

Full Article and Source:
Wife's Visitation in Jeopardy: The Isolation of Gary Harvey

See Also:
Gary Harvey Court Records Sealed!

Time for Gary Harvey to Go Home

Lawyer Facing Federal Fraud Investigation

Fort Lauderdale lawyer Scott Rothstein, who returned from a trip to Morocco last week to face a federal fraud investigation, said he was in good spirits Sunday.

"I am sitting here smoking cigars with Marc,'' Rothstein said in a brief interview Sunday afternoon with The Miami Herald, referring to his attorney Marc Nurik. "Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I'm doing pretty good.''

Rothstein, 47, has been accused by investors in an alleged Ponzi scheme of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars and by his law partners of crippling their firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler.

The prosecutors poring over the Rothstein evidence are Lawrence D. LaVecchio, Paul F. Schwartz and Jeffrey N. Kaplan. They have decades of experience investigating public corruption, white-collar fraud and organized crime.

They are preparing a massive fraud case against Rothstein, zeroing in on his settlement investments, sources said. But they are also examining allegations of theft from his law firm and client trust accounts.

Full Article and Source:
Embattled Fort Lauderdale Lawyer Scott Rothstein: 'Rumors of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated'

Judicial Panel Reports Shakes Up State Courts

As expected, the final draft of the Commission on Judicial Operation report to the legislature recommends the near-closure of the Grand Isle and Essex County Courthouses. The two courts would each have a full-time docket clerk, but no other staff.

The study panel is also recommending the complete unification of Vermont’s court system, currently split between the state and county levels, a reduction in the number of probate courts, and the elimination of the judicial functions currently performed by the assistant judges.

The commission was charged with finding nearly $1 million in savings from the judiciary budget and is to report its findings to the legislature in January. The commission will meet Friday morning to discuss the final draft of the report.

The panel claims its proposed changes would save $1.2 million in general fund spending and another $1.2 million in county taxes.

Currently, the district and family courts are state courts, while the probate and superior courts are county courts. Some county court personnel are paid by the county and some are paid by the state. The counties also receive the fees generated by the small claims court to help cover their court costs.

Full Article and Source:
Judicial Panel Reports Shakes Up State Courts

Monday, November 9, 2009

Very Questionable Practices

National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse

For immediate release

November 9, 2009
For more information contact:
Annie McKenna
NASGA Media Liaison


Very Questionable Practices in Eufala, Alabama Court

On October 20, 2009, the Eufaula Tribune reported that out-of-town developers closed a deal on the “former Walker properties,” planning a 40-unit apartment complex for low-income residents.

The limited details of the transaction, as reported in the article, are very troubling.

Look at this astounding timeline:

9/25/09 - Eufaula, Alabama resident Henry David Walker, Jr. (37) was arrested and incarcerated for failing to appear in response to a traffic violation.

A petition, filed by local attorney Courtney Potthoff, requesting appointment of an "emergency guardian and special conservator" was approved by Barbour County Probate Judge Nancy Robertson in order to "bring the real estate deal to fruition." Walker did not appear at the purported hearing.

9/28/09 - Barbour County Sheriff LeRoy Upshaw was appointed as "emergency" guardian/special conservator.

9/29/09 - While Walker was incarcerated the Sheriff sold his real property to the out-of-town developer.


NASGA questions, as should the citizens of Eufaula, whether Walker's rights were protected and where he is now. NASGA wrote Judge Robertson and inquired as to Walker’s current whereabouts: no response.

Emergency guardianships are designed to protect vulnerable/incapacitated people in cases of real emergencies where they are a potential danger to themselves or others. Mr. Walker was incarcerated. NASGA questions:

• What danger was Henry Walker to himself or others when he was incarcerated?
• What was the rush to sell his property?
• Where is Mr. Walker now?
• How were his rights protected?
• Was he examined for mental incapacitation?
• Why wasn’t he at the hearing?
• Where is his personal property?

Just as important: who is investigating the seemingly suspicious relationship of the parties involved in Mr. Walker’s “emergency” guardianship?

The complete facts of this case are not known but what we are told via the 10/20 article cries out for total transparency and accountability. Since "protective statutes" are promulgated in the public interest, the court proceedings should be available on line.

The citizens of Eufaula need someone to answer these questions.

Sheriff Closes Deerfield Sale: Highland Property Owner Incarcerated and Incapacitated

Nine Months Combined Jail and Home Confinement

A Hemet lawyer who pleaded guilty to stealing from the trust account of a mentally disabled man has been given a nine-month combined jail and home confinement sentence.

Kevin Andrew Speir, 54, was taken into custody Monday after being given the sentence by Superior Court Judge Larrie R. Brainard, who also ordered Speir to pay about $69,000 in restitution to the victim, Fred J. Fox of Hemet.

Brainard ordered Speir to serve 90 days in jail, then the remainder of the sentence in home custody with a GPS bracelet on his ankle.

In a separate matter, a State Bar judge recommended that Speir be disbarred. The recommendation, filed Oct. 23, next goes to the state Supreme Court.

In that case, State Bar Judge Donald F. Miles sustained five of eight allegations that Speir had improperly taken money from clients' trust accounts. The Fox case was not included in the State Bar action.

"The main thing we were concerned about was getting Mr. Speir disbarred," Deputy District Attorney Elise J. Farrell said Friday in a phone interview. "He had been playing fast and loose with his clients' money for years." Farrell prosecuted the Riverside County criminal case.

Full Article and Source:
Hemet Attorney Sentenced for Stealing From Trust Account

A County of Scandals

A series of recent scandals have cast an unflattering light on local officials in Madera County: Both the county's auditor-controller and public guardian resigned after prosecutors began investigating them. Two other key county employees have come under scrutiny, and one faces possible criminal charges.

But leaders of this rural county of 150,000 aren't alarmed. They say coincidence, not a culture of corruption, is to blame.

"There are bad apples in every barrel," Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow said. "You pluck them out before it spoils the entire barrel."

Others see a more troubling pattern.

Dale Drozen, a retired firefighter and self-described county government watchdog, has been keeping track of county officials for the last three years. He watches most Board of Supervisors meetings and regularly e-mails a newsletter to a few hundred people that is often critical of the county's leaders.

At times, Drozen said, he has been tempted to seek a recall vote on all five county supervisors because of what he says is their inability to follow the law and their lack of leadership.

"If you want a dirty story, you can pretty much look anywhere and find it," he said.

Full Article and Source:
Madera County Awash in Scandals

See Also:
DA Investigates Public Gaurdian Estate Sales

Caregiver Accused of Theft

A caregiver was arrested after she allegedly stole nearly $8,000 from an elderly woman in her care, according to officials.

Paulette Smith, 51, was arrested Thursday and charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person, grand theft and organized fraud.

The 77-year-old victim’s daughter reported the allegations to Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

According to a deputy’s report, the daughter noticed suspicious transactions on her mother’s checking account. When she asked her mother why she was spending so much money, the victim said she never made those purchases.

The daughter then reportedly called Smith to ask about the money. According to the report, Smith said she took the money because her Veteran’s Affairs checks were not coming. Smith also reportedly said she was going to return the money before the victim noticed.

Full Article and Source:
Caregiver Arrested, Accused of Stealing $8K From Woman

Mother, Daughter Accused of Theft

A mother and daughter were arrested by city police Thursday afternoon, accused of bilking their 93-year-old relative, who has dementia and other ailments, for nearly $21,000.

Police say Robin Lynn Walgrave, 39, and Patience Walgrave, 19, were supposed to be taking care of the younger Walgrave's paternal great-grandfather, said Capt. Rob McKinney.

According to police reports, the Walgraves took the man to several banks so they could cash numerous checks for their own use between April and October. They did so "being fully aware of his dementia," the report states. Police placed into evidence a letter from the man's physician stating his condition. The doctor said his patient "has hypertension, prostate cancer, osteoarthritis, and dementia. He is incompetent to handle his own financial affairs due to his dementia," the letter states.

Robin and Patience Walgrave each face a charge of exploitation of the elderly.

Full Article and Source:
Mother, Daughter Accused of Theft

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Elder Abuse not Limited to Just the Rich

An Associated Press story in The Patriot-News, “Case highlights elder abuse,” (Oct. 18) discussed how aging and wealthy New York socialite Brooke Astor was exploited by her son, Anthony Marshall.

In October, Marshall was convicted of defrauding his mother and stealing millions of dollars from her $200 million fortune as she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. This case is a reminder that seniors are at risk for exploitation and abuse and might be vulnerable to the very people in whom they place their trust.

This risk is not limited to wealthy socialites. The physical, emotional and financial abuse of our elders is a state and national concern.

With two million residents over age 65, Pennsylvania ranks third in the country in senior population. We need our seniors, and we must exert attention and vigilance to protect this highly valued generation.

How can we prevent elder abuse? Fortunately, many resources provide protection for our older loved ones besides relatives, friends and neighbors serving as the eyes and ears on the front line of defense.

Full Article and Source:
Elder Abuse is not Limited to Rich Like Brooke Astor

Woman Accused of Stealing from Uncle

A Genesee Township woman is accused of stealing upward of $20,000 from her mentally disabled great uncle’s bank account to pay her cable bill and have her lawn mowed.

As a result, investigators say the 79-year-old man got kicked out of a Flint assisted living facility for an unpaid $18,000 bill.

Mary Anne Aitken, 43, was charged Wednesday with 22 counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult and uttering and publishing.

The county’s elder abuse team began looking at Aitken for misusing her great uncle’s funds in October 2008 but couldn’t make a case against her before the man was ousted from his home for the unpaid debt in January.

“None of the money was used for his needs,” Pickell said.

Aitken was in the Genesee County Jail on $1.1 million bond and she had no attorney on file Wednesday afternoon.

McKeown is now in a new adult foster care facility and under the care of a court-appointed guardian, said Pickell.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Accused in $20,000 Theft From Vulnerable Great Uncle

Arkansas Supreme Court Suspends Judge

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday suspended an eastern Arkansas judge from the bench until the end of his term in late 2010, ruling that he continued to practice law while serving as a circuit judge.

Justices suspended Phillips County Circuit Judge L.T. Simes without pay until Dec. 31, 2010. The court said Simes could seek office again, rejecting a recommendation from the state panel that disciplines judges.

The discipline panel said Simes continued to make money as a lawyer after his election to the bench in 1997. It had recommended that Simes be permanently barred from serving as a judge again.

Simes said he had been fired from acting as administrator of an estate, but records show he billed for work on the case after he became a judge in 1997.

Full Article and Source:
Arkansas Supreme Court Suspends Circuit Judge