Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hospital Returns $1 Mil Donation

The scandal surrounding attorney Scott Rothstein's Ponzi scheme has forced him to surrender his law license and a Fort Lauderdale hospital to return his $1 million donation.

Holy Cross Hospital is returning a $1 million donation from attorney Scott Rothstein, who has agreed to surrender his law license in the midst of a federal investigation into a massive Ponzi scheme that authorities suspect him of engineering.

Rothstein's donation was earmarked for an expanded women's center at the Fort Lauderdale hospital, which was going to put his charitable foundation's name on the lobby entrance.

But the scandal over his investment scam, which unraveled in late October as investors alleged Rothstein had stolen hundreds of millions of dollars, compelled the hospital to return his donation, officials said Wednesday.

``In light of the recent allegations involving Scott Rothstein, Holy Cross Hospital has concluded that it should not retain the funds recently gifted to it by the Rothstein Family Foundation,'' the hospital said in a statement.

The donation will be placed in a trust account until hospital officials determine how it should be disbursed. Rothstein's Fort Lauderdale law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, is facing bankruptcy and creditors are lining up to recover their investment losses.

Meanwhile, Rothstein, who has not been charged with a crime, has submitted paperwork to the Florida Bar to surrender his law license.

Full Article and Source:
Hospital Returns $1M Scott Rothsetin Donation

See Also:
Feds Seizing Rothstein's Properties

Victim of an Overly Broad Law?

David Knutsen is the victim of an overly broad law, and an indictment charging him with sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult patient at St. Luke's Canyon View Behavioral Health should be dismissed, according to his lawyer.

Judge G. Richard Bevan heard three motions from Knutsen's attorney, Mike Wood, on Thursday in Twin Falls.Wood wants Bevan to dismiss the indictment against Knutsen, suppress testimony in the case and deem the charges against him unconstitutional.

After a three-hour hearing Thursday on Wood's motions, Bevan said he would write a decision "in due course."

Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Knutsen, a convicted sex offender, faces trial on Jan. 30, 2010. He was indicted March 25 for four counts of sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult following the alleged incidents of abuse on Jan. 30, 2009, at Canyon View in Twin Falls. As a patient, Knutsen allegedly abused the then-21-year-old female patient, who is described in court records as developmentally delayed.

Wood argued Thursday that the statute prohibiting sexual abuse of vulnerable adults restricts an adult's right to engage in sexual activity. Adults are responsible for their own sexuality, said Wood, "not the state of Idaho."

But the Twin Falls County prosecutor on the case, Suzanne Craig, disagreed saying the felony statute is fair and protects people.

"The state may limit sexual activity," said Craig, adding it protects people "who legitimately need to be protected. ... Children need to be protected and so do people with limited mental capacity."

Full Article, Video and Source:
Judge to Rule in Patient Abuse Case

Editorial: Silver Alert Has Proven Its Value

As a child, I can remember joining my family watching our favorite television shows at night while constantly being interrupted with commercials that asked, "It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your child is?"

Now that I am a parent, I can appreciate that question a little better. However, today we are faced with another question that is just as challenging - "Do you know where your aging parents are?"

As the senior population continues to grow with the Baby Boomers entering retirement, we must be proactive in supporting them and their loved ones. In today's society, many of us know of or have parents suffering from Alzheimer' disease, dementia and other disorders.

The Silver Alert program provides a communication network to quickly disseminate information about a missing vulnerable adult in an effort to return them to their residence and/or caretaker. It is very similar to the Amber Alert program for missing children.

Timing is everything, because the survival rate of the missing person is much higher when the adult is located within the first 24 to 48 hours.

Full Article and Source:
Guest Column: Silver Alert Already Has Proven its Value

Chimp Lawsuit and Defense

Bizarre national headlines burst out of Stamford, Connecticut, earlier this year when a pet chimpanzee savagely attacked its owner's friend, leaving her with horrific, permanent injuries.

Travis the chimp lived with Sandra Herold as a family pet. Herold called her friend, Charla Nash, to help her after Travis escaped from the house. When Nash arrived, Travis brutally attacked her. Nash almost died from her injuries, losing her hands, sight and much of her face, among other severe injuries. Travis was eventually shot and killed when he assaulted a police officer called to the scene.

Plaintiff's Lawsuit
In March, Michael Nash, the victim's twin brother and temporary conservator of her estate, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Connecticut against Herold alleging strict liability, negligence and recklessness. In the complaint, Michael Nash describes his sister's physical injuries, astronomical medical expenses, pain and suffering, psychological trauma, loss of the ability to participate in life, and lost wages and benefits from her inability to return to work. The plaintiff asks for money damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and other proper relief on his sister's behalf, stating that he believes the judgment should reach at least $50 million.

A Surprising Defense
In response, Herold asserts that the injuries are employment related and governed by workers' compensation law. Workers' compensation is the exclusive legal remedy for most work injuries, almost always barring personal claims against the employer, unless the victim can prove the injury was intentional. Workers' compensation awards are typically much smaller than standard personal injury damages because an injured worker receives medical coverage and wage replacement, but not money for ordinary pain and suffering. However, mental injury may also be recoverable if it flows from a physical injury.

Full Article and Source:
Chimp Owner Asserts Worker's Comp Covers Injury Claims in Attack

Friday, November 20, 2009

Steven T. Rondos Facing 6-18 Years in Prison

A disbarred attorney from Ridgewood is facing a maximum sentence of 6 to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of stealing millions from guardianship accounts he oversaw for incapacitated children and seniors.

Steven T. Rondos and his Brooklyn-based law firm, Raia & Rondos P.C., were indicted in January on charges of grand larceny, money laundering and fraud in connection with the theft of $4 million, prosecutors said.

Rondos pleaded guilty Nov. 4 to all 19 counts in the indictment, admitting he fleeced two dozen clients from 2001 to 2008. His victims included mentally and physically impaired elderly people, as well as children suffering from cerebral palsy caused by medical malpractice at birth, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.

Rondos, who has since been disbarred in New York and New Jersey, had been appointed by judges as a legal guardian responsible for managing cash awards and other client assets.

His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 22 in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The law firm has pleaded not guilty and is going to trial.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Ridgewood Attorney Faces 6-18 Years in Prison

See Also:
Disbarred Atty Pleads Guilty to Guardian Thefts

'Manslaughter, Not Murder'

A 78-year-old suspect accused of killing a frail 94-year-old woman now faces charges for aggravated manslaughter instead of murder.

Although an autopsy ruled Bessie Borth died of suffocation, she also suffered a stroke, a prosecutor said Tuesday. The case against accused killer Geraldine Shockley hinges on that.

“If (the stroke) didn’t kill her, then she suffocated her,” prosecutor Tim Register said. He said aggravated manslaughter "encompasses both theories of death" — the possibility Shockley smothered the life out of Borth, and the chance that she simply let her die when her brain failed.

Autopsy photos of Borth’s brain showed a large hole, and investigators say Shockley knew she was suffering but didn't intervene.

"Our first theory as to how she died is that she was suffocated," Register said. "However, if she did not die of suffocation, she had to have died from a stroke," and Shockley did nothing to help her.

Shockley was arrested on an open count of murder in September, when sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call from her home in Panama City Beach and found Borth dead on the floor.

Shockley said she fell. Suspicious Bay County sheriff’s investigators later said Shockley shoved Borth down a makeshift step and, seconds later, smothered her face with a throw pillow.

The longtime caretaker had been stealing money by writing large checks from Borth’s account, the Sheriff’s Office charged. They initially estimated she took $18,000.

Full Article and Source:
Prosecutor: Elderly Death is Manslaughter, Not Murder

See Also:
Caregiver Arrested for Murder

Men Plead No Contest

Two Johnson County businessmen entered no-contest pleas this week for a nationwide theft scheme that took more than a million dollars from elderly customers.

Two others involved from Sioux City, Iowa, also have pleaded guilty in Johnson County District Court.

District Attorney Steve Howe said today that the consumer fraud scam hooked thousands of people seeking a discount on prescription drugs or dental work.

After customers turned over their bank or credit card information to the companies involved, scammers would take far more money out of the accounts than authorized, usually $80 to $110 at a time, he said.

They were even still taking money out of accounts of some people who had died, he said.

Grant Wilms, 44, and Hermann Wilms, 74, a son and father who owned ASP Inc., each pleaded no contest Monday to four felonies of false writing and to four misdemeanors.

Kenneth Opstein, 86, of Sioux City, a former consultant for ASP and owner of its predecessor, NHCD, also pleaded Monday to four felonies and four misdemeanors.

His office manager, Shirley Schopp, 71, of Sioux City, pleaded guilty previously to three felonies and two misdemeanors.

The Wilmses and Opstein are scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 6.

Full Article and Source:
Johnson County Men Plead No Contest to Bilking Elderly Customers

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Court to Render Decision on Lokuta Case

Former Judge Ann H. Lokuta stood Tuesday in front of the same state disciplinary panel that removed her from the Luzerne County bench last year, imploring them to reconsider.

She reminded the seven-member Court of Judicial Discipline of the corruption scandal that broke a month after its ruling - the scandal underscored by a 48-count racketeering indictment against two former judges who testified against her.

She told them of the personal hardship of going a year without income, without benefits, and without the one thing she said she cherished more than anything else - putting on the judicial robe and hearing cases.

Near the end of her soliloquy, she pointed to an inscription on a courtroom partition and asked for forgiveness. "You look down here and you see mercy, you see wisdom and you see justice," Lokuta said. "Isn't that the purpose of any sanction, rehabilitation?"

She may have convinced them.

The panel deliberated Lokuta's reinstatement behind closed doors for 15 minutes before its president judge emeritus, Richard A. Sprague, returned alone and announced that the court would adjourn and issue a written opinion.

Full Article and Source:
Court Mulls Lokuta's Return to County Bench

See Also:
Upcoming Hearing for Former Judge Ann Lokuta

Widow Wins $1.1 Million in Lawsuit

A 90-year-old self-made millionaire won about $1.1 million from a Chicago brokerage firm and two brokers accused of churning her longtime stock account.
Josephine DesParte, of Inverness, won the case arbitrated through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, known as FINRA, the organization that oversees brokerage firms nationwide. The panel decided that DesParte should recover her stock losses of $655,146, all capital gains taxes paid by the liquidation of long-held stocks of $380,000, and the return of $82,719 in fees that the brokers had charged. Attorney fees and punitive damages were not awarded, according to a FINRA document late Monday.

"I'm happy. I just wanted what I lost," DesParte said Tuesday. "And that's what I got. I didn't pursue punitive damages. I didn't care about that."

DesParte's lawyer filed the complaint earlier this year against William Blair & Co. LLC, which was accused of breach of fiduciary duty.

Full Article and Source:
Inverness Widow Wins $1.1 Million in Law Suit Against Brokerage Firm

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Adele Remembered

Her friends ask, "Dear Gus Bilirakis: Do you remember Adele's demise?"

Adele Fletcher could not imagine the devastation that Attorney Gus Bilirakis and Professional Guardian Fran Lang would unleash upon her.

In 1935, her adult life was just beginning. Sixty-two years later, she would begin living a nightmare.

This site is dedicated to the loving memory of Adele Fletcher by her many friends.

Florida's 9th U.S. Congressional District currently served by Gus Bilirakis will hold an election in 2010.


Read About the Fraud, the Estate Bashing, and the Conviction

About Bilirakis

Council Member Facing Charges Resigns

A Clemson City Council member who is facing criminal charges resigned today.

Elouise James, whom Gov. Mark Sanford suspended from office following her indictment last month, submitted her resignation by letter, Clemson Mayor Larry Abernathy said.

Abernathy said he could not comment on James’ circumstances, but he said he considered her resignation unfortunate and praised James for her service to the city. She has served on the city council since 1997.

James was charged in September with two counts of forgery and one count of obstruction of justice in Greenville County and two counts of obtaining goods by false pretenses and one count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult in Pickens County.

A Pickens County grand jury indicted James on the Pickens County charges on Oct. 22 and Sanford suspended her on Oct. 30.

Full Article and Source:
Indicted Member Resigns Clemson City Council

See Also:
Council Shows Support for Elouise James

Clemson City Council Woman Arrested

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Investigating Theft by Bank Employees

The financial crisis has thrown a spotlight on the banking industry and the wrongdoings of Wall Street. Now a CBS 5 investigation reveals your local bank branch on Main street may also have skeletons in the closet.

It was masked bandits who made off with 86 year old Ralph Hill's money. "I knew something was wrong," he said. But this was no random street crime. It was an inside job, a crime that started when he lost his Wells Fargo ATM card.

The bank sent him a new card, but before he could even use it he got a notice saying: "..that I was overdrawn. I've never been overdrawn in my life," Hill said.

And when Hill got to the bank he recalled, "I went in and discovered my bank account was empty." $8,000 was gone.

When police investigated, who did they arrest? A teller at the bank.

Theft by bank employees? Turns out, it's happening all over the Bay Area. CBS 5 Investigates found half a dozen recent cases where bank employees were charged or convicted for stealing customers' money. But experts say there's another kind of financial abuse that can happen at a bank, where customers, many of them elderly, may be victimized by employees they trust.

That's what Leslie Larsen believes happened to her 77-year-old mother Frances Saimons. "She has been taken advantage of," Larson says.

Full Article and Source:
Bay Area Bank Thefts Uncovered

Sentenced to 7 Years for Theft

After a stop in Lafayette County to face charges there, William P. Willbanks, 40, of Higginsville, will be spending the next seven years in Missouri Department of Corrections as the result of a sentence handed down by Circuit Court Judge Dennis A. Rolf Monday, Nov. 9.

A grand jury indictment was filed for the case in December 2008; Willbanks pleaded guilty to class C felony theft in Rolf's 15th Circuit Court in March and was given a five-year term of probation.

Willbanks is accused of class B felony financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person in Lafayette County and is scheduled for a hearing there Monday, Nov. 16.

Full Article and Source:
Higginsville Man Sentenced to 7 Years for Theft

Woman Facing Felony Charges

A Port Byron, Ill., woman is facing felony charges in the theft of $27,000 from a 74-year-old female relative in 2008.

Sarah L. Feurt, 36, is charged in Rock Island County Circuit Court with felony counts of financial exploitation of an elderly person and theft.

The alleged theft occurred between March and September 2008. The case was investigated by the Illinois State Police Medicaid Fraud Unit based in Sterling, Ill.

Master Sgt. Keith Owano said the incident was reported to the unit by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The victim is a resident of Aspenwood Healthcare Center in Silvis, Ill., and the unit investigates crimes at Medicaid-funded facilities, Owano said.

Feurt made a first appearance in court Friday and was released on a $25,000 recognizance bond. She is scheduled back in court Nov. 24.

Full Article and Source:
Port Byron Woman Charged of $27,000 From 74-Year-Old

Monday, November 16, 2009

Attorney Accused of Stealing More Than $140K

A longtime Elgin attorney faces prison time after being accused of stealing more than $140,000 from clients.

Elgin Police arrested William C. Chesbrough this week at his home in West Dundee.

The 56-year-old attorney faces two felony theft charges and one count of financial exploitation of the elderly, said Elgin police and the Kane County State's Attorney's office.

If convicted of the most serious crime, he faces between four and 15 years in prison.

Chesbrough is free after posting 10 percent of $30,000 bond and is due in court on Dec. 11.

It was unclear Friday whether he faced an investigation by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission as a spokesman there could not immediately be reached.

Full Article and Source:
Elgin Attorney Accused of Cheating Clients

Nebraska Caregives May Get Increase

Nebraska's oft-criticized safety net for people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities may get a small funding increase next year despite Gov. Dave Heineman's recommendation to keep funding flat.

The Legislature's budget-writing Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to increase state funding to groups that care for the developmentally disabled by 1 percent, a move one official said could keep their doors open and serve the same number of people they are now.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, must come up with spending cuts to offset the funding increase proposed during the state's worst fiscal crisis in recent memory.

Providers had sharply criticized Heineman's plan to keep funding flat next year because it came at the same time his administration is trying to move people out of institutions and into community-based programs. His proposal is one of dozens of proposed changes to the budget during the ongoing special legislative session intended to decrease state spending by $334 million to address falling state revenues.

"It doesn't sound like much, but it will help groups stave off a financial crisis," said Zavodny, president of a state association of organizations that serve the mentally disabled. In addition to the 1 percent increase, the Appropriations Committee set aside $500,000 to help boost pay to providers of services to the developmentally disabled.

Full Article and Source:
Some Neb.Caregivers May be in for Raise

Five Years Probation for Involuntary Manslaughter

A former assisted living aide who admitted scalding an elderly Alzheimer's patient when she poured hot cereal into his mouth was sentenced to five years' probation.

Alvador Thompson, 55, of Hatfield, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Montgomery County court in August for causing the death last year of 79-year-old Ronald Meyers atCambridge-Brightfield Assisted Living Facility in Hatfield.After suffering severe burns to his lips, mouth, tongue and throat from the piping hot Cream of Wheat on Oct. 8, 2008, Meyers was unable to eat and died two weeks later, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The prosecutors said Thompson relinquished her nursing aid certification but continues to work as a nursing aide in a private capacity.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Aide Gets Probation For Scaling Man

Legal Battle Over $5 Mil Estate Ends

A legal battle over the estate of beloved University of Rhode Island Prof. Beatrice S. Demers has ended, clearing the way for a bequest that will make almost $5 million available for scholarships for Rhode Islanders who want to study foreign languages.

In a consent order filed in South Kingstown Probate Court in October, Therese Germani, a first cousin of Demers, agreed to drop her challenge to a will executed by Demers in 2002. That means unless any last-minute objectors surface, the assets governed by the will, and from a trust Demers established at the same time, will be distributed to her named beneficiaries, all of them charitable or educational organizations.

Full Article and Source:
Her Love of Languages Finally Honored: $5 Million for Scholarships Released

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lawyer Accused of Fraud

A blind Jamaica woman and the estate of a deceased Woodhaven mother who claim they were cheated by a court-appointed property guardian have taken the Flushing lawyer to court for a second time to seek damages against them, court papers show.

The families of Keishma Smallwood and Alice Dailyda are currently involved in a civil litigation in New York Supreme Court against Matthew Lupoli and representatives from New York real estate companies.

Lupoli allegedly sold the women’s homes to Universal Development LLC, which soon sold the properties for a large profit, according to the lawsuit, which claims breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud, conspiracy and other counts.

“As a consequence of the defendants’ unlawful conduct, [the] plaintiffs lost at least $171,500 on the two property sales,” the suit, that was filed in May, alleges.

Lupoli’s attorney, Patrick Broderick, said Edward Bailey, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, is wasting the court’s time because Bailey lost a similar lawsuit against the property guardian in federal court two years ago.

Full Article and Source:
Qns Lawyer Accused of Fraud: Suit Claims Property Guardian Bilked Two Boro Women in Home Sales

Ex Caregiver Gets 4 Years for Stealing

The former caretaker for a 93-year-old retired Springfield pathologist has been sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution for stealing thousands of dollars from her employer.

Sandra Gayle, 66, of Springfield was convicted by a jury in September of financial exploitation of the elderly and financial exploitation of a person with a disability.

Assistant state’s attorneys Karen Tharp and Jay Magnuson said that Gayle, while she was the woman’s caretaker from 2004 until November 2007, received “gifts” of thousands of dollars for herself and relatives, used the doctor’s money for car repairs, to pay off credit card debt and to buy a $43,000 van. Gayle had obtained the doctor’s power of attorney both for finances and for health care.

Associate Judge John Mehlick called Gayle “the worst nightmare” for family members who have to depend on someone else to care for an elderly loved one.

“You were hired to be a caregiver, and that’s all, for a woman who had no one to take care of her,” Mehlick told Gayle.

Full Article and Source:
Ex Caregiver Gets 4 Years for Stealing

See Also:
Former Caretaker Convicted

Caretaker Accused of Fraud, Trial Begins

Illinois Human Rights Group to Hear Complaints

The Peoria Regional Human Rights Authority of the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, at Parlin-Ingersoll Library, 205 W. Chestnut St., Canton.

The group will review and discuss complaints concerning allegations that the rights of persons with disabilities are being violated at private and public facilities that provide mental health or developmental disabilities services.

The Human Rights Authority is a panel of nine citizen volunteers appointed by the commission and empowered by statute to investigate alleged violations of rights of persons with disabilities. The Human Rights Authority serves all counties throughout Illinois; case investigations ensure the rights of eligible children and adults who have a disability.

Cases tentatively set for this month’s agenda include complaints involving alleged violations of the laws, regulations and other mandates that protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

Anyone who believe the rights of a person with disabilities are being violated may report this at the meeting or contact the Authority's Regional Coordinator at (309) 693-5001. All complainants' names are kept confidential.

Human Rights Group To Review Complaints at Parlin Library

Lawyer Charged With Grand Theft in FL Suspended in CO

A Durango lawyer charged with grand theft in Florida has been suspended from practicing law in Colorado.

Mark Henderson Brady, 50, is suspected of signing checks on a business escrow account to pay his casino debts at the Isle of Capri Casino on Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas. The alleged incidents occurred in August 2008.

The Colorado Supreme Court's Attorney Regulation Counsel filed a petition last month seeking an immediate suspension of Brady, but the immediate suspension was subject to a review hearing.

On Nov. 6, the Colorado Supreme Court ordered the suspension.
Brady is charged with grand theft, misappropriating escrow account funds, passing a forged check and forgery in Florida, where he was allegedly living a lavish lifestyle with a multi-million-dollar house and several luxury cars.

In a previous interview, Brady denied any wrongdoing.

"Since practicing in Colorado, I have maintained trust accounts in strict accordance with my professional and ethical responsibilities as a Colorado practicing attorney," Brady wrote. "I have been a practicing attorney since 1984, and have licenses in both Colorado and New Jersey and have an exemplary record.

"In my roughly 35 years of being a licensed attorney, I have never been grieved by a client, nor subject to disciplinary action," he added. "This record clearly demonstrates there is no evidence of professional misconduct that I have always complied with my ethical obligations since my admission to the state bars in both New Jersey and Colorado."

Full Article and Source:
Court Suspends Durango Lawyer:Mark Brady Accused of Improper Use of Client's Escrow Funds

Antipsychotic Drug Profits

Executives inside pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca faced a high-stakes dilemma.

On one hand, Chicago psychiatrist Dr. Michael Reinstein was bringing the company a small fortune in sales and was conducting research that made one of its most promising drugs look spectacular.

On the other, some worried that his research findings might be too good to be true.

As Reinstein grew irritated with what he perceived as the company's slights, a top executive outlined the scenario in an e-mail to colleagues.

"If he is in fact worth half a billion dollars to (AstraZeneca)," the company's U.S. sales chief wrote in 2001, "we need to put him in a different category." To avoid scaring Reinstein away, he said, the firm should answer "his every query and satisfy any of his quirky behaviors."

Putting aside its concerns, AstraZeneca would continue its relationship with Reinstein, paying him $490,000 over a decade to travel the nation promoting its best-selling antipsychotic drug, Seroquel. In return, Reinstein provided the company a vast customer base: thousands of mentally ill residents in Chicago-area nursing homes.

During that period, Reinstein also faced accusations that he overmedicated and neglected patients who took a variety of drugs. But his research and promotional work went on, including studies and presentations examining many of the antipsychotics he prescribed on his daily rounds.

Full Article and Source:
Doctor-Drugmaker Ties: Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Reinstein Received Nearly $500,000 From Antipsychotic Drug's Manufacturer