Saturday, November 28, 2009

Assisted-Living & Alzheimer's Facility Facing Criminal Neglect

Employees at a Las Vegas assisted-living and Alzheimer’s facility may face criminal neglect charges in connection with an ongoing investigation into the horrific care of elderly residents — some of whom were hospitalized because they did not receive their medication.

The Nevada Division of Aging and Disability Services investigated and confirmed a complaint of elder neglect at Chancellor Gardens of the Lakes and referred it to the attorney general’s office to determine whether criminal charges will be filed, officials said Tuesday.

The accusations stem from an ongoing investigation by the Nevada State Health Division of Chancellor Gardens, where the state previously found that dozens of the elderly residents had gone without their medications — resulting in three hospitalizations — and had suffered neglect at the hands of unqualified employees.

In the newest report, released Monday, the state found:

• Hundreds of pills that should have been administered to residents were instead discovered discarded in containers intended for needles and other sharp objects.

• A resident suffering from dementia — and unable to care for her colostomy — should not have been admitted to the facility because there were no medical personnel to provide care.

• Employees were unable to explain how to look for urinary tract infections or care for patients who had catheters.

• The facility failed to notify a patient’s guardian when the resident was admitted to the hospital.

• A patient with a history of seizures suffered four falls and required hospitalization.

The problems at Chancellor Gardens have been ongoing, even though state inspectors have been present or in contact with the facility for months.

Chancellor Gardens is owned by Utah-based Senior Management Concepts. One of the owners, Vaughn Pulsipher, told the Sun he is aware of the problems, taking them seriously and correcting them.

Full Article and Source:
Treatment of Elderly Could be Criminal

Lawyer Accused of Grand Theft

A western Lucas County lawyer who this year was suspended indefinitely by the Supreme Court of Ohio from practicing law appeared in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Monday to face a criminal theft charge.

Gerald A. Baker, 59, of Spencer Township was charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing more than $30,000 entrusted to him as an insurance settlement for a client.

Yesterday, he failed to appear for his morning arraignment on the charge, prompting Judge Gene Zmuda to issue a warrant. Mr. Baker, who told the judge he had moved and so had not received notification, appeared yesterday afternoon and was booked into the Lucas County jail before being released on his own recognizance.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer Accused of Grand Theft is Jailed Briefly

Former Atty Gets Seven Years in Prison

Arkansas class-action attorney Steven Eugene Cauley was sentenced by a New York judge to seven years and two months in prison after admitting that he stole $9.3 million from client escrow accounts he controlled.

Cauley, who pleaded guilty in June to fraud and criminal contempt, stole money that he held in escrow from the proceeds of a class-action lawsuit against The BYSIS Group Inc., a Roseland, New Jersey-based insurance-services firm that services insurance companies. Cauley’s former Little Rock, Arkansas-based law firm, Cauley Bowman Carney & Williams PLLC, was among the lead attorneys in the 2004 class-action, or group, lawsuit.

Cauley, who has surrendered his law license, joins other attorneys who’ve been jailed for felonies. Marc Dreier, founder of New York’s Dreier LLP, is serving 20 years in prison for selling $700 million in phony promissory notes. Ex-Milberg Weiss Bershad & Shulman partners Mel Weiss, Bill Lerach, David Bershad and Steven Schulman were sent to prison in a kickback scheme.

Full Article and Source:
Arkansas Lawyer Cauley Gets Seven Years for Fraud

See Also:
Disbarred Lawyer Confesses

Charges Upheld

A McHenry County judge denied a defense motion to dismiss charges against a Lake in the Hills man accused of stealing $225,000 from his mother-in-law.

Authorities have charged Michael W. Greer, 46, with felony exploitation of an elderly person and forgery, saying Greer used his position of authority over his now-deceased mother-in-law to get access to her money.

Greer's attorney, Thomas Loizzo, has said a police investigator misled grand jurors when he testified Greer held power of attorney over his mother-in-law.

Instead, Loizzo says, Greer's mother-in-law lent him the money for his business - making the case a civil rather than a criminal matter.

Full Article and Source:
Charges Upheld Against LITH Man Accused of Bilking Mother-in-Law

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ex-Atty Facing Two Years in the Federal Pen

An Erie attorney faces about two years in federal prison for stealing nearly $200,00 from estates in his care.

Sixty-two-year-old J. Gregory Moore consented to being disbarred in Pennsylvania in July, months after the crimes surfaced.

Authorities say Moore went to the Erie County District Attorney's Office in March to announce that he had drained nearly all the money from one woman's estate. Moore's confession came during a state Disciplinary Board investigation and led the DA to refer the case to federal prosecutors, who indicted him on mail fraud.

Moore didn't explain why he stole the money when he pleaded guilty Tuesday, but has agreed to pay it back. He faces 21 to 27 months in prison under federal guidelines when he's sentenced March 8.

Erie Lawyer Faces Prison in $200K Estate Thefts

Driver's License = Independence

Joetta Marlor ushered her freshly groomed schnauzer, Princess, into the back seat of her car.

She settled into the blue Mercury and maneuvered down busy Park Boulevard, holding the wheel with one hand as she has done for 60 years. She signaled when she changed lanes, stopped at lights, applied her brakes carefully when a white Sentra pulled out in front of her. It was a sunny September day and Marlor, 79, appeared to be in command of her car.

But driving inspectors didn't think she should be on the road. After an accident last year, she was asked to take a driving test and did poorly on it. So in June, she received a letter saying "continued driving can place Ms. Marlor's safety and the safety of others at risk."

The letter said "driving cessation is strongly recommended." But it didn't say exactly when. So Marlor kept driving, knowing that the authorities could step in at any moment and take away her license.

One of her worst fears was that she would become a burden to her children. And if she couldn't drive, she felt she surely would be.

"It hurts. It really hurts," she said. "I'm so not ready. I'm glad I'm still independent."

Full Article and Source:
At 79 a Bid to Keep Her Driving License and Her Independence

Wave of Hope for Lokuta

Midway through her hearing last Tuesday, former Judge Ann H. Lokuta detected a philosophical shift in the approach of the disciplinary panel now considering whether to reinstate her to the Luzerne County bench.

The usually domineering president judge emeritus of the panel, Richard A. Sprague, deferred questioning to the two other judges who heard Lokuta's misconduct case - Lawrence J. O'Toole and Kelley T.D. Streib.

Their questions appeared to focus more on the culture of corruption in Luzerne County than the misconduct charges levied against Lokuta in 2006.

Separately, all three asked Lokuta what she wanted - what sanction she thought would be suitable given the circumstances of her removal last December, the allegations against her and the allegations against the two former Luzerne County judges who testified against her.

There was a renewed sense of equity and fairness in that Dauphin County courtroom, the same chamber where Lokuta practiced as a young attorney nearly three decades ago.

That shift, from a Court of Judicial Discipline that had given her defeat after defeat since the start of the misconduct process, has given Lokuta hope that she will be reinstated.

Full Article and Source:
Wave of Hope Sparks Lokuta

See Also:
Court to Render Decision on Lokuta Case

Lokuta's Salary Request Denied

The state supreme court has denied a request by a former Luzerne County judge to restore her salary while she fights her removal from the bench.

The Court of Judicial Discipline removed Ann Lokuta from the bench last year over allegations she mistreated staff members.

Full Article and Source:
PA Supreme Court Denies Lokuta's Salary Request

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Coma" Patient Communicates

Rom Houben was in a tragic car accident in 1983, leaving him in, what doctors thought, was a vegetative state. His family never gave up hope, and insisted that his brain was still functioning. After taking him to the United States for testing on five different occasions, and having sought out the advice of dozens of specialists in Europe, the family finally was able to confirm their belief with the help of Belgium's Coma Science Group. After doing a sophisticated test on Houben, doctors found that he had a normally functioning brain.

Doctors and the family have since been able to devise a system in which he is able to communicate. Originally, he would tap yes or no answers on to a small device by his foot. Now, he is able to tap messages onto a special touch screen monitor mounted to his wheelchair.

Powerlessness. Utter powerlessness. At first I was angry, then I learned to live with it,” he said, punching the message onto the screen during a recent interview with the Belgian RTBF TV network. He calls his rescue a renaissance.
Doctors around the world are calling what happened to him a shame. “Maybe the diagnosis was missed for so long because it happened 23 years ago. We have better tools now than we did before,” comments Marie Pasinski, M.D., a neurologist with Harvard Medical School. “As physicians we have a responsibility to look at every case with fresh eyes, review the diagnosis, rerun tests and try new tests as they become available.”

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Man Thought to be in Vegetative State Was Alert the Whole Time

Judge Sides With Daughter

An Indiana woman has been granted guardianship of her father after waging a two-month court battle against Manatee County’s public guardian. She hopes to have him home for Thanksgiving.

Manatee County Circuit Judge Paul E. Logan appointed Beverly R. Newman guardian of her father, 89-year-old Al Katz, in a ruling Monday.

Newman and her husband, Lawrence T. Newman, had petitioned the court for control of Katz’s health care decision-making since Sept. 18, when Bradenton’s Aging Safely was awarded emergency temporary guardianship after Katz was taken to the hospital with “confusion, agitation and bronchitis,” according to court documents.

The Newmans objected to Aging Safely’s emergency guardianship, saying the elder advocate failed to list Beverly Newman as Katz’s next of kin in court papers. They said they were Katz’s primary caretakers intermittently from 2002 to 2008.

An often contentious court battle ensued during which the Newmans accused Aging Safely and Katz’s court-appointed health care representative, Jackie Steuerwald of Indiana, of failing to provide adequate care. Aging Safely in turn testified that Katz did not want to see his daughter.

Logan awarded Beverly Newman the right to visit her father for three hours per day over objections from Aging Safely in an Oct. 16 ruling.

“As a guardian, we really had no choice but to do what Mr. Katz said he wanted,” Aging Safely representative Ashley Butler said Tuesday. “Everybody stepped up and did what they thought was best for Mr. Katz.”

Beverly Newman said she and her father get along well and that it was the influence of his girlfriend and caretakers that briefly strained their relationship.

While Logan appointed Beverly Newman guardian of Katz, he awarded control of Katz’s property to Herbert G. Schimmel, a Sarasota family counselor chosen by the Newmans. That’s because the Newmans sued Katz in 2008 over belongings that were locked in his home in Indianapolis.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Sides With Daughter in Guardianship Battle

See Also:
Judge Grants Visitation to Daughter

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Compromised Care in IL Nursing Homes

Frail and vulnerable residents of nursing homes throughout Illinois are being dosed with powerful psychotropic drugs, leading to tremors, dangerous lethargy and a higher risk of harmful falls or even death, a Tribune investigation has found.

Thousands of elderly and disabled people have been affected, many of them drugged without their consent or without a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis that would justify treatment, state and federal inspection reports show.

In all, the Tribune identified 1,200 violations at Illinois nursing homes involving psychotropic medications since 2001. Those infractions affected 2,900 patients.

The actual numbers are likely far higher because regulators inspect some facilities just once every 15 months, and even then they usually check only a small sample of residents for harm.

The Tribune's unprecedented review of more than 40,000 state and federal inspection reports found that nursing homes ranging from "five-star" establishments on the North Shore to run-down facilities in urban neighborhoods have been cited for improperly administering psychotropic drugs.

The paper's review took into account violations for "chemical restraint" and "unnecessary drugs" as well as cases involving dosages that exceeded safety standards or falls in which psychotropics possibly played a role.

While some nursing home residents suffer from major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, the inspection reports show that many patients harmed by antipsychotic drugs had not been diagnosed with psychosis. They were disabled by Alzheimer's disease, cancer or Parkinson's disease. Some were blind or so frail that they could not breathe without the aid of an oxygen tank.

The findings come at a difficult time for Illinois nursing homes, which are already under fire for housing violent felons alongside geriatric patients and for failing to accurately assess the risk posed by the most serious offenders.

The misuse of psychotropics, which some experts say is a nationwide problem in nursing homes, suggests a troubling future for many seniors.

Full Article and Source:
Compromised Care: Psychotropic Drugs Given to Nursing Home Patients Without Cause

Who Will Help?

Former caseworker Tande Rose worries every day about the elderly in Gallia County who may be hungry or without medications or even near death.

Laid off as the county's one-person Department of Adult Protective Services, she wonders who will take care of people like the woman in her 70s who Rose found naked and covered with feces on the floor of a locked bedroom.

Advocates for the county agencies across Ohio have not yet compiled the number of caseworkers like Rose who were handed pink slips in the wake of state budget cuts adopted in July. However, roughly 3,000 have lost their jobs since the state started slashing aid to the county agencies nearly two years ago.

Gallia County, along the Ohio River in the heart of the state's Appalachian region, has been among the hardest hit, losing 40 percent of its Job and Family Services' staff of 51.

Rose was the county's only caseworker assigned to investigate allegations of abuse, exploitation or neglect against the elderly. Since she left in August, adult protective services have been unavailable.

"I worry that people will go hungry or not get their medications," Rose said. "I worry that someone will die."

"These are sweet little people," Rose said of her former clients. "I may be in their shoes some day, and if I am, I'd want someone looking after me."

Rose helped about 150 seniors a year.

"Elderly people are so proud," she said. "They will go without medication before they wouldn't pay their utilities. I would try and help by talking to physicians to get samples or calling the utility company."

"Families are supposed to help out families," Rose said. "But a family can't do what they could do 20 years ago."

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Cash-for-Kids" Judges Given Partial Immunity

Two former county judges accused of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send juveniles to private detention facilities are partially immune from civil lawsuits, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Friday.

The decision by U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo could make it harder for the people suing former Luzerne County judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. to collect damages.

Caputo said Ciavarella will avoid civil consequences for "the vast majority" of his conduct, because much of it occurred inside a courtroom, such as determination of delinquency and sentencing.

He said Conahan largely would not be immune, because his alleged actions were more administrative in nature, such as signing a placement agreement with the detention centers.

The decisions have no bearing on the federal criminal charges that Ciavarella and Conahan are currently facing in what has become known as the kids-for-cash scandal.

Marsha Levick, a lawyer with the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, a co-counsel for plaintiffs in the case, said Friday she did not consider the ruling to be a major setback. There are more than 400 named plaintiffs in the case, and lawyers are seeking class-action status.

"I think what's important is the judges remained in the litigation," Levick said. "Conahan is extremely vulnerable because most of what Conahan did with respect to the plaintiffs' allegations, it was all outside the courtroom."

Caputo said the case involved principles of judicial independence that date back hundreds of years and are designed to protect judges who make sincere mistakes, uphold the reputation of the courts and meet the need for the court system to render final judgments.

"I am not unmindful of the egregious nature of the alleged conduct presented in this case," Caputo wrote. "This is, however, about the rule of law. It is about the rule of law in the face of popular opinion which would seek a finding directly contrary to the result the rule of law dictates."

Full Article and Source:
2 PA Judges Given Partial Immunity

See Also:
State Had Complaint Against Kids-For-Cash Judges Since 2006

Investors Suing Atty Scott Rothstein

A group of investors filed a lawsuit Friday against Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein, saying he stole hundreds of millions of dollars from them with the help of an inner circle of employees at his law firm and a handful of officers at a Canadian bank.

In the suit, which reads more like a racketeering indictment, the investors accuse Rothstein of conspiring with others to fabricate confidential legal settlements to sell to wealthy investors and to falsify bank records to disguise his theft from their trust accounts.

It was a "classic Ponzi scheme" where Rothstein paid off older investors with newer ones' money over four years -- until it collapsed last month, the suit says. He duped them into believing their investments were lucrative and their trust accounts safe -- but they weren't.

The civil complaint was filed by a half-dozen investors seeking to recover more than $100 million from Rothstein, Toronto Dominion Bank and others. They first discovered that the Fort Lauderdale lawyer had cleaned out their bank accounts in late October, when Rothstein fled to Morocco. He returned to Fort Lauderdale in early November to face a federal investigation into his investment scheme, which the FBI said might top $1 billion.

Rothstein, 47, has not been charged with a crime. Through his attorney, Rothstein declined comment on the suit.

The 147-page suit says Rothstein schemed with three others at his firm: general counsel David Boden, chief operating officer Debra Villegas, and corporate officer Andrew Barnett.

Full Article and Source:
Rothstein, Associates Sued

See Also:
Hospital Returns $1 Mil Donation

Accused of Bilking Stroke Victim

Elise Ann Davidson is charged with felony exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Davidson is free on her own recognizance while the case is pending, according to court documents. She made an initial appearance Friday in magistrate court, where Judge William Hamlett appointed a public defender to represent her.

Davidson, 40, took advantage of the 64-year-old Edgemere man between November 2008 and March 2009, according to a criminal complaint filed by Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Goins.

The alleged fraud was discovered last spring, when the man’s daughter was appointed legal guardian, a deputy’s report said. As much as $4,000 was drained from the man’s accounts through purchases and cash withdrawals, the report indicated.

The charge rose to the felony level because the amount of monetary damages exceeds $1,000. If convicted of the offense, she could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $25,000.

The police report said the man suffered a stroke in the fall of 2008 and within days of the event, large ATM withdrawals were made from his bank account. After the withdrawals were made, the man granted her power of attorney in order to handle his medical and financial affairs, the report alleged.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Accused of Bilking Stroke Victim

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Seidlin Lawsuit Expanded

An elderly woman's lawsuit against ex-judge Larry Seidlin has expanded to include three attorneys and an accountant.

Barbara Kasler, 83, whose lawyer said is worth $5 million, is suing Seidlin, who gained national notoriety for his emotional handling of the Anna Nicole Smith death case.

Kasler's new attorney, William Scherer, filed an amended suit this week accusing Seidlin of siphoning money from Kasler and attempting to hijack her estate upon her death. According to the suit, originally filed in Broward Circuit Court in June, Seidlin; his wife Belinda; her parents, Barbara and Oren Ray; along with Dorothy Colletto, the ex-girlfriend of Kasler's deceased son, fleeced Kasler out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks, credit-card purchases and the sale of property she owned.

Seidlin feigned friendship with Kasler, who lived in the same Fort Lauderdale condo as the judge and his family, the suit said, and the exploitation occurred while the now-retired Seidlin was still on the bench.

"It is absolutely horrible, horrible conduct by a sitting circuit judge," Scherer said.

Also named in the new suit is accountant Stephen Fuller, and attorneys Robert Judd, Bruce Lehr and Raymond Posgay. All but Lehr, whose practice is in Miami, are from Fort Lauderdale.

The suit said the accountant and attorneys assisted Seidlin in his attempts to buy Kasler's property at a discountand change her will tobenefit himself and his family.

Full Article and Source:
Lawsuit Against Ex-Judge Seidlin Expanded

See Also:
Seidlin v Kasler

Financial Advisor Admits to $10.3 Mil Ponzi Scheme

A financial adviser from Monmouth County admitted today he financed a lavish lifestyle with money from investors he duped in a $10.3 million Ponzi scheme.

Maxwell Smith, 69, of Fair Haven, pleaded guilty in Superior Court in Morristown to one count of first-degree money-laundering. Under the plea agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office, Smith is likely to be sentenced to a 15-year prison term, with five years of parole ineligibility, but it will run concurrently with an upcoming federal prison sentence. Smith also had pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Trenton to wire fraud in the same securities scheme, authorities said.

Over the years, Smith raked in $10 million from the investors and paid out $2 million in interest to give a false sense of security, but he spent the other $8 million on himself and his wife. The money financed their high living, overseas travel and renting a villa in France, as well as dining in fancy restaurants, buying pricey antiques and gambling.

Smith also agreed to pay $10 million in restitution, but victims probably will never get all of their money back, said Edward D’Alessandro, attorney for 10 of the 13 victims.

"We’re trying to fill a bucket with a thimble," D’Alessandro said. "All of the money is gone. They lived very well and had an unbelievably lavish lifestyle."

The fraud began to unravel when the daughter of one elderly investor couple, Leonard and Collette Frederick of Whippany, thought Smith’s investment plan sounded a lot like the Ponzi scheme of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, D’Alessandro said.

Full Article and Source:
Monmouth County Financial Advisor Admits Ponzi Scheme in State Court