Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wisconsin Victims of Lawyer Theft Claims Awarded

The Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection Committee approved $172,900 in reimbursements to 7 victims of lawyer theft at its November meeting. The committee considered 23 claims against 10 attorneys. Ten claims were denied; and 6 claims totaling $366,000 were deferred.

“Client protection funds around the country are experiencing increases in the numbers and sizes of claims,” says committee chair Deb Smith. “As lawyers are under increasing economic pressure, some experience problems with substance abuse, depression, or generally become overwhelmed. Unfortunately, there are those who resort to stealing from clients and trust accounts. I think that explains, in part, what we’re seeing in the numbers and amounts of claims in Wisconsin. While we can feel some empathy for the plight of those affected lawyers, it is important that we call them on their dishonest conduct and do what we can to make their victims whole. We are a self-policing profession, and as such, we owe a special duty to clients and the public to maintain trust and confidence in lawyers. One important way we do this is by making amends for the bad deeds of a few.”

Disbursements. Claims recently were approved for clients of:
•Joan Marie Boyd, Shawano (one claim for unearned advanced fees for $8,100)
•Peter T. Elliott, Oconomowoc (one claim for theft from an estate for $150,000)
•Christopher A Mutschler, Fond du Lac (one claim for unearned advanced fees for $4,000)
•Godfrey Y. Muwonge, Milwaukee (four claims for unearned advanced fees totaling $10,800)

Full Article and Source:
Fund for Client Protection Approves $172,900 in Reimbursements for Lawyer Theft Victims

Supreme Court Upholds

Carel Callahan Bainum, who has made headlines for years in Warwick, takes offense to her latest portrayal as someone who would exploit the assets of an elderly friend.

But it will take more than indignation to counter what the Supreme Court termed in a recent order upholding a lower court ruling as a “troubling scenario of money, deceit and financial abuse of an elderly person.”

The Supreme Court recently affirmed Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Lanphear’s May 2008 restraining order virtually freezing Bainum’s assets and prohibiting her from conveying or encumbering real estate or any assets of more than $2,000 until the suit brought against her is resolved. Bainum owns as many as six properties in Warwick plus four in Grants Pass, Ore., where she lived with her husband. She returned to Warwick after her husband’s death.

Bainum claims the court action, for all practical purposes, will force her into bankruptcy, leaving nothing to repay what remains of a $120,000 loan that she acknowledges she owes. Without the ability to sell assets so as to make mortgage and tax payments, Bainum says, she will lose properties to foreclosure and tax sales. Those foreclosures have already started to happen.

Bainum claims this could leave Sona Stevens with nothing. Stevens is the daughter of Vartan Baligian, who loaned the money to Bainum. Bainum has filed a counter-suit against Stevens for defamation of character and liable.

Full Article and Source:
Bainum Refutes Claim She Sought to Bilk Long-Time Friend

See Also:
Honest Deal or ......?

Lawyer Indicted

A Franklin lawyer whose license was revoked after he acknowledged that he had loaned himself more than $3.5 million from an estate for which he was an executor was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury.

In April, the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board revoked the license of James Edward Moyler Jr., 79, of Williamsburg after he had been ordered by Southampton County Circuit Court to account for funds in at least two - perhaps three - additional estates. Judgments for about $4.5 million were filed against him in Southampton, according to court records.

He allegedly made false statements in October 2008 and in January when he failed to list more than $3.9 million in liabilities he owed the estate of Lucille K. Steinhardt, according to the federal indictment, cited in a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. As executor, he allegedly loaned himself the money from 2001 through 2005.

Full Article and Source:
Long Time Franklin Attorney Indicted By Jury


A former Trenton woman was convicted Monday of exploiting her 90-year-old relative and repaid her nearly $40,000.

Heather Shearer was convicted of unlawful financial exploitation of an elderly person, a class 1 felony, in Carlyle. Shearer entered the guilty plea and repaid the victim $39,814.70, according to Clinton County State's Attorney John Hudspeth.

Shearer was required to make immediate full restitution, in addition to the 120-day jail sentence, probation, fines and court costs totaling $1,782 she was sentenced, Hudspeth said.

Full Article and Source:
Former Clinton Cuonty Woman Convicted of Exploiting 90-Year-Old Relative

Friday, December 4, 2009

Scott Rothstein Arrested, Charged

Scott Rothstein, the flashy Fort Lauderdale attorney who authorities say ran a $1.2 billion investment scam while acting like a philanthropic tycoon, faces up to 100 years in prison if convicted on federal racketeering and other charges.

Rothstein, who had fled to Morocco in late October but returned in early November, was arrested Tuesday morning by federal agents and later pleaded not guilty in Fort Lauderdale federal court to the RICO conspiracy and four other charges. Those other offenses are money-laundering conspiracy, mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud.

Federal officials said the financial fraud orchestrated by Rothstein is the largest in South Florida history.

"This case is a glaring example of greed run amok," Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "He sought to buy power and influence at the expense of his clients, and instead has potentially bought himself a lengthy prison sentence."

Full Article and Source:
Scott Rothstein Arrested Charged

See Also:
Investors Suing Atty Scott Rothstein

Third Luzerne County Court Judge Charged With Corruption

A third Luzerne County Court judge has been charged with corruption, becoming the latest public servant to be caught up in a widening federal probe that has snared 20 people in the northeastern Pennsylvania county since January.
Judge Michael Toole, 49, will plead guilty to fraud and tax charges and resign, according to court documents filed yesterday in federal court in Scranton.

Prosecutors said Toole had "corruptly abused" his position by concealing his financial relationship with a lawyer who appeared before him in an insurance case. Toole, elected in 2003, faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison and a $350,000 fine.

Toole's attorney, Frank Nocito, declined to comment.

President Judge Chester Muroski immediately removed Toole from his judicial responsibilities, leaving just seven judges on a bench that normally has 10.

"Clearly this action deals a severe blow to our already shorthanded Luzerne County Court," Muroski said in a statement. "I have spoken with my remaining colleagues, and while we are all extremely disappointed with these recent developments, we are, once again, committed to making a total effort to maintain the business and function of the Luzerne County Court.

Two former county judges, Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., are accused of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send juveniles to private detention facilities. They await trial on racketeering charges.

Besides Toole, the vacancies are for Ciavarella and Ann Lokuta, who was removed last December over misconduct allegations. She is appealing that ruling.

Full Article and Source:
Third Luzerne Judge is Charged

Prison for "Flipping" Elderly Person's Property

A 46-year-old former real estate agent was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Tuesday, plus seven years of probation for improperly selling the home of an elderly Tucson resident and keeping the profit.

Ammar Dean Halloum was working as a licensed real estate agent when he misrepresented himself and obtained the title of a Gilbert home from a Tucson dementia patient, says the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Halloum flipped the property.

Halloum pleaded guilty to one count of theft/financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices, both felonies.
Judge Richard Fields of Pima County Superior Court also ordered Halloum to pay over $200,000 in restitution to the victim and over $30,000 to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution costs.

Full Article and Source:
Former Tuscon Realtor Given Prison for Improper Home Sale

Former Nursing Home Worker Arrested

A former nursing home worker accused of cashing an elderly woman's check at a Lafayette store was arrested and booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on Monday.

Wilkins, a former employee of Golden Age of Welsh Nursing Home in Welsh, is the second person arrested in connection with the incident. Vercey Lawdins, 26, was arrested on Oct. 13 on the same charges as Wilkins, said Laura Gerdes, public information officer with the Louisiana Attorney General's Office.

Lawdins is accused of stealing a $6,050 check from an elderly resident of the nursing home. She and Wilkins then allegedly cashed the check at a Lafayette Wal-Mart store and used the money to buy 11 $550 gift cards, Gerdes said.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Worker Accused

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"They Won't Let Me See My Husband"

Sara Harvey says her husband Gary became incapacitated in 2006 after a fall down the stairs.

The County attorney says the county was appointed Gary’s guardian after some unusual and dangerous circumstances happened between Gary and Sara.

Since then, the county agreed that his wife could continue with supervised visitation, which has been paid for out of Gary’s assets.

Now that money has run out.

Friends and supporters protested today in front of St. Joseph's Hospital, where Gary is being cared for.

Sara wants her visitation rights back.

Harvey says, "I must have really upset somebody. I’ve advocated for my husband and that's all I’ve been doing. I’ve been writing to the V.A., I’ve been writing to D.C. I’ve been writing all over the place. I’ve been advocating for my husband that's all I’ve been doing."

Full Article and Source:
Horseheads Woman Protests For Visitation

See Also:
Gary Harvey Custody Battle Rages On

Judge Won't Recuse

U.S. District Court Judge Frank Montalvo has denied a defense request to recuse himself and will continue presiding over the corruption case of lawyer Luther Jones and District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez.

Jones, 63, and Sanchez, 42, filed a motion asking Montalvo to step aside. A hearing on their recusal motion was scheduled for next Friday, but Montalvo last week preempted it by denying the request, court records show.

In his denial order, Montalvo wrote that Jones and Sanchez had not proved that he overstepped his role as the presiding judge. They alleged he was too intimate with the details of the government's investigation and could no longer be fair to the suspects.

Montalvo disagreed.

"The undersigned faithfully followed the law and the constitution," Montalvo stated of himself. "Therefore, no reasonable person would doubt the undersigned's impartiality, nor is there anything which reflects such a high degree of antagonism as to make fair judgment impossible."

With the recusal motion still undecided, Montalvo last month made a blockbuster ruling in favor of Sanchez and Jones. He dismissed three of five charges against each man. These included two bribery charges and one count of mail fraud. Montalvo ruled that the five-year statute of limitations lapsed before federal prosecutors obtained the indictments on the bribery counts.

Jones and Sanchez still face two felony counts of conspiracy. The government alleges that they tried to rig a $53 million contract for a company Jones represented.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Won't Recuse Self in Corruption Case

$69K in Travel Expenses

Florida's elder affairs chief has racked up nearly $70,000 in travel bills in less than three years, much of it by driving his car between the capital and Orlando, where Douglas Beach owns a home and where his wife lives.

But his colleagues around the state say the cost is worth it: They praise Beach for being accessible and well informed.

Beach, secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs, has been reimbursed $69,000 since 2007, including $32,000 for nearly 72,000 work-related miles driven in his Ford Explorer. That's the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe nearly three times.

"One of my requirements in federal law as well as in state statute is to be the chief advocate for seniors in the state of Florida," Beach said. "And I don't think you can do that behind a desk in Orlando or Tallahassee."

Beach, who earns $120,000 a year, ran Orlando's aging agency before taking the state job. He oversees a budget of about $700 million and said his travel helps him connect with 11 regional area agencies on aging that contract with the state to provide meals, in-home care, transportation and other services to Florida seniors

Full Article and Source:
Florida's Elder Affairs Chief Racks Up $69,000 in Travel Expenses

CT Court Probate Court Changes in 2011

Changes to the state’s probate court system in 2011 will mean consolidation of many courts, as there will be 54 instead of 117.

The redistricting, which is based on population levels, takes effect Jan. 5, 2011. Residents of many small communities will have longer drives to get to their local probate court. These courts deal with family matters such as settling estates, adoptions, termination of parental rights and guardianship for the mentally ill or developmentally disabled.

Under the new probate court districts, large communities such as New Haven, West Haven, Shelton and Wallingford will each have a local probate court.

Judge Paul Knierim, probate court administrator, called the redistricting process “successful,” as he said efforts were made to solicit input from the communities.

“There was a great deal of outreach to citizens and legislators to make sure this was a good fit,” Knierim said.

While lawmakers initially wanted a maximum of 50 courts, Knierim said they displayed flexibility and allowed 54.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Court Changes in 2011 Mean Longer Drives for Some

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Probate Lawyer in Court Over Handling of $1.6 mil Estate

A Milwaukee lawyer once highly regarded around the probate system now faces lawsuits and a criminal investigation over his handling of a $1.6 million estate a judge appointed him to safeguard in 2003.

Leonard V. Brady, 83, has been a Wisconsin lawyer since 1953. He's been a court commissioner, law instructor and bank official, and now runs a law practice called Christian Legal Services. The license plate on his Jaguar reads ECCLLAW, for ecclesiastical law.

Heirs of Catherine Pretschold and their attorney think the religious overtones are a sham. They accuse Brady of improperly diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Pretschold estate, money Brady has hinted is invested in church bonds through a company in Trinidad but which he hasn't been able to produce for months, according to court records.

At a sworn deposition this fall, he declined to answer questions, citing his Fifth Amendment right against possible self-incrimination.

Attorney Mitchell Barrock of Brookfield is convinced Brady used the Pretschold estate as his retirement account and should be prosecuted. "I don't know why he's not in jail right now," said an exasperated Barrock.

Barrock represents Catherine Pretschold's son and daughter: Wayne Pretschold, who runs the family's awning business in Milwaukee, and Linda Logan of Connecticut. They are co-personal representatives of their mother's estate. Catherine Pretschold died in December 2007.

"The courts are supposed to take care of this," Logan said recently. "Everybody looks the other way."

Prosecutors, federal agents and lawyer regulators began an investigation months ago; while the investigation continues, no charges have been filed and Brady remains in good standing with the Wisconsin bar. Neither he nor his attorney returned repeated calls, and a woman at Brady's Brookfield home would not accept a letter from a reporter.

Brady has been replaced as guardian of the Pretschold estate, and new deadlines have been set for him to come up with the about $700,000 in missing funds.

If things aren't resolved by March, there will be a trial at which Barrock can try to collect the missing money, and tens of thousands of dollars in lost interest, investigative costs and attorneys fees from insurance companies that had issued performance bonds for Brady.

Catherine Pretschold

Full Article and Source:
Probate Lawyer in Court Over His Handling of $1.6 Million Estate

County Probate Judge Arrested for DUI

Cherokee County Probate Judge Joshua Queen was arrested Friday morning on DUI charges. Queen also oversees the county’s drug and alcohol court program.

According to court records, Queen was pulled over by Highway Patrol at 2:03am not far from his home in Gaffney. The traffic citation states that Queen refused a blood-alcohol test. He was charged with DUI first offense and released from jail on personal recognizance bond a few hours later, though the magistrate’s office could not tell us the exact time of his bond hearing. Queen will appear in court again on October 7th.

Queen may be able to continue performing his duties as probate judge, which include presiding over estate legal matters and marriage certificates. According to Lee Coggiola of the SC Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Council, DUI first offense is not considered a serious disciplinary charge. Therefore, the ODC would not petition the Supreme Court to suspend Queen unless someone files an official complaint. Coggiola said she is not at liberty to disclose whether or not a complaint has been filed.

As for his position overseeing Cherokee County’s Drug Court, a top administrator tells WSPA Queen has been relieved of his duties. A former drug court judge will now preside over the program.

Full Article and Source:
Cherokee Judge Arrested for DUI

Found Guilty of Bilking More Than $300 K

An elderly woman was bilked of more than $300,000 worth of property, cash, art and jewelry by her daughter and granddaughter, the Monterey County District Attorney's office announced.

Former Carmel residents Christi Schoenbachler, 30, and Lisa MacAdams, 53, were found guilty by Judge Terrance R. Duncan after a trial.

In 2002, the victim, whose identity was not released, was 72 years old when she moved with MacAdams, her daughter, to Monterey County to be near her granddaughter Schoenbachler. The woman had money from the sale of her mobile home, an annuity worth $90,000, furniture, art and jewelry worth up to $200,000. Two years later, it was gone. The court found the daughter and granddaughter, who was part-owner of a Pacific Grove pilates studio, had taken over her finances. When the woman's money ran out, the district attorney's office reported, she was abandoned at a local nursing home.

The women are to be sentenced Jan. 15 and face up to four years, eight months in prison.

Full Article and Source:
Police Briefs: Kin Guilty of Bilking $300K From Woman

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Evicted for Alleged "Swindle"

The state's highest court has agreed to hear the case of a local couple that says they were evicted from their home last winter without warning or an opportunity to retrieve any personal belongings.

On Jan. 23, 2009, Marie and Robert Winfield and their two teenage children were ordered by police and sheriff's deputies to leave the first-floor apartment they were renting at 67 Laurel Ave.

The Winfields had a valid agreement with the co-owner of the property, Lillian Schiavoni, to rent the apartment for $800 per month, according to court papers filed by the couple. Schiavoni, 91, owns the home with her older sister, Nettie Carpinone, 92, who lives on the second floor, court papers said.

The police eviction was the result of protective orders obtained from a judge by Elder Services of Merrimack Valley. The state agency, in court papers, claims the Winfields were stealing money from the elderly women and were "imminently going to swindle (Carpinone's) home."

The Elder Services agency said the case started in November of 2008 with a petition alleging that "Schiavone had financially exploited her sister, Nettie Carpinone." Subsequent petitions by the agency name the Winfields as financially exploiting both elderly women.

A court-appointed investigator has agreed with the Elder Services agency that the Winfields have committed "acts of financial exploitation against Schiavoni and Carpinone," according to court filings by the agency's lawyer, Eric Schutzbank of Lowell. Several lower court judges have also sided with the agency. Schutzbank did not return a call seeking comment last week.

But the Winfields deny the allegations, and said they were not allowed to refute the charges against them prior to being evicted.

Full Article and Source:
State's Highest Court to Decide Haverhill Eviction Case

Neglect Confirmed at Chancellor Gardens of the Lakes

Employees at a Las Vegas assisted-living and Alzheimer's facility could face criminal charges as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of neglect.

The Nevada Division of Aging and Disability Services turned over an investigative report to the attorney general's office to determine whether charges will be filed.

The agency's investigation confirmed a complaint of elder neglect at Chancellor Gardens of the Lakes.

In a report released Monday, investigators said hundreds of pills that should have been administered were discarded, a patient with a history of seizures had suffered several falls and the facility failed to notify a patient's guardian when the resident was admitted to the hospital.

Investigators also found that staff could not explain how to look for urinary tract infections or care for patients who had catheters.

The report, which is based on a survey from Oct. 20 to Nov. 2, details conditions for the 110 residents, some of whom pay up to $4,000 each month to stay there.

The accusations are part of ongoing allegations of neglect by facility employees. Previously, investigators found dozens of residents went without their medications and suffered neglect under the care of unqualified staff.

Marla McDade Williams, chief of the Nevada Health Division's Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance, said a survey that concluded last week also uncovered problems, even though facility operators knew they were under state scrutiny.
State inspectors have been at Chancellor Gardens at least a half-dozen times this year.

The facility is one of 14 owned by Utah-based Senior Management Concepts. One of the owners, Vaughn Pulsipher, said he is correcting the problems.

Full Article and Source:
Report Confirms Neglect at Care Center for Elderly

Alzheimer's Increasing in West Virginia

The West Virginia chapter of the Alzheimer's Association is looking toward 2010 with a renewed sense of hope in its battle against the debilitating disease often referred to as "the long goodbye."

Memory Walks and other fundraisers have been taking place all around the state throughout October and November, which is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month.

However, the holiday season often proves to be one of the busiest times for the association.

As families gather for celebrations, more calls come into the association's 24-hour help line from residents concerned about loved ones' odd behavior or mood swings that may be associated with Alzheimer's. Extended visits with loved ones can call attention to these changes that often go unnoticed throughout the year.

"That's when people may start noticing maybe it's not a good idea for Mom or Dad to be staying at home by themselves, cooking for themselves or dispensing medication," said Laurel Kirksey, development director for the West Virginia Alzheimer's Association.

Across the country, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's every 70 seconds but the rate is even more rapid in West Virginia due to the state's aging population.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates 48,000 mountain state residents are currently living with Alzheimer's, but Kirksey admits the disease is likely underreported. She says physicians are sometimes hesitant to make the diagnosis, which can only truly be confirmed after death when a brain autopsy is performed.

Full Article and Source:
Alzheimer's Cases Rapidly Increasing in State

Monday, November 30, 2009

Judge Kathryn George Under Investigation

The state Judicial Tenure Commission is investigating a Macomb County Probate judge who allegedly mishandled cases and was excessively absent from the bench.

The focus of the probe is Judge Kathryn George, who was removed as the probate court's chief judge in January 2008 after it was revealed she was circumventing the court's list of conservators and appointing an inordinate number of cases to one agency, Shelby Township-based ADDMS Guardianship Services.

The Detroit News in 2007 reported that George was sending most of her conservatorship cases to ADDMS, in violation of court rules requiring judges to use a rotation of several conservatorship agencies.

Now, Judicial Tenure Commission investigators are poring over court records, looking at cases handled by George, along with her attendance record, said Macomb Chief Probate Judge Kenneth Sanborn.

The probe marks at least the second time state court officials have investigated George, 58, a former registered nurse and Sterling Heights city councilwoman who has served on the bench since 2002.

In February 2008, the State Court Administrator's Office commissioned Auburn Hills-based auditor The Whall Group to look into George's handling of cases, along with allegations of excessive absences.

The audit found "flagrant violations" by ADDMS. The audit highlighted several cases in which the agency mishandled the estates of people it was charged to care for, including selling the assets of an 82-year-old man who was recovering from pneumonia in a nursing home.

The Whall Group found that ADDMS sold the entire contents of his home, "including furnishings, appliances, clothing and two vintage automobiles."

In January 2008, after the Whall Group report was published, Carl Gromek, chief of staff of the State Court Administrator's Office, removed George as the court's chief judge, and ADDMS was barred from handling cases.

Seven months later, Sanborn signed an administrative order removing George from all cases involving wills and estates.

Full Article and Source:
Malcomb Judge Again Under Investigation

See Also:
Attorney Contests Removal

See Also:
My Mother

Rita Hunter Named in Suit

Rita Hunter, former Jasper County public administrator, has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in connection with the fatal fire in November 2006 at the Anderson Guest House group home.

The fire, which killed 10 group home residents and one worker, has spawned a series of lawsuits, plus federal criminal charges against owners of the group home alleging Medicaid fraud.

This suit filed Wednesday in McDonald County Circuit Court is the first to name Hunter in connection with the group home blaze. Mary Frances Joyce, the mother of Isaiah Lee Joyce, contends that her son’s death was the result of Hunter’s “careless and negligent” actions because she failed to place Joyce “in a facility that was maintained in a manner that allowed for its safe use by residents.” Hunter is named in the suit individually and in her capacity as public administrator.

Isaiah Joyce, 25, was a ward of the public administrator’s office and had been placed in the group home for the mentally disabled.

Other defendants
The suit also names Joplin River of Life Ministries, owners Robert and LaVerne DuPont, Shirley Brannon, group home administrator, and officers of the Missouri Department of Health and Social Services.

“We named her (Hunter) because she was the guardian and conservator of Isaiah, and was responsible for making decisions on his behalf. We believe she knew what was going on there and failed to have his interest in mind and failed to take him out of the facility,” said Eryn Peddicord, the Lee’s Summit, Mo., attorney who filed the suit.

Full Article and Source:
Mother of Victim of Group Home Fire Sues Former Administrator, Others w/ Wrongful Death Lawsuit

See Also:
Federal Probe of Rita Hunter Tenure

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fraud Charges Reduced

On the day of her arrest, Sari Hope Axelrod was accused of participating in an elaborate scheme to defraud a legally blind, World War II Army veteran out of nearly $100,000.

On Monday, 13 months later, all but one of the felony charges Axelrod faced had been dropped. She pleaded guilty to grand theft and was sentenced to two years of probation.

Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson has an explanation for why charges that initially seemed so egregious had mellowed over time.

"Figures of theft are difficult to prove," he said Monday, adding the total figure actually believed to have been stolen was nowhere near $100,000.

"Once the rumor got started, it takes on a life of its own," he explained of law enforcement's initial belief.

Axelrod met Philip Johnson, a retired school teacher, in late 2007 when she responded to his ad seeking a caregiver. She is now 54, and he is 93.

Within months, Axelrod introduced Johnson to two of her friends: James Lee Gavin, now 40, and Elizabeth Huggins, now 35. This pair drove Axelrod and Johnson to Georgia, where the caregiver and client were wed.

Soon afterwards, investigators were claiming that nearly $100,000 had been siphoned from Johnson's bank account through fraudulent means. They believed Johnson was involuntarily signing checks over to the others. They also alleged that Johnson's caregiver-turned-wife was withholding his medication and verbally abusing him.

In October 2008, Axelrod - then known as Sari Hope Johnson - was arrested on charges of exploitation of the elderly and disabled, organized fraud and grand theft. She initially was denied bail and spent five and a half months in jail awaiting resolution of her case. Her marriage was annulled.

Gavin and Huggins were charged with similar counts.

By Monday, all of Axelrod's counts had been dropped except for a third-degree grand theft charge, to which she pleaded guilty.

Her negotiated plea bargain with the state called for five years of probation, but the judge reduced it by half when Axelrod paid her share of restitution. He also withheld adjudication of guilt, which means this does not constitute a conviction on her record.

In the end, Axelrod was only required to pay back $5,200. Bank records show she earned about $17,000 between January and May 2008, when she served as Johnson's caregiver.

Full Article and Source:
Fraud Charges Reduced for Caregiver

Honest Deal Or......?

Carel Callahan Bainum pictured with Vartan Baligiham

Calling the case “a troubling scenario of money, deceit and financial abuse of an elderly person,” the state Supreme Court has refused to disturb a lower court decision that blocks a Warwick woman from doing much of anything with her assets until a civil fraud trial is held.

The restraining order was issued by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Lanphear in May 2008, two months before Vartan Baligian died at age 98. It prohibits his “friend” Carel Callahan Bainum from transferring, selling, concealing, disposing of or encumbering any real estate, cash, bank accounts, mortgage proceeds, bonds, personal property or other items of value — other than to pay her “normal and usual personal living expenses” — until the lawsuit against her is resolved.

At issue is repayment of the remainder of a $120,000 loan Baligian made to Bainum in 2002.

Baligian’s daughter, Sona Stevens, of West Warwick, claims her father was a victim of elder financial exploitation.

Bainum, 61, denies those allegations. In a court filing, she asserts that it was Baligian’s idea to loan her money so he could make higher interest and “sustain his home and pay his monthly expenses.”

Full Article and Source:
Honest Deal or an Elderly Man Exploited?

Charged with Elder Abuse of His Mother

David Ribarchik, 47, of Flint Township, has been charged with one count of first degree vulnerable adult abuse. It's a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

His mother is the purported victim.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says paramedics got a call Monday afternoon about a 75-year-old woman who had fallen from a chair. Pickell says his investigators later determined she had actually been lying on the floor since about 4:00 Saturday morning.

Before she fell out of the chair, Pickell says she virtually lived in it.

"We learned from the investigation the victim had been sleeping in the chair by the door for at least two months. That's the chair she fell out of. Because the house was so cluttered she couldn't walk," Pickell said.

She is now in the hospital. Sores on her body being treated. Pickell describes her physical condition as "not good."

Pickell says he had been under her son's care for at least one year.

The judge today ordered he have no contact with his mother and Pickell says an emergency guardian and conservator was appointed to manage her care and finances.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Flint Township Man Charged With Elder Abuse

Arrested for Exploitation of an Elderly Person

According to an arrest report dated Nov. 23, Glynda Anne Jones, 45, was served a warrant for exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult less than $20,000.

The victim, reported as being in her 80s and who lived alone, and Jones were friends for several years. The victim is also suffering from some dementia. Jones was granted comprehensive power of attorney in December of 2006, and assisted the victim in her daily activities, the report said.

An investigation started when a bill was reported to be several months in arrears and it was discovered that Jones "had used over $1,000 for her own purposes not related to Paul's care."

The report states that the victim's bank records show that Jones also allegedly paid herself $62,700 in multiple cash transactions from three of the victim's accounts over the last year.

Additionally, the investigation revealed that $60,077 was paid out on behalf of Jones to her own or other's benefits starting in March of 2007.

Full Article and Source:
Sebring Woman Charged With Exploitation of the Elderly