Friday, December 31, 2010

Update : Britney Spears Conservatorship Continues

Guess it’s not coming to an end after all.

Poppa Jamie Spears will still have control over daughter Britney Spears‘ life after a judge ruled to extend the conservatorship.

The judge didn’t say how much longer Jaime will be getting his $16,000 a month paycheck for watching Brit Brit, but lawyers expect it to last anywhere from 6 to 12 months.

Also getting a nice payout from the judge was Britney’s co-conservator Andrew Wallet. From July to November, the judge granted a $174,569.10 payment. The lawyers also got paid as well, receiving $300,000 for legal fees.

That was an expensive trip to court.

Another hearing will take place after the holidays on January 14th.

Full Article and Source:
Britney Stil Not in Control. Conservatorship Extended!

See Also:
Britney Spears Hearing Scheduled for October 14

Disbarred FL Attorney Cops Deal

A disbarred Fort Lauderdale attorney pleaded guilty to a mail fraud charge, admitting he ripped off clients of more than $2.4 million. Joseph Sindaco, who practiced law in South Florida for three decades, stole from four clients' trust funds and used the money to pay personal expenses. He had specialized in estate and trust cases and real estate closings.

Sindaco, 63, now faces up to 20 years in federal prison when sentenced Feb. 24 by U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn. The recommended federal sentencing guidelines call for Sindaco to serve a prison term of at least 41 months, according to his plea agreement. In addition, he agreed to pay $2.4 million in restitution to his four victims. One of them lost $1.8 million.

Sindaco cut a deal in August with the Florida Bar to surrender his law license and be disbarred for five years. He admitted during those proceedings he misappropriated about $445,000 from two clients. The mail fraud charge against Sindaco arose from his handling of the estate of Werner Clauss, an 82-year-old who died at a Lauderdale Lakes nursing home in 2008. Sindaco liquidated Clauss' investment account and transferred the money to his law firm's trust account, according to federal court records.

Full Article and Source:
Disbarred Lawyer Cops Plea in $2.4M + Client/Trust Escrow Funds Swindle; Admits Snatching Closing Cash Meant for Loan Payoffs; Ripping off Dead Client

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Website: Courthouse Steps

Taking issues up the courthouse steps!

The rights of Americans are being challenged; the checks and balances envisioned by the Founders has been replaced with judicial activism and regulation that usurps the legislative process. Law is not made by duly elected representatives, it is rendered by decree from appointed judges with little public recourse.

There is a need for Americans to be aware of the Constitutional challenges and erosion of The Bill of Rights that is occurring daily in the courts of our nation. These issues will be covered, analyzed, and brought out in the light of day…at the courthouse steps.

Courthouse Steps

No Fairy Tale Ending for Walt Disney's Grandchildren

Walt Disney's grandchildren have been entangled in a complex family feud in Maricopa County Probate Court over their inheritance. The controversy was covered in depth by the Arizona Republic, and illustrates the problems that can arise when co-trustees, family and friends fight over an inheritance.

The Money at Stake: Walt made sure his grandchildren were going to be well taken care of financially. Before his death, Walt created a trust which provided each grandchild with an estimated $20 million disbursement at the ages of 35, 40, and 45, in addition to substantial yearly distributions.

Among their duties, the trustees were responsible for evaluating whether the children were competent to receive the monetary distributions. Once the children received the money, they could use it as they pleased.

No Fairy Tale Ending: Although this story didn't have a fairy tale ending, the Disney family fight did end. The family reached agreement when Bill agreed to step down from his children's trust funds.

In a column he wrote for the Arizona Republic, Bill explained, "What has transpired over the past year has been pure torture. I have not been able to speak to my daughter in private for nearly a year."

This was certainly not the fairly tale ending Walt hoped for when he created the trusts.

Full Article and Source:
Walt Disney's Grandchildren Have Been Entangled in a Complex Family Feud in Maricopa County Probate Court Over Their Inheritance.

See Also:
Judge in Disney Case Orders Arrest of Lawyer

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Editorial: Death Panels Do Exist...Just Ask Sara Harvey

Do you think the government in Chemung County County should determine your social environment and other social aspects of your life including who visits you and for how often and long and supervised , especially your family and friends if you should become incapacitated with no facts based on innuendos, hear say?

Do you think the government in Chemung County should decide whether you live or die, even imposing a do not resuscitate order (DNR), decide to end your life in the absence of a living will and not knowing what your wishes are?

Gary Harvey is poster ward for “Government Intrusion on Family Lives.” Does Chemung County - who are strangers to Gary Harvey - know his favorite color, his favorite food, his favorite sport and team? Do they know who his likes and dislikes, religion? Well, for Gary Harvey they decide his social life, medical decisions, where his money is spent, and where he resides...all against his wishes.

Full Article and Source:
Death Panels Do Exist....Just Ask Sara Harvey

See Also:
Bobby Schindler Interview on Behalf of Gary and Sara Harvey

Convicted Embezzler is Charged Again With Theft

Alan R. Jonas, 63, of New Britain, is charged with stealing $72,000 from an 83-year-old Manchester woman who has Alzheimer's disease. Jonas had been appointed her conservator.

Assistant State's Attorney Kevin Shay told Superior Court Judge David P. Gold that Jonas is also under investigation for alleged thefts in Southington and New Britain.

According to the warrant for Jonas' arrest, $107,507 was on hand when he was appointed conservator in March 2009. By February of this year, Jonas had vanished and his wife began divorce proceedings. On Monday, Jonas said he was "out of the country" at the time.

By February, the Manchester Probate Court removed Jonas as conservator and a new conservator determined that Jonas had written $72,000 in checks to himself, but failed to pay the nursing home where the woman lived, the warrant states. At the end of February, the nursing home was owed $65,000, but there was only $21,000 in the woman's account.

In a series of e-mail exchanges with the new conservator, Jonas indicated a desire to repay the woman's account and did send a $35,000 check that cleared the bank. A second check for $38,000 did not clear.

In a June 3 e-mail to the new conservator, Jonas wrote: "I feel terrible about this whole situation, and I would have never done this if I was not suffering from significant physiological issues. I am doing the best I can to resolve this, but I am begging you to please not push me too hard or I am worried it will result in my emotional collapse and then none of this will get resolved for a while and I don't see any benefit to anyone in that."

Full Article and Source:
Convicted Embezzler is Charged Again With Theft

Monday, December 27, 2010

Retired Alabama Judge Under Scrutiny

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission has filed an 85-page complaint against retired Houston County District Judge John Steensland that accuses him of cursing in court, ridiculing people who appeared before him, and placing a woman in jail even though she had no arrest warrant.

The commission filed the complaint with the Court of the Judiciary, which can discipline judges.

Steensland became a judge in 1996 and retired in May after the Judicial Inquiry Commission began investigating him.

Full Article and Source:
Retired Judge Accused of Cursing in Court

Today's Probate Story is Brought to You by Mary

Every day or two, I hear another story from another person with a loved one who is being “protected” by the probate court. They always have the same theme. Families even have a name for what goes on. Can you guess what it is?

I’ll tell you in a minute, but first, here is today’s letter, which is very much like yesterday’s and, no doubt tomorrow’s.

Today’s probate disaster, submitted to the newspaper as a letter to the editor, comes courtesy of Mary Myers, of Mesa:

“I have been following Laurie Roberts' columns on the probate courts for some time and she is 'right on' "

“I have a 79 year old sister that was placed under the care of a fiduciary and a lawyer by the probate court several years ago.

"She was moved all the way across the city to make it difficult for family visits and placed in assisted living when she required skilled care. My sister is kept sadated as a way to control her movements and spends her days sitting in a chair, often in her own excretments. She was hospitalized three times in six years for dehydration and infections. The fiduciary doubled her fees without notice and I have no way to even prove that she visits the facility to check on my sister's care.

“What happens when the bank account finally does dry? Where does she go then? Will you pay her bills?"

So now, to the mission statement of the probate system -- or at least by the fiduciaries who seem to run the place -- brought to you by the families that have endured it. It’s just three simple words.

Full Article and Source:
Today's Probate Story is Brought to You by Mary

Man Convicted of Defrauding Elderly Faces New Charges

A man pretending to be a contractor – and who had been convicted five times of defrauding elderly people – was arrested in a sixth case, accused of defrauding an 86-year-old man up until about six months before the man died, according to court documents unsealed [12/16/10].

Derron Smith, 43, was charged with one count of exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult. Bail was set at $100,000.

Full Article and Source:
Pinellas Man Convicted of Defrauding the Elderly Faces New Charges

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Advocates Set to Sue DC on Behalf of Disabled Confined to Facilities

Vietress Bacon had been living in the Washington Nursing Facility near Skyland Terrace in Southeast Washington for only a few months when she realized she wanted out.

The 46-year-old mother of two has bipolar disorder, is partially paralyzed because of a childhood car accident and uses a motorized wheelchair.

She ended up at the nursing home after she was no longer able to live with her mother. Once at the facility, she discovered that she needed permission from her mother to leave the nursing facility. She was not able to see her son, a musician and rapper, perform. And she missed mundane freedoms such as being able to eat a hamburger and french fries in the middle of the night.

"It's like you're stripped of all your adulthood," Bacon said.

Eleven years after the Supreme Court ruled that state and local governments must provide services to the disabled in the least restrictive settings possible, more than 500 disabled D.C. residents are confined to nursing homes against their wishes because the city has not provided services that would allow them to live independently, according to a lawsuit that disability rights advocates plan to file in federal court.

The lawsuit alleges that the District has failed to provide in-home help with bathing, dressing, transferring people in and out of wheelchairs, and other activities - although such services cost much less than the $60,000 annual price tag of nursing home care, and most of the services are funded under Medicaid. One program to help seniors and the disabled stay in the community has 4,000 slots. As of last week, 1,000 slots were open. Failing to provide such services is a violation of the American With Disabilities Act, the lawsuit argues.

"The whole point of the ADA is to end unnecessary segregation. And that's what nursing homes are," said Marjorie Rifkin, a lawyer with University Legal Services. That group, Arent Fox and AARP Foundation Litigation filed the class-action lawsuit on behalf of disabled residents of D.C. nursing homes. "The District is long overdue in taking steps to transition people into the community."

Full Article and Source:
Advocates Set to Sue DC on Behalf of Disabled Confined to Nursing Homes

CA Class Action Suit: Patients Suffer Sub-Par Care at CA Facilities

A group of California skilled nursing facilities operated by Paksn Inc. has “systematically” failed to meet state minimums for direct patient care and staffing, according to a state court class action.

Maryann N. Valentine says Vacaville, Calif.-based Paksn, Thekkek Health Services, and seven nursing homes and licensees owned by Antony and Prema Thekkek have continuously failed to provide 3.2 hours of daily, direct nursing care to each patient as mandated by Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1276.5.

The complaint in the Alameda County Superior Court asks the court to hold the defendants liable for up to $500 per violation and treble damages because the infractions involve senior citizens and disabled people.

Valentine filed suit as guardian of her ex-husband, George E. Valentine II, 61, who suffered a brain injury and has “extremely limited” mobility. He has lived at Gateway Rehabilitation & Care Center in Hayward, Calif., since 2000, she says.

According to the suit, the level of care that Valentine receives faltered when the defendants acquired Gateway in 2003. Since that time, the facility routinely has failed to meet the state minimum for direct nursing care hours and maintains an inadequate number of nurses on staff.

George Valentine has experienced infrequent and painful turning and repositioning that resulted in pressure sores, and also has experienced infrequent assistance with toileting, frequent urinary tract infections and unsanitary living conditions, the suit asserts.

The facility has also failed to provide Valentine with necessary fluids or assistance with grooming, bathing and eating, and has failed to respond to his medical and dental problems and falls, the complaint says.

Other California facilities owned by the Thekkeks and operated by Paksn have provided similarly deficient care since 2006, according to the suit.

Full Article and Source:
Patients Suffer Sub-Par Care at California Facilities, Class Action Says

Woman Gets 4 Years for Theft

A Vancouver woman who stole more than $300,000 from a 90-year-old man was sentenced Friday to four years and two months in prison.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis opted not to give Becky L. Iverson a drug-offender sentencing alternative program instead of prison time, saying the problem wasn’t just about drugs.

The 50-year-old stole from the victim, Lawrence Sieler, over a period of 18 months and later told investigators she used the money to fund her $600-a-week drug habit. But, given the substantial theft — enough for almost 10 years at that rate — the judge wondered where all the money went.

“The part that’s disturbing is the systematic way of victimizing these people,” Lewis said.

Iverson pleaded guilty Nov. 11 to 11 charges, including first-degree theft, five counts of forgery and five counts of second-degree identity theft.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Gets 4 years for Theft

Friday, December 24, 2010

CBS: Guardianship Agency Cost Elderly Woman Dearly

You're supporting Marie Log with your tax dollars - even tough she had plenty of money on her own.

Then a court appointed guardians to look out for her best interests. But her relatives say the guardians had only one interest - enriching themselves.

As children of the Depression, Marie and Cliff Long lived frugally and invested wisely. Cliff died in 2003. Madelon and Jenette are Marie's sisters.

Jeanette said her sister had about $1.3 million saved up - enough to last the rest of Marie's life - or so the couple thought.

With Marie in declining health, there were no children. Her daughter died of cancer at age 16, and her son died in Vietnam.

To make decisions on her finances and care, the court appointed a guardian - an agency called "The Sun Valley Group."

First, as Guardian, Sun Valley's owners Peter and Heather Frenette hired themselves to provide Marie's personal care. That way they collected not only guardian fees, but up to $15,000 a month in companion care fees, too.

When a Sun Valley worker started a fire in Marie's kitchen, Marie was charged for four employees to "confer" about it. The rate? Up to $105 dollars per hour for each worker.

When another Sun Valley worker locked herself out of Marie's house: $85 dollars an hour for each employee who conferred about that.

Sun Valley found a dozen ways to charge Marie to get her own weekly petty cash. They charged to prepare the cash, to confer about it, to review the status, to draft a letter to the courier, to call the courier, to pay the courier - you get the idea.

To send Long and their worker to a Phoenix Suns basketball game, Sun Valley charged over $1,000 dollars for "research," phone calls, and a limo.

Sun Valley even charged Long $228 to "determine (the) effect (of the game) on (her) mood."

When her sisters complained, Sun Valley hired lawyers, and charged Marie for that, too. Attorneys got $409,000 of Marie's money in just four years.

And Sun Valley walked away with $430,000.

Jeanette says her sister's financial status today is "Zero. Everything's been taken from her."

CBS News wanted to talk to Sun Valley CEO Peter Frenette, so we visited his Phoenix office. He wasn't available.

In writing, Frenette said he can't discuss Marie because of litigation. He did say guardians often "parachute into family battlefields; this surrounding conflict can create extraordinary fees to be incurred."

The court official who appointed Sun Valley in 2005 and an Appeals Judge defended Sun Valley's performance. They said the limo, the grease fire, all the expenses were "reasonable, necessary and for Marie's benefit." The court even blamed Marie's sisters for complaining about it and running up costs.

Full Article and Source:
CBS News - Guardianship Agency Cost Elderly Woman Dearly

See Also:
Read the GAO Report- Guardianships: Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect, and Abuse of Seniors

NASGA's "An Open Letter to Congress and the White House"

FL: Atty Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Joseph Sindaco, 63, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud involving the theft of clients' funds from his trust account, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Sindaco, who practiced law from 2006 through December 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, handled real estate closings for clients, mortgage lenders and estate transactions.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said he took $2.4 million of clients' funds. As part of the plea agreement, Sindaco agreed to repay the money to the clients. Sindaco was permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court on April 29.

Lauderdale Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Thursday, December 23, 2010

ABC15's Questions for Sun Valley Group Owner Peter Frenette

Area families have levied serious complaints against SVG and the company is currently under investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Organized Crime Unit.

We proposed questions about SVG's business, probate court and the upset families involved in our stories. As with the other three news reports, Frenette declined our request for an on-camera interview. Frenette did agree to give us written answers to our questions. The questions we prepared are below. However, instead of answering the specific questions, Frenette gave us a written statement.

Here are a few of ABC15's questions:

*What are your thoughts on how probate court, guardianship and conservatorship work in Maricopa County? What are the good qualities, what are the bad qualities?

*What are your thoughts of the taskforce formed by the state court to examine and change portions of probate court? Can changes be made? What would you like to see changed?

*One of our stories included conflicts of interest. How do you feel about SVG attorneys serving as pro-tem judges in probate court? Do you think this is a conflict of interest?

*Your wife and co-owner of SVG, Heather Frenette is also a contracted court investigator. She determines when people should be considered for guardianship and that is what your company does. Do you think that is a conflict of interest?

*What is your opinion about the criticism that probate court in incestuous? In the way, that it is usually all the same people working in a way that raises the costs for the ward.

*What are your thoughts about everyone -fiduciaries and attorneys- billing the one estate? Should that change?

*We have had many families contact us regarding your company. The complaints are similar. What do you say to the complaints that your company isolated their loved ones? Some were not allowed to see their families. Over medicated them? And sold off all their belongings leaving them penniless?

*One of the stories we did was on fees both by attorneys and by SVG. (Trips to the mall and stuffed animals in the Connie Carrier case more than $3,300; $500 cash for Clair DiPardo to see her mother Gloria Horrigan on Easter; a limo and basketball game for a 85 year old Marie Long-the billing minus the cost of tickets was more than $1,000. Families called these outrageous. Please comment.

*Dropping clients because they can no longer pay fees in considered unethical, especially in law. How do you feel about doing it?

*Many complaints are regarding the inner circle of probate court? Are some of your cases referrals?

Full Article and Source:
Questions for Sun Valley Group Owner Peter Frenette

Peter Frenette's Response

Ohio: Judges can be Social Media "Friends" but Should be Discreet

Judges in Ohio can be a social media "friend" to lawyers appearing in their courtrooms but should be careful not to violate ethics rules, the state's apex court has opined.

A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles
According to the opinion issued by Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, a judge "must maintain dignity in every comment, photograph and other information shared on the social network" and following the ethics guidelines for social networking "will require a judge's constant vigil."

The opinion lays down the precautions a judge should take while fraternizing with lawyers on the pages of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and other social media sites.

For instance, judges can't comment to anyone on social networking sites about cases they're handling and are prohibited from visiting the social media sites of any witnesses in a case or using those sites to gather information. Judges are also not allowed to "give legal advice to others on a social networking site."

Full Article and Source:
Ohio Judges can be Social Media Friends but Should be Discreet

Follow NASGA on Facebook

Follow NASGA on Twitter

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

KY: Preying on Seniors

Kentucky needs to create an independent panel to review deaths of elderly or vulnerable adults that may be slipping through the cracks, advocates argue.

They point to a case last year in which Richard Tardy, 61, died at a group home in Somerset, shortly after being moved more than 100 miles from his former home at the Bingham Center in Louisville.

While no one knows of any wrongdoing, those who knew Tardy, who was blind and profoundly disabled, questioned the state's decision to move him some months earlier, said Carol Mueller, president of the family association at Bingham, a state-run facility for disabled adults.

They were surprised he died so soon afterward and wondered if the move was a factor, Mueller said.

Tardy is the type of individual whose death should get an outside review, said April DuVal, executive director of the Council on Developmental Disabilities in Louisville. With no immediate family to care for him, he had a state guardian. Medicaid paid for his care at the small, private group home where he was placed by the state.

Full Article and Source:
Preying on Seniors: Outside Panel Sought to Review Deaths

See Other Articles in the Series:
Elder Abuse and Exploitation Day 1

Graphics: Incidents of Elder Abuse

Graphic: Relationship to Victims of Alleged Abusers

Seniors Increasingly Face Physical Abuse, Financial Crimes

Resources Limited to Investigate Crimes

Relatives Often Responsible for Physical Abuse, Neglect

Broader Domestic Violence Laws Urged

How to Recognize Abuse

How to Stay Safe

Help Lines

A Trust Betrayed - Elderly Victimized by Family, Friends

CrimeCollege Helps Seniors Identify Scams

Grant Power of Attorney With Care

Relatives Abuse, but Still Inherit

Preying on Seniors: Some Urge Training for Legal Guardians

Becoming a legal guardian — agreeing to manage someone's personal and financial affairs — is a big responsibility, say those who work in the field.

For that reason, they think there should be a level of basic training for the friends, relatives or others who agree to assist someone impaired by age or disability.

“In many states, when people are appointed as guardians they are required to get training,” said Becky Smith, director of fiduciary services for GuardiaCare, a private, nonprofit agency that provides guardianship and other services in the Louisville area.

But not in Kentucky.

Before appointing a state guardian, judges generally seek a friend or relative as the first choice — and that may mean appointing someone with good intentions but not necessarily familiar with all the duties, Smith said.

The training doesn't need to be extensive, she said, but ought to include basic information about a guardian's responsibilities, how to keep records and how to prepare an annual report that the guardian is supposed to file in court.

GuardiaCare has offered to provide the training on a voluntary basis to people appointed as guardians in Jefferson District Court.

Full Article and Source:
Preying on Seniors: Some Urge Training for Legal Guardians

See Also:
Tougher Rules are Sought for Personal Care

Registry Sought for Abusers of Adults

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mediators Try to Resolve Family Conflicts Over Aging Parents

The elderly man became increasingly alarmed as the battles among his five grown children grew acrimonious.

His two daughters, worried that he wasn't taking proper care of himself, wanted him to move to a retirement community. His three sons balked, insisting that he was managing fine in his own home. At a family meeting their father made this jarring announcement: I'm nearing the end of my life, and you are making me so unhappy that it might be easier if I killed myself and ended the fighting.

Unlike lawyers who are hired to advocate for one side, elder-care mediators function as impartial observers in a voluntary process designed to be less adversarial - and cheaper - than a court proceeding. Mediation is increasingly being recommended by lawyers and judges to families for whom a temporary stalemate or long-term estrangement has morphed into a full-blown crisis, often triggered by parental disability. Mediators say their job is not to dictate a solution, but to establish a framework for making decisions and to forge a consensus that is right for a particular family.

Full Article and Source:
Mediators Try to Help Families Resolve Conflicts Over Aging Parents

CT: Probate Stench

The developer who signed a deal so he could acquire the lucrative Smoron Farm has gone to court to get the land.

Carl Verderame, a Southington developer, signed a deal to buy the Smoron Farm from three local churches under a scheme engineered by John Nugent, who was supposed to be looking after the interests of the elderly and dying Josephine Smoron.

Smoron's will handed the farm to her longtime caretaker, Sam Manzo. He has no interest in selling the farm to Verderame, a well-connected Southington developer who does business as Central Connecticut Contracting.

Without telling Smoron and Manzo, Nugent changed Smoron's estate, leaving the old farm long I-84 near Queen Street to three local churches along with the contract to sell the farm to Verderame.

Verderame's contract to buy the land for $1.5 million was never approved by probate court, which is required by law.

The case is now before judges in Superior and Probate courts. The original probate judge in the case, Bryan Meccariello, withdrew from his re-election race after he was sanctioned by a judicial oversight panel. Nugent faces possible disbarment.

Probate Stench: Developer Suing Over Smoron Farm

See Also:
Smoron Farm Probate Mess Slowly Cleaning Up

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sara Harvey on "T.S. Radio"

Listen to internet radio with Marti Oakley on Blog Talk Radio
What happens when the state steps in and takes custody and control of an adult? Does the family have any rights? What if the custody was the result of shoddy medical treatment? This is one womans story about how poor medical care and her efforts to care for her critically ill husband resulted in the state taking possession of her husband. And what are they doing for him?

Heir Says Lawyers Pulled a Fast One

An heir of the founder of DHL Express claims his trust fund dwindled from $90 million to $12 million after his attorneys and trustee increased the attorneys' contingency fee to 56 percent without his approval. And he claims that the attorneys increased guardianship payments to his grandparents to "the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars" to keep them from protesting.

Junior Larry Hillbroom sued attorneys Barry Israel and Keith Waibel in U.S. District Court in the Northern Mariana Islands, Hagatna, Guam. Both lawyers were admitted to the California Bar; Israel lives in Santa Barbara and Waibel in Guam, according to the complaint.

Larry Hillblom, the co-founder and former owner of DHL Express, died in an airplane crash in May 1995, leaving behind four children and an estate worth about $550 million, according to the complaint.

Junior - whose name is listed as Hillbroom in the complaint, which refers to him throughout as Junior - was a pretermitted heir, living in poverty in the Republic of Palau at the time of his father's death.

He learned in mid-1995 that he was entitled to a portion of the estate. In the spring of 1997, Junior proved that Hillblom was his father through DNA testing, and was issued an heirship settlement entitling him to 15 percent of the estate.

Junior says he did not become aware that the defendants drained so much money from his trust until Nov. 10, 2006, when he met with an FBI agent in San Francisco. After that meeting, Junior says, he discovered for the first time that his "ultimate recovery after the attorneys deducted their inappropriate fees and unsubstantiated costs from his approximately $90 million settlement of the Hillblom probate case was only about $12 million."

Junior seeks special damages, forfeiture of attorney's fees, and restitution for legal malpractice and fraud. He is represented by Mark Hanson of Saipan.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyers Pulled a Fast One, DHL Heir Says

San Bernardino County Judge Rebuked

The state Commission on Judicial Performance says Judge John B. Gibson failed 'to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.'

A San Bernardino County judge who was disciplined a decade ago for making sexually suggestive comments and for other inappropriate conduct toward women was publicly admonished [12/14] for making crude gestures and improper remarks.

Among the incidents that led to his latest discipline, Superior Court Judge John B. Gibson displayed sarcasm and annoyance toward a female defense attorney during a hearing in May, according to the state's Commission on Judicial Performance.

Gibson later spoke to the attorney in his chambers, showing irritation with her as he criticized a male lawyer who had appeared on her behalf at a hearing earlier in the day, the commission said. Gibson told the woman that the male lawyer was incompetent and went on to describe him as standing in court picking his nose. As part of the criticism, Gibson said either that the attorney was scratching his genitals or scratching his buttocks, according to the commission's report.

Although his exact words were unclear, Gibson illustrated his remark with gestures, the commission said.

San Bernardino County Judge Rebuked for Crude Gestures, Improper Remarks

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Former Judge Lokuta Waits for Decision on Return to Bench

Ann H. Lokuta answers the telephone at her Dupont home with a gentle reminder for a caller who still addresses her as "Judge Lokuta."

"Call me Annie," the 56-year-old former jurist says in a calm, disarming voice her sharpest critics said they seldom, if ever, heard in her courtroom. "I'm no longer a judge."

The distinction, Lokuta hopes, is temporary.

Two years after her permanent removal from the bench, Lokuta remains confident the state Supreme Court will eventually overturn her sentence and return her to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas seat she had held since 1991.

Lokuta has prayed for a return to the bench since that dreary day at the state capitol in 2008 when the state Court of Judicial Discipline voted to bar her from judicial office and strip her of her pension.

Lokuta, following protocol even in the most excruciating of moments, stood frozen for more than a minute after the ruling, as the seven-member panel filed from the courtroom - the gilded, mural-lined chamber of the state Supreme Court.

If Lokuta's prayers are heard, if her hopes are realized, the ruling returning her to office will come from the same chamber, or a similar room in Philadelphia, where the high court will sit for a term in the late winter and early spring.

"I trust that if there's a sense of fairness, I will be restored to my former position," Lokuta says, remaining faithful to the legal process even after a Court of Judicial Discipline hearing last November that her attorneys described in court papers as a "sham proceeding" designed to keep her of the bench.

At the hearing, Lokuta and her attorneys argued the corruption that led to federal charges against three judges, a county commissioner and other officials had irreparably tainted her misconduct trial.

The discipline court narrowly rejected the argument, triggering Lokuta's latest in a series of appeals and petitions to the state Supreme Court.

"It might be a longer journey than I anticipated, but I'm just ready to hunker down and continue in my pursuit of this," Lokuta says.

Full Article and Source:
Former Judge Lokuta Waits for Decision on Return to Bench

Arrested Judge Remains on Bench Until Trial

A County associate juvenile judge who was charged with drunken driving will likely continue on the bench while awaiting trial.

Daniel Lee Block, 48, of Cedar Falls, was charged with first-offense operating while intoxicated in Hamilton County in connection with a November incident.

Thomas Bower, chief judge for the 1st Judicial District, which includes Black Hawk County, said nothing prohibits a judge from serving while he faces criminal charges or after a conviction as long as the offense isn't something that prohibits his license to practice law.

"In any situation where a judicial officer is accused of a criminal offense, the judicial officer will continue to work unless the Judicial Qualifications Commission suspends that person with pay pending an investigation," said Steve Davis, communications,

Full Article and Source:
Arrested Judge Remains on Bench Until Trial

Convicted Caregiver's Appeal Denied

A woman who pleaded guilty to defrauding an Alzheimer's patient of some $40,000 while serving as his caregiver has lost her appeal, which claimed she was given an excessive sentence.

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the sentence given to Veronica Lynn Floyd for three counts of theft of property over $10,000 and one count of theft of property over $1,000.

Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell sentenced Floyd to a total effective sentence of 13 years, of which she was ordered to serve only nine months in the county jail with the remainder of the term on community corrections.

Floyd was a caregiver for Bobby Kirk, who was described in court documents as being disabled and in "some beginning stages of Alzheimer's." Since 2006, Floyd had been helping out Kirk with picking up groceries and various other things.

Kirk had several sources of income from which bills were supposed to be paid, but over the course of four years, some of the bills were not paid and Floyd used the money, which she had access to with power of attorney, to benefit herself.

Full Article and Source:
Convicted Caregiver's Appeal Denied

Saturday, December 18, 2010

TX Disability Rights Advocates to File Class-Action Lawsuit

Disability rights advocates will file a class-action lawsuit on Monday, alleging that Texas leaders have violated the Americans with Disabiltiies Act by confining some 4,500 Texans with disabilities in nursing homes.

The suit, which will be filed in U.S. District Court in San Antonio, will argue that the individuals have been segregated and not provided with treatment and services they need, according to a press release sent out this afternoon.

Among the advocates filing the suit are Garth Corbett, senior attorney at Advocacy Inc.; Rob Velevis, litigation associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Mike Bright, executive director of The Arc of Texas; and Dennis Borel, executive director of the Coalition for Texans with Disabilities.

Advocates Filing Suit Over Disabled in Nursing Homes

Senior Care Placement Companies Scramble to Cash In

For the elderly, it happens unexpectedly and all too often: They suffer a stroke or break a hip and find themselves unable to live safely in their home. Suddenly, their family must scramble to find them care and a new place to stay.

Dozens of private agencies in Washington state promise to guide families through the labyrinth of options to an adult family home or assisted-living facility that best fits their needs — all for free.

But behind these free offers can lurk a hidden cost.

Placement companies, which rely on commission-only sales people, funnel the aged only to facilities that have agreed to pay thousands of dollars in finders' fees.

In addition, most placement companies do not screen homes for past violations. As a result, many have referred seniors to facilities with documented histories of substandard care, including fatal neglect.

In 143 cases over the past three years, seniors were victimized after companies placed them in adult family homes, or other long-term- care facilities, that had a record of serious violations, a Times analysis of Department of Social and Health Services documents reveals. The documents did not identify placement companies by name.

Full Article and Source:
Senior Care Placement Companies Scramble to Cash In

See Also:
About the Seniors for Sale Series

Looking for Eldercare? Use These Checklists

Disbarred Lawyer Under House Arrest

A disbarred lawyer — who has found himself on the other side of the law in both federal and state court — was ordered to remain under house arrest until Jan. 10 when he is scheduled for sentencing in a scam involving deceased clients.

The latest condition levied on George Guyer Young III, 49, stemmed from another arrest last October for causing a three-car crash in Upper Providence while he was operating a silver Jaguar under the influence.

Judge Charles C. Keller imposed the house arrest after a motion was made by Assistant District Attorney Robert Manzi to revoke bail for Guyer. Defense attorney Mary Beth Welsh, who represents Young, opposed the motion.

The ruddy-faced defendant is awaiting sentencing on charges he pocketed money from deceased clients in an unclaimed property scam, and that some of the estimated $50,000 was used to pay off restitution in a federal case in which he ripped off veterans, said Manzi.

The county charges carry a maximum of 14 years in jail.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-lawyer Gets House Arrest Until Sentencing

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bobby Schindler Interview On Behalf of Gary and Sara Harvey

Bobby Schindler (brother of the late Terri Schiavo) is interviewed on the Amy McManus radio show in support of Sara and Gary Harvey:

YouTube: Amy McManus' Channel

Smoron Farm Probate Mess Slowly Cleaning Up

Gradually, the mess surrounding the Smoron Farm in Southington - where a probate judge and court-appointed conservator attempted to subvert the will of an elderly woman - is getting cleaned up.

A state grievance panel has found probable cause in a complaint filed by Sam Manzo, the caretaker who was supposed to inherit Josphine Smoron's farm until John Nugent, the conservator, and Bryan Meccariello, the judge, engineered a deal that funneled the lucrative parcel of land to a local developer.

This sordid case is the latest example of why we need to keep a closer watch on both our probate judges and the lawyers they appoint as conservators.

This poor woman's will was effectively nullified without her ever being consulted by her lawyer. Meccariello, when he approved the changes, held a court hearing where he was the only one present. Smoron died shortly after Meccariello's decision in the case.

In a decision released Wednesday, the grievance panel found that Nugent failed to ever meet with Josephine Smoron, even though he was her court-appointed conservator in charge of all her finances. He changed the will to make three local churches the beneficiaries of Smoron's estate and then made a deal with a developer to acquire the land.

According to the grievance committee's finding, there is probable cause that Nugent violated a number of rules of professional conduct for lawyers, including "failure to abide by a client's decisions" and a failure to "attempt to ascertain information necessary for proper representation" and failure "to protect the client."

Full Article and Source:
Smoron Farm Probate Mess Slowly Cleaning Up

See Also:
Editorial: Impeachment Clearly Called for in Probate Case

IN Supreme Court Suspends Attorney for at Least 3 Years

A former Highland-based attorney who bilked a non-English speaking client out of $24,000 has been suspended from practicing law for at least three years.

The Indiana Supreme Court voted 5-0 to suspend Jerry I. Shapiro for violating eight separate rules of professional conduct, including "engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation."

According to the court's order, Shapiro was hired in 2006 by the daughter of a deceased Lake County woman to handle the probate of her mother's estate, consisting of a home and two bank accounts. The daughter, the sole beneficiary, lives in Poland and has limited ability to communicate in English, according to the court.

Shapiro had the home sold but failed to close the estate, pay state inheritance taxes, file an inventory, respond to the daughter's requests for information and made unauthorized payments of $24,000 to himself from the estate's assets, the order said. After the daughter hired a new attorney, Shapiro ignored a court order requiring him to give the records of the estate to the new attorney, resulting in a warrant being issued for Shapiro's arrest, the order said.

Full Article and Source:
Ind. Supreme Court Suspends Highland-Based Attorney for at Least 3 Years

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Enough With the Doping!

Caring for dementia patients can be difficult, but that's no excuse for pumping them full of antipsychotic drugs, said panelists at a recent Senate Aging Committee forum.

Over-medication occurs far too often in those with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, panelists said, and as baby boomers get older, the problem will only worsen.

Take, for example, the case of a demented Wisconsin woman who put up a fight whenever anyone tried to move her. The woman was prescribed an antipsychotic medication. A month later an x-ray showed that she had been suffering from a broken hip, according to panelist Dr. Christine Kovach, professor of nursing at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

The woman had been unable to communicate that she was in pain. "Antipsychotic medications should only be used for psychosis," Kovach tells CBS News, "not to calm behaviors."

There are ways to deal with difficult dementia patients that don't involve drugs, says the executive director of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Patricia McGinnis. Examples include counseling and better training for caregivers. "Don't immediately think a behavior problem is psychological," says Kovach. The problem could be physical, or even being caused by some inadvertent behavior of the caregiver, she says.

Dementia Patients: Enough with the Doping

See Also:
Mass. Aims to Cut Drug Overuse

Mental Health Cuts Are Life-Threatening for Some

A 32-year-old entertainment lawyer, incapacitated by bipolar disorder, loses her case manager and less than two months later tries to take her own life.

A 57-year-old registered nurse, also bipolar, is forced to switch to generic drugs. She, too, begins a downward spiral as the drugs don't affect her well.

A 47-year-old laundry attendant with two diagnoses of serious mental illness fears she'll have to quit her job to get the mental-health coverage she needs.

The three Southern Arizonans are among 28,000 state residents affected by drastic cuts to behavioral health this year.

The cuts, which amount to a $65 million drop since 2008, affect Arizonans who need behavioral-health services but do not qualify for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), which is the state's version of Medicaid and is for Arizona's poorest residents. The cuts represent a 52 percent reduction over two fiscal years.

In addition to providing mental-health coverage for Arizonans on Medicaid, the state has historically offered mental-health services patients often can't get through their regular insurance. That included prescription-drug coverage, case managers, bus passes, cab fare and other therapeutic support. The latest cuts took away coverage for most name-brand drugs and slashed all other support services for non-Medicaid behavioral-health patients.

The cuts are unprecedented in Arizona and in the long term could impact taxpayers and health-care providers by putting more pressure on jails and emergency rooms.

Full Article and Source:
Mental Health Cuts Are Life-Threatening for Some

Shelter for Elderly

Shelters have existed locally to help abused children, unwed mothers and even abandoned puppies, but until recently, no such place existed for Mississippi's abused, displaced or abandoned seniors.

The doors are now open on the Elder Justice Center Emergency Shelter, a project of the Mississippi Center for Police and Sheriffs, aimed at making a safe haven for older people who have been the victims of financial fraud, abuse, neglect or are homeless because of a fire, natural disaster or foreclosure. Men and women 60 and older referred by the courts, law enforcement or the state Department of Human Services can stay there up to two months.

This is the first shelter of its kind in Mississippi, said Steve Pickett, chief deputy with the Hinds County Sheriff's Department. It's seen as a pilot program, that organizers hope will be replicated in other parts of the state.

Full Article and Source:
Shelter for Elderly Provides Home for Abused, Lost

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bishop Matthew Clark: 'there has been no attempt to shorten Mr. Harvey's life.'

Some of you might recall that last spring I wrote about the sad case of brain-damaged Gary Harvey, his wife’s efforts to prevent St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira from withdrawing his feeding and hydration tube, and Bishop Matthew Clark’s determination that the Catholic hospital had, in effect, done nothing wrong.

Sara Harvey has now informed me that Bobby Schindler (Terri Schiavo’s brother) has become interested in Gary’s case and has recently published “The Truth About Death Panels” in Celebrate Life Magazine.

A large part of that article details Gary’s story (my emphasis)…

The Gary Harvey case

We have been involved in hundreds of cases, many of which concerned decisions made by these ethics committees. Nothing underscores how they threaten innocent lives more than the case of Gary and Sara Harvey of Horseheads, New York.

In January 2006, Gary fell down his basement steps and was left with profound cognitive disabilities. He had no advance directive and had only his wife, Sara, to protect him. Gary was admitted to the Che-mung County Nursing Facility in May 2006. Sara soon found herself in conflict with the facility over his care, which she describes as seriously negligent.

In February 2007, Chemung County stripped Sara of her rights as guardian of her husband, and Gary has remained a ward of the County ever since. In May 2009, he was transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira, where he remains. About two weeks later, the hospital’s ethics committee recommended the removal of Gary’s nutrition and hydration tube, and the issuance of a do-not-resuscitate order. This was done without the direction of Gary’s family and would have ensured his death.

In June 2009, Chemung County asked the state supreme court to authorize the removal of Gary’s feeding tube, but fortunately, Justice Judith O’Shea denied the request. Inexplicably, however, the DNR is still in effect and he remains under the control of Chemung County, despite the fact that it tried to end his life.

What is even worse is that these events have occurred at a Catholic health care facility. And Bishop Matthew Clark, of the Rochester diocese, has basically turned his back on the situation. Sara told me, “No bishop would help or the Catholic Church.” Sadly, this occurs more often than one would think.

According to WorldNetDaily (May 17), the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse wrote to Bishop Clark in January, asking him to find out why “St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Ethics Committee chose to participate in what would have been Gary Harvey’s execution rather than prevent it.” His response, sent about a month later, according to NASGA: “I am convinced that St. Joseph Hospital complies with the Ethical Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, that the hospital is complying with the order of the court, and that there has been no attempt to shorten Mr. Harvey’s life.
Pernicious scenarios similar to the Harveys’ ordeal take place often, but usually so silently that most people are simply unaware of the dangers.

Sara’s fight goes on.
Prayers would be appreciated.

Bishop Clark...'there has been no attempt to shorten Mr. Harvey's life.'

See Also:

Probable Cause Attorney Engaged in Unprofessional Conduct

An investigative panel for the Statewide Grievance Commmittee found probable cause that local attorney John T. Nugent engaged in unprofessional conduct while handling the estate of Josephine Smoron.

Nugent was Smoron's conservator when she died in June 2009. Shortly before he death, Nugent created two trusts that effectively disinherited Sam Manzo, an heir named in a 2004 will. Manzo filed the grievance complaint.

The panel, which is part of the state Judicial Branch, found that Nugent broke five conduct rules; never meeting Smoron, not reviewing the probate court files, and failure to consider her wishes.

A hearing on the matter before the full panel will be scheduled.

Judicial Panel Rules Against Nugent in Smoron Case

See Also:
CT: Judge Bryan Meccariello Faces Judicial Misconduct Charges

Grievance Panel Finding of Probable Cause in Complaint # 10-0744

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

AZ: Court of Appeals Strikes Down Probate Fee Ruling

Score one for the old, the sick and the vulnerable – which, in Arizona, is saying something.

The Arizona Court of Appeals on Thursday tossed out a probate judge's ruling that R.B. Sleeth must pay $265,000 to a lawyer who spent most of his time fighting the old guy's wishes.

Sleeth, as you may recall, is the 81-year-old Paradise Valley man who spent 10 weeks imprisoned in a lock-down unit for advanced Alzheimer's patients in Scottsdale, never mind that he didn't have Alzheimer's. It took him nearly two years to extricate himself from Maricopa County's probate court. Unfortunately, by then his $1.4 million estate had been reduced to “virtually zero”, according to court records.

Now, however, both he and the others “protected” by probate may be able to fight back against the cozy club of fiduciaries and attorneys who so often seem to wind up with much of the money of the people they are paid to protect.

“Although the statutes require the protected person to pay for the services of those appointed or hired to assist him, this case illustrates an underlying flaw in the scheme that makes all the more compelling the superior court's close scrutiny of fee requests…,” the judges wrote.

“When a guardian or conservator has no personal financial obligation for attorney fees and no concern over whether his expenditures will be fully approved, he may lack incentive to avoid financial improvidence. In a case in which the protected person's estate suffers significant and harmful losses, the superior court must exercise its independent judgment to determine what portion of the attorney's fees were reasonably incurred.”

Translation: it's time for probate judges to pack away their well-worn rubber stamps and remember who it is they are there to protect.

There's lots of other good stuff in the 21-page ruling by Judges Sheldon Weisberg, Philip Hall and Donn Kessler. No more charging $100 an hour to make copies and send faxes and e-mails. No more block billing, making it impossible to determine whether the bills are reasonable. (In the eyes of probate judges, they always are.)

No more expecting to be paid for every hour worked. Henceforth, attorneys will have to prove their bills are actually reasonable and that their work benefited the person paying for it.

“To suggest that any action taken by counsel, however futile or unsound, warrants court approval is in insupportable,” the judges said.

Full Article and Source:
Court of Appeals Strikes Down Probate Fee Ruling

Read the Opinion

IL: Tryon to Work on Medicaid Reform

A successful election campaign geared toward reforming Medicaid has landed state Rep. Mike Tryon on the special state committee considering that issue.

Tryon, a Republican from Crystal Lake serving the 64th District, will join 14 other legislators on the bipartisan committee. The group aims to reduce the costs associated with Medicaid.

“In 2007, our Medicaid costs were approximately $9.9 billion, and today, just three years later, those costs have almost doubled to $16 billion,” Tryon said. “Our budget is being consumed by Medicaid costs and we must look at reforms to find efficiencies and eliminate fraud.”

Members of the committee will hold hearings around the state between now and when the General Assembly convenes in January for its next session. The findings and recommendations will be presented then to other lawmakers.

Tryon to Work on Medicaid Reform

IL Dept. on Aging Honors Advocates

The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) hosted its annual awards ceremony to recognize individuals and organizations whose contributions and accomplishments in assisting older adults merit recognition. Each year the awards ceremony serves as the final event during the Governor’s Conference on Aging where advocates and experts from across the state gather to focus on issues that affect the aging population. This year’s conference was December 8-10 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown.

“These individuals and organizations put a great deal of time and effort into addressing the needs of older adults,” said IDoA Director Charles D. Johnson. “And getting together for this conference, which is the largest statewide meeting of those who work in the aging network, provides the perfect setting to honor them.”

One of this year’s award winners was the Honorable Lisa Madigan, Attorney General for the State of Illinois. Ms. Madigan received the Sid Granet Aging Network Achievement Award on behalf of the Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging for her aggressive legal action against those taking advantage of older adults. She has been instrumental in drafting legislation and launched “Operation Guardian,” with brings together state and local law enforcement and health inspectors to conduct unannounced inspections of nursing homes to ensure compliance and to remove residents with outstanding warrants.

“I'm honored today to receive this award from the Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging,” said Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “These are very tough times for all of us, and seniors have been hit particularly hard. It is imperative we protect them from both physical and financial harm. I am proud to accept this award in recognition of the important work that my office does every day to ensure that older citizens are treated with the respect they deserve.”

Full Article and Source:
IL Dept. on Aging Honors Advocates Who Assist Older Adults

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Recycling of Gary Harvey's Holiday Restrictions

Last year, I wrote the following article.

Wife’s Visitation in Jeopardy: The Isolation of Gary Harvey
By Carrie K. Hutchens on November 7th, 2009

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.

Amazing! I can actually recycle my article as if it was current and remaining accurate. How often does that happen?

Here it is the holiday season of 2010 and Sara Harvey gets a letter from Bryan Maggs, Chemung County Attorney, stating that her visitations with Gary are suspended immediately. Isn’t that the same gift they offered last year? I’m so impressed with the repeat gift and the timing — NOT!

Shame on these people!

If there was a problem, beyond Sara filing various motions with the court, where are the records of the official meetings where the hospital, county, guardian and all the heavy-weight personnel discussed any issues that might bring her to no visitation at Christmas time once again?

The court system is a strategy thing. Attorneys do this and attorneys do that… and it is all a major game. But Sara is not allowed to play back, even when the county and guardian and hospital feel free to do whatever and force her into a courtroom to challenge their inappropriate behavior?

If Gary were at home, and someone reported that his care was inappropriate, Sara would have to answer this challenge. Why would the county, guardian and hospital think they should be beyond the same challenge? It is, after all, allegedly their actual job to be an “expert provider” and to provide excellent care in all ways.

If Gary were at home and Sara was starving & dehydrating him to death, the authorities would pull him from the home, put him in “protective custody” and most likely charge her with all kinds of things, including attempted murder. Why haven’t the county and guardian and hospital been likewise challenged and charged? Why hasn’t the court pulled them back in to answer why they tried to kill off someone not terminally ill?

If Gary was home with Sara, she could be challenged for this and for that and for anything someone wished to challenge her with, but she wouldn’t be able to simply write a letter and terminate visitation by all these people that thought she was not providing well. Why then, can all these people so simply terminate her visits with Gary when they have been challenged?

It’s wrong!

It would be wrong no matter what, but it is really wrong that these people decide to terminate visitation during the holiday season. It says a great deal about them. It proves, by their actions, that compassion is not something in their list of priorities, yet they claim to have Gary’s best interest in mind?

Full Article and Source:
Visitation in Jeopardy - The Recycling of Gary Harvey's Holiday Restrictions

See Also:

Assisted Suicide Group Wants Charges Dismissed

Georgia's high-profile case against four members of an assisted suicide group that helped a cancer-stricken man kill himself may hinge on what defense attorneys say is a fatal flaw in the state law used to prosecute them.

The attorneys for the four Final Exit Network members asked a judge to dismiss charges because Georgia law doesn't actually ban assisted suicide, but rather restricts the group from advertising its services. The attorneys contend the law violates state and federal free speech laws.

"We are being prosecuted for publicly advertising something that's perfectly legal," said Don Samuel, one of six defense attorneys at a court hearing on the case. "This couldn't possibly be a crime."

Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn said lawmakers drafted the statute to discourage assisted suicide, even if that wasn't spelled out in the law. She urged Superior Court Judge David Dickinson to dismiss the challenge so the case could move forward.

Full Article and Source:
Assisted Suicide Group Wants Charges Tossed in GA

Ohio Caregiver Ordered to Make Restitution

A former caregiver for an 89-year-old woman suffering from dementia has been ordered to make $67,560 in restitution to her guardianship estate in installments.

The judgment entry was filed by visiting Mahoning County Probate Judge Denny Clunk of Alliance against David Venerose of Youngstown, after Venerose and the woman’s guardianship estate reached a settlement.

“As a result, the complaint is dismissed, and there is no finding of guilt by this court,” Judge Clunk wrote.

The woman moved from her Boardman house to a Youngstown nursing home in February 2009.

Caregiver Ordered to Make Restitution

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Former Michigan Public Guardian Sentenced for Embezzlement

Former Arenac County Public Guardian Sherilyn Jones has been sentenced to three years and four months to 20 years in prison, and ordered to pay $300,649.16 in restitution for criminal enterprise and racketeering.

Jones was sentenced by 23rd Circuit Court Judge William Myles Wednesday, Dec. 8.

The Michigan State Police conducted an investigation last year that uncovered that $300,000 was misappropriated from approximately 50 clients, during the years 1999 to 2009.

District 3 County Commissioner Michael Snyder said that this case hurt the reputation of Arenac County.

“I was personally horrified by the situation,” Snyder said. “The amount of money that was taken was staggering. It is like the old saying goes, ‘death by a thousand cuts.’"

He said that the county has changed the way the public guardian’s office is run and added that more precautions are being taken to prevent this from happening again.

“We have taken some important steps,” Snyder said. “There are now a number of individual audits performed throughout the year.”

He added that people who had money stolen are currently being paid back.

Full Article and Source:
Former Public Guardian Sentenced for Embezzlement

See Also:
Arenac County Votes to Keep Public Guardian Office

Lawyer Charged With Stealing Money From Partners

Lawyers with Chenault, Hammond P.C. reported that $7,500 was stolen from the firm's trust account in September.

Officers arrested Garland C. Hall, III for the theft and charged him with first degree theft of property.

Lawyer Charged With Stealing Money From Partners

Porteous Removed

The Senate found U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. guilty on four articles of impeachment Wednesday, removing him from his lifetime appointment to the federal bench in Louisiana and denying him his federal pension. Porteous, 63, sat in the well of the Senate as members cast their votes against him. He is just the eighth judge in American history to be removed from office by the Senate.

Full Article and Source:
Senate Removes Judge Thomas Porteous Jr. Following Impeachment Trial

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Passing of Barbara Kasler

Sad news to report in the Larry Seidlin civil case. Barbara Kasler, the 84-year-old widow the former judge is accused of financially exploiting, has died. Kasler, who suffered serious health problems for the past several years, died of natural causes, according to sources.

Bob Norman's Pulp

See Also:
Courthouse Witness Unloads on Judge Larry Seidlin

Woman Sentenced to 2-10 Years for Beating Incapacitated Woman

A young mother was sentenced to two to ten years in the penitentiary for an attack on an incapacitated woman she was caring for.

Natasha Grimes, 26, told a judge she was sorry she beat 29-year-old Christina Starcher in the home the women were sharing.

Grimes and her two children were living with Starcher and Grimes cared for the woman during her recuperation from back surgery. Police were called to the home September 25 and found Starcher lying in the doorway with cuts, bruises and missing clumps of hair.

She was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery after authorities said she attempted to steal prescription medications from the woman and left the house with her cell phone and debit cards.

The robbery charge was dropped when Grimes accepted a plea agreement from prosecutors and pleaded guilty to abuse.

She told the judge at her plea hearing that she was under the influence of alcohol when she beat Starcher. A prosecutor said then that Grimes threatened to kill Starcher, assaulted her and held her down with her knee.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Louis "Duke" Bloom told her, "It was an act of violence that has had an impact beyond you. I don't know if an alternative sentence is appropriate for this kind of conduct."

Full Articleand Source:
Young Mother Sentenced For Beating Incapacitated Woman