An 88-year-old lady left destitute, a big chunk of her life savings sucked dry by people who were supposed to protect her, may yet get some of her money back.
Brian Theut, the guardian ad litem appointed to look out for Marie Long, has asked a judge to order Phoenix attorney Brenda Church to return half of the $110,000 that her law firms collected from Marie's trust between 2005 and 2008. Church was the attorney for Marie's niece, Genevieve Olen, who oversaw Marie's money until late last year, when there wasn't anything left to oversee.
Meanwhile, Church has filed paperwork seeking court approval of another $233,000, money she (or rather her law firm, Frazer, Ryan, Goldberg & Arnold) collected from Marie's dwindling account in 2009. In her court filing, Church says the old lady still owes the firm another $1,625, money it wants should any assets turn up.
It'll be up to recently retired Superior Court Commissioner Lindsay Ellis to decide whether Marie will get any of her money back. Now would be a very good time. Though she's broke, Marie has so far not been accepted into the state's long-term care program for the poor. Her nursing home hasn't been paid in several months, raising fears that she could be evicted soon, if something doesn't give.
While Ellis ponders the requests, Marie's newly appointed guardian is readying a federal racketeering lawsuit against Church, Olen, Theut, the Sun Valley Group and a host of others, alleging among other things that they breached their fiduciary duty to Marie. All the parties named have denied any wrongdoing.
By now you know the story of Marie Long. In 2005, she was worth $1.3 million. After a stroke that year left her incapacitated, her niece assumed control of her trust. By late last year, Marie's money was gone, much of it gobbled up by lawyer fees and guardian fees.
Marie's court-appointed attorney, Jon Kitchel, tried to sound to alarm in November 2008, asking Ellis to stop the hemoraging. Sadly, Ellis didn't and now Marie must live out her years on the taxpayers' dime – assuming we still have one.
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Could Old Lady Get Some of Her Money Back?