Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Tale of Two Heiresses, Tax Loopholes and Tequila

At first blush, Casey Johnson and Ruth Lilly, who died within days of each other around the new year, could hardly have been more different. Johnson who died at 30, was a party animal who lived her life in the public eye, most recently as the fiancée of D-list celebrity Tila Tequila. Lilly, 94, made her biggest waves not with clubbing but philanthropy -- most famously with her $200 million donation in 2002 to the Poetry Foundation, a bequest so eye-popping that the controversy surrounding it hasn't yet died down.

But scratch the surface, and similarities emerge. Johnson and Lilly were both heiresses to major corporate fortunes: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY). Both had massive personal wealth tied up in trusts they couldn't access directly. And both fortunes illustrate a yearlong Congress-induced quirk that could greatly benefit the heirs to anyone who dies this year, cost the U.S. billions of tax revenue, and drive estate-planning lawyers crazy.

Full Article and Source:
Casey Johnson and Ruth Lilly: A Tale of Two Heiresses, Tax Loopholes, and Tequila

Assisted Living Advocates "Fly-In" to Capitol Hill

Roughly 120 assisted living advocates convened in Washington D.C. Tuesday as part of the Assisted Living Federation of America's annual federal "fly-in" day.

The initiative is part of ALFA's continuing effort to educate policy makers on the importance of assisted living as a long-term care option, and the differences between assisted and skilled nursing care. Advocates held more than 470 meetings with senators, congressmen and staffers, according to a statement from ALFA. The number of participants in this year's event was twice that of last year, organizers said.

Full Article and Source:
Assisted Living Advocates Redouble Educational Efforts on Capitol Hill

PA Judicial Conduct Board Could be Held in Contempt

The state Judicial Conduct Board could be held in contempt for failing to provide investigatory reports and internal correspondence to a state commission investigating the Luzerne County kids-for-cash scandal, the commission's chairman said.

Conduct board members have maintained the reports and correspondence, related to their handling of misconduct complaints against the former judges accused in the scandal, are confidential.

The conduct board never took action on the complaints, which centered on allegations that former Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. consorted with a mob boss, fixed cases for allies and stocked court offices with family and friends.

"We can't assess whether or not there ought to be changes in the judicial discipline process without knowing what the judicial discipline process is, essentially," said John M. Cleland, the chairman of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice.

The conduct board has refused to comply with a subpoena the Interbranch Commission issued late last year demanding the documents.

Last week, the state Supreme Court ordered the board to turn over a copy of one of the complaints, a previously confidential set of allegations from 2004, but ruled it could keep the other documents secret.

In a concurring and dissenting opinion, Justice Max Baer suggested the contempt process could be used as a last resort if the conduct board continued to rebuff the commission's demands.

Full Article and Source:
Board Could Face Contempt for Failing to Provide Reports to Commission

See Also:
PA Judicial Conduct Board Must Turn Over Conahan Complaint

Friday, February 5, 2010

TX: Family Feud

A real-life family feud is playing itself out in Houston's courts. There are accusations of missing cash and gold, and at the center of it all is one sister accused of stealing from her mother, who has dementia.

When Louise Staunton, 94, and her husband were making their fortune in Michigan and raising a big family, they probably never thought it would end up in a fight among their daughters.

"This is the last thing she needs in the twilight of her years," said attorney James Plummer.

One of whom is now in jail.

Janice Staunton Hines is a City of Houston Health Department Case Manager. She has not been at work since early December.

Hines flew to Michigan for a probate hearing and has been in jail for contempt ever since. The woman who coordinates disaster relief for hurricane victims is now accused of victimizing her own mother.

Houston attorney James Plummer represents Hines' sister. She's suing Hines and Hines' daughter claiming they looted nearly $800,000 from her mother's account. Hines' attorney says they've got it all wrong.

Full Article and Source:
Real-Life Family Feud In Houston Courts

Bench Warrant Issued for Missing Lawyer

For nearly a month, longtime Jackson County lawyer Richard Zaharie has been missing court dates and appointments with clients.

He did not call to inform court officials of his absence or leave a forwarding address. Not even his wife, Barbara Zaharie, knows his whereabouts, she told Jackson County Circuit Judge John McBain on Monday.

For his repeated failure to appear in court, McBain issued a bench warrant Monday for Zaharie's arrest. He seems to have abandoned his law practice, McBain said.

There are no current complaints pending against Zaharie with the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board.

However, requests for investigations filed with the state Attorney Grievance Commission are not public. The commission determines whether a request warrants an investigation and, if it does, whether commissioners will file formal charges with the Attorney Discipline Board. Possible penalties range from reprimand to disbarment, said John Van Bolt, board executive director.

People have lost their ability to practice law for walking away from a law practice, he said.

Zaharie was twice disciplined before, but not since 1992, when he was reprimanded for his work in a probate estate case. In 1990, he was suspended for 45 days in connection with two appeals cases.

Full Article and Source:
Circuit court Judge Issues Bench Warrant for Arrest of Jackson Attorney Richard Zaharie

Couple Facing Exploitation and Theft Charges

While a 79-year-old grandmother was about to get evicted from her nursing home, police say her granddaughter and granddaughter’s husband were stealing her money.

Police say the Louisville couple stole tens of thousands of dollars to settle their personal debt. They are facing criminal charges of financial exploitation and theft and a potential of 20 years in prison if convicted of the crimes.

Detective John Fogle with Louisville Metro Police has been keeping a file of Kasey and Aaron Jarvis. Police say the married couple stole $80,000 - 90,000 dollars from Kasey’s grandmother while she was in a nursing home.

“This woman is in her twilight years and wants to live comfortably and now she can’t because they have pretty much squandered away all her life savings because she was selfish and thinking of herself instead of her grandmother, said Fogle.

Full Article and Source:
Couple Charged With Stealing $80,000 or More From Grandmother

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Florida Lawyer Disbarred for Mishandling Numerous Veterans' Guardianship and Probate Cases

A Pensacola attorney was disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court last month for mishandling numerous veterans' guardianship and probate cases.

The court found that [Mary McDowell] Callaway, who has practiced law in Florida since 1975, had engaged in gross misconduct while handling multiple veterans' cases. Numerous times while in practice, Callaway was cited for failing or refusing to file timely financial accounting of veterans' assets.

She also neglected clients in numerous cases, and was found in contempt of court or removed as guardian 22 times, according to The Florida Bar.

Callaway had been suspended from practicing law since 2007, when the court granted an emergency petition for suspension filed by the Florida Bar.

According to the Florida Bar, Callaway was one of 21 Florida attorneys disciplined by the court in recent months.

Attorney Disbarred for Vets' Case Issues

Caretaker Arrested in FL Nursing Home Thefts

A woman who was supposed to be taking care of people at an area nursing home has been taking from them instead, said a police report released by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Sharon Kaiser, 44, of Jacksonville, was arrested on suspicion of fraudulent use of credit cards, petit theft, exploitation of the elderly, bank fraud, grand theft and fraudulent use of personal identification information.

Initially, missing checks were reported at the large retirement community late last year. The report indicates there are a lot more missing items at Cypress Village.

The police reports said one elderly resident reported that someone stole a $5,000, a 14-karat charm bracelet, and a $2,500 ring from her. Another victim reported having a $1,600 necklace and an $1,800 gold chain swiped.

Some victims in the report said this problem is widespread. In the one report, a victim claims "there has been around 90 items stolen from different patients from Cypress Village." Police arrested Kaiser after police reported linking jewelry found at pawn shops to her.

Full Article and Source:
Arrest Made in Nursing Home Thefts

Novack's Widow to Control $10 Mil Estate

Narcy Novack, the widow of slain Fort Lauderdale millionaire Ben Novack Jr., has been given control of his estate, worth more than $10 million.

Broward County Probate Judge Charles M. Greene agreed Monday to dismiss a suit filed by relatives who wanted to block her from access to Novack's fortune.

Lawyers for the relatives asked for the dismissal without predjudice, which means they can file another challenge to the will at a later date. The lawyers, Stephen J. McDonald and Bill Crawford, did not say why they made the request.

The lawsuit sought to have Narcy Novack removed as executrix under the state's slayer statute, arguing that she murdered her late husband. Under the statute, a killer cannot inherit the victim's estate.

Narcy Novack, 53, is a suspect in the slaying, but has not been charged.

Full Article and Source:
Novack's Widow to Control Estate, Judge Rules

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Seattle Times Investigative Series: Seniors For Sale

Exploiting the aged and frail in Washington's adult family homes

The location of the home was secret. Only potential buyers with a $500,000 line of credit could learn its Seattle address. The seller insisted on discretion because the price included three frail seniors who lived inside.

A Bothell real-estate listing last year touted five seniors for $120,000, "sold separately" from the home. Bids for five vulnerable adults in Arlington opened at $90,000 — "cash only."

These deals aren't illegal. Washington officials not only know about it, they allow it.

Twenty years ago, the state Department of Social and Health Services began licensing homeowners to provide spare bedrooms and care for the old or frail who might otherwise have to live in nursing homes.

These private residences — called adult family homes — were marketed as opportunities for seniors to live in cozy settings and familiar neighborhoods, close to family and friends, with more freedom and superior care.

The owners were given freedom, as well. To encourage this new industry, the state imposed few regulations — no requirements for a minimum level of employees or even, for many years, liability insurance.

Today, Washington is lauded nationally as a leader in community care options for seniors.

But inside the state's 2,843 adult homes, thousands of vulnerable adults have been exploited by profiteers or harmed by amateur caregivers, an investigation by The Seattle Times has found.

Full Article,Videos and Source:
How the Aged and Frail are Exploited in Washington's Adult Family Homes

Searchable Database of Washington Adult Family Homes

Seniors for Sale, Part 2: Neglect and Death, But Adult Family Home Stays Open

Nadra McSherry devoted her life to helping disabled schoolchildren. But after her husband died, she suffered a heart attack and a stroke. Now it was time for someone to help her.

Her three daughters searched for the right place. They agreed that an adult family home offered their 74-year-old mother an ideal blend of independence and care.

They inspected more than a dozen homes and grilled their owners. They were comforted that adult homes were licensed by the state Department of Social and Health Services.
In fall 2001, they settled on Narrows View Manor in Tacoma, owned by Arlie and Charlene Leno.

"It seemed like the perfect place," youngest daughter Elaine Matsuda said.

McSherry's daughters had no clue that only weeks earlier, inspectors for DSHS had swept into the home and uncovered 14 safety and health violations. And they had no idea that Arlie Leno harbored a troubling past, one enabled by state regulators.

By the time they pieced it together, it was far too late to save their mother.

"My mother died a horrifically painful death. She weighed 80 pounds when she died. They were giving her morphine that would have knocked out a 400-pound football player," Matsuda said. "She still would scream and yell and cry out in pain and delirium from the medication."

Full Article, Videos and Source:
Neglect and Death, But Adult Family Home Stays Open

See Also:
How to Get More Information, Check a Home for Problems, or Report Abuse

Seniors for Sale, Part 3: State Saves Millions by Relocating Poorest Patients

Jeri Ringseth had no business being in an adult family home.

Her physical and mental disabilities are so significant that she's spent most of her adult life in nursing homes or state hospitals. She has diabetes so severe that over the years, surgeons have had to amputate both legs. Without constant care, she often ends up in an emergency room.

Even so, when the state asked Ringseth if she wanted to live in an adult family home — a real home with a bedroom and television — she enthusiastically said yes.

And a home enthusiastically took her, in exchange for state Medicaid payments.

That home didn't work out. Neither did the next, which dispatched her to an emergency room — then refused to take her back.

Ringseth is just one of thousands of Medicaid recipients who have been steered by the state from expensive nursing homes into adult family homes, which cost the state one-third as much.

These homes are a growing, little-regulated housing option for the state's aged — as well as for the poor and frail, such as Ringseth, who cannot care for themselves alone.

But in hundreds of cases, a Seattle Times investigation has found, medically fragile adults such as Ringseth are handed over to amateur caregivers who are inadequately trained to keep them safe.

Adult family homes originally were authorized as less-expensive way stations for the aged who do not require the full services of a skilled nursing home. Increasingly, however, the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) relies on adult homes as places for people who suffer from severe illness or disability, a Times analysis of state records shows.

The state's goal is to save money. Since the 1990s, state caseworkers have been told to meet monthly quotas that dictate how many nursing-home residents must be moved out into the community and adult homes.

Full Article, Videos, and Source:
Fragile, Pushed Out and Paying a Price: State Saves Millions by Relocating Poorest Patients

See Also:
State-Required Training For Prospective Owners Has Serious Flaws

An Adult Family Home That Works: Stable Staff, Activities

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Steven Rondos Jailed

Bay Ridge attorney Steven Rondos, and the law firm Raia and Rondos,has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on one 1 count of money laundering, 1 count of 1st-degree grand larceny, 9 counts of 2nd degree grand larceny, 5 counts of 3rd degree grand larceny, 1 count of a scheme to defraud, and offering a false instrument for filing.

Between 2001 and 2008, Rondos allegedly stole more than $4 million from the accounts of 23 incapacitated clients for whom he acted as a court-appointed guardian -- 14 of them in Brooklyn.

If convicted of the most serious of the charges, Rondos faces up to 25 years in prison.

Rondos' victims included a 32-year-old quadriplegic with cerebral palsy who lost more than $1 million and a now-deceased mental patient tapped for over $400,000.

Octogenarian Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau bluntly termed Rondos, a Canadian-born U.S. citizen, a "son of a bitch".

Rondos, who served as court-appointed guardian for incapacitated children and adults, used his clients' funds to renovate -- landscaping, new kitchen and a home theatre -- and to pay off the mortgage on his Ridgewood, NJ. home.

He was arrested at home as a "fugitive from justice" and is booked under the alias "Stavras Rontoyiannis" at the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey awaiting extradition.

According to the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA), Rondos was involved in more than 50 guardianship proceedings over the past 5 years and was paid $200,000 in legal fees.

A spokesman for the New York Office of Court Administration (OCA) admitted it had been lax in overseeing Rondos' handling of the accounts, and that some of the examiners monitoring guardian accounts had been asked to resign.

Starting immediately, OCA has mandated compliance hearings between guardians and courts whenever a filing or accounting is late, and judges must appoint court examiners from a list of lawyers and others certified by the Appellate Division to review guardians' annual reports.

Lax oversight by court examiners apparently facilitated Rondos' actions. Examiners, who are supposed to examine guardians' reports and bills, are reimbursed annually based on the size of the estates they monitor.

Sixteen different examiners signed off on the cases in the indictment, including a Manhattan surrogate's court attorney.

Court examiners have been called the "key to guardian oversight in New York", the "eyes and ears" of the court, but financial reviews are often cursory, guardians' reports are not vetted, guardians are rarely interviewed face-to-face, clerical staff handle many of the details, and examiners and guardians have little contact.

Five court examiners have resigned and one has been suspended as a result of the Rondos investigation.

Full Article and Source:
Local Lawyer Charged

See Also:
Steven T. Rondos Facing 6-18 Years in Prison

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

State Hindered Medicaid Fraud Investigations

Investigators were stonewalled by the New Mexico Human Services Department(HSD) and Health Department according to the Fraud Division’s 2009 annual report to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HSD administers the state Medicaid program with help from the Health Department. The agencies hindered “many” fraud and elder abuse investigations during 2008 and 2009, according to the report.

“It appears that the (HSD) inappropriately filters the information they provide to the Fraud Division,” the report states. “[T]his sterilization has inhibited our ability to access and prosecute both fraud and abuse claims.”

The June 2009 report followed a January 2009 audit by the Legislative Finance Committee, which called for an evaluation of how exactly HSD combats Medicaid fraud.

“It appears that both the (HSD) and Department of Health…review and, on occasion, redirect the Division’s data or documents requests, instead of allowing a free flow of information as anticipated by Medicaid regulations and the Memorandum of Understanding between (HSD) and the Division,” the report states.

Full Article and Source:
State Hindered Medicaid Fraud Investigations, Attorney General's Report Claims

Charged With Felony Theft by Swindle

As a financial specialist for Lutheran Social Service, Kathy Jo Feist had 31 vulnerable adults as clients. She was supposed to handle their finances and disburse money to them as they needed it.

Instead, court documents filed Wednesday say she allegedly stole more than $103,000 from her clients. She spent it at casinos and on dining out, and for vacations to Tampa, Fla., the Black Hills, Ely, Minn., Iowa City and Wisconsin Dells. She also used some to make purchases at grocery, hardware and clothing stores and nail salons. And some went to pay her cable, cell phone, dental and prescription drug bills and other personal expenses.

Feist is scheduled to make her first court appearance Feb. 23.

Bob Bach, an attorney for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, said LSS uncovered the theft internally and did a full audit, which was then submitted to St. Paul police.

"But LSS didn't stop there," Bach said Thursday. "It's gone forward and reimbursed all the clients who had any monies taken from their account illegally. Nobody should be out any money as far as we can tell from our audit. We take our mission very seriously as protectors of these vulnerable adults."

Full Article and Source:
Theft From Vulnerable Alleged

Monday, February 1, 2010

AZ: Three Racketeering Lawsuits Filed

The old lady who lost all her money while being “protected” by Maricopa County's probate court is now pleading her case to another court — and she isn't the only one.

Three federal racketeering lawsuits were filed this week, accusing a group of lawyers and fiduciaries of working together to squeeze their vulnerable clients while Maricopa County's judges look on and do, well, nothing.

“Obviously, it (the probate system) isn't doing what it's intended to do, it isn't protecting vulnerable adults,” said attorney Grant Goodman, who filed the lawsuits after reading about 88-year-old Marie Long, who went from having $1.3 million to nothing in four years. “It's actually allowing these predators to strip these estates bare under the cloth of a judicial rubber stamp.”

Goodman filed the lawsuits on behalf of Marie and two other Scottsdale residents. Each of the defendants who responded to a request for comment denied any wrongdoing.

“The lawsuit is baseless and we are confident that we will prevail on the merits in court,” attorney Brenda Church wrote in an e-mail.

According to probate court records, Church's law firms have collected $343,000 from Marie's trust since 2005, when the widow suffered a stroke and came under the protection of the court. Sun Valley, meanwhile, has collected $413,000 in guardian and companion care fees while seven other attorneys have scooped up another $86,000. As a result of all this “protection”, Marie is now in the poorhouse and will need taxpayer support.

The federal lawsuits, filed against nine attorneys and two of the state's largest fiduciary companies, allege that once appointed to handle the affairs of incapacitated adults, they “siphon off” their money, “ultimately abandoning their victims once their trust accounts and other assets have been dissipated.”

Full Article and Source:
Old Lady Goes to Federal Court - And Now She Has Company

See Also:
Woman Attempting to Recover Funds

PA Judicial Conduct Board Must Turn Over Conahan Complaint

The Judicial Conduct Board must turn over an anonymous complaint filed against a former Luzerne County judge to an interbranch investigative body but may keep the documents related to its investigation into that judge confidential, a sharply divided state Supreme Court has ruled

The decision, which drew opinions from four separate justices, requires the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice to keep the complaint under seal, however. It also bars the members of the commission from gathering information they really seemed to want -- what the Judicial Conduct Board did after it received an anonymous complaint regarding former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan in September 2006.

Full Article and Source:
Justices Divided, Rule JCB Must Turn Over Conahan Complaint

Hearings Against GA Probate Judge Begin

Hearings against Twiggs County Probate Judge Kenneth Fowler opened with attorneys for the state accusing him of running a slush fund in the county, mistreating defendants and failing to properly exercise the most basic judicial duties.

Fowler and his own attorney said the fund existed well before he became probate judge in 2005, that he did not control it, and that he never profited from it. They admitted to mistakes in his courtroom, but said they stemmed from a lack of training.

Some of the alleged problems in Fowler's probate court center on a "community service account" he had at least some control over. Fowler acknowledged today that he allowed defendants convicted of traffic violations to "buy out" the community service portions of their sentence. That money was deposited into a "community service account," which eventually grew to more than $80,000. Fowler spent roughly $36,000 of that, the state's attorneys said.

The JQC did not present evidence that Fowler stole any of this money, only orders showing that he authorized equipment purchases out of it for county agencies, and particularly the sheriff's office.

JQC attorneys also said Fowler over-charged defendants for court costs, berated them, told some to "shut up" and referred to some black defendants as "colored" or "colored boy." They accused him of a bevy of improper judicial procedures, including telling defendants that they bore the burden of proof in their cases, when in fact defendants are innocent until proven guilty by the state. Fowler said he was simply trying to tell defendants that they have the right to present a defense.

"I've done nothing to be detrimental to Twiggs County, Georgia," Fowler said today. "I've done the best I could do."

Full Article and Source:
Hearings Against Twiggs County Probate Judge Begin

Woman to be Sentenced in Theft, Medicaid Fraud

A Belmont woman who provided personal care services for an elderly woman and was charged with stealing from her is expected to ask a judge to allow her to pay restitution and serve no jail time under the terms of a plea deal.

Jacqueline MacDonald, 40,is alleged to have withdrawn $43,159.90 from the bank account of a 94-year-old woman just days before she had to enter a nursing home in January 2008.

MacDonald is also charged with filing fraudulent Medicaid applications in September 2006 and June 2007 to obtain benefits for herself and her child.

MacDonald was to be sentenced in Belknap County Superior Court, but a motion to continue filed by her attorney, James Moir of Concord indicated, she needed to postpone the hearing until Monday so she could obtain all the money she needs to pay in restitution.

According to a motion filed by her lawyer, MacDonald is seeking a capped plea of 12 months in the House of Corrections, but reserved the right to request that the jail time be fully suspended.

Had the case gone to trial and MacDonald been convicted, she would have faced a 7 1⁄2- to 15-year prison term.

In announcing the indictments, former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said, "My office will continue to work diligently to protect the state's vulnerable and elderly citizens and also to ensure that the state's welfare benefits such as Medicaid are preserved for those who qualify."

Assistant Attorney General Philip Bradley of the Medicaid Fraud Unit, which investigates both health care provider fraud and allegations involving the financial exploitation and physical abuse of long-term care residents, is prosecuting the case.

Full Article and Source:
Belmont Woman to be Sentenced in Theft, Medicaid Fraud Case

Sunday, January 31, 2010

SAFE: Special Advocates for the Elderly

Thanks to an inaugural group of 10 volunteers, life may be a little easier for Douglas County's elderly who find themselves in an often-confusing legal system.

The county's first team of Special Advocates for the Elderly was sworn-in Jan. 21 by district judges Michael Gibbons and Dave Gamble.

Under the direction of former Lyon County District Attorney John Giomi, now a Topaz resident, the volunteers are qualified to advocate on behalf of their wards in matters from guardianship to appropriate care and treatment.

The program is similar to the county's CASA program which works on behalf of children.

“You may be the last resort to keep elders as independent as long as possible or help them make the transition,” Giomi said. “You're the only one to keep the best interests of the elderly in mind.”

Sharon Doan, Lovana Dressler, John Giomi, Nancy Henker, Dana Jantos, Dawn King, Daniel Lancaster, Donna Miller, Madeline Snyder-Hollstrom, Jeffrey Weisend

Full Article and Source:
Volunteers Step Up to Aid Elderly in Court

Drug Induced Dementia - A Perfect Crime

Under the influence of declining birth rates, expanding longevity, and changing population structures around the world, the global prevalence of senile dementia is expected to increase more than four-fold within the next forty years. Within the United States alone, the number of affected individuals over the age of 65 is expected to rise exponentially from 8 million cases (2% of the entire population in the year 2000), to 18 million retirees (roughly 4.5% of the national census in the year 2040). Although they are striking, these statistics quite likely underestimate the scope of the coming epidemic, as they fail to consider the impact of under-diagnosis, early-onset disease, and the potential for a changing incidence of illness in the context of increasingly toxic environments.

In the face of this imminent crisis, concerned observers have called for policies and practices which aim to prevent, limit, or reverse dementia. Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime is a timely resource which reveals why and how medical treatments themselves – specifically, psychopharmaceuticals – are a substantial cause of brain degeneration and premature death.

Drug Induced Dementia - A Pefect Crime (Grace Jackson, MD)

Ex-Broker Says She Can't Pay Back Stolen Funds

A former Joliet resident who was found guilty nearly four years ago of stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly man has yet to pay back all the money.

Now Gloria Osorio, 37, wants a public defender to represent her.

Osorio, who is living in Chicago and in the past sometimes used the first name of Renee, was arrested in 2004 and charged with four counts of financial exploitation of the elderly. While working as a broker for investment firm A.G. Edwards, she was accused of taking money from Earl Fromm Sr. of Morris. Osorio was supposed to have invested the cash for him but did not.

During the investigation, Osorio told a Joliet police officer that she took between $65,000 and $70,000 over a few months. Some of the money was used to pay off the $34,000 loan on her Mercedes-Benz. She also told the officer about opening an account for Fromm at a credit union. Osorio had access to that money and listed herself as Fromm's granddaughter on the credit union's records.

Represented by Ira Goldstein, Osorio had a bench trial in September 2005 in Judge Richard Schoenstedt's courtroom, and he found her guilty.

In early 2006, the judge sentenced Osorio to 48 months probation and 180 days in jail. He also ordered her to pay restitution of a little more than $62,500.

Osorio paid $26,527.30 but still owes more than $36,000.

Osorio will return to court at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 4.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Broker Can't Pay Back Stolen Money, Afford Lawyer

Charged With Exploitation of His Mother

Douglas J. Koufman is charged with exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult for more than $100,000. The 57-year-old surrendered at the Palm Beach County Jail and posted bail.

Koufman's attorney Michael B. Cohen says: "We vigorously deny the allegations and we believe that the evidence will eventually show that Mr. Koufman will be exonerated."

According to an affidavit by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Koufman misappropriated at least $873,000 from his mother's trust fund.

His mother, Charlotte Koufman, is now 88 and suffers from dementia.

Full Article and Source:
Man Charged With Draining Elderly Mom of $800,000