Saturday, February 13, 2010

CANHR Report: Toxic Medicine

CANHR is pleased to announce the release of "Toxic Medicine: What You Should Know to Fight the Misuse of Psychoactive Drugs in Nursing Homes."

The new guidebook covers all of the basics regarding psychoactive drugs in nursing homes, from a description of their uses and side effects to an examination of the applicable laws.

Most importantly, the guide gives practical tips for nursing home residents or their family members to prevent misuse of psychoactive drugs. Releasing the guide is just the first stage of CANHR's 2010 Campaign to End Inappropriate Drugging of California Nursing Home Residents.

TOXIC MEDICINE: What You Should Know to Fight the Misuse of Psychoactive Drugs in California Nursing Homes

See Also:
California Adovcates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) website

IL Revokes Nursing Home's License

A Chicago Tribune investigative report has been succesful in exposing a lack of compliance to Illinois laws for admitting and caring for nursing home residents. Criminal background checks and risk assessments were not being conducted on new residents, allowing for mentally ill patients and convicted felons to become rent-free residents of Medicaid nursing homes and placing senior residents at risk.

Seniors who do not have personal assets and a monthly income to pay for nursing home costs can qualify for ongoing care in a nursing home paid for by Medicaid, a state and federally funded program. Owning a Medicaid nursing home can be compared to owning an apartment complex which is always rented - as long as you can admit qualifying patients, the government will pay the rent each month.

One nursing home housed 18 felons and drew attention after 17 assualts and 2 incidents of sexual violence were reported.

Somerset Place in Chicago housed more than 300 residents and the federal government has pulled the plug on their Medicaid payments. However, it took good reporting to make this happen - another indicator that the state nursing home inspection reports do not provide all the answers for maintaining quality nursing homes. Felons belong in prisons, not nursing homes.

Full Article and Source:
Illinois Revokes Nursing Home's License

Caregiver Accused of Exploitation

Attorney General Jim Hood says a Jackson woman who worked as a caregiver is accused of exploiting one of her clients.

Hood said in a news release that 34-year-old Stephanie Fields has been indicted on charges that include identity theft and exploitation against a vulnerable adult.

Authorities have accused Fields of using the elderly man's name and Social Security number to run up credit charges in excess of $6,700 and attempting to charge an additional $2,000.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Accused of Exploiting Elderly Patient

Friday, February 12, 2010

Press Release: Danny Tate Conservatorship


Fame, fortune, addiction. The fortune part is what makes Danny Tate prisoner of a Tennessee conservatorship.

Danny Tate, successful rock musician and composer, is forced to fight a formidable team, led by his own brother; a team seeking permanent control of all aspects of his life—his finances, in particular. The motives of the entire team against Danny Tate, including attorneys, mental health professionals and even a Tennessee judge, are being called into question.

Nashville, TN, February 11, 2010 When Danny Tate relapsed in 2007 after eighteen years of sobriety, his world unraveled in typical fashion. During the spiral, he called on his older brother, David, for short term assistance. But, that regrettable request opened a door, and David Tate stepped through. That door is the door that swings open to conservators in Tennessee who might wish for any reason, altruistic or otherwise, to wrangle full control of another’s assets and life.

These days, Danny Tate cannot enter into business contracts, access his hard earned money, or even write a check. He has been rendered helpless to rebuild his life, a life that once included lucrative deals in the music industry. Though Danny Tate is back to managing his addictive tendencies just as he did for eighteen years prior to 2007, his fight to regain control of what is left of his assets and his life consumes his days.

"An out-of-control probate court rendered a conservatorship on my life that has wrought nothing but personal, professional and financial ruin to the benefit of probate attorneys who prey on the unsuspecting,” says Tate. “Many are victimized by conservatorships all across our country. My hope is my case will shed light on this shadowy corner of the law.”

Beyond his personal battle, Danny Tate vows to change Tennessee laws related to conservatorship abuse. Without money, the freedom to act in his own behalf, or, indeed, a place to always stay, he wages war from Nashville as only a resourceful person with virtually no resources can--through the help of friends and the press.

Read of Danny Tate’s fight for freedom at:

Barbara Neff
Volunteer Public Information Representative
Free Danny Tate
(303) 408-6335

See Also:
Court-Ordered Hell

Good News for Danny Tate

In the light of recent events, it looks as if the legal Titanic is beginning to turn. In open court this morning, Randy Kennedy, though angry and frustrated, realizes his political and legal future is in question.

That said, he denied a final order making Danny Tate a permanent ward of the court, and followed the instructions of the Appellate Court to allow a final hearing which will result, finally, in an evidentiary trial with adversarial counsel representing Danny Tate.

In truth, this has never happened in the entirety of this case. This is the first single item granted in favor of Mr. Tate in this entire debacle and it’s obvious that public outcry influenced this decision.

Trial date is set for May 25, 2010.

The true battle has just begun. It will probably exhaust every dime left in Danny Tate’s retirement account to stage this trial considering he will be billed for all depositions, evaluations, etc. of both sides. Let’s make sure the criminal activity on the part of the judge, the attorney, but especially the conservator, Danny Tate’s brother, has a chance to come to light. This should NEVER happen to another soul again. This is potentially GOOD NEWS!

But it’s far from over…


See Also:
Court-Ordered Hell

Case Against Former Attorney Jessica Miller Growing Stronger

Prosecutors have grown one witness stronger in their case against former Port Richey attorney Jessica Miller.

Miller's former paralegal and office manager, Kristen Collins, pleaded no contest to four counts of grand theft last month. The plea was not the result of negotiations with the Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney's Office, but Collins has agreed to testify against her former boss when Miller goes on trial March 15 on theft charges.

Collins, 31, of Hudson, likely won't be sentenced until the conclusion of Miller's trial, said Assistant State Attorney Chip Stanton. Collins faces up to 40 years in prison, but she's more likely to receive a sentence closer to the low end of the state's sentencing guidelines. In her case, the guidelines call for a minimum sentence of 23 months in prison.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Employee to Testify Against Former Pasco Lawyer

See Also:
Grand Theft Charges

Thursday, February 11, 2010

27 Years in Litigation

A family feud over a father's will that has raged for more than a quarter-century - pitting two sisters against their brother in a Bronx court - may finally be over.

Diana Sakow and Evelyn Breslaw were naive young women when their father, real estate investor Max Sakow, died of a heart attack in 1956.

Now retired golden-agers, the sisters have been awarded part of their father's holdings, capping one of the longest-running probate battles in the city.

"My father wanted us to have this when we were young," said Breslaw, 69, who was 15 when her father died. "He didn't want us to have to go to court for it."

The fight began in 1983, when the sisters claim they discovered that their older brother, Walter Sakow, had hidden their father's one-page, handwritten will.

"I was told when my father died that we were impoverished," said Diana Sakow, now a retired high school teacher living in New Rochelle.

In fact, the will left a third of their dad's estate - which the sisters say totaled more than 100 properties - to his wife, with the remainder split equally among the kids.

Walter Sakow, with the support of their mother, told the sisters the family was deeply in debt and the properties had to be sold off, they claimed.

A law school grad who never joined the bar, the brother secretly used his father's properties to build up a real estate business for himself, they charged.

There was no bad blood until 1983, when the curious sisters discovered the will in a Bronx courthouse. They confronted their mother at the family's home in Morris Park. When she denied knowing about a will, they drove to the brother's home on Long Island, where he called the cops on them.

They've been in court ever since.

The sisters say they're heartbroken by the family betrayal and frustrated by the slow grinding of the wheels of justice.

"There's no end," Diana Sakow said. "He will litigate until everyone is dead, because the system allows it."

Full Article and Source:
Family Feud Lasts 27 Years in Court

$4.6 Mil Medicaid Fraud Case Trial Delayed

The California trial of a Marlborough woman accused of participating in a $4.6 million Medicaid fraud case has been pushed back to June.

Fe Filart, 59, is charged with health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess continued the trial to June 29, according to court documents.

A June 25, 2009, indictment alleges that unlicensed nurses provided services to disabled California Medicaid patients, many of them children with cerebral palsy or other developmental disabilities, from 2004 to 2007. Filart was one of the unlicensed nurses, who all operated out of southern California, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien said he believes the case to be the largest alleging fraud of Medi-Cal, the California Medicaid program, ever filed in the state.

The organizer of the ring, Priscilla Villabroza, pleaded guilty in federal court in 2008 to five counts of health care fraud, O'Brien's office said. Villabroza and others allegedly hired unlicensed nurses to provide care to disabled patients and then billed Medi-Cal nearly $4.6 million as if they were licensed.

Full Article and Source:
Marlborough Woman's Medicare Fraud Trial Postponed to June

18+ Years For Elder Abuse

Attorney General Terry Goddard announced today that Linda Darlene Giles, 58, of Tucson, has been sentenced in Pima County Superior Court to 18.5 years in prison for financial abuse of a vulnerable adult and emotional abuse of a vulnerable adult. She must also pay $540,000 in restitution.

In March 2009, Giles was sentenced to 10.5 years in prison for manslaughter in the death of James Carafas, who was 85 years old. The sentence for abuse will be served concurrently with the manslaughter sentence.

According to investigators, Carafas had known Giles for approximately 35 years. At the time his wife passed away in 2003, Carafas suffered from two types of cancer, as well as being both hearing and sight impaired.

During the 15 months she lived with Carafas, Giles gained control over $3 million in real estate and more than $100,000 in cash belonging to Carafas.

Full Article and Source:
Tucson Woman Gets 18 Years in Prison for Abuse of Elderly Man

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guardianship and Code Enforcement

James McLeod just wants to be left alone.

The 68-year-old Franklin County man lives in the home where he grew up. He even has a 1959 black flatbed truck that has been in his family since it was new.

But Franklin County officials are trying to get McLeod to clear away some of his old vehicles, saying he has a junkyard on his nearly 8 1⁄2 acres on Road 56.

The county is asking a Franklin County Superior Court judge to order McLeod to remove eight broken-down vehicles and other debris from his land.

County law allows McLeod to have one inoperable vehicle, or two if they can’t be seen from public view.

McLeod’s collection includes a school bus, three tractors, two trailers, the flatbed truck, a pickup and a crane.

McLeod is a disabled former Pasco firefighter. He was injured in 1971 when he crashed his 1948 Taylorcraft fabric plane, [John]Schultz [McLeod's lawyer]said.

He has dementia and various limitations because of his injury that make it difficult for him to deal with change and carry out a plan, according to a mental examination the court required.

McLeod has lived alone since his mother died several years ago. He maintains the property and uses one of his tractors to mow it.

Because of his disability, McLeod should have had a guardian when the county began its administrative actions against him, Schultz said.

When it became apparent McLeod needed a guardian, the county prosecutor petitioned for one. Court documents that the county filed state that McLeod’s attorney had not brought up the need for a guardian, and a guardian isn’t required during an administrative action.

The county first appointed a guardian in 2006, and a new court action wasn’t started until 2007, according to court documents.

Documents that county prosecutors filed in 2007 argued that just because McLeod didn’t have a guardian when the county started code enforcement doesn’t mean the case has to be dismissed.

Schultz and McLeod are asking the judge to throw out the county’s claim, terminate the guardianship and order the county to foot the guardianship bill, which isn’t specified.

Schultz said that instead of helping McLeod deal with the county complaint, guardian Nancy May hired a lawyer to get power to manage McLeod’s assets, which McLeod doesn’t want.

Schultz also argues that the county is abusing its power. He said if McLeod’s property was developed into 23 homes, each lot could have three to four vehicles. McLeod has nine.

Full Article and Source:
Franklin Count Wants Pasco Man to Remove Vehicles

Anonymous Complaint 'Didn't Raise A Red Flag'

An anonymous complaint accusing two former Luzerne County judges of “glaring” ethical violations “didn’t raise a red flag” with the state Judicial Conduct Board because it appeared to have been authored by a courthouse insider, the current chairman of the board said.

“In my mind, there’s so much detail in what we got — even in its condensed form — it was someone within the court system who wrote that — not an outsider who was angry at so and so,” John R. Cellucci told a state panel.

The complaint, accusing former Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. of nepotism, cronyism and case fixing, “didn’t raise a red flag, in my opinion, that we’ve got to get on this immediately,” Cellucci said.

The timing of the complaint led conduct board members and staffers to immediately suspect it had been authored by former Judge Ann H. Lokuta, Francis J. Puskas, the board’s deputy chief counsel, said earlier.

The complaint arrived at the conduct board’s office on Sept. 28, 2006, a day after a deadline for Lokuta to accept a plea bargain in her own misconduct matter.

Full Article and Source:
Anonymous Complaint Didn't Raise Red Flag With Conduct Board

See Also:
PA Judicial Conduct Board Could be Held in Contempt

Pursuit of Lokuta Helpful to Ciavarella, Conahan?

The state Judicial Conduct Board devoted so much of its limited staff and resources to prosecuting misconduct charges against former Luzerne County judge Ann H. Lokuta, it was ill-equipped to investigate an anonymous complaint against the two ex-judges later accused in a kids-for-cash scandal, a conduct board attorney said.

Attorney Paul H. Titus admitted last week that the board's inaction, compounded by budget constraints and an intense focus on the Lokuta case, missed critical questions about the judges' handling of civil cases and their relationship with an attorney involved in the corruption scandal.

"If you have a prosecutor who is actively pursuing somebody, who thinks they have charges that can remove them (from office), you're going to get quicker reaction," Titus said. "Lokuta was taking all of the time. That's the problem."

Full Article and Source:
Was Conduct Board's Pursuit of Lokuta Helpful to Ciavarella, Conahan

See Also:
Lokuta's Attorneys Say Due Process Ignored

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Probate Court Lets Millionnaire Fall By Wayside

Edward Abbott Ravenscroft hoists the suitcases off what passes these days for his bed: an old couch in a cramped house that, to be kind, has seen better days.

It's not the sort of living arrangement you'd expect to see for a man worth millions. But then, Ravenscroft is not just any millionaire. He's a millionaire being protected by Maricopa County's probate court.

"No way should I have to live like this," Ravenscroft told me while removing the suitcases he puts in place to keep his landlord's dogs away.

Ravenscroft, 49, is part of the Abbott family, as in Abbott, the pharmaceutical giant. According to court records, he's worth $5 million and has an income of $150,000 a year in stock dividends.

His current living arrangements, I'm told, are for his own good. Based on the billings to Ravenscroft's estate that I've seen, I'd say it's not so bad for his court-approved protectors either.

In early 2008, Ravenscroft was in a bad way. He'd lost 16 years of sobriety, was hanging with an unsavory crowd and was arrested three times for drug possession. During one of those arrests, he was carrying nearly $6,000 in cash.

He was put on probation but was back in jail by January 2009, for, among other things, not complying with drug and psychiatric treatment. His probation officer expressed concern that he could be victimized, given his bankbook.

And so Ravenscroft was handed over to the care and protection of probate court, a cozy group of lawyers and fiduciaries who are appointed to help vulnerable people but also do a pretty good job of helping themselves to a nice pile of cash.

In January 2009, attorney Paul Theut was named Ravenscroft's guardian ad litem, and within a month Theut asked that Sun Valley Group be brought in to oversee the millionaire's estate. Ravenscroft, he wrote, cannot manage his affairs due to drug and mental-health issues and "has property that will be wasted or dissipated unless proper management is provided."

So they proceeded to manage it for him.

According to court records, Theut collected $62,000 from Ravenscroft in his first 3½ months as guardian ad litem.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Court Lets Millionnaire Fall By Wayside

Disbarred Lawyer Out on $20K Bail

A disbarred Marshall County attorney accused of stealing $66,000 from clients is out of jail on a $20,000 bond.

Law enforcement agents arrested Lawton Fuller, 54, of Albertville on Jan. 29 on an eight-count indictment.

Curtis Summerville, spokesman for the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, said Friday Fuller faces two charges of first-degree theft, three for possession of a forged instrument and three for forgery.

The Alabama Supreme Court disbarred Fuller on July 9 after the State Bar's Disciplinary Commission found evidence leading it to believe that Fuller had misappropriated and mismanaged client trust funds.

Full Article and Source:
Disbarred Lawyer Out on $20K Bail

Charges Against Atty. Quietly Dropped

Charges were quietly dropped against Las Vegas attorney Jill Hanlon, who had been accused of victimizing an elderly man when she was his attorney in 2005 and 2006. The charges were dismissed in August in open court at the request of Senior Deputy Attorney General David Rickert.

Until last week, the possibility existed new charges could be filed.

Hanlon had been charged in May with one count of elder exploitation and two counts of filing a false document. The complaint alleged she charged Richard Sage $16,800 for 10 hours work, or $1,680 an hour.

"That started the crumbling and cracking of this case," said her attorney George Kelesis.

She had a $1,400 a month retainer, but the state investigator lumped it all together like it was a bill for 10 hours of work over one month, not a retainer over 14 months, Kelesis said.

The case is still pending against Hanlon's former co-defendant, Jamal Eljwaidi. He is charged with six separate counts of elder exploitation and accused of defrauding Sage of more than $400,000 in a real estate investment. Hanlon represented Sage.

Eljwaidi's trial is set for April 26 before District Judge Ken Cory.

In newspapers, the headlines are always bigger when charges are filed than when they are dismissed. Hanlon deserves fairness when charges are dropped. So I'm making sure she gets it in this column.

Full Article and Source:
Exploitation Charged Against Attorney Quietly Dropped

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lawyer Ordered to Refund Excess Legal Fees

A Massachusetts probate judge recently ordered prominent Boston family lawyer Gerald Nissenbaum and another attorney to refund a client's estate nearly $329,000 in excess legal fees.

Plymouth County Probate and Family Court Judge Stephen Steinberg's Jan. 14 order gave the attorneys 30 days to make the payments.

The Barnstable County probate case, In re Guardianship of Kenneth E. Simon, ended up on Steinberg's docket after the Massachusetts Appeals Court recused Judge Robert Scandurra of the Barnstable Probate and Family Court in December 2007. The decision does not address the basis for that recusal.

According to Steinberg's order, Simon's guardian, E. James Veara of Dennis, Mass.-based Zisson & Veara, and Nissenbaum sought about $500,000 in attorney and guardian fees for an 83-day guardianship of Simon, which ended with Simon's death on Nov. 2, 2005.

Steinberg's order requires Nissenbaum to repay Simon's estate more than $199,000 and Veara to repay more than $107,000. Together, the two lawyers must also repay the estate more than $21,000 for payments to legal vendors during the guardianship.

"From the very beginning of this case, the tactics undertaken by Nissenbaum and Veara were improper," wrote Steinberg, who determined that "Nissenbaum and Veara wildly spent the ward's money." He noted that Veara, who did not return a call for comment, increased his billing rate to $400 per hour for the case from his average $100 to $300 per hour.

Full Article and Source:
Mass. Judge Orders Two Lawyers to Refund $329K in Excess Fees to Client's Estate

Another Arrest in Genesee County's Largest Case of Alleged Financial Exploitation Ever

A second person has been accused of scheming to embezzle more than $1 million from a prominent local rheumatologist who also served as assistant dean at the Michigan State University Medical School.

Steven B. Neil, 30, of Flint Township has been charged with embezzlement in what is believed to be the largest case of alleged financial exploitation ever investigated by the Genesee County elder abuse task.

His wife, Andrea R. Neil, 30, was charged with elder abuse and embezzlement in the case in December.

The Neils were paid $2,200 a week to provide care and mow the lawn for Dr. Dorothy Mulkey, 73, of Flushing, but are believed to have stolen more than $1 million from her during the years Andrea Neil was employed as a caretaker, said Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell.

Steven Neil is accused of obtaining a signature on a financial document by fraud when they allegedly made Mulkey cash in an IRA worth $898,000 — which cost Mulkey about $365,000 in penalties — so the couple could buy a home in California, Pickell said.

Full Article and Source:
Steven B. Neil Becomes the Second Charged in Genesee County's Largest Elder abuse Case

See Also:
Biggest Swindle That Elder Abuse...Has Ever Handled

Ohio Lawyer Charged With Grand Theft

A Sylvania lawyer appeared in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on charges that he stole from clients.

William A. Garrett, 68, who is charged with two counts of grand theft, was suspended from practicing law in November. Mr. Garrett had been licensed in Ohio since 1970.

[H]e requested additional time to hire an attorney before he was taken to the Lucas County jail to be fingerprinted and photographed. Judge Gary Cook set a Feb. 17 arraignment date and released him on his own recognizance.

Mr. Garrett is charged with misappropriating between $16,700 and $26,500 from two clients last year. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

Full Article and Source:
Sylvania Lawyer Charged With Thefts From Two Clients

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Insightful and Comforting Cat

A cat with an uncanny ability to detect when nursing home patients are about to die has proven itself in around 50 cases by curling up with them in their final hours, according to a new book.

Dr David Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor at Brown University, said that five years of records showed Oscar rarely erring, sometimes proving medical staff at the New England nursing home wrong in their predictions over which patients were close to death.

The cat, now five and generally unsociable, was adopted as a kitten at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Providence, Rhode Island, which specialises in caring for people with severe dementia.

The tortoiseshell and white cat spends its days pacing from room to room, rarely spending any time with patients except those with just hours to live.

If kept outside the room of a dying patient, Oscar will scratch on the door trying to get in.

When nurses once placed the cat on the bed of a patient they thought close to death, Oscar "charged out" and went to sit beside someone in another room. The cat's judgement was better than that of the nurses: the second patient died that evening, while the first lived for two more days.

Dr Dosa and other staff are so confident in Oscar's accuracy that they will alert family members when the cat jumps on to a bed and stretches out beside its occupant.

Full Article and Source:
Cat Predicts 50 Deaths in RI Nursing Home

Glimmers of Awareness

Scientists have detected glimmers of awareness in some vegetative brain-injury patients and have even communicated with one of them — findings that push the boundaries of how to assess and care for such people.

The new research suggests that standard tests may overlook patients who have some consciousness, and that someday some kind of communication may be possible.

In the strongest example, a 29-year-old patient was able to answer yes-or-no questions by visualizing specific scenes the doctors asked him to imagine. The two visualizations sparked different brain activity viewed through a scanning machine.

“We were stunned when this happened,” said one study author, Martin Monti of Medical Research Council Cognitive and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, England. “I find it literally amazing. This was a patient who was believed to be vegetative for five years.”

Full Article and Source:
Vegetative Brains Show Glimmers of Awareness

Guilty of Bilking $2Mil From Elderly Woman

Before jurors found a Marietta man guilty of using investment schemes to take more than $2 million from a woman in her 80s, they a got to see how a real man of confidence works, District Attorney Pat Head said.

"That's what a con man is - a man who is able to gain people's confidence," Head said. "Fortunately, he did not get the confidence of the jury."

In Cobb Superior Court, jurors found Frank Constantino, 64, guilty of three counts of theft by taking, three counts of exploitation of an elder person, six counts of violating the Georgia Securities Act, and one count of violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. They could not come to a unanimous decision on 16 other counts of theft and violations, thus were deadlocked.

Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs will sentence Constantino Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m. Head predicts he will get ten to 20 years, which could be a combination of prison and probation if the man agrees to restitution for the elder woman, Judy Cox.

Full Article and Source:
Marietta Man Guilty of Bilking $2Mil From Elderly Woman

Judge Facing Drunk Driving Charge Can Hear Same Cases, Court Says

City Municipal Court Judge Robert E. Messham Jr. is not in violation of any state law by hearing drunk driving cases despite awaiting pretrial on the same charge, according to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

On Jan. 26, Messham, 63, was arrested in Miami Twp. for operating a vehicle under the influence and sideswiping another vehicle. Police said he refused a Breathalyzer test, which warranted an automatic suspension of diver’s license for one year under Ohio law.

Messham, who was appointed by Gov. Richard Celeste in 1989 and re-elected three times, returned to the bench Feb. 1 after pleading not guilty.

His driver’s license has been suspended and his pretrial hearing is set for April 13.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Facing Drunk Driving Charge Can Hear Same Cases, Court Says