Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sealing Britney Spears' Records?!

BRITNEY SPEARS’ lawyers have filed legal papers in a bid to keep the singer’s personal and medical records confidential.

Attorneys for the hitmaker’s conservatorship, Geraldine Wyle and Jeryll Cohen, fear Spears’ “critical information” and that of her sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James, will end up in the public domain.

They have now launched a legal bid to have the documents protected by a court order.

Full Article and Source:
Spears' Lawyers Fight to Keep Her Personal Records Confidential

See Also:
Britney Still Conserved

200 Hours Community Service and Two Years Probation

Janet Unger figures the rift in her family will never be repaired.

After her sister was accused of wrongly taking more than $100,000 from her elderly parents' savings, their relationship disintegrated.

"My reaction was: Someone had shoved a sword through my chest," Unger told a judge Monday before her sister, Eloise Russo, was sentenced for embezzlement.

"Eloise has been secretive, deceitful, evasive and manipulative," Unger went on to say, urging jail time.Russo, 53, did not get jail but instead was ordered to serve 200 hours of community service and placed on two years probation in Ottawa County Circuit Court. She'll have to pay restitution as determined by a probate judge.

Russo was appointed guardian to her parents, Tom and Ada Sherwin, of Hudsonville, in early 2007. Relatives claim the Sherwins had life savings of $279,000 at one point, but now it's substantially depleted.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Urges Judge To Give Sister Jail Time for Taking More Than $100 Thousand From Parents

See Also:
Family Not Happy With Plea Bargain

Financial Exploitation Using Power of Attorney

A trusting 82-year-old 'Aiea man is struggling to restore his financial footing after giving away his durable power of attorney to a female acquaintance who used it to raid his bank account and obtain credit cards and a reverse mortgage that plunged him into staggering debt.

Friends who are helping the elderly man said cash losses and new debt from years of financial exploitation could top $750,000, with no guarantee of getting any of it back.

The 'Aiea man's predicament, now under investigation by the state Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services, is an example of how powers of attorney — used since ancient times to allow individuals to act on behalf of others in business transactions and other affairs — have become a license to steal from the elderly.

Most often the thieves are relatives or caregivers who take advantage of a senior's poor health or diminished mental capacity to gain control of bank accounts, homes and other assets for their own benefit, according to elder law experts and other advocates for the elderly.

"It's a huge problem," said Bruce Bottorff, associate state director of AARP. "We continue to do education and outreach because it is so prevalent and, frankly, underreported. People need to be vigilant as the population grows older."

Full Article and Source:
More Hawaii Seniors Financially Exploited

See Also:
Couple Helping Exploited Widower Pick Up Pieces

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Website Tracks Scott Rothstein Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy attorneys cleaning up the wreckage of Scott Rothstein's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme have set up a new Web site to keep creditors informed of their efforts in the fast moving case.

The Web site includes court filings, upcoming court dates, important documents, a full court docket, and an e-mail address for creditors to submit questions.

Since the bankruptcy case was filed Nov. 10 -- just days after the massive fraud scheme imploded -- there have been 350 court filings in the bankruptcy case.

On the Web site, creditors, or just the curious, can take a look at the clawback suits that have been filed against Rothstein's former law partners, the trustee's monthly financial reports and periodic notifications about what steps are being taken to recover investors' money.

Full Article and Source:
New Rothstein Bankruptcy Website Provides Documents, Updates

Former Rothstein Firm Partner Sued

The bankruptcy trustee for jailed attorney Scott Rothstein's defunct law firm set his sights Thursday on equity partner Stuart Rosenfeldt, claiming $8 million in excessive compensation and linking bonuses to political contributions.

Rothstein has pleaded guilty to racketeering, fraud and conspiracy in a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme based on fake structured settlements sold through the 70-lawyer Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler.

Federal prosecutors accused Rothstein of funneling some of the tainted money to employees of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based firm for political campaign contributions to avoid federal and state election donation caps.

Herbert Stettin, the firm's court-appointed trustee, is demanding the return of $7.94 million from Rosenfeldt and his wife, claiming he was entitled to a maximum $1.15 million in the past four years but received much more. Rothstein and Rosenfeldt were the firm's only equity partners.

Full Article and Source:
Former Rothstein Firm Partner Sued for $8 Million

See Also:
Scott Rothstein Pleads Guilty

Scott Rothstein's Mother's Tears

I had a lengthy sit-down with Scott Rothstein's mother this past week. Gay Rothstein defended her only son as you'd expect a mother would, even if her son now sits in federal detention awaiting a possible 100-year sentence after he admitted running a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

Gay said she doesn't understand how or why Scott went from a legitimate attorney to a convicted criminal, betraying close friends and family along the way.

"I don't have the answers," she said. "It's not that I won't tell you the answers, it's that I have none."

Full Article and Source:
Scott Rothstein's Mother: No Answers, Just Tears

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Danny Tate - Sandbagged?!


See Also:
Press Release: Danny Tate Conservatorship


What does the word "Guardian" make you think of?

A protector? A defender? Someone who watches over the vulnerable? An angel?

How about "Conservator"?
Someone who is going to conserve and protect your money for you? Pay your bills and tend to your financial needs? Perhaps even make your savings grow?

"Fiduciary"? The legal definition: A fiduciary is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom they owe the duty (the "principal"): they must not put their personal interest before the duty, and must not profit from their position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents. The fiduciary relationship is highlighted by good faith, loyalty and trust, and the word itself originally comes from the Latin "fides," meaning "face", "fiducia"

That automatically means a fiduciary can be trusted; right?

The "Ward"?
Nameless, faceless, unthinking, unfeeling - the Ward is treated as a nonperson.

"The children of the Ward"?
The judge calls you a "child of the Ward." If you're six or 60, you're still a "child." The rest of the participants in the case have adult titles, and get respect. You're not only called a child; you're treated as one, too!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Straight Talk About Saving Gary Harvey

The story of Gary Harvey is not unique and, sadly, could become more common. But when I heard from his loving wife Sara recently, it occurred to me that this is a case that everyone should be made aware of because it is about a couple who should never have been made to suffer simply because one of them became severely disabled.

Before I share Sara’s plea, I want you to know why Gary Harvey is so important to each of us who believe in human dignity, human rights and human personhood.

Until January 2006, Gary Harvey was leading a normal life. Then, one day, he suffered a heart attack and fell down a flight of stairs. On that day, his life and the lives of his loved ones changed forever. The injuries he suffered left him permanently, severely disabled.

Gary Harvey was placed in Chemung County Nursing Facility - and a familiar battle began. Sara, Gary's wife, started complaining about the quality of care - or lack thereof. After pushing their own allegations, the facility was successful [in 2007] in having Sara removed as her husband's guardian, severely limiting contact and removing any right to make decisions on her husband's behalf.

From that point forward, Sara has been struggling against all odds to save her husband from what she fears could be the same fate that confronted the Schindler family’s beloved Terri Schindler Schiavo — death by starvation. When I spoke to Sara on the phone yesterday, she said again, “I just want to bring Gary home.”

Full Article and Source:
Help Save Gary Harvey's Life

See Also:

Help Bring Gary Home Website

We are family & friends of Gary & Sara Harvey.

We come from various walks of life, but share a common goal.

We seek justice and compassion for the helpless, who have fallen victim to a system of madness and injustice in the guise of being the law.

Today, we are here for Gary & Sara Harvey!

Tomorrow, we will be here as well!

Will you join us in the fight to bring Gary home?


Gary E. Harvey, Veteran in Peril


Gary E. Harvey served in the Army as a Special Force Ranger during the Vietnam War. He was honored with a National Service Defense Medal and as an expert M16 rifleman. He was honorably discharged in 1971. After suffering a serious accident, Gary became a ward of the state.

He is now confined in a hospital and denied the comfort of his home and life with his wife.

His wife, Sara, is only permitted to visit Gary on a pre-determined schedule and "under guard." All medical decisions, including those of life and death, are made by strangers.

Please pray for him.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lawyers Ordered to Repay Thousands

For three months, a pair of attorneys hired by a dying Harwich Port millionaire's family were paid to be his guardian.

Their fee? Half a million dollars.

The duo — Dennis-based lawyer E. James Veara and Boston attorney Gerald Nissenbaum — also spent $20,000 of their client's money on a private investigator they hired to watch Kenneth Simon's wife, Anne Flaherty Simon.

Both men are now being ordered by a judge to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to Simon's family, which sued the attorneys after he died in 2005.

Plymouth County Probate & Family Court Judge Stephen C. Steinberg chastised Veara and Nissenbaum for unethical behavior that includes overcharging the 71-year-old's estate as the retired Harwich Port financial manager lay dying at Pleasant Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Brewster.

"Nissenbaum and Veara wildly spent the ward's money," Steinberg wrote in the Jan. 14 decision.

Veara, who has been practicing at his father's Dennis law firm, Zisson & Veara, for nearly 20 years, called Steinberg's decision "retaliatory."

"Anyone who knows me, knows I'm honest, fair, hard-working and, frankly, I didn't do anything wrong here," Veara said. "I'll pursue my right to appeal."

'Lawyers lost their way'
The two attorneys "paid themselves approximately $500,000 for a temporary guardianship that lasted 83 days," Steinberg stated.

An expert witness for the case claimed guardianship lasting that amount of time should cost between $20,000 and $40,000, according to court documents.

Judge Steinberg ordered Veara to repay $107,741.45, and Nissenbaum to repay about $199,000. They were also ordered to repay the $20,000 spent on a private investigator hired to get dirt on Flaherty Simon.

The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers office has an open investigation of the case, and the two lawyers could be penalized further, said Charles Waters, of Sheehan, Phinney, Bass & Green, of Boston, who represented Simon's two sons in the case against Veara and Nissenbaum.

"I think this is a sad story for two lawyers who lost their way ... instead of following their fiduciary duties, they acted in their own self-interest," Waters said.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyers Ordered to Repay Thousands

IL Attorney Recommended for Disbarment

A Naperville attorney awaiting trial for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients and former law firm partners has been recommended for disbarment.

Members of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission's hearing board have concluded Steven D. Gustafson should forfeit his license to practice law. The ARDC, an agency of the Illinois Supreme Court, investigates and prosecutes attorneys suspected of or charged with malfeasance.

He faces trial in DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton on a total of 12 felony charges of theft, forgery, financial institution fraud and continuing a financial crimes enterprise. A Feb. 24 status date is set in that case.

DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett last year accused Gustafson of writing unauthorized checks to himself between 2001 and 2006 that were drawn against a trust fund bank account held by the firm. He then allegedly cashed the checks or deposited them into his personal bank account.

Full Article and Source:
Disbarment Sought of Lawyer Accused of Stealing

Ex-Judge Accused of Theft

Former state District Court Judge E. Karl Prohl was indicted Friday on a felony charge of theft by a public servant concerning $34,706 received from public coffers, reportedly for travel-related expenses, records show.

Prohl, who retired in September after 18 years on the bench, was booked into the Kerr County Jail on Friday evening and released on a personal recognizance bond.

“He's distressed about the publicity, but he feels like he'll be exonerated,” said defense attorney Roy O. Minton.

The indictment, issued after months of investigation by the state's attorney general, details 17 payments to Prohl between 2004 and 2007 by Kerr County, two probation departments, and the district attorney's office.

The payments to Prohl were for travel-related expenses, said Minton, who said the former judge had offered to make restitution.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Judge Prohl Accused of Theft

Broker Pleads Guilty to $2 Mil Ponzi Scheme

A former Ponte Vedra Beach financial broker pleaded guilty this afternoon to using $2 million he stole from 22 elderly investors to pay for cars, credit card purchases and other luxury items.

Michael Joseph DiMare, 51, pleaded guilty to mail fraud for selling 22 people fake investment opportunities he said would show quarterly returns of about 8 percent. Many of the investors in what became a Ponzi scheme were from Northeast Florida, including some in their 80s.

One 87-year-old woman invested about $1.4 million with DiMare and had $72,000 stolen, said Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Tysen Duva.

Duva told U.S. Magistrate Thomas Morris that DiMare is now under further investigation following allegations of his involvement with bank fraud, but details were not provided.

DiMare was freed after signing for a $100,000 unsecured bond and promising to look for work and not attempt to seek investments from anyone. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the mail fraud charge.

Full Article and Source:
Former Ponte Vedra Beach Broker Accused of Bilking Elderly Out of $2Mil in Ponzi Scheme

Monday, February 15, 2010

Family of Late Judge John Phillips Sues Park Slope Nursing Home

The family of a Brooklyn judge has slapped a Park Slope nursing home with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit charging that shoddy treatment led to his death.

The $10 million suit alleges the Prospect Park Residence - where Judge John Phillips lived for eight months until his death two years ago - refused to give him a diabetic menu and frequently missed giving him required insulin shots.

"He had diabetes that was supposed to be controlled," said lawyer John O'Hara, also a longtime friend of Phillips. "They kept screwing up. ... They killed him."

Phillips - known as the "Kung Fu judge" during his 17 years on the Civil Court bench for his habit of making martial arts moves in court - died at 83 in February 2008 after collapsing in a Prospect Park Residence elevator.

He had been declared mentally incompetent in 2001, a move some charged was politically motivated because he had announced plans to challenge Brooklyn District attorney Charles Hynes.

A series of court-appointed guardians allegedly squandered Phillips' assets, and he died owing more than $1.5 million in taxes and other debts.

Phillips' nephew, the Rev. Samuel Boykin, who is managing his estate, said he noticed signs of trouble soon after Phillips moved into the Prospect Park West nursing home.

"Looking at him, you could tell his health was going downhill fast," he said. "I was afraid that his life was in danger."

He insisted poor care - not just advancing age - led to Phillips' decline, noting the judge was "a health fanatic."

"My uncle was a 10th-degree black belt in Asiatic martial arts," he said. "He never drank. He never smoked cigarettes. He went to bed every night at 8 o'clock.

"The justice system that he served let him down. It's been devastating."

Full Article and Source:
Family of 'Kung Fu Judge' John Phillips Sues Nursing Home Over Death, Allege Missed Insulin Shots

Contact John O'Hara:
See Also: FreeJohnOHara

See Also:
Even a Judge is not Safe

YouTube: Background Information on Judge John Phillips Case


The People vs The People

Petition to Pardon John Kennedy O'Hara

A top state court has moved to rectify a longstanding miscarriage of justice by restoring the law license of the only New Yorker convicted of a crime simply for voting since suffragist Susan B. Anthony was put on trial in 1873.

The Brooklyn Appellate Division wisely let political activist John O'Hara again serve as an attorney despite his automatic disbarment as a felon. In doing so, the court officially recognized the patently unfair nature of O'Hara's prosecution.

It is beyond doubt that O'Hara was the victim of a criminal justice vendetta ginned up by enemies in the Brooklyn Democratic Party who were fed up with his constant challenges. As a special committee of lawyers reported to the court: "Mr. O'Hara, accurately it appears, claims that the machine went gunning for him."

The weapon of choice was Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes, who hauled O'Hara into three trials on seven felony charges that carried the potential for years in jail.


Sign the Petition for Gubernatorial Pardon of John O'Hara

See Also:
YouTube Video: The People vs The People

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Disbarred NY Attorney Suspended in FL

A disbarred New York attorney who stole more than $6,000 from two clients’ escrow accounts has been suspended from practicing in Florida and ordered to close his North Naples office.

The Florida Supreme Court suspended the license of Gary W. Gramer, 63, indefinitely and gave him 30 days to protect his clients’ interests and shut down Gramer & Associates, a personal injury practice on Southbay Drive, to protect his clients’ interests.

The Florida Supreme Court ruling was handed down Dec. 14, but the suspension wasn’t effective until 30 days later so he could close his firm. The order was made public Jan. 29, when The Florida Bar published its list of disciplined attorneys.

The court made its ruling after The Florida Bar received a Nov. 30 notice about his indictment and sentence in New York. Authorities there tracked him to Naples, where he was arrested in November 2007.

New York Supreme Court records show Gramer was suspended on Oct. 26, 2005, due to his “serious physical illness and resultant medical disability,” and all pending disciplinary proceedings were stayed until further order. The court ordered a medical examination to determine whether he could practice law. If the medical expert determined he was incapacitated, the order said he would immediately be suspended and his clients’ files would be inventoried to protect them.

Full Article and Source:
N. Naples Lawyer Suspended Due to Thefts in NY"

Judge Reverses Ruling in Novack Estate

On Monday, Narcy Novack was celebrating a bittersweet victory after a judge paved the way for her to cash in on her slain husband's $10 million fortune.

Her victory was short-lived.

By Thursday, Novack -- a suspect in last year's killing in New York of her husband, Ben Novack Jr. -- no longer held the purse strings and, according to court records, she may also be tangled up in a federal criminal investigation.

Noting an ``imminent'' federal grand jury probe in New York -- and the fact that her two criminal attorneys wanted to collect more than $1 million from her husband's estate -- he overturned his decision Monday to hand her control of the estate.

Under the judge's new order, Narcy Novack must post a $5 million bond before she can be named personal representative. The liquid assets of the estate will be placed in a court depository, where the money cannot be touched without court approval.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Reverses Ruling That Gave Widow Control of Novak Estate

See Also:
Novack's Widow to Control $10 Mil Estate

NJ Sheriff's Officer Indicted

A Monmouth County Grand Jury has handed up three separate indictments with a total of 22 counts against a suspend Monmouth County Sheriff's Officer accused of bilking the elderly aunt of his ex-wife and others using fraudulently obtained credit cards.

Christopher Donadio, 44, of Middletown faces three separate counts of second-degree official misconduct for each of the indictments, and two counts of second degree hindering of his own apprehension. Also included in the three indictments is a lone count of second degree misapplication of entrusted funds, and various charges of credit-card theft, identity theft, forgery, fraudulent use of credit cards, and other charges.

Donadio faces a 10-year prison sentence, with a minimum five years without parole eligibility, if convicted of official misconduct and the other second-degree crimes contained in the indictment. He faces an exposure of more than 120 years behind bars if he is convicted on each of the charges contained in the three indictments.

Donadio has maintained his innocence. He remains free on $75,000 bail.

Full Article and Source:
Grand Jury Indicts Monmouth County Sheriff's Officer

Medicaid Fraud Investigation Leads to Arrest

A Medicaid fraud investigation has led to the arrest of a 33-year-old Lincoln man, who now is charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult.

Spencer Owen is accused of improperly spending $5,171.03 from his grandmother's account.

In court records, Douglas Klaumann, an investigator with the Medicaid Fraud & Patient Abuse Unit of the Nebraska Attorney General's Office, said that Owen spent $7,768.96 on himself since his grandmother went to the nursing home.

The nursing home where Owen's grandmother has lived since October 2007 contacted the fraud unit last March on allegations he was spending his grandmother's Social Security check and not paying for her care.

Klaumann said a review of her bank statement showed purchases at restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations, an online ticket site, clothing stores, a tattoo parlor and a skateboard shop, among others, since she has been at the nursing home.

They believe Owen, a co-guardian for his grandmother, made the purchases for himself.

Full Article and Source:
Medicaid Fraud Investigation Leads to Local Man's Arrest"