Saturday, March 20, 2010

Elder Exploitation Charges Dropped; Heartache Continues

A judge dismissed charges of elder exploitation against Mary Byrd of Salisbury last month, but she says her heartache is far from over.

At issue: Does she have any right to see former housemate Horace Billings and live in his house, or should she accept his son's intention to cut all ties?

"This here has just about got me," says Mary. She wants to care for Horace and "give him some quality of life again," she says.

His son and only child, Bill Billings of Charlotte, sees the situation very differently.

"I'm just trying to protect my father," Bill says.

Mary thought she had a companion — and a home — for life.

Horace said as much, according to his brother, C.G. Billings of Winston-Salem. He recalls Horace introducing him to Mary about 10 years ago. Horace said Mary was going to take care of him and he was going to take care of her, C.G. says — and that if all that worked out, he wanted her to have his house.

But Horace's plan unraveled after he suffered a stroke last May.

"He was in the bedroom and I was in the hall," Mary says. She heard him fall. She got him into the car and took him to Rowan Regional Medical Center.

She called Bill, "because I thought that's what I should do," she says.

"He's my dad," Bill said. "I'm going to take care of him. He is very well cared for. He is in an excellent situation."

Mary took leave from Food Lion to care for Horace, staying by his side much of the time he was in the hospital and later when he moved to a nursing home.

The stroke affected Horace's left arm, and he cannot write. At his suggestion, Mary says, she signed his name to several checks to pay bills, have her car fixed, buy a television, get the yard mowed, pay taxes and, as a doctor suggested, make the bathroom in his house handicapped accessible so he could go home.

Bill decided to place his father in a Charlotte nursing home. With a series of shaky X's on a document, Horace had given his son power of attorney — complete say over his medical and business affairs.

"Bill called me the day before and said, 'We're going to take him to Charlotte,' " Mary says. "He told me to get his papers and clothes together."

Mary left the house so she would not be there when Bill came by. And she went to the nursing home and watched from afar as Horace was helped into a car and driven away.

"And he was gone."

Bill told Mary she would have to move out. He put Horace's house up for sale and sold the car and furniture.

And, after he looked through his father's papers, Bill and his wife, Lesley, had Mary charged with exploitation of the elderly for writing $9,900 worth checks on Horace's account over several months.

With David Bingham as her attorney, Mary went to court on Feb. 3 with Horace's siblings and some friends there for support.

When Bill testified, he had to reveal where his father was — Brighton Gardens in Charlotte.

Mary went to visit Horace almost immediately after the hearing. When she was asked at the home if she was a relative, she said yes and gave a false name — Emily Billings.

Horace appeared to be asleep when she walked into his room.

According to Mary, he opened his eyes and said, "There's my sweetheart."

Within minutes, security guards escorted Mary out of the building. Bill has left instructions that no one is to see his father unless he is present or gives his approval, not even Horace's siblings.

Mary has gotten in to see Horace briefly one or two times more, against Bill's wishes. And she says she's not giving up.

She's been cleared of the charges brought against her, but she has not gotten her old life back.

Full Article and Source
Charges Dropped; Heartache Continues

Probate Lawyer Charged With Embezzlement

Authorities arrested a 67-year-old probate lawyeron charges he embezzled more than $500,000 from the estates of four clients.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Oscar Cruz Parra was arrested at his San Dimas home, four days after prosecutors charged him with embezzlement, perjury and preparing false evidence.

Prosecutors allege Parra, whose office is on Lake Avenue in Pasadena, began embezzling from the accounts of estates he represented in December 2000. They say he then filed false court papers regarding the money in the client accounts.

The State Bar of California suspended Parra's law license on Feb. 21.

Full Article and Source:
Pasadena Lawyer Arrested on Charges of Embezzling from Clients

Manhattan Judge Fighting in Campaign Fraud Case

A Manhattan judge is at the defendant's table today, as jury selection begins in her campaign fraud case.

Testimony is expected to begin as soon as tomorrow.

Surrogate Court Judge Nora Anderson is charged with sneaking $250,000 in illegal contributions into her 2008 primary campaign coffers.

"I will tell you this," Anderson said, when reached on the eve of jury selection yesterday. "These were forms which show who contributed what -- how much to my campaign. The ethical rules forbade me to see those forms," she said.

"I did not see them. I did not sign them. I did not file them. I have no idea what they say. Intent is always an element of a crime -- and the people have to prove intent."

Full Article and Source:
Manhattan Judge Fighting Back in Contribution Fraud Case

Friday, March 19, 2010

Danny's Diary

I received notification for the 2010 United States Census. It gave me pause. Having been stripped of every Constitutional right afforded an American citizen, even criminals, including the right to contract (virtually the right to sign my name), I realize I will probably need to contact my attorney to see if I’m eligible to proclaim myself a U.S. citizen any longer. The “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” were all taken away. That was revealed in court documents posted by Marcos.

What does that leave me with? For those that have observed my case, this web site and my written words, I can only try to describe the dehumanizing effect that an abusive conservatorship brings to one’s life, the intentional and unconscionable ruin an errant probate court and its officers thrust upon you with the stroke of a pen, the voice they attempt to deprive you of, deprivation of every fundamental right any human should share in, the calculated lie perpetrated and the shadowy corridors of misused law the culprits hide within.

I’ve been asked to cut my hair, shave my beard, dress like a normal man, watch what I say, change what I do, be careful who you talk to, rethink your position, and accept what is false. Then I remind myself, if I walked into a room where a fellow songwriter was expecting me and I wore a black robe to this meeting, most likely they would laugh and remind me that Halloween is only once a year and ask me what I smoked (or sniffed) before I showed up. And, furthermore, if I demanded that my fellow songwriter address me with some high and mighty moniker and require him to accept any foolish notion I saw fit to pen in order for us to achieve what I deemed a hit song, it would be their last time to share a room with me much less a collaborative effort. This arrogant pretense would be enough to have me laughed out of the business.

But if I walked into this same room as myself, referred to my collaborator by his name and presented ideas that were reasonable to achieve a collaborative effort, we would both be compelled to strive for excellence knowing that only something true would ever resonate with the public.

Yet, not the case in those shadowy corridors we call the legal system. They have been taken over by compromised souls that bargain in secret behind closed doors, leveraging lives in pursuit of the next case, buying compromise via appointment, considering their political future at the expense of the citizen.

The honorable men of the law are rare because the system does not tolerate them, in fact, they systematically squash them. I do not envy the attorney who seeks to navigate this system honorably. But I have witnessed the power of one who does-armed with knowledge and character, truth is the mightiest weapon in the room. And it is awe inspiring to behold. But, am I even a citizen who has the right to determine? I’m not sure. But I am a human being…and as long as there is breath in me I will make my voice heard.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rothstein Lawyers, Accountants Seek Big Fees

Attorneys and accountants for the court trustee in the messy bankruptcy of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's collapsed law firm have asked a judge to authorize nearly $2.2 million in fees for less than three months' work.

More than $1.2 million of the fees were billed by Berger Singerman, a South Florida law firm.

"It is a significant amount of money, and there will be significant legal fees that will continue to accrue. There is a massive amount of work," said firm partner and bankruptcy expert Paul Singerman.

Others that asked for large initial fees in the case last week: Miami accounting firm Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant ($611,640) and Miami law firm Genovese Joblove & Battista ($324,805).

Each of the firms has agreed to accept much less now than they claim they are owed — 65 percent less in Berger Singerman's case — because there's not enough money in the bankruptcy estate of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler. If their requests are approved, they would be entitled to receive that money later if funds are recovered.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyers, Accountants Seek Big Fees in Rothstein Bankruptcy

Elderly Patients Over-Treated With Pharmaceuticals?

Researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration research group have determined that seniors over the age of 80 are being given too many drugs and in too high of doses. Particularly with high blood pressure, doctors are too aggressively treating the elderly with pharmaceuticals which is doing them more harm than good.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly a quarter of all Americans between 20 and 75 have hypertension while roughly 70 percent of those over 75 have it.

Full Article and Source:
Elderly Patients Agressively Over-Treated With Pharmaceuticals

Britney Spears' Conservatorship Set to End?

A court review of Britney Spears' conservatorship scheduled for 1:30 PM Monday, March 15, was delayed to give the parties involved more preparatory time.

According to TMZ, Britney's father, Jaime Spears, who was appointed conservator of her personal and financial affairs along with attorney Andrew Wallet on February 1, 2008, feels there is no need to continue the conservatorship now.

The conservatorship could end by the middle of this year, though no firm date has been fixed, reports TMZ.

Full Article and Source:
Britney Spears' Conservatorship Set to End: Report

See Also:
Sealing Britney Spears' Records?!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

6th Annual 'Call to Action' Conference

Philip Marshall’s quest to protect his famous and wealthy grandmother Brooke Astor from devastating financial abuse put a national spotlight on a problem that a recent MetLife study, Broken Trust, found costs American seniors $2.6 billion annually.

Marshall will share his story in the keynote address at the Elder Financial Protection Network’s (EFPN) 6th annual Call to Action conference and awards ceremony on March 25, 2010 in San Francisco.

This year’s meeting comes at a time not only of increased attention to the problem of elder financial abuse, thanks to the media coverage of the Astor case, but also one of increased risk of financial abuse of seniors because of the current economic downturn. These factors combined with the progress being made toward passing a national Elder Justice Act, could make this year a watershed moment for the problem of elder financial abuse.

Marshall will join 10 other speakers at this year’s event, which will bring together experts and community advocates from across the country for a day-long learning experience on the growing crime of elder financial abuse. Several hundred representatives of financial institutions, law enforcement, elder justice advocates and the legal community are expected to attend the event.

Full Article and Source:
6th Annual Call to Action Event to Spotlight Prominent Elder Abuse Case of Brooke Astor

Another Pennsylvania County Being Probed for Public Corruption

The U.S. Attorney's Office will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon at 2pm to discuss the latest on a public corruption probe in Lackawanna County.

There is no further information on what will be announced. There have been recent news reports that the feds were investigating former Lackawanna County Commissioner Robert Cordaro, and have questioned current commissioner A.J. Munchak.

The press conference will be held at the Federal Courthouse in Scranton.

Full Article and Souce:
Feds Schedule Press Conference in Lack. Co. Corruption Probe

Ex-Caretaker Found Guilty of Theft

A jury found a former caretaker guilty of two counts of felony theft from a 97-year-old Colorado Springs woman with dementia.

The seven-man, five-woman jury took about eight hours over two days to find Timothy Fogle guilty of stealing from Georgia Louise Hare in the summer before her death on Oct. 2, 2007. The jurors also found that Hare was an at-risk person and that Fogle, her head caretaker, had been in a position of trust.

Fogle, 43, faces a possible four to 16 years in prison when he is sentenced by 4th Judicial District Judge David Shakes on May 13. Prosecutors said this is Fogle's first criminal conviction so time in community corrections also is an option.

The verdict capped a two-week trial in which prosecutors portrayed Fogle as someone who once boasted he could convince Hare to “sign anything.”

Full Article and Source:
Jury Convicts Ex-Caretaker of Theft From Woman With Dementia

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

J&J Pushed Risperdal for Elderly After Warning

Johnson & Johnson made plans to reach $302 million in geriatric sales for its antipsychotic Risperdal just months after federal regulators said the company falsely claimed the drug was safe and effective with the elderly, according to internal documents.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration told J&J in 1999 that its marketing materials for geriatric patients overstated Risperdal’s benefits and minimized risks. A J&J business plan for the next year called for increasing the drug’s market share for elderly dementia sales, an unapproved use, according to newly unsealed documents in a lawsuit by the state of Louisiana.

“The geriatric market represents Risperdal’s second wave of growth,” J&J officials wrote in the business plan. “The aging population will continue to drive market growth well into the next century.”

Louisiana officials cited the document and dozens of other internal J&J files in its lawsuit claiming the company marketed Risperdal to the elderly and children for unapproved uses. Professor Jerry Avorn of Harvard Medical School, who isn’t involved in the case, called the papers “one of the more egregious examples” of marketing drugs to vulnerable patients.

Full Article and Source:
J&J Pushed Risperdal for Elderly After U.S. Warning, Files Show

Farash Litigation Resumes

Nearly two weeks after the death of Rochester real estate tycoon Max M. Farash, the mourning period has ended and the litigation period has resumed.

In recent days, new lawyers have joined the case, requests have been made to delay some proceedings and other requests made to move those proceedings to a new judge. Behind the scenes, legal work needed to transfer almost all of Farash's wealth to his family foundation has begun.

And Farash's grand-nephew, Matthew Aroesty, is scheduled to be arraigned today on a felony charge that he misappropriated thousands of dollars from his great-uncle's company.

Farash, who was 95 when he died in a nursing home on Feb. 28, built a fortune worth an estimated $400 million. He had been declared mentally incapacitated three years earlier, and his business affairs managed by a court-appointed guardian, James C. Gocker.

The guardianship ended when Farash died, but Gocker now is trustee of a trust that will manage Farash's assets.

He said he was handling "all the issues you deal with when someone passes away," though his principal task was determining "how best to make this transition to the foundation so the highest value is actually transferred to the foundation. That is a not-uncomplicated matter."

If estimates of the size of Farash's fortune are accurate, it likely would become the largest charitable foundation in the Rochester area, making millions of dollars of gifts annually.

Full Article and Source:
Litigation Resumes in Dealings With Fortune of Late Max Farash

Judge Apologizes

Judge Jennifer Evans-Koethe apologized to La Porte County residents in press release and said she looks forward to resuming her duties after her court-ordered 60-day suspension.

The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday accepted an agreement between Evans-Koethe and the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission and suspended the beleaguered judge for 60 days for misconduct and stipulated other provisions as well.

“I am truly sorry for those actions and apologize to the citizens of La Porte County for any conduct of mine that has not promoted the public’s confidence in the judiciary,” Evans-Koethe said in the statement.

Evans-Koethe’s troubles began in December 2008, shortly before she was to be sworn in as judge.

After a night of drinking, Evans-Koethe and her husband, Stephan Koethe, got into an argument.

She said she accidently shot herself after retrieving a gun to make her husband think she was contemplating suicide.

Later, at the hospital, she told an officials with La Porte County Sheriff’s Department that she had written a note to her husband and asked him to dispose of it because is was embarrassing.

Although a grand jury indicted her for attempted obstruction of justice, she was acquitted by a jury in January.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Apologizes

See Also:
Indicted County Judge Still Paid Salary

Monday, March 15, 2010

NASGA Press Release

For immediate release

March 15, 2010

For more information contact:
Annie McKenna
NASGA Media Liaison


NASGA's Open Letter to Congress and the White House

NASGA's "indictment" of the unlawful and abusive guardianship / conservatorship system (as presently practiced in state courts across the country), has been mailed to select members of the Senate, House, White House and other VIP’s, and is now available online at

The original “protect” and “conserve” intent of guardianship/conservatorship law is no longer being complied with. Wards' estates, instead of being conserved, are being plundered in the guise of legal-fee billings for "services" not necessarily legal in nature, or simply through obscene overbilling. More and more fiduciaries, in our present economy, are engaging in stealing from their wards.

The shocker in NASGA’s "indictment" is the fact that after estate assets are fully dissipated, every tax-paying American citizen becomes obligated to pick up the Medicaid tab for the remainder of the life of vulnerable wards, pauperized by guardianship proceedings. The American taxpayer is supposed to be protected under guardianship law, the purpose of which is to prevent a vulnerable individual from becoming a "public charge," but the irony of growing misuse/misapplication of the law makes the American taxpayer an unwary and unwitting fellow victim.

NASGA is hopeful that after many years of discussion among professional organizations - Congressional Committees, and even the federal General Accounting Office - about guardianship problems, the time has come when something meaningful will be done to protect vulnerable individuals from unlawful state-court proceedings and resultant abuse.


Courthouse Witness Unloads on Seidlin

A key witness in the Larry Seidlin civil suit is a courthouse attorney who once worked closely with the judge. I spoke with the attorney today on the condition I wouldn't name him or her and got an earful.

​The attorney told me that Seidlin often spoke about Barbara Kasler, the elderly widow in his building whom he persuaded to hand over more than a half-million dollars in cash and assets, according to the suit. Only the lawyer, who no longer works in the courthouse, said Seidlin never referred to her by name.

"He always called her the 'old lady,'" said the source. "He told me, 'I met an old lady in my building. She's out of her mind, but she's loaded.'"

Full Article and Source:
Courthouse Witness Unloads on Judge Larry Seidlin

See Also:
Kasler Vs. Seidlin

Sunday, March 14, 2010

U.S. House of Reps Impeaches Judge

The House of Representatives unanimously approved the four articles of impeachment against New Orleans Federal Judge Thomas Porteous.

The first article, approved by a vote of 412-0, found the judge had engaged in misconduct by not disclosing his relationship with a lawyer in a federal case involving a Jefferson Parish hospital.

The three subsequent articles were approved by votes of 410-0, 416-0 and 423-0.

He is the 15th judge found to have committed "high crimes and misdemeanors," the Constitution's criteria for impeachment and the second such vote in the last 20 years.

"Our investigation found that Judge Porteous participated in a pattern of corrupt conduct for years," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chair of a House Task force that reviewed the accusations against Porteous.

"Litigants have the right to expect a judge hearing their case will be fair and impartial, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety," Schiff continued. "Regrettably, no one can have that expectation in Judge Porteous' courtroom. We hope the Senate will schedule the trial expeditiously, so that we may prove our case and remove him from office."

Full Article and Source:
Judge Thomas Porteous Impeached by U.S. House of Representatives

Woman Charged With Abusing Elderly Mother

A Goshen woman is facing charges for abusing her elderly mother and stealing almost $400,000 from her.

A police affidavit shows Norma Brook took her mother to a Payson care center after the court ordered her to give up guardianship of the woman. But Brook left her there without clothing or medications, saying her mother didn't have money to buy anything.

A nurse called police after finding bedsores and bruising on the elderly woman's legs and feet.

Brook was booked into the Utah County Jail for aggravated abuse and exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Jailed for Abusing Elderly Mother

Ex-Bank Manager Accused of Bilking Elderly

A former San Jose bank manager has been arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $900,000, primarily from elderly clients.

John Tran, 37, was charged Thursday with crimes including fraud and forgery as a result of a two-month investigation by the financial crimes division of the San Jose Police Department.

Investigators believe Tran victimized customers of the Wells Fargo Bank on Lincoln Avenue in San Jose, where he used to be a manager.

The alleged thefts continued even after Tran left the bank in February 2009, police said. He would visit people at their homes, talk them into making investments and then steer their cashier checks his way, investigators said.

Full Article and Source:
Ex Bank Manager Accused of Bilking People