Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mahoning Co. Probate Court Employee Being Investigated

An employee of the Mahoning County Probate Court has been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending an internal court investigation.

Donald D. Gaudio Jr., 48, deputy clerk and guardianship investigator, was placed on leave and has turned in his court credentials, Judge Mark Belinky announced.

The investigation, which should be completed in about two weeks, is being headed by Richard Burgess, the court’s chief magistrate, Judge Belinky said. The probe appears to involve only Gaudio, Judge Belinky added.

The court has obtained information on Gaudio’s employment and must determine whether Gaudio “has engaged in any inappropriate behavior during his employment with this court,” Judge Belinky wrote without elaborating in a Monday judgment entry.

The judge said he made the probe public because of rumors circulating about it. Judge Belinky said it is “unfair and distracting to the other employees of the court to be the subject of innuendos and rumors.”

On his job application, Gaudio said he wasn’t related to any current elected or appointed county official, had a valid driver’s license, and had never been dismissed or asked to resign from employment.

Gaudio also said he had never been convicted of a felony involving dishonesty, false statements, violence or offenses of moral turpitude.

Full Article and Source:
Probe of Probate Worker Begins

Court Works to Encourage Settlements

When Riverside attorney Joseph P. Myers went to law school in the late 1960s, he recalled there were no courses in mediation. Civil litigation lawyers were expected to be warriors in court.

Now Myers is one of about 90 attorneys in the Riverside County court's alternative dispute resolution program, committed to getting cases settled by a sort of diplomatic shuttling between parties to see if they can reach an agreement.

"It is not easy, going from protecting clients' interests and beating the other side to suggesting compromises" when he is called from his trial lawyer work to act as a mediator, Myers said.

While the program is not quite a year old, and not enough numbers have returned to define how it is doing, participating lawyers such as Myers say it is making a big difference in Riverside's once-jammed civil courts.

The mediation program began in April 2009, just as the Riverside County courts started moving civil cases more quickly to trial after years of backlog while criminal cases were heard in civil courts.

Full Article and Source:
Court Works to Encourage Settlements

Financial Planner Accused of Theft

A financial planner is accused of stealing a 70-year-old woman's life savings - more than a half-million dollars - and leaving her essentially penniless.

Springdale police arrested Martin Morris, 50.

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted Morris on 14 counts, including aggravated theft, theft from an elderly person and forgery.

Springdale police detective Keenan Riordan said Morris stole $509,637 by forging checks while handling all of the woman's finances.

Full Article and Source:
Financial Planner Charged With Bilking the Elderly

Friday, April 9, 2010

'A Pattern of Resident Abuse'

When state investigators were called into the Brainerd, Minn., nursing home in late 2008, administrators said one aide might have mistreated several residents with dementia.

What they found was far more troubling: A "pattern of resident abuse'' by at least 20 nursing assistants that included belittling elderly patients, telling a man to urinate in his incontinence briefs and removing a call-light from a confused female resident.

"This was a systemwide failure," said Stella French, who oversees state Health Department investigators. "It's a situation that the administration should have known about and should have stopped."

The home's owner, Good Samaritan of Sioux Falls, S.D., is the nation's largest nonprofit chain of nursing homes and the owner of the Albert Lea nursing facility where abuse of several elderly residents led to criminal charges against two aides last year -- a fact that caused some soul-searching at the organization.

"This is not another Albert Lea," said spokesman Mark Dickerson. "It's not that level of problem. Still, coming so soon after Albert Lea, both the state and we swooped in right away to get to the bottom of things.

"You have to realize, we have made a lot of changes, done a lot of training," Dickerson added. "It's not the same place."

Full Article and Source:
Brainerd Nursing Home is Cited for Abuse

Ohio AG Files Suit Against Nursing Home Provider

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray filed a lawsuit against a large Ohio-based nursing home provider doing business under the name Carington Health Systems. The lawsuit alleges the company overstated nursing home expenses in reports filed with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), resulting in overpayments of Medicaid reimbursements for 21 nursing facilities.

“By artificially inflating its expenses, this company caused the Ohio Medicaid Program to overpay for services,” said Attorney General Cordray. “It is critical that Medicaid dollars are spent as intended and that we hold accountable those providers who try to take advantage of the system.”

The lawsuit, filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, seeks monetary recovery for the overpayment of Medicaid reimbursement and damages.

The nursing facilities named in the complaint are:
Arlington Nursing Home, Newark
Batavia Nursing & Convalescent Center, Batavia
Bryden Place, Columbus
Carington Park, Ashtabula
Clermont Nursing & Convalescent Center, Milford
East Galbraith Health Care Center, Cincinnati
East Galbraith Nursing Home, Cincinnati
Forest Hills Center, Columbus
Franklin Ridge, Inc., Franklin
Glencare Center, Cincinnati
Golden Years Nursing Home, Hamilton
Harmony Court, Cincinnati
Home at Hearthstone, Cincinnati
Heath Nursing & Convalescent Center, Heath
Madison Health Care, Madison
Nelson Park Care Center, Columbus
Sidney Care Center, Sidney
St. Catherine’s of Fostoria, Fostoria
St. Catherine’s of WCH, Washington Court House
Terrace View Gardens, Cincinnati
Woods Edge Point, Cincinnati

Full Press Release and Source:
Cordray Files Suit Against Nursing Home Provider

Read the Full Complaint

Aide Stuffs Sock in Patient's Mouth

An aide at a northwestern Minnesota nursing home crammed a sock in the mouth of a screaming resident because the woman, elderly and in the late stages of dementia, wouldn't be quiet, according to a state Health Department report.

The report quotes a co-worker as saying, "What the hell are you doing?" as the incident unfolded on Jan. 4 in the resident's room at the Sunnyside Care Center in Lake Park.

The co-worker told an investigator that the nursing assistant "chuckled" and responded that the resident "wouldn't quit hollering," the report added. The co-worker then removed the sock from the resident's mouth.

The nursing assistant, who was hired in October 2009 at the care center east of Fargo, was fired.

Full Article and Source:
State: Nursing Home Aide Stuffed Sock in Dementia Patient's Mouth

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Great Idea: Playgrounds for Seniors

In Great Britain and Japan, playgrounds are being built for seniors. In Manchester, United Kingdom, seniors can use low impact exercise equipment in Dam Head Public Park. In Japan, with birthrates falling and the numbers of senior citizens increasing, underused playgrounds are being renovated for seniors.

In an article titled, "Japan's elderly playgrounds show fun is for everyone," Chika Osaka notes that playgrounds are not just for children. In Japan, with fewer people having children, and nearly 400,000 centenarians, Japan has the world's oldest population. As a result, local governments are disassembling children's playgrounds to convert them to fitness parks for older persons.

The seniors not only enjoy the exercise but also the socialization. Many feel isolated from the community. Some report experiencing a heightened sense of well-being after the exercise.

The cost of an elderly playground may start at 8 million yen ($87,220) including installation and fees for trainers. The Association of Physical Fitness Promotion And Guidance says demand has been growing. Over 15,000 pieces of workout equipment have been installed in parks in Japan, and the number of seniors using the playgrounds daily has doubled.

Playgrounds for Seniors: A Fun and Practical Idea Gets the Elderly in Motion

Granny O'Grimm

Full Oscar-nominated film of 'Granny O'Grimm', directed by Nicky Phelan, produced by Brown Bag Films, and written/voiced by Kathleen O'Rourke. Nominated for Best Animated Short Film 2010.


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Kansas: SB372

SB 372 requires that orders establishing and governing a guardianship or conservatorship issued by a court of competent jurisdiction of any other state, regardless of the specific terminology used in that state’s laws, be given full faith and credit within Kansas, except when doing so would be in specific violation of any Kansas law. The bill takes effect upon its publication in the Kansas Statute Book.

Kansas governor Takes Action on Legislation: Concerning Guardianship and Conservatorship

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Friends for Danny Tate's Defense

Recently friends of Danny’s have put together a Facebook Page and it is rapidly generating a tremendous amount of interest. And action. T-shirts have finally been made, benefits are actually being planned, and people are pestering the politicians.

This is what we’d hoped for when after making a few “Free Danny Tate” videos and posting them on the internet we still felt like something was lacking. We were tired of hearing about the latest indignity Danny had to suffer, and even more tired of feeling “powerless” over the situation, so we decided to, in our inimitable manner, DO something about it.

Somehow we had a feeling this would come to pass.

Full article and Source:
Free Danny Tate

Join Friends for Danny Tate's Defense:
Facebook Page

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What Nerve! Conservator's Attorney Bills Estate for Reading Victim's Blog

Woman Acquitted in Abuse, Theft Case

A jury has come back with a not guilty verdict regarding charges that a York woman manipulated an elderly man in an attempt to steal money from him.

Robin Staehr was accused of attempted theft, which is a Class 4 felony, and abuse of a vulnerable adult, a Class 3 felony. If convicted, she could have been facing a maximum possible sentence of 25 years in prison. Now that a jury has found her not guilty, all charges have been dropped and the case is dismissed.

“In this case, you will hear a daughter tell how she just wants to have her father back,” York County Attorney Tim Sieh told jurors during opening arguments. “You will hear information about events that took place for two years and more importantly events prior to that. (The elderly man’s) daughter will talk about the changes in her father’s attitude, demeanor and behavior, which coincided with two women coming into his life, one being Robin Staehr. That led her and her siblings to institute a guardianship. The court also appointed a conservator because (the man in question) was no longer capable of managing his business himself. The court appointed York State Bank and Joe McCluskey was assigned to manage the account. His duty was to make sure that (the alleged victim’s) money was managed in his best interest.

“Then, in March, 2008, (a neighbor of the individual) received a call from Staehr, asking that he assist her with (the elderly man’s) cattle,” Sieh explained. “He loaded the cattle into his trailer and then Staehr told him to haul the cattle to Columbus, sell them in his (the neighbor’s) name, take the proceeds and give the money to her and (the alleged victim) and take some for himself. He (the neighbor) will testify that in being in the cattle business, he found her request to be out of the ordinary. So he made some calls and contacted McCluskey. At that point, McCluskey told him to go ahead and sell the cattle, but the money should go to (the alleged victim’s) trust, rather than (the victim) because he couldn’t handle it or Staehr because she was not the rightful owner.

“The bank got the money,” Sieh said. “She is not charged with theft, but attempted theft. And she is charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult for exploiting someone who was incapable of managing his own property. There is no doubt you will hear her say she didn’t know she couldn’t do that or that she had authorization from (the elderly man). She was asked by the conservator to leave (the alleged victim) alone but she refused to comply. She took significant steps toward depriving his estate and the bank.”

Staehr’s attorney, Bruce Stephens, told jurors that she misunderstood what she could and couldn’t legally do.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Acquitted in Abuse, Theft Case

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nasty Corrupted Temporary Guardians

Nasty corrupted Temporary Guardians [are} keeping grandma against her will! Probate courts under investigation for allowing vulnerable adults to be EXPLOITED by attorneys and fiduciary's. Everyone needs to Protect their parents and their assets/estate.....don't ever take them into probate court.. if you want them to keep what they worked their whole life for which is "THE RIGHT TO LIVE WITH DIGNITY AND NOT BE ROBBED OF THEIR LIFE , LIBERTY AND PROPERTY"



'Career Criminal' Convicted of Bilking WWII Veteran

A Metairie woman convicted of bilking money from a World War II veteran who resided at the assisted living center where she worked pleaded guilty Tuesday to being a four-time felon and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Catina Brown, 37, was sentenced on the one-year anniversary of the death of Jack Gray, 90, a former Navy Seabee who participated in the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima and who lost about $7,000 in the scheme that Brown and her son carried out, authorities said.

"It's offensive to society, " Judge Chuck Credo of the 24th Judicial District Court told Brown. "It's offensive to me. It's offensive to everybody, because the elderly need to be taken care of just like children."

Gray was a resident of the Atrium at Lafreniere in Metairie, where Brown worked in sales and her son, Tyler Brown, 20, of Westwego, was a cook. They stole one of Gray's personal checks and used the account and routing numbers to bilk the veteran, Assistant District Attorney George Wallace said. Gray discovered the thefts and reported them.

Within a week of the thefts that began in October 2008, Brown began spending, including purchasing a $450 ticket for a cruise out of Miami, said Wallace, adding that in Gray, Brown found "the goose that laid the golden egg." Her banking records showed she also used Gray's money for purchases ranging from $93 at Mr. Binky's adult stores to pricey restaurant meals.

Full Article and Source:
Metairie Convicted of Bilking WWII Veteran Nets 20 Years as Career Criminal

Monday, April 5, 2010

NV Bar Decides to Disbar Lawyer for Life!

Jeanne Winkler received the Nevada State Bar's most serious sanction Monday night when a panel of judges unanimously recommended she be disbarred for life after stealing more than $260,000 from her client trust fund.

"What does a lawyer have to do to get disbarred?" Rob Bare, legal counsel for the Nevada State Bar, said in his closing statement. "That is this case."

Winkler in testimony delivered at the start of her hearing March 3 said she looted the fund, which has clients' money and must be handled separately from other accounts, because she was caught up in an investment scheme that would have netted her up to $60 million.

[A}ttorney Michael Warhola asked the panel for leniency, saying Winkler was under tremendous psychological stress and "deluded" when she misappropriated the funds.

Coincidentally, Winkler stole from her clients after she and her husband were victimized by an employee who, according to testimony in her previous hearing, stole more than $300,000 from their now defunct contracting business.

The bar's decision came less than an hour after the panel, consisting of attorneys Tom Ryan, Robert Schumacher, and Lary Lamoreux and lay member Carrie Taylor, began deliberations.

Full Article and Source:
NEVADA STATE BAR: LV Attorney's Disbarment for Life Urged

Former Nursing Home Employee Stands Trial for Elder Abuse and Torture

Cesar Ulloa, a former employee at the upscale Calabasas Silverado Senior Living Center, is in trial this week. The Los Angeles District Attorney's office charged Ulloa with seven counts of elder abuse and one count of torture for abusing and mistreating the center's elderly patients.

Elder abuse is a "wobbler" which means that the prosecutor has the discretion to charge the offense as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Full Article and Source:
Calabasas Nursing Home Employee Stands Trial for Elder Abuse and Torture

Oregon Crime Victims' Rights Survey

Please help us to better honor crime victims' rights by telling us about your experience.

The Oregon Department of Justice is working to make sure that crime victims’ legal rights are honored in Oregon. We think that the best way to learn if crime victims’ rights are honored is to hear from crime victims.

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Read More and Complete the Survey

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Daunting Deadline for PA Interbranch Commission

One compelling question in the wake of the Luzerne County judicial scandal is this: Can Pennsylvania's legal version of Humpty Dumpty be put back together again? That's something the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice is looking to answer, and they only have until May 31 to come up with their suggestions.

The commission certainly has its work cut out for it. Because while there are plenty of questions, I'm not sure if the state's legal community has the stomach for all the answers.

How do you restore faith in a court system where two former president judges have been accused of racketeering? Or when the state's judicial conduct system was put on notice years in advance and admittedly did nothing? How do you protect the rights of juveniles when the pressure from schools, police, government, and even some parents is for judges to "get tough"?

The commission's name alone lets you know that its primary purpose was to address the most notorious aspect of the allegations against former Luzerne County Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. — that they took $2.8 million in payments from the builder and former co-owner of a private juvenile detention center and sentenced juveniles there, even when unwarranted. The judges reject the allegations.

But the commission's hearings over the past several months have revealed deeper problems in Pennsylvania's court system, not just in Luzerne County. The testimony and the line of questioning by the commission have covered larger ground than I'm guessing any of its members anticipated.

We reported back in July 2009 that multiple sources described how Conahan and Ciavarella had essentially run the county for years, ruling by fear and intimidation. The commission has heard plenty of testimony that corroborates that. In fact, when pressed as to how "this could happen" — namely the kids' rights being trampled on without anyone challenging it — the constant refrain has been either fear of the judges or blind faith in their authority.

How do you check that? How does the commission address that?

Full Article and Source:
The Interbranch Commission Facing Daunting Deadline

Ex-Chairman of Judical Conduct Board to Testify in Conanan/Ciavarella Hearing

Local auto-parts executive Patrick Judge Sr., former chairman of the state Judicial Conduct Board, will be among the witnesses testifying next month before a state panel probing the kids-for-cash scandal.

The conduct board, charged with investigating and prosecuting allegations of ethical abuses by judges, has come under fire from the panel for failing to investigate allegations against two Luzerne County judges now facing federal racketeering charges. Judge, who shared investments in a Florida condominium and Forty Fort ambulance company with one of the judges, Michael T. Conahan, was a member of the board when some of those allegations were made.

As chairman of the conduct board, Judge voted to proceed to trial with allegations against former county Judge Ann H. Lokuta, who was removed from office in 2008 by the state Supreme Court for mistreating court staffers and attorneys.

Lokuta is seeking reinstatement, arguing the charges against her were orchestrated by Conahan and his co-defendant in the racketeering case, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. Conahan and Ciavarella, who both testified against Lokuta, are accused of accepting $2.8 million for placing juveniles in two for-profit detention centers.

After voting to proceed with charges against Lokuta, Judge was named to the state Court of Judicial Discipline, which conducted a trial in Lokuta's case. Judge recused himself from the case.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Conduct Board Head to Testify in Kids-for-Cash Probe

It's Time to Take a Wrecking Ball to Our Judicial Discipline System

Former Luzerne Judge Ann Lokuta and the state's judicial conduct system have a lot in common: The people they need to convince the most don't believe them.

Lokuta was the first judge under the current system to be banished from the bench for non-criminal conduct. A case of first impression. But the same system failed to even investigate the worst and most pervasive judicial corruption scandal in Pennsylvania's history.

That alone should tell you all that you need to know about the Judicial Conduct Board and the rest of the state judicial conduct system. It's time to smash it into a million pieces, because when it comes to dealing with true judicial corruption, the system isn't up to the task.

But smashing the JCB and the rest of the system would be redundant in many ways, because it's already been destroyed. The public does not believe in the system. And more importantly, most lawyers and trial judges I've spoken with think something's terribly wrong, too.

In terms of the public's confidence in the system, here's the analogy I'd make: It's like watching an old Pinto endure a thermonuclear explosion. There's nothing left, not even a trace. In this instance the atom bomb was former Luzerne Judge Michael T. Conahan and the 2006 complaint made against him.

If the system's idea of policing the judiciary is to chase Lokuta from the bench while politically powerful judges like Conahan avoid the JCB's scrutiny, who needs them?

Full Article and Source:
It's Time to Take a Wrecking Ball to Our Judicial Discipline System