Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Victory in the Danny Tate Case

Positive developments today as Danny Tate appeared in a Nashville court room before Judge Randy Kennedy for a hearing regarding his conservatorship. Kevin Montgomery’s post on the Friends for Danny Tate’s Defense FB page gives a rundown:

I just got off the phone with Danny. I’m so fired up I can hardly put it into words. We had a little victory in court today. Danny’s attorney was finally awarded his fees! Word is that it was a different Judge Kennedy, and a different Paul Housch in the courtroom today! 10 people showed up with “Free Danny Tate” t-shirts (with less than 24 hours notice), and everyone in the courtroom was very aware of their presence. Unfortunately, he wasn’t let out of the conservatorship, but this is a minor battle that we won with the brilliance of his attorney, Danny’s courage in walking into that court, and the 10 people that showed up to scrutinize the court in a public fashion.

Full Article and Source:
Estate of Denial: Some Good News for Danny Tate

See Also:
Facebook: Friends for Danny Tate's Defense

Sonoma Co. Lawsuit Raises Questions

Did Sonoma County officials separate an elderly gay couple against their will, sell off the men's property, and even take away their cats, as a lawsuit alleges? Or is the case about protecting one of the men from his abusive partner, as the county's lawyers contend in court papers?

It will be up to a jury to answer those questions when the lawsuit goes to trial in July. But the shocking allegations contained in the lawsuit raise troubling questions for elderly gay and straight couples alike who may think they have taken the necessary legal steps to protect one another only to find out otherwise.

Full Article and Source:
Sonoma Lawsuit Raises Quesitons for Elderly Couples

Lawyer/Pastor Accused of Felony Theft

Accused of taking money from the trust fund accounts of residents with disabilities in his group homes, Ernest M. Beal Jr. stood trial in Allen Superior Court.

Beal, 56, is chief operating officer of Your Friends and Neighbors, a company that runs group homes in Indiana and Georgia for adults with developmental impairments. Last June, he was charged with felony theft, accused of ordering company officials to take money from the clients’ trust funds to make payroll and other operating expenses.

The trust fund holds money from clients’ Social Security benefit checks, paychecks and other income and is meant to pay for the expenses and care of the residents, according to court documents.

Beal, a lawyer, is also pastor of Faith United Church of Christ in Fort Wayne.

During opening statements, Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tim McCaulay said Beal “borrowed” from the clients multiple times over a 3 1/2 -year period. Beal and his ex-wife, the company’s chief executive officer, each drew a salary of more than $300,000, he said.

McCaulay characterized the case as one of arrogance, greed and the avoidance of truth.

Full Article and Source:
Pastor-Lawyer Facing Theft Trial, Accused of Raids on Trust Funds for Group Homes

Protective Custody Hinders Rothstein Case

Scott Rothstein's attorney says it isn't easy seeing his client. The South Florida Ponzi king is in protective custody at an undisclosed location after helping prosecutors nab an alleged Sicilian Mafioso.

Marc Nurik, Rothstein's defense attorney and former partner, said he has to make special appointments with the U.S. Marshals Service to see Rothstein and can't get legal documents to him easily.

U.S. District Judge James Cohn noted inactivity in the case with sentencing set for May 6 and prompted attorneys on both sides Wednesday by setting an April 30 deadline to file sentencing memoranda. Nurik quickly responded with a request to delay sentencing, and the Fort Lauderdale judge reset it for June 9.

Others in the South Florida legal community warn against treating the date as a certainty for determining whether Rothstein will spend the rest of his life in prison for masterminding a $1.2 billion scam, the largest in Florida history.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has a lot riding on keeping Rothstein under wraps, attorneys say.

He knows where all the bodies are buried, whom he duped and who may have cooperated with him in bilking investors in his lawsuit settlement financing scheme.

Full Article and Source:
Rothstein Lawyer Says Protective Custody Hinders Case, Requests Sentencing Delay

Friday, April 30, 2010

Attorney Blunder or Attorney Incompetence?


Missing Aunt Helen

On March 3, 2001, my Aunt Helen Fabis, 87, was taken by ambulance to the Critical Care Unit of Memorial Community Hospital, Edgerton, profoundly confused, malnourished and in critical condition, and suffering form the effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

On March 8, 2001, Kathleen Simane, Aunt Helen's grandniece, was appointed her Temporary Guardian. In less than 54 days of Simane's tenure, Simane spent all of Aunt Helen's life savings (bank accounts, SS checks, proceeds from sale of stocks, cash), in excess of $75,000.

My Aunt died a pauper in a nursing home on April 30, 2001. Impoverished by Simane, Aunt Helen was waiting to apply for Medicaid and public assistance.

Simane used Aunt Helen's money for her personal extravagances: breast enlargement procedures, a brand new, fully loaded 2001 Chevy Suburban, her rent and utilities, training, food and supplies for her dogs. She left Aunt Helen penniless - not even enough funds for final arrangements and burial. No estate for the heirs. Rock County Probate Court took no action; the Temporary Guardianship was "closed" without any accounting or inventory.

July 20, 2006, Judge James P. Daley admonished Kathleen Simane: "The funds should have been used for her (Helen Fabis) benefit, but you used them for your benefit...You took money from someone who could not protect herself. You were supposed to protect her...We as a people will be judged by how we treat the least in our society and those who cannot help themselves."

Count One Theft By Bailee: Judge Daley sentenced Simane (shown below) to prison for two years, followed by eight years of extended supervision and, Count Two Theft By Bailee: Five years in prison, followed by 10 years extended supervision as a consecutive sentence. The judge stayed the second sentence in favor of 10 years probation. He ordered Simane to pay restitution: $78,289.81 (not the total amount stolen from my Aunt).

Criminal Case: 1) STATE OF WISCONSIN vs Kathleen A. Simane 2005CF000301;

Civil Cases: 2) Rock County Probate Case No. 01GN35 (closed no accounting/inventory);
3) Dane County Probate Case No. 2001PR1252 "open" assets: $00.00;
4) Dane County Case No.: 2002CV003962 Estate of Helen Fabis vs
William Skibbe;
5) Rock County Case No.: 2004CV000375 Estate vs Bank One/Kathleen Simane case "open"/bankruptcy;
6) US Bankruptcy Court District of MN Case No.: 4-37370 Petitioner: Kathleen Simane, "closed";
7) US Bankruptcy Court District of MN Adversarial Case No.: 5-3083 Estate vs Kathleen Simane, "open".

NASGA - Victims' Stories

See Also:
Great Escapes - "Woman Charged for Swindling Aunt"

Is Kathleen Simane Now Kathy Larson?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Urgent Call to Action - Free Danny Tate

Judge Randy Kennedy is refusing to award Michael G. Hoskins his attorney fees, or rule on Mr. Hoskins motion to award them. He is taking the postion that he doesn’t have to rule on them, effectively denying Mr. Hoskins his payment for the last 7 months. Although the attorney that David Tate hired to put his brother Danny Tate in conservatorship has been paid………..the attorney Danny hired to defend him is being denied his fees- How can that be right? It isn’t. I view it as a clever way for the judge to effectively starve him off the case.

I spent nearly two hours today on the phone with Michael G. Hoskins. He is a smart attorney, and I believe he is truly in Danny’s corner. But, he’s got to get paid. He would like to devote all of his energy to Danny’s case, because he is passionate about it. But we live in a real world, and the judge is making it difficult for him to be on the case.

If he leaves the case……….it is over for Danny. The judge will appoint an “adequate” attorney to his case, and you can draw your own conclusions.
Call to action- Please send a check to Michael G. Hoskins at 3200 West End Ave., Suite 500, Nashville, TN 37203. Make the check payable to: Tate Legal Defense Fund.

This is urgent, and this is serious. Send whatever you can. $10 to $10,000……….whatever you can afford, but we HAVE to keep this guy on the case. Yesterday, I blogged about the 10 things we could do to help Danny, and while those are important…….this has become urgent. I also announced the Awareness Concert taking place on Sunday, May 23rd at 12th and Porter in Nashville. Tickets sold to that event will also go directly to the Tate Legal Defense Fund, so please buy a ticket to that event-there are many who are watching this case from the United Kingdom and beyond, and have joined the “Friends for Danny Tate’s Defense” Facebook group.You can also support this cause by buying tickets for the Awareness concer-.even if you don’t plan on attending. It will be a donation for the cause. We accept paypal, and credit card payments. Buy your tickets now!

While Paul Housch bills Danny Tate’s estate for reading the Nashville Scene article that exposed what was going on with Danny’s case……….Danny’s attorney is denied his fees. It is now up to us to help out. Are you in?


See Also:
Facebook: Friends for Danny Tate's Defense

Hearing Set for Queener Case

A court battle continues over who is the best person to make decisions about 79-year-old Bob Queener's medical care, housing and day-to-day needs.

The dispute is primarily between Department of Human Services staff and Queener's relatives, who are upset that DHS recommended a judge give all authority over the Des Moines man's life to people who don't know him. Queener began showing signs of dementia last summer.

An article in The Des Moines Register recounted how DHS staff removed Queener from his home and a court-appointed conservator began to sell all his household goods, vehicles and mortgage-free home.

At a hearing Monday, an attorney for DHS said Queener's court-appointed temporary guardian, D. Thomas Smith, no longer wishes to be considered for the role of permanent guardian.

[Assistant Polk County Attorney] Ford said DHS is now looking for another suitable family member - other than Queener's niece, Cheri Jensen, who was his main caretaker until DHS intervened in December.

A hearing on who should be permanent guardian has been tentatively scheduled for June 1 or 2.

Full Article and Source:
Hearing on DM Man's Guardian is Set

Victim Left Out of Hearings in DHS Case

State laws give elderly Iowans a steadfast right to attend all their legal hearings, even if they have impaired mental capacity.

That makes it all the more striking that 79-year-old Bob Queener wasn't allowed at hearings regarding control over his care and property, advocates for the elderly say. An article in last Sunday's Des Moines Register recounted Queener's removal from his home in December without warning to his relatives.

Because of a quirk in Iowa law, though, families don't have the right to be notified before the state restricts their elderly relatives' civil rights in cases that involve the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Lori Duboys of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse said the Queener case illustrates issues she's seen in some state-ordered emergency or temporary guardianships across the country.

"We can tell you that is happening more and more these days," Duboys said. "The elderly are being treated like criminals, with this exception: Criminals are present at their trials."

Full Article and Source:
Man Left Out of Hearings in DHS Case

See Also:
When Should the State Step In?"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guardian Ignored Woman's Last Wish

Marie Meader made it known: When her time came, she wanted to be buried, not cremated.

The genial Omaha woman a retired nurse and teacher told her relatives she wanted to be in a cemetery where her loved ones could find her.

She even went to John A. Gentleman Mortuary and chose her casket, picked out flowers for her funeral and planned the services and burial at Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery. All she had to do was pay for it.

But Marie Meader never paid the bill. She soon slipped into dementia and, with no capable relatives nearby, a judge appointed Dinah Turrentine-Sims to watch over her.

As guardian and conservator, Turrentine-Sims was supposed to look after matters of Meader's health and wealth.

Those matters included prepaying for Meader's funeral something Meader's nieces repeatedly reminded Turrentine-Sims to do.

In turn, Turrentine-Sims reassured the nieces that she would take care of the mortuary bill.

She did not.

When Marie Meader died last month at age 90, her out-of-state nieces made a grim discovery: There was no money left in Meader's accounts, which once held at least $150,000.

And nothing had been paid to the mortuary.

Meader's nieces had little choice. They could try to pool $10,000 money they didn't have for their aunt's burial. Or they could have her cremated which would cost $2,000.

Marie Meader was cremated. A small group of relatives, most from out of state, celebrated her life at an Omaha church.

There was no burial at Evergreen, no fulfillment of her final wish.

It isn't the only duty Turrentine-Sims is accused of neglecting. Authorities now say more than $400,000 is unaccounted for in the estates of as many as eight wards a dollar amount that investigators say may climb.

Prosecutors have charged her with theft and with abuse of a vulnerable adult in two cases where the losses have totaled more than $250,000. They allege that Turrentine-Sims, 59, spent thousands of her wards' dollars at a Council Bluffs casino.

Her former wards and their families accuse Turrentine-Sims of something worse: stripping their loved ones of their dignity along with their dollars.

Full Article and Source:
Guardian Ignored Woman's Last Wish

See Also:
Nebraska's Supreme Court Chief Justice Calls for Safeguarding of State's Wards

Patient Advocate Suspended for Speaking Up

The decision by the Department of Health and Senior Services to suspend a social worker who wrote a letter protesting the closing of Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital is a troubling move. It’s bound to put a chill into anyone who works for the state and wants to point out a problem with administration policy. Susan Hollander Whitman, a consultant and geriatric-case manager for the Office of the Public Guardian, has been suspended from her duties while officials investigate whether she "appropriately or inappropriately represented herself as a member of the office."

In her letter last month to state Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Warren), Hollander Whitman said closing the hospital would disrupt the lives of the 19 elderly and incapacitated patients for whom she has guardianship. She wrote that she has been visiting the institution for six years "working closely with staff and patients to assure the best care for these adults."

"I can not in good conscience advocate for them to be moved around and have their stability disrupted," she wrote.

Doherty, whose district includes the hospital and who opposes closing it, read a portion of the letter at a budget committee hearing last week. That prompted the Department of Health and Senior Services to relieve Hollander Whitman of her duties pending a probe. Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner says Hollander Whitman’s patients have been temporarily reassigned.

In her letter, it seems clear Hollander Whitman was expressing her own view and concern as an advocate for her patients, as any good guardian should. She did not use official letterhead, and she identified herself as a guardian representative, not as someone speaking on behalf of the agency.

Department officials have not said what policy the social worker might have breached. In other words, they can’t say for sure if she even did anything wrong. That makes taking away her job — and the patients she was speaking up for — all the more unfortunate.

Full Article and Source:
Patient Advocate Suspended for Speaking Up

Editorial: When the Elderly Cannot Take Care of Themselves

The struggle between professionals and family members over what happens when a loved one loses the capacity to take care of himself was accurately described in Jennifer Jacobs' article about Bob Queener, "When Should the State Step In?" (April 18 Des Moines Sunday Register). The problem with the article, however, is that while it accurately described one case, it does not give a proper overview of the workings of the system used to help incapacitated citizens.

First, let me say that while I have no inside knowledge of the Queener case, I do, as a regular part of my practice, represent people - usually through court appointment - who are the subject of an inquiry by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and know personally many of the individuals involved in that case. To understand how these cases are handled, a short overview of the procedure is in order.

Full Editorial and Source:
When the Elderly Can't Take Care of Themselves

See Also:
When Should the State Step In?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Danny Tate Benefit/Awareness Concert Scheduled!

Billy Block is happy to confirm Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 12th & Porter for the Danny Tate Benefit/Awareness Concert.

Thanks to everyone at 12 & P for the support.

Kevin Montgomery and CeCe DuBois will be spearheading this effort. Looking forward to seeing who steps up to play!

Music is Power!

Facebook: Friends for Danny Tate's Defense

Florida Lawmakes Move to Enhance APS

A little-noticed bill would enable the Florida Department of Children and Families for the first time to ask a court to decide whether a mentally or physically impaired adult needs a guardian.

Supporters say the legislation will remove a roadblock that stalls or blocks state services designed to protect vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect. The House passed the bill unanimously Wednesday; a Senate vote is expected this week.

The bill was filed in September, five months before the death of a Fernandina Beach woman with a long history of mental-health problems and department investigations.

Hunter's death has gained statewide attention as a symbol of what several experts say are gaps in the mental-health care system. Hunter had been admitted to hospital emergency rooms more than 60 times, undergoing several psychiatric evaluations along the way, during the last two years of her life without getting the help she needed, they say.

Reaction to the bill has been mixed.

A former insider at the agency's Northeast Florida office calls the bill a "classic example of Legislature appearing to do something without dealing with fundamental core issues." The bill makes it easier for the state to place a vulnerable adult into guardianship, but it doesn't address the shortage of guardians, said Gene Costlow, who retired from his human services program director position in March after 37 years with the agency.

Full Article and Source:
Florida Lawmakers Move to Enhance Adult Protection in the Wake of Sarah Hunter's Death

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wisconsin Passes Power of Attorney Act

The Wisconsin Legislature has passed a new power of attorney act, which now awaits the governor’s signature.

The Uniform Power of Attorney for Finances and Property Act [Assembly Bill 704 (2009), hereinafter AB 704] will replace Wisconsin’s current statute, including the statutory form.

Sections 243.07 and 243.10 of the Wisconsin Statutes will be replaced with a new chapter 244. The Act is intended to provide greater protection for persons who wish to use durable powers of attorney and more detailed guidance for agents, as well as guidance and protection for third parties who are asked to accept powers of attorney.

The Act consists of two subchapters. Subchapter II contains the optional statutory form and miscellaneous provisions dealing with the Act’s general application and repeal of certain prior law.

Subchapter I includes definitions and general rules. Of particular note is the definition of “incapacity,” found at section 244.02(7), which replaces the term “disability” used in current law. AB 704, at 6. The Act’s definition of “incapacity” is consistent with the standard for appointment of a guardian under Wis. Stat. chapter 154.

Another significant change is the default rule in section 244.04 that makes a power of attorney durable unless the document provides otherwise. AB 704, at 8. This change from current law reflects the view that most principals prefer their powers of attorney to be durable as a hedge against the need for guardianship.

Full Article and Source:
Power of Attorney Act Awaiting Governor's Signature

Lawyer Sentenced to 30 Years

Troy A. Titus, 43, of Virginia Beach, Va., was sentenced to 30 years in prison for operating multiple fraud schemes to steal and misappropriate almost $10 million from clients and investors.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and A.J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the Norfolk Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Raymond A. Jackson.

“People trusted Troy Titus as an advisor and lawyer, and he swindled dozens of victims out of millions,” U.S. Attorney MacBride said. “We hope this 30-year sentence will send a clear message that those who engage in financial fraud will face severe consequences.

Full Article and Source:
Virginia Lawyer Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Massive Real Estate Investment Scam

See Also:
Disbarred, Disgraced, and Going to Federal Prison for 30 Years

Man Eggs Judge

A Naperville father recently released from jail after firing a raw egg at a domestic relations judge has been indicted on charges of damaging property in the judge's courtroom.

A DuPage County grand jury indicted Agim Demiri on three felony charges of criminal damage to government property and criminal damage to property.

He spent a week in DuPage County Jail in Wheaton for contempt of court beginning March 24, after launching an egg at Judge Timothy J. McJoynt. The incident occurred during a hearing on Demiri's failure to make court-ordered child support payments as part of his divorce.

The egg missed McJoynt and splattered against a state of Illinois emblem on the wall behind the judge's dais. Another egg was found in the courtroom near the place where Demiri had been sitting.

No one was injured in the incident. McJoynt declined to file battery charges against Demiri.

Full Article and Source:
Man Indicted for Hurling Egg at Judge

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lawyer Finds Unusual Pool of Clients - Victims of Probate Court

Just about everybody who came into contact with Edward Ravenscroft in 2008 concluded that he needed some serious help.

Thanks to a bad crack habit, Ravenscroft, then 47, had burned through more than $1 million in two short years — with little to show for it. As an heir to the Abbott Laboratories fortune, Ravenscroft was rich, but he was spending his money way too quickly, and stupidly.

In court papers, Ravenscroft admitted that, in addition to his drug problem, he was mentally ill. His defense lawyer wrote that Ravenscroft described himself as bipolar and obsessive-compulsive. Three different doctors agreed. So did the court-appointed psychiatrist who examined him in jail.

That diagnosis may have made all the difference. Under a program launched by the county's presiding judge, criminal defendants with mental illness end up in a special court to assess their competency, and then, if need be, referred to probate court for help. Probate court deals with people who are legally incapacitated: anyone who can't take care of themselves or manage their finances because of mental illness, old age, or disability.

Sent to probate in January 2009, Ravenscroft was assigned a guardian ad litem to fight for his best interests, even if Ravenscroft had no idea what they were. (In this case, that entailed helping Ravenscroft get well enough to check into rehab.) As Ravenscroft's case progressed and he continued to spiral out of control, he also got a guardian (to take care of him), a conservator (to watch over his money), and a lawyer (to express his desires in court).

And then, slowly, Edward Ravenscroft got better.

Today, he's been sober eight months. He takes his medication and is preparing to live on his own. He'd been in probate for a little over a year when Probate Court Judge Karen O'Connor terminated his guardianship last month. He is, she said, capable of taking care of himself.

Sounds like a happy ending, right?

Not if you're Grant Goodman. The Phoenix-based attorney is convinced that the whole thing was a scam to steal Ravenscroft's money.

Full Article and Source:
In Debt and Under Fire, Attorney Grant Goodman Has Found an Unusual Pool of Clients: the 'Victims' of Probate Court

See Also:
Ravenscroft Denied Freedom

Victim Sues Sonoma County, CA

Despite the solid foundation of their relationship and all the legal documents they filed to prevent tragedy, Sonoma County officials took everything from a longtime gay couple Clay Greene and Harold Scull, including their chance to say goodbye before Scull died.

In 2008, Scull, 88, fell down the stairs and was taken to the hospital. While he was admitted, Sonoma County officials logged their belongings and petitioned the court for conservatorship of the couple's estate. Despite being granted only limited powers, the County arranged for the sale of the men’s personal property, cleaned out their home, terminated their lease, confiscated their truck, and eventually disposed of all of the men’s worldly possessions, including family heirlooms, at a fraction of their value and without any proper inventory or determination of whose property was being sold.

They also moved Greene, 78, into a nursing home and confined him against his will, not permitting him to see his partner. Three months after he was taken to the hospital, Scull died, without having seen Greene.

Green is suing the county and a trial date has been set for July 16, 2010.

Elderly Couple Not Allowed to Say Goodbye, All Possessions Sold

See Also:
Read the Lawsuit

CA Nursing Homes Cut Staff/Wages, Reap Profits

California's nursing homes have reaped $880 million in additional funding from a 2004 state law designed to help them hire more caregivers and boost wages.

But about a quarter of the state's homes flouted the law's purpose. They cut staff or slashed wages, while padding their bottom lines, a California Watch investigation has found.

The 232 homes that made those cuts — including 20 in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties — collected about $236 million through 2008, the last year of available data. And the law that made it all possible included few safeguards to ensure it was spent as intended.

About two dozen homes that made the deepest caregiver cuts had about a third more deficiencies than other state facilities, California Watch found. Violations ranged from neglecting bedsores to giving patients the wrong drugs.

Overall, regulators documented nearly 1,000 deficiencies for inadequate care in California nursing homes in 2008 — a 65 percent increase compared with 2005.

"There was an implicit good faith agreement that things would get better "... and that was broken," said state Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee.

But James Gomez, chief executive of the state's nursing home trade organization, said the 2004 law has led to a 6 percent increase in average staffing for nursing homes.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Homes Received Millions from California Taxpayers While Cutting Staff, Services

Class Action Lawsuit Against Nursing Home Chain

Skilled Healthcare Group Inc., the 10th largest nursing home chain in 2009, is involved in a class-action lawsuit currently unfolding in California, which claims that they have put elderly residents at risk and skirted state law by skimping on staff to make more money.

The class-action case includes more than 32,000 nursing home residents, who claim that staffing problems have plagued homes operated by Skilled Healthcare Group Inc. The plaintiffs argue that understaffing is one of the primary causes of inadequate care and often unsafe conditions in skilled nursing homes. They hope to collect a multimillion-dollar judgment and improve care.

Plaintiffs contend that the California nursing homes were out of compliance for thousands of days over the six-year period covered by the lawsuit, and penalties can be up to $500 per resident for each day the law was violated.

California Health and Safety Code requires that nursing homes provide at least 3.2 nursing hours per resident per day, which includes care by registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and certified nursing assistants.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Chain Involved in Staffing Class Action Lawsuit