Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fight Against Elder Abuse

"Fight Against Elder Abuse"
at the movies, May 28 - June 24

Aging and Disability in America

Charges Filed in Confinement Case

Madison County Prosecutor Thomas Broderick, Jr., filed nine felony counts Thursday morning against the three individuals accused of confining and abusing 65-year-old Anna Turner and stealing her social security checks and medications.

The charges include criminal confinement, theft, battery resulting in serious bodily injury, exploitation of an endangered adult, financial exploitation of an endangered adult, obtaining prescription by fraud, and possession of a controlled substance.

The Anderson Police Department was alerted to Turner’s situation thanks to a tip Adult Protective Service Director Tom Brown received. Officer Freddie Tevis went to the residence where he is reported to have found Turner locked in a small utility room.

All three individuals made an appearance by video before a judge, where not-guilty pleas were entered. Bonds were set at $100,000 each, full cash.

No further court dates have been set.

Full Article and Source:
Charges Filed in Anderson Confinement Case

See Also:
Woman Held Captive for Months

Friday, June 4, 2010

End of Life 'Compassionate Care'

MODERN MEDICINE is amazing. We live in an age when lifesaving organs can be transplanted, when intricate surgeries can be performed through an incision the size of a pinprick, when an implanted manmade device can do the body's work. In short, we live in an age when medical marvels can and do occur.

But the unprecedented science and technology available to us today cannot change one fact of life: There comes a time when death is inevitable. Science may be able to force air into a dying person's lungs or pump nutrients into the digestive system. In short, science can prolong the dying process. But is that really what we want from our health care system?

That's a dilemma that is playing out in a New Jersey appellate court, where judges are being asked to determine whether physicians should be compelled to artificially sustain a dying person's life. The legal drama stems from a case at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth where a team of physicians spent more than a year treating an unresponsive patient who was in a permanent vegetative state with multiple organ failure.

The patient could not breathe on his own, eat on his own or respond to outside stimuli. He was being kept alive purely through science. Five different physicians agreed that there was no hope for his condition to improve and that the requested treatment — kidney dialysis — would not change that outcome. But the patient had not stated his end-of-life preferences ahead of time, and his family ordered the life-sustaining treatments to continue indefinitely.

Full Article and Source;
N.J. Court Has Chance to Influence Compassionate End-of-Life Care

Ex-Disabilities CEO Gets Two Years

Ernest Beal knew it wasn’t his calling.

But taking the reins of Your Friends and Neighbors, a company that runs group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, was what his mother wanted before she died, he told an Allen Superior Court judge Friday.

Reluctantly, he headed the company as its chief executive officer per his mother’s dying wish nearly 20 years ago and never intended to harm anyone, he said.

Beal, 57, was sentenced to two years in prison for raiding his clients’ trust fund accounts to help his company make payroll, which included a pair of $300,000 annual salaries for him and his ex-wife. Charged with felony theft last year, Beal was convicted by a jury in April.

The trust funds of Your Friends and Neighbors clients hold money from their Social Security checks, paychecks and other income and are meant to pay for the expenses and care of residents. Over a 3 1/2 -year period, Beal “borrowed” from those accounts multiple times.

Beal testified that the money in the trust funds belonged to Your Friends and Neighbors and not the clients and that he planned to pay the money back with interest. Prosecutors acknowledged he eventually did that, but no payments were made until he was charged with theft last June.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Disabilities CEO Gets 2 Years for Theft

Thursday, June 3, 2010

TX Senate Notice of Public Hearing

COMMITTEE: Jurisprudence

TIME & DATE: 1:00 PM, Thursday, June 24, 2010

PLACE: E1.016 (Hearing Room)

CHAIR: Senator Jeff Wentworth

The Senate Jurisprudence Committee will hold a public meeting to discuss the following interim committee charge:

Charge 2) Study the guardianship program implemented by the Department of Aging and Disabilities and the Department of Adult Protective Services, including the efficiency and effectiveness of the program, the relationship between the two agencies, the appropriate rights for parents, and whether clients and their assets are adequately protected.

Senate Special Hearing

Disbarred Atty & Former Office Manager Arrested and Charged

A disbarred Venice attorney and his former office manager were arrested and charged with stealing nearly $1 million from the estate of a North Port woman.

Venice police arrested Raymond Miller, 66, Tuesday and charged him with grand theft for transferring about $941,000 from the estate of Beila Millet into his law firm and personal accounts beginning in 2007.

Miller's office manager, Kathryn Kelley, 52, who worked at Miller's probate and estate law office in the 200 block of Harbor Drive for 30 years, was also charged with grand theft for making many of the transfers, including bonus money to herself, according to the police report.

Beginning in 2007, Miller, as trustee, took control of about $1million from Beila Millet's estate and disbursed about $122,000 to her heirs, according to the report.

But when Millet's stepdaughter, Ann Wacholder, called Miller last year to find out about the remaining $941,000 -- much of which was supposed to go to charities in Israel -- she learned that Miller had been disbarred for mishandling estate funds.

Full Article and Source:
2 Accused in $941,000 Grand Theft

NJ Lawyer Charged With Taking Client's Money

A Bergenfield lawyer was arrested on charges he used funds from a trust account for his own benefit.

Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said that Eugene N. Cavallo, 60, of Clyde Court, was charged on May 17 following an an investigation by members of the prosecutor’s office White Collar Crime Unit.

Molinelli said that members of that unit had received information from the New Jersey Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection that a victim had filed a claim on Jan. 30, 2009, that Cavallo, while acting as the victim’s attorney, had taken approximately $456,793.67 from an attorney trust account that Cavallo had designated for the victim’s funds, and had used those funds for his own benefit.

Full Article and Source:
Bergenfield Lawyer Accused of Taking Client’s Money

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Press Release - Danny Tate Case

3 P.M. CST, May 31, 2010

Contact: Wendy Dyes
Phone: (615) 715-0913

Musician Danny Tate freed from conservatorship, assets still targeted in Nashville probate court

Nashville, TN, May 31 2010: Davidson County (TN) Circuit Court Judge Randy Kennedy’s ruled May 24th that the Nashville musician Danny Tate was free from a conservatorship for the first time in nearly three years and has the ability to control his assets, enter into contracts and even accept or reject medical treatment. The courtroom was full of supporters from around, but Tate’s victory may be short-lived, perhaps even premature to call, based upon court documents filed in recent days by attorney Paul T. Housch on behalf of himself and Tate’s brother David, the now former conservator.

Probate abuse is often perpetrated through the use of legal instruments such as wills, trusts, guardianships (called conservatorships in some states) or powers of attorney. Many observers view the Tate conservatorship case as a prime example of this abuse which, in its most extreme form, is a hijacking of a person’s personal freedom and property rights.

Danny Tate’s assets once exceeded $600,000, but have largely been depleted during the conservatorship. Michael Hoskins, Danny Tate’s attorney, told the Associated Press that he plans to fight attempts to sell the songwriter’s house in order to pay legal fees. Tate’s royalty payments were set up as targeted funds at the May 24 hearing when attorney Housch informed the judge that “as far as expenses, court reporter, things of that nature, there’s going to be a lack of funds, cash funds right now, to pay those. There are BMI funds available, coming in June.” Based on recent court filings, these assets along with others are now being sought by David Tate and Housch as part of “winding down” the conservatorship they initiated against Danny Tate.

Full Press Release:
NASGA Victims' Profile: Danny Tate

See Also:
Free Danny Tate

Facebook: Friends for Danny Tate's Defense

Former Caregiver Gets Life in Prison for Torture

A former caregiver convicted of torturing, taunting and body-slamming frail and elderly patients at an upscale California retirement home was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.

Cesar Ulloa, 21, was convicted in April of one count of torture and seven counts of elder abuse. He was sentenced in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Van Nuys to life on the torture conviction and six additional years for the elder abuse.

"I wish you suffer forever," Rita Kittower, 86, told Ulloa before sentencing. She condemned him as a "cruel, evil caretaker" who inflicted "sadistic animal-like torture" on her late husband.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Worker Sentenced to Life for Torture, Abuse

Former Nursing Home CEO Sentenced to Prison

The former CEO of a Milwaukee nursing home who stole from her nursing home while patients were neglected is going to prison for tax evasion. The CEO is alleged to have stolen over $1 million from her nursing home while patients were denied baths and clean sheets and one resident jumped to his death after the staff ignored his threats of suicide.

Karen Mason was the CEO of Havenwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Milwaukee. The facility was closed in 2005 after a state raid that uncovered severe neglect. While the patients suffered, authorities say that Mason stole more than $1 million and used the money to buy furniture, jewelry, new cars, and concert and sporting event tickets. She also spent money on vacations, wedding and honeymoon expenses, and payments to her yacht club.

In 2008, Mason pleaded guilty to theft and abuse of patients and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay back more than $80,000 to the nursing home. In this separate tax evasion case, Mason was found to have collected more than $600,000 in income in 2004 without filing a tax return. She was sentenced to two years in prison.

Full Article and Source:
Former Nursing Home CEO Sentenced to Prison

Elderly Woman Held Captive for Months

Luigi Amalfitano offered 65-year-old dementia sufferer Anna Turner a place to stay and a tender hand when she was close to losing her home.

Instead, Madison County prosecutors said, Amalfitano forced her to live in a locked supply closet, 8 feet by 8 feet, that one police officer said was "barely fit to contain an animal, let alone a human being."

Malnourished and beaten, Turner was discovered in a 105-degree supply closet in Amalfitano's Anderson home, where she had been held captive for several months, police said.

Prosecutor Thomas Broderick Jr., who is expected to file formal charges next week, called the situation an "unbelievable inhuman treatment of an individual who could not help themselves."

Amalfitano, 45, his son, Louis, 20, and Louis' girlfriend, Stephanie L. Cole, 21, were charged preliminarily with felony confinement and exploitation of an endangered adult. Amalfitano and his son also were charged with battery. All were being held on a $100,000 bond at the Madison County Jail. Turner was admitted to St. John's Medical Center.

Full Article and Source:
Police, Elderly Woman Held Captive for Months

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Atty Paul Housch Wants Lien on Danny Tate's House!

Nashville songwriter Danny Tate may have a lien placed on his house to pay outstanding legal bills in a three-year battle to free himself from a conservatorship.

Tate had been under the conservatorship since 2007.

Danny Tate's brother David had been appointed his conservator in 2007, after David Tate alleged Danny was blowing all his money on cocaine.

For the next three years, Danny Tate paid not only his own legal fees but his brother’s legal fees. The total amount, as estimated by Danny Tate’s lawyer Michael Hoskins, was about $200,000.

Hoskins said Danny Tate is down to his last $10,000.

Paul Housch, the attorney who represented the songwriter’s brother David, filed a motion in court a few days after the hearing asking for a final payment of $25,000 for his legal fees, plus another $11,000 in expert witness and court reporter fees.

Housch is asking Judge Randy Kennedy to put a lien on Danny Tate's house in West Meade to ensure his bill is paid.

Housch is also asking for the balance of Danny Tate’s retirements account, about $7,000, as well as Tate’s quarterly royalty checks from BMI, about $23,000.

Hoskins said now that the conservatorship is dissolved, Danny Tate should get all his money back, then set up a payment plan for the outstanding legal fees. Hoskins says Danny Tate may have to file bankruptcy. He said he wants the judge to say no to the lien on Tate’s home.

"It doesn't make sense to legitimize taking somebody from $650,000 in capital and reducing them to homeless in the street and saying that's in the best interest of the ward," Hoskins said.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Lawyer Wants Lien on Songwriter's House

See Also:
Free Danny Tate!!!

Facebook: Friends for Danny Tate's Defense

Edward Abbot Ravenscroft Wins Some Say

After months of trying, a Scottsdale millionaire has at long last been given some say-so in who controls his money.

It was left to a non-probate judge to finally listen to Edward Abbott Ravenscroft and to remove the Sun Valley Group as his conservator. Sun Valley fought to the end to retain control of Ravenscroft's finances and for good reason.

Sun Valley now can no longer control whether Ravenscroft can sue the company, its attorneys and other lawyers who operate within the cozy confines of probate court – the ones who have pocketed at least a quarter of a million dollars of his money. Instead, that power now transfers to Ravenscroft's new conservator, Jane Anne Geisler of Managed Protective Services.

“This is like a miracle …,” Ravenscroft told me. “Now I can breathe. Now I can start working with Jane Anne Geisler and get on with my life.”

Ravenscroft, 49, came under the watchful eye of probate in January 2009 after a series of drug arrests raised questions about his mental health and his vulnerability, given the size of his bank account. But he's been clean for nine months and since then has been trying to regain control over his life and his bankbook. A court-appointed guardian bowed out in March while Sun Valley continued on, based on a court-appointed psychiatrist's finding that he still needs help managing his money.

But this week, that psychiatrist, Dr. Jack Potts, testified that Sun Valley should be removed, both because Ravenscroft wants someone else to handle his money and because little progress has been made toward moving him to financial independence.

Judge Hugh Hegyi bounced the company, saying that while there was no evidence of impropriety, Ravenscroft's relationship with Sun Valley “is hindering his transition to financial independence.”

Hegyi also voided attorney Grant Goodman's contract with Ravenscroft, presumably invalidating his racketeering lawsuit against Sun Valley and Ravenscroft's other former probate protectors. Goodman filed a series of lawsuits earlier this spring on behalf of Ravenscroft and several other wards of the court, accusing various lawyers and fiduciaries of working together to squeeze their vulnerable clients while probate judges looked on and did, well, nothing.

Hegyi ruled that Goodman had no authority to file a lawsuit on behalf of Ravenscroft because he's “incapacitated”. The power to sue, he said, rests only with the judge or the conservator.

Which was Sun Valley, until this week.

Full Article and Source:
Millionnaire Wins Some Say in Who Controls His Money

See Also:
Progress in the Edward Abbot Ravenscroft Case

Non-Lawyers Added to Arizona Probate Panel

The judge overseeing a judicial task force to assess Probate Court procedures and oversight says it was a mistake not to include members of the public whose lives have been impacted by the system.

Chief Arizona Appeals Court Judge Ann Timmer said that she will recommend adding two people with firsthand experiences of the court's assuming control of a relative's care and finances.

"It is a missing link," Timmer said at the end of the task force's first meeting. "It also struck me that we do not have . . . a public member. We need to have them."

Her comments came as a small group of self-described Probate Court victims protested outside the Arizona Supreme Court building. They said the task force is made up of a "chummy" circle of 19 judges, lawyers, fiduciaries and state administrators with no stake in reforms.

"Nobody was angry in there. Nobody was offended in there. Nobody has a personal issue in there," said Patti Gomes, a Scottsdale resident who contends that her mother's estate was drained in less than seven months by court-appointed fiduciaries and lawyers. "I am enraged at what is going on in the Probate Court."

Full Article and Source:
Judge: Add 2 Laymen to Probate Panel

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Free Danny Tate

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

Family Upset With Care of Elderly Aunt

The family of a 94-year-old woman kept vigil this week at her bedside in an Orland Park nursing home, protesting strong pain medication being administered to her that they believe is slowly killing their beloved aunt.

They've picketed outside the Brighton Gardens Assisted Living Community to bring attention to the end-of-life care they say Lydia Tyler's court-appointed guardian has initiated without their input.

"It's just wrong," said Tyler's niece, Mary Sue Richards. "We're watching it play out and we're totally helpless."

But others say the story of Tyler is centered on a family spat over her estate that may, or may not, be worth a lot of money.

For the past year, Tyler has been watched over by a court-appointed guardian, Pamela Chwala, a registered nurse who is not a family member. Tyler has been at Brighton Gardens since January 2007 and previously lived at a nursing home in Burr Ridge.

Full Article and Source:
Family Members Upset With Care of Elderly Aunt

Former Lawyer Indicted for Fraud

Mingo County lawyer has been indicted in federal court on charges of defrauding West Virginia Public Defender Services.

William Duty, Jr., a self-employed attorney in Williamson, faces charges of submitting payment vouchers for services he did not perform.

Duty was appointed, at various times, to represent indigent clients in criminal procedures in Mingo County Circuit Court. The procedure for payment for these legal services was that Duty would obtain a payment voucher, signed by the Circuit Judge, verifying the amounts owed and the services rendered for the various clients. These vouchers were submitted to the West Virginia Public Defender Services for payment.

[F]rom June 2005 until December 2007, Duty allegedly altered signed payment vouchers with false names and other false information.

Full Article and Source:
Former Lawyer Indicted for Fraud

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lawyer Disbarred Over Trust Fund Theft

A Bartlett lawyer suspended in March after he was charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a children's trust fund now has been disbarred.

James M. Hoots was arrested in February.

He was charged with felony theft of property for allegedly stealing some $76,000 and gambling it away at the Tunica casinos.

The Tennessee Supreme Court announced Tuesday that Hoots has consented to disbarment because he cannot successfully defend himself on a complaint of misappropriation of funds.

Hoots, 56, admitted to the administrator of the children's estate that he had taken the money and that he had a gambling problem, according to an affidavit.

"I took the children's money and took it to Tunica to try to make more money," administrator Lana Scott said Hoots had told her in November.

Full Article and Source:
Memphis Lawyer Disbarred Over Children's Trust Fund Theft

Guardianized for Hoarding?

A Cook County Circuit Court judge gave Chicago officials the green light to begin cleanup of a South Shore two-flat where a reclusive elderly couple were rescued this week from under mounds of debris.

Thelma and Jesse Gaston may have been trapped for as long as two weeks — the last time they were seen, authorities said.

Judith Frydland, acting deputy counsel for the city, estimated the cleanup of the yard, home and garage in the 1500 block of East 69th Street could take about 10 days. Judge James McGing authorized the Cook County Public Guardian's Office to investigate whether the county should take guardianship of the Gastons, who are in their 70s.

City Gets OK to Clean Up Hoarding Couple's Home

Elderly to Outnumber Children Within Ten Years

The US Census Bureau, the fine folks that write you a letter every ten years asking how many toilets you have, have now released a study stating that within the next decade, people over the age of 65 will outnumber children under 5 for the first time in history. Unlike the toilet thing, this is pretty serious, with quite a few ramifications.

It forecasts that over the next 30 years the number of over-65s is expected to almost double, from 506 million in 2008 to 1.3 billion – a leap from 7% of the world's population to 14%. Already, the number of people in the world 65 and over is increasing at an average of 870,000 each month.

Full Article and Source:
Elderly to Outnumber Children Within Ten Years