Saturday, September 18, 2010

OH: 3 Other County Judges Under Investigation

Three other county judges are coming under scrutiny after they were mentioned in the bombshell federal indictments announced that accused County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and two Common Pleas Court judges of corrupt activity.

One is the brother of former county Auditor Frank Russo, who pleaded guilty to 21 corruption charges. County Probate Court Judge Anthony Russo has not been charged but fits the description of Public Official 11, described in the indictment of Dimora.

Then there's county Domestic Relations Judge Cheryl Karner. She isn't named in the indictment, but the description of Public Official 8 matches her description.

The federal indictment also involves an unidentified Common Pleas Court judge. Prosecutors said Dimora used his influence on the judge to arrange a meeting involving a halfway house that's been linked to bribes and a trip to Las Vegas that Dimora went on in April 2008.

Judge Steven Terry was charged with judicial corruption after being accused of accepting bribes and political help from Russo, in return for helping Russo's friend in a civil case.

And Judge Bridget McCafferty was accused of lying to FBI agents about her secret dealings on court cases with Frank Russo and Dimora.

Full Article and Source:
Investigator: Three More Cuyahoga County Judges Show Up in Indictments

OH: Judge Anthony Russo Denies Wrongdoing

Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo is accused of helping an employee get a second job in exchange for the worker hosting a campaign fundraiser for the auditor's brother, Judge Anthony Russo, who now oversees the Cleveland Metroparks system.

Cuyahoga County Probate Court Judge Anthony Russo responds to questions about the indictment of his brother, recently resigned Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo.
Jerry Skuhrovec helped raise $8,200 for the judge's 2008 campaign and also paid unspecified bribes to the auditor for help in landing an appraiser's job with the Sheriff's Office, according to new charges released by federal prosecutors.

Anthony Russo went on to win his bid to become presiding judge of the Cuyahoga County Probate Court, an especially powerful position responsible for the appointment of the three Metroparks commissioners.

[T]he judge denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime. "There were no accusations against me," said Russo.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Anthony Russo Benefited From Brother Frank's Misdeeds, Feds Say

CA: The Heat's on Public Guardian John Williams

The heat continues to be turned up on Public Administrator/Guardian John Williams in the wake of his involvement in the controversial firing of Senior Deputy District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

As Voice of OC reported Tuesday, the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations sent a letter to Attorney General Jerry Brown calling for an investigation the into Williams' role in the firing and his handling of an elder abuse case that Spitzer had inquired about.

The letter also linked the current imbroglio to grand jury investigations last year that were critical of how Williams handled his budgets.

Williams responded with a letter to Brown's office that provided more details regarding Spitzer's behavior and stated that the law enforcement group is misleading the public by trying to provide a "nexus" between his handling of an elder abuse case and the grand jury investigations.

"I don't see any correlation between our current elder abuse investigation and this department's human resources/personnel and budget practices other than like most public entities in California, including the Attorney General's Office I'm sure, we are understaffed and underfunded," Williams wrote.

Full Article and Source:
Spotlight Remains on Public Administrator/Guardian

Friday, September 17, 2010

TX: Families Lose Estates in Guardianship Battles

When Doris Preston died, the former schoolteacher left behind a small estate, no will and a single heir: her adopted son, Deartis, a mentally disabled 52-year-old she’d raised in her Denton home.

Doris’ close-knit siblings say they rallied around their nephew like they had for a lifetime, bringing him to Bay City to live with the family and using part of the inheritance to purchase a house for him two blocks away. But when they went to probate court to iron out the details of the estate, their plans disintegrated.

A Denton County probate judge determined Deartis needed a court-appointed guardian and attorney to advocate for his interests. Those appointees argued that the money left in the names of Doris’ siblings should rightfully belong to Deartis, and that her siblings were making poor financial decisions on his behalf.

In the five years of legal wrangling since Doris’ death, the court has approved payments of nearly $450,000 to these appointed officials, private attorneys for the family say, depleting the amount of money left to care for Deartis.

“We went innocently into probate court so we could go on and take care of the family,” says Michael Preston, Doris’ brother. “Instead, we got the most corrupt thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Full Article and Source:
Families Lose Estates in Guardianship Battles

Families Lose Guardianship in Secret Hearings

Frank and Chila Covington could hardly be mistaken for cruel. They cared for their disabled daughter at home in an era when many parents turned to institutions — showering Ceci, who has Down syndrome, with love, affection and opportunity. After her brother and cousins went off to college, they enabled Ceci to "graduate" in her own way: They found her a group home with two other young women.

But when the Covingtons argued with a group home provider who insisted that Ceci needed psychotropic medication, they lost their daughter entirely. After the provider accused the Covingtons of “cruelty,” a Tarrant County judge called a secret hearing and removed the parents’ guardianship, barring them from seeing the child they’d spent four decades raising.

“Ex parte,” or emergency, removal hearings have been legal in Texas guardianship cases for nearly two decades. They're designed to rescue incapacitated people in immediate danger. But in some courts around the state, advocates say, they’re being used to remedy even routine disagreements, effectively denying parents, adult children or other guardians the chance to defend themselves before their loved ones are seized.

Probate judges and court-appointed attorneys contend that they must protect those who can’t protect themselves, and that some cases demand drastic and immediate action. They say guardians who are removed can appeal and get reinstated if they’ve been wronged. “The Legislature has said we’re out here to protect the individual, not to protect the guardian,” says Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman, the presiding probate judge in Texas. “What you have going on here is people who have done something wrong coming down to the Legislature, going to the newspaper, instead of trying their case in a court of law. In essence, they’re trying to intimidate judges.”

The Covingtons never got their day in court. On July 13, 2009, they were notified that there had been an ex parte hearing in a Tarrant County courtroom and that, as a result, they were no longer Ceci’s guardians. For nearly two months, the Covingtons were kept away from her — unable to even speak to her on the phone. They frantically studied Texas’ complex probate code and called attorney after attorney trying to find someone to help them. They begged Ceci’s “advocates” — the attorney and guardian the judge had appointed to protect her — to let them see their daughter for one hour a week, and to bring her home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. On these visits, the Covingtons say, Ceci was often so drugged she could hardly stay awake.

Every conversation, every call to the court, added to the Covingtons’ legal bills, which have now surpassed $55,000.

The Covingtons aren’t the only ones fighting this battle. Across North Texas — and Tarrant and Denton counties in particular — families who have lost guardianship rights under similar circumstances have mobilized, reaching out to the media and demanding action from lawmakers. Debby Valdez, a San Antonio mom who runs an organization called GRADE (Guardianship Reform Advocates for the Disabled and Elderly), says the common thread among these cases is that families advocated aggressively for their relatives, and care providers used guardianship removal proceedings to retaliate.

“The bottom line is that constitutional rights are being trampled,” says Valdez, who has an autistic child and fears her own family could face such a nightmare someday. “This decision is made that the guardians suddenly aren’t suitable — they don’t qualify. And families aren’t getting the opportunity to defend themselves.”

Full Article and Source:
Families Lose Guardianship in Secret Hearings

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fiance's Concerns of Abuse and Neglect Ignored

David Rector has been my friend for over 25 years.

And now he's dying in a dump in San Diego, lying in his own filth, neglected and abused in a so-called health care facility.

18 months ago, David suffered an aortic dissection and stroke. It left him brain damaged and briefly in a coma. At first he received excellent care. His fiancee Roz -- who has been by his side constantly, from the moment of the attack in their home, through all the initial surgery and rehab -- kept me updated regularly. He was treated at UCSMDC (University of California San Diego Medical Center). Then he was moved to a Long-Term Acute Care Facility called Kindred, where he also -- initially -- received excellent care. His trach was eventually removed, and he started, slowly, to regain function.

But then David's cousin stepped in. Said cousin suddenly decided he didn't want Roz in the picture anymore. Roz is "just" the love of David's life. She isn't a blood relative. And in the infinite wisdom of our legal system, blood is thicker than water, and Roz is water. [T]hough Roz offered repeatedly to fly him out to San Diego on her own dime, he has never taken her up on her offer. In fact, he's done worse: he's tried to get her legally barred from even visiting David, let alone make any medical decisions for him.

Roz continues to spend every day with him, cleaning him up, especially around his colostomy bag, which she's not allowed to change, even when it's overflowing, communicating with him -- orally as well as in writing, on a chalkboard -- doing all the things the staff refuses to do. She has been spending gobs of money trying to fight this in the courts, she has contacted every legal, policy, and advocacy organization out there, every elected official, every everyone who might possibly be able to help, and has been stymied at every turn by the legal system.

David has since been moved to "Care With Dignity." The photographs Roz has been sending me all along have changed from images of progress and hope to images of filth and despair. Anything Roz has brought in to help David has been stolen. Radios, TVs, CD player, iPod, headphones, earbuds, computer with language-assisting software, you name it. David gets no rehabilitation anymore. The progress he made early on is rapidly eroding. He's being neglected and abused, just like hundreds of thousands of other patients in similar hellholes around the country.

Bottom line: she's not a blood relative. She doesn't count. Her evidence of David's abuse doesn't count. Her evidence of his progress -- stunning given the circumstances, and thanks only to her efforts -- doesn't count.

She's afraid he's going to die in there. So am I.

Full Article and Source:
They are Killing David Rector

CA: Nurse Arrested on Felony Elder Abuse Charge

A registered nurse working at a hospital near Lake Isabella has been arrested on charges of abusing an elderly patient.

Rene Gachon Gotico, 65, a resident of Delano, was arrested Monday night at the Kern Valley Healthcare District hospital in Mountain Mesa after the hospital reported an incident to authorities.

A Kern County Sheriff's Department spokesman said a 79-year-old patient was sitting on the edge of her bed when she asked Gotico to help her to the restroom. According to a witness, Gotico refused to help, said sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt.

When the patient tried to stand up on her own, Gotico allegedly grabbed the patient around the neck with one hand and pushed her back onto the bed.

The hospital's nursing supervisor witnessed the alleged incident and immediately informed the emergency room director, who called the Sheriff's Department, Pruitt said.

When deputies arrived, they reported finding red marks on the patient's neck.

Full Article and Source:
Nurse Arrested on Felony Elder Abuse Charge

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Seniors for Sale - Death in Adult Homes Hidden and Ignored

The deaths of hundreds of seniors at adult family homes may have been the result of neglect or abuse, but were never investigated.

Some fell to the floor and bled to death internally. Others choked on food and suffocated. Still others languished for weeks as bedsores burrowed to the bone, ultimately killing them.

In neighborhoods throughout Seattle and across the state, hundreds have died prematurely, many in avoidable misery, while living at state-licensed adult family homes.

A Seattle Times investigation has uncovered at least 236 deaths that indicate neglect or abuse in these homes but were not reported to the state or investigated.

Dozens of suspicious deaths occurred in adult homes with long histories of violations, including some whose owners employed caregivers with little training or forged credentials.

In the first accounting of such deaths, The Times identified these cases by analyzing death certificates of 4,703 Washington residents who died at adult homes from 2003 through 2008.

Adult homes are a less-regulated, less-expensive elder-care option than nursing homes, and are touted as providing personalized care in cozy, neighborhood settings
But The Times also found that adult-home deaths indicating neglect occur at strikingly higher rates than comparable deaths at nursing homes:

• Pressure-sore deaths in adult homes occur at a rate more than 3.5 times higher.

• The rate of deaths from falls is four times higher.

• For choking deaths, the rate is 15 times higher.

Adult family homes are regulated by Washington's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which licenses home owners to rent out spare bedrooms and provide long-term care for up to six seniors.

Full Article and Source:
Seniors for Sale - Death in Adult Homes Hidden and Ignored

See Also:
How to Prevent Pressure Sores

Washington State: DSHS Neglect Referrals Drop

Last month, officials from the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) said that the agency was referring far fewer cases of suspected elder abuse and neglect to law enforcement.

DSHS made the revelation to a 24-member task force that is studying how to better safeguard seniors in adult family homes. The group, made up of community advocates and public officials in the senior-care field, was formed earlier this year in response to The Times' ongoing series about adult family homes.

At the meeting, several task-force members expressed surprise at the sharp drop, which began after 2007. They questioned how suspected neglect cases could be dropping when more people than ever rely on long-term care and the number of adult homes continues to rise, according to participants.

DSHS offered no explanation in reply.

Full Article and Source:
DSHS Referrals for Neglect Drop

To Our Helpless Elderly

A letter written to a court commissioner Steven N. Grovdahl:


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

'The Adele Chris Act'

Read proposed legislation submitted by Marked for Destruction's author, John Caravella, to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security at their request for a Model Law" to combat abusive guardianships: The Adele Chris Act

View the May 25, 2010 Subcommittee Hearing

Contact the Committee and voice your support

What Adele Fraulen might have thought to be nothing more than a meaningless bad dream one night in 1935 would actually come true. At age 79 she would find herself living a nightmare -- a struggle for her life, simply because she innocently trusted the wrong professionals to help with her portion of a Million Dollar inheritance; they would steal her very existence. Her neighbors, Chris and Patricia Zurillo, would realize that Adele's life was going terribly wrong and dedicate themselves to freeing her from captivity. “Marked For Destruction” is a rare book that exposes an ever-expanding crime against our elderly.


A Free Gift From Adele's Neighbors - Read 'Marked for Destruction' online

Johnson & Johnson Being Sued for Drug Conspiracy

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is the subject of a California lawsuit alleging that the "family company" colluded with pharmaceutical consultant Omnicare to push its drugs on nursing home residents. Among the charges are allegations that J&J violated federal Medicaid laws with its schemes to maximize profits.

According to the suit, J&J was paying kickbacks to Omnicare to promote its drugs above those of other manufacturers, and convincing doctors that switching to J&J drugs was in their patients' best interests. The arrangement also included whitewashing these kickbacks as "performance rebates" that would be issued as "year-end bonuses."

"Residents were overcharged for their medications, had additional medications administered and were unlawfully switched to Johnson & Johnson drugs," explains the lawsuit. These medications included Floxin, Levaquin, Risperdal, Ultram, Duragesic, Procrit and Aciphex.

During their joint meetings to discuss "performance goals," J&J allegedly trained Omnicare employees to use "scripted communications" to convince physicians to switch their patients to J&J drugs as opposed to whatever they were currently on. This was included as part of the J&J's "Active Intervention Program," which basically is just a fancy name pushing its drugs on seniors.

Full Article and Source:
Johnson & Johnson Being Sued for Drug Conspiracy

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jury Finds in Favor of Rita Hunter - Against Dolores Forste

A Jasper County Circuit Court jury on Friday found in favor of Rita Hunter, former county public administrator, and Charlene Kelly, her deputy, in a lawsuit brought by the daughter of a former ward, accusing the former county officials of malicious prosecution.

The jury deliberated for just on hour before returning the verdict, with 11 members in favor of the finding, and one opposed.

Dolores Forste sued Hunter and Kelly for damages, contending she was the victim of malicious prosecution when she was arrested and jailed for nearly a month for refusing to return her mother to Jasper County. Forste’s mother, Emma France, then a 95-year-old Carthage resident, had been made a ward of the office in a court action that was later voided after the court found no attempt was made to notify relatives and that France was not allowed to be at the hearing, both requirements of state law.

Lynn Myers, Forste’s attorney, expressed disappointment, adding “the jury had to decide on what were able to tell them, and there were some limitations.

“We will definitely appeal,” he added.

Doug Harpool, the Springfield attorney representing Hunter and Kelly, emphasized in closing arguments that Forste admitted on the witness stand that she took her mother from the county without Hunter’s permission and refused to return her, saying that’s what formed the basis of the charges. He said a prosecution cannot be considered malicious if it starts with truthful statements to police.

Hunter is the subject of other lawsuits filed by former wards of her office, which she occupied from 2005 to 2008. She also is the subject of federal investigation into operations of the administrator’s office. A state investigation was launched after Hunter left office in December 2008 and took with her files from the county office. Some computer records also were erased. Hunter later turned over boxes of files, and others were recovered via a search warrant served by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Later, the state probe was taken over by federal investigators.

Full Article and Source:
Jury Finds in Favor of Former Jasper County Officials

See Also:
Motions Argued in Lawsuit Against Former Public Administrator, Rita Hunter

Investigated Pair Still Controls Huguette Clark's Fortune

A judge on Thursday rejected the request of Huguette Clark's relatives to appoint a guardian for the 104-year-old heiress, saying their claim relies on hearsay. The judge left her affairs in the hands of an attorney and accountant who are being investigated by the district attorney.

Without a hearing, Judge Laura VisitaciĆ³n-Lewis of New York County Supreme Court said the relatives' petition was "insufficient in its hearsay, conclusory and speculative assertions" on the capacity of Clark to handle her affairs.

A parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney continues into the handling of Clark's wealth, estimated at $500 million.

Full Article and Source:
Investigated Pair Still Control Huguette Clark's Fortune

Huguette Clark's Attorney Defends Himself

The attorney for 104-year-old heiress Huguette Clark has responded to an effort by her relatives to oust him as her attorney, ridiculing them as Johnny-come-latelies.

The detailed statement from Wallace "Wally" Bock provides his first account of the health, history and well-being of the reclusive Clark, whose fortune is estimated at $500 million.

The Queens, N.Y., attorney also said he has carried out Clark's wishes to the letter, and acknowledged that he solicited a gift of $1.5 million from his client for a community where his family lives. He also maintained it wasn't his place to fire Clark's accountant after the man pleaded guilty to a felony.

One item Bock declined to address, however, is whether or not he is named in his client's will.

Three of Clark's distant relatives, Ian C. Devine, Carla Hall Friedman and Karine Albert McCall, went to court Friday in New York City, asking that a guardian and a financial institution be appointed to protect her from potential financial abuse by Bock as well as her accountant, who is a registered sex offender.

He ridiculed the family who filed the petition as "very distant relations" "who have only recently appeared on the scene" and "do not claim to have any personal relationship with her." [Note, the family's petition was denied. See article above.]

Full Article and Source:
Attorney for 104-Year-Old Heiress Defends His Handling of Her Finances

See Also:
Huguette Clark's Lawyer Fires Back!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

IL: Family Sues Nursing Home Over Woman's Death

Family members are suing a Hinsdale nursing home, saying negligence and overmedicating caused the death of a 74-year-old woman less than a month after she arrived at the facility.

In a lawsuit, the family of Dolores Howorth claims the Western Springs resident died of kidney failure caused by dehydration because ManorCare Health Services chemically restrained her.

The suit claims she was given medication that wasn't necessary to treat her dementia and was physically restrained with a wheelchair lap restraint.

The family seeks damages in excess of $50,000 on each of the seven counts in the lawsuit.

Howorth was admitted to ManorCare's Arcadia dementia unit on March 20, 2009, the suit stated. Within 48 hours, she was prescribed Ativan, a sedative. Four days later she was prescribed Seroquel, an anti-psychotic. The lawsuit stated that Howorth lost 16.1 pounds in her first 12 days at ManorCare.

Howorth was rushed from ManorCare to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital April 15, 2009, and was pronounced dead a few hours after admission. The Illinois Department of Public Health investigated and cited ManorCare for improper care, neglect and improper restraint of Howorth, according to documents provided by the law firm representing the family.

Full Article and Source:
Family Sues Hindsdale Nursing Home Over Woman's Death

Man Sentenced to 3 Years for Bilking Elderly Couple

Two days after an Aspen Hill man was sentenced in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Monday to three years in state prison for stealing more than $189,000 from a semi-lucid 91-year-old widow and her late husband, that woman's legal guardian had a message to deliver.

Bethesda-based attorney Robert McCarthy said anyone aspiring to be like James Brian Gendimenico should take note.

"If you mess with these little old ladies and Bobby McCarthy finds out, you are going to the state penitentiary," McCarthy said. "When people are doing a cost-benefit analysis of committing this kind of crime, we want them to think about (this)."

Full Article and Source:
Aspen Hill Man Sentenced to Three Years for Bilking Money From Elderly Couple

'Josie May' to Reunite With Family

Ethel May Helmbright is considered an "ariki" back in New Zealand, a person of high regard to the Maori people. She was the last of her generation, the last living member of eight brothers and sisters who abruptly set off for Alaska three decades ago.

How she ended up homeless on the streets of Waikiki for 10 years -- confused, unwilling to accept help and unable to even remember her own name -- might remain a mystery forever.

But the bigger question is how the gaunt and frail woman known in Honolulu as "Josie May Bright" will adjust to life back home in New Zealand, reunited with a family she cannot recall.

"She's confused," said her court-appointed Hawaii guardian, Roger Petticord. "She doesn't understand what's happening."

The Hawaii Office of the Public Guardian has handled "Jane Doe" cases before, but nothing like the mystery of 83-year-old Josie May Bright, Petticord said.

"This one's unique," he said.

Full Article and Source:
'Josie May' to Reunite With Family