Saturday, April 16, 2011

Florida: Bill to Make Complaints Against Judges Public Record

A House panel has moved a bill that would make public most Judicial Qualifications Commission proceedings once the commission has determined whether to file formal charges.

Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, told the House Civil Justice Subcommittee March 9 that HJR 11-05 would amend the constitution so that the JQC process matches the standards of the Florida Commission on Ethics that apply to all other elected officials. “The upside of this bill is transparency,” Harrison said. “We are giving the voters the opportunity to decide whether or not we want to have the same transparency standards apply to the members of the judiciary as apply to other elected officials.”

Nearly all records of the JQC are currently confidential. Only if formal charges are filed against a judge are the records open, and then only the records created after the filing of charges. If charges are not filed, the records never become public.

“Because this process is not open to the public, we don’t really know what the statistics are,” said Harrison, a commercial litigator. “We know how many complaints were filed [and how many] resulted in formal charges. But we don’t know what happened in the middle. We don’t know if 50 percent of the complaints — or 75 percent — are just totally frivolous and without merit, or if they were close calls. I think that is good information to have, and I think, ultimately, that’s probably information voters are entitled to have, too.”

JQC Chair Miles McGrane of Coral Gables said, while the commission welcomed the spotlight: “We fear if we just lift the blanket of confidentiality we are going to put a chilling effect on the source of the very important complaints that we investigate.”

Full Article and Source:
Bill Would Make Complaints Against Judges Public Record

Judicial Candidates No Strangers to Donations

Fourteen of the 16 candidates for Luzerne County judge contributed to prior candidates for county judge between 2001 and 2009, according to a review of campaign finance reports.

Eight of the candidates contributed to the 2005 campaign to retain Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. as judge. Eight contributed to Michael T. Toole's 2003 campaign for judge.

In February, a jury found Ciavarella guilty of racketeering and other charges. On Friday, Toole was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for accepting illegal gratuities from an attorney who won a favorable ruling in his court and failing to report income on a federal tax return.

"The indictments have changed the attitudes," said Vito DeLuca, a candidate in May 17 primary election and the Luzerne County solicitor. "Lawyers won't be as concerned if they give a contribution that they will be punished somehow. Everyone is watching what the judges are doing now."

Federal authorities in January 2009 announced the charges against Ciavarella and former Judge Michael T. Conahan, who has pleaded guilty. Ciavarella and Conahan were accused of pocketing $2.8 million in kickbacks from backers of a for-profit juvenile detention center, and Toole was charged with unrelated crimes later in 2009.

"From my perspective, I think things were different years ago than they are now," DeLuca said. "As a younger lawyer, you get an invitation to judge's cocktail party for retention, you may have felt a certain obligation, and you buy a ticket to an event."

DeLuca contributed a total of $1,500 to seven county judge campaigns since 2001.

Full Article and Source:
Judicial Candidates no Strangers to Donations

Friday, April 15, 2011

'The Whores of Justice'


What has happened in the Sykes case and some of the elder abuse cases is indicative of what can happen to you, me etc. Guess who the ARDC is investigating! It is not the two guardian ad litem, it is not the attorney who breached his fiduciary relationship to his client, and it is not the attorney whose statements to the court are fictional. It certainly is not the judge who directed the candidate for plenary guardian of Mary Sykes to find a doctor who would be loose with the truth, or who revealed that an order that is final in just about all courts can be overturned with clout! H(#* no! The judge was elevated to the Appellate Bench! The dishonorable lawyer brags in Court that he is being advised in his perfidy by the Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission! Indeed, the criminal are all such august persons as to have immunity.

It is going to be very interesting to see if the United States Department of the Treasury (IRS) can be bought! Mary Sykes estate is just West of a million dollars at this point in time. Theft by a fiduciary is a taxable event - that means that the plenary guardian and her co-conspirators owe Mr. Obama about $300,000 in unpaid taxes. Add the fraud penalty that you or I would be charged that makes it $450,000.00.

Add the other plenary guardians who have stolen millions aided by the Court - if they paid the taxes due to the United States of America we could start putting a dent in budget problem.

Ken Ditkowsky

Full Article and Source:
Probate Sharks

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guardian Not Paying Elderly Woman's Bills

They're appointed by the courts to help people, many of them elderly, but friends of one Thurston County woman say her court-appointed guardian hasn't done a thing. Now, 95-year-old Eleanor Barrick worries she'll be forced out of her own home.

Q13 Fox News: Elderly Guardian Bills

Idaho Sends Bill to Governor to Ban Assisted Suicide

The House voted overwhelmingly to send a bill banning helping somebody else commit suicide to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for signature.

Republican Rep. Lynn Luker of Boise argued that outlawing assisted suicide was necessary to help prevent abuse of elderly residents by their caregivers who are seeking to profit from their patients' demise.

Luker says this bill, which foresees penalties of five years in prison for violations, protects "all concerned."

Democratic Rep. Grant Burgoyne complained this is inappropriate government intervention in a private decision.

The House voted overwhelmingly to send a bill banning helping somebody else commit suicide to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for signature.

Republican Rep. Lynn Luker of Boise argued that outlawing assisted suicide was necessary to help prevent abuse of elderly residents by their caregivers who are seeking to profit from their patients' demise.

Luker says this bill, which foresees penalties of five years in prison for violations, protects "all concerned."

Democratic Rep. Grant Burgoyne complained this is inappropriate government intervention in a private decision.

Terri's Fight: Idaho House Sends Assisted Suicide Ban to Governor

Can Nursing Homes Learn From Jails?

Why in the world would I suggest the the people who are responsible for the care of our most vulnerable take a lesson from those responsible for most violent? The answer has to do with how nursing homes keep track of their residents.

Call it wandering, eloping or just escaping, there are reports of nursing home residents who have wandered from their facilities to their death without the facilities knowledge. When nursing home residents leave their safe and familiar facilities thay are at the mercy of a world unaware of each residents needs. Two cases highlight the need for nursing homes to take notes from the jails in the way they monitor residents, staff their facilities and implement basic safeguards to minimize the risks of missing residents.

In Chicago, 89 year-year-old Sara Wentworth was a resident at The Arbor of Itasca, a Chicago-land nursing home when she walked out a door and into a wooded area. Hours later, staff found Ms. Wentworth's dead body just a short distance away.

In Ohio, an 87-year-old resident wandered from her facility and into a nearby road where she was struck by a hit-and-run driver. The woman's body was found on the side of the road by local drivers. The woman had similar wandering episodes prior to this incident.

Perhaps the nursing home administrators should take a page from the wardens and other administrative staff of our correctional system? An out of place inmate poses a risk to other inmates in the jail and to the public at large. In a jail setting, an inmate who is known as an escape risk will also likely get increased supervision.

Full Article and Source:
Can Nursing Homes Learn From Jails?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Investigations Trigger Legislation

Several bills making their way through the Texas legislature would create tougher rules for daycare meal money programs, beef-up protection for the elderly, and provide relief for homeowners battling their mortgage servicing companies. They’re all tied to recent FOX 4 investigations.

Two years ago the state stuck Michael and Jean Kidd in a nursing home after deciding they were incapable of taking care of themselves. While in state custody their Richardson home sat neglected and in disrepair. The state also spent their money on legal fees and an unlicensed financial guardian while their home nearly fell in to foreclosure.

Other bills filed by Senator Nelson, SB 220 and SB 221 would provide protection for the elderly and disabled and for individuals and their assets while under state guardianship.

"I could not believe that what I was seeing was taking place in this country," Senator Nelson told FOX 4.

SB 220 has been referred to the Senate Jurisprudence Committee and SB 221 has passed through the Senate and is currently in the House Human Services Committee.

Meanwhile, Michael and Jean Kidd say they are doing well. They have a guardian helping with their finances but they are in their own home.

Full Article and Source:
Investigations Trigger Legislation

Idaho Bill Provides Some Free Legal Help

Lawmakers advanced a bill to help provide free legal counsel to low-income residents in cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, and exploitation of the elderly.

The Idaho House voted 38-32 to approve the legislation. It generates money through a $10 court filing fee to help Idaho Legal Aid Services provide representation in certain cases, which can also involve veterans' issues and foreclosures.

The bill narrowly survived the state House, where lawmakers set a clear precedent early in the 2011 session that tax and fee increases were unwelcome when dumping a small fee hike to help the state police academy.

Republican Rep. Cliff Bayer, of Boise, says Idaho is the only state that doesn't provide financial assistance to its statewide legal aid provider.

Bayer's bill now goes to the Senate.

Idaho bill Provides Free Legal Help in Some Cases

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fiduciaries Fight Your Fifth Amendment Rights

The effort at reforming the troubled and ineffective probate system in Arizona is at a crucial crossroads.

The question remains, who will be best served by new legislation aimed at reform...For-profit fiduciaries, the VERY people who have fleeced the public for years are fighting REFORM!

Remember Marie Long... $1.3 million in savings and now she lives on welfare after being in the care of the court appointed fiduciary!

Fiduciaries do not want to lose their ability to take hold of your money!

The Fifth Amendment is under attack!

Personal property and the right of for-profit entities to have total control of YOUR property WITHOUT due process is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and should not be tolerated!


Courthouse Steps

Man Accused of Abusing Nursing Home Resident Released From Jail Until Trial

A former Lufkin nursing home employee, jailed on multiple charges of abuse to a resident, has been released from jail as he awaits his trial date.

Telesforo Vasquez III, allegedly exposed himself to one of the nursing home residents a 91-year old woman living at Castle Pines.

Vasquez was in court [4/5/11] seeking a PR bond that would allow him to leave jail pending his July 18th court date. Judge Barry Bryan, 217th District Court, granted the motion adding two conditions for release. Vasquez is not allowed to enter a hospital, nursing home, retirement home, or any similar facility. He may not make contact with the complainant or any of her family members.

Full Article and Source:
Lufkin Man Charged With Injuring Nursing Home Resident Released

Monday, April 11, 2011

Instead of Helping, VA Trustee Program is Hurting Veterans, Families Say

During the Korean War, Billy Brown faced enemy bullets, starvation and bitter cold. Now the benefits that he earned for his sacrifice have been tied up by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which in 2009 diverted his payments to trustees who have taken control not only of those funds, but of his life savings of some $100,000 as well.

Richard Wortham, Mr. Brown’s son, gained power of attorney for his father four years before the department stepped in, and found out about his father’s new financial minder only when he tried to withdraw money from the bank. “They said we no longer had access to his money — we could only get it from the fiduciary,” Mr. Wortham said.

What began as a broad effort to safeguard ailing veterans and their families from financial loss and abuse has turned into what lawyers and veterans’ advocates call a mismanaged and poorly regulated bureaucracy that not only fails to respond to veterans’ needs but in some cases creates new problems.

Families of veterans like Mr. Brown, 80, and William E. Freeman, whose sister was denied the ability to manage his benefits, and beneficiaries like Dennis Keyser, whose appointed trustee turned out to be a felon, say the system is badly flawed.

The department says it has appointed people to manage 111,407 accounts with a cumulative value of more than $3.2 billion. They earn up to 4 percent commission on the money under their care. The department, in a statement, said that beneficiaries had access to due process before a final decision was reached about appointing a beneficiary, and that the financial managers were carefully vetted. Once appointed, they “may also be required to prepare annual accountings.” In making the choice, the agency said, “priority is given to a family member if qualified and willing to serve.”

The report stated that 315 fraud investigations from October 1998 to March 2010 had “resulted in 132 arrests and monetary recoveries of $7.4 million in restitution, fines, penalties and administrative judgments.”

Full Article and Source:
Instead of Helping, Trustee Program Is Hurting Veterans, Families Say

MN Nursing Home Worker Charged With Theft

Over two years, a nursing home worker pocketed nearly $63,000 from two elderly residents at a South St. Paul senior home to help pay for her daughter's college tuition, authorities said.

Lisa Marie Blair, 43, faces four felony counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and three felony counts of aggravated theft by swindle, according to charges filed Tuesday in Dakota County District Court. Blair, who turned herself in to police over the weekend, has posted bail.

"It's always disturbing to see situations where vulnerable victims are taken advantage of," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. "That appears to be the case here."

The alleged thefts happened in 2009 and 2010.

When questioned by police, Blair said she had "borrowed" money from the female resident to pay for her daughter's college tuition but that she planned to pay the money back.

Blair told police she would write checks payable to herself, or for cash, from the woman's account while helping her pay bills, the charges said.

Blair told police, "I maybe took advantage ... I knew it was the wrong thing to do," the complaint said. Blair said she planned to pay the money back, but "it just got out of hand."

Each of the counts against Blair carries up to 10 years in prison.

Full Article and Source:
South St. Paul Nursing Home Worker Charged With Stealing From Two Residents

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mickey Rooney Speaks at National Summit

Elder Financial Protection Network held its 8th annual Call to Action conference and awards ceremony at Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF.

Veteran actor, Mickey Rooney, provided an emotional speech drawing tears and three standing ovations from the crowd of nearly 300 representatives of financial institutions, social services, law enforcement, legal professionals and elder justice advocates. “I am here today as the voice of millions of senior citizens to tell you that ending elder abuse is of critical importance.” Rooney said, “No one ever thinks they will be in this position in their lifetime, but the statistics are staggering, and they paint an unsettling picture. Whether the abuse is physical, emotional or financial, it is an unbelievable reality that often sneaks up on you without warning.”

Philip Marshall, elder justice advocate and grandson of New York philanthropist Brooke Astor delivered compelling testimony and called for increased national collaboration to fight this growing crime. He said, “While my grandmother was emotionally and financially abused and isolated, her case is far from isolated; there are millions of victims, today, suffering similar injury.”

Rooney read the Call to Action Proclamation which calls upon Congress to authorize the postmaster general to issue a special elder abuse postage stamp; to fund the Elder Justice Act and requests that the President issue a proclamation declaring June 15, 2012 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and to light the White House Purple on this day. More than 200 participants followed Rooney’s lead and signed the poster-sized proclamation. An online petition was launched at the event through the EFPN’s website

Full Press Release and Source;
Actor Mickey Rooney Speaks at National Summit on Elder Financial Abuse in San Francisco

See Also:
Elder Financial Protection Network

Florida Woman Accused of Stealing From Inlaws to Fuel Addiction

A Florida woman's gambling addiction was so severe that she pumped $14 million into the slots and is accused of stealing her in-laws' life savings to fuel her habit, police said.

Jennifer Dennison, 42, was arrested after Hernando County Sheriff's detectives wrapped up a five-month investigation. "Theoretically she could spend the next couple decades in prison," Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said. She was charged with 16 counts including exploitation of the elderly, forgery of checks, and organized scheme to defraud.

Dennison's in-laws, 88-year-old Laverne Robert Dennison and 73-year-old Janet A. Dennison, bounced a check in August of last year, launching the investigation that led to the woman's arrest.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Florida Woman Gambles $14 Million, Accused of Stealing From Inlaws

Housecleaning Service Owner Admits Stealing over $100K from Elderly

The owner of a Bonita Springs housecleaning service admitted to stealing gold, silver, jewelry and money from her customers, detectives said during a press conference.

The total amount allegedly stolen by Linda Flemke “was well in excess of $100,000,” said Sgt. Brian Sawyer of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Charged With Stealing More than $100,000 From Elderly in Collier, Lee Counties