Saturday, May 7, 2011

Press Release: Washington DC Protest 5/9/11

Press Release – May 4, 2011
Contact: Gloria 773/910-3310

WHEN: MAY 9, 2011
WHERE: Washington DC

America’s New Terrorist—Probate Courts, Guardianships and Conservators!

As Mickey Rooney, a victim himself, has become the voice of America’s elders—his words now memorialized on the House Committee on Aging—his cries reiterate and corroborate those of hundreds of thousands of America’s Elder Citizens, who are forced to suffer in silence to the abuses and exploitation imposed upon them by greedy family members, guardians and conservators, who, with the help of the judiciary, are free to rob our most vulnerable citizen’s of their assets, freedom and self-determination.

Mr. Rooney was lucky—his celebrity status brought Elder Abuse and Financial exploitation to the forefront of our attention. However, the voices of the men and women ‘objecting’ to forced Guardian and Conservatorships of their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, and adult children, in an attempt to protect their loved ones Civil and Human Rights, have become the COLLATERAL VICTIMS and the new faces to Elder and Guardianship abuse. We are the men and women who ‘object’ to the churning of our loved ones estates, the forced isolation and involuntary drugging, the court sanctioned Elder abuses, including the loathing and disregard for of our Constitutional and Human Rights.

On Monday, May 9, 2011 many “collateral victims” will take to the streets marching side by side to show unity in their individual plights to save the lives of the people they love and demand equal protection under law and restoration of their Constitutional rights in Washington DC in order to bring attention to our Lawmakers the ever increasing Abuse and Exploitation of our elderly as well as the most vulnerable in our society: it’s the first of many reality checks that our Judicial System is broken, in some instances blatantly corrupt! This disruption of family life, the ending of the American Dream, and the seizing of our Golden Years and our hard-earned savings is what we define as Constitutional Terrorism against the very people the Judicial and Officers of the Courts took an oath to Serve and Protect.

Mr. Rooney cried, “I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated. Above all, I felt helpless. *** My money was taken and misused. I was told it was for my own good and that it was none of my business.” Mr. Rooney’s final words were for the public audience, “Don’t let it happen to you”. This is what the “collateral victims” are going to represent on this day to MARCH against America’s New Terrorist—Probate Courts, Guardianships and Conservators.

Woman Denies Exploiting Elderly Person

An Bennington, N.H., woman pleaded not guilty in court to 16 counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Jodi LaClaire was a licensed nurses assistant employed at the Thompson House, an assisted living residence and nursing home in Brattleboro, from January 2008 to March 27, 2009.

On the same day one of the residents was rushed to the hospital, LaClaire allegedly began using the sick woman's credit card to make cash withdrawals totaling more than $4,000. All transactions, attempted and completed, were found to exceed $8,000, according to court documents.

Dane Rank, Thompson House administrator, said that to his knowledge, there have been no prior cases of exploitation at Thompson House.

"We do four background checks on all of our employees," Rank said, adding that Thompson House initiated the police investigation.

"It's our job to make sure that these people who can't defend themselves are kept safe and are cared for," Rank said.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Denies Exploiting Elderly Person

Friday, May 6, 2011

Remembering a Treasured Aunt 10 Years Later

Helen T. Fabis
March 1, 1914 - April 30, 2001

May 6, 2011

Dear Aunt Helen,

My Shining Star. You are a treasure, my inspiration and motivation, all I do is in memory and honor of you.

The beginning of our relationship, the special bond between Godmother and Goddaughter began at my beginning, my Baptism, growing stronger and deeper each year. As a young child and throughout my adult life, I was greatly influenced by you, what I saw in you, especially your love of family and the close relationship between you and Mom.

It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 10 long years since Cynthia and I last saw you. We miss you. I miss you so very much, spending time with you, wishing we could pick up where we left off, our lively conversations, talking on the phone, catching up on family matters, our latest sewing projects, your displeasure at how difficult it was to find “Made in USA” labels on clothing and your favorite subjects, politics and current affairs.

Your wise and caring words are always with me, I can hear you saying it now, all people have a beginning and an end. It’s what you do in the middle that matters most.

You had a kind word for and about everyone, always in the background, never wanting recognition or any special attention of importance. You were and still are a very important person, the core, the heart and soul of our family, loved by everyone who knew you and many more who knew of you.

Always soft spoken, considerate, the caregiver for your aging ailing parents; memories of you as a hard working business woman, a 1940’s entrepreneur who drove a car, a fashion designer and gifted seamstress and so much more. Warm memories of you and Uncle Wally dancing in your living room, celebrating your ultimate design achievement, you finished sewing my wedding dress. You were glowing, we had completed the final alterations, my wedding dress ensemble was complete, mission accomplished.

I wish I knew. No one could have warned us or predicted the future, the torment of the last days of your life, your unnatural death that forever changed my life. We couldn’t rescue you. The way your life ended was the end of my life as I knew it, the day you left us was a new beginning, leading me in a very different direction on a mission that directs and drives me to this day.

On the last day of your life, I saw a Catholic Nun getting on an elevator, seeing her was a sign for me to call for a priest. I hope your remember Father Mike, he was the last person to see you. He is the Catholic priest from St Stephens Parish that answered my urgent call for a Priest to come to see you. I called the Rectory nearest the nursing home. Father Mike was just about to sit down to eat his dinner. I told him about you, how you were being treated, forced to go without food and water, you were in a great deal of pain, getting weaker, barely struggling to survive. He promised me that he would leave immediately to comfort and bless you, he kept his promise.

I know what you’re thinking, yes, I did send him a thank you letter with a generous donation expressing our deep appreciation for being there for you. Since that time, Father Mike was transferred to my parish, he is our new Pastor only a few blocks from our house.

And, there’s more, on November 17, 2007 Cynthia and I went to St John Berchman’s School 100 year Anniversary celebration Mass and grand reception of an all class reunion in the Church hall where alumni gathered with their graduating class for buffet dinner while catching up and reminiscing with former classmates and teachers.

All of a sudden, I couldn’t believe my eyes there he was, standing at our table, it was Father Mike, I did not know we went to school together, or knew each other, we were in the same graduation class. Seeing him took me back in time firing up all of my emotions, taking me back to place and time to April 30, 2001. It was as if everyone vanished, no one else was in that room with us. Who could have known all those years ago, we were all together at St. Johns Berchman’s Church when Mike and I received our diplomas.

All of us in the family have changed; we are very different now, we view life through different, untrusting eyes. I can only hope and pray that you understand, I did my best. I needed to protect you as much as possible from hearing upsetting news. You asked me so many questions, you wanted to know where your stuff was, you wanted your own radio, your old clock, photos of Uncle Wally, your clothes and pajamas, it upset me to know you hated what you were wearing, you knew something very bad happened to you at that house. I promised you that the family would unite, Ed and I would not stop until we discovered the truth, what happened to you and then we would hunt down everyone who hurt you.

I noticed from our first trips to the hospital up North, you never referred to ‘her’ by name, your temporary guardian’s name. You asked me many times, who is ‘she’? Why is ‘she’ here? Why is ‘she’ making decisions for you. You wanted ‘her’ gone out of your life but there was nothing we could do, we were powerless, I didn’t have any rights to help you or to complain.

As hard as I try, I cannot recover from what I witnessed. It is impossible to forget or to erase those heart wrenching memories, the visions, I can hear you, I can feel you and see you, confused, afraid and frail in that stripped down Medicare room, so weakened by medications, the psychotropic drugs that further damaged your mind and your body.

When you were transferred to Illinois, I visited you every day, suddenly there was a drastic change, you weren’t allowed in the dining room for your meals, no food was brought to your room, I was shocked at the cruel treatment of what the temporary guardian called Hospice care that was forced on you. I didn’t understand why, why now? I thought guardianship is supposed to protect you from harm. I thought Hospice care was compassionate care, comfort care. What I didn’t know and found out later we were deceived; Hospice care for you was a code word meaning elimination of the problem by prolonged death by starvation and dehydration, their method of hastening your death.

‘She’ came by the day you died, I remember ‘she’ looked you over, telling me that any funeral plans would be on hold because ‘she’ was having surgery and there wasn’t any money for a funeral anyway. ‘She’ left you slumped over in your wheelchair, and then ‘she’ was gone.

Cynthia was here for several days trying to get you some relief. She was doing her best pleading for help from the staff to get permission to order the antibiotic medications that you needed with our promise to pay. You were too weak to hold your head up, Cynthia and I wanted them to stop torturing you, she was pleading for help from the staff, to help us get you out of your wheelchair, you needed to be lying down in your bed.

You were too weak to hold your head up, Cynthia and I wanted them to stop torturing you. I was holding your head up while Cynthia was pleading for help from the staff, trying to get medications for you, someone, anyone to help us get you out of your wheelchair and put you in your bed.

No one came to help us, it seemed like an eternity. You were slumped over in your wheelchair, in agony, pleading with me, holding me, too weak to speak but only a word or two, silently screaming, pointing to your mouth to give you water.

I was in a state of panic, doing my best to stay strong for you, acting as if everything will be alright, trying to hold myself together, I was so upset and beside myself at the horror of watching you struggle and suffer. I found a water glass, I did give you a few sips of water, you were able to swallow without any problems, you wanted more; I gave you more, you were so thirsty you were pulling on the glass, water was spilling on the floor.

I would have given you as much water as you could handle, but I couldn’t, I was in serious trouble, when a member of the staff walked into your room and saw what I had done. She was angry at me, she told me to get rid of the water, one warning, go along with the plan or else. Orders were, you were allowed to have only one or two drops of water from an eye dropper.

We were desperate, stopping their plan was hopeless, we knew there was nothing more we could do to give you any relief, we had pushed our limits, if we had disobeyed their orders, their Hospice plan, one wrong move would have me and Cynthia forcibly and permanently removed from your room.

Mercifully, Father Mike comforted and blessed you; your final days of suffering were over.

I kept my promise to you with support and extraordinary assistance from Ed along with Attorneys Frank Jablonksi and David Sparer. the family united. We became your voice, with the help of an army of soldiers from the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office fighting for you - as if you were their treasured Aunt too.

We were determined to hold “her” accountable, and we did. “She” went to jail, Aunt Helen, for what “she” did to you. At “her” sentencing, the Judge admonished “her” as “she” stood there with “her” head down: "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."

Justice was served that day and we were so glad. But what we wanted – and what I still want – is you.

We miss you, we love you, we are eternally grateful for the short time we had together.

All my love,


See Also:
Estate of Helen Fabis vs. William Skibbe et al;
Dane County Case Number 2002CV003962

Great Escapes: "Woman Sentenced for Swindling Great-Aunt"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Neglected to Death - Part Two

While his caretakers watched him die, William Hughes shivered under the covers in a cramped and dirty bedroom.

They didn’t give him food. They didn’t give him water. Despite doctor’s orders, they never gave him the very medicine that would have saved his life.

Instead, they let him languish for days at the Tampa assisted-living facility where he lived in 2006 -- vomiting and defecating in his bed -- refusing to clean him because the stench was too strong.

Despite pleas from residents that he desperately needed help, caretakers never called paramedics to try to save the severely diabetic man.

“They let this man just die,” said resident Kevin Conway. “It just boggles my mind to this day.”

Hughes’ body was sent to the Hillsborough County morgue and cremated at state expense -- his ashes sent to his mother in Ohio, the state investigation closed.

The 55-year-old musician was among dozens who have died at the hands of their caretakers in assisted-living facilities across Florida.

One starved to death, another burned in a tub of scalding water. Two were fed lethal doses of drugs. Three died from the ravages of gangrene when their wounds were ignored for weeks.

Full Article and Source:
Neglected to Death: Few Ever Held Accountable for Abuse in Florida's Assisted Living Facilities

The Rare Arrest of an Assisted Living Owner

The plan had always been for Julia Rodriguez to care for her elderly mother-in-law in her Miami home.

But in her 74th year, just as Gladys Horta began to slip into dementia, fate intervened and forced the family to do what they vowed not to: put Abuela in an assisted-living facility.

The youngest member of the family -- 20-year-old Juliette -- was diagnosed with a rare, disabling neurological disorder. The burden of tending to both women was too great for family members, who faced a decision that thousands of Floridians confront each year: finding someone else to keep Abuela safe.

It was a decision that cost Gladys Horta her life and prompted a criminal investigation that led to the rare arrest of an ALF owner.

On a friend’s recommendation, the family looked at The Gardens of Kendall, an assisted-living facility within walking distance of the dozens of shops at Dadeland Mall. Owner Mayra Del Olmo said Horta would have her own room, eat well and be treated like a member of the family.

Horta’s stay would be far shorter than the family imagined.

[Mother's Day]morning, the phone rang. It was Del Olmo. Abuelita had fallen in the shower and had “a little bruise,” the family said they were told. Del Olmo suggested cancelling dinner because Horta wasn’t feeling well.

The family decided to go ahead with the Mother’s Day outing anyway. When they arrived at the home, Julia poked her head into Horta’s darkened bedroom and made a joke: “I heard you were causing trouble,” she quipped.

But they said they quickly realized something was wrong. The room smelled of urine. Horta was curled up in bed, her skin white, cold and damp, with food dribbling from her mouth. Her leg was swollen and bruised.

“Her left leg was black, and her right leg was beginning to look the same way," [grandaughter] Julia said.

As Julia reached over to wipe the ailing woman’s mouth, Horta pleaded, “Get me out of here!"

The family called for an ambulance.

At South Miami Hospital, they learned Horta’s injuries had nothing to do with a fall in the shower. According to the vascular surgeon, Steven Kang, the woman’s legs had been restrained “for a prolonged period of time," causing her to develop a blood clot, which was blocking her femoral artery.

Full Article and Source:
The Rare Arrest of An Assisted Living Facility Owner

The Shut Down of Rosalie Manor

Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies were facing a crisis: They desperately wanted to close Rosalie Manor, a troubled assisted-living facility, but state regulators weren’t taking any action.

For years, the home’s residents were out of control, roaming the streets, getting into fights and overdosing on narcotics.

Frustrated the home wasn’t being shut down, deputies came up with a plan: charge owner Erik Anderson under Florida’s elder-abuse statute.

Turning to a tragic death case that had been investigated and dropped by the state attorney general’s office, deputies arrested Anderson for neglect and he was soon booted from the business.

“The goal was to shut down Rosalie Manor, and we did,” said former prosecutor Thomas Cope, who pressed the case against the home.

The charges in 2006 demonstrated how county prosecutors were able to use a law that was created to help crack down on dangerous caretakers -- even when another agency passed on the case.

Created a generation ago, Florida’s elder-abuse statute was revamped in 1995 legislation under Gov. Lawton Chiles to let prosecutors charge caretakers who abuse and neglect vulnerable adults.

More importantly, the law allowed prosecutors to file felony charges even when caretakers didn’t intend to cause harm.

Full Article and Source:
Pinellas County Goal: Shut Down Rosalie Manor

NY County Supervisor's Wife Charged with Theft

The wife of a Saratoga County supervisor stole more than $38,000 while acting as a legal guardian for an 83-year-old woman staying at the county-run nursing home, authorities said.

Deborah Thompson, 62, was arrested and charged with third-degree grand larceny by State Police. Thompson is the wife of Milton Supervisor Frank Thompson, although a fellow town official said the couple had been estranged for a number of years.

Police said the arrest came after the nursing home resident's bank alerted the state Office of Mental Health after becoming concerned with credit card charges, withdrawals and checks being written for items including dinner and Great Escape passes.

The bank knew that the woman was homebound and had granted power of attorney over the account, authorities said. The victim is a resident at Maplewood Manor, the Saratoga County nursing home in Ballston Spa.

Deborah Thompson did not work at the nursing home, but became familiar with the victim through a part-time job at the Wilbur Trieble Senior Apartments, where she had previously stayed, authorities said.

Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy said Friday that he would apply for a special prosecutor to handle the case next week to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Full Article and Source:
Wife of Saratoga County Supervisor Charged with Stealing From County Home Resident

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Action Needed: IDEA Fairness Restoration Act

ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 2011, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES AND ASK THEM TO COSPONSOR THE IDEA FAIRNESS RESTORATION ACT (S.613 AND H.R. 1208). This bill will allow parents to recover expert witness fees when they prevail in due process hearings and court actions under the IDEA.

IDEA gives parents the right to an impartial due process hearing, but parents must be able to afford expert witnesses to testify at those hearings. Expert witnesses can include psychologists; physicians; speech, occupational, physical, and other therapists; educational experts; positive behavioral support experts, and others. Without expert witnesses, most parents cannot prevail. Sometimes, school districts sue parents and parents must have expert witnesses to adequately defend themselves.

The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act will restore the right to recover expert witness fees for parents and students with disabilities. Congress intended that parents have this right when it amended the IDEA in 1986. But in 2006, the Supreme Court acted contrary to this intent and held that parents could not recover expert witness fees in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy. Plaintiffs in other civil rights cases, like ADA cases, recover fees, and this bill would simply give parents the same right.

Full Article and Source:
Action Needed: Contact Your Representatives this May 4 for the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act

'Caregiver' Raids 93-Year-Old's Savings, Police Say

She was hired to care for the 93-year-old’s dying wife.

Instead, King County prosecutors contend, the 52-year-old Seattle woman inserted herself into every facet of his life, separated him from his children, then raided his life savings to the tune of $300,000.

Filing theft charges earlier this month, prosecutors claim Samantha Pierce bilked her elderly ward by winning his trust in the months after his wife’s death.

After a miser’s life, the self-made millionaire’s finances and health began to erode under Pierce’s care, Seattle Police Detective Elizabeth Litalien said in charging documents.

Still, the detective said, he thwarted attempts by his family to oust Pierce while she wrote more than $125,000 in checks to her children, obtained the title to a luxury SUV owned by the man and was preparing to buy a $2 million home on Lake Washington -- sight unseen -- with his money.

“Prior to his wife’s death, Pierce manipulated (him) into believing that she was the only one that would care for him and for his well being,” Litalien told the court. “She attempted, and often succeeded, in isolating him from a family that loved and cared about him. …

“Pierce’s influence over (him) was so great that on the day of his wife’s death, instead of commemorating her life, he made a toast to Pierce.”

Full Article and Source:
Seattle ‘Caregiver’ Raided 93-Year-Old's Life Savings, Prosecutors Claim

Former NV Supervising District Court Clerk Arrested for Felony Theft

A former supervising Washoe District Court clerk has surrendered to face criminal charges stemming from allegations she siphoned more than $200,000 from a state court trust account to pay personal gambling debts.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that 45-year-old Teresa Prince was arrested Monday on a felony theft warrant. Bail was set at $7,500 pending an appearance in Reno Justice Court.

The Gazette-Journal reports that Prince resigned March 2, less than a week after money was found to be missing from a Second Judicial District Court account.

Full Article and Source:
Former Supervising Nevada Court Clerk Accused of Draining Trust Account to Pay Gambling Debts

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TN Mom Fights to Regain Custody of Disabled Daughter

Lisa Arnold is 20 years old and has Down syndrome and the mental capacity of a 3-year-old.

Before a Davidson County judge ordered her to have only supervised visits with her mother, Lisa peddled The Contributor newspaper with her mother at the intersection of Old Hickory Boulevard and Franklin Road in Brentwood.

Together, they were one of the top sellers of the newspaper sold by the homeless.

But in January, a group including a disability advocate, a singer-songwriter and a former police officer brought concerns of Lisa’s health and safety under her mother’s care to Probate Judge Randy Kennedy. He ordered a local lawyer to serve as her court-appointed guardian to represent her interests in the courtroom. He granted temporary conservatorship over Lisa to Belinda Mitchell, a caseworker with The Arc of Davidson County, a nonprofit that helps the disabled.

Lisa now lives in a group home for disabled women and attends Harris-Hillman Special Education School.

A hearing to determine whether Lisa should remain in the court’s care or return to her mother will be held June 8.

Lisa’s mother, Renee Arnold, is fighting the conservatorship.

Full Article and Source:
Homeless Mom Fights to Regain Custody of Disabled Daughter

See Also:
TN Woman's Adult Daughter Taken From Her

Facebook: Supporters of Lisa & Renate Arnold

Estate Dispute

A terminally ill woman who set up a $1 million trust fund to care for her cats and dogs when she was gone was "unduly influenced" by a lawyer who made his girlfriend the largest beneficiary of her estate, according to a ruling in Athens-Clarke Probate Court that rejected the contested will.

Now the strange case has been appealed to Elbert County Superior Court, where a jury eventually could hear the facts about a woman who left most of her estate to provide for the care of her pets.

Probate Judge Susan P. Tate in March overturned the will of 53-year-old Kay Elaine Johnston, who died of lung cancer in December 2007. Tate ruled that Elberton attorney Robert Johnson used the power of suggestion on the sick woman to unduly influence the will.

Johnston's cousin, Carol Phillips, asked the court to throw out the will, which left a $1 million trust fund to provide for the animals along with a home and seven acres of land to the lawyer's girlfriend, Kyria Wilhite. She was to be paid $50,000 a year plus additional fees for taking care of the 50 cats and six dogs that were alive at the time of Johnson's death, according to Tate's ruling.

"It was devastating - shocking - I can't say it any other way," Phillips said about reading the will for the first time. "I couldn't understand that (Robert Johnson) would have done anything like this. He was at her funeral, and I thought he was such a kind and loving man."

According to Tate's ruling, Johnson billed the deceased woman's estate for every visit made to her home, even charging to attend her funeral.

"If she said, 'I want a gallon of milk,' he'd go to the grocery store and charge his lawyer fee to get it, plus the milk. Everything he did, he charged for," Phillips said.

Full Article and Source:
New Turn in Dispute of Estate

MI AG Charges Woman With Felony Theft

A Mahtomedi woman faces more than a dozen felony charges after allegedly neglecting and taking $185,000 from an elderly person, not paying bills and lying on medical assistance applications.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office charged Michele Louise Nelson, 52, last month with five counts of theft by swindle, five counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, two counts of wrongfully obtaining assistance and one count of perjury.

The criminal complaint accuses Nelson of abusing her power of attorney for a 93-year-old. The complaint does not identify the victim.

According to the complaint:

From 2008-2010, Nelson allegedly spent more than $185,000 of the victim’s assets on items and activities for herself and family members. Bank records show most withdrawals were for cash and to a casino. She also made mortgage payments on her home.

Nelson also sold the person’s home and cashed bonds and life insurance, depositing only a portion of the proceeds into the victim’s bank accounts.

Nelson also reportedly applied on the victim’s behalf for government care assistance and claimed the person had no assets. The government subsequently paid nearly $44,000 in assistance.

The victim suffered from dementia and spent time at three different care facilities, which all reported they haven’t been paid; total amount due is nearly $24,000.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Accused of Exploiting Elderly Ward

Monday, May 2, 2011

'Neglected to Death'

Today [5/1/11] we launch the first of a three-part investigative series that reveals a systemic failure to protect Florida’s most vulnerable residents: the elderly and those with mental illness living in assisted-living facilities across the state.

The series, Neglected to Death, is the work of reporters Rob Barry, Carol Marbin Miller and Michael Sallah, who spent a year meticulously combing through thousands of records, visiting dozens of homes statewide, and conducting hundreds of interviews. Their findings reveal serious lapses in a system lauded as a national model when it was instituted in 1980.

“Florida made a promise 30 years ago that it was going to protect the vulnerable, particularly the elderly,” said Sallah, a prize-winning investigative reporter and editor. “Many experts would say the state has broken that promise. ’’

At the heart of the reporting is a rich database of hundreds of thousands of records that includes all inspections and complaint investigations by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the sole regulatory agency for ALFs. Layered in: a decade of complaints filed with the State Department of Elder Affairs and public records including police reports, death certificates and autopsy reports.

Most critical to the reporting was the decision by the former secretary of the Department of Children & Families, George Sheldon, to release to The Herald a decade worth of confidential records detailing abuse and neglect allegations at assisted-living facilities statewide.

Full Article and Source:
Neglected to Death: How Florida Broke Its Promise to the Elderly

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved One

Search Florida Currently Active Assisted Living Facilities

Wandering Resident Meets Grisly End

A History of Violence Ends in Fiery Rampage

Toxic Sore Fatally Undetected

Neglected to Death - Key Events

The I-Team Miami Herald Reporters

Once Pride of Florida; Now Scenes of Neglect

A Miami Herald investigation of Florida’s assisted-living facilities found that safeguards once hailed as the nation’s best have been ignored in a spate of tragedies never before revealed to the public.

For more than a decade, Bruce Hall ran his assisted-living facility in Florida’s Panhandle like a prison camp.

He punished his disabled residents by refusing to give them food and drugs. He threatened them with a stick. He doped them with powerful tranquilizers, and when they broke his rules, he beat them — sending at least one to the hospital.

“The conditions in the facility are not fit even for a dog,” one caller told state agents.

When Florida regulators confronted Hall in 2004 over a litany of abuses at his facility in the rolling hills of Washington County, they said he chased them from the premises while railing against government intrusion.

Under state law, regulators could have shut down Sunshine Acres Loving Care or suspended the home’s license, but they did neither. Instead, they ordered the 50-year-old Hall to see a therapist for his anger and to promise not to use “any weapon or object” on his residents — allowing him to keep his doors open for five more years.

Full Article, Video and Source:
Neglected to Death: Once Pride of Florida; Now Scenes of Neglect

Editorial: Florida's Shameful Failure

They’re locked down in violation of the law. Tied with ropes. Given tranquilizers without a doctor’s order. It has happened to Florida’s most vulnerable, the elderly or mentally ill, at least 1,732 times since 2002 in homes licensed by the state. Most of those homes have been slapped with a relatively small fine and nothing more.
Society’s most important obligation is to protect the most vulnerable among us — the elderly, infirm and children. Reasonable people may disagree on how best to meet that duty, but Floridians resoundingly look to their government for a minimum of protection.

Yet our state government is failing miserably on that front — failing to protect our poorest of seniors and the mentally ill from abuse and neglect. And it was failing long before Florida faced an economic tumble. Worse yet, these are folks living in homes that taxpayers finance through Medicaid, the federal-state partnership that puts Florida in charge of caring for the poorest sick residents.

As detailed in Neglected to Death, The Miami Herald’s yearlong investigation, Florida’s assisted-living law — once hailed as the most progressive in the nation — is often ignored by the state agency charged with policing abuses. Year after year, the Agency for Health Care Administration gives violators in state-licensed homes pass after pass to keep operating, often after hundreds of violations have been racked up and even after the weak and defenseless die from abuse or neglect.

Florida toughened penalties for abuse of elderly and disabled people in 2008, but what’s the point if the state’s lax oversight of problematic homes continues?

Seventy people have died from abuse or neglect at state-licensed homes since 2002. Yet Florida has closed only one-tenth of the 70 worst homes cited the past two years.

Full Editorial and Source:
Florida's Shameful Failure

Florida's Assisted Living Facility Scorecard

70: People who died from abuse or neglect at assisted-living facilities since 2002.

1,732: Homes that were caught using illegal restraints like ropes, locking residents in closets, and tranquilizing them with drugs since 2002.

26: Facilities closed down by AHCA since 2005. There are currently 2,850 in Florida.

13,250: Police and rescue calls to a small enclave of ALFs in Broward County since 2005 — essentially one every four hours.

181: Times the state caught homes falsifying records — including medical records in death cases — since 2005

Neglected to Death: By the Numbers

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To My Sister, Gone 10 Years, But Always in My Heart and Thoughts

Helen T. Fabis
March 1, 1914 - April 30, 2001

April 30, 2011

Dear Helen,

Everybody misses you so much. Every day of my life I think of you, Sunshine first thought in the morning and last thought at night. I can’t believe it’s been ten years. I’m 93 years old now, Hardy is 89 can you believe that? I’m the only one left from our family. I have so much to tell you I don’t know where to begin or how to say it, I could write volumes about you my sister my very best friend, all the good times the laughs we shared but there were some sad times too that make me cry, the saddest time in your life was when Wally died I think you know that was a very sad time for all of us he was a wonderful man, you were the perfect couple.

It was always you, Helen, you were the caregiver first for Wally when he was diagnosed with Diabetes before your wedding day. Over time he was unable to work full time then you opened your own business, a dry cleaning store with tailoring and clothing alterations by you with Wally helping you out when he could.

I remember when there was a time that I was able to do something to help you with sewing blouses late at night. You were special, you were born smart and talented, you started designing and sewing women’s blouses for sale in your store. You weren’t able to sew fast enough to keep up with the orders, the blouses were selling faster than you and I could sew them up.

So many memories, do you remember how afraid we were to fly for the first time in our lives when we went to California by airplane for Gerald’s wedding? We wanted to go but we didn’t want to get in that ‘tube’ and fly, we couldn’t see ourselves sitting on an airplane we couldn’t change our minds because Sylvia bought the tickets and Cynthia was driving down from Whidbey Island Washington. We were so happy we were still alive, we made it, we did it, we landed we couldn’t get off that plane fast enough. Then we forgot about being afraid of flying we had a wonderful time for two weeks meeting people, the big wedding all the traveling around the state and no cooking for two weeks that was a real treat, then we had to leave. We had to get on that ‘tube’ that airplane and worry about it all over again. We laughed about that experience for years.

I remember when you retired then you lost your lease, you needed to move, we wanted you to live with us. It was a big decision for you to leave Chicago you needed your own place you decided to try it out to rent a house next door to Jean and Adam in Edgerton, Wisconsin. It was a sad year, a year of losses for me, Pop died that same year.

I wanted to tell you all this and so much more. I can’t forget that first day when I walked into your hospital room, I couldn’t believe my eyes I tried to hide my feelings and not cry but I was shocked at the drastic change how different you were. You were awake for a few moments, you opened your eyes when I spoke to you in Polish, you recognized me and smiled, then Sylvia and Ed, but you were so sick and weak we were afraid to overdo it. I don’t know if you could understand or remember what we were saying to you or if you understood why you were in the hospital.

I tried to tell you gently but I don’t know if you remember why we couldn’t come up right away the first day you were taken by ambulance to the emergency room. When I told you that we couldn’t make the trip because Ed’s mother Charlotte died that same day and then we were at her funeral, you understood, you put your hands on your face, you were crying.

We stayed by your bedside for the entire day while you slept. The nurses were very nice to us they told us they never knew of or had a case like yours before they were shocked. They were helping us understand what happened to you telling us what to not to expect from you, how carbon monoxide poisoning destroyed your mind and body. We were doing our best to keep our feelings quiet so you wouldn’t be afraid.

You might not remember but we visited you every weekend on the nursing floor in Wisconsin then you came close to us to a nursing home in Des Plaines, Illinois. There were times when you were wide awake and alert you asked questions you always asked me where is Gerald? How is Gerald doing?

It was so hard for me to talk about him but I had to tell you the truth it hurt me to give you bad news each time you asked but I had to tell you why he isn’t here, why he couldn’t visit you, I told you that he was not doing well, he was very sick he was dying. Every time I told you, you were so upset and so sad you put your hands to your face and cried. I think it was better for you that you didn’t know he died, Gerald was gone 6 months later.

Jean is gone many years now. She never recovered. Jean was so sad she told me she cried every day. She couldn’t look at your old house, she hated the house next door calling it the ‘house of death’ she wanted it to go away. She did her best to hide her feelings but her life changed drastically after you left. Jean missed you so much, the sister arguments, she was very lonely and sad but we both know she lived by the clock, she had her schedule she was stubborn, everyone knew she didn’t want to leave her house ever, she wanted to die in her house.

If all this sadness and heartache wasn’t bad enough, in my lifetime nothing could have ever prepared me for what was coming next and for years after as the truth of what happened to you was revealed. Ten years later the heartbreak doesn’t go away and I am still shocked with disbelief and very angry that I didn’t know the truth of what was going on. Hardy and I are living with the guilt everyday of our lives that we couldn’t save you, Sylvia couldn’t save you, nobody could stop it or save you from all the people that hurt you and took advantage of you when you couldn’t protect yourself or fight back.

Helen, you would be so proud of me and Hardy, so very proud of your family. Your nieces and nephews and their spouses and partners got together as one to give you a voice. You were heard.

Can you believe it? I was in a courtroom many times it was all about what happened to you. I met the nicest people at the first hearing, I met Special Agent Michael Hoell.

The last time I was in the courtroom Judge Daley was sitting at the bench this was a very important hearing.

Family came in from Texas and Washington state and we came up from Illinois the day before, we all stayed in a hotel so we would be close to the courthouse we couldn’t be late for the hearing. I was frightened by the thought of it but I knew I had to do this for you, for the family it was my turn to be there for you, to be strong and speak for you.

When it was my turn to speak to the judge, I was so nervous, I don’t know how I did it, but I walked over and sat next to Special Agent Robert Page and nice lady Barbara Oswald she was the Assistant Attorney General. I asked her if she could help me out, I asked her if she would read out loud in the courtroom what I wrote to the judge. She said yes. I was so grateful, all of a sudden I couldn’t even talk it was too much for me. I was afraid if I would say one word I would start crying right there in that courtroom in front of everybody.

In my Victim Impact Statement to Judge James Daley, I wrote that we were betrayed, my sister Helen was stripped of her dignity, rights and all that she owned. We have so many regrets, so much we did not know, if only we knew then, what we know now.

I ask for your forgiveness.

Miss you, I love you always,