Saturday, June 25, 2011

Community Rallies in Lisa Arnold Custody Battle

A formerly homeless mother battling for custody of her child with Down syndrome was described as neglectful, abusive, a shoplifter and a hoarder by her estranged older daughter in court Tuesday.

Sandra Kohler, 39, testified that her mother, Renee Arnold, beat her when she was a child and neglected to take her to the doctor even though she suffered seizures.

“I helped her shoplift when I was a child,” Kohler said in court. “It didn’t occure to me until later on that I was exploited.”

Davidson County Probate Judge Randy Kennedy kept the court hearing going until 9 p.m. But with a dozen more potential witnesses, Kennedy said the case would resume on July 25.

The custody battle over Lisa Arnold, 20, who has the mental capacity of a 3-year-old, started in January after a group of good Samaritans filed a court petition stating concerns over her safety.

Renee Arnold, also known as Renate Arnold, and her disabled daughter peddled The Contributor, a publication written and sold by the homeless and formerly homeless, at the Brentwood exit off of Interstate 65 and at other locations.

Conservator named
The court granted conservatorship of Lisa Arnold to Belinda Mitchell, a caseworker with The Arc of Davidson County, a nonprofit that helps the disabled.

Full Article and Source:
Community Rallies on Both Sides of Custody Case Involving Grown Daughter with Down Syndrome

See Also:
TN Mom Fights to Regain Custody of Disabled Daughter

Rest in Peace, Peter Falk

Legendary "Columbo" star Peter Falk has died at the age of 83.

Falk "died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home in the evening of June 23, 2011," a rep tells KTLA.

The actor had been suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to his adopted daughter, Catherine Falk.

In 2009, a judge established a conservatorship for the ailing actor after a court battle between Catherine and Falk's wife of 34 years, actress Shera Danese Falk. His wife was appointed conservator.

Full Article and Source:
Columbo Star, Peter Falk, Dead at 83

See Also:
"Columbo" Placed in Conservatorship

MI State Senators Unveil Bills to Protect Elderly

Bills to crack down on elder abuse are making their way through the state Senate. Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton) is leading the charge to protect older Michiganders after a man in her district was stripped of his life savings by people claiming they were doing home improvements at his house.

Senator Mike Nofs, a retired State Police Trooper, said the state owes it to older residents to pass laws to make them safer. He has introduced a bill allowing elder abuse victims to testify in court on video to avoid being intimidated by the legal process.

State Senators Unveil Bills to Protect Elderly Michiganders

Friday, June 24, 2011

'The Judicial System: Closed Union Shops Violating Your Rights'

There are few people these day still having any illusions about the corruption in our judicial system. As we have seen and heard, our courts are the last place to find justice or to see the rule of law applied. Our courts, once the last line of defense in legal matters, have become nothing more than government sanctioned racketeering. Reports of judicial misconduct in virtually every court system in the nation, is not only on the rise, it is being condoned by the silence of the Department of Justice, congress and state governments. Even SCOTUS decided that the corruption of the lower courts was not worthy of their superior and divine attention due in part to the high level of corruption in its own court.

They are running closed union shops
The term “closed shop” is used to signify an establishment, trade or skill which employs only members of the union. Our courts are closed union shops which are now actively writing new rules (lawmaking) to prevent anyone other than BAR union members from accessing the courts.

Full Article and Source:
The Judicial System: Closed Union Shops Violating Your Rights

Disability Caregivers Struggling Financially, Emotionally

A nationwide survey of caregivers of those with developmental disabilities is offering new evidence this week of the hardships many families face in accessing support services.

The results of the survey released Tuesday in a report from The Arc show one in three families are on waiting lists for some type of government-funded service — ranging from personal assistance to respite care and housing — and they’re likely to remain in limbo for an average of over five years.

The survey, which was conducted last year, culled responses from nearly 5,000 caregivers from across the country.

Most adults with developmental disabilities are living with their parents and have no alternate housing plans for the future, the findings indicate. The majority lack high school diplomas and 85 percent are unemployed.

Their parents are feeling taxed financially and emotionally. One in five families said someone had to quit their job in order to provide care. And more than 80 percent of caregivers said they put their own retirement in jeopardy because they used savings to fund services for a loved one.

What’s more, the vast majority of caregivers report feeling tired and stressed some or most of the time. Nearly half say they have more caregiving responsibilities than they can handle, according to the report.

“The future is uncertain for these individuals and their families,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, who called the situation a “train wreck waiting to happen.”

Disability Scoop: Disability Caregivers Struggling Financially, Emotionally

See Also:
Still in the Shadows With Their Future Uncertain

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ward Hit With $18,000 Tax Bill

An elderly man missing nearly $168,000 from his estate after he went into guardianship under Jeffrey Schend is liable for more than $18,000 in taxes and penalties after bills came due and went unpaid under Schend’s watch, records show.

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue last year issued two tax warrants on a 78-year-old man for unpaid state income taxes, interest and penalties. Schend was in control of his affairs when the bills came due. The man’s missing funds are part of the criminal case against Schend, who’s charged in Outagamie County Court with six felony theft counts and one count of misdemeanor theft.

Tax warrants are liens that allow the state to collect money from wages and assets.

Wisconsin statutes on guardianships specifically cite tax payments among the responsibilities of those appointed to handle an incompetent client’s finances.

Statutes say guardians are to pay legally enforceable debts of their clients, “including by filing tax returns and paying any taxes owed, from the ward's estate and income and assets.”

“The guardian of estate of an individual would certainly have the fiduciary responsibility to attend to any tax-related issues on behalf of the ward,” said Aaron Janssen, an attorney for Outagamie County.

Full Article and Source:
Elderly Man Liable for $18,000 in Overdue Taxes From Money Missing After He Went into Guardianship Under Jeffrey Schend

Court Investigator Placed on Leave

Donald D. Gaudio Jr. has again been placed on unpaid administrative leave from his job as deputy clerk and guardianship investigator with the Mahoning County Probate Court.

Judge Mark Belinky of the probate court put Gaudio on leave, effective immediately, in a Thursday afternoon judgment entry.

The leave is effective pending completion of a county sheriff’s department investigation of a verbal altercation, in which Gaudio, 49, of Boardman, allegedly threatened to punch Samuel M. Moffie, a 51-year-old Boardman businessman, in the face.

The altercation occurred just before the 1 p.m. Wednesday swearing-in ceremony for Daniel R. Yemma as county treasurer in the county courthouse rotunda.

Mahoning Co. Probate Court Investigator Placed on Leave

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jeffrey Schend's Bond Reduced

A former Appleton guardian accused of stealing from elderly and disabled clients is expected to post bail after reaching a bond agreement with Outagamie County prosecutors.

Judge Mark McGinnis today reduced Jeffrey M. Schend’s bond following the agreement, which required Schend to waive his right to a preliminary hearing. McGinnis reduced the $100,000 cash bond to a $10,000 cash bond and a $40,000 property bond based on equity in the home owned by Schend’s mother.

Had the preliminary hearing moved forward, prosecutors would have called witnesses to try to show sufficient evidence that Schend had committed a felony.

Because Schend waived the preliminary hearing, McGinnis allowed the case to move forward without evidence of probable cause. In the next stage of the case, Schend will enter pleas to six felony counts of theft and one misdemeanor theft count. He’ll return to court for an arraignment hearing Aug. 1.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Reduces Bond for Jeffery Schend, the Guardian Accused in Theft Case as Part of Deal With Prosecutors

See Also:
Jeffrey Schend Planned to Move to Arizona

Trouble's Death Kept Quiet

There’s pampered, and there’s pampered, and then there was $12 million Trouble pampered.

It’s been kept mum, and no one knows why for sure. Maybe it’s because the family didn’t want to bring it up, or have to deal with the inevitable gossip buzz it would surely create, or maybe it’s because certain disinhertited family members with a distaste for Trouble didn’t want to face old wounds again.

Probably because it just plain wasn’t worth the Trouble.

Whatever the reason(s), A Helmsley family heiress passed away at the ripe old age of 12 way back in December, and the world only learned of it this month. That’s right- 12. But that’s around 84 in dog years, if one can really consider Trouble Helmsley a ‘mere dog.’

Obviously, billionaire real estate tycoon Leona Helmsley and Trouble her super-pampered Maltese didn’t think so. When Leona Helmsley passed away in 2008, she left a hefty sum inheritance of $12 million to ensure a comfortable life for her pet.

Full Article and Source:
Trouble - the $12 Million Dog Death Kept Secret

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jeffrey Schend Planned to Move to Arizona

Jeffrey Schend, a former guardian accused of stealing from elderly and disabled clients, was just a month away from moving to Arizona when police moved in for the arrest in May.

Months of investigation into Schend's practices put an end to his 6-year-old business and landed him in jail. And questions continued to mount as he and family members waited for their Appleton residence to sell.

Schend became a corporate guardian in 2004 and was entrusted to make decisions for people courts found unable to handle their own finances.

Schend was investigated from two sides. The state Department of Health Services started hearing complaints in October that Schend didn't pay for rent, groceries and other bills on behalf some of his clients. They stripped him of his authority to practice in April. Outagamie County received its own complaints in fall.

In Appleton, a county-appointed investigator working independently of the state pored over financial records in April and determined about $500,000 was missing from some of those he was appointed to protect.

Full Article and Source:
Investigator: Ex-Guardian Jeffrey Schend Was Trying to Leave State

Jeffrey Schend Seeks Lower Jail Bond

Judge Rules Britney Spears Doesn't Need Psych Eval

Britney Spears will not have to undergo an independent psychiatric evaluation. Britney's former manager Sam Lufti had asked for the evaluation to help in his defamation lawsuit against her parents. However, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has denied the motion, saying that it would infringe upon sealed orders from the judge responsible for her conservatorship.

The judge also denied a request to obtain child visitation reports and drug tests from 2008, which Lufti said would prove that he wasn't slipping Britney drugs back when he was her manager.

Judge Rules Britney Spears Doesn't Need Psych Evaluation

Monday, June 20, 2011

AZ: Reform Weighed to Protect Life Savings

Arizona Probate Courts could start managing incapacitated individuals' health care and finances based on how much money they have and how long they expect to live if the Supreme Court accepts recommendations in a report being presented next week.

A committee weighing Probate Court reforms is calling for new rules to reduce fees, strengthen accountability and protect the assets of people deemed too ill to care for themselves.

Chief among recommendations in the committee's final 432-page report is a requirement that judges conduct "sustainability" reviews weighing potential future costs against existing assets.

If adopted, the change means the courts would - for the first time - consider how much money someone has when deciding how much of that money to spend on care and other services.

The current lack of attention to available funds has led to cases of people's assets being drained to pay for the services of court-appointed lawyers or fiduciaries, which manage an incapacitated person's health care or finances.

The probate-reform committee, made up of judges, lawyers and fiduciaries, was formed last year by Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca Berch following accounts in The Arizona Republic detailing how people placed under the court's protection were billed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney and fiduciary fees.

Judges charged with overseeing the cases rarely stepped in to limit the fees.

The committee's report will be presented Monday to the Arizona Judicial Council, a panel of the state's top judges that establishes statewide court rules and sets the court's legislative agenda.

Other committee recommendations would establish fee guidelines, require court-appointed lawyers and fiduciaries to submit budgets, create a training program for probate judges and implement new processes for monitoring incapacitated adults under the court's care.

Some say these combined methods have never before been tried in any Probate Court and represent a new way of doing business.

Full Article and Source:
Reform Weighed to Protect Life Savings

Retired Judge Loses Appeal of Son's $1.25m Bequest to Library

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has rejected an appeal from a former Lancaster County judge who claimed his late son's decision to leave his $1.25 million estate to the Lancaster Public Library, instead of his family, was a product of an "insane delusion."

In its June 6 ruling, the court affirmed the ruling of a specially appointed judge who decided last July that the late Thomas Bucher — a former county parole officer and the son of retired Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas Judge Wilson Bucher — had based his decision to disinherit his family on familial acrimony, and possibly a belief that he'd been "kicked out" of the family by his father.

Thomas Bucher died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound July 20, 2008, at the age of 59. Earlier versions of his will left his estate — which included property given to him by his parents — to his family. The Bucher family said it was unaware Thomas had changed his will in 2003 to name the library as the sole beneficiary until the will went to probate in August 2008.

Full Article and Source:
Retired Judge Loses Appeal of Son's $1.25 Million Bequest to Library

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Missing Our Fathers on Father's Day



Guardian Recommended for L'Oreal Heiress

Doctors have advised appointing a guardian to oversee the affairs of the 88-year-old L'Oreal heiress, a French newspaper said today, in a twist to a legal feud that could affect the running of the cosmetics giant.

Le Monde daily cited medical assessments carried out in November and filed with a French court last month as saying that Liliane Bettencourt, Europe's richest woman, was suffering a "degeneration in her mental and physical faculties".

L'Oreal declined to comment on the report. It was confirmed, however, by lawyers for the billionaire's daughter, Francoise Meyers-Bettencourt, who has tried to have her declared a ward of court.

Bettencourt, ranked by Forbes as the world's 15th-richest person, said in an interview with weekend newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday that she was in fine mental health and said she was more concerned about her daughter's condition.

The Bettencourts hold a nearly 31 percent stake in L'Oreal and the dispute has raised questions over the long-term solidity of the family as a core shareholder. The case also sparked a political funding investigation last year.

Legal sources said it was unclear at this stage how the case could proceed and said France's highest court was due to meet on June 20 to decide whether a wardship judge can appoint a custodian.

Full Article and Source:
Guardian Recommended for L'Oreal Heiress

Man Accused of Stabbing Guardian Found Mentally Incompetent

A Sonoma County Superior Court judge ruled that a man who allegedly stabbed his guardian in April is mentally incompetent to stand trial for attempted murder.

Judge Robert LaForge had earlier suspended criminal proceedings against 20-year-old Micah Hughes pending a psychiatric exam.

Hughes was charged with the attempted murder of 51-year-old Mitchell Davis, who was stabbed 10 to 12 times in a vehicle in unincorporated Sonoma County around 7:15 p.m. on April 30.

Hughes will have another mental health evaluation before a hearing on July 22 to determine the mental health hospital to which he will be sent.

Full Article and Source:
Man Accused of Stabbing Guardian Found Mentally Incompetent