Saturday, September 17, 2011

AZ: Exploitation Trial Starts Oct 19

The trial for a woman accused of capitalizing on a dying woman’s estate remains on schedule to start later next month.

Heather Driscoll will face a jury starting Oct. 19 in Payson. Driscoll’s former husband, Michael Lowe, will stand trial starting Nov. 1 for his alleged larger role in taking over Alicia Christopherson’s estate.

A grand jury indicted both more than a year ago — Driscoll on charges of theft from a vulnerable adult for an amount less than $25,000, and Lowe for Christopherson’s estate which was close to half a million.

The case turns on whether Christopherson was legally capable of altering her estate in 2003 making Lowe the sole trustee. She had established the trust originally in 1993 with her grandson, Roger Wolfram, the beneficiary. Through the years, Christopherson changed the beneficiary several times — including one version in which she would have left the bulk of the estate to Hospice.

Full Article and Source:
Trial for Woman Accused of Taking Elderly Woman's Assets Starts October 19

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Department of Justice announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), alleging the agency discriminated against a black male former employee on the basis of race and/or sex by subjecting him to a hostile work environment and then terminating him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The suit was filed in federal district court in the Western District of Texas.

According to the department’s complaint, from early 2007 until his termination in July 2007, Michael Lewis was subjected to race- and gender-based slurs and insults and other objectionable conduct by his first- and second-line supervisors. Additionally, the supervisors ignored and even ridiculed his repeated complaints to them about being harassed by one of his assigned clients at DFPS, in contrast to the office’s prior practice of transferring non-black, female investigators from cases in which they experienced harassment from clients. The racial and sexual harassment of Lewis ultimately culminated in his termination.

“All workers have the right to go to work each without facing discrimination and without having to suffer racial and sexual harassment. Public employers should set an example for others by upholding the law and taking prompt and effective action to stop discrimination when it occurs,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously pursue such violations of Title VII.”

The El Paso, Texas, area office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated and attempted to resolve Lewis’s charge of discrimination before referring it to the Department of Justice for litigation. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at

The enforcement of Title VII is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its websites at and

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Alleging Racial and Sexual Harassment by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

Friday, September 16, 2011

Elder Abuse Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Mickey Rooney

Lawyers from Holland & Knight LLP have filed an elder abuse lawsuit on behalf of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney and his court-appointed conservator. In a petition brought in Los Angeles Superior Court, the lawsuit claims that Rooney's stepson, Christopher Aber, and his wife, Christina, financially and verbally abused Rooney over a 10-year period, leaving the famed entertainer powerless over his assets and personal life.

In February of this year, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz granted court protection to Rooney, appointing attorney Michael R. Augustine as his conservator. Attorneys Bruce S. Ross and Vivian L. Thoreen of Holland & Knight in Los Angeles represent Rooney and Augustine, who charge the Abers with breach of fiduciary duty and fraud stemming from the elder abuse, along with misappropriation of Rooney's name and likeness.

Although he remains mentally sharp and physically able, Rooney has nonetheless in recent years become dependent on others for care and assistance. Even throughout his career, Rooney relied on support from others to help manage his personal and business affairs. According to the complaint, Aber took advantage of the trust and confidence that Rooney put in him, and in the process took control of Rooney's income and finances to enrich himself and his wife, while leaving Rooney no control over or access to his finances. Rooney alleges that the Abers regularly withheld food and medication, leading to bouts of depression.

"Clearly fame does not insulate an individual from the trauma and neglect of elder abuse, as Mickey Rooney's case vividly demonstrates," said Bruce S. Ross of Holland & Knight. "Mickey was exploited by a close relative in whom he placed his trust and looked to for guidance. If a person of Mickey Rooney's stature and profile can be victimized, there are untold numbers of less fortunate seniors who are similarly being abused in this country."

Full Press Release and Source:
Holland & Knight Files Elder Abuse Lawsuit on Behalf of Hollywood Legend Mickey Rooney, Claiming Financial and Verbal Abuse by Rooney Stepson Chris Aber

Coma Mom Defies the Odds After Devestating Accident

Shelli Eldredge's dream vacation nearly killed her.

After a moped accident in Hawaii broke nearly 50 of her bones, fractured her skull, snapped her spine and left her in a coma, doctors didn't have much hope for her recovery. One recommended stopping life support.

But her husband, Dr. Stephen Eldredge, couldn't give up.

"We made the decision we were going to move forward at all costs," he said.

Then Shelli defied the odds -- after about a month in a coma, she woke up and started speaking. She’s now back home in Utah, talking and walking with assistance. She’s working hard in physical therapy three times a week with the goal of returning to her active life.

Full Article, Video and Source:
Coma Mom Defies the Odds After Devestating Accident

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Free Britney: Is Forbes Questioning Britney's Conservatorship?

As the word spreads of Britney Spears’ conservatorship and the lawsuit involving it from Brand Sense, more & more media outlets are questioning it’s status. The question here being: If Britney can endure a months-long tour, release albums, meet fans, promote her brand, & give interviews.. why is she not “competent” to testify in a case involving HER brand? She is the beneficiary of Britney Spears Inc after all.

But here’s the catch, Jamie Spears (conservator) is in control of her finances. Brand Sense claims that in early 2010, the company was cut off from their 35% commission. This would place the blame solely on Jamie Spears, as Britney has had no control over her finances since early 2008.

Why then are they asking Britney to be deposed? Perhaps they want more answers questioned than we think.

Forbes asks: Is Britney Spears Hiding Behind Her Conservatorship?


California Elder Abuse Bill Sparked by Victim

Nine months ago, Liz Sanders had never been to the State Capitol. She had no idea who her state senator was, or what it might take to enact legislation. What she did know was that she had to do something to protect other families from the abuse that devastated her family. “My mother was preyed upon by her in-home caregiver. She was fleeced out of her life savings,” said Sanders. “I knew I had to do something to prevent another family from suffering this kind of heartbreak, but I didn’t know where to begin.”

Sanders said she started calling lawmakers. “And Senator Pavley was the only one who listened to me and decided to take action.” Now, due in large part to Liz’s passion and tenacity, Senator Pavley’s bill that aims to crack down on elder abuse is headed to the governor’s desk.

“The physical and financial abuse of elder and dependent adults is an insidious and growing problem in California,” said Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). “When Ms. Sanders called my office and explained what happened to her mother, it just made sense to pursue legislation.”

Sanders has flown to Sacramento several times to testify in support of Pavley’s SB 586, which passed the Senate [8/30/11]. The bill would double penalties for elder and dependent adult abuse and would impose new regulations for the issuance of so called “signature stamps.”

“A $20 signature stamp cost my mother three-quarters of a million dollars and left her in financial ruin,” said Sanders. “It simply shouldn’t be this easy.”

Full Article and Source:
Elder Abuse Bill Sparked by LA Victim Headed to Governor

CA: Elder Abuse Hotline May Go on the Web

Legislation to prevent police, doctors and bankers from being kept on hold for long periods of time when calling in suspected elder abuse is on its way to the governor.

The measure would allow authorities to submit these reports by using a secure and confidential Internet site rather than calling in on a telephone line that at times can be busy.

“This effective reporting system will ensure that our seniors’ voices are heard and abuses are not overlooked,” said Sen. Juan Vargas, a San Diego Democrat who carried the bill.

San Diego County officials pressed for the change, saying overloaded phone lines and budget squeezing threaten to frustrate those who are required by law to file reports of suspected physical or financial abuse.

The average time spent on hold is 6 minutes and 48 seconds, according to county records. The longest delays range from 39 minutes to 74 minutes.

The Internet reporting system would be optional.

Senate Bill 718 sailed through the Legislature without opposition, most recently clearing its final house vote.

Full Article and Source:
Elder Abuse Hotline May Go on the Web

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Probate Sharks: FBI News Release

September 7, 2011:

United States v. Jay Canastra

Jay Canastra, the director of admissions at The Wealshire, a nursing home in northwest suburban Lincolnshire, was charged with accepting a $1,600 kickback in exchange for referring nursing home Medicare patients to a home health care agency in West Dundee.

Canastra, 38, of Vernon Hills, was charged with one count of violating the anti-kickback statute in a criminal information filed today in U.S. District Court. He will be arraigned at a later date.

According to the charge, on Dec. 4, 2009, Canastra received the $1,600 cash kickback from unnamed Individual A, who was a representative of unnamed Agency A, which was authorized by Medicare to provide home heath services. Canastra allegedly accepted the payment in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries at his nursing home to Agency A, in violation of the federal law that makes it illegal to exchange kickbacks in return for Medicare referrals. There is no allegation that the nursing home or any other official there were aware of the alleged kickback.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dylan Smith. The case was investigated by the FBI and the HHS-OIG.

The charges in these cases carry the following maximum penalties on each count: health care fraud — 10 years in prison, and mail fraud — 20 years in prison, and both carry a $250,000 maximum fine, or an alternate fine totaling twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater; and making false statements regarding a health care matter, and violating the anti-kickback statute — 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations, which expanded to Chicago in February 2011, are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Editor's note: Good work FEDS! Kudos to Dylan! This is a fine beginning, however, the perpetrators who allow this decedent system to propagate are still free. The corrupt Probate Court of Cook County is the hotbed that allows the Medicare/Medicaid crooks to flourish. ~~Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster,


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gary Harvey Divorces Sara Harvey*

Wedding vows once went something like this:

Bride: I, (name), take you, (name), for my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

However, it doesn’t seem as though those wedding vows have any meaning anymore. Well, not in the Gary and Sara Harvey case anyway. No, in Chemung County, New York, it would seem the vows have become:

“You, Sara, don’t get to take Gary anywhere and neither shall you have him or hold him from this day forward, whether it is for better or worse. We’ll take him for richer and you can pay the insurance to keep him from being poorer, in sickness and infection, until death does he part from us and gets written off the books.”

Who are these people that think so little of their ward, Gary Harvey, and his bride, Sara? Who are these people who toy with the lives of others and think they, the controllers, are so “enlightened” and “righteous?” Have they forgotten that they are supposed to be making decisions, not as they themselves might make for self, but rather, as Gary would want the decisions made?

Full Article and Source:
Gary Harvey Divorces Sara Harvey by Virtue of the County

*by virtue of the County

JOIN the Facebook Page: Rescue Gary Harvey

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Neglecting the Elderly Isn't a Partisan Issue - It's a Moral One

All year, I've been writing about troubling developments when it comes to elderly care in this state.

Cases of neglect, abuse — even death — are on the rise. And Florida politicians are making things even worse, muzzling the watchdogs who report abuse and making it easier for profit-making facilities to skimp on care.
Many of you have expressed outrage.

Well, now the feds are getting involved.

Last week, the U.S. Administration on Aging released an investigative report that determined Florida was "non-compliant" in several elements of Florida's Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

In layman's terms, that means Florida isn't meeting this country's basic standards for protecting and caring for elderly residents.

That's disgraceful.

Elderly care and neglect isn't a partisan issue. It's a moral one.

No patient should miss medication, dine among roaches or go unwashed. Yet we've seen all of that.

Even more troubling than Florida's existing problems is that some want to make things worse.

The troubles that prompted federal officials to investigate started shortly after Rick Scott was sworn in as governor — and he ousted the state's elder-care ombudsman, Brian Lee.

Lee ran a program that was a success by most any measure.

It was primarily volunteers — 400 watchdogs who looked for problems at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. And the Floridians who asked for their help reported 98 percent satisfaction. (Try finding another government agency with a satisfaction rate that high.)

The program also was cheap and effective. Last year, it conducted a record-high 9,000 investigations. And because volunteers were doing most of the work, the agency operated on a shoestring budget: $2.3 million. (By comparison, Gov. Scott requested $600 million in the budget for his executive office alone.)

The agency didn't have all the powers and teeth that many people wanted. But when it got involved, it got results — for pennies on the taxpayers' dollar.

The problem for Lee was that the industries he regulated didn't care for him. He and his staff were too nosy and vigilant.

Scott's administration ousted him.

Full Article and Source:
Neglecting Elderly Isn't a Partisan Issue — It's a Moral One

Monday, September 12, 2011

Recommended Program - The Truth: Exploitation Laws Protecting Seniors

Vulnerable older adults who live alone without the assistance of a strong social support network may be at greater risk of being exploited. They often look forward to a friendly voice on the telephone or visitor at the door — someone who will spend time listening to them.

Unfortunately, that friendly voice may not have good intentions and can lead to having the elder become the next victim of financial exploitation.

All of us can help prevent fraud and exploitation by reminding elders to be wary of scams and encouraging them to ask for help before a situation escalates.

The good news is that our community has a strong network of professionals and human service providers focusing on offering services and programs to assist older persons and their caregivers. These partners joined together last year to form Lee Elder Abuse Prevention Partnership, which is an elder abuse coalition serving Lee County.

LEAPP will host an informative event at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers on Sept. 14. All of us can take action by participating in this upcoming program.

This program entitled “The Truth: Exploitation Laws Protecting Seniors” will be presented by Joe Roubicek, economic crimes detective with Broward County State Attorney’s Office. Detective Roubicek is the author of the book “Financial Abuse of the Elderly: A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes,” which serves as a criminal justice educational tool throughout the country.

According to Detective Roubicek, “Florida’s exploitation law (FSS 825.103) states that when someone maliciously takes the property of an “elderly person,” they are committing exploitation.” While that seems like a simple definition, he will further explain that the law requires that the “elderly person” be someone 60 years of age or older who is suffering from the infirmities of aging to the extent that their ability to adequately care for and protect themselves is impaired.

In other words, “It requires that the victims suffer disabilities that make them more vulnerable. And when the victim is more vulnerable, the victim impact is far worse.”

Full Article and Source:
Aging Gracefully - Friendly Voices Frequently Exploit

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Family of Man Whose $2 Million Estate Went Mostly to His Lawyer Rejects His Settlement Offer

The family of an 88-year-old deceased man, the bulk of whose $2 million estate went to the lawyer who drafted his will, has rejected a settlement that would have allowed the lawyer to keep most of that money.

Gail Heitz-Cahill of Westport said Thursday that her family offered to let Milford lawyer James Englis keep 20 percent of the estate, but they rejected a counter offer that would have left them with the short end of a 60-40 split. "We are going to go ahead with taking depositions and pursuing our complaint against Jim Englis to the bar grievance panel,'' she said.

John Lecouras inherited $2 million upon the untimely death of a nephew in 2007. A will he signed a year later left Englis and several of the lawyer's relatives a total of $1.1 million, while Lecouras' own family, including the woman with whom he spent 37 years, shared $800,000. After Lecouras died last year Probate Judge Paul Ganim removed Englis as executor and appointed Bridgeport attorney Fred Paoletti as temporary administrator of Lecouras' estate.

The family has also filed a complaint against Englis with the grievance panel of the Ansonia-Milford Judicial District, charging that Englis exerted undue influence on an elderly, ill Lecouras to change his will.

Full Article and Source:
Family of Man Whose $2 Million Estate Went Mostly to His Lawyer Rejects His Settlement Offer

In the Blink of an Eye

In the Blink of an Eye

White House Creates Website for Online Petitions

The White House is making it easier for people to press the federal government to act.

It is bringing that constitutional right to petition one's government into the digital age with a webpage, "We the People," where people can create and sign petitions seeking the government's action on a range of issues.

An official response is guaranteed for any petition that draws enough signatures — 5,000 names within 30 days — after it is reviewed by staff and the appropriate policy experts within the Obama administration.

White House Creates Website for Online Petitions