Saturday, October 1, 2011

Falsified Patient Records are Untold Story of California Nursing Home Care

Don Esco sought skilled nursing care at a Placerville facility for Johnnie, his wife of nearly 61 years, when she was recuperating from a bout with pneumonia. She died 13 days later. Esco sued, alleging that the medical charts lied about Johnnie's treatment.

A supervisor at a Carmichael nursing home admitted under oath that she was ordered to alter the medical records of a 92-year-old patient, who died after developing massive, rotting bedsores at the facility.

In Santa Monica, a nursing home was fined $2,500 by the state for falsifying a resident's medical chart, which claimed that the patient was given physical therapy five days a week. The catch? At least 28 of those sessions were documented by nurse assistants who were not at work on those days.

In Los Angeles, lawyers for a woman severely re-injured at a convalescent home discovered a string of false entries – several written by nonexistent nurses.

Phantom nurses. Suspicious entries in medical charts. Phony paperwork, hurriedly produced after an injury or death.

It is the untold story of nursing home care: falsification of patient records.

Full Article and Source:
Falsified Patient Records are Untold Story of California Nursing Home Care

Michael T. Conahan Could be Headed to Cushy Prison

If the U.S. Bureau of Prisons takes the advice of the judge who sentenced Michael T. Conahan on Friday, Conahan will serve his time in a minimum-security prison camp in the Florida Panhandle that was ranked one of the nation's 10 "cushiest" federal prisons by Forbes Magazine in 2009.

The Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola is adjacent to the Pensacola Naval Air Station and inmates have prime employment and recreation opportunities on the base that are not available in most federal lockups, the magazine concluded.

U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik recommended the prison camp at the request of the defense so that Conahan could be near members of his family. Conahan's wife, Barbara, purchased a home in Delray Beach, Fla., in June, according to records in Palm Beach County, Fla.

Full Article and Source:
Conahan Could Be Headed to Cushy Prison

FL Woman Arrested in Scam of Elderly

A Hialeah woman was arrested and accused of masterminding a scam to rob the elderly by selling them “life-saving” medication they didn’t need for hundreds of dollars.

Elvine Lamas, 38, has been charged with exploitation of elderly persons, fraud and grand theft.

As many as 40 people have fallen prey to the scam in the last year, Hialeah police said.

According to police, the scheme worked like this: The intended victim, an elderly person, would receive a call from someone claiming to be from the victim's doctor’s office. The victim was told they needed "life saving medications" immediately, but they had to pay for it with cash. The victims were asked for anywhere from $300 and $500.

Moments later, someone would deliver the medication to the victim's home. The "life-saving medication" turned out to be multi-vitamins.

Hialeah Woman Accused of Scamming Elderly by Selling Fake Medication

Friday, September 30, 2011

Former Mayor's Wife Battles Guardian

Before he had a stroke in late 2008, Jim Brown was the mayor of Cynthiana and a hands-on businessman who compiled personal and business assets of approximately $115 million, including an ambulance service, a nursing home, a restaurant and a hotel.

Now, Brown's well-being and financial affairs are at the mercy of a judge, who this summer ordered him taken from the home he shared with his wife following an employee's allegations that the former mayor was being mistreated, according to court documents.

Brown, who didn't want to leave his home, was transported by his own ambulance service and placed in Cynthiana's Grand Haven Nursing Home, which he also owns. Brown's wife, Kay Brown, was ordered not to have any contact with him and was jailed briefly without bail for not appearing at a hearing regarding her husband.

Kay Brown recently filed lawsuits in Jim Brown's native Magoffin County and in Johnson County, where the couple moved after the stroke, against her husband's temporary court-appointed guardian, Cynthiana attorney Edwin M. Culbertson.

Full Article and Source:
Former Cynthiana Mayor Mired in Odd Legal Battle

Woman Cleared of 2008 'Kidnapping' of Elderly Man

A woman who was charged with kidnapping and attempted theft in 2008 was acquitted by a jury in King County Superior Court.

Kulany Roeksbutr, 32, was cleared of all charges following a five-day trial before King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell in December 2009.

Roeksbutr and a friend, Sunjinda Yahatta, were charged after Yahatta married a 78-year-old man who was in an Issaquah nursing home suffering from dementia. The charges alleged that Yahatta married the man so she could drain his bank account, and that Roeksbutr acted as a witness at the wedding and was involved in the alleged scheme.

The women took the man to the bank after the marriage and tried to withdraw $23,000, according to charging documents. A suspicious teller called police.

Both women were acquitted of all charges after defense attorneys argued that the state had failed to prove the elderly man was incapacitated at the time of the wedding.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Cleared of 2008 Kidnap Case

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to File a Complaint Against Judges and Attorneys (preface)

This series (How to File a Complaint….) is meant for every jurisdiction in the USA. As far as getting something done to effect change, I believe this series is of utmost importance. I’m asking that you repost and let’s make this viral. I’m sure similar avenues of legal accountability exist in other countries (for those around the world who follow this blog).

This series is an attempt to educate laypersons on how to file a complaint against naughty lawyers and unethical judges who have kept us in the dark to this recourse. I consider myself someone who keeps himself relatively informed and educated by reading the newspaper and watching the news(and a college graduate), but I had no idea there was a governing body that should be protecting me from the illegal actions of Kennedy. I had never heard of the Court of the Judiciary (governing body over judges) or the Judicial Code of Ethics (rules judges MUST conduct themselves by). I had never heard of The Board of Professional Responsibility (governing body over attorneys) and the rules they are governed by, until I ran into a childhood friend who is a judicial investigator from my home state. I returned to him a week later with a working knowledge from the Judicial Code. I went to the website I will provide in this series and downloaded the various complaint forms, then went to work. My complaints stuck. Considering that, today, in the Tennessean newspaper, an article appeared that represented over 90% of judicial complaints are dismissed, I bat .1000 in my efforts. I don’t claim credit for being masterful in my first complaint, but it was with ease that I caught their attention by clear and convincing evidence (actually, “strongly represented allegations”). I assisted Ginger Franklin in authoring her complaint against the same judge (Kennedy) and it stuck. Two pitches, two hits. Kennedy is generously errant, so he’s an easy target. Unfortunately, the TN Court of the Judiciary is comprised of former TN judges, so we have found ourselves dealing with a impotent body of judges judging judges. (in truth, they have proven to be an organization that protects judges). They have yet to discipline Kennedy in either complaint. We are confident Senator Mae Beavers, chairperson for the TN Senate Judiciary Committee, and the hearings she held this week addressing drastic reform in the TN Court of the Judiciary, will finally bring our much needed REAL protection from errant judges.

Educate yourself to the rules governing lawyers and judges and you become a force to be reckoned with. We must take the power back in a corrupt legal system where “we the people” have become a lost interest.

Full Article and Source:
ImpeachRandyKennedy: How to File a Complaint Against Judges and Attorneys (preface)

'Ella's Law'

I got a phone call from State Sen. Edith Prague D-Columbia who represents the 19th Senatorial District where I live, and therefore, where my mother lives, telling me the bill we refer to as Ella’s Law, after my mother M. Ella Winter, has become law. Sen. Prague, or Edith as I like to call her, befriended my mother a few years ago when Mom was locked in a series of legal battles with my out-of-state siblings and their spawn who wanted to institutionalize her.

Mom won the major legal battles, but then was subjected to a series of complaints that were initiated in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, all falsely alleging that she was being abused in Connecticut because she wouldn’t call the people in those states who had tried to institutionalize her.

The complaints went on for more than a year and included other forms of harassment, but what they really accomplished was exposing a major weakness in Connecticut’s elder abuse system. So, late last year, after the elections, after Sen. Prague, Edith as I like to call her, was re-elected, she convened a task force to do some rewriting and new writing to fix the law.

The work was done, hearings were held, testimony was gathered, pros and cons were considered, and ultimately we have what now is referred to as Public Act 11-224. The act will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2011 and from then on we expect regular reports of overcrowded jails as scores of criminals and other low lifes attempt to rob the poor and stuff the pockets of the rich.

From now until then, should any cases of elder abuse through false complaints surface, we’ll just have to rely on good old-fashioned vigilantes.

Full Article and Source:
Granny Snatching: Ella's Law Now Law Protecting CT Seniors

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Senate Judiciary Subcommitee on Administration and the Courts Holds Hearing on Guardianship

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar held a hearing (Thursday, Sept. 22) on protecting seniors and persons with disabilities from abuse and neglect by guardians.

During the hearing, Klobuchar called for more accountability and oversight of court-appointed guardians to ensure that seniors are safe and receive the care they deserve. Klobuchar chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts.

Klobuchar invited Minnesota State Ombudsman Deb Holtz to testify at the hearing. Holtz serves as the State Ombudsman for Long-Term Care, a service of the Minnesota Board on Aging, and is the top consumer advocate for thousands of elderly Minnesotans.

“We know from experience, unfortunately, that many people are being ill-served by their guardians and conservators. We also know that many court systems simply lack the resources to effectively monitor this enormous system,” Holtz said. “We are very supportive of Senator Klobuchar’s action to now take on this issue at the federal level. It should be a given that we all age without any abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation and that our lives will continue to be filled with dignity.”

In addition to Holtz, other witnesses that testified at the hearing included Kay Brown, Director of the GAO’s Education, Workforce and Income Security team; Naomi Karp, Strategic Policy Advisor for the AARP Public Policy Institute; Robert Baldwin, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the National Center for State Courts; and Michelle Hollister, Managing Partner at Solkoff Legal, P.A., and former Executive Director of the Florida Statewide Public Guardianship Office.

Full Article and Source:
Sen Klobuchar Chairs Hearing on Protecting Seniors From Abuse, Neglect

View the Hearing

Read the 2010 GAO Report: Guardianships - Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect and Abuse of Seniors

TN Legislators Push to Overall Judge Discipline Board

At the conclusion of a two-day review of the state’s judicial discipline system Wednesday, lawmakers said they are satisfied that they have plenty of evidence to justify an overhaul.

While some of the proposed changes to the Court of the Judiciary — the body that investigates ethical complaints against judges and decides whether to punish them — would bring the commission more in line with its counterparts in other states, other changes would be unusual. In any event, members of a special legislative committee, the second one in as many years to review the Court of the Judiciary, said testimony from several disgruntled litigants suggests change is needed.

“Hopefully, we can make our members understand from these hearings … that it’s serious, and not just to take the word of their hometown judges that there is no problem when there is a problem,” said state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, who was angered earlier this year when state judges spoke to lawmakers and helped kill her proposal to drastically alter the Court of the Judiciary’s structure at the end of the legislative session.

Beavers and her allies hope to resurrect the proposal, or one like it, when the legislature reconvenes in January, but no specific time frame was provided. The Court of the Judiciary is made up of 16 members, including 10 judges appointed by the state Supreme Court. Beavers’ proposal would reduce the commission’s size to 12 members appointed by the speakers of the state House and Senate, and only five would be judges.

Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, said allowing the Supreme Court to appoint judges to “judge judges” is a conflict of interest and that the court’s appointing power needs to be stripped.

Full Article and Source:
TN Legislators Push to Overhaul Board That Disciplines Judges

TN: Court of the Judiciary

Judges have a hand in some of the most emotional decisions in Tennesseans' lives, yet many who feel like they were wronged by the legal system say the board created to punish judges is protecting them instead.

The Court of the Judiciary investigates complaints against judges in Tennessee and reviews whether or not there was any misconduct. Much of what they do takes place behind closed doors, and lawmakers say that needs to change.

Channel 4's I-Team investigation was front and center during a legislative hearing Tuesday that could shape the way judges are investigated and punished.

We first introduced you to Danielle Malmquist in July. The judge presiding over her divorce, Jerry Stokes, had her investigated by police believing she wanted to kill him.

Yet during that investigation and even now, he continues to preside over her divorce case.

"During the five-month police investigation, (Judge Stokes) rules against me 64 times," Danielle Malmquist said.

Malmquist believes the judge should have recused himself, so she filed a complaint with the Court of the Judiciary - the board tasked with investigating and punishing judges.

Her complaint was dismissed, and she feels like a system designed to protect her is protecting someone else instead.

"Judges judging judges is not working in our current system of judicial accountability as those judges have a vested interest," Malmquist said.

A majority of complaints are not made public unless they rise to the level of a public reprimand. That bothers many state lawmakers who say it's impossible to know if the judges are really doing their jobs.

"Right now we're in the dark as the public is as to the reprimands that are being issued to judges, private reprimands," Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) said.

Those on the Court of the Judiciary say the disciplinary system is working, and that making every complaint public could cause unnecessary harm.

"We don't want to just immediately expose everything everybody accuses something in public," Court of the Judiciary Judge Chris Craft said.

In the past year, there have been 359 complaints against judges. Of those, 314 have been dismissed, nine resulted in public reprimands and six resulted in private reprimands.

Full Article and Source:
Some Want More Oversight on Investigations Into Judges

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Former Judge Michael T. Conahan Gets 17.5 Years!

On Friday, September 23, 2011, former Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Conahan, 59, was sentenced by Federal Middle District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik to 210 months, or 17.5 years, in federal prison for his part in the Luzerne County judicial scandal. Conahan pled guilty to his crimes and received a sentence of almost 10 years less than co-Defendant, former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella.

Kosik additionally ordered Conahan to pay more than $874,000 in restitution, along with other fines. Judge Kosik also recommended that Conahan be sent to a prison in Delray Beach, Florida "not for convenience" but so that his family can be in close proximity

Before the sentence was handed down, Conahan sat as he read a prepared statement accepting responsibility for his actions and apologizing to all of those he harmed. He told the court, "...the system was not corrupt. I was corrupt."

Former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan Sentenced to 17.5 Years in Prison

Michael T. Conahan's Statement to the Court

Thank you, your honor. Good morning.

Your honor, this has been a long road for me. It has been difficult, embarrassing, damaged my reputation beyond repair. I've lost everything that I worked for my entire life, and I'm about to go to prison.

Your honor, I deserve these consequences because of what I've done.

First, please allow me to apologize to the children and the families of the children that appeared in juvenile court in Luzerne County.

You are the vulnerable people of our society and are entitled to have decisions based upon what is in your best interests. I let you down the most. My actions undermined your faith in the system and contributed to the great difficulty in your lives.

I was the president judge, I owed you better. I'm grateful that the Supreme Court overturned your findings of delinquency and expunged your records. I am sorry you were victimized.

I apologize to the staff and the probation department of the juvenile court. I was the president judge and I should have let you do better things for those juveniles. I let you down. You deserved better from me.

To all of those people who lost faith in the juvenile justice system, I ask that you please keep in mind the system was not corrupt, I was corrupt.

The system has integrity, I did not perform my duties the way I should have, and I do not have integrity.

I apologize to the citizens of Luzerne County because your faith in government has been shaken, as a result of the dark cloud I placed over all of us. I let you down personally and professionally.

I hope that both the prosecutions of public officials and public officials like me accepting responsibility and admitting their criminal actions will restore your faith in government.

Your honor, Luzerne County is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. The county and its government were not corrupt, I was corrupt.

I also apologize to the legal community and the judiciary. I've tarnished the reputation and trust that people have placed in lawyers and in the judiciary.

I think I did some good as a judge, however, I lost my way, and any good I have done over the years will forever be overshadowed by my criminal acts.

The public has the right to expect that lawyers act with integrity at all times. As a lawyer, I failed.

The public has a right to expect that the judiciary is built upon the foundation of upholding truth and honesty. As a judge, I failed.

The judicial system was not bad or corrupt, your honor, I was corrupt.

Your Honor, I lost my way and violated my oath and broke the law.

Over the past two years, I've come to understand these facts. I worked long and hard to try and understand all the wrong that I've done and why I did it and to try and understand how I can atone for it.

Throughout this process, my family and close friends never left my side. They have given me the love and support I needed so that I could step back and examine my life and my conduct.

I have a lot of time to think about what I did. My failures and this process helped me to look at myself, and I did not like what I saw. I disappointed and hurt so many people.

I apologize to my family and friends for putting them through all of this.

I apologize to the public for putting them through all of this.

I realize that mere words cannot change the pain that so many people are feeling, but I hope it's a beginning, and I'm sorry.

What I did was wrong, what I did damaged a great many people, and I hope that going forward, the citizens, the public, and most importantly, the children of Luzerne County can begin to heal and that their faith in the legal system, in government and the Judiciary can be restored.

From my part, I will work the rest of my life to atone for what I've done.

Thank you.

Michael T. Conahan's Statement to the Court

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Heartbreak of Elder Abuse Continues

I will continue to be amazed at the ludicrous actions of those in charge of protecting our citizens. This is the third installment of the blatant elder abuse case that my friend’s mother, Dorothy Wilson, is a victim of. On September 19th, the latest conference was held, only to end in the call for another conference without a date being set. The judge decided that after listening to what seems to be more lying and perjured testimony from the law guardian and healthcare manager, that he wants a health evaluation from the current nursing home that Dorothy Wilson is incarcerated in.

Mrs. Wilson’s health has spiraled down somewhat since she was deceived into leaving her home of six decades by the law guardian and healthcare manager’s associate.

On the day of this latest hearing, Dorothy Wilson was not allowed to attend. Her law guardian, whose firm is in Garden City, NY, failed to make arrangements to have her there. When Diane left several messages for the fourth party in this case, her mother’s appointed attorney, to ask her to make it happen, she did not get a timely response, so Diane called the nursing home. She was told by the social worker that the director of the nursing home stated, “It will not be safe for Dorothy to leave the nursing home.” This woman went on to say that prior to being transported anywhere, Diane would need to be trained by the staff. A follow up call to the correct department at the facility was made, where she was told it would take five to ten minutes. She was denied the right to have this done before the conference. Diane has been getting her Mom in and out of the car for a long time without incident, but suddenly she needed to be trained in how to do this. It was another blatant attempt to keep this elderly woman from having her own voice heard in the courtroom in front of the NY State Supreme Court judge who is responsible for this entire situation.

It must be noted that the following day, Dorothy’s safety wasn’t a concern for her to leave and go to a doctor appointment (not her own long-time physician) that is approximately the same distance as the court. While there was an original excuse that there were not enough funds to transport her, suddenly funding was not an issue.

I will leave you with the actual words from eighty-seven year old, Dorothy. She handwrote her plea to get out of the nursing home the night before the conference.

To Whom it May Concern,

I want to go home more then [sic] anything else in the world. There is nothing wrong with me. Being home will make me the happiest person in the world. You never realize how precious your home is until you are not in it.

Please help me. I want to go home.


Dorothy Wilson

Full Article and Source:
The Heartbreak of Elder Abuse Continues

JOIN the SAVE Dorothy Wilson Legally Kidnapped Facebook Page

Congratulations Marie-Therese Connolly!

On Tuesday, Marie-Therese Connolly, who for years has been trying to place elder abuse in the national spotlight, is being awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the $500,000, “no strings attached,” so-called “genius” grant given annually to a couple dozen artists, thinkers, social advocates and historians.

“I was shocked that the problem is so invisible,” she said in an interview Monday. “There is so much opportunity for change, and I can’t think of another issue that affects so many people and where less is being done.”

In issuing the award, the foundation said Connolly, a 54-year-old District resident and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, has “devoted her career to laying bare the many forms of elder abuse: physical and psychological, as well as financial exploitation and wrongful deprivation of rights.”

Full Article and Source:
MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant Goes to D.C. Activist Who Fights Elder Abuse

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sen. Herb Kohl Wants to Focus on Elder Abuse

Sen. Herb Kohl, the Wisconsin Democrat who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Aging, is calling on the Justice Department to focus more attention on abuse of the elderly. Kohl, in a letter to the department’s Office of Victims of Crime, pointed out what simple arithmetic makes clear. The burgeoning number of senior citizens over time will, by definition, mean that more and more elderly people will suffer from financial and physical abuse.

Kohl wants the office to add elder abuse to the list of priority items that states can cite in seeking funding.

Social scientists have been slower to pick up on the problem of elder abuse than on the harmful treatment of children, which now receives considerable focus from the federal government. Yet a growing number of studies show that abuse of the elderly is widespread. As many as one in 20 report that money has been improperly taken from them in the preceding year. That would translate into 2.5 million people nationally. Those same studies show that the perpetrators typically are trusted advisers – lawyers or financial advisers.

Or members of their own families.

Senator Wants to Focus on Elder Abuse

TX Woman Facing 99 Years for Theft

After her sister died in July 2007, Wilma Agnew, 82, needed somebody to watch over her declining health, help her pay bills and assist her with basic needs.

Nearly all her relatives lived in the Midwest. In stepped Brandy Ann Bounds, a young Mansfield wife and mother who was a family acquaintance. As summer turned to fall and fall to winter, Agnew grew increasingly dependent on Bounds. She died Dec. 17.

Agnew's niece Julie Anne Zagorski was named administrator of her estate. What she found when she came down from Illinois left the family in disbelief.

Bounds, it appeared, had drained Agnew's bank accounts, sold her car and needlessly cashed in her stock. A probate court judge would later find that she and her husband, Jeremy Warren Bounds, owed Agnew's estate $228,252.46, not counting exemplary damages or interest.

"We felt horror and outrage as we began to discover the full extent of Ms. Bounds' actions," Zagorski said. "We knew we needed to pursue this matter so justice for Wilma could be realized."

A Tarrant County grand jury recently indicted Bounds, 34, on a charge of theft of $100,000 to $200,000 of an elderly person, a first-degree felony. She was arrested Aug. 16 and posted $5,000 bail. If convicted, she could face five to 99 years or life in prison.

Full Article and Source:
Mansfield Woman Accused of Stealing Money from Incapacitated Senior

Elder Law Section Submits Request to File Amicus Brief in Alzheimer’s Case

Pursuant to Article VII, Section 2(a) of the State Bar of Wisconsin Bylaws, the Elder Law Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin has submitted a request to the Board of Governors for authorization to file an amicus curiae brief in the pending Wisconsin Supreme Court case of Fond du Lac County v. Helen E.F., 2011 WI App 72, on Appeal from the District II Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

This case involves the appropriateness of the use of Wis. Stat. ch. 51 mental commitment proceedings for a person with Alzheimer’s dementia. Helen E.F. is an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s dementia. Her condition has regressed to the point that “she is very limited in any verbal communication.”

Helen was taken to St. Agnes Hospital on April 12, 2010, because she was exhibiting aggressive behavior in the nursing home where she had been residing for the last six years. Various procedural issues ensued. Ultimately, Helen was detained as the result of the second of two ch. 51 proceedings. She appealed the decision.

Issues related to the court’s competency to proceed were raised but not ultimately addressed by the court of appeals, which decided the question as to whether an individual whose affliction is Alzheimer’s qualifies as an individual with a treatable mental illness for purposes of ch. 51.

Appeals court
The District II Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed the finding that Helen was not a proper subject for detainment or treatment under ch. 51 because Alzheimer’s disease is not a qualifying mental condition under that chapter.

At the court of appeals level, amici briefs were filed by Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups in support of Helen E.F.’s position, and the Wisconsin Counties Assoc. in support of Fond du Lac County.

Full Article and Source:
Elder Law Section Submits Request to File Amicus Brief in Alzheimer’s Case