Saturday, October 8, 2011

Edmund Finucane, Unsung Hero

The following is the story of a local citizen who helped the Santa Barbara nursing home Central Coast Nursing Center lose its license to operate.

He is Edmund Finucane, a 70-year-old man, a good Samaritan who has been visiting this facility at 3880 Via Lucero (near La Cumbre and State) for 28 years. There are such people out there, who volunteer their time to bring comfort to nursing home residents, often put away by their relatives and not visited enough by them.

Edmund Finucane had visited residents for all those years (probably over a thousand times) without having any problems with the management. After the facility’s activities director asked him to, Edmund volunteered to lead some religious services at the facility–during which he played violin! He did this for several years. In addition to this, he assisted with his denomination’s services at the facility. He is well known by many residents now living there.

But just within the last year, his life took a big turn after he found terrible abuse and started reporting it to the state. For the first time, he was told he couldn’t visit the nursing home, that it constituted trespassing. Feeling that the residents had the right to have visitors, on January 26, 2011, Edmund disobeyed those orders, and found himself arrested. He spent time in jail at taxpayer expense. He had never been arrested before.

The District Attorney’s office treated him like a criminal. Instead of persecuting the man who reported the abuse, the D.A.’s office should have joined the California Department of Public Health in going after this facility. How many of our tax dollars did the D.A.’s office use in its effort to portray Edmund as a criminal? And why didn’t they have the wherewithal to treat him better? Didn’t they know the sad history of this location, under different owners – the long history of elder abuse occurring there? If not, why not? Instead of cooperating with the nursing home’s efforts to intimidate him, they should have given him an award.

The prosecuting attorney for the DA’s office said they’d drop the charge if Edmund agreed to accept her condition, that he “behave himself” while visiting the nursing home. The nursing home had its own, additional requirements for visitation. They wanted him to fill out an employment application and get tested for tuberculosis. They also wanted him to get written permission from the next of kin. Never mind that the residents have full constitutional and human rights, including the right to meet with visitors of their choice.

Because Edmund felt that he had done nothing wrong, and that agreeing to the D.A.’s demand was akin to admitting guilt, he insisted on going to trial. He couldn’t afford an attorney, so he represented himself.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Whistleblower's Unsung Story

FL Senate Probes 'Interference' into Nursing Home Watchdog Program

A Florida Senate committee is investigating allegations that the state's Department of Elder Affairs illegally interfered with a watchdog program that is supposed to protect the rights of residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

The Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs has scheduled a hearing Tuesdayto question the elder affairs staff following a highly critical report from the federal government a month ago that showed repeated violations.

The report, from the Administration on Aging, cited numerous problems with the department's oversight of the state's Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

It criticized the Department of Elder Affairs for what it described as muzzling the ombudsman program's communication with the media and restricting its ability to lobby the Legislature on behalf of nursing-home residents.

The report also faulted the department's selection and firing of volunteers who make up the bulk of the watchdog program's work force, saying that "it must be clear to the volunteers that they work for and are answerable only to the Long Term Care Ombudsman."

Department Secretary Charles Corley has maintained that his office violated no laws and is committed to "ensuring the independence" and integrity of the ombudsman program.

But legislators from both political parties have expressed serious concerns. Democratic state Sen. Nan Rich, vice-chairman of the Children, Families and Elder Affairs committee, said both she and committee chairman Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, were alarmed by what seems to be a lack of independence of the long-term care ombudsman program.

Full Article and Source:
Senate Probes 'Interference' Into Nursing Home Watchdog Program

Heinous Elder Abuse Case Highlights Growing Problem

Police reports of a heinous case of apparent elder abuse is drawing attention to what statistics show is a growing pattern of mistreatment and neglect across central Indiana.

A 68-year-old woman survived being beaten, gagged, bound and left in her Indianapolis apartment for two days before neighbors called police after hearing banging on the walls, police said.

The woman's 48-year-old roommate and caregiver, who had taken out a $10,000 insurance policy on the woman, told her she was going to chop up her body with a chainsaw and bury her behind the apartment, police said.

A state program called Adult Protective Services checks on endangered adults who are referred by concerned relatives, neighbors or health care providers, 6News' Jack Rinehart reported.

Last year, the agency documented nearly 3,100 cases of abuse. So far this year, workers have conducted nearly 1,200 welfare checks.

But for every case that's reported, officials said 25 cases go unreported, leaving the majority of victims to suffer in silence.

"Sometimes the perpetrator will isolate the victim by taking their phone away from them during the day. A lot of times our victims are bed-bound and they don't have the resources to reach out for help and assistance," said Andrea Qualitze with Adult Protective Services. "It's been embedded that what's happening to them is normal behavior for the perpetrator."

In 90 percent of the cases, the perpetrator is related to the victim, experts said.

Full Article and Source:
Heinous Elder Abuse Case Highlights Growing Problem

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Rescue Gary Harvey"

It's wild, it's crazy, it's packed full of suspense.

It's a psychological thriller that may just crumble your belief system in the blink of an eye. Don't miss this read. Learn what is lurking around the corner waiting for you and yours.

"Rescue Gary Harvey" threatens to move you to the edge of your seat and keep you in total shock.

Listen to the screams and gasps. One of them just might be your own.

Dementia Sufferer Divorced From Reality

The man’s name is Frank LaCon and I visited him at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital a few weeks ago.

He has been diagnosed as having frontotemporal dementia, a progressive and incurable condition not unlike Alzheimer’s disease except that it hits younger people. LaCon is 51.

Besides being unable to speak or care for himself, LaCon suffers from psychotic episodes and sometimes he has to be strapped to his bed.

He is also going through a divorce and has been for six years, which is why I am here.

His family believes that he is getting a raw deal from the Common Pleas Court system in Delaware County.

Last April, while he was in the psych ward of the Delaware County prison for allegedly violating a protection-from-abuse order taken out by his estranged wife, Judge Linda Cartisano finalized a divorce decree at a hearing attended only by LaCon’s wife and her attorney.

LaCon’s family is trying to get the case reopened because they believe he needs and deserves spousal support. After years of wrangling over a property settlement, suddenly last spring, Mrs. LaCon and her attorney, Dolores Varga, sought to enforce an agreement that the two parties had been fighting over all that time.

And while Mr. LaCon was incarcerated and incapacitated and in need of a new lawyer of record, Cartisano approved the decree.

Full Article and Source:
Spencer: Dementia Sufferer Divorced From Reality

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Federal Lawmakers Hear About Appleton Guardianship Abuse

Federal lawmakers are exploring options to improve oversight of guardians as Outagamie County prosecutors continue their case against a former Appleton guardian accused of bilking hundreds of thousands from his vulnerable clients.

At a hearing last week before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, testimony suggested the case against Jeffrey M. Schend is far from unique.

"While the vast majority of court-appointed guardians are undoubtedly professional, well-meaning and law-abiding, there's mounting evidence that some guardians use their position of power for their own gain at the expense of the very people that they were supposed to be looking out for," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

The Senate's Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts on Sept. 22 called five witnesses who testified about abuses committed by court-appointed guardians and potential solutions to strengthen state-level guardianship systems. The subcommittee is a branch of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

Klobuchar said she's working on legislation to encourage greater use of criminal background checks for potential guardians and electronic filing of account data to improve oversight.

Full Article and Source:
Federal Lawmakers Hear About Appleton Guardianship Abuse

Senator Amy Klobuchar Holds Roundtable Discussion on Guardianship Abuse

Senator Amy Klobuchar is pushing for more oversight of court-appointed guardians, in hopes of reining in financial and physical abuse of their wards.

"The number of people older than 85 is going to quadruple by the year 2030," Sen. Klobuchar told KARE. "A number of them may need guardians in their later years and we want to make sure they're safe and that the system works."

Klobuchar introduced a bill that would implement criminal background checks for guardians, add more financial oversight and encourage states to require training for new guardians. While some guardians are professionals, many are family members who often serve in the dual role of conservator.

"You have people ripping people off of hundreds of millions of dollars, and that means it needs to be changed, and it can really have some simple changes that aren't that costly. "Minnesota is now one of 13 states that require background checks of guardians. That was part of a set of laws passed in 2009 and 2010, which also ushered in an electronic filing system designed to flag financial irregularities.

Full Article and Source:
Klobuchar Looks to Rein in Abuse by Legal Guardians

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

Protecting Our Vulnerable Citizens from Unlawful and Abusive Guardianships and Conservatorships

A Review of Unlawful "Emergency" Guardianships

The Fleecing of Medicaid and the Taxpayers

Scandals Prompt FL Senate to Call for Revamping ALF Oversight

In response to a Miami Herald investigation into Florida assisted living facilities that uncovered sordid cases of elder abuse and neglect, the state Senate professional staff released a report calling for both increased and reorganized ALF regulatory oversight.

Currently, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is in charge of licensing and inspecting ALFs, and may impose administrative fines for certain types of violations. In certain circumstances, it has the authority to revoke or deny licenses depending on cited violations, or suspend services, if any condition related to the licensee presents a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of a client.

However, the Herald’s three-part series revealed that in many cases, the agency neglected to revoke licenses or shut down facilities even after multiple complaints and reports of abuse.

This led the Senate professional staff to recommend “the establishment of a workgroup that includes members of the various state agencies having ALF oversight responsibilities to determine those functions that are performed by more than one agency.”

Until the workgroup comes about, the Senate staff advises the Legislature to require each agency to establish a direct line of communication to the AHCA to immediately communicate a complaint received or observed deficiency concerning an ALF, and that the AHCA must immediately report each complaint.

Other recommendations include requiring quarterly reports from ALFs to the AHCA on occupancy rates and demographic and resident acuity information and increased surveys and inspections by the AHCA.

The report also details specific training and qualification recommendations for both ALF administrators and staff, and includes the possibility of requiring increased staff ratios for facilities with specialty licenses.

As far as penalties go, the report suggests limiting the AHCA’s discretionary powers in favor of requiring them to take certain measures based on certain actions.

Full Article and Source:
Scandals Prompt Florida Senate to Call for Revamped Assisted Living Oversight

See Also:
Read the Florida Senate Committee on Health Regulation Report

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to File a Complaint Against a Judge and An Attorney (Preface, Part 2)

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 (the filing of a complaint).

Possessing knowledge from the Judicial Code, you can sit as an observer in Kennedy’s court and watch ethics violated faster than you can takes notes and this is no exaggeration. Judges should sit in awe of the awesome responsibility bestowed upon them by we the people. Instead, you watch lawyers grovel pathetically and citizens brow beat by a public servant. Retention referendum has trickled down to our lower courts as most of them are appointed and run for “re-election” uncontested. ”We the people” of TN have been left out of the judicial appointment process.

Colleague protection is the norm within our legal system. But this is breaking the rules that govern attorneys, also. When an attorney protects a colleague who has been naughty, he breaks the rules, too; but because their is an utter lack of awareness to our rights to complain, breaking the rules is business as usual because colleague protection is a given especially in a city like Nashville. Attorneys are legally bound to levy complaints against any judge or attorney who violates their respective codes. Unfortunately, it’s honor among thieves. So, if your attorney DOES NOT file a complaint or levy charges with any and all the various and appropriate bodies, then THEY have violated their rules and you can file a complaint against them. Pay close attention to that last sentence. Colleague protection is the norm among attorneys in Nashville, but attorneys are bound to file a complaint (or charges) against a any judge or attorney they observe breaking the rules. If they do not, then they open themselves up for a complaint. Do you see the beauty in this?

Full Article and Source:
How to File a Complaint Against a Judge and An Attorney (Preface, Part 2)

Supreme Court Denies Former Judge Ann Lokuta a Hearing

Former Luzerne County judge Ann Lokuta finally accepted defeat [10/3/11] when the U.S. Supreme Court denied her a hearing on a petition to overturn her removal from the county bench.

“We had some favorable issues, but it’s a distant reach,” Lokuta said of her request for a hearing before the high court, which included her petition among hundreds it refused to consider in an order issued this morning.

“But I had to do it because I never did the things they said I did,” Lokuta said.

The state Court of Judicial Discipline removed Lokuta from the bench in 2008, finding she mistreated attorneys and court staffers and handed down a decision in favor of a family that had supported her politically.

Lokuta maintained the case against her was orchestrated by former county president judge Michael T. Conahan, who is now serving a 17½-year racketeering conspiracy sentence after pleading guilty to accepting $2.8 million in kickbacks for placing juveniles in two for-profit detention centers.

Lokuta said Conahan wanted to punish her because she gave information to federal agents investigating the kids-for-cash case. He was a witness at her trial.

“I’m glad I was an informant. I paid the price for that,” said Lokuta, who lost her pension rights and is barred from seeking judicial office. “This a major part of my life that has ended.”

Full Article and Source:
U.S. Supreme Court Denies Lokuta a Hearing

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Praying for Gary Harvey

In an article in the fall 2010 issue of American Life League's Celebrate Life magazine, Bobby Schindler, brother of the late Terri Schiavo and co-executive director of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, wrote (excerpted):

'In January 2006, Gary fell down his basement steps and was left with profound cognitive disabilities. He had no advance directive and had only his wife, Sara, to protect him. Gary was admitted to the Chemung County Nursing Facility in May 2006. Sara soon found herself in conflict with the facility over his care, which she describes as seriously negligent.

'In February 2007, Chemung County stripped Sara of her rights as guardian of her husband, and Gary has remained a ward of the County ever since. In May 2009, he was transferred to St. Joseph's Hospital in Elmira, where he remains. About two weeks later, the hospital's ethics committee recommended the removal of Gary's nutrition and hydration tube, and the issuance of a do-not-resuscitate order. This was done without the direction of Gary's family and would have ensured his death.

'In June 2009, Chemung County asked the state supreme court to authorize the removal of Gary's feeding tube, but fortunately, Justice Judith O'Shea denied the request. Inexplicably, however, the DNR is still in effect and he remains under the control of Chemung County, despite the fact that it tried to end his life....'

More information on the Gary Harvey case can be found by visiting

Ron Panzer, founder and president of the staunchly pro-life Hospice Patients Alliance, said in an email:

"It's a case that demonstrates the bias of the courts in favor of the culture of death. That the court chose to name someone other than Gary's wife Sara as guardian is despicable and disgraceful. Sara, who loves her husband, has been treated miserably by the court. Yet, it is only through her efforts that Gary's life has been spared.

"Gary's case is a prime example of the battle between the culture that reveres life and loves unconditionally, and the culture of death that would kill Gary were it not for Sara and others who have supported her and placed a public spotlight on Gary's plight."

Pray for Gary and his loved ones — and for those who are in very similar situations worldwide.

Praying for Gary Harvey

See Also:
The Truth About Death Panels by Bobby Schindler



Facility Closure Forces Resident to Live in Hospital

A Sarasota nursing home that the state ordered to shut down has closed its doors even earlier than expected.

The state had insisted that Harmony Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center stop operating by September 22, but the Agency for Health Care Administration says the last patient was discharged on September 12.

The nursing facility had its state and federal funding cut off last month after inspectors uncovered a series of alleged violations, from not documenting when narcotics were distributed to patients, to one instance in which the facility made a patient's medical decisions after failing to collect paperwork that would have allowed her a legal guardian.

While most families of the residents at Harmony found other nursing homes soon after the shutdown was announced last month, one family is enduring a situation that's heartbreaking for them and more costly for taxpayers. Elizabeth Pitchford's son, Todd, has cerebral palsy and depends on a ventilator. For two and a half years, he lived at Harmony, one of the only facilities in the state to accept long-term ventilator patients.

By the time Harmony shut its doors, no other facility was willing to accept Todd, and he was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital - not because he's sick, but because there's nowhere else for him to go.

A report from The Florida Department of Health shows that for years the state has been concerned with ventilator-dependent patients staying in hospitals because there's no nursing home for them. The report says putting an end to that could save a lot of money for Medicaid and for taxpayers.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Closure Forces Resident to Live in Hospital

Britney Spears Scheduled to Give Oral Depo

Britney is scheduled to give her oral deposition on January 15, 2012.

The jury trial date is set for April 23, 2012 at 10:00am in Department 74, where Britney will possibly be taking the stand.

The Honorable TERESA SANCHEZ-GORDON will be the Judge in this case.

BRAND SENSE PARTNERS LLC’s Plaintiff Counsel will be Goeffrey A. Neri.
BRITNEY SPEARS ET AL’s Defendant Counsel will be Howard Weitzman.

Brand Sense will be looking to have the “sealed documents” unsealed October 15, 2011 overlooked by Honorable Teresa Sanchez-Gordon.


UNLIMITED CASE (Amount demanded exceeds $25,000)

1. The statement was submitted by party: Brand Sense Partners, LLC

2. The complaint was filed on: 3/30/2011 (Complaint)
4/22/2011 (First Amended Complaint)
The cross-complaint was filed on: 6/06/2011

3. All parties (Britney Brands, Inc) named in the complaint and cross-complaint have been served, have appeared, or have been dismissed.

4. Type of case: [complaint] — Breach of contract; fraud and deceit; rescission; declaratory relief; tortious interference with contractual relations; compensatory and punitive damages.

5. A jury trial is set.

6. Jury trial date is set for April 23, 2012.

7. Brand Sense will be represented by Louis R Miller & Geoffrey A. Neri at trial.

8. Brand Sense accept to file the following motions before trial: Motion for Summary Judgement.

9. The following will be completed by the date specified:

Oral depositions:
All key witnesses; including Britney Jean Spears
Requests For Admission
Requests For Products Of Documents

Brand Sense will be seeking relief from probate court orders precluding the deposition of Britney Spears.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Audit Finds Colorado Probate Courts Fail to Protect Guardianship & Conservatorship Wards

Colorado's probate courts have not followed laws enacted to protect vulnerable adults and children from abuse by guardians and conservators, state auditors reported.

They reported that in one case, a probate court failed to contact a guardian for 10 years about the ward he was appointed to protect. In another, the court learned that a protected person had died in 2003 only when auditors called to ask about the absence of financial reports.

In a random sample of 55 cases, state auditors also found a conservator who spent 423 percent of the amount estimated in the financial plan for the protected person and another who spent nearly $1,000 at retail stores, documenting the purchases only in a line on a bank statement.

And in a section detailing the courts' occasional failure to obtain background checks before appointing guardians and conservators, the auditors noted that in one Colorado case, "a professional conservator stole more than $2 million from the ward's estate." Their report did not name the conservator. This audit, like other state audits, provided details about individual cases but no names.

"Overall, we found that the courts' processes do not ensure that the rights, welfare and assets of wards are adequately protected," the auditors reported.

Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender, who represented the judicial branch as the report was presented to Colorado's Legislative Audit Committee, told legislators he is "severely, substantially concerned" about the reported problems — and will make sure they are addressed.

"We understand the problem," he said, "and we're going to make it a priority."
This is not the first time that state auditors have found Colorado's probate courts failed to monitor guardians and conservators. They reached a similar conclusion in a 2006 audit.

Last year, The Denver Post reported in a series of stories that Denver's probate-court files included protected wards who had been dead for years and guardians who had not been contacted for five years or more.

Full Article and Source:
Colorado Probate Courts Fail to Protect Those at Risk, Audit Finds

Scott Rothstein's Belongings Headed to Auction

Soon you will be able to get your hands on some fancy merchandise once owned by convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and his wife Kim.

Friday, we got a first look at the more than 200 items items up for auction by the bank. They include custom-made suits, autographed sports memorabilia, luxurious home furnishings and wide-screen TVs.

The auction is being held by order of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and in hopes of bringing victims some compensation for the millions they lost and the Rothsteins spent.

An online auction will be held between October 6 and 13 and a live auction on October 15 at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton. Registration will begin at 8 a.m.

Full Article and Source:
Scott Rothstein's Spoils Head to Auction Block in Boca Raton

House Passes Combatting Autism Reauthorization Act

Thanks to your grassroots advocacy efforts and the work of the national board of directors and staff of the Autism Society, this evening the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2005)!

The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) extends the life of the Combating Autism Act, set to expire September 30, which authorizes $693 million in funding for three additional fiscal years. This funding supports the work of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, research initiatives of the NIH and CDC, and the LEND program, which provides training for healthcare professionals to treat a variety of developmental disabilities.

The Autism Society would like to thank Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) for their support as sponsors of the House bill, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Michael Enzi (R-WY) for their support as sponsors of the Senate bill, and all co-sponsors in both chambers. Additionally, the Autism Society would like to thank House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) for their role in helping to bring the vote to the House as well as to members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Senate. With H.R. 2005 passed in the House, the Senate will likely take up the bill for a vote within the next week.

According to Representative Smith on the House floor late this afternoon, “Autism has become an international pandemic.”

Lastly, the Autism Society would like to thank you for reaching out to your Representatives to encourage them to support the reauthorization. This was truly a collaborative effort among many individuals and families living with autism, as well as many of the service-related autism organizations we are proud to call our partners.


Jim Ball
Autism Society Chairman

Scott Badesch
Autism Society President and COO

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Nursing Facility Surveillance Growing

Driven by a mistrust of nursing homes, more families are taking advantage of advances in surveillance technology and using video cameras to help protect loved ones they suspect are being abused or mistreated by caregivers.

Even some facility managers and law enforcement officials are now using hidden cameras to catch workers who mistreat elderly or vulnerable residents. No figures are available, but specialists in the long-term care industry say the use of so-called "granny cams" is spreading, though the technology is also raising a host of legal and privacy issues.

Just this spring, an Ohio man placed a hidden camera in a desk fan to catch two nursing home workers abusing and hitting his 78-year-old mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. In New Jersey, workers were caught abusing an 87-year-old woman, prompting a wrongful-death lawsuit in June. In New York, authorities arrested 22 workers last year after hidden cameras revealed maltreatment of residents in two facilities.

Georgia Anetzberger, president-elect of the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, said the spread of cameras in nursing homes is part of a broader proliferation of video surveillance in society to catch anything from traffic violations to shoplifting.

"Cameras are used to catch people more than ever before, not just because the technology is there but because it's more widely accepted," she said.

For years, however, the long-term care industry has fought legislative efforts across the United States to legalize the use of cameras, citing insurance costs and resident and employee privacy issues. Critics said cameras would make it more difficult to hire staff and that they also could misrepresent an incident.

The push to install video cameras in long-term care facilities started to gain momentum a decade ago. Legislation was introduced in more than 15 states, but only three -- Texas, New Mexico and Maryland -- adopted laws addressing the use of cameras in nursing homes, according to a 2007 article in the Baylor Law Review.

Full Article and Source:
Families Using Video Cameras in Nursing Homes to Protect Loved Ones

Fiduciary Gets Prison Sentence

In her role as one of the most highly regarded private fiduciaries in the county, Teresa Laggner was appointed scores of times by the probate court to oversee trust accounts, conservatorships and estates.

Teresa Laggner, a private fiduciary, is shown in February before pleading guilty in federal court in San Diego to stealing thousands of dollars from client trust accounts to fund a gambling addiction. On Monday, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison. — John Gastaldo She built a reputation for scruples and integrity, known for being exacting and meticulous when it came to accounting for the millions of dollars she had control over.

But unknown to those same lawyers and judges was the state of Laggner’s personal life, as disorganized and chaotic as her professional life seemed precise and ordered.

That other life was revealed in federal court Monday when Laggner, 56, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for draining hundreds of thousands of dollars from client trust accounts over the course of a single year. The money was used to feed a voracious gambling habit at local casinos, where Laggner racked up more than $1 million in losses over the past four years.

Laggner was appointed to oversee dozens of trusts, a power that gave her the authority to open bank accounts for the trust assets under her management. Last October, she was overseeing a combined $20 million in assets.

Prosecutors said she would transfer funds from the trust accounts into her personal accounts via online banking. Money was then transferred to her players account at Barona Casino & Resort, where she played almost daily.

At first, prosecutors pegged the losses from the trusts at $1 million. On Monday, that amount was lowered to $471,000, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Tenorio said. The difference comes from $600,000 in fees that Laggner was entitled to have for managing one large estate.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns was skeptical about the size of those fees, but Tenorio told him that they were properly paid out according to the terms of the trust.

Like all fiduciaries, Laggner was required to be bonded when taking on an estate, and insurers will likely have to make the trusts whole.

Laggner has been diagnosed with depression and — not surprisingly — having a gambling addiction. Burns said he was sympathetic with her plight but that did not justify or excuse taking advantage of her position with the court and the trusts of the people whose money she oversaw.

Full Article and Source:
Trusted Probate Trustee Gets Prison for Stealing

Missing Doctor's Sons Drop Guardianship Request

A guardianship hearing slated to determine who will look after the estate of missing Munster ophthalmologist Promila Mehta-Paul was canceled Tuesday after her three sons withdrew their petitions.

The hearing was scheduled Sept. 15 by Lake Circuit Judge George Paras to name a guardian to oversee the estate of Mehta-Paul, who vanished in March. Munster police investigating her disappearance said they believe she is dead. Neither her body nor her gold Toyota Rav4 have been found and she hasn’t communicated with anyone since last being seen on a bank night deposit monitor in Highland after leaving her office there.

Full Article and Source:
Missing Doctor's Sons Drop Request for Guardianship

See Also:
No Guardian Appointed in Mehta-Paul Case