Saturday, October 15, 2011

'Guardianship Fraud Awareness Month" in Palm Beach County, FL

At the Board of County Commissioners meeting on Oct. 4, 2011, Commissioner Aaronson presented a proclamation declaring October 2011 as “Guardianship Fraud Awareness Month” in Palm Beach County. Pictured above (l to r): Anthony Palmieri, Commissioner Burt Aaronson, Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Bock, Alan Bray.
Guardianship Fraud Awareness Month

WI Family Accused of Leaving Protector to Die

The quote next to Mary Coleman's 1957 Reedsburg High School yearbook photo reads "speech is silver, silence is golden."

Indeed, Coleman lived in quiet solitude, spending decades helping her needy sister and troubled nephew in a modest two-story Madison home. When not working, she tended to them, foregoing all else to see to their needs.

Then, as quietly as she lived, the 70-year-old woman disappeared.

It would take months to discover Coleman was at her family's house all along: In August 2009, investigators found her mummified remains in the home's garage.

Investigators said Coleman fell and her sister and nephew, Veronica and Steven King, left her dying on the floor for two days while they watched television and ate fast food.

Over the next three months, Veronica King withdrew thousands of dollars from a shared bank account to which Coleman's pension and social security payments flowed.

Prosecutors, however, didn't file charges. The case languished for more than two years and a judge eventually approved tens of thousands of dollars more in life insurance payments to the Kings, whom Coleman had named as her beneficiaries.

Not until last month, after review by a new prosecutor, were the Kings charged with any wrongdoing. They're due in court Monday on counts of first-degree reckless homicide, financial fraud, subjecting an at-risk person to abuse and hiding a corpse.

Full Article and Source:
Family Accused of Leaving Protector to Die

Friday, October 14, 2011

NASGA Affiliate's Petition Collects Its 100th Signature! More Needed!

NASGA Affiliate Tom Fields created this petition with one purpose in mind, to guarantee for all the justice which he and others, including many of NASGA's members, have been denied.

According to Fields, this petition addresses a common injustice practiced by authorities according to which the criminal complaints of its citizens are routinely dismissed as civil complaints, often without even attempting an investigation of the facts.

According to Fields, without the Constitutional guarantee sought by this petition, too many of us have been denied the justice which we believe our Constitution guarantees us, especially its FIFTH and SEVENTH AMENDMENTS, according to which

• No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, and

• In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved ...

By means of the Constitutional guarantee sought by this petition, due process of law will require just what this guarantee says in all matters, both criminal and civil.

Fields believes many of NASGA’s members will want to sign this petition. He also believes it is important for them to do so, and do so quickly. Why? Because this petition needs 50 more signatures in order for the White House to include it with other petitions under its Open Petitions tab.

Finally, Fields notes several of those who have signed encountered various difficulties while trying to sign. A major difficulty was created by one ISP, which had been inadvertently blocking the e-mails which the White House sends to confirm the identity of the person creating the account needed to sign the petition. Fortunately the ISP cooperated to identify and resolve the difficulty.

Anyone who needs help signing the petition or wants more information about it should call (440/255-7693) or write ( Fields.

Sign the Petition

See Also:
White House Creates Website for Online Petitions

Keeping Meticulous Books a Blessing When Taking Over Finances

Peter Smith took over his dad's financial affairs at the beginning of 2010. He took notarial copies of the power of attorney document to his father's financial adviser and banks, provided a doctor's letter confirming his father's incapacity to anyone who asked for it. He then started writing cheques and collecting his dad's pension payments. So far, so good.

He wanted to do the job right, and after six months of handling his father's affairs he made an appointment to get some advice from a lawyer. The lawyer asked him to bring in the books he was maintaining for his father's money.

"What books?" Peter asked.

It turns out that an attorney is expected to keep books and detailed records. Those books would normally begin with a statement of everything his father owned and its value as of the date Peter took over. The books would then give an annual history of "all amounts received and disbursed." That means a detailed day-to-day statement of each dollar spent on his father's behalf or received for his benefit.

An example of an amount disbursed might read: "September 1 - Paid $1,219.21 to Green Acres Personal Care Home." An example of an amount received might read: "September 6 - Received $2,590.56 from Civil Service Superannuation Board - Pension payment."

At the end of each year an attorney like Peter is expected to reconcile everything. That means showing the closing value of all of the assets, and tying in all of the money that went out and went in so everything hangs together.

As backup, he was also expected to have receipts, cancelled cheques, bank statements and the like, and have all of that organized and ready to produce.

If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. Some folks don't bother.

They should. Why? There is often a day of reckoning.

Full Article and Source:
Keeping Meticulous Books a Blessing When Taking Over Finances

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Don't Let Oregon Courts Silence the Press

It will be interesting to see how this censorship attempt of will really go. This is an important time for all in media, because a court interpretation of the 'truth' obtained through a court order that itself is in question, should never be allowed to silence us, particularly when the information is fully attributed to a named source.

One thing I am wondering about is whether Mr. Brooks expected this case to end up in front of a jury, which it probably will. I suspect not, and that Mr. Cooper really should be more selective of his clients.

Interestingly, jurors aren't part of the 'system', and not exactly who a ruthless litigator can typically count on. In other words, the truth can win the day with the public and there is little these two men can do about it, and I really am excited about the prospect of being able to defend Ms. Boldt and our American Civil Right to free speech. That is what Mr. Brooks is trying to place his foot on top of, and I can only assume he has no idea what he is dealing with.

Erna [Boldt] explains that [her son] Leroy came to visit a few years ago from California, and when he did, he brought a friend. Erna didn't suspect anything, even when Leroy suggested he and Erna go to lunch because his, "friend was tired and wanted to lay down". He and Erna went for lunch, and his 'friend', Erna says she later discovered, promptly began going through her files to find the information they would use in court to deem her incompetent.

Erna believes she earned the disdain of the Clackamas County court officials because, quite frankly, she can be pretty feisty, and who would not be?

There are no terrible stories of Leroy's childhood according to any of the parties we have contacted, or received contact from, and he had not been estranged from Erna, until he took court actions against her.

Court documents show that Erna has seen a failure in cooperation from the Clackamas County court. Erna can produce documents demonstrating that they lost papers, failed to fulfill promises, and apparently just failed to fulfill their obligations to her as public tax paid servants.

I call foul on the whole thing, including these very questionable judge's decisions that allowed Leroy to clean up and Erna to lose in one of the most unforgivable ways ever imagined. Just because something can be done legally does not mean that it should be done. Wrong is still wrong.

Full Article and Source:
Don't Let Oregon Courts Silence the Press

Note: Erna Boldt is a NASGA member.

Nursing Home Volunteers ~ The Elderly are from Heaven

"When a person is admitted into a nursing home, they experience many losses.

Not only is their independence, freedom, and family gone, they also feel a loss of control of their lives, dignity, and the interruption in daily routines can be emotionally tormenting. They also feel extreme boredom. Family, for a lot of them, never come to visit.

Most of them would be very accepting of you and would be glad and appreciative of the time you spend with them. So to get started you can find a nursing home near you and talk to the Activities Director and ask them if there is anyone in particular that could use the companionship. Also ask for ways that you can volunteer. It is so worth it, because doing this is very rewarding, relaxing and fun." ~ Unknown

Facebook: The Forgotten Ones - Compassion for the Elderly

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Heartbreaking Story of Guardian Abuse - Part IV

This is the fourth article in the continuing “Heartbreaking” series on the Dorothy Wilson elder abuse case at the hands of law guardian, Mary Giordano, of the Franchina and Giordano law firm. Most of the antics have been approved by the “honorable” Judge Joel Asarch, of the NYS Supreme Court in Mineola, NY, including the obvious bias against Diane Wilson, who has been the only one of Dorothy’s children fighting to help her.

Almost all of this would have been less complicated if Diane’s siblings would have tried to be of assistance. Instead, each of them stated in court that their mother would be better off in a nursing home, rather than at their sister’s. However, when Dorothy asked Diane’s sister on the telephone, several times, what she was doing to help her, she was allegedly told that this child was frequently making calls to the law guardian to help her. In court, at the last conference, where Dorothy was disallowed to attend, Dorothy’s son admitted not visiting his mother since she had been locked up in the latest facility. From an outsider’s perspective, they are using their family dissension as an excuse to provoke more problems for their mother. It is clear that the venom felt towards Diane’s close relationship with her Mom has fueled much of their antagonistic and greedy behavior.

When you have a situation where people in high positions seem to bend and break the laws, it takes all hope away from the victims and those helping them. Since researching and questioning a variety of people about this case, and other law guardian abuse cases against the elderly and sick, I am finding that the only thing that is truly sick is how much they get away with. Most people, in general, are afraid to get involved in correcting this serious situation. It appears that millions of dollars are basically stolen each year from the people who the guardians and judges are supposed to be in a position to protect.

I had the privilege of seeing Dorothy Wilson on October 7th. Keep in mind that one of the vague reasons that has been used to incarcerate her in a nursing home--against her will--is because of her mental state. Dorothy has some dementia; not a fact that anyone has tried to hide. However, the last time I saw her was over six months ago, she seemed very alert, albeit with some short-term memory issues. As I walked in the door to her room, she immediately knew who I was. Just as earlier in the year, she would have slight lapses in memory, but once reminded with a few words, Dorothy would expand in detail about whatever we spoke about.

It was very difficult seeing her sitting in a room by herself. Although the facility she is in is very nice, the room gave off a depressed energy. Granted, I am much more prone to feeling things like that then the average person is, but it still made me feel like I was suffocating; as though life was being drained from me. I could only imagine what Dorothy feels as she awaits the judge to do the right thing and free her from what she sees as a prison sentence.

Full Article and Source:
A Heartbreaking Story of Guardian Abuse - Part IV

See Also:
Heartbreak of Elder Abuse Continutes

Join the SAVE DOROTHY WILSON - Legally Kidnapped Facebook Page

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

After Abuses,Probate Reform Looms

Sweeping proposals designed to provide greater protection and accountability for the finances of incapacitated people and estates in probate are making their way through Arizona's court system.

The proposals are a result of widespread media reports of lawyers and fiduciaries mismanaging and depleting the life savings of men and women, mostly frail elderly, while charging high fees. The Probate and Mental Health Department of the Superior Court was designed to protect some of the state's most vulnerable people.

Advocates of reform said probate judges lacked the background and experience necessary to render fair rulings. And they said disputes between relatives often lasted months, if not years, in the system.

Jayme Mason, of Phoenix, was one of those engaged in a protracted probate battle. For four years, she disputed the way in which her grandmother's care and estate were being handled. During that time, Mason claims most of her now 93-year-old grandmother's property and possessions — once worth $2 million — were spent or devalued. Even her valuable coin collections disappeared.

Just how many of these heart-wrenching, complex cases of abuse have occurred in Arizona is not known. There are no statistics or estimates.

"There were just a few of those cases, but they were high-profile and … heartbreaking," said Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch.

As a result, Berch appointed a 19-member commission of jurists and laypeople last year to recommend ways of improving judicial oversight and processing in probate courts. The committee looked at probate systems in at least five other states — Texas, Florida, Minnesota, California and Idaho. Some of the proposed reforms are Arizona's alone.

Court officials now are making their way through the commission's proposed reforms in its 432-page report.

The proposals include:

•Requiring "good faith" cost estimates for services and expenses, budgets and monthly statements to avoid any sticker shock at the end of a year.
•Setting fee guidelines for probate lawyers and fiduciaries.
•Creating a first-in-the-nation sustainability review by the courts to determine whether a person's assets would be sufficient to cover expenses during his or her normal lifespan. Future decisions on expenditures would be made accordingly.
•Instituting a follow-up system by the courts to ensure that individuals are being treated properly.
•Implementing training programs for those involved in probate cases. The cost of the proposals has not been determined.

Full Article and Source:
After Abuses,ProbateReform Looms

Note: Jayme Mayson is a NASGA member.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Guardian Accused of Causing Death of Disabled Woman

Cassandra Shepard told police she had moved from South Dakota to get Nina away from a life of abuse.

Prosecutors say it followed the woman here.

As paramedics worked to save Christina “Nina” Harms’ life on the afternoon of March 25, Shepard told police that Harms had been acting out again, that in a tantrum she had held her breath until she passed out.

But as investigators looked at the scene — the bandages on Harms’ hands and arms, the ligature marks on her legs — they began to look at Shepard as a suspect.

“We came to the conclusion that things just weren’t adding up,” Paul Nielsen, a former Unified Police detective, said Friday during a preliminary hearing in 3rd District Court.

After hearing from police and medical experts, Judge Randall Skanchy took the case under advisement. He will rule at a later date whether Shepard, 20,should stand trial for the murder of the woman for whom she had promised to care.

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Edward Leis, who performed the autopsy on the 22-year-old Harms, testified the woman was severely dehydrated and had toxic levels of a sedative, possibly Benadryl, in her system when she died.

Harms had a series of bruises on her body. Her hands were wrapped tightly in bandages to cover a series of wounds. And she had a pepper seed in her right, lower eyelid, Nielsen said.

“I didn’t do those,” an emotional Shepard told her attorneys after prosecutors showed a picture of the wounds on Harms’ arms. “I didn’t do those.”

Shepard was awarded legal guardianship of Harms after Harms’ mother, a relative of Shepard’s, died in 2008.

Police say Shepard and two other adults in the home locked Harms in a closet, at times binding her crucifixion-style to a pole there. Investigators have said that closet had an alarm system and a knife stuck in the door to prevent Harms from getting out. Inside the closet was a piece of cardboard with remnants of feces and urine and some air fresheners.

Full Article and Source:
Guardian Accused of Causing Death of Disabled Woman

Millionaire's Convictions Upheld Despite Frozen Assets

Iowa Supreme Court justices on Friday questioned the propriety of a Dubuque County court order seizing a millionaire’s assets prior to trial but said Robert Paul Krogmann’s convictions for willful injury and attempted murder should nevertheless stand intact.

Court records say Krogmann, who had a history of depression and bipolar disorder, shot his former girlfriend three times in March 2009 after an unsuccessful attempt to revive the relationship. Three weeks after the shooting, prosecutors applied for and received a court order freezing all $3.4 million of Krogmann’s assets.

According to the court’s opinion, the application for a freeze stated that the former girlfriend “had suffered severe injuries necessitating lengthy hospitalization, that Krogmann would be required to reimburse the victim for out-of-pocket expenses associated with the hospitalization and after-care, that Krogmann would be subject to civil litigation, and that Krogmann ‘has a number of assets that he may attempt to sell or transfer to avoid his financial obligation to the victim of his offenses.’ ”

Krogmann eventually set up a conservatorship in probate court to oversee his holdings. From July 2009 through October 2009, the district court, after hearing objections from the victim and from prosecutors, rejected requests to use farmland as security for Krogman’s bail and refused to let him spend money to hire a jury consultant.

Krogmann’s appeal contends that the asset freeze was illegal and that it violated his rights to due process, to be free from unconstitutional seizures and to counsel. But justices on Friday said his attorney had failed to properly object to those issues at the correct time.

“Our determination that Krogmann has failed to preserve error does not mean we approve of the asset freeze,” justices write. “We are troubled by the state’s effort to tie up a criminal defendant’s personal assets without citing any rule or statute, without making a verified filing and without citing the district court to relevant authority. … We also are troubled by the state’s attempts to use the asset freeze, once it was in place, to object to defense expenditures, not on the ground they would jeopardize restitution or other victim compensation (the alleged reasons for the asset freeze), but simply because the state deemed them unnecessary.”

Full Article and Source:
Millionaire's Convictions Upheld Despite Frozen Assets

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Conservator Gets Prison for Failing to Report a Felony

United States District Judge Abdul K Kallon sentenced the former Tuscaloosa County Probate Court conservator to three months in prison for failing to report a felony she knew had been committed, announced United States Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Pat Maley.

Judge Kallon sentenced ZONDRA T HUTTO, 61, of Tuscaloosa, and ordered her to pay $19,358 in restitution to the estate of the 79-year-old dementia patient whose welfare and property Hutto was supposed to protect. She is to report to prison January 2, 2012.

Hutto, a lawyer, pleaded guilty June 30 to misprision of a felony.

“This defendant was an officer of the court and someone assigned to protect the interests and property of people no longer able to conduct their own affairs,” Vance said. “Instead of honoring the trust of her position, Ms. Hutto failed to report the crimes of a close employee and violated the trust placed in her and required of her as a lawyer and as guardian and conservator of her ward’s estate.”

She was charged with knowing and not reporting to authorities that an employee in her law office fraudulently used a bank debit card belonging to one of her clients.

Between September 2007 and April 2008, a clerk in her law office repeatedly used a bank debit card belonging to a 79-year-old woman diagnosed with dementia. He used the card to withdraw $14,852 from ATMs, to buy two plane tickets to Mexico, costing $1,963, for himself and Hutto, to pay $1,059 for accommodations in Mexico, and to make 11 gasoline purchases totaling $584, according to Hutto’s plea agreement in the case.

During the same time, the clerk also used a department store credit card belonging to the nursing home patient to buy clothing for himself and a designer purse, which he gave Hutto for Christmas, according to the plea agreement.

Hutto was first appointed temporary guardianship in September 2007 of the elderly woman found to be in need of protective services. The Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County granted Hutto permanent Letters of Guardianship and Letters of Conservatorship for the woman in December 2007.

The FBI investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Pat Meadows prosecuted the case.

Full Article and Source:
Tuscaloosa County Conservator Gets Prison for Failing to Report a Felony

Retired Judge Gary Donahoe Calls Failed Bribery Case Against Him Bogus

A retired Maricopa County judge testified Thursday that an unsuccessful bribery case brought against him by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas was bogus and permanently damaged his professional reputation.

Retired Judge Gary Donahoe told panelists in an attorney discipline case against Thomas that the charges created stress in his life that made it hard for him to sleep, caused him to grind his teeth and led to $200,000 in legal bills.

"Thirty years of trying to build a good reputation is gone because of their conduct," Donahoe said, noting he was asked about the charges during a job interview after he retired from the bench.

Thomas is accused of bringing criminal cases against Donahoe when the county's former top attorney knew the charges were false. Thomas and Arpaio contend that they were trying to root out corruption in county government.

Donahoe was charged in December 2009 after he disqualified Thomas' office from an investigation by Arpaio and Thomas' offices into the construction of a court building in downtown Phoenix. Donahoe was about to hold a hearing on Thomas' request to appoint special prosecutors to handle investigations against county officials.

That hearing was called off after charges of hindering prosecution, obstruction of justice and bribery were filed against Donahoe.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Calls Failed Bribary Case Brought Against Him by AZ Sheriff, Prosecutor Bogus