Saturday, November 12, 2011

KY Nursing Home Administrator Admits to Stealing From Patients

A former administrator at a Kentucky nursing home has pleaded guilty to multiple charges including: theft, exploitation of a vulnerable adult and tax fraud.

The nursing home administrator identified as James Tackett, confessed to stealing more than $300,000 from patients he was responsible for caring for at the Golden Years Rest Home (ironically a non-profit facility).

Authorities were tipped off to Mr. Tackett's activities after several patients at the facility complained about not receiving economic stimulus checks from the federal government. The complaint was then passed on to the Social Security Administration and Department of Revenue who quickly learned that Mr. Teckett took it upon himself to take his patient's funds.

This is not an isolated criminal venture for Mr. Tackett. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to physically abusing a patient at Golden Years Rest Home.

Full Article and Source:
Financial Abuse of the Elderly: Nursing Home Administrator Admits to Stealing From Patients

Protecting MN's Vulnerable Adults

Police Sgt. Mike Wortman, who heads St. Paul's new unit to investigate crimes against vulnerable older people, says one incident lingers in his mind. An older, developmentally delayed woman had lived next to her neighbor for years. One winter, while shoveling her sidewalk, she happened to push some snow onto his property.

"He decided to go out and hit her and shove her into the snowbank — just because she's shoveling the snow onto his sidewalk. He knew of her disability, that she is aging, that she is developmentally delayed," said Wortman, the investigating officer.

The woman called the police, but by the time they arrived, the neighbor had left. Under the law at that time, no arrest was made.

"Unfortunately, all I could do was issue a misdemeanor charge, nothing more than a ticket, a citation," he said. "That hurts, that really hurts, that we're not looking after the elderly in the way that we should."

Revisions this year to Minnesota law would make assault on a vulnerable adult a gross misdemeanor. That means a suspect would be arrested and brought to court for bail, and could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined up to $3,000. A misdemeanor charge carries a top penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Previously, the higher penalty applied only to caregivers.

Minnesota first enacted its Vulnerable Adults Act in 1980. Major revisions in 2009 addressed financial exploitation; improved community notification when vulnerable adults are missing; and created a streamlined system for reporting abuse. This year's changes closed some holes in existing law, according to Iris Freeman, associate director of the Center for Elder Justice & Policy at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. The revisions passed the legislature unanimously and took effect Aug. 1.

Full Article and Source:
Protecting Vulnerable Adults

Couple Accused of Stealing $140K From Elderly Relative

Two relatives of a 96-year-old McHenry County man have been accused of stealing about $140,000 from him after the man tried to withdraw money from the bank to buy hearing aids and discovered he only had $30, police said.

Timothy Zink, 59, and Rosemary Zink, 58, are charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person, the McHenry County sheriff's office announced.

Authorities allege that the Zinks took the money from the man's account over the course a year. They were taken into custody Thursday and released over the weekend after separately posting $4,000 bail.

Dane Loizzo, a lawyer for Timothy Zink, said the couple are devastated by the accusations, which the attorney denied.

Loizzo said the Zinks moved their relative to McHenry County from Florida last year out of concern that he was no longer able to care for himself.

"They housed him, fed him, provided a place for him to stay, and it was a loving, caring … relationship," Loizzo said. "They are just devastated these accusations have been made against them."

Full Article and Source:
2 in McHenry County Accused of Stealing $140K From Elderly Relative

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Forgotten Ones - Compassion for the Elderly

So many elders face their final years alone, in a nursing home, with few of the daily comforts they once knew so well. With friends gone or fighting their own battles against the ravages of time, and with families consumed with daily strifes, the last stages of life can often be spent in isolation -- both physically and emotionally. Even the best nursing facilities and the best staffs can be too overwhelmed with standard care needs to offer much time to their residents for conversation, laughter, or especially touch. ~ Karrie Osborn

Facebook: The Forgotten Ones - Compassion for the Elderly

Assisted Suicide - A Recipe for Elder Abuse

Next November, Massachusetts voters will decide via ballot initiative whether to allow physician-assisted suicide. The Death with Dignity Act is modeled closely on an initiative passed by Washington State voters in 2008. In states that have taken up these laws, pro-life groups, religious groups, and advocates for the disabled have fought them. Massachusetts is a heavily Catholic state, and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston called the act “a corruption of the medical profession that violates the Hippocratic Oath.”

National Right to Life calls the proposed Massachusetts act “a recipe for elder abuse.” Key provisions of the act include that an heir, who will benefit financially from a patient’s death, is allowed to actively help sign the patient up for the lethal dose.

In the United States, assisted suicide is legal only in Washington and Oregon. In both states, the law was enacted through a ballot initiative. In 2010, the Montana Supreme Court’s Baxter decision did not legalize assisted suicide but gave physicians, if prosecuted, a potential defense. A law that would have allowed assisted suicide in Montana went down to defeat in February.

In addition to Massachusetts, pro-euthanasia activists are currently mobilizing in Hawaii and Vermont.

Full Article and Source:
Assisted Suicide - A Recipe for Elder Abuse

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How to File a Complaint Against a Judge and an Attorney (Chapter 1 Judges; part 2)

The Court of the Judiciary was created by the legislature to investigate and, when warranted, act on complaints against judges. Members are appointed by multiple appointing authorities, including the Supreme Court (judges appointing judges to judge judges, huh?) The appellate court clerk serves as clerk to the Court of the Judiciary.

The Tennessee Court of the Judiciary was created by the legislature to:
1. Provide an orderly and efficient method for making inquiry into:
+ They physical, mental and/or moral fitness of any Tennessee Judge;
+ Whether the judge committed judicial misconduct;
+ Whether the judge committed any act calculated to reflect unfavorably upon the judiciary of the state or bring it into disrepute or which may adversely affect the administration of justice in the state (“one bad apple spoils the whole bunch”).

2. Provide a process by which appropriate sanctions may be imposed.

3. Implement constitutional provisions by providing a procedure for the removal of judges.

The above comes straight from website. with the exception of my comment bold and in italics. With that credit given and in consideration thereof:



What do I mean by frivolous? Any complaint that cannot be supported by the Judicial Code of Ethics and its Canons. The COJ is not the place to air mere grievances. If you are unhappy with the judges ruling, that is not grounds for a complaint. You must be able to substantiate your grievance as a violation of the code. If not, call your best friend and tell them how unhappy you are with the outcome, scream and shout in the bathroom, take a cold shower, then try to move on with life. Don’t augment your frustrations by filing a illegitimate complaint.

That said, I’ve come to discover that the law, itself, and the rules by which judges must play, are 90% logic. If something seems wrong with a judge’s conduct and/or ruling, do not ignore that instinct telling you so.

As I wrote earlier in this series, armed with a knowledge of the Judicial Code, make a determination therein by which a violation has been committed. And though an err in the law is not recognized as a violation of ethics, it should be. For when a judge errs in the the law they demonstrate incompetence and INCOMPETENCE IS A VIOLATION OF THE JUDICIAL CODE.

Full Article and Source:
How to File a Complaint Against a Judge and an Attorney (Chapter 1 Judges; part 2)

New National "Hotline" Set Up for Fraud

A new national hotline for seniors and adult children of the elderly [starts today} November 10th to deal with one of America's biggest fraud problems: the estimated one out of every five citizens over the age of 65 who have been victimized by a financial swindle. Of particular concern are seniors with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who can perform most daily functions, but have trouble or become confused when it comes to managing their finances.

The toll-free hotlines will address questions and offer free advice in the following key areas:

General Finance Questions 888-227-1776. Callers are encouraged to dial into this number to speak with an expert from the Financial Planning Association about their family financial security.

Medical Questions 888-303-0430. Callers to this number can get advice from health care professionals about medical issues such as mild cognitive impairment that can impact an older person's ability to make wise and safe financial decisions and can increase their vulnerability to elder financial abuse and exploitation.

Financial Abuse Questions 888-303-3297. Callers to this number will speak with an adult protective services (APS) professional about elder financial abuse and strategies for keeping themselves or older loved ones independent.

Full Press Release and Source;
Stopping Elderly Fraud Cold: States, Doctors, Financial Planners, Others to Launch National Hotline November 10th to Fight Swindlers Targeting Older Americans

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Too Often Death is the Only Way Out of Guardianship Gulag

There are many ways elderly, sick and disabled people can wind up in a court-appointed guardianship, where a complete stranger wields total control over their lives and assets. Some are identified as "incapacitated" by paid caregivers. Others are fingered by greedy relatives or rapacious lawyers.

Guardians helped themselves to [Yvonne Sarhan's] $2 million estate while a Florida probate judge ignored her son's desperate pleas to take her off the schizophrenia drug Seroquel, which is contraindicated for the elderly because it causes electrical disturbances in the heart.

An auditor and member of Virginia's Commonwealth Council on the Aging, Brenda Kelley says she's spent $100,000 of her own money fighting the District guardians who barred her, an only child, from seeing her mother, Bertha, while they drained her million-dollar estate and negligently allowed her childhood home to be sold at a tax lien sale for a mere $29,000.

[Stephen]Nero says his mother is inappropriately being held captive in an Alzheimer's facility that charges $6,000 per month. "She is being illegally deprived of her civil and constitutional rights even though there was no evidence on the record that she was ever evaluated as 'incapacitated' -- it was all hearsay. I'm a lawyer and even I can't get her out," a frustrated Nero told us.

Even the young and middle-aged can become "legal ghosts" by court order, as 50-year-old Nashville, Tenn., songwriter Danny Tate described his status after his estranged brother was named his conservator during an ex parte hearing in 2007.

Tate, who has admitted abusing alcohol and drugs, was never charged with any crime. Tate's conservatorship was finally terminated last September, minus the fortune he earned writing music for Rick Springfield and other Nashville legends.

"All of the country's wealth eventually passes through the probate courts," Tate pointed out. "The problem is that probate courts are designed for liquidation, not conservation, but it all gets adjudicated in the same court. All the attorneys are getting paid and nobody wants to get off the gravy train."

Bob Teich uncovered compelling evidence of collusion, conflict of interest, forgery and fraud in the San Diego Probate Court -- including the guardian's refusal to release his minor son's Internal Revenue Service returns.

Full Article and Source:
Too Often Death is the Only Way Out of Guardianship Gulag

See Also:
Judges, Lawyers Use Guardianships to Prey on Elderly

Arizona Forms 'Taskforce Against Senior Abuse' (TASA)

Seniors and the elderly are easy targets for predators.

This vulnerable demographic is being described as one of America's biggest fraud problems. An estimated one out of every five citizens over the age of 65 have been victimized by a financial swindle.

To protect Arizona's senior citizens, Attorney General Tom Horne formed the Taskforce Against Senior Abuse (TASA) earlier this year as an integral part of the Public Advocacy Division of his office.

In a statement, Horne said he is committed to making elder abuse awareness, prevention and prosecution a priority.

"Our seniors need to feel safe and secure in their homes. The Attorney General's Office is aware of the vulnerability of these citizens and is working to make sure older Arizonans are not victimized."

To reach TASA, the dedicated phone number is (602) 542-2124. Citizens may also email TASA at

Full Article and Source:
Ariz. Taking Steps to Halt Financial Abuse of Seniors

5 Killed in CA Home Care Facility Fire

A fire at a California home care facility for the disabled killed five people, and federal authorities were helping local investigators determine the cause of the blaze.

Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado said the fire was a tragedy "of a magnitude our community hasn't experienced before."

"Our thoughts are with the survivors and families," the mayor said in an email to The Associated Press. "Marina has a caring community spirit that allows us to progress in spite of hard times."

Full Article and Source:
Police: 5 Killed in Calif. Home Care Facility Fire

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to File a Complaint Against a Judge and an Attorney (Chapter 1-Judges; part 1)

Timothy Discenza, Disciplinary Counsel, Court of the Judiciary, PO Box 50356, Nashville, TN, 37205 (no phone number listed for Mr. Discenza)

Administrative Office of the Courts, 511 Union Street, Suite 600, Nashville, TN 37219; 615-741-2687 800-448-7970

Included above is the latest address of the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary’s latest lead counsel (they both change a lot). This is where you want to mail a complaint. Certain addresses with the COJ have changed several times within the last two years. They seem to move around a lot. In fact, when I attempted to contact Timothy Discenza two months ago, he answered the phone and asked me to call him back “next week” because he was moving his office.

Also, included are the phone numbers of the Adm. Off. of the Courts. Phone numbers for the COJ change, every now and then, and will frustrate you in your efforts to find a talking head. If you have a problem getting someone on the phone, Google Court of the Judiciary (or the applicable name of this body for your jurisdiction within your country) and you should find the current addresses and, hopefully, phone numbers. Or call the Adm. Off of the Courts and ask them for the contact numbers for the COJ.

Begin by finding the Tennessee Supreme Court Judicial Code of Ethics or Code of Judicial Conduct. It’s not an easy read, but if you are going to file a complaint you will have to knuckle down and attain a working knowledge of this Code. I’m only passing on what was suggested to me and it seems to be a successful template.

Full Article and Source:
How to File a Complaint Against A Judge and An Attorney(Chapter 1-Judges; part 1)

Senate Special Committee on Aging Holds Hearings on Assisted Living Facility Abuse

It was an early-morning awakening that Alfredo Navas said he'll never forget: His sister on the phone, telling him that their 85-year-old mother had drowned in a shallow drainage pond behind the facility that was caring for her.

But the safeguards his family had assumed were in place to monitor an elderly woman with dementia - cameras, door locks and vigilant caretakers - failed his mother in 2008, Navas told the Senate's Special Committee on Aging on Wednesday [11/2/11].

Those abuses and others were chronicled in a Miami Herald series "Neglected to Death," which focused this spring on critical breakdowns in Florida's enforcement system, including failures by the state's Agency on Health Care Administration to fully investigate deaths or to shut down some of the worst offenders among Florida's 2,850 assisted-living facilities.

"This is America in the year 2011, and these kind of things shouldn't be happening," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who read aloud of the worst examples of abuse.

They include a 75-year-old Alzheimer's patient in Clearwater torn apart by an alligator after he wandered away from his assisted-living facility for the fourth time; a 71-year-old mentally ill Hialeah man who died from burns after he was left in a bathtub filled with scalding water; and a 74-year-old Kendall woman who was restrained for six hours until the bindings cut into her skin and killed her.

Federal regulators and lawmakers both said that they are uninterested in the federal government being responsible for regulating living facilities. Although more states are using Medicaid money to pay for some portion of assisted living care for the poor, the federal government has a limited role in the facilities their oversight has been and will likely continue to be a state duty.

But federal regulators do want more of an ability to ensure states are doing their part to enforce laws and safety regulations already on the books, said Barbara Edwards, who directs the disabled and elderly health programs group at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Full Article and Source:
Abuses in Assisted Living Facilities Come Under Senate Panel's Spotlight

Monday, November 7, 2011

Guardianship Putting Thousands of Texans at Risk

Under a court-ordered guardianship, 86-year-old widow Helen Hale was plucked from the house she and her husband had built on wooded acreage in Cypress for their retirement and relocated to an unlicensed group home run by a caregiver with a criminal history.

Across Texas, 30,000 to 50,000 disabled and elderly people like Hale have lost the right to decide where they live, to choose a caretaker or to spend their life savings after being declared incapacitated and ordered into guardianships, according to new estimates obtained by the Houston Chronicle from the Texas Office of Court Administration and interviews with probate court officials statewide.

Nationally, the number of people declared "incapacitated" is rapidly increasing as the population ages. And so have reports about mistreatment, neglect and problems involving relatives and non-relatives appointed to protect them, according to warnings from the federal Government Accountability Office.

In some of the state's largest counties, like Harris, Travis and Bexar, so many people are in guardianships that each probate judge oversees from 1,500 to 3,000 "wards" of the court. Yet most judges have only a single investigator to check out potential problems.

Bexar County has an unusually high number of guardianship cases - about 6,000, which is almost as many as Harris County - because so many military members retire to San Antonio, but have no children or relatives nearby, court officials say.

In some guardianship cases, including Hale's, lawyers get appointed after families fight over the care of an elderly or disabled relative. Those guardians are paid out of the assets of disabled and elderly Texans.

Hale's first lawyer guardian was Marcia Pevey, the highest-paid guardian in Texas in the last year, data analyzed by the Chronicle shows. From August 2010 to September 2011, Pevey collected more than $200,000 for guardianship services - more than anyone else statewide.

Full Article and Source:
Guardianships Putting Thousands of Elderly Texans at Risk

Lawyer Disbarred Over Withdrawals From Mentally Impaired Brother's Account

A Wesley Chapel lawyer has been disbarred after the state's high court agreed that she improperly withdrew more than $100,000 from an account belonging to her mentally impaired brother.

Denise Letizia, 53, declined to comment today, citing pending civil litigation in Hillsborough County Circuit Court involving similar allegations. Her attorney in that case, Kendall Almerico, couldn't be reached for comment.

The Florida Supreme Court ordered Letizia disbarred in August and denied her request for a rehearing in an order dated Oct. 24. She also was ordered to pay $5,694.28 to the Florida Bar for legal costs.

The high court affirmed the report of a referee who found that Letizia violated Bar rules governing attorney competence and integrity. The core allegation was that she signed an affidavit she knew to be false in order to withdraw the money in her brother's account.

Full Article and Source:
Pasco Lawyer Disbarred Over Account Withdraws

Sunday, November 6, 2011

TX Judge William Adams Under Investigation

A Texas judge is being investigated over a shocking web video that appears to show him using a belt to whip his then 16-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy.

Police in Rockport, Texas, called in the Texas Rangers, the state’s top lawmen, to investigate Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, after people complained about the video, The Associated Press reported.

The video, uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 27 by a person who claimed to be Adams’ daughter, Hillary, shows a man berating and savagely beating a teenage girl with a belt. The man hits her in the legs and sides of her body.

“Is it fun to disobey your mom and dad?" the man can be heard screaming as he unleashes a barrage of lashings.

Full Article and Source:
Texas judge William Adams Under Investigation After Video Apparently Shows Him Beating Disabled Daughter

Senator Al Franken Introduces "The Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act"

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) introduced a bill to protect Minnesota seniors who receive long-term services and supports in their homes and communities by guaranteeing them basic rights and protection from abuse and neglect.

Sen. Franken developed this legislation after hearing directly from Minnesota seniors and their advocates.

“It became very clear to me after meeting with seniors from Moorhead to Winona that remaining independent and at home is a top priority for our seniors,” said Franken. “But in order to keep our seniors in their homes we have to make sure they’re safe. This legislation would ensure that seniors who choose to receive long-term services and supports in their homes and communities have the same rights and protections from elder abuse that seniors living in nursing homes already have.”

The Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act would:

• Direct states to develop a Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights to protect seniors who receive services in their homes and communities;

• Establish a voluntary Home Care Ombudsman Program to support states that choose to provide ombudsman services to resolve the concerns and complaints of seniors who receive home and community-based services; and

• Develop quality standards for home and community-based services so that seniors and their families can make more informed decisions about who provides their services.

Sen. Franken plans to incorporate his bill into the Older Americans Act (OAA) when it comes up for reauthorization later this year. In an effort to prepare for the reauthorization — which Sen. Franken will play a key role in as a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee — he and his staff held listening sessions with seniors across the state, released a report on their findings, and held a Senate Special Committee on Aging Field Hearing in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Full Article and Source:
Franken Introduces Senior Care Bill