Saturday, March 31, 2012

Senate Bill to Change Makeup of TN Judiciary Court Passes

A proposal to change the makeup of the entity that investigates complaints against Tennessee judges has passed the Senate.

Republican Sen. Mike Faulk of Kingsport is the primary sponsor of the legislation that was approved 30-0 on Thursday.

The measure would terminate the Court of the Judiciary and replace it with a 16-member board of judicial conduct, which would pretty much have the same function as the court.

Under the proposal, the board must report four times a year to the chief clerk of each legislative chamber, information that includes "complaints opened, closed or pending" and "the number of complaints for which probable cause has been found."

The companion bill is being scheduled for a vote on the House floor.

Full Article and Source:
Senate Bill Would Change Make Up of Judiciary Court

Houston Hospital Pulls Life-Preserving Treatment Against Family's Wishes

A hospital is now actively killing a patient whose family called me at the 11th hour yesterday, pleading to save their father’s life.

Despite the family’s desperation to protect their father’s life, and everything Texas Right to Life did for them, the hospital’s death panel declared his life futile and moved with steps to kill him.

I could not protect him, and I want to tell you what happened.

His family calls him Willie.

A few weeks ago, he was making plans to travel with his family for a vacation in Europe, but he had chest pains and went to the hospital to check what’s wrong. To his surprise, they discovered pneumonia and, shockingly, leukemia.

His doctors suggested surgery and chemo. Willie didn’t want to die. Before sedation, his daughter told me that he looked lovingly into her eyes and said, “Fight for me, baby; I ain’t done living.”

His family — armed with a medical power of attorney — obeyed his wishes and told the doctors to continue his medical care and treatment.

But his doctors disagreed. They had other plans.

Full Article and Source:
Houston Hospital Pulls Life-Preserving Treatment Against Family's Wishes

Note: This article was written on March 20, and the author says Willie died that same afternoon.

Daughter Allegedly Takes More Than $143,000 From Mother With Dementia

A Sandy woman has been accused of stealing more than a hundred thousand dollars from her mom, who suffers from dementia.

Dorothy Jean Henderson, 65, was charged in 3rd District Court Thursday with exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a second-degree felony.

On Dec. 29, 2010, Henderson was appointed by the courts as a guardian and conservator over her 84-year-old mother’s needs. The appointment gave Henderson the power under law to act on behalf of her mother to make medical, residential, financial, end of life and other decisions, according to court documents.

As soon as the paperwork was done, Henderson began taking out large sums of money from her mother’s bank accounts. None of the money was spent in any way to benefit the mother, court records state.

A Salt Lake City police detective reviewed the mother’s financial records and discovered that over nearly a year, Henderson had withdrawn about $143,000 from the accounts for herself or her children. Some of the accounts included money contributed by the mother’s spouse throughout the couple’s 62 years of marriage.

When police interviewed Henderson, she said she "borrowed" about $43,600 from her mother since losing her job in April 2011. Even though Henderson was told by her attorney that these funds were not for her use, but for her mother’s well-being, she didn’t see the problem, "because she always borrowed money from her mother," according to the charges.

Full Article and Source:
Daughter Allegedly Takes More Than $143,000 From Mother With Dementia

Friday, March 30, 2012


One of the tactics that the Court appointed guardians has been able to get away with to discourage you and me from exercising our FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS is to be vague but very direct with accusations. For instance, the ARDC complaint against me charges me with lying to Dr. Patel and to Judicial Officials. If I knowingly told an untruth the accuser should be able to state specifically what words and phrases that I uttered that were untrue, and how she knows that I knew that they were untrue. For instance: Ms. L. Black accuses me of lying to Dr. Patel. OK – what words did I utter to Dr. Patel that were untrue. The letter that she refers to does not say anything that was untrue. If you look at the ARDC complaint filed against me (on the Illinois Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission website the complaint is long on accusations and conclusions but it is almost a void on specifically stating any words and phrases that were knowingly untrue. A lie is a specific statement - it is not a procrustean interpretation of some words and phrases that are randonly chosen. I submit to each person who reads this e-mail that every word that I communicated in connection with the Sykes case was accurate and is backed up by either a Court transcript, a communication from an aggrieved person, an affidavit, or something very tangible. I am very resentful at being called a liar on the website of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission. I urge everyone who reads this e-mail to write the ARDC and demand specifics. We all have First Amendment Rights.

As the agency that regulates attorneys should set a high standard for transparency you each as citizens have a right to know if I am a liar. In particular, as the ARDC posted the complaint for the public to observe it should in the interests of fairness disclose sufficient facts to let the public know exactly what words and phrases I used to convey a false statement to whomever I allegedly made that statement. In particular, as an example in Count 1 I am accused of lying to Dr. Patel. You as a member of the public who has been told I liedm therefore are entitled to know what words I conveyed to Dr. Patel that were untrue. If I did not specifically use any words you should know that also. It, therefore, follows that I did not use the words; someone else has been frugal with the truth. You as a member of the public who has read the posting of the ARDC have the right to know all about that event as well.

Going one step further, I am supposed to have lied to Judicial Officials. You also should know who those judicial officials were and when, where and exactly what knowingly untrue words and phrases I uttered or conveyed to those officials. I, therefore, urge each and every person who is interested in fighting the cause of Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation to inquire of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission and determine for yourself if I lied to anyone, and if so exactly what statements that I made that were knowingly untrue. I waive any right of privacy as to this matter as you as people who have trusted me have a right to know if I am indeed a liar!

Ken Ditkowsky

See Also:
Mary Sykes, Illinois Victim

IN: Attorney Stacy Sheedy Pleads Guilty in $596K Fraud

An Indianapolis attorney and accountant pleaded guilty to theft as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

An investigation discovered late last year that $596,000 was missing from accounts managed for clients by attorney Stacy H. Sheedy. She was charged in January.

Sheedy admitted to two counts of theft, according to a release from Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, and will receive a sentence of up to eight years. Sentencing is scheduled for April 26 in Marion Superior Court.

The guardianship account supported an elderly widow with Alzheimer's disease residing in a nursing home. Grand jury investigators uncovered unauthorized withdrawals and unaccounted-for funds from the guardianship accounts totaling more than $172,000, the release stated. Sheedy made at least 32 unauthorized withdrawals over six months, investigators found.

That discovery led grand jury investigators to also examine Sheedy's role as trustee of a family trust. A brokerage account within the trust was valued at $501,000 when Sheedy became trustee, the release stated, and was valued at $168 in January. Prosecutors alleged that Sheedy made unauthorized withdrawals from the trust account of $412,500.

Full Article and Source:
Indianapolis Attorney Stacy Sheedy Pleads Guilty in $596,000 Fraud

Former NH Police Captain Sentenced to 12 Months

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson sentenced retired Manchester police Capt. Michael Tessier to 12 months in the Hillsborough County jail after he pleaded guilty to two theft charges Wednesday.

Abramson said earlier she would order a hearing to determine whether Tessier should pay restitution in the theft cases.

Tessier will surrender to custody Monday at 2 p.m. to begin serving his sentence.

Tessier pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from trust funds of Thaddeus Jakobiec, a blind, disabled cousin whose trust Tessier was overseeing.

“I'm not persuaded at this point I understand it well enough to say no restitution is needed,” Abramson said.

Tessier's lawyer said his client has repaid $230,000 in restitution already.

Full Article and Source:
Tessier Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to 12 Months

Thursday, March 29, 2012

TX: "Probate Judge is Shunting Aside TX Law"

Jack Hood is 88 years old, but I wouldn't place any bets against him in an arm wrestling match.

The World War II veteran says he still submits to workouts that include 200 curls of 25-pound dumbbells.

“Don't (mess) with me,” Hood warned Tuesday.

I can't print the expletive he actually said. But I also can't print an image of the grin that followed, proving the old man remains not only tough, but also funny and sharp.

It matters, though, because Hood's stepdaughter and her attorneys are arguing in court that he is not qualified to manage the assets he shares with his wife of 35 years, Billie Ray Hood, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Debra Catalani, who is Billie Ray's daughter, is instead arguing that she should control the couple's assets, a claim that shunts aside state law.

The law — Section 883 of the Texas Probate Code — states that when one spouse is incapacitated, the other spouse “acquires full power to manage, control, and dispose of the entire community estate as community administrator.”

Nonetheless, the same probate judge who has considered the dispute for more than two years, Judge Tom Rickhoff, signed an order channeling much of Jack and Billie Ray's assets to Catalani.

Last month, the Fourth Court of Appeals reversed Rickhoff's partition order and remanded it back to his court for more hearings.

“Incredibly, Section 883 was not raised in the trial court by the parties or by the trial judge,” the chief justice wrote.

It's been a frustrating two years for Jack Hood.

I can understand why.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Judge is Shunting Aside Texas Law

Settlement Reached in Brooke Astor Estate Battle

Brooke Astor’s only son saw his inheritance slashed in half and had his control of the estate’s powerful charitable contributions stripped away as part of a settlement that ended a bitter, five-year dispute over the family’s millions.

The settlement, ratified on Wednesday in Westchester County Surrogate’s Court, also lays out how Mrs. Astor’s roughly $100 million fortune will be distributed: $30 million will go toward the creation of a Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education, and millions more will go to Prospect Park, Central Park, city playgrounds and various cultural institutions.

The settlement, which exposed bitter splits in one of New York society’s historically glamorous families, was most noteworthy for what it took away from Mrs. Astor’s son, Anthony D. Marshall.

Mr. Marshall, 87, who was convicted three years ago of stealing from her in the later years of her life, had his inheritance cut to $14.5 million from about $31 million. In addition, he and his wife, Charlene, will not be able to choose which charities receive bequests from Mrs. Astor’s estate or how those bequests are to be used.

The settlement, negotiated by the office of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, is binding, regardless of what happens with Mr. Marshall’s criminal appeal.

Full Article and Source:
Settlement Reached in Battle Over Brooke Astor's Estate

Ohio Woman Sentenced in Embezzlement Case

While Christina Lynn was supposed to be helping two veterans entrusted to her, federal prosecutors said she was busy stealing more than $305,000 from them.

For that, and her guilty plea to a related charge in October, a judge sentenced her to serve 27 months in prison and repay the money.

Lynn, 41, of Williamsport, committed the crime while working as a legal assistant for the law firm of Huffer and Huffer in Circleville. While working in that capacity, she was appointed a legal guardian for the two veterans by the Veterans Administration and Social Security.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Lynn received benefit payments for medical payments and to pay bills.

However, prosecutors said between April 2004 and April 2010, Lynn took $247,000 of the benefits for her personal use and took an additional $58,000 from the trust funds of several of the firm's clients.

She pleaded guilty in October to one count of embezzling public money and was ordered to pay $305,127 in restitution and will serve three years of supervised release after her prison term is done.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Sentenced in Embezzlement Case

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Attorney Ken Ditkowsky Answers ARDC Complaint

"I just finished up an edit of the Reply. I am forwarding this response to the various blogs with the hope that they will post it. I want to demonstrate that now all attorneys shake in their boots when confronted by a wrongful disciplinary action reasonably intended to inhibit our free speech. The ARDC case that was filed against me is 'bogus' and intended to shut me up.

It is not going to happen as I was called a liar, even though every word I communicated was absolutely objectively true and based upon the information of people who I respect and believe to be credible.

I sent our requests to admit to the ARDC as I wanted to give them an opportunity to admit or deny the facts that I allegedly lied concerning. The choice was very simple. Admit that certain facts are true and dismiss the case, or on the hand deny that the facts were true and prove them. Instead, the ARDC admitted that they never investigated the facts and did not have sufficient information. Illinois law requires a degree of due diligence before filing a lawsuit. It appears that the attorney for the ARDC ignored that requirement in total and just filed a complaint that accused me of being a liar and posted it on the internet.

That scenario suggests something very sinister and wrong! I do not intend to allow such a scenario to remain in secret or to be covered up. I also do not intend to allow the Human and Civil Rights of either Mary or Gloria or any of the other aggreived individuals similarly situated to be just forfeited. My latest missile is:"


In the Matter of:


Commission No. 2012 PR 00014
No. 642754

To Response to Motion to Dismiss Complaint

Now comes Kenneth Ditkowsky and renews his Motion to dismiss this ARDC complaint by this reply and in support of the motion states:
Prefatory Statement
Objection is made to the lack of candor that the Administrator’s response to this Motion to Dismiss. For instance in paragraph 1 the Administrator after fortuitously denigrating the Motion with editorial comment states a fact that is untrue. The Administrator claims that there are no affidavits in support of the Motion. In fact there are several. The affidavit of Gloria Sykes and the affidavit of Scott Evans are both provided in support of the motion. Had whoever drafted the Response read the Motion, that person would have noted these affidavits.

Of a more serious nature is the fact that the alleged Administrator’s Response to the Request to Admit is an admission that either no investigation was done prior to the filing of the complaint herein, or the Administrator has not been candid. If the Administrator in fact, prior to bringing his complaint, had done the investigation required by Supreme Court Rule 137 the administrator would have been able to admit or deny all the facts requested to be admitted or denied by the Request to Admit. (The Supplemental Motion to Dismiss addresses this issue.)

An Attorney and his/her clients are afforded Constitutional Rights and the protections of 735 ILCS 110/et seq. The protections of the Constitution of the United States of America and the State of Illinois are applicable to even the disciplinary proceedings of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Cavalier responses to serious issues may be the current vogue in some legal circles, but the issues involved in this proceeding and its related proceedings are indeed serious. The fact is that the Administrator in his response to the First Wave Requests to Admit reveals that he “does not have sufficient knowledge to admit or deny ***” the very facts that he must allege in his complaint. Yet, the Administrator concludes that the respondent lied and then wrongfully published the defamation on the ‘web!’ Such perfidy is not only chilling, but an admission that this instant complaint is grossly improper and intentionally violative of intent and spirit of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 137[1] and 735 ILCS 110 et seq. The aforesaid Response to the First Wave Request to Admit is attached hereto and made part hereof as exhibit A as if set out in detail and incorporated by reference.

The granting of authority to the Administrator was not a grant to run rough shod over the rights of citizens, including attorneys. Even a cursory examination of the complaint raises the question of the First Amendment applicability. Count 1 misinterprets words and phrases of an inquiry letter in the most procrustean manner so as to distort the letter’s meaning and seek discipline against respondent for words and phrases that were never communicated. Such a request coupled with the pejorative averments that the non-uttered statement was a lie raises ‘red flags’ and suggests an improper motive in bringing the complaint.

The conclusions of the 2nd count are equally troubling as once again the derogatory ‘name calling’ substitutes for the pleading of facts. In particular, as the Sodini criterion according to our view of the record in In re: Sykes was never met there are no judicial officials and in particular Guardian Ad Litem Stern and Farenga, approximately two years after their appointment, have no standing in the probate proceedings. The plenary guardian and her attorney are similarly acting sans jurisdiction. As the response to the Request to Admit indicates that the Administrator does not have knowledge of such a basic fact, how does the Administrator get the authority to publish a ‘naked statement’ to the public that the respondent is a ‘liar!’

More significantly, all the statements that are alleged to have been made by the respondent are clearly protected statements under the 1st and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution. The 2-619 Motion is thus appropriate to redress the chilling prospect of a citizen being denied Equal Protection of the Law and his right to the First Amendment protections of protest, speech, and assembly. It is significant that the Administrator chooses to ignore these basic Constitutional Rights and at the very same time respond to Requests to Admit with:
“The Administrator does not have sufficient knowledge to admit or deny***”
Supreme Court Rule 137 admonishes exactly this type of conduct on the part of the attorney for the Administrator (i.e. bringing a complaint without doing any due diligence or investigation of the facts so as to be able to certify that the facts alleged are true) and 42 USCA 1983 counsels that color of Statute ought not be employed to deny a citizen of his/her Constitutional laws.

735 ILCS 110 et seq. makes it very clear that a legal proceeding cannot be used to silence a citizen. It may be very inconvenient that Ms. Sykes, Mr. Evans and others have verified by their affidavits the very facts that the Administrator will have to prove false to prove me a ‘liar!’ The Sykes/Evans’ affidavits stand in stark contradiction to the statement of the Administrator in paragraph 1 of his response. The said affidavits also stand as strong contradiction to the conclusions pleaded by the Administrator.

It is respectfully submitted that if the attorney for the Administrator had read the Motion before it was responded to, the complaint would have been non-suited. It is further respectfully submitted had the files of the ARDC and the complaints filed by various friends, relatives, and neighbors of Mary Sykes been reviewed prior to the filing of the complaint filed herein the complaint would never have been filed. Even in 21st Century America the objective truth is not a lie, and the publication of the truth – no matter when or where – is not a prevarication. Similarly, to protect the rights of citizens and to prevent exactly what appears to have happened to Mary Sykes and Gloria Sykes in the Sykes case the legal profession has been very jealous of protecting the First Amendment Rights of the brethren. As a profession lawyers cannot tolerate the deprivation of human rights and/or civil rights of anyone – including them.

When an attorney demands the investigation of the conduct of such ‘august’ persons as a guardian ad litem and an attorney for a plenary guardian, in a case in which a senior citizen is deprived of her liberty, property, and human rights under extremely suspicious circumstances, such effort should be aided and abetted in the interest of justice – not punished. This instant reply draws attention to the Affidavits of Gloria Sykes and Scott Evans. This panel is requested to examine the Court file in the Sykes case and is respectfully requested to take judicial notice of the same. In the Court file, unless I have misread the docket and the transcripts of Mr. Schmiedel’s statements, the Jurisdictional Sodini notices and affidavits of service are missing. As they were never sent by the attorney for the plenary guardian *****. As the Appellate Court of Illinois has noted (in Sodini) these notices are jurisdictional Mr. Stern, Ms. Farenga and the plenary guardian are engaging in their alleged pernicious activities ultra vires. Right or wrong, I have not waived my First Amendment Rights and any attempt to silence me or diminish my said rights is not only wrongful, but clearly a violation of the policy of the State of Illinois as stated in 735 ILCS 110/5.

Moreover, the Response to the First Wave Request to Admit is a clear admission that Rule 137 was ignored by the attorney for the Administrator in drafting the complaint. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission in being charged with regulating Attorney conduct should be a ‘Cesar’s wife!’ The commission is charged with not only being an example of legal ethics and propriety, but being an example to the profession. It is respectfully suggested that the complaint, and the two responses are examples of the nadir of the profession rather than the best and, therefore, the complaint filed herein should be dismissed with prejudice.

Wherefore pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-619 this complaint be dismissed, and a complete and through investigation be commenced as to the Sykes case and pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 137 the motivations for bringing this instant complaint in the manner it was filed.[2]

Respectfully Submitted

Kenneth K. Ditkowsky

Attorney number 0642754
Pro se
5940 W. Touhy Ave
Niles, Illinois 60714
847 600 3421

[1] Had a private attorney acted with such careless disregard the attorney would be subject to sanctions and possible discipline. Rule 137 even in its most liberal interpretation requires enough due diligence on the part of the attorney drafting a complaint that the attorney (and his client) has knowledge of the basic facts upon which the complaint is founded. It is respectfully submitted that this is not true in the instant complaint against me.
[2] CALLING A PRACTICING ATTORNEY A 'LIAR' AND PUBISHING THE SAME ON THE INTERNET IS NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE TAKEN LIGHTLY OR IGNORED. As the affidavits of Sykes and Evans clearly refute any suggestion that I lied as to anything this is a serious matter and a clear violation of 735 ILCS 110/ and 42 USCA 1983. On day one the attorney for the Administrator had a duty based upon the ‘traditions of the bar’ (if not an ethical responsibility) to do a full investigate of the charges that were brought and to have a clear knowledge of the facts upon which the charges were being brought. In the instant scenario the ARDC has received numerous citizen complaints totally consistent with the statements allegedly made by me. The Court record is also consistent with the charges that have been made by Gloria Sykes et al. No one can deny that Mary Sykes was helped by Court employed people to prepare a Petition For A Protective Order. No one can deny that this Petition was duly filed and never heard. No one can deny that neither Guardian ad Litem petitioned the Court to voice any complaint as to a possible conflict of interest on the part of the plenary guardian.

No one can deny the videos posted by various citizens on the internet, and no one can deny that Mary Sykes in the early videos appears to be perfectly competent. Indeed, no one can deny that not a scintilla of medical evidence was heard by the Probate Court prior to declaring Mary Sykes incompetent. Nor can anyone deny the transcripts of August 2009 and August 2010. Similarly, no one can deny that the 14 day Sodini notices are claimed by the close relatives of Mary Sykes to have not been served and more importantly Mr. Schmiedel has not made a clear statement stating that these vital notices were indeed properly served as required by Statute. These notices are jurisdictional as they are the protection against vulnerable people being ‘railroaded’ into the loss of liberty and property by dishonest practitioners.

Similarly no one can deny that family members of Mary Sykes have disclosed that the safety deposit box contained valuables and these valuables were never inventoried. The record is clear that Mr. Stern, and Ms. Farenga failed to alert the Court to this oversight. Of course, the record indicates that Mary Sykes had many emergency room visits. The probate record does not reveal any report of these visits by the GAL. It is respectfully submitted that the record in the probate division upon which the Administrator must rely upon to aver that I am liar suggests that some very unusual events have taken place that are disingenuous and possibly criminal. THE PROBLEM THAT THE RESPONSE TO THE REQUEST TO ADMIT DISCLOSES is that the Attorney drafting the complaint apparently was ignorant of these serious factual scenarios.

See Also:
Mary Sykes, Illinois Victim

VT Seeks Dismissal of Abuse Lawsuit Against APS

A lawyer for Vermont told a judge Monday that a disability-rights group can’t sue the state over the alleged failings of its Adult Protective Services Division, because the people named as bringing suit haven’t suffered any injuries.

“There’s no allegation of specific harm to the plaintiffs,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Daloz told Judge Michael Kupersmith.

The state has filed a motion to dismiss a suit brought against the state by Vermont Legal Aid for the groups Disability Rights Vermont and the Community of Vermont Elders.

Legal Aid lawyer Barbara Prine said in courtroom arguments and in interviews that the state was trying to use a legal technicality to avoid fixing a system she called “dysfunctional” and a “wholesale failure.”

The groups filed the lawsuit in December, saying Adult Protective Services routinely violates the law that requires it to begin investigating reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults within 48 hours of receiving them, and that the state in recent years frequently has had a backlog of as many as 300 open investigations.

“This has gone on for years,” Prine said in court Monday. “We spent a year negotiating with them trying to get it to improve and it did not improve. ... The system is dysfunctional.”

Full Article and Source:
State Seeks Dismissal of Abuse Lawsuit

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Victory for Daniel Gross!

The state Supreme Court stood up Friday for a simple right that matters deeply for all, but especially to the old, sick and disabled.

The job of a lawyer appointed by probate court is to fight for the client, whether he is healthy or a stubborn 86-year-old man.

In a unanimous ruling in the long-running civil rights case of Daniel Gross, the justices ruled that court-appointed lawyers do not have immunity from lawsuits if they abuse their clients. The court also ruled, in a divided opinion, that conservators appointed by probate have limited immunity. The justices also ruled that a nursing home does not have immunity from lawsuits in probate cases.

The ruling has far-reaching implications for our troubled probate court system. It means that a court-appointed lawyer, and to a lesser extent the conservator — who is appointed by probate when a person can no longer live independently — cannot ignore the wishes of a client. The message to probate court is clear: Lawyers and conservators must be held accountable.

For probate courts, this has huge implications because many of the unsettling and outrageous cases I have been writing about for the past six years stem from abuse by conservators and court-appointed lawyers and judges who don't pay enough attention.

Although Gross died in 2007, his civil rights case lived on. The lasting lesson is that the old or disabled — even if they are unwell and cranky — have the same rights as the rest of us.

"It means that if you get a court-appointed lawyer, that lawyer cannot have any doubt that the lawyer's job is to listen to you,'' said Sally Zanger, the Connecticut Legal Rights Project lawyer who represented Carolyn Dee King, Gross' daughter. "It's what the lawyer is supposed to be doing."

Amazingly, that's been the problem in the probate cases I've been telling you about since 2006. Gross' was the first and most heartbreaking case I stumbled upon, when a Legal Aid lawyer told me an unbelievable tale of an old man from Long Island being held against his will in a Waterbury nursing home.

Elderly but still independent, Gross became ill while visiting his daughter in Waterbury. He was hospitalized, and while his children fought over his care and who should control his finances, Waterbury Probate Judge Thomas Brunnock approved his involuntary conservatorship.

Gross wanted to go home to Long Island. He wasn't told of the hearing where he was ordered conserved. His court-appointed lawyer, Jonathan Newman, failed to object to the conservatorship, even though Gross just wanted to leave Connecticut. His conservator, Kathleen Donovan, had him placed in a locked, restricted ward at Grove Manor Nursing Home in Waterbury. His roommate was violent.

Later, when Gross was on a day visit to his Long Island home, he was hospitalized. Donovan brought him back to Connecticut in an ambulance against the wishes of Gross' New York doctor.

In June 2006, Superior Court Judge Joseph Gormley, at a dramatic writ of habeas corpus hearing, ordered Gross freed, declaring that "a terrible miscarriage of justice" had taken place and that the man had been "deprived of his liberty."

King, Gross' daughter, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Brunnock, Donovan, Newman and the nursing home. Brunnock, as a judge, could not be sued, but the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals sent the question of immunity for the others back to the state Supreme Court for a ruling. King's lawsuit against Donovan, Newman and the nursing will now go back to federal court.

Newman's lawyer — who argued to the Supreme Court that his client's role was like that of a lawyer for a child — did not respond to my call. A lawyer for Donovan, Richard A. Roberts, said the ruling might mean that conservators and court-appointed lawyers will be forced to go to a judge for every decision they make.

But Fairfield Probate Judge Daniel Caruso, president of the association of probate judges, said that his colleagues will welcome the ruling.

"When the Supreme Court articulates and provides brighter lines as to what is and is not within the bounds of immunity, it helps everyone," he said.

Public-interest lawyers hailed the decision because it provides new accountability to a court system that critics say still lacks oversight.

"Our legal system has safeguards. Even when you are appointed by the court you are accountable for what you do,'' Tom Behrendt of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project told me.

When I reached King, she reminded me of her father's humiliation before a court that was supposed to protect him.

"He was robbed of his humanity at the end of his life," King said. "He was used as a pawn. They just ignored him."

We can't change that, but the elderly man's lasting legacy is a powerful one. If you are old or disabled, probate court is a less-frightening place thanks to Daniel Gross.

Source: (Note: this article is shown in its entirety with special thanks to reporter, Rick Green of the Hartford Courant)
State Supreme Court Holds Lawyers, Conservators Accountable In Probate Cases

NC Man Sentenced to 90 Months in Prison

A Coquino Beach, North Carolina man was sentenced to 90 months in prison for his role in an investment scheme that defrauded investors of $1.4 million, United States Attorney Paul J Fishman announced.

Michael Noreski, 55, formerly of Mantua, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Renée Marie Bumb on June 6, 2011 to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud. Judge Bumb imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Noreski was the owner of 4 Solutions LLC, a Gibbsboro, New Jersey company that purported to facilitate short sale property transactions for distressed homeowners. Noreski admitted that in connection with this business, he defrauded 10 or more victims of more than $1,000,000.

Noreski, assisted by John Fikaris, 29, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, used approximately $195,000 in forged checks taken from an incapacitated individual, without that individual’s guardian’s permission or knowledge, for 4 Solutions’s initial operating expenses and for Noreski’s personal expenses.

Full Article and Source:
North Carolina Man Sentenced to 90 Months in Prison for 14 Million Investment Fraud Scheme

Monday, March 26, 2012

NASGA Press Release: NASGA Releases its Fourth Open Letter to Congress and the White House

Press Release
For Immediate Release
March 26, 2012

NASGA Releases its Fourth Open Letter to Congress and the White House

NASGA has addressed guardianship/conservatorship abuse by fiduciaries in three previous white papers to Congress and the White House; yet, when any legislator has come forward to champion the cause of guardianship reform and propose legislation, the focus of said reform continues to concentrate on family members as guardians and is limited to suggestions of grants for certification, training, background checks – none of which addresses the growing threat of professional for-profit and “not-for-profit” fiduciaries freely bleeding their victims into indigence and onto Medicaid, at the expense of the currently unsuspecting taxpayers.

In this, our fourth white paper, we continue to ask: How are thieves “trained” not to steal other than by enforcing existing law and sending them to jail?

The GAO’s 2010 report: “Guardianship: Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect and Abuse of Seniors” sounded a resounding alarm calling for Congress to step up and address the subject of court-sanctioned plunder of estates by court-appointed fiduciaries and professionals and compel them to MAKE GOOD THE FORGOTTEN PROMISE of 42 U.S.C. 3001 of The Public Health and Welfare Law: “(6) Retirement in health, honor, dignity - after years of contribution to the economy; ” and “(10) Freedom, independence, and the free exercise of individual initiative in planning and managing their own lives, full participation in the planning and operation of community-based services and programs provided for their benefit, and protection against abuse, neglect, and exploitation.”


Report Criticizes KY Care Homes

Personal care homes in Kentucky serve as little more than warehouses for their mentally disabled residents, violating their right to live in communities that afford them more freedom and meaningful activities, a watchdog group contends in a new report.

“We’ve got to find a better way to serve folks with mental health issues,” said Marsha Hockensmith, executive director of Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, which produced the report released Monday.

It details a survey of 218 residents at 20 personal care homes throughout Kentucky. Hockensmith said she believes the findings represent overall conditions for the 4,400 people who live in 81 “free-standing” state-licensed facilities — meaning they are not part of a larger institution, such as a nursing home.

The report found that some personal care homes are dirty, in poor repair, restrict access — one kept residents behind a locked chain-link fence — and regiment meals, bedtimes and activities such as smoking breaks or telephone calls. Residents reported feeling isolated and having little involvement with the community.

Full Article and Source:
Report Critices Kentucky Care Homes

PA's Nursing Homes are in Crisis

Pennsylvania's nursing homes can no longer sustain themselves with the latest cuts to Medicaid, according to a health advocate for the elderly. Families who are likely to pick up the slack also are seeing their support threatened.

"Two-thirds of Pennsylvania's nursing home residents are on Medicaid, and for each one of them, a nursing home loses an average of $19.23 a day," said Dr. Stuart H. Shapiro, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. "These shortfalls are unsustainable."

The proposed $102 million statewide cut in Medicaid funding would be felt at local nursing homes. The PHCA estimates the cuts will amount to more than $700,000 for nursing homes in Franklin County, $2 million in Cumberland, $800,000 in Adams, $100,000 in Fulton and $2.8 million in York.

Few nursing home administrators want to talk about it.

They have little room to cut expenditures, according to PHCA:

-- Staffing a nursing home around the clock makes up 70 percent of nursing home expenditures. At the same time, nursing homes are highly regulated and must meet minimum staffing requirements.

-- Nursing homes, whether nonprofit or for-profit, operate on the lowest margins of all health care sectors - less than 1 percent versus 5 percent for hospitals and home-health and managed-care companies.

"All health care providers lose money caring for those on Medicaid, but nursing homes suffer the most because they serve a much higher percentage of individuals on Medicaid," Shapiro said.

Nursing homes already have cut staff, reduced benefits, canceled renovations and delayed purchases, he said. Many are turning away people on Medicaid because the homes cannot afford to care for them.

Families will feel the emotional, physical and financial stress.

Full Article and Source:
Pennsylvania's Nursing Homes are in Crisis

Sunday, March 25, 2012

YouTube: Jonell Grace Exposes Predator Attorneys

Jonell seeks legal assistance to restore what has been taken from her and to stop these atrocities from happening to others.

Jonell Grace Exposes Predatory Attorneys, Part 1 of 2

Jonell Grace Exposes Predator Attorneys, Part 2 of 2

CT Man: Kick Uncle Out of Grandma's House

Just three weeks after a Trumbull man agreed not to evict his 98-year-old mother from the home she has lived in since 1953, his son filed for a restraining order to throw his uncle out of the grandmother's house.

John "Jack" Kantorowski has been caring for his mother, Mary Kantorowski, in her small Cape Cod style home on Flax Road here. But Kevin Kantorowski, who lives in Florida, contends his uncle has been helping himself to the mother's life savings, a charge John Kantorowski and a court-appointed conservator deny.

"He's (Jack) is totally out of control," claimed Kevin Kantorowski, who filed an application for the civil restraining order in Superior Court. "He's been robbing her and I'm not giving up until the justice system works the way it is supposed to."

A hearing on the application has been scheduled for April 2.

Full Article and Source:
Man: Kick Uncle Out of Grandma's House

Jefferson Award Winner - 90 Year-Old Lilyann Brannon

She’s been a one-woman human services agency for three decades. No task is too big or small, even though Jefferson Award winner Lilyann Brannon is now 90-years-old.

When Michele Blamires was pregnant and living under a San Jose bridge years ago, it was Brannon who brought her family food and diapers. And when Michele cleaned up from a drug addiction, it was Brannon who helped her find a home and job.

“She does so much,” Blamires said admiringly. “If it’s in her willpower, she’ll do it. She’ll find a way.”

From her San Jose living room, Brannon runs the nonprofit Tending the Flock. With her husband retired from Lockheed and she from Apple, Brannon devotes her life to helping the poor and neglected who fall through the cracks. She’s a one-woman charitable agency who can serve up food one minute, and snap through a web of bureaucracy the next.

“When you get to know people, you can’t turn your back and walk away,” Brannon explained.

Full Article and Source:
Jefferson Award Winner Tends To Needs Of South Bay’s Poor