Saturday, May 5, 2012

AARP Joins Class Action Suit Against CA Nursing Facility

The AARP has joined what lawyers call an unprecedented class-action lawsuit accusing a Ventura nursing home of using powerful drugs without the informed consent of residents or family members.

Lawyers from the powerful advocacy group's foundation will serve as co-counsel in a case alleging that Ventura Convalescent Hospital skirted California's regulations in providing antipsychotic drugs to residents. While state law requires nursing homes to verify that a doctor has received a patient's or family member's consent, the lawsuit contends the nursing home did not.

Although targeted at the nursing home, the suit also alleges Dr. Gary Proffett, a prominent Ventura County physician, routinely relied on nursing homes to obtain consent rather than doing it himself as the law requires.

"The nursing home is literally the one that is putting the pill in the mouth and they are doing it without permission," said Gregory Johnson, the Oxnard lawyer who filed the class-action suit in November along with attorney Jody Moore of Thousand Oaks.

The case underscores the bristling debate over the use of chemical restraints to control the behavior of people in nursing homes with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia.

Full Article and Source:
AARP Joins Antipsychotic Drug Lawsuit Against Ventura Nursing Home

Scammer Gets 8 Years

An infamous scammer, who went on lavish shopping sprees in Las Vegas and bought a Porsche Boxster, $350 sunglasses and Armani clothing using an elderly San Jose woman's savings, pleaded guilty Tuesday and will spend eight years in prison, prosecutors said.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said, as part of the plea deal, confidence man Lawrence Maschino Jr. has agreed to give back $115,000 to the 86-year-old woman he bilked. He also was ordered to pay back the rest, $89,000, and will give most of the goods he bought with the woman's money to the family so they can sell them.

Maschino, 44, previously had served prison time after posing as a Harvard-educated heart surgeon and had shared a cell with the son of his latest victim. Using his charm, Maschino convinced the Almaden Valley woman he was her son's friend and that they needed a loan for a new business.

Along the way, he used her money to go on lavish shopping trips to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, bought iPads and computers, Louis Vuitton items, Swiss Army luggage, Prada sunglasses, Swarovski watches, a retro California briefcase, the Boxster and much more. But Maschino's banker noticed something was amiss, searched his name on Google, saw a previous Mercury News article on his prior crimes and contacted the district attorney's office.

Prosecutors had initially sought up to 10 years in prison but agreed to the plea deal in part because a trial would have put the victim through even more stress.

"Even though the victim lost money, compared to other cases I've seen, it was somewhat of a happy ending to the victim in that we recovered a big portion of the money back," deputy district attorney Cherie Bourlard said. "Of course it's no fun to figure out you've been duped by someone you thought was trying to help; the stress comes thereafter."

Full Article and Source:
Big Fish Con Man Gets 8 Years for Bilking San Jose Woman

Compulsive Shopper Charged With Bilking Blind Widow for $1.6 Million

A Bronx man with a compulsive shopping problem was busted for bilking an elderly blind widow out of millions of dollars, prosecutors said.

Philip Leopold, 76, was arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court Monday on charges he stole more than $1.6 million from an 85-year-old woman who he'd been helping with finances.

He is suspected of spending thousands of dollars on day-to-day expenses, student loans and life-insurance policies, while at the same time amassing a mind-boggling quantity of electronics and luxury goods he bought from QVC, the Home Shopping Network and other television retailers, prosecutors said.

In addition, Leopold is suspected of spending $63,000 to store household items including globes, figurines, clocks, vacuum cleaners, bedding, knifes and crockery.

Defense attorney Howard Jaffe said his client is in poor health, but did not comment on the nature of his relationship with the victim, who helped him set up a trust held jointly in their names in 2002.

Full Article and Source:
Compulsive Shopper Charged With Bilking Blind Widow for $1.6 Million

Friday, May 4, 2012

IN Attorney Stacy Sheedy Gets 8 Years in Prison

An Indianapolis attorney was sentenced to eight years in prison today for stealing $596,000 from a guardianship trust account of an Alzheimer's patient and a family trust account for which she was responsible.

Stacy Sheedy pleaded guilty in March to two counts of theft.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told Marion Superior Judge Mark Stoner during the sentencing hearing that "as an attorney. it offends me that another attorney would engage in this conduct."

Curry said he wanted to personally appear in court because he considered the crime so grave.

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

Additionally, a brokerage account within the trust was valued at $501,000 when Sheedy became trustee, and was valued at $168 in January. Prosecutors alleged that Sheedy made unauthorized withdrawals from the trust account of $412,500.

"I find this absolutely shocking," Stoner said. "You have not just harmed the legal profession but the entire culture."

Full Article and Source:
Judge Sends Attorney to Prison for Plundering Alzheimer's Patient's Account

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

Assisted Living Homes Face High Demand, Complex Rules

Debbie Vincent used to visit her mother at Milestone Assisted Living nearly every week, talking to the manager about her mother's spiraling dementia.

When she walked up to the door of the Glendale home on Feb. 12, 2011, Vincent was told that something bad had happened to her mother. She just did not know how terrible it would be.

Vincent, 54, could see right away that her mother had a swollen lip and a broken wrist and was covered in a white cream so heavy that at first she thought her mother was dead. Glendale paramedics exposed enough of Lena Vincent's skin to show the bruises on her face.

Three days later, Lena Vincent, 74, died of the blunt-force injury to her head. The medical examiner told Phoenix police, according to records obtained by 12 News and The Arizona Republic, that he found old and new bruises on her chest that indicated "blunt-force trauma" and that it appeared as though the woman was "repeatedly punched in the chest."

Advocates for seniors see an emerging calamity, where the swelling ranks of small care homes in Arizona and the nation, and the regulatory system meant to protect patients, could be overwhelmed.

"The biggest problem is this disconnect between the increasing needs of residents and staffing standards that tend to be relatively low," said Eric Carlson of the National Senior Citizens Law Center, a group that is pushing for federal regulations for assisted-living facilities. Unlike nursing homes, such facilities do not have on-site medical workers.

"The rules need to be rewritten to better match the services with people's care needs," Carlson said.

Full Article and Source:
Assisted Living Homes Face High Demand, Complex Rules

AL Caregiver Accused of Stealing from Elderly

Mobile Police say 44-year-old Keesha Medious was stealing from an elderly man she was supposed to be taking care of.

Officers say Medious was a caregiver for an elderly man, but she was taking advantage of him. They say Medious was signing up for debit cards with her name on his account and spending a lot of the elderly person’s money.

She was booked into Mobile Metro Jail and charged with exploitation of assets.

MPD: Caregiver Stole From Elderly

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Elder Abuse: Isolation by Public County Guardian in Santa Clara County, CA

The Public Guardian’s office has isolated Gisela Riordan from family for over two years, according to her son Marcus Riordan. The Public Guardian petitioned for conservatorship and placed Gisela at Villa Fontana, a residential care facility willing to violate her personal rights.

On September 28, 2010, Judge Thomas Cain ordered the Public Guardian to, “organize … visits between the conservatee and her adult children.”

Deputy Public Guardian Rebecca Pizano-Torres instructed Villa Fontana to restrict Gisela from all visits and phone calls. In two years, Gisela has seen Marcus three times. Marcus and Gisela pleaded for visitation.

Marcus: Tomorrow mom wants me c her u OK with that

Torres: no

In 2007, Santa Clara County paid Pizano-Torres $74, 537.71, according to Bay Area News Group.

The California Handbook for Conservators instructs:
California law requires you to choose the “least restrictive, appropriate” home available that is in the conservatee’s best interests and meets his or her needs.
Arrange a network of visitors.

* ...arrange for congregation members or clergy to visit
* Encourage family and friends to write letters and cards.
* Arrange for a telephone with a private line.
* Arrange parties for the conservatee.

The Handbook explains that conservatees do not lose their right to visitation. When a person becomes a conservatee, he or she does not lose the right to visit with friends or family.… Do not isolate the conservatee by keeping friends or family away.

On April 29, Pizano-Torres insisted she had the right to deny visitation.

Torres: Actually, it’s my choice.
Kincaid: Are you sure about that?
Torres: It is. I’m positive.

On April 30, the Long-term Care Ombudsman initiated an investigation into the Public Guardian and Villa Fontana violating Gisela’s right to visitation. Olivia Garcia, Santa Clara County Ombudsman, said she would speak to the Public Guardian. Later in the day, Pisano-Torres was removed from Gisela’s case.

On May 1, Community Care Licensing initiated an investigation into Villa Fontana violating Gisela’s right to visitation. Regulations require a Licensing Program Analyst visit the facility within ten calendar days.

Full Article and Source:
Elder Abuse: Isolation by Public County Guardian in Santa Clara County, CA

See Also:
Handbook for Conservators

Martin Sheen Wins 2012 Spirit of Life Award

A pro-life organization is honoring veteran actor Martin Sheen for his outspoken opposition to assisted suicide and abortion. Sheen will receive the 2012 Spirit of Life Award at the second annual Life Fest Film Festival in Los Angeles, scheduled for May 5-6.

Festival spokesman Derrick Jones tells OneNewsNow Sheen has made some solid pro-life statements in the past. And in 2008, he even served as a spokesman for Washington state's Coalition Against Assisted Suicide.

Full Article and Source:
Terri Schiavo Hope and Life Network: Actor, Martin Sheen Wins 2012 Spirit of Life Award

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

'A Modest Proposal'

The lesson of the cases involving the nursing home cabal, Sykes, and Tyler is that in these Elder Abuse, Financial Exploitation cases there is a ‘new reality.’

Objective reality is irrelevant to the political elite; the Court appointed guardians, the Courts, law enforcement, our elected representatives and the regulators. Instead of enforcing the law, we promulgate new legislation and muzzle those who speak out,all to the end of depriving ‘grandma’ of her liberty, her property, her civil rights and her human rights and most importantly unjustly enriching the favored few.

If you examine the nursing home cases, the over-charges are legend. The cabal charges Medicare, Medicaid, etc. for undelivered utilities, management that never occurs, transportation that is not utilized, drugs administered that werenot needed (or which are grossly inflated in price) etc. In the financial exploitation of the senior citizens, the Tyler case and the Sykes case are examples of the problem. Ms. Tyler resided in Lake Pointe Tower and had an estate of approximately $8,000,000.

Guess who paid for the ‘care that she received?’ It does not require agenius to examine the guardian’s claimed valuation.

Sykes only had a million dollar estate andinsurance from her husband’s former employer – The City of Chicago. Guess who is being charged for her lack of care?

Governor Quinn wants to raise taxes and cut services. President Obama wants to raise taxes. After dozens of letters from the victims(including friends and family of the affected seniors) do you notice the hue and cry generated? Indeed, do you see the two attorneys who unconscionably threaten and harass the heirs of Lydia Tyler being investigated by the IARDC? Do you see law enforcement pursing an inquiry into the suspicious circumstances surrounding Ms. Tyler’s death or the non-inventory of her assets? Indeed, do you see any effort on the part of law enforcement to free Mary Sykes and restore her liberty, her property andhuman rights? It is now admitted that the guardians have something to hide as they have not only rejected the call for a full and complete investigation of the charges made in Sykes, but have successful enlisted the IARDC to attempt to silence dissent.

Indeed, those who speak out can be expect bepunished. The two Marys’ were found in criminal contempt for their audacity. They were fined. Gloria Sykes was not only forced into Bankruptcy, but, the intellectual property (book notes, research, and othermaterials) were confiscated. Right herein the United States of America the plenary guardian of Mary Sykes appeared with Sheriff’s officers and removed her property. As Ms. Sykes is a targeted person, all she can raise is a deaf ear. Even thoughthe Probate Court had no jurisdiction, it fined me almost $5000.00. The Appellate Court vacated the sanction,but the IARDC is now prosecuting me for my audacity in writing the augustpersons and others demanding an investigation. (Or that they do theirjobs!)

That is the background.

It is my estimation that the over-charges generated out of the nursing homes are quite significant. The ‘loot’ from senior exploitation and charges to the State of Illinois and the United States of America is also quite significant. The charges to the State by the exploiters are similarly significant. Finally the cost of promulgating andpassing legislation that is intended to provide window dressing and placate thedissent is also significant.

How much does it costs to employ lawenforcement dedicated to assist the exploiters? What is the cost of CYA?

My proposal is very simple. We have enough legislation and unenforcedlaws. Quinn is cutting essentialservices to those who need them but funding the miscreants. There is something wrong with that picture. LET US ENFORCE OUR LAWS!

If we enforce our laws:
1) Fiduciaries that prey on the elderly pay taxes on their unjust enrichment. In Sykes the net gain to the USA is slightly over a million dollars intax, penalties, and interest. In Tyler,it is slightly over eight million dollars.
2) The over-payments by the State of Illinois and the United States of America would have to be reimbursed.
3) The inappropriate charges would not beincurred in the first place, families would take care of their own, and theassets of the senior would be utilized first to provide for his/her care.
4) Certain favorites within the legal community might have to find gainful employment
5) The need to cut essential services would be lessened.

There are also benefits (such as respect for law, respect for the court, respect for our institution, etc.) For Gloria Sykes and the Tyler family, releasefrom bondage and for society in general the assurance that America in 2012 isnot becoming a Gulag. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Ken Ditkowsky

Preparing for a Future That Includes Aging Parents

Planning a wedding is exciting.

Mapping out a vacation is fun.

Figuring how to afford care for your confused, elderly father? That one may never cross your mind — at least, not until you need more money to care for him.

"Never thought about it," Natasha Shamone-Gilmore, 58, says about her younger self. "Never ever."

She thinks about it a lot these days. Shamone-Gilmore, a computer trainer in Maryland, now shares a modest home with her husband, 24-year-old son and 81-year-old father.

Like millions of other middle-aged Americans, she had long regarded her parents as robust adults, more than capable of managing their own affairs. "My mom was a very active woman; my dad ... was a Safeway employee for 40-something years," she said.

But time does what it does, and today, her father needs a caretaker. So she has had to step into that role and figure out how to make it all work financially.

Shamone-Gilmore's family is one of three multigenerational households being profiled by NPR this spring. Their stories will help highlight the importance of family financial planning. The series, Family Matters, will continue in installments each Tuesday into June.

Full Article and Source:
Preparing for a Future That Includes Aging Parents

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Linda Kincaid Reports: Isolation and False Police Report in CA Facility

Wildwood Canyon Villa in Yucaipa, CA filed a false police report on March 28, 2012, in an attempt to isolate Jean Swope from her family. Lynnette Alvarado, Executive Director of the residential care facility, has a history of violating residents’ rights.

Wildwood isolated Swope for fifteen months, June 19, 2010 – Sep. 1, 2011, according to court records. Community Care Licensing cited Wildwood for violating Swope’s right to visitation. San Bernardino County court repeatedly ordered Wildwood to allow visitation. Finally, Wildwood allowed Swope to have visitors for several months.

Swope was thrilled to see her loved ones again. No longer plagued by depression, Swope became quick to smile and “tell stories” to visiting love ones. She devoured special meals and goodies they brought for her. Her Alzheimer’s symptoms improved steadily with TLC from family.

Then on March 28, 2012, Alvarado ordered family to leave and not return. She refused to give any reason for her orders.

The police report filed by Alvarado states:


There was no doctor’s order for dietary restrictions. At 115 pounds, Swope needs all the calories she can be enticed to consume.

Swope requested a Farmer’s Burger when family visited the night before. However, the lunch bag was never opened on March 28. Swope never had a chance to taste her favorite sandwich.

Alvarado ordered Swope’s visitors to leave and not return. The police report concluded:


Full Article and Source:
Elder Abuse in Residential Care: Isolation and False Police Report

Elderly Man in Facility Reacts to Music From His Era

Old Man in Nursing Home Reacts to Music From His Era

Suing Nursing Homes

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA), the first major version of the Federal standards for nursing home care since the 1965 creation of both Medicare and Medicaid (MediCal in California). Care facilities wanting Medicare and Medicaid funding were to provide services so that each nursing home patient could attain and maintain the highest physical, mental and psycho-social wellbeing. However, 25 years later, poor care and neglect are still too common an occurrence in the approximately 16,000 nursing homes in the United States.

Why is this poor care and abuse still occurring? There are many reasons why and at the top of the list is the fact that state agencies responsible for overseeing nursing home care often fail to make sure problems in the facilities are corrected.

Anyone of us who may have the unfortunate task of placing a loved one in a nursing home needs to know that the probability of poor care and neglect is alive and well in these facilities. Be vigilant: Go often to see the patient (under the federal law, there are no visiting hours for family members); go often at any time day or night; ask questions; check their bodies to ensure there are no bedsores forming; make sure they are getting sufficient liquids to prevent dehydration; listen to what the patient is telling you and don't let the facility staff dismiss the patient's complaints.

Since it appears to be "business as usual" in nursing homes and with the lack of oversight by the regulators perhaps it's time to close down all nursing homes and start all over again with a different plan. Perhaps the billions of dollars the government gives to nursing homes should be given to each of us who wish to remain in our homes and be cared for by people of our choice.

Full Article and Source:
Suing Nursing Homes

Monday, April 30, 2012

Elder Abuse Remains Hidden Problem as Baby Boomers Reach Old Age

Despite the 2010 passage of the Elder Justice Act, policy experts have found that combating widespread abuse of seniors is still not a top priority for care providers and governments alike. As many as one in 10 people age 60 and over are affected by this problem, according to the newest Public Policy & Aging Report (PPAR) from the National Academy on an Aging Society, the policy institute of The Gerontological Society of America. U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY), who have been heavily involved in legislation to address elder abuse, contributed introductory statements for the issue.

Elder abuse encompasses mistreatment, neglect, and exploitation of a physical, psychological, or sexual nature. The Elder Justice Act was signed into law as part of 2010’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, yet it has received no appropriations to date.

Full Article and Source:
Elder Abuse Remains Hidden Problem as Baby Boomers Reach Old Age

See Also:
Baby Boomers Beware of Guardianship Abuse

Grandson Gets 2-year Sentence for Plundering Dementia-Stricken Grandfather's Estate

A New York man will serve two years in federal prison for bilking his dementia-stricken grandfather in Greenfield while serving as his court-appointed guardian.

Michael Ostrowski, 42, of East Patchogue, N.Y., also was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, pay more than $185,000 in restitution, and forfeit $179,500 in cash stolen from his grandfather’s estate during a hearing Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

In sentencing the defendant, Judge Michael A. Ponsor also ordered him to forfeit a Sony Bravia flat-panel television; a 39mm semi-automatic assault rifle; and a 2006 GMC Sierra pickup truck, all purchased with the proceeds of his fraud.

In January, Ostrowski pleaded guilty to mail fraud, conspiracy, interstate transportation of stolen property and other charges in a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The maximum penalty for the offenses is 20 years in prison. As part of the deal, Ostrowski agreed to not oppose a sentence of 57 months or less while prosecutors will not challenge a sentence of 46 months or more.

Full Article and Source:
Grandson Gets 2-year Sentence for Plundering Dementia-Stricken Grandfather's Greenfield Estate

Sunday, April 29, 2012

'Everyday Law for Seniors'

Navigating the law as an older adult, or on behalf of one, is a daunting enterprise. Not only are the regulations, requirements and exceptions multitudinous and confusing, but many of them regularly change. What’s the asset limit for those applying for Medicaid reimbursement of nursing home costs? Well, it depends which year you ask.

“Everyday Law for Seniors,” written by two law professors — Lawrence Frolik of the University of Pittsburgh and Linda Whitton of Valparaiso University — guides readers through the maze. The authors take on a variety of common topics (age discrimination, Social Security, housing, pensions, Medicare and other insurance) and offer clear, careful explanations and suggestions. First published in 2010, the book’s just been updated to include the most recent federal benefits numbers.

Even the most helpful book can’t substitute for the individualized advice of an elder attorney, but this one looks very useful for older people and their families.

Full Article and Source:
The Caregiver's Bookshelf: A Law Guide for Seniors

Washington Economics Group Picks Tallahassee, Fla., as Number One Retirement Destination for Baby Boomers

A revealing new analysis of trends and preferences indicates that tens of millions of Baby Boomers searching for the ideal place to retire should look to Southern college towns for the best combination of climate, cost of living, health care and other top priorities, according to a report from The Washington Economics Group (WEG). In the scientific comparisons of 20 prospective ideal “Boomer” retirement communities, Florida’s capital city, Tallahassee, ranks number one in the country.

Full Article and Source:
The Washington Economics Group Picks Tallahassee, Fla., as Number One Retirement Destination for Baby Boomers

NM Lawsuit: Partner Enabled Exploitation

Relatives of a former Santa Fe resident declared unable to handle her affairs want her partner to turn over half their joint assets.

Carol Anderson and Judith Shackelford, who lived together for 12 years "with short periods of estrangement," registered as domestic partners in California and lived in Santa Fe until last year, according to a petition filed in state District Court on Tuesday.

It says the couple owns a house south of Santa Fe (valued by the county assessor at $789,290), a business called Shackelford Associates, two automobiles, a recreational vehicle, other assets and, until recently, a Merrill Lynch account worth $400,000.

In September, Anderson "sent more than $240,000 to persons she had not met who promised to pay her large prize winnings," says the petition for restitution and division of jointly owned assets. "These funds were expended with the knowledge and active assistance of Judith Shackelford."

In October, it says, a Santa Fe judge declared Anderson "lacked capacity to enter into contracts or other business" and appointed her relatives Adam Anderson, Alice Wheatley Anderson and Tamara Strachman as guardians and conservators of her estate.

"Subsequent to the appointment," it says, "Carol Anderson moved with the assistance of Judith Shackelford to Alton, Illinois, without authorization and contrary to the direction of the guardians and conservators. ...

"Based upon Judith Shackelford's history of knowingly acquiescing to the financial exploitation of Carol Anderson, the property and funds held by Judith Shackelford are not likely to be maintained for the future support and maintenance of Carol Anderson."

The lawsuit asks a judge to order Shackelford to return to the conservators one half of the value of the couple's assets and to pay attorney fees and expenses.

Full Article and Source:
Lawsuit: Partner Enabled Exploitation