Saturday, June 23, 2012

Florida AG: Woman Charged for Exploiting Disabled

An Alachua County woman, Zonia Cooper, was arrested after an investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the state attorney’s office, alleging she exploited 11 disabled adults.

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is dedicated to protecting elderly and disabled adults in health-care facilities throughout Florida, and we will not allow these individuals to be exploited or abused,” Attorney General Pam Bondi stated in a release.

Cooper, 44, was the former group home manager at Arc of Alachua Group Home, according to a release from the attorney general’s office.

According to the investigation, Cooper misappropriated more than $1,300 from 11 disabled adults under her supervision. Cooper has been charged with 11 counts of exploitation of a disabled adult and one count of scheme to defraud, all third-degree felonies. If convicted of all charges, Cooper faces up to 60 years in prison and a $60,000 fine.

The case will be prosecuted by William P. Cervone, state attorney for the 8th Judicial Circuit.

Pam Bondi: Alachua Woman Charged for Exploiting Disabled

MI Governor Signs Senior Protection Legislation

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a 10-bill package to protect Michigan's senior citizens and vulnerable adults. The measures encourage the reporting of elder abuse and strengthen penalties for those who are convicted.

"The abuse of seniors and vulnerable adults is one of the fastest growing crimes in our state, and law enforcement agencies will now have better tools to help protect potential victims from financial and physical abuses," Snyder said.

The governor called for the legislation's passage in his special messages on health and wellness and public safety.

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker sponsored Senate Bills 461, 464 and 466 in the package.

Senate Bill 461 prevents a person from benefiting from the estate of a deceased person if the person who is to receive benefits has been convicted of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. SB 464 increases coordination between state and local authorities to expedite abuse investigations. And SB 466 establishes a public notification system for missing seniors, similar to the Amber Alert for missing children, called the Mozelle Senior or Vulnerable Adult Medical Alert Act. The measures are now Public Acts 173, 175, and 176 of 2012.

Other bills in the package are:

SB 454, sponsored by Sen. Mike Nofs, allows vulnerable adult victims to give court testimony via closed-circuit television or prerecorded video. It is now Public Act 170 of 2012.

SB 455, sponsored by Sen. Tory Rocca, provides sentencing guidelines to enhanced punishment for criminals who fraudulently obtain a senior's signature. It is now Public Act 169 of 2012.

SB 457, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Colbeck, allows county medical examiners to establish death review teams to investigate the unexpected death of a vulnerable adult under suspicious circumstances. It is now Public Act 171 of 2012.

SB 459, sponsored by Sen. Judy Emmons, increases the penalties for the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults and strengthens the punishment for criminals who fraudulently obtain a senior's signature. It is now Public Act 172 of 2012.

SB 462, sponsored by Sen. Steve Bieda, establishes reporting requirements for employees of long-term care facilities when they suspect or have knowledge of abuse and neglect at a facility. It is now Public Act 174 of 2012.

SB 465, sponsored by Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, strengthens penalties for criminals who embezzle from seniors. It is now Public Act 168 of 2012.

SB 468, sponsored by Sen. Goeff Hansen, prohibits a court magistrate from refusing complaints of abuse against vulnerable adults that are filed by someone other than the alleged victim. It is now Public Act 177 of 2012.

Full Article and Source:
Snyder Signs Senior Protection Legislation

Watch Your Elderly Parents' Wallets

The news is none too good for the nation’s elders. The problem of swindles targeting the elderly is getting worse, so say 84 percent of the more than 750 experts who deal with investment fraud and financial exploitation of senior citizens, in a just released poll by the Investor Protection Trust.

Nearly 100 percent of those surveyed say that older Americans are very or somewhat vulnerable to financial scams.

Full Article and Source:
Watch Your Aging Parents' Wallet -- Somebody's Waiting to Rip Them Off

Friday, June 22, 2012

Schumer Pushes for Legislation to Fight Elder Abuse

By Thursday afternoon, millions of people had read or heard reports of an elderly bus monitor in suburban Rochester who was ruthlessly bullied by a group of middle-school boys.

The incident prompted an outpouring of support for the 68-year-old woman and a swift response from authorities. It was a case of highly reported elder abuse.

But most elder abuse cases don’t receive so much attention. In fact, thousands of cases of elder abuse in upstate New York don’t get any.

According to a study by Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc., approximately 260,000 seniors statewide are abused annually, and only 1 in 24 cases gets reported to authorities. Abuse includes financial exploitation and physical and emotional abuse or neglect.

According to estimates, there were approximately 3,500 cases of elder abuse in Chemung (1,530), Schuyler (267) and Steuben (1,710) counties in 2010. The counties had a total senior population of approximately 45,000 in 2010.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the state’s elder abuse situation is unacceptable, and he’s pushing for comprehensive legislation to address the issue.

Full Article and Source:
Schumer pushes for legislation to fight elder abuse

TX Lawyer Stephen C. Brewer Disbarred

A Bedford attorney has been disbarred by the State Bar of Texas following accusations he failed to render appropriate legal services to an elderly client.

Stephen C. “Steve” Brewer is no longer eligible to practice law after he “neglected the legal matter entrusted to him by failing to perform any meaningful legal services on behalf of the complainant” in a probate matter, according to an order of default disbarment.

Brewer was accused of professional misconduct when he failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of a case and to promptly comply with requests for information, the bar said.

Full Article and Source:
State Bar: Bedford Attorney Disbarred, Ex Assistant AG in Fort Worth Suspended

NY Senate Passes Bill Criminalizing Exploitation of the Elderly

The State Senate responded to the need for increased protection against financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults by passing legislation to make such actions a crime. The legislation (S6712 ), sponsored by Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma), gives district attorneys and police the tools they need to prosecute instances of financial exploitation of vulnerable elderly or people with physical or mental disabilities.

“Scams targeting the elderly and disabled have become increasingly more sophisticated and widespread in recent years,” said Senator Gallivan. “This legislation will give district attorneys and local law enforcement the prosecutorial powers needed to protect some of New York State’s most vulnerable citizens. Twenty-nine other states have enacted statutes specifically designed to protect senior citizens against financial abuse and I applaud my Senate colleagues for taking the first step towards ensuring that New York does the same.”

Financial exploitation of the elderly or those who have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from caring for themselves is a pervasive and often unseen form of abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse defines elder financial exploitation as “the illegal or improper use of an elder's funds, property or assets.” Such instances of exploitation can include credit card fraud, real estate scams, identity theft and burglary, which are also notoriously difficult to combat. Even when reported to local authorities, antiquated criminal statutes make it difficult to prosecute these offenses.

The bill establishes exploitation of a vulnerable elderly, incompetent, or disabled person as a form of larceny. It also requires adult protective services officials to report all instances of suspected exploitation to their district attorney's office.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.

Senate Passes Bill to Create New Crime of Exploiting the Elderly and Vulnerable Adults

Funding for Louisiana's Elder Unit Moves to Health Department

Some Louisiana lawmakers and most state Council on Aging officials celebrated during the session when legislation was defeated that would transfer the investigation of elderly abuse cases from the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs to the Department of Health and Hospitals.

But since the state budget transferred the funding and staffing for the investigations to the health department, the move has begun without the legislation authored by Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington, R-Keithville.

"With HB1 becoming law, elderly protective service functions from the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs will now be transferred to DHH," said health department Secretary Bruce Greenstein.

"To be clear, this action does not merge GOEA and DHH, and it has no impact on Councils on Aging or Area Agencies on Aging," he said. "This transfer consolidates adult and elderly protective services under one roof, eliminates duplicative services, more effectively leverages resources, and, most importantly, better serves vulnerable populations throughout the state."

Full Article and Source:
Funding for La's Elder Unit Moves to Health Department

Thursday, June 21, 2012

HHS Grants to Help Protect Seniors, Test Elder Abuse Strategies

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced a $5.5 million funding opportunity for states and tribes to test ways to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. This initiative helps to implement the Elder Justice Act, which was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act. Secretary Sebelius made the announcement at a White House World Elder Abuse Awareness Day commemoration. The event brings together the public and private sector to address elder abuse issues.

“We need to be on the look-out for elder abuse and act when we see it,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Today we are sending a clear message that elder abuse will not be tolerated or kept in the shadows.”

Elder abuse is more common than generally believed, the Secretary noted, yet it often goes undiagnosed and unaddressed. Each year, millions of elderly Americans are assaulted, demeaned, intimidated, left without adequate food or care, or robbed of their life savings; yet, research suggests that elder abuse is significantly unreported.

Secretary Sebelius also announced that she will convene the first Elder Justice Coordinating Council meeting, as called for in the Elder Justice Act enacted as part of the health care law. The council, comprised of federal agencies that have responsibilities or programs related to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, will work to address the cross-agency coordination of activities relating to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Full Article and Source:
HHS Grants to Help Protect Seniors, Test Elder Abuse Strategies

Consumer Bureau Launches Investigation Into Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Saying that older Americans have been scammed out of billions of dollars, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday launched an inquiry into financial abuse of the elderly.

"The silent crime of financially exploiting the elderly is widespread and it is devastating. It is critical for us to act," Richard Cordray, the agency's director, said at a White House forum Thursday marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. "The generation that rebuilt and sustained this nation out of a devastating Depression, the dark hours of World War II, and the anxious fears of the Cold War deserve our care now in their turn."

Cordray cited a recent study that said Americans 60 years of age or older lost at least $2.9 billion to financial exploitation in 2010, up 12% from 2008.

As part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that created the agency, Congress instructed it to specifically focus on protecting senior citizens. In October, former Minnesota Atty. Gen. Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III was appointed to head the agency's Office of Older Americans.

In 2010, Consumers Union said that older Americans were particularly vulnerable to being misled on reverse mortgages and called for more government oversight.

Full Article and Source:
Consumer Bureau Launches Inquiry Into Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Press Release: Daughter Joins ADA Lawsuit

DATE: JUNE 16, 2012


Hillsboro OH: According to the U.S. Supreme Court, as most of us known and believe, “[I]n our society liberty is the norm.”

Life-long area resident Mollie Florkey once worked as “Rosie-the-Riveter” at the Middletown Ohio Aeronca Aircraft factory during WWII. She likewise had four young children at home, and a husband. Mollie made her contributions in support of liberty when the stakes for the world were critical.

Yet as reported just this past week – “Magistrate advises dismissal of Hillsboro woman’s Suit against Greer, others” (5/31/2012) – and liberty takes one on the chin because for Mollie Florkey, according to her federal lawsuit – being discriminated against because of her disability is her norm … a norm that apparently this Federal Judge would accept being visited upon herself, were she herself a qualified individual with a disability.

According to Tim Lahrman, Executive Director – National Association for the Advancement of Disabled Americans [NAADA] - “[T]hese guardians and judges have this all wrong in these ADA/guardianship lawsuits. The media even misses the point and excludes the “real party of interest” when identifying and reporting on these cases. This is a common and easy mistake to make, but Jane Branson did not file this lawsuit, these are not Branson’s claims as you report – these are the claims of Mollie Florkey, this is Mollie Florkey’s lawsuit, and she sued because she is being discriminated against, excluded from court, excluded from access to a review and appeal process all the while isolated in her own Guantanamo Bay, isolated and derived her fundamental liberty interests in her right to assemble and associate with her own daughter, and vis-a-versa.” Lahrman asked, “[I]s this the norm we are willing to accept? I thought the days of isolating the disabled were over?”

Jane Branson, daughter of Mollie Florkey, recently filed her motion to join in the ADA lawsuit as a “party plaintiff”. She says, “the rule is rather permissive and I am confident that I will be able to join and bring what are my own claims.” Attached to Branson’s motion to join is her own lawsuit wherein she complains, among other things, that - “[T]he appointed guardian has, without cause, reason, an appropriately specific court order and/or sanction of court approval, denied and deprived Branson and her mother their First Amendment right to freely associate, freely assemble and do so in the privacy of their personal choosing, and, do so as is their Fourteenth Amendment right to commune in unity as family and as mother and daughter.”

Attached to Branson complaint is a letter/exhibit which, written by the appointed guardian dated June 9, 2010, states:

"... that Carol Jane Branson is not to visit, talk or physically examine M.F. until further notice from me, this instruction applies to any and all individuals to include relatives, and Church associates of Carol Jane Branson who she instructs, pays, and/or talks into visiting,seeing, or meeting with M.F. this instruction of
course does not apply to legal counsel for M.F. appointed by highland probate court.”

Branson complains that the appointed guardian “dictates” and “conducts himself as the bully he is, while holding himself out as the appointed guardian and likewise a member of local law enforcement, handing out his FBI business card to flaunt his ego and authority.” She says, for this interview that the very idea of her “paying” someone to visit her mother is just absurd and the fact that her brother would even make such a claim shows just how absurd this whole matter is. Branson says, because of her brother who is simply drunk on his ego and history of sibling bullying, she has not seen her mother freely for four years now … “and there is no court order which says I cannot see my mom, that’s why I joined the lawsuit”, Branson said, “to stop the retaliation, intimidation and unlawful interference with my efforts to try and help my mom.”

Lahrman added, “[I]t’s going to be interesting to see how these issues play out in the Courts – it’s hard to believe that a judge who discriminates from the bench can claim to be performing a judicial act when, in light of both Tennessee v. Lane which held that there is no immunity whatsoever for disability discrimination in violation of Title II of the ADA and the Daniel Gross case pending in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, this question of “immunity” as a defense may not be as rock solid as this guardian and judge may seem to believe.”

In the end Branson reminds us – “[T]his is about my mother, about her quality of life as she ages. What is so hard about being kind and congenial to an aging parent that my brother has to always be a bully and in charge, even when he is not in charge. And it’s nice to know that Judge Greer is concerned about “paying for a visiting judge” and doing his job, well, how about he do his job and protect my mother from being wrongfully isolated against her will and in a nursing home at taxpayer expense – as opposed to being cared for and loved in a home with family. Yep, isolate, medicate and raid the estate, and my mom is just one of the many. How sad, but we see this going on all over the country at NASGA where I am a member.”

See Also:
NASGA: Mollie Florkey, Ohio Victim

$200m Fraud Scheme Trial Begins in Indiana

An Indianapolis businessman's trial on charges that he bilked investors out of more than $200 million opened Monday with his attorney telling jurors that prosecutors were misrepresenting his attempts to save the company.

Federal prosecutors say Tim Durham, his business partner and his accountant used a Ponzi scheme to bilk about 5,000 mostly elderly investors at the Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance Co.

Defense attorney John Tompkins said in his opening statement that Durham was trying to keep the company alive after the 2008 financial crisis.

"There is no massive scheme," Tompkins said. "There is a reaction to a panicked situation."

Prosecutor Henry Van Dyck said jurors would hear phone recordings of Durham and the others discussing the scheme in late 2009.

Van Dyck said Durham lied to investigators and squandered money on a lavish lifestyle and failed businesses.

"To this day, the defendants have paid back none of that money. None," Van Dyck said.

Full Article and Source:
$200M Investment Fraud Trial Begins in Indiana

Letter to the Editor: Advocate for the Elderly Under Long Term Care

To the Editor:

As you read this letter, there are countless thousands of vulnerable elderly people across this country who are being abused, neglected and financially exploited. These are crimes that are, by all accounts, severely under-reported and get far too little attention in our youth-focused society.

As New Jersey’s long-term care ombudsman, I oversee a resident-focused advocacy program that seeks to protect the health, safety, welfare, and civil and human rights of older individuals who live in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

While awareness of an issue is important, in my view, action is even more important.

Right here in Gloucester County, we have nine nursing homes but only six volunteers.

The need is clearly there — will you answer the call?

Full Letter and Source:
Advocate for the Elderly Under Long Term Care

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

IN: Judge Rejects Plea Agreement With Guardian Theft Suspect

A judge Wednesday rejected a plea agreement that called for no jail for a caregiver who admitted to stealing more than $60,000 from her elderly and disabled clients.

LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos added a verbal tirade, saying he also felt bribed from an offer by the defendant's relative to pay back the victims if no jail time was given.

"I feel like I have been akin to blackmail on this. I've never seen anything as despicable as this. I'm supposed to sit here and take this? It's not going to happen," Alevizos angrily said.

He then ordered the case rescheduled for trial Jan. 7.

In May, Tari Britton, 51, of Mill Creek agreed to plead guilty to two counts of Class D felony theft and in return would serve one year on home detention and pay about $64,000 in restitution to the victims.

The judge after reviewing the terms decided to reject the plea agreement because it called for no actual time behind bars or work release.

Alevizos dramatically read written statements from some of the victims that included, "She was supposed to be a friend, not a traitor. She was supposed to help us, not hurt us. I feel betrayed."

Britton was working for Parents and Friends, a not-for-profit organization that provides services to disabled and mentally handicapped who might not have a direct family member or anyone else to assist with their care.

According to court documents, Britton had access to clients' accounts because her duties under a guardianship program included taking care of their finances.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Rejects Plea Agreement With Theft Suspect

Seniors Flash Mob to Mark Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Video: Seniors Flash Mob West Roxbury Store to Mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

IL: Egyption Regional Human Rights Authority

On May 22, the Egyptian Regional Human Rights Authority met for its regular meeting, this time at the Depot in Anna.

This rather unassuming group of nine private citizens and health care professionals meets six times a year to discuss their investigations of disabled individuals’ complaints of rights violations by service-providing agencies.

The Human Rights Authority is one program under the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, a state agency that promotes the rights of persons with disabilities.

“(A service provider) can be anything from a special education program to a group home to a hospital psychiatric unit; any place where individuals with disabilities might receive disability-related services,” said HRA Director Teresa Parks.

The Egyptian regional authority, which encompasses Southern Illinois, is one of nine regions across the state.

The local panels, which review and investigate complaints, are usually made up of three service providers and six citizens.

The Egyptian Regional Authority service providers include Sharon Mumford, J.R. Livesay and Mary McMahan, as well as Alphonso Farmer, Kathy Rambeau, Clarence E. Russell, Phyllis Brown, Pam O’Connor and Sue Taylor Barfield.

“The bulk of the review, the majority of the membership, is made up of consumers, family members and concerned citizens,” Parks said. “So it’s consumer and family member driven.”

Parks said they are regularly looking for local volunteers to serve on the panel.

Full Article and Source:
Citizens Evaluate Help Disabled Through Local Human Rights Authority

Monday, June 18, 2012

Linda Kincaid Reports: Wildwood Canyon Villa Director Admits Isolation and Elder Abuse of Resident

Wildwood Canyon Villa in Yucaipa, California isolated 86-year-old resident Jean Swope for fifteen months in 2010 and 2011, according to court records. In September 2011, the court issued a restraining order against unlawful isolation.

Executive Director Lynnette Alvarado returned to her policy of isolation in March 2012. In May 2012, Alvarado was deposed concerning elder abuse at Wildwood.

September 27, 2010: Department of Social Services cited Wildwood for violating Swope’s right to visitation.

September 28, 2010 Tenant Services Notes: "The executive director stated that [Swope’s] family [sister and nieces] are not allowed in the building until further notice."

Full Article and Source:
Wildwood Canyon Villa Director Admits Isolation and Elder Abuse of Resident

Two Questioned in L'Oreal Heiress Abuse Probe

French police Monday detained L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt's ex-lawyer and a businessman for questioning in a probe into allegations of abuse of power, a source close to the matter said.

Police are investigating whether the lawyer, Pascal Wilhelm, and reality TV entrepreneur Stephane Courbit took advantage of the 89-year-old heiress, who last year was placed under guardianship, to secure an investment in Courbit's LOV Group.

Bettencourt's former nurse, Alain Thurin, was also detained for questioning, the source said.

The 143-million-euro ($180-million) investment saw Bettencourt buy 20 percent of the group in May 2011, a few months before courts placed her under family guardianship because of her declining mental health.

Wilhelm, who is also Courbit's lawyer, is alleged to have arranged the transaction for the businessman -- an entertainment magnate who launched reality television in France with a local version of the programme "Big Brother".

Courbit recently told Le Monde newspaper that he was aware of the investment but had not spoken with Bettencourt about it.

Bettencourt, France's richest woman, was placed under guardianship in October, ending a long legal battle over her vast fortune, estimated to be worth more than 16 billion euros.

Her family, including estranged daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, had long accused advisors of taking advantage of the heiress.

Full Article and Source:
French Police Detain Two Over L'Oreal Heiress 'Abuse'

See Also:
L'Oreal Heiress Loses Attempt to Free Herself from Her Daughter's Guardianship

After Fisticuffs, Attorney in Contentious CT Probate Resigns

The Newington Probate Court accepted the resignation of Town Attorney Peter Boorman as conservator in a bitter probate case.

Boorman's resignation followed a fight between him and his client's grandson.

Probate Judge Robert Randich made his decision after 90 minutes of testimony that included a blow-by-blow account of the May 22 fisticuffs between Boorman and Joseph Geremia.

Randich ruled that Boorman was not at fault for the melee, but agreed to accept his resignation.

"I think Mr. Boorman had been doing it and doing it well," Randich said of his work on the difficult case. "I think the well has been poisoned from which the good will needs to come."

Randich appointed Boorman conservator at the time Boorman was vice chairman of the Newington Democratic Town Committee and Randich a member. Boorman left the town committee earlier this year, he said.

On May 22, Wallingford police arrested Boorman, 58, of Newington, and Joseph Geremia, 39, of Rocky Hill after a fight at the home of Geremia's parents, Douglas and Linda. Boorman went to the house after Randich issued an oral order to collect almost $9,000 in cash and deposit it in the trust account of 96-year-old Margaret Geremia, for whom Boorman serves as conservator.

The fight happened about an hour after a contentious hearing during which Boorman sought authority to request a criminal investigation of $15,000 in expenditures he says that Douglas and Linda Geremia have failed to explain.

Boorman and Geremia were each charged with second-degree breach of peace. State prosecutors decided last week not to prosecute the charges.

Full Article and Source:
Newington Town Attorney's Resignation Accepted In Contentious Probate Case

See Also:
State Won't Prosecute CT Attorney/Conservator Involved in Altercation

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Two Lawyers Challenge VA's Decisions Regarding VA-Approved Fiduciaries

Across the country, disabled veterans' families are waging bitter battles with the U.S. Department of  Veterans Affairs,  trying to remove VA-appointed fiduciaries from their lives and their bank accounts.

Two activist attorneys, Doug Rosinski of Columbia, S.C., and Katrina Eagle of San Diego, have taken on the VA in cases involving allegations of bureaucratic mistreatment. Both said regional program managers sometimes overlook the misdeeds of paid fiduciaries while coming down hard on veterans' relatives who do the work for nothing.

The agency's policy is that family members get priority in fiduciary appointments, but it does not always work that way. And while many family members serve successfully — and thanklessly — as fiduciaries for disabled veterans, some get into trouble, often because of a lack of training or knowledge of the rules. In those cases, the family's situation often becomes nightmarish.

Joe Boatman of Round Rock, Texas, also never got an explanation why James Andrews, a fiduciary program official based in Waco, showed up at his house last July to berate his wife for the way she had handled their finances as her husband's appointed fiduciary for 10 years, bringing her to tears.

Andrews' follow-up report cited overdraft charges and questioned Boatman's access to the bank accounts. He also said “no questionable expenditures or misuse of funds were identified,” though he added there was no way to tell because his funds were commingled with his wife's. His report described Boatman as an “alert” and cogent man.

Eagle said the VA had previously allowed Boatman's wife, a retired social worker, to commingle their money. In previous reports she was praised for her handling of their finances.

Andrews, who could not be reached for comment, had already appointed a new fiduciary to take over Boatman's financial affairs. Eagle said his criticisms seemed “pre-ordained” to justify his actions.

After Eagle got involved, the VA backed away, taking the unusual step of releasing Boatman from the program. Eagle said it helped that his case was mentioned at a February congressional hearing.

The VA also ordered an investigation of the case. It has not responded to a Hearst request for the report.

Full Article and Source:
Two Lawyers Challenge VA's Decisions

See Also:
NASGA:  Veterans in Peril

Thieves Swindle Disabled Veterans, Program

They survived the Nazis, the Viet Cong and the Taliban.   But hundreds of mentally disabled veterans suffered new wounds when the country they served put their checkbooks in the hands of scoundrels.
Gambling addicts, psychiatric cases and convicted criminals are among the thieves who have been handed control of disabled veterans' finances by the Veterans Affairs Department, a Hearst Newspapers investigation has found.

For decades, theft and fraud have plagued the fiduciary program, in which the VA appoints a family member or a stranger to manage money for veterans whom the government considers incapacitated. The magnitude and pace of those thefts have increased, despite VA promises of reform. Three of the largest scams — ranging from about $900,000 to $2 million — each persisted for 10 years or more before being discovered.

In the past six years, the VA has removed 467 fiduciaries for misuse of money, but only a fraction have faced criminal charges, a Hearst analysis of data from the VA's Office of the Inspector General shows. 

The government has never adequately tracked fiduciaries' thefts from brain-damaged or memory-impaired veterans. The inspector general's office says it conducted 315 fiduciary fraud investigations from October 1998 to March 2010, resulting in 132 arrests for thefts amounting to $7.4 million.

But a Hearst analysis of court records and documents obtained by freedom of information requests shows that the thieves' take since 1998 is more than $14.7 million — nearly twice the amount reported to Congress.

Full Article and Source:
Thieves Swindle Disabled Veterans, Program

See Also:
NASGA:  Veterans in Peril

$900K Settlement for Death at Washington State Adult-Family Home

For 22 days, caregivers at a Kirkland adult-family home guarded a secret.

An elderly woman at Houghton Lakeview suffered from pressure sores that had burrowed to the bone. No one called her family. No one alerted a doctor.

The state of Washington harbored a secret, too.

Investigators had cited Houghton Lakeview 33 times for inadequate care and substandard conditions. Two caregivers were convicted felons, barred from such work. Two others had forged nursing credentials. The public was never warned — nor were the residents in the home.

By the time the woman was rushed to the emergency room, it was too late. Jean Rudolph, 87, a retired nursing educator who had Alzheimer's disease, died in 2008 from untreated pressure sores.

The state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the owner's insurance company agreed to a $900,000 settlement this week with the Rudolph family.

This rare settlement reveals a state regulatory system torn between dual roles: booster of the industry as a way to control costs, as well as enforcer of its failings. With rising numbers of low-income seniors in need of long-term care, Washington and dozens of states are banking on these residential facilities as alternatives to more costly nursing homes.

The risk to the public, says attorney Tony Shapiro, who represented the Rudolph family, occurs when state agencies like DSHS form a "bunker mentality" and excuse violators to preserve existing adult homes.

Full Article and Source:
$900,000 for Death at Kirkland Adult-Family Home

Dispute Over Thomas Kinkade's Will Heads to Court

Thomas Kinkade’s widow and girlfriend have taken their dispute over the late painter’s estate to court.

Amy Pinto-Walsh was living with Kinkade and found his body when he overdosed on alcohol and Valium in April. She asked a Northern California judge to allow arguments over the artist’s contested will to be heard in open probate court.

Lawyers for Kinkade’s wife of 30 years, Nanette Kinkade, want the terms to be decided in secret binding arbitration.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Dispute Over Thomas Kinkade's Will Heads to Court

GAO Says Veterans Targeted by Pension Poachers

Veterans at senior centers, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are being approached by companies or agents looking to take advantage of their pension benefits.

Terry Schow, executive director of the Utah Department of Veteran Affairs, collected the stories of seven exploited veterans and submitted them at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.

"There are some people who have taken the business of helping veterans into profit-making," he said before the hearing.

Certain low-income veterans are entitled to pensions, and more than 200 agencies across the United States are "marketing financial products and services" to help veterans qualify for the benefits, according to a recently released report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The yearlong GAO investigation found that veterans who do not meet pension requirements are qualifying for and receiving the funding, often because they were encouraged to do so by private companies.

One veteran transferred $1 million just months before applying, and was approved to receive the monthly payments, the GAO found.

Full Article and Source:
US Veterans Targeted by Pension Poachers, GAO Says