Saturday, July 21, 2012

Filmmaker in Elmira NY Turns Camera on Corruption

Filmmaker and activist William Windsor is a man on a mission, and that mission brought him to Elmira on Thursday as he seeks to battle what he calls 14 categories of corruption.

“Our challenge is to educate and reach a million-plus people,” said Windsor, who started June 14 on a 143-day trip through all 50 states to work on “Lawless America – The Movie.”

Through the project, he is recording the stories of people who say they are victims of judicial and governmental corruption.

“The name ‘Lawless America’ was developed not to say our country is lawless or that we have a lot of lawless people,” he said.

“It’s to say that we have laws and they aren’t enforced, and we have people who are supposed to enforce the law and they don’t do the right thing, so they’re lawless. The judges change the law at a moment’s notice.”

The subject of his stop in Elmira was Sara Harvey of Horseheads, who claims Chemung County is guilty of guardianship abuse.

Her husband, Gary Harvey, suffered a traumatic brain injury following a heart attack and subsequent fall down a flight of basement stairs in January 2006. He remains in a persistent vegetative state.

She had sought legal guardianship of her husband, but the county Department of Social Services was appointed as his legal guardian indefinitely.

“I want my husband back. I want to expose the corruption of the courts,” Sara Harvey said Thursday. The attorneys involved represent the guardian, the hospital and the county, she said.

“There’s nobody there to protect my husband.”

Full Article and Source:
Filmmaker in Elmira Turns Camera on Corruption

See Also:
Lawless America Films Sara Harvey

I'm Sick of the Gary Harvey Case - Time to Move On

NASGA: Gary Harvey, NY Victim

For more information on "Lawless America" and Mr. Windsor's filming itinery:

Lawless America - The Movie

Bill Windsor is traveling to all 50 states by car in an effort to save America with the help of over 750 victims of judicial corruption, law enforcement abuse, and government corruption.

YouTube: Lawless Amercia Movie Update

See Also:

AZ: Health-Care Workers Arrested in Two Separate Elder-Abuse Cases

Two women in the health-care industry have been arrested separately in the last two days on suspicion of abusing elderly dementia patients they had been hired to care for, officials say.

Jennifer Lopshire, 44, was booked into the Pima County jail on one count of vulnerable adult abuse Monday evening and was being held on $5,000 bail.

Shanna Harper, 36, was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of fraud and theft/exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Her bond had not yet been set.

The Veterans Administration hired Lopshire to help care for a 91-year-old Tucson man two years ago, said Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jesse Delaney.

A short time later, the man's daughter, who lives in Minnesota, hired Lopshire to also take care of her 88-year-old mother who uses a wheelchair. The woman requires 24-hour care because of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and Parkinson's.

The couple were living in an assisted living facility until last year when Lopshire placed the man into a care facility and rented the woman an apartment, Delaney said.

On June 7, one of the woman's other caregivers called 911 to report the woman's mouth was swollen, bruised and cut on one side and that the woman had told her Lopshire caused the injuries when she "lost her temper."

Investigators are combing through the victim's financial records to determine if additional charges are warranted, Delaney said. Other allegations of physical abuse are also being investigated, she said.

Lopshire's preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week.

Full Article and Source:
Health-Care Workers Arrested in Separate Elder-Abuse Cases

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Lawless America" Films Sara Harvey

A documentary film maker says he stopped in Elmira, Thursday, to as he said "Expose injustice within the Chemung County Court System and St. Joseph's Hospital".

Windsor says his film "Lawless America" is a collection of stories similar to the Harvey's aimed to expose these injustices.

Windsor said, “She's concerned with his well being. How can you be concerned with someone's well being and people outside your family take away your rights. I mean it just doesn't work.”

Full Article and Source:
Film-Maker Stops in Elmira to Expose Injustices

See Also:
I'm Sick of the Gary Harvey Case - Time to Move On

NASGA: Gary Harvey, NY Victim

For more information on "Lawless America" and Mr. Windsor's filming itinery:

Guma Aguiar's Fortune Now Controlled by Lawyer

Ever since Guma Aguiar disappeared at sea, his mother and her fiancé have been trying to gain control of his many millions in assets, scattered across the U.S. and Israel in the form of cash and investments.

The mother, Ellen Aguiar, petitioned a Broward County Court to make her a conservator of his fortunes. In a hearing yesterday, the judge asked her to step aside for the moment, appointing a local lawyer as conservator: Thomas F. Panza.

There are other big-name players in town who have been drawn into this case by the wide reach of Aguiar's money. Ilene Lieberman, a Broward County commissioner who last year saw prosecutorial immunity for assisting in corruption cases against her peers, has been listed as an attorney for Ellen Aguiar, although Lieberman has not responded to a request for details.

Ellen, meanwhile, is represented by powerful Miami attorney Richard Baron as she tries to keep his U.S. assets as well as an estimated $40 million in Israel out of the hands of his wife, Jamie Aguiar. The probate case is proceeding with Guma listed as a "decedent," on the assumption that he's no longer alive.

Full Article and Source:
Guma Aguiar's Assets Now Controlled by Ken Jenne's Old Pal Thomas F. Panza

See Also:
Missing Florida Millionaire May Be Alive and 'Suffering From Pyschosis'

Missouri Legislation Strengthens Senior Protections

Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Wednesday intended to strengthen protections for elderly and disabled Missourians against financial exploitation.

Missouri already has a law that makes it a crime to take financial advantage of an elderly or disabled person through deception, intimidation or force. However, officials say it has been difficult for prosecutors to prove cases of financial exploitation when the perpetrator has guardianship or power of attorney.

Under the newly approved law, it now will be a crime to use "undue influence" to exploit someone's "vulnerable state of mind, neediness, pain or agony." That specifically could be applied to instances of improper or fraudulent use of power of attorney, guardianship, conservatorship or other fiduciary authority.

Full Article and Source:
Missouri Legislation Strengthens Senior Protections

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Will Arizona Supreme Court 'Hear' Penniless Old Lady?

The elderly woman can barely speak yet she was heard in the state’s highest circles, or so I hoped.

“I live in the real world,” Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch told me, in 2010.“I’ve read your columns. They cause concern and I just think that any system, it’s a good idea to take a look at all of your processes and make sure things are working the way they’re supposed to work.”

Marie Long’s story prompted both court and legislative reviews of Arizona’s probate court system. As a result, important changes were made, changes designed to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are protected rather than processed into the poorhouse.

But all of those vaunted reforms did nothing for Marie, who was left penniless by the system that was supposed to protect her.

Two courts have said that the probate commissioner overseeing Marie’s estate acted unethically and that the court-sanctioned siphoning of her bank account was “inexcusable”.

They just didn’t do anything about it.

Now Marie has one final chance for a fair hearing. The state Supreme Court has been asked to review what happened to the 90-year-old widow and decide whether she will get at least an opportunity to get a little of her money back.

“The idea that Marie is on welfare, doesn’t have the money to go out to lunch with her lady friends, or to get her teeth fixed, or to buy a new hat to wear to church, is just outrageous,” said attorney Candess Hunter, who along with Isabel Humphrey is volunteering her services to appeal Marie’s case.

Marie came under the “protection” of probate in 2005, after suffering a stroke and then a family dispute, over where and how she would live.

By 2009, her $1.3 million in assets were gone, much of it sucked up by attorneys and fiduciaries under the not-so-watchful eye of Commissioner Lindsay Ellis.

In March 2010, Ellis ruled that those attorneys and fiduciaries were justified in helping themselves to nearly $840,000 for three years’ work. Her 21-page ruling lambasted Marie's lawyers, people who for years had been working for free. Ellis wrote that their "venomous” attacks challenging the six-figure bills forced the fiduciaries and lawyers on the other side to defend themselves.

With Marie's money, naturally.

Two months after Ellis’ ruling, we learned that Ellis had had her judicial assistant send an advance copy of her decision to select attorneys – the ones who wound up with Marie’s money – and that one of the lawyers replied that she “could not be happier.”

I suppose not. Attorney Brenda Church’s law firms collected nearly $324,000 from Marie.

Such e-mails between a judge and one side in a contested case are called ex-parte communications and they’re supposed to be a big no-no. Turns out they’re more like a wink-wink-nod-nod.

Full Article and Source:
Will Arizona Supreme Court "Hear" Penniless Old Lady?

See Also:
Marie Long, One Step Away From Getting Her Wish

CBS: Guardianship Agency Cost Elderly Woman Dearly

MI: Audit Flags Courts for not Doing Background Checks on Conservators, Guardians

Probate courts in Michigan do not always order background checks on people appointed to make financial and medical decisions for seniors, children and other wards who cannot care for themselves, a state audit has found.

Of 76 probate courts that responded to auditors' survey, 34 - or 45 percent - did not do criminal history checks on conservators, guardians or their families before naming them. Forty-six, or 61 percent, did not do sex offender checks.

The audit, released Thursday, said while doing background checks before and after appointments is not required under state law, it is a "sound business practice" favored by the AARP, an advocacy group for seniors.

Auditor General Thomas McTavish recommended that the Michigan Supreme Court's administrative arm provide guidance to probate judges on doing background checks of potential conservators and guardians.

Full Article and Source:
Audit Flags courts for not Doing Background Checks on Conservators, Guardians

Former Conservator Clerk Sentenced for Theft

A man who worked for Tuscaloosa County's former conservator has been sentenced to serve two years in prison for stealing from a patient with dementia.

Brian Lunceford, 30, worked for Zondra Hutto, the attorney who was appointed to manage the finances of the elderly victim. Lunceford pleaded guilty to charges that he used the woman's money to pay for a trip to Riveria Maya, Mexico, for Hutto and himself.

A federal judge on Friday ordered him to serve 10 months in prison for fraudulent use of a credit card and 24 months for aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith ordered him to report to prison Aug. 27. The sentences will be served at the same time.

Full Article and Source:
Former Law Clerk Sentenced in Theft

See Also:
Audits Show Alabama Conservator Zondra Hutto Mismanaged Ward's Cases

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

FBI Probes $17 Million Missing From Santa Clara County Trusts

The FBI is investigating how $17.3 million has vanished from the trust funds of dozens of people who relied on a Silicon Valley money manager to oversee their life savings.

A love betrayed and an alleged embezzlement scheme are emerging as the storylines behind this latest chapter exposing he vulnerability of trust funds and estates.

Santa Clara County probate court records show the case centers on the office of Christine Backhouse, who administers more than $104 million in assets -- and lacked sufficient insurance to make up for the theft.

While she is responsible for the money, Backhouse claims she was the victim of an unscrupulous boyfriend who, court records allege, secretly wired millions of dollars out of the trusts.

The scandal is unfolding shortly after this newspaper published "Loss of Trust," an investigation that revealed how some of Santa Clara County's estate and care managers charge exorbitant fees to handle the money and affairs of dependent adults under the probate court's watch.

The vast majority of Backhouse's cases were private arrangements with no judicial oversight of either her fees for service, or the process by which the Campbell money manager accounted for and invested her clients' funds.

But taken together, both examples underscore the vulnerability of elderly and often incapacitated people who rely on private business people to oversee their assets.

Full Article and Source:
FBI Probes $17 Million Missing From Santa Clara County Trusts

The Age-Old Dilemma: Mandated Administration for Psychotropic Medication for Wards

American law allows certain individuals-guardians-to exercise dominion over others-wards or incapacitated persons ("IPs")-in some circumstances.' This kind of control is permissible and often necessary because the IP is unable to perform certain tasks.

The guardian's decision-making may fulfill many needs of the IP,such as well-reasoned decisions involving investments, day-to-day activities, and medical choices.

Depending on the state statutory and common law, a guardian may be given the right to make medical decisions for the IP.2 This right may include the ability to consent to psychotropic medications for the IP, even when the IP pronounces her will not to take them.

This ability of a guardian to consent to the administration of psychotropic medications for her ward has been a source of controversy in New York.4 It seems obvious that New York's legislature intended that guardians have the ability to consent, as this right is expressly given in the Mental Hygiene Law.5 Nevertheless, the issue has arisen in New York State courts. Further complicating the issue, various jurisdictions have ruled differently on whether a guardian has the right to so consent.6 Within the Second Department alone, there are two contradictory Supreme Court decisions.

The legislature has made it clear through its enactment of Mental Hygiene Law sections 81.22(a)(8) and 81.01 that it intended a guardian's potential powers to include the power to consent to administration of psychotropic medication.8 The New York Court of Appeals should give credence to the legislative statute, and hold that in certain circumstances, guardians can be given the right to consent to psychotropic medication for their IPs. This right of a guardian should not be unlimited, but it must be among the rights that a court can bestow, in order to best protect the IP.

Full Paper and Source:
The Age-Old Dilemma: Mandated Administration for Psychotropic Medication for Wards

Cleveland Forum on Financial Exploitation of the Elderly

The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's effort to protect older Americans will speak in Cleveland next week.

Hubert "Skip" Humphrey III will give the keynote speech at a free forum on financial abuse and the elderly.

The forum explore ways that the professionals who come into contact with senior citizens can help protect them, said Richard Browdie, president of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging.

With the passage of the Elder Justice Act (which was tucked into the federal health care reform bill) and the establishment of the CFPB's Office of Older Americans, Browdie said it seemed like a good time to put bankers, social workers, financial planners and lawyers together to talk about the financial exploitation of seniors.

"Because the financial marketplace has become more complicated, the intervention is more complicated," Browdie said.

The forum, "Financial Protection for Older Adults," runs from 1 to 4:30 p.m. July 25 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 Carnegie Ave., Cleveland. It includes sessions on reverse mortgages, medical fraud and financial exploitation.

Full Article and Source:
Cleveland Forum on Financial Exploitation of the Elderly

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

California Legislator Jim Beall Wants Conservator Fees Capped Throughout State

A California lawmaker on Tuesday joined a chorus of outrage over exorbitant fees depleting the life savings of elderly and disabled adults in Santa Clara County, calling for new state rules to cap what court-appointed estate managers can charge for their service.

Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said "immediate" action is also needed to stop conservators and trustees from billing an incapacitated adult's estate thousands of dollars more to defend their own fees in court.

Beall's call for statewide change comes a day after Santa Clara County's top judges vowed reforms to rein in fees following an investigation by this newspaper. "Loss of Trust" uncovered how some court-appointed conservators are charging hourly rates up to $250, double what most courts allow. The newspaper's series this week found six-figure annual bills eating into the trusts of elderly and disabled adults who have no family or friends to care for their finances and daily needs.

Reading of the cases "just made me sick," said Beall, who has a developmentally disabled adult with a special-needs trust in his family. "We need to limit these rates and set up some parameters so we don't have people's life savings or their family's life savings drained away."

"Loss of Trust'' highlighted conservators and their attorneys charging extraordinary fees: A Portola Valley man's estate was billed $258,000 in a year, money he hoped to leave his mentally ill daughter; a Belmont dementia patient was charged $1,062 for the 8.5 hours that her conservator spent purchasing a gift and celebrating the woman's birthday.

Beall's office on Tuesday contacted the state's Judicial Council in his efforts to adopt statewide rules to cap court-overseen professionals' hourly rates. He said he will also pursue legislation in the fall to change a state law that holds the estates of dependent adults responsible for paying both sides of any legal fight arising from fee disputes.

Full Article and Source:
California Legislator Wants Conservator Fees Capped Throughout State

See Also:
The Mercury News' "Loss of Trust" Series (Anchor article)

Why Every Court Needs Guardian/Conservator Fee Guidelines

Over the last several years, I have watched the media highlight stories of financial exploitation by a guardian or conservator, all occurring under the watch of a probate court. While in some cases, the issue was one of outright theft, the vast majority of complaints appear to be around the issue of excessive fees that quickly diminish the estate of the protected person. Media attention has led to significant conservatorship reforms in several states (see our State Task Force Activities section).

In Nebraska, the Supreme Court launched a review committee to make recommendations on guardianship and conservatorship reform. The committee was created following a 2010 series of articles in the Omaha World Herald documenting multiple cases of theft by a court-appointed guardian-conservator.

In Arizona, the Supreme Court’s Committee on Improving Judicial Oversight and Processing of Probate Matters released a Final Report advocating major reform of their guardianship system. The Committee was created in 2011, following a series of Arizona Republic stories detailing the stories of several people who lost much of their estates to attorneys and fiduciaries appointed to protect them.

This week, the San Jose Mercury News ran a three-part series focusing on “excessive” conservator fees in the Santa Clara County Probate Court. The media posting includes a video (Loss of Trust) highlighting the case of Denny Reed, a 37-year old man who lost the majority of his estate after being placed under a court-appointed trustee. By the court’s own admission, it does not have fee guidelines that could be used to rein in the fees charged by conservators and trustees. To the court’s credit, it is working diligently to develop guidelines and processes to protect the estates of protected persons. In my experience, the lack of fee guidelines in probate courts is not unique to Santa Clara. In fact, I hazard to guess that the vast majority of courts that oversee guardianships and conservatorships do not have established fee guidelines or fee caps. No court wants to be in Santa Clara’s shoes—yet it is a real possibility for many.

Rather than dwell on the underlying issues that have hampered conservatorship monitoring and the establishment of appropriate fees and services, this is an opportunity to present some of the more typical ways in which courts set fee structures (see our section on Fees and Services for a more thorough discussion.) Generally, courts tend to rely on several approaches when setting fee guidelines:
1.Courts have set hourly rates for guardians/conservators—often relying on a fee workgroup and local surveys as the basis for pay scales. For instance, Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit has a Guardian Fee Workgroup that used a statewide fee survey to establish pay scales, based on level of experience.
2.In combination with fee rates, service caps have been put in place to ensure that excessive hours are not billed for routine tasks. For example, the Florida court cited above limits billable guardian duties to two hours of bill paying per month. Texas’s Travis County Probate Court took a similar approach in its Standards for Court Approval of Attorney Fee Applications. The Standards outline court-approved fees and provides guidelines for specific types of charges, including travel, legal research, preparation of fee applications, conversations with court and clerk staff, copies and faxes, and deliveries.
3.Some courts allow fees to be based on the percentage of assets or income. For example, the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, Uniform Local Rules of Court (Rule 14) allows fees to be based on hourly rates with supporting time record, or fees may be requested based upon a guideline of 1% of the fair market value of assets at the end of the accounting period or 6% of income, in the Court’s discretion.

Full Article and Source:
Why Every Court Needs Guardian/Conservator Fee Guidelines

Monday, July 16, 2012

Santa Clara County Judges Vow Limits on Conservator Fees Within Weeks

With Santa Clara County's top judges promising reform, advocates for the elderly and local probate attorneys on Monday called for swift action to stop court-appointed estate and care managers from charging excessive fees to the dependent adults they serve.

The reaction comes after "Loss of Trust," a two-day series in this newspaper, highlighted cases of private conservators and trustees submitting six-figure bills to incapacitated adults under the court's watch. In some cases, they are charging lofty hourly rates that are double what's allowed in neighboring counties.

The Superior Court on Monday vowed changes within weeks. "Not years, not months, but weeks," said Assistant Presiding Judge Brian Walsh.

"We are not going to stand for our most vulnerable being taken advantage of -- period."

Presiding Judge Richard Loftus and top probate Judge Thomas Cain have been surveying courts up and down the state for solutions since the newspaper approached the bench months ago with early findings of its investigation.

The changes won't come soon enough, said elder rights advocate Pat McGinnis, executive director of the nonprofit California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. She said "there's no justification" for six-figure bills that deplete life savings, like the ones highlighted in "Loss of Trust."

Full Article and Source:
Santa Clara County Judges Vow Limits on Conservator Fees Within Weeks

See Also:
The Mercury News' "Loss of Trust" Series (Anchor article)

Former PA Attorney Acquitted in Estate Theft Case

A former attorney from Moorestown charged with stealing money from an estate he was hired to manage was acquitted during a bench trial in Superior Court last week.

Judge Michael Haas found Louis A. Colaguori, 66, of Eaglebrook Drive, not guilty of the charges of theft by failure to make disposition of property received and misapplication of entrusted property. Haas presided over the three-day trial.

Authorities alleged that Colaguori stole about $220,000 from the trust of a multimillion-dollar estate that included income-producing properties in New York City.

The case, investigated by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office’s major crimes unit, began when the office was contacted by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics. The state office determined that funds were mishandled after conducting a random audit of Colaguori’s files.

He was indicted in 2010.

Colaguori, who had a practice in Burlington City, consented to disbarment for his actions, but he fought the criminal charges.

His defense attorney, Michael Riley of Mount Holly, argued that this was a fee dispute, not a criminal theft. He said there was a lack of evidence of any criminal intent.

Full Article and Source:
Former Attoney Acquitted in Estate Theft Case

Effort to Curb Abuse by Legal Guardians Advances in Senate

The Senate Judiciary Committee backed a measure designed to help state courts improve their handling of adult guardianship cases in an effort to prevent exploitation of seniors and the disabled.

The amended bill (S 1744) would authorize grants for the courts to update their practices on guardians overseeing adults who are unable to manage property and accounts, as well as conservators tasked with managing adults’ estates.

The Judiciary panel approved the measure in a 15-3 vote, with Republicans Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Lee of Utah opposing it.

“I know every state has incidences of people getting ripped off millions of dollars when their loved one is supposed to be under the care of a guardian,” said Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar , the bill’s sponsor. “Most guardians do amazing work, good work, but . . . [some] are causing a lot of harm.”

Klobuchar is the chairwoman of the Judiciary panel’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, which held a hearing last year to examine court-appointed guardians for seniors and the disabled.

“It is a moral imperative that we take action,” Klobuchar said at the Sept. 22 hearing, citing a Government Accountability Office report on wrongdoing by guardians.

The 2010 report identified hundreds of allegations of physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by guardians. In 20 selected cases, the GAO found “guardians stole or otherwise improperly obtained $5.4 million in assets from 158 incapacitated victims, many of whom were seniors” and in some instances “also physically neglected and abused their victims.”

The report also revealed instances in which courts failed to adequately screen potential guardians or oversee guardians once they were appointed.

Under Klobuchar’s bill, the Health and Human Services Department could award grants to state courts to be used for assessing how they appoint and monitor guardians and conservators, as well as for making any needed changes to their practices. Recipient courts would be directed to work with their state’s aging and adult protective service agencies.

The bill also would require HHS to give the State Justice Institute (SJI) an opportunity to weigh in on how the grants are awarded, and HHS may also consult with the Justice Department.

Established in 1984, the SJI is a nonprofit corporation governed by an 11-member board composed of state court judges, members of the public and a state court administrator. It is tasked with promoting greater coordination between state and federal courts.

The bill would include no new funding. Rather it would tap into existing grant funds. It has the backing of groups such as the AARP, the American Bar Association, The National Center for State Courts and The National Guardianship Association, Klobuchar said Thursday.

Full Article and Source:
New Effort to Curb Abuse by Legal Guardians Advances in Senate

See Also:
Guardian Accountabilty and Senior Protection Act Passes Senate Today

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Barb Montrond Reports: Who Is Watching Our Elderly?

Becoming a "professional" guardian and/or conservator in Oregon does not require any type of certification and/or licensure. The Guardian/Conservator Association of Oregon (GCA) website reports that certification in becoming a “Professional” Guardian and/or Fiduciary is on a voluntary basis. The GCA website also reports that to be a Conservator and/or Guardian they must have backgrounds free of any criminal/personal/fiscal issues, or other issues that would give the court reason to question their “ability or ethics”. In a perfect world that may be OK, however, if certification is not necessary, who provides oversight to a board that has the power to make life/death decisions as well as gain complete control over the assets of another? Reviewing the complaint process available on the website for the National Certified Guardian it reports that the court that appointed the guardian has the exclusive authority to remove, or otherwise sanction a guardian.

This growing problem was investigated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in July 2011. The outcome of the investigation included noting hundreds of allegations of guardian abuse in 45 states occurring between 1990 and 2010. “The GAO investigation reported “significant exploitation of assets” as well as “guardians are not sufficiently screened or monitored by the court; and additionally that selected guardian certification programs failed to adequately screen potential certified guardians” (GAO 2011). It appears that Oregon can be a frightening place for our aging population.

Full Article and Source:
Who is Watching Our Elderly?

Ohio Judge Rastatter Wins Conduct Case

Clark County Common Pleas Judge Douglas Rastatter dropped his head in his hands and sobbed Tuesday after a disciplinary hearing panel dismissed a six-count complaint of judicial misconduct against him.

The three-member Board of Commission on Grievances and Discipline of the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed the case after a two-day hearing.

Complainants described Rastatter as rude, biased, vindictive, disrespectful to attorneys and someone who ruled without regard for the law and higher courts.

Rastatter testified that he struggled to adjust to the bench. He declined to comment after the hearing, but his attorney George Jonson said he and co-counsel Lisa Zaring were pleased with the ruling.

“I think they reached the right result, and I couldn’t be any happier if I won the lottery,” Jonson said.

Jonson had only asked the panel to dismiss two counts in the complaint prior to the decision to end the whole case.

The Ohio State Bar Association accused Rastatter of failing to follow the law, failing to uphold the integrity of the judiciary, engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, lacking decorum and acting in a manner that does not promote confidence in the judiciary.

The allegations, brought to the association by attorneys Richard Mayhall and John R. Butz, could have resulted in a range of sanctions for Rastatter, including permanent disbarment.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Rastatter Wins Conduct Case

See Also:
Judge Faces Six Counts

Woman Accused of Bilking More Than $1 Mil From Elderly Seattlelite

A Lynnwood woman was charged Monday with nearly 50 counts of first degree theft for allegedly bilking an elderly woman out of more than $1 million.

Brenda Nicholas, 46, is accused of manipulating an 85-year-old Seattle woman out of $1,088,500 in cash during a nearly two year period, according to court documents.

Police say Nicholas met the victim at a Chinatown street fair in 2007. Using the name Monica Marks, Nicholas was working the fair as a palm reader. The victim, who police say was feeling alone and depressed, agreed to pay Nicholas for a palm reading. Nicholas allegedly told the woman "she had a gray aura about her" and needed help to make her feel better and get her life straightened out.

Nicholas convinced the victim she could help, but at a steep price, according to court documents.

Soon after their initial meeting, Nicholas brought the victim what she called a "special soap" made by a man named Father Thomas that would wash away her gray aura. The documents say Nicholas convinced the victim that Father Thomas could see the past, present and future and could cure her ills.

By September 2007, the victim told police that Nicholas was visiting every few days, and each time she visited she would give the victim an unknown pill meant to make her feel better. The victim said the pills made her feel like she was in "a fog."

Full Article and Source:
Woman Accused of Bilking More than $1 Mil From Elderly Seattleite