Saturday, August 25, 2012

State Bar asks judge to suspend Beaumont attorney's law license

The disciplinary division of the State Bar of Texas is asking a judge to immediately suspend Beaumont attorney Glen Engle's law license.

Engle, 56, pleaded guilty in May to tampering with government records and impersonating a public servant. He admitted to fraudulently applying for and obtaining a notary stamp, notarizing a false affidavit with that stamp and filing that document in court.

Criminal District Court Judge John Stevens sentenced Engle in May to two years in prison and six months in the county jail, to be served concurrently.

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State Bar asks judge to suspend Beaumont attorney's law license

Woman accused of fleecing elderly Federal Way millionaire

The wife of an elderly Federal Way millionaire is accused of bilking his life savings while neglecting his deteriorating health.

King County prosecutors have charged Juliana Cratsenberg, 56, with felony theft for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the real estate mogul during their four-year relationship. She is to be arraigned Thursday, when she will enter a plea.

Cratsenberg and her 86-year-old husband, Andrew Cratsenberg Sr., are still married, but his sons have obtained a restraining order against Juliana Cratsenberg, also known as Young Min Song, barring her from contacting her husband until the case is resolved.

Attempts by The News Tribune to reach Juliana Cratsenberg and Andrew Cratsenberg's sons were unsuccessful.

According to court documents filed by prosecutors, the sons have tried since 2008 to wrestle control of their father and his fortune from his wife, who met the elder Cratsenberg about the time he was widowed and diagnosed with dementia. The papers do not say how the couple met.

"Juliana Cratsenberg gained Andy's trust and love, isolated him from his family, controlled his movements, controlled his finances, eventually caused him to rely completely upon her for all of his daily needs, and, ultimately, physically and verbally abused him," according to the charging documents.

The court records show:

The couple kept their relationship secret from Cratsenberg’s two sons for the first month, until their father announced she was moving in with him and they were discussing marriage, which would be her fourth.

Juliana Cratsenberg took to wearing the jewelry of her husband’s deceased wife, had him pay off her debts and persuaded him to financially care for her two adult children, who she later tried to have him adopt so they'd be included in his will.

She bought herself a $50,000 wedding ring and a $24,000 Lexus SUV, used her husband’s credit card to buy $86,000 worth of purchases and spent hundreds of thousands to buy her children a house in Tacoma and pay for their college tuition.

She got involved with Cratsenberg's two businesses and made poor decisions that lost him a lot of money, prompting his sons to fight for guardianship in 2009.

As part of the process, a doctor performed a court-ordered assessment of Cratsenberg in March 2009 and concluded he had "little insight into (his) diminished capacity."

Andrew Cratsenberg denied in the assessment that Juliana Cratsenberg lived with him or that their relationship was serious.

Days later, she applied for a marriage license. Ten minutes after the required three-day waiting period ran out, the couple said "I do" before a retired judge with no family present.

Andrew Cratsenberg’s sons discovered the nuptials after a friend of their father’s called them a week later. The sons immediately filed for a protection order that would declare their father a vulnerable adult and set up a trust to block his wife from his personal and business bank accounts.

Full Article & Source:
Woman accused of fleecing elderly Federal Way millionaire

Friday, August 24, 2012

TJ Jackson Granted Permanent Co-Guardianship of Michael Jackson Kids

A California judge today made Tito "TJ" Jackson permanent co-guardian of the singer's children along with their grandmother Katherine, but not without some unexpected drama.

A woman claiming to be the cousin of Michael Jackson showed up in court today to ask the judge to delay the appointment of TJ Jackson as permanent co-guardian of the singer's children.

Despite a plea from the woman, Debra Jackson, Judge Mitchell Beckloff granted TJ Jackson the motion to share guardianship with Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson, of the three children.

The judge made the ruling after also considering a letter submitted by singer Diana Ross, in which the singer said she has met TJ and thinks he has good intentions in caring for Michael's kids.

Beckloff said Ross mentioned in the letter that she is very interested in what happens with the children and that she takes her role in the will as the next guardian in line very seriously.

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TJ Jackson Granted Permanent Co-Guardianship of Michael Jackson Kids

Retiring probate judge arrested

Retiring Franklin County Probate Judge Eddie Fowler has been arrested and charged with sexual battery.

Franklin County Sheriff Stevie Thomas said case has been turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Fowler was reportedly taken into custody late Tuesday after an investigation by the GBI, according to GBI Agent in Charge Jim Fullington.

“On Monday, August 20th, we were requested by the Franklin County Sheriff’s department to look into allegations of sexual battery,” Fullington said. “On Tuesday evening, Mr. Fowler was taken into custody and charged with one count of sexual battery. He was later released on bond from the Franklin County Detention Center.”

Fullington said the charge is a misdemeanor offense, but the investigation is continuing.

Fowler’s arrest came the day voters elected his successor. Tuesday, Franklin County Deputy Assistant Sheriff Ken Eavenson won the post over challenger Jay Baskins. Eavenson, however, does not take office until Jan. 1.

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Retiring probate judge arrested

Very wrong number: Former elderly services line now offers callers phone sex


A phone number that once belonged to New Jersey’s Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly now directs callers to a number offering phone sex.

The problem is the old number still exists on brochures and some websites, promising to direct people to the ombudsman. The state’s official website lists the office’s correct phone number — (877) 582-6995.

Maureen Persi, of Ortley Beach, dialed the wrong number, which was at the bottom of a "Patients’ Bill of Rights" she received after taking her husband to the Ocean Medical Center in Brick.

She couldn’t believe what she heard.

"It’s a disgrace," she said.

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Very wrong number: Former elderly services line now offers callers phone sex

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Texas Judges: Out Of Order

The State Integrity Investigation on government corruption gives Texas an average grade of C for holding our judges accountable. But some citizens and lawmakers who’ve tested the system say that grade is far too high.

Today KERA’s Shelley Kofler begins a series of reports: Texas Judges: “Out of Order.” She takes a look what happened when one woman complained about a judge. The woman asked us not to use her name so we’ll call her Angela.

Angela is 30, a petite, attractive, professional with a college education. A little over two years ago she broke up with her long-time boyfriend and he filed for custody of their small son. Angela says she found herself in front of a Tarrant County associate judge who criticized her for having a child without being married to the wealthy father.

“She said, ‘Well didn’t she get herself knocked up by the right guy?’ So from the very start I had concerns about the judge,” Angela explained.

Angela said the judge yelled at her on more than one occasion and nearly each court appearance brought additional comments.

“I look Hispanic, though I’m not,” Angela said as she recalled an exchange. “We were discussing a particular document in the courtroom and the judge said to me, ‘Do you speak English?’ So, I responded, ‘Yes, I do speak English.’ And she said, ‘Clearly you don’t speak English. You have to be one of the most uneducated people I have ever seen in here.’”

Full Article & Source:
Texas Judges: Out Of Order

LRS files merit brief in guardianship case; Organizations file friend of the court brief in support

August 15, 2012

The Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) has taken the important step of bringing the issue of whether an individual with a disability who is indigent (unable to pay) has the same right to appointed counsel at court expense as he or she would have during an initial hearing. This week LRS filed a merit brief in the Ohio Supreme Court, appealing a decision by the Eighth District Court of Appeals in State of Ohio, ex rel. James L. McQueen v. The Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County Probate Division. This is a case of first impression in which the Ohio Supreme Court's decision will decide whether Ohioans who are under a guardianship will have the ability to fully challenge that guardianship, a right which is guaranteed by Ohio law.

LRS represents an individual with a disability who has been under a guardianship for two years. His guardian is neither a family member, nor a friend. Rather his guardian works for an agency funded with money that LRS contends should first be paid to provide appointed counsel in these types of cases. By the power of his guardian, he lives in a secured (locked) nursing facility. He wants to leave and to manage his own affairs.

Last fall he requested a review hearing stating that he believed he no longer needed a guardian. In his request, he asked the Court of Common Pleas for Cuyahoga County, Probate Division to provide him with legal counsel. When the court failed to do this, LRS sought immediate relief by filing a mandamus action in the Court of Appeals. Mandamus is a court action to order a government official, including a judge or magistrate, to perform her or his duty. While the Court of Appeals initially granted an alternative writ to the Probate Court to show cause why relief should not be granted, the Court of Appeals ultimately concluded that the law was not clear enough in its mind to meet the high standards to issue the extraordinary remedy of mandamus.

At the direction of the individual, LRS appealed this decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. Case law makes clear that it is actually the duty of a court of appeals to decide what the law is. LRS argues that in crafting the statutory scheme of due process rights for indigent, adult wards, during initial and subsequent review hearings, the General Assembly intended to provide for the right to counsel in both. LRS explained in its merit brief that this is the only sound reading of applicable Ohio law. Furthermore, this reading protects the right of an otherwise vulnerable citizen, who has had his right to make decisions removed by judicial power, to fully challenge that decision in a future judicial hearing.

Full Article and Source:
LRS files merit brief in guardianship case; Organizations file friend of the court brief in support

Task Force on Aging plans countywide blitz

The Ottawa County Task Force on Aging is planning a countywide blitz to distribute their newly developed Senior Abuse Protocol cards. The blitz is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 29, and involves members of the Task Force visiting local businesses, agencies and institutions that interact with the senior population.

The distribution of these business-card protocols is an effort to increase awareness of and provide direction if someone suspects abuse, neglect, or exploitation of someone in our community over the age of 60.

The Ottawa County Task Force on Aging recommends the following Senior Abuse Protocol:

For those in immediate danger, call 911.
•For those with important questions or concerns call Adult Protective Services, 419-898-3688 and dial 0.
•For those inquiring non-emergency aid or services, call United Way, 211.

Full Article & Source:
Task Force on Aging plans countywide blitz

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Va. nursing home worker charged in abuse probe

STAUNTON, Va. (AP) — Staunton police have charged a nursing home administrator with failing to report the abuse of a resident.

Forty-one-year-old Diane R. Kline is the second person charged in the investigation.

Police earlier charged Anthony M. Johnson with felony aggravated sexual battery and misdemeanor sexual battery. The 47-year-old nurse aide is accused of sexually assaulting an incapacitated resident at Envoy of Staunton.

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Va. nursing home worker charged in abuse probe

Elders Are the Gems of a Culture, Do Not Abuse Them

It is a well known fact to Cherokee People that it is not only the younger generation that is our most valuable asset but our Tribal elders as well. Elders are living beings with knowledge, experiences and visions of the past who we are blessed to walk with and learn from. They are true gems forever embedded in our history and survival. Our elders guide our lives well into the next generation.

They’re our advisors, our confidantes, and our link to what was and what will be. This link, crucial for our minds, bodies, and spirits, can only be shared with us through their stories of life, tradition, and sacrifice.

Kiowa author M. Scott Momaday summed it up best in his book, House Made of Dawn, saying of his grandmother, “When she told me those old stories, something strange and good and powerful was going on. I was a child, and that old woman was asking me to come directly into the presence of her mind and spirit; she was taking hold of my imagination, giving me to share in the great fortune of her wonder and delight. She was asking me to go with her to the confrontation of something that was sacred and eternal. It was a timeless, timeless thing; nothing of her old age or of my childhood came between us.” (1968, p.84)

This connection to the past and future our elders provide us is far more special than many realize. Lots of times people don’t grasp the power and importance of this connection until an elder takes the journey on to the spirit world and that individual is left with just memories.

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Elders are the Gems of Our Culture; Do Not Abuse Them

Public Servants

Legal minds have recognized that the internet is the greatest tool Democracy has provided to individuals for seeking Justice in a Legal System run amuck, and is the new frontier for Freedom of Speech and protection of Individual Liberties.

Know This, that when you exercise Freedom of Speech, you are also held accountable for everything said when exercising this Freedom, and you put your Individual Liberties at risk if you do not constrain your words by fact and rigorous honesty, and do not libel for libel’s sake, unless truth is the absolute defense.

Judges, Attorneys, any Officers of the Court, and including Governors, Legislators, Law Enforcement Agencies, State Militias, and especially any Branch of Federal Government that includes the Legislature, the President and especially The Judiciary, even standing Armed Forces, for all of these bodies are considered entities composed of Public Servants, whose sole purpose is to serve the public by whom they have been Vested with any Authority or Power, and that the Consideration of Individual Liberties is paramount when sitting as a Public Servant, and that our Sovereign Rights as Individuals be kept in the forefront of all Legal Process, especially in consideration of Due Process.

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Pauper V Probate - Pledges and Declarations

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Linda Kincaid Reports: Villa Fontana employee laughs at elder abuse

Villa Fontana, a San Jose residential care facility for the elderly, prevents some residents from receiving visitors, phone calls, and mail. In a recent interview, Adrian laughed when asked if resident Gisela Riordan would be allowed visitors or phone calls.

Gisela has been isolated from nearly all contact with the outside world for over two years, according to her son Marcus Riordan. Gisela was allowed a 15-minute visit with Marcus in honor of Mother's Day 2012.

Gisela is a conservatee of the Santa Clara Public Guardian, who has full knowledge of the isolation. Representatives of the Public Guardian's office refuse to discuss the situation with advocates who call on Gisela's behalf.

For months, elder advocates have encouraged Villa Fontana to honor residents’ rights. Many advocates have tried to establish contact with Gisela and check on her welfare.

Full Article and Source:
Villa Fontana employee laughs at elder abuse

Lawyers across US urged to give more free services

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Jennifer Garcia stood alone before a judge with a stack of legal papers in her hands, answering questions about her personal life.

She has acted as her own lawyer in state Family Court in a paternity, child support and visitation case on and off for three years, but representing herself in a courtroom full of strangers still makes her nervous.

"Sometimes I get this gut feeling because you never know what the judge is going to say," said the 23-year-old single mother of two from Hartford.

Garcia is part of a crush of people who are representing themselves in the nation's civil courts because they can't afford lawyers, who typically charge $200 to $500 an hour. The boom has overwhelmed courts and sparked new efforts to get attorneys to meet what the American Bar Association says is its professional responsibility to offer free legal services to people in need.

The increase in self-represented parties stems from a recession that has left fewer people able to afford lawyers and created new waves of foreclosure, debt collection and bankruptcy cases, judges and lawyers say. Judges say self-represented people are slowing down court dockets because they typically don't know what legal points to argue or what motions to file.

"There's a crisis in this country," said John Levi, board chairman of Washington, D.C.-based Legal Services Corp., the nation's largest funder of civil legal aid for the poor. "Courthouses are being filled with people just showing up, trying to figure out what their rights are. If you're a low-income person and you have a legal need, it is not easy to get it addressed."

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Lawyers across US urged to give more free services

Dallas Commissioners Continue to Fail Dallas Probate Courts

A couple of years ago, we wrote about the Dallas County Commissioners’ Court’s failure to adequately fund the Dallas Probate Courts. We pointed out that some of these courts do not even have the ability to send a fax, make a long-distance phone call, or have a copier in the court offices when the Probate Courts in other counties have offices that are fully-equipped to function in the modern-era with copiers, fax machines, scanners, long-distance, etc.

Since that last blog post, not much has changed in Dallas County. The Commissioners’ Court continues to under-fund the Probate Courts. The most recent example of this problem came to light recently as we were working on a simple, uncontested guardianship where an adult son was trying to become his father’s guardian because of the father’s increasing alzheimer’s.

Under the Texas Government Code, every statutory Probate Court in the state is required, by law, to have a court investigator. The Court Investigator’s role is to go out and investigate each potential guardianship case and to make a recommendation to the Court as to whether it appears that there needs to be a guardianship created. The Court Investigator’s investigation and report is the very first step in a guardianship case, and until they have performed their duties, the case cannot proceed. Delaying the investigation often means delaying the ability to appoint someone to look out after the interests of an incapacitated elderly adult who cannot care for themselves any longer. The overwhelming majority of these cases deal with guardians for the elderly.

Full Article and Source:
Dallas Commissioners Continue to Fail Dallas Probate Courts

Monday, August 20, 2012

Linda Kincaid Reports: Ohio public guardian isolated disabled woman from loving family

Little Cindy was a special child in so many ways. Born with Down Syndrome and profoundly disabled from birth, Cindy’s family devoted themselves to her care. Cindy was included in family activities, and outings were planned just for her. Big sister Nora adored her “special” sibling, taking time from childhood and adolescent activities to cosset her little sister and protect her from neighborhood bullies.

Cindy lived with her parents until age 38. Nora, now an LVN, was always nearby to lend a hand. Nora trained in caring for the disabled, and her professional career was devoted to patients with disabilities. Much of her free time was spent with Cindy.

As Cindy’s parents entered their seventies, they could no longer provide the care and supervision needed by a profoundly disabled and very strong adult woman. They made the difficult decision to place Cindy in a group home.

Nora soon had concerns about the care Cindy received at the group home. Bruises indicated that Cindy was physically abused. Cindy developed a subdural hematoma, a brain injury that is often related to head trauma.

Cindy became withdrawn and no longer spoke to her family. Nora was concerned about the possibility of sexual abuse by another resident.

After a lifetime of protecting her special little sister, Nora took the phone number from a poster at the home and called the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to report suspected abuse. The number from the poster was no longer in service.

Full Article and Source:
Ohio public guardian isolated disabled woman from loving family

Adam Lowenstein: More swindlers are targeting seniors, so be alert

A survey released this month highlighted what too many on the Space Coast and across the country already know: Investment fraud and financial exploitation of the elderly are major and persistent problems.

More than 750 people, including securities regulators, financial planners, health care professionals, social workers, adult protective services, law enforcement officials, elder law attorneys and academics, participated in the online survey, which was conducted by two reputable groups, the Investor Protection Trust and the Investor Protection Institute.

About two-thirds of them said they deal with elderly victims of fraud and exploitation, and four out of five said older Americans are “very vulnerable” to this kind of thing.

The numbers back that up: More than 7 million Americans over the age of 65 — that’s one in five — had been victimized by a financial swindle, according to a 2010 survey by the Investor Protection Trust.

Don Blandin, the president and CEO of that group, said this latest poll shows these issues continue to grow.

"Financial swindles targeting older Americans are a bigger problem today than ever before,” he said, adding that the survey’s findings also highlight the need for more and better help for seniors in the financial arena.

Full Article and Source:
Adam Lowenstein: More swindlers are targeting seniors, so be alert

VPAS raising awareness of elder abuse

With reports of elder abuse on the rise in Virginia and across the nation, a call for community-wide vigilance and engagement is in order.

Shenandoah Valley Adult Protective Services and VPAS’ Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman urge residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, their families, advocates, and caregivers to continue to speak up when there are concerns about long-term care. Anyone suspecting abuse or neglect should report it immediately, whether care is provided in a facility setting or at home.

Efforts to prevent abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of elderly or incapacitated adults depend on strong communication among service providers, law enforcement, protective services, and the public. However, information gaps occur – at times because of the need to balance a vulnerable adult’s possible need for protection over and against the constitutional right to autonomy and self-determination. Those charged with investigating and offering protections must follow strict procedures for releasing information – procedures designed to safeguard individual privacy and dignity. The carefully crafted laws upon which we all depend for the protection of individual liberty also create a challenging labyrinth that public servants who work with vulnerable adults must navigate. The bottom line is, absent evidence of incapacity, all adults are by law presumed competent to make decisions and to accept or refuse protections and services. This fundamental principle requires careful effort to assist those who may need help. This is where law enforcement and protective services come in. Together with the medical community and with responsible family members and friends, police and social workers seek to intercede appropriately to make a difference in the lives of isolated or vulnerable persons.

Full Article and Source:
VPAS raising awareness of elder abuse

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Forgotten Ones

The little elderly woman down the hall is crying again, something she does every day. I think to myself, I don’t really have time for her today. I’ve most likely heard the same old sad stories I know she wants to tell. I’ve heard them so often I could recite them back to her. But I know she desperately wants someone to spend some time with her, and she thinks crying will get her some sympathy, get someone to notice, which it most often does. She always slips in, “I know you are busy and I shouldn’t keep you but . . .”

So here goes. I walk toward this resident but immediately notice that today something is different. She doesn’t have that little smile in her eyes she usually gets when she knows someone is going to spend some time with her. Nope, today is different.

“Hi Jane,” I say. “How can I make your day a little brighter?”

“You can’t,” she says.

She looks so sad. I finally get her to talk and find out that her childhood friend—someone she had taken care of in her older years—passed away yesterday. She is devastated and feels she has no one to talk to and no one wants to talk to her.

So I stay a little bit longer to reassure her that not everyone has left her. I think she is comforted by this, but I know that at any time I could get called away to help someone. Or I could just get caught talking instead of working.

Untimely as it is, the call comes thru: “We need help in 1256.”

She looks at me and says, “See, you’re leaving me too.”

And I think, yes. Yes, I am.

Life in a nursing home is so lonely for residents, especially those without families. We caregivers are the only people some of them have.

by ~ Colleen Wigmore, a healthcare aid, CLAC steward, and Local 303 board member.

* Please volunteer to visit our lonely and forgotten elderly.

Facebook: The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly

"Sometimes I Just Have to Cry...."

"Sometimes I just have to cry in my bed at night. You know, so nobody knows. I try to keep up a brave face, but sometimes I just have to cry." ~ A nursing home resident — with Kylie Kavanagh.

Facebook: The Forgotten Ones - Compassion for the Elderly