Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lawless America: Murphy McCoy

92-Year-Old Murphy McCoy expresses anger over Elder and Guardianship Abuse to Bill Windsor of Lawless America while in Spokane, Washington.

This is uneditied film. Mr. McCoy is hard of hearing, and he has problems with short-term memory, but he is extremely fit physically and is extremely inteligent.

YouTube: 92-Year-Old Murphy McCoy Expresses Anger Over Elder & Guardianship Abuse

Lawless America

Salem County siblings charged with elderly abuse after death of their mother

A brother and sister have been charged with elderly abuse and neglect following the death of their 71-year-old mother, authorities said.

Kimberly S. Proud, 45, of Pennsville, and her brother, Timothy C. Proud, 50, of Penns Grove, were both charged in the case after authorities concluded an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Virginia Proud’s death last week, police said Wednesday.

Pennsville Police Lt. Allen Cummings said this was the first charge of elderly neglect and abuse in the township in at least 23 years.

According to authorities, the condition of Virginia Proud at the time of her death and the condition of the Georgia Road home where she lived with her daughter, Kimberly Proud, led to the investigation that eventually resulted in the charges which were filed on Tuesday.

Full Article and Source:
Salem County siblings charged with elderly abuse after death of their mother

Friday, September 14, 2012

Recommended Website: G.R.A.D.E. Guardianship Reform Advocates for the Disabled and Elderly

Our Mission:
Reforming guardianship for the future of the disabled and elderly of Texas. Protecting the Constitutional, Civil and Human Rights of Texas's most vulnerable population. Advocating to ensure that our most vulnerable population are not forced into nursing homes or institutions without the opportunities to exercise all Less Restrictive Alternatives prior to the final and last resort to Guardianship.

In Texas, Guardianship violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Guardianship in Texas can or will remove all rights to life, liberty and property at the presiding judges orders. Ensuring that "incapacitation" is not used at the convenience of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services or any of Texas's certified guardians, attorney ad litems, court investigators, judiciaries, and state contract providers.

At present the general public is not aware of what is occurring in Guardianship Law today, guardianship is now a business, guardianship has lost it purpose. The disabled and elderly are becoming victims of a system that does not provided OVERSIGHT for the well being of the disabled and elderly. Family guardians are being stereotyped as perpetrators and the system of guardianship is now encouraging certified guardians are the only people who can protect the disabled and elderly from their own family members at the expense of the taxpayer.

Our goal is to advocate to promote the Quality of Life for Texas's most vulnerable population, the disabled and elderly wards as well as for our own futures.

G.R.A.D.E. Guardianship Reform Advocates for the Disabled and Elderly

Two accused of exploiting disabled Montgomery County man

Two people hired to care for a disabled Montgomery County man have been accused of exploiting him, officials said.

Detectives are looking for the two - Theresa McElroy, 42, and Michael Wayne Brown 40 - who have been charged with exploitation of a disabled individual.

They are accused of taking items from the man's Montgomery area home, officials said. Some of the items belong to the man's late wife and were sentimental to him, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office officials said.

Full Article and Source:
Two accused of exploiting disabled Montgomery County man

N.C. woman charged with exploiting elderly Surfside Beach woman

A North Carolina woman was charged with exploiting an 83-year-old woman who she was caring for while the victim’s daughter was away on vacation, according to a Surfside Beach police report.

Tammy May Taylor, 21, of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., was charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult after she surrendered to police on Monday, according to authorities.

Taylor was released on $5,000 bail on Tuesday from J. Rueben Long Detention Center, according to jail records.

The charges stemmed from Taylor being employed to care for the victim, who lives in Surfside Beach, according to a police report. The victim’s daughter told police that Taylor had a credit card to use for household expenses such as groceries and gasoline for the victim.

The victim was hospitalized in July and the victim’s daughter learned additional charges were made on the credit card while it was in Taylor’s possession, according to the report. The victim’s daughter said more than $2,000 in unauthorized charges were made on the card since July 17.

Full Article and Source:
N.C. woman charged with exploiting elderly Surfside Beach woman

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Florida Brain Injury Center Fights Order to Move Patients

A Florida brain-injury facility accused of abusive and substandard practices is fighting a state order to move out scores of patients, saying regulators are overstepping their authority.

The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, located 50 miles southeast of Tampa in rural Wauchula, told the state Friday that it would not begin the process of discharging any patients until a judge hears an appeal it filed on Aug. 28.

That action, before the Division of Administrative Hearings, alleges state regulators exceeded their authority in ordering the removal of patients and acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” way.

The dispute stems from a surprise inspection last month by three state agencies. Regulators moved in after Bloomberg News reported on dozens of cases of alleged abuse and neglect at the for-profit facility, known as FINR. Patients’ families or state agencies have accused the center’s staffers of abuse or care lapses in at least five residents’ deaths since 1998, two of them in the last two years.

State investigators determined FINR was breaching its license by treating 50 patients who weren’t brain or spinal cord injured. That represented more than half of the 98 patients whose records the state reviewed.

The state ordered FINR to submit a plan to relocate those patients to facilities “appropriate to meet their needs.”

In its response Friday, FINR said it would begin that process only if its legal challenge is unsuccessful.

The state is exceeding its authority by trying to enforce a narrow definition of brain injury limited only to patients who suffered a traumatic event, such as a car accident, FINR said. Such an interpretation unfairly denies treatment to people with other kinds of brain injuries, the company’s filing said, without specifying the injuries in question.

FINR said it was acting to address other concerns raised by regulators, including an allegation it was keeping patients too long. The company said its chief medical officer will review the length of stay for all residents to ensure appropriateness. It said such a review of current patients found they all required the treatment they were receiving or were making progress in their rehabilitation.

After initially balking at providing investigators its internal reports on incidents involving patients from the past year, FINR said Friday that it had recently made those records available.

Full Article and Source:
Florida Brain Injury Center Fights Order to Move Patients

See Also:
Allstate Sues Florida Brain Injury Center, Claiming Fraud

COMMENTARY: Declining fortunes affect boomers' futures

Lots of baby boomers face a bleak economic future as more approach retirement, and that won’t help President Barack Obama’s re-election chances.

A recent AARP report showed that those age 50 and older are carrying more mortgage debt than ever, and the increase in the rate of serious mortgage delinquency of older Americans from 2007 to 2011 has outpaced that of younger homeowners. “As the mortgage crisis continues, millions of older Americans are struggling to maintain their financial security,” the AARP report said.

The report found 3.5 million loans of people age 50 and older were underwater. In that age group, about 600,000 loans were in foreclosure, and 625,000 more loans were at least 90 days delinquent.

Also from 2007 to 2011, more than 1.5 million older Americans lost their homes because of the mortgage crisis. Unemployment among older workers is high, and they have a tougher time finding jobs.

They also have to live with lower wages, increasing property taxes and fixed incomes. But how did older people in this country — once one of the most financially secure because of nearly 80 years of Social Security, solid savings and interest earnings, pensions and about an 80 percent homeownership rate — become so vulnerable?

Full Article and Source:
COMMENTARY: Declining fortunes affect boomers' futures

Deputies search for suspect in elderly exploitation cases

Deputies are searching for a Jacksonville Beach man who is wanted on exploitation of the elderly charges, according to a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office release.

Detectives believe Bryan Keith Ruby, 42, has taken more than $4,000 total from three people, according to the release. Ruby is believed to be involved in other cases of elderly exploitation, but he has only been charged in connection with two cases.

In July one victim, a 67-year-old Ponte Vedra Beach woman, told deputies that Ruby told her he could replace the back seat of her golf cart for $360. She said she paid and never got the seat, according to the report. Ruby had been landscaping the lawn at her home at Lake Julia Drive South when he reportedly told the victim he could replace the seat. The victim later found out that he had been fired from the landscaping company.

Also, an elderly couple from Ponte Vedra Beach reported in August that Ruby told them they needed a piece of pool equipment and that he could buy it for around $1,000, according to the release. They said they paid Ruby, but he did not buy the equipment or return the money.

The couple said, before the thought they were being scammed, they also loaned Ruby $3,200 because he told them his wife needed an insulin pump. They said they had only received $400 back since May.

Full Article and Source:
Deputies search for suspect in elderly exploitation cases

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CANHR: STOP Drugging Our Elderly!

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform has launched a campaign to end the misuse of psychoactive drugs in California nursing homes.

"Stop Drugging Our Elderly" Part 1 of 3 by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform"

"Stop Drugging Our Elderly" Part 2 of 3 by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform"

"Stop Druggng Our Elderly" Part 3 of 3 by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform"

See Also:

New "Nursing Home Inspect" Tool

ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, has unveiled a new interactive tool to search nursing home inspection reports.

The site, called Nursing Home Inspect, allows users to search through thousands of recent government inspection reports from around the country, most since the beginning of 2011. Nursing Home Inspect also allows searches by keyword and city, as well as by a home’s name, and allows searches across all the reports at once. Users can search by state or by the severity level of the deficiencies cited.

The default search ranks results by the severity level of the problem found. As of August 14, 2012, the underlying database covers nearly 118,000 deficiencies at 14,565 homes. There are more than 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S., and as CMS releases newer inspection reports in the future, we plan to add them.
Go to: Nursing Home Inspect

CANHR: New Nursing Home Inspect Tool

Supreme Court disciplines 24 attorneys

The Florida Bar, the state's guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 24 attorneys, disbarring eight and suspending 13. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. One attorney was placed on probation; three attorneys were publicly reprimanded; and four were ordered to pay restitution.

As an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the 93,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida. Since Aug. 1, 2007, case files have been posted to attorneys' individual Florida Bar profiles and may be reviewed at and/or downloaded from The Florida Bar's website,

Court orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline. Disbarred lawyers may not re-apply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that rejects many who apply. It includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam. Historically, fewer than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.

Full Article and Source:
Supreme Court disciplines 24 attorneys

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Protected or Exploited?

Guardianship/conservatorship law is designed to "guard" incompetent people, "conserve" their assets, and "protect" the taxpaying public from the ward becoming a public charge. Over the years, the law has been misused, misapplied, or even manipulated to unjustly enrich court-appointed fiduciaries at the expense of and to the detriment of the very people they are court-appointed to protect.

Join the national movement for reform!

YouTube: Protected or Exploited?

Allentown judge will make plea to get her job back

She was removed from bench last year following misconduct trial.

Maryesther Merlo, the Allentown district judge kicked off the bench for misconduct last year, will make a last-ditch plea for her job and pension Tuesday before the state Supreme Court.

Merlo, 52, was the subject of four years' worth of complaints about erratic behavior, absences and disrespect for lawyers and litigants in her district court in west Allentown before she was charged in the state Court of Judicial Discipline in 2010.

After a three-day trial last spring, the court found Merlo had brought her office into disrepute by violating the state Constitution and the code of conduct for judges. In October, a three-judge panel determined Merlo should be removed from the bench and forbidden from ever holding judicial office again.

Now, Merlo and her attorney, Samuel C. Stretton of Chester County, hope to convince six justices on the Supreme Court that removal from office, a sanction handed down to Pennsylvania district judges only five other times in the last decade, is too severe.

If the Supreme Court upholds the disciplinary court's decision, Merlo would lose her state pension. A spokeswoman said the State Employees Retirement System has not determined what Merlo's monthly pension payment would be because she has not applied to receive it.

In a 70-page brief, Stretton explains that although Merlo took responsibility for her behavior and took steps to correct it, the judges who voted to remove her from office ignored evidence that explained her actions.

During her three day trial, attorneys from the state board in charge of judicial discipline called 22 witnesses, including former Lehigh County President Judge William H. Platt and Court Administrator Gordon Roberts, who testified their efforts to address her work habits fell on deaf ears.

Full Article and Source:
Allentown judge will make plea to get her job back

Daughter arraigned in lake slaying of KC accountant

A Kansas City law firm owner charged in the 2010 deadly shooting of her father used a forged legal document to deny him life-sustaining medical treatment, according to a court document released Monday.

The indictment was returned Friday by grand jurors in Boone County and released the same day Susan Elizabeth Van Note, 44, of Lee's Summit, was arraigned on charges of forgery and first-degree murder.

During Monday's arraignment, her attorney, Tom Bath, waived the reading of formal charges and entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf, said Camden County Prosecutor Brian Keedy. Van Note, who goes by the first name of Liz, was jailed on $1 million cash-only bond.

Van Note has a law office near Red Bridge and Holmes roads in south Kansas City. Among her law specialties is planning for end-of-life issues and advanced medical directives.

Two other people, Desre Dory, 42, and his wife, Stacey, 43, of Shawnee, Kan., were indicted Friday on second-degree murder and forgery counts. Those indictments won't be unsealed until they are arraigned in Boone County, and authorities have not yet said what their alleged role was.

Van Note's father, 67-year-old accountant William Van Note, of Liberty, was shot in October 2010 along with his longtime partner, Sharon Dickson, 59, at their Lake of the Ozarks vacation home. Keedy said charges haven't yet been filed in Dickson's killing.

Dickson died at the home in the Camden County town of Sunrise Beach. Van Note managed to call 911 and was flown to a Boone County hospital, where he died four days later. His estate remains in probate court in Clay County, court records show.

In a phone interview Monday, Bath said his client was the sole heir of her father's estate.

"Liz very much loved her father and wouldn't do anything to hurt him," Bath said. "It will be interesting to see why it took two years to file this case. I am confident that Liz is not guilty."

Keedy, the Camden County prosecutor, has been appointed by the state attorney general to assist the Boone County prosecutor. He said Liz Van Note had been a person of interest since a few days after the killings.

According to the indictment, Van Note acted alone or with others to shoot her father. The indictment also said a forged durable power of attorney for William Van Note was presented to the hospital "with the purpose to defraud." People can use a power of attorney to dictate whom they want making medical decisions for them in emergencies or if they are near death and unable to speak for themselves.

Full Article and Source:
Daughter arraigned in lake slaying of KC accountant

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ken Ditkowsky on the ARDC Hearing

The second day of trial - by agreement with my direct testimony. Larry had a funeral, and the panel had expressed the fact that it was not going to allow him the time to attend the funeral. (his aunt - or some other close relative had died, and in Jewish tradition the funeral was required to be held within I believe 48 hours) As it would have been extremely difficult for me to conduct my own examination, Larry had to do it. Thus we were accommodated.

The net was the fact that the morning was taken up by my examination. After Lunch it was Dr. Patel and Farenga. The last witness of the day was me - and my cross examination. Dr. Patel testified that he received a letter from me and he just put the letter in his file. He did nothing with it and never responded to it. Farenga was the next witness and after telling people that she received over 500 e-mails from me. (The number that she received was more probably less than fifty) she admitted that she never blocked a single e-mail or did anything to stop the flow. Indeed, she was so hungry to hear from me that she ran out and when to not only your blog but NASGA and others so that she could garner every golden word that I uttered. She then testified that 1) it is higly unusual for a GAL to still be in the picture after a appointment of a guardian, and 2) even though she was well aware that Carolyn was opening safety deposit boxes neither she nor Stern really cared and they ahve no idea what is in the box. She told the panel that her interest in the case and whether or not Mary was being railroaded so as to lose her liberty, her property, her civil rights and human rights was so intense that she never went to visit Mary! Carolyn brought Mary to Farenga's office so that Farenga could write a report.

Larry 'ate Farenga up." (What a disgusting way of putting that!) It was reported that after she left the stand she was crying as she left the ARDC proceeding.

My cross examination was memorable. The young male ARDC attorney repeatedly attempted to intimidate and brow beat me. He kept asking me if I was sorry for my action in reporting to law enforcement and others the violations of Mary and Gloria Sykes' rights. I informed him that I not only had a legal responsibility to do so, but as a human being I had a responsibility. Indeed, I said: As long as the Lord allows me to reside on earth and the stars and stripes flies over the United States of America I would fully and completely exercise my First Amendment Rights. He then asked me if I was repentant! I told him essentially that acting as my conscience required was an act that I was proud of and had no intention of repenting.

In final argument Ms. Black pointed out that my failure to be intimidated by the specter of the ARDC was grounds for disbarrment and I should be disbarred. My worst crime was not participating in the 'cover up' and therefore the public might discover that the appointment as 'court official' (i.e. Farenga, Stern, et al) was not an acknowledgment of 'sainthood' and that the 17 judges and the dozens who had to resign during Greylord was an anomaly and not business as usual. Speaking the truth about the 2nd oldest profession is clearly unethical.

The panel took the case under advisement.

~Ken Ditkowsky

An Eyewitness Account at the Attorney Ken Ditkowsky ARDC Hearing

Dear Scott,

I understand your frustration at not being allowed to testify. BUT the fact is that Osorian had disallowed all testimony which he judged to be underlying the ARDC case. You were not allowed to be in the courtroom for most of this.

Nevertheless, the excellent cross examinations of Ken and of Larry Hyman of the ARDC witnesses caused the three lawyers/guardians Schmiedlel, Stern and Farenga to admit that they were guilty of failure to exercise any of their powers to protect Mary. Farenga even had to admit that she had only seen Mary in her office, because Naperville was too far for her to travel to and Adam lived closer. Farenga and Stern admitted that they were not present when Carolyn had the safety deposit box drilled, so that they had not protected Mary's potential interest against Carolyn, even though they knew that Mary had initially accused Carolyn in her initial action of stealing $4000. Farenga admitted that most guardianships end after a few months and do not continue with no pay for three years and five months. In the cross examinations it was brought out that Schmiedel knew that the Lumberman suit was against Gloria only and Mary had no part in it. Stern made numerous factual admissions which showed that he was not acting in Mary's interest at all. But most important was that the arrogance of Mr. Apostel (or whatever his name was) allowed Ken to bring in just about everything that Torosian had previously disallowed!!! The result was that Ken got to make his closing statement during the redirect questioning of him as the adverse witness, and THEN Larry was able to make his own closing statement that the three : Schmiedel, Stern and Farenga, could have merely blocked all Ken's emails FOR ALL THE USE they made of them to investigate anything whatsoever. The implication was that their discomfort was clearly the result of their inaction and time wasting. Their witness, Dr. Patel, clearly indicated that he, an ordinary family physician, did NOT see anything in Ken's letter that he thought required him to take action; thus, the letter did not in fact contain anything implying that it was mandatory no matter how the guardians, the attorney for Carolyn Toerpe, OR the ARDC wanted to parse it. Only persons who were looking for trouble could even imagine that there was trouble.

In the meantime, even Orosian, seeing my demeanor, had to see that Apostel was doing his best to drive Ken into a stroke. I saw him take immediate though subtle action, once he saw how distressed I genuinely was (I got up and gave Larry a note, and I suspect that I was pale and possible shaking) and Ken's color all too slowly did go back to normal. I do not think Osorian wanted 911 ambulances or a corpse in his hearing room. He and Hilliken could see that Ms. Black was wagging her fanny at them and emphasizing her bosom to Apostel every time she consulted with Apostel. These hearing officers, and hearing officer Mrs. Williams could see Ms. Black rolling her eyes and making faces like a pre-teen. Both men doubtless have much prettier and younger females whose shoes (with six inch heels) fit doing the same in their offices all day long and are not in need of or in awe of her attempted stimulations. Ms. Williams probably had my reactions to Ms. Black's activities.

Until much after the hearing, I was under the false impression that the three hearing officers were employees of the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois. In fact, they are pro-bono lawyers from big firms -- at least the two men are from large and probably national law firms and I missed which firm Ms. Williams is employed by, frankly, because I thought these were the activities that qualified them for a paying job as hearing officers, not their current affiliations. Taurig-Greenberg, of course, represents many politicos, including, in the past Abamoff, and all of the Indian tribes he was setting against each other. I think it might have been involved with either Rezko or Cellini but I have not researched that. Nevertheless, if you noticed, the men's suits did not come off the sale rack at TJMaxx, Cosco, J.C.Penney, or the like. Hilliken's tonsure probably cost what Romney's, Clinton's, Kerry's did. These are the kind of people who CONSTANTLY have to guard their own personal assets against their own financial managers, their former wives, their former trophy wives, their feuding step-children -- and there have been plenty of well publicized cases in the last few years of heirs and heiresses and other business titans who have been dispossessed by family members. Also, they also probably have to appear occasionally in court, and certainly have to manage the way their cases are run. If THEY THEMSELVES happen to guess wrong as to which political or economic powerhouse to displease, they could also be hauled before the ARDC. Maybe they were not favorably impressed by a twenty eight year old twerp almost pornographically rhapsodizing about the "Disciplinary" powers he had been granted. You and I don't know anything about the fond family relations that may OR MAY NOT exist in hearing officer Williams' family, or what depredations her immediate or extended family might have suffered in the recent or more distant past from over-reaching governmental agencies.

So, until they make their finding, which could be tomorrow but is more likely to be six months or a year distant, we do not know what they are going to do. We do know that in theory, this was not a trial of the ARDC; the hearing officers, however, do have the power to make a finding in which they denote that they expected not to have to use the second day of the hearing at all, and were reserving it only for emergency purposes. Instead they were forced to listen to the Administrator attorneys wasting their time pretending that an investigation of someone accused of miscreant behavior was properly made by asking them under oath whether they were miscreants for hour after hour, whether they were forced to listen to the administrators' lawyers reading to them as if they illiterate after they had been told not to, whether they thought that it was appropriate for Ken's arrival ten minutes late on Thursday would be mentioned when they (the hearing officers) themselves did not enter the courtroom until 9:40 AM on Friday, and when Black was herself late several times after breaks (when there were no possible issues of traffic or holdups at the front desk). They may well have noticed that hours were spent detailing a sanctions motion which was declared a non-entity by an appeals court, and they could mention that. The superiors of Black and Apostel (or whatever his name is) had OFFICIAL eyes and ears in that courtroom as well, such as the lady in purple in the desk behind me, the security guard and even the court reporter.

In short, your support was much appreciated. Both Ken and Larry are experienced courtroom lawyers. Drew Peterson was convicted by the fact that Brodsky and his cohort over-reached and allowed in testimony which totally incriminated their witness beyond a reasonable doubt to the one person who took the attitude you or I as a juror would take when faced with a defendant already adjusted guilty by the 11 other jurors -- the defendant MUST be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I did take that position in the one jury trial I was a juror in, which cost eleven other people, many of whom made little more than minimum wage, two days work instead of only a day's work for the pittance of seventeen dollars a day... and they were very gracious about that because they too wanted to be sure they were doing justice). When Ken and Larry decided that the case had been made by the unforced errors of their opponents, they did not continue the game and take a chance that they might make forced or unforced errors. They made points by ending early (a 20 minute instead of a 30 minute closing statement) and that donkey Apostel surely lost even more points by taking advantage of Osorian's invitation to use up a few of those ten minutes.

So if the panel is straight, they had all the evidence they needed that the proceeding was a waste of time and money. If they are not straight, no facts would change their minds!

~Judy Ditkowsky

For more information on the Ken Ditkowsky/ARDC hearing:

Probate Judge OK's Payment for Tustee Under Investigation

John E. Larkin will receive $50,000 from the trust fund of an 88-year-old heiress while the FBI probes his handling of her finances.

The Los Angeles County probate judge who oversees an elderly heiress' trust fund approved $50,000 in compensation for a Kabbalah Centre official who is under criminal investigation for his handling of the woman's financial affairs.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael I. Levanas signed off on John E. Larkin's payment request without comment. The money covers work that Larkin, a veteran Hollywood financial advisor, performed last year as a trustee for an $11-million family trust fund benefiting 88-year-old Susan Strong Davis. The probate court approves such payments because the trust fund was set up by Davis' mother's will.

Davis' nieces have said she has suffered from dementia for several years, a period in which Larkin sold her a vacant lot he owned in Beverly Hills for what public records indicate was a $300,000 profit. Davis, who has lived in the same home in Palos Verdes Estates for three decades, borrowed more than $2 million from her trust fund to buy the Beverly Hills land and build a four-bedroom home there.

After a Times report detailing the transaction and a $600,000 donation she made to the Kabbalah Centre in 2005, police in Palos Verdes Estates launched an investigation into her finances, an inquiry taken over last month by federal agents. The IRS has been investigating the Kabbalah Centre for possible tax evasion since 2010. Larkin helps oversee the religious organization's finances.

Through his lawyer, Larkin has said he did nothing wrong and consistently acted in Davis' best interests.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Judge OKs Payment for Trustee Under Investigation

See Also:
Public Guardian Possibly to be Appointed Conservator of Heiress

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dead or alive – James Brown, Danny Tate show threats to property rights thrive

That’s a headline to grab attention in Austin, Nashville, L.A. and for entertainers across the country – as it should. Growing use of probate instruments like wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney is putting at risk both individual liberties and property rights. An ongoing legal battle involving the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown’s estate helps illustrate this point as also does the case of Nashville rocker Danny Tate who in past years fought a questionable conservatorship (guardianship) and now is targeted in what appears a series of retaliatory actions for speaking out against the perpetrators of his alleged probate abuse and the “justice” system that allows it to continue. The general public may read or hear of such actions while continuing to enjoy an “it can’t happen to me” mindset, but such confidence is misplaced as a reality emerges in which people at all levels of wealth – be it worth $50,000 to $100,000, $1 million or far more – are targeted for Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) actions. Wealth is relative and in today’s world – there’s always someone happy to take yours.

Disgruntled family members, wannabe heirs and/or disingenuous legal professionals are often perpetrators of IRA actions. The James Brown estate case includes the full range of these parties. Traditional media sources have widely reported on the wrangling of Brown’s heirs – the legitimate, the disinherited and the wannabe, but only The Newberry Observer is reporting on the multi-layered legal industry machinations that commenced in the years following the singer’s December 2006 death and continue today.

In 2000, Brown established the James Brown “I Feel Good” private foundation to provide scholarships for poor children in South Carolina and Georgia. Brown’s estate plan reportedly stated that upon his death, “the proceeds of his music empire, including royalties to more than 800 songs, would be rolled into his ‘I Feel Good’ Trust.” Attorneys Adele Pope and Robert Buchanan served from 2007 to 2009 as court-appointed fiduciaries of Brown’s estate and trust which includes the “I Feel Good” trust. During Pope’s tenure, Newberry Observer reporter Sue Summer reports that Brown’s music empire – per all previous Brown fiduciaries – was valued at about $100 million less a $15 million dollar debt.

Summer further writes how in late 2008 or early 2009 former South Carolina Attorney General (AG) Henry McMaster and Columbia CPA Russell Bauknight created the “Legacy Trust.” She quotes a Pope legal response describing the trust as “McMaster’s vehicle to take control of Brown’s assets and funnel $50 million from the needy and deserving students James Brown intended to benefit to claimed heirs Brown intentionally disinherited from his worldwide music empire.” AG McMaster appointed current trustee Russell Bauknight who serves at the pleasure of the attorney general. During this timeframe, the estate value was also revised to a reported $4.7 million at-death appraisal despite, per Pope, the estate generating $4 to 5 million a year in royalties alone prior to Brown’s death.

And though Brown’s will and trust included clauses excluding from distributions any parties that challenged his estate plan, McMaster ultimately negotiated a settlement deal giving away more than half of Brown’s music empire to those Brown specifically disinherited, including his former companion Tommie Rae Hynie and about half of his alleged children. Summer describes Tommie Rae Hynie as follows:

After Brown’s death in 2006, Hynie claimed to be Brown’s wife and sued his estate for a share of his $100 million music empire. The two had exchanged vows in 2001, but Hynie was married to another man at the time. When Brown discovered her marriage, he sued Hynie for an annulment. The Aiken County case was settled when Hynie signed an agreement that she would never claim to be Brown’s common-law wife.

With this backdrop, it’s difficult to believe that Brown’s final wishes are being honored. It’s troubling that the state of South Carolina has been such a force in this action. Adele Pope appears to share such sentiments as she continues working to determine how private assets that were once part of a private foundation were then legally placed in an alleged public trust in violation of the asset owner’s clear intention? And if it’s a public trust, why can’t the public access information revealing its details?

Pope has used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to attempt accessing copies of the trust and documentation regarding the $4.7 million appraisal. The office of current Attorney General Alan Wilson – the office that prosecutes FOIA violations – has resisted all efforts. Instead, Summer reports “Legacy” trustee Bauknight having “threatened Pope with legal action and sanctions if she continued to exercise her rights under the FOIA.”

Most recently, Pope is facing a subpoena related to the diaries of Tommie Rae Hynie. Specifically, Summer writes, Pope is being asked to “turn over all written communications related to the Hynie diaries, including any communications with this reporter, any ‘blogger, website or media outlet.’”

Summer’s latest article describes a long-time Brown friend suggesting “that the diaries could be key in disallowing Hynie’s claim and returning about $25 million to the Brown trust for needy and deserving children.” The diaries were once available to all parties early in the case, but in February 2008, Judge Doyet Early issued an order for a return of the original diary to Hynie attorney Robert Rosen and other copies returned to the Clerk of Court pending a hearing. Four years later, a hearing has yet to be scheduled.

Pope has previously alleged the AG’s office is seeking to conceal public documents which would reveal “improper acts by members of the AG’s office, the previous AG and/or the trustee of the ‘Legacy Trust.’” The Hynie diaries could further support that claim if, as some believe, they reveal Hynie’s ineligibility as a Brown heir and that the AG’s office elected to disregard or neglected to investigate this important point.

Through the state of South Carolina’s revision of James Brown’s estate plan, the entertainer’s property rights appear to have been posthumously disregarded while his designated beneficiaries’ inheritance rights – namely the children for whom he intended scholarships – appear violated. The state’s failure to respect Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests creates concerns over its commitment to transparency and open government as well as its approach to taxpayer accountability. This latest development seems now to flirt with free speech and freedom of the press issues which further heighten the case’s ever-intriguing nature and the warning it should send the public regarding the safety of their own property.

While the James Brown estate gives an important example of posthumous asset diversion, Nashville musician Danny Tate’s experiene shows that while alive – probate actions can also be used to target property and other individual liberties.

Nashville musician Danny Tate admits his struggle with alcohol and drug issues may at a point have merited assistance, but never would he – or most anyone else – have dreamed that such “help” would manifest as the near depletion of his $1.5 million estate and a continued assault on any future prosperity. These, however, are the circumstances directly resulting from a 32-month “temporary” conservatorship petition initiated in October 2007 by his brother David Tate, facilitated by attorney Paul T. Housch and sanctioned by Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Randy Kennedy.

A series of articles entitled Musician Danny Tate’s conservatorship: a case of caring or corruption? (Part One Part Two Part Three) provides the long, sordid details of Tate’s plight. From the beginning of this action at which time David Tate is alleged to have used a fraudulent Durable General Power of Attorney to gain initial control of his brother’s finances and then fund attorney Housch’s October 2007 petitioning for the musician to be conserved, the administrative ease and casualness of process accompanying this life-altering status is noteworthy and should serve as a cautionary tale to all Americans.

For 32 months, Danny Tate simultaneously fought to regain control over not just substance abuse, but also his civil and property rights that some court observers believe were hijacked by the Tennessee probate court. His day in court arrived only after the Middle Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed one of Judge Kennedy’s critical case rulings, an act described by Nashville Scene as “meaning the Probate Court had strayed so far from established legal procedure that an extraordinary judicial slap on the wrist was dealt to Kennedy. More remarkable still, Judge Frank Clement, the jurist who issued the Appeals Court decision, used to sit in Kennedy’s seat in Probate Court.”

This court ruling basically acknowledged the questionable process by which Tate was conserved and forced Judge Kennedy to allow a hearing that would make the 32-month “temporary” conservatorship permanent or else the status would be terminated. Danny Tate’s day in court came on May 24, 2010, and took place in a courtroom full of Tate supporters along with a local television camera crew. The hearing quickly evolved into what seemed a scripted media event with Danny Tate’s release from the conservatorship put front and center for all (especially the cameras) to see. “They saved him” seemed a recurring theme used to justify the 32-month legal ordeal which left Tate destitute.

Full Article & Source:
Dead or alive – James Brown, Danny Tate show threats to property rights thrive

SIGN the IMPEACH RANDY KENNEDY PETITION for Senator Mae Beavers and Represenative Gary Odom

See Also:
Danny Tate Continues Fight Against Probate Court's Assault on His Personal and Property Rights

Danny Tate Case Not Over by a Long Shot