Saturday, November 17, 2012

Editorial: Justice Delayed Can Stoke Misdeeds

Recently indicted Family Court Judge Steven Jones has been under investigation by the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission since a complaint was first filed in 2006, according to a case unsealed Wednesday by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Some of the allegations are similar to the Oct. 24 federal indictment alleging Jones was one of six involved in a $3 million investment fraud scheme starting in 2002.

In the judicial commission's investigation, however, the allegations of fraudulent financial transactions reach back as far as 1996 and involve accusations he was the "deal closer" who solicited investors who lost a total of $2.2 million.

The Judicial Discipline Commission hasn't formally charged Jones but warned him on July 10 that it planned to go forward with a hearing, providing him with a proposed charging document and asking for his response. The commissioners still must decide whether to charge him. Normally, the proceedings would have become public at that time.

The allegations are prematurely public now because Jones's attorney, Jim Jimmerson, sued, asking the Nevada Supreme Court to dismiss the proposed charges. He argued the allegations are so old, some dating to 1996, that Jones has been deprived of due process.

The complaint is 6 years old, and the delay in any action by the judicial commission - much less any resolution - has kept voters ignorant of potential wrongdoing by a judge who has judged others for 20 years. From my viewpoint, that dillydallying seems unfair to the judge as well as to the voters.

Full Editorial and Source:
Justice Denied Can Stoke Misdeeds

Banks Can Help Defend Elderly Against Scams

Banks and other financial institutions are an important line of defense against scammers seeking to defraud the elderly, but too often tellers and branch managers are not trained to recognize the warning signs, says a Government Accountability Office report issued Thursday.

The study, which looked at programs aimed at fighting fraud that targets the elderly in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York, said that out of misguided concern they might breach federal privacy laws, banks and other financial institutions are sometimes reluctant to share information with agencies that work to protect older people from financial crimes.

"Banks are well-positioned to recognize, report, and provide evidence supporting investigations," said Kay E. Brown, director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security at the GAO. "However, many social-services and law enforcement officials we spoke with indicated banks do not always recognize and report exploitation or provide evidence needed to investigate it."

The report was released at the outset of a hearing Thursday before the Senate Special Committee on Aging in Washington on efforts nationally to combat elder financial abuse.

It comes one year after the indictment of Philadelphia lawyer Michael Kwasnik by a New Jersey state grand jury on charges of stealing $1.1 million from a Cherry Hill widow who had hired him for estate planning and to manage her money.

Full Article and Source:
Banks Can Help Defend Elderly Against Scams

Friday, November 16, 2012

Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse: Part II

In 2010, Santa Clara County Public Guardian Donald Moody petitioned for conservatorship of Gisela Riordan. Based on false allegations by Court Reporter Herlinda Acevedo, Judge Thomas Cain approved the petition. With the stroke of a pen, Moody had complete control over Gisela’s life.

Moody immediately seized Gisela’s bank accounts. He evicted her son and sold their home the following year. Gisela languishes in isolation. For two and a half years, Moody has denied Gisela’s right to visitation, phone calls, and mail. Consistent with his wholesale violation of civil rights, Moody denied Gisela’s right to vote in 2012.

Moody imprisoned and isolated Gisela at Villa Fontana, a secured residential care facility that will violate the law in exchange for payment. Villa Fontana blatantly violates personal rights of residents. They refuse to discuss those violations with elder advocates.

April 27 – 30, 2012: Jennifer Lan; Violation of Resident’s Personal Rights

This reporter temporarily established contact with Gisela by arriving at Villa Fontana on a Friday evening, shortly after a visit by Deputy Public Guardian Rebecca Pisano-Torres. The Villa Fontana night staff assumed I was with the Public Guardian’s office, and they allowed me to enter.

When I first approached Gisela, she was bewildered that anyone would come to see her. She was horribly lonely and sobbed for over an hour, clutching my arm and begging me not to forget her. She demanded I promise that I would visit her again. Sadly, the Public Guardian has prevented my keeping that promise.

On Monday, Villa Fontana staff recognized me as an elder advocate. Employee Jennifer Lan, accompanied by four male staffers, entered Gisela’s room and ordered me to leave. I guided Lan to a poster of the residents’ rights located in the facility lobby.

I read Personal Right #11 aloud.

To have his/her visitors, including ombudspersons and advocacy representatives permitted to visit privately during reasonable ours and without prior notice, provided that the rights of other residents are not infringed upon.

Lan responded, “She doesn’t have the right to make decisions for herself.”

Full Article and Source:
Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse

TX Court of Appeals Decision

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District, Houston.
Memorandum Opinion filed July 14, 2011.

On July 12, 2011, relator McKain Joseph Dennis, Jr. filed a petition for writ of mandamus in this court. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. §22.221; see also Tex. R. App. P. 52. In the petition, relator asks this court to compel the Honorable James E. Scanlan, Jr., presiding judge of the Probate Court of Galveston County to vacate his order denying relator's motions to dismiss real-party-in-interest Janet Latimer's motions for lack of standing. Relator filed with his petition a request for temporary relief, asking this court to stay an oral order of the respondent.

On July 28, 2008, relator McKain Joseph Dennis (Mac) was named guardian of his wife, Wilma Jean Dennis (Jean). Real party Latimer is Jean's daughter who also sought guardianship. On October 21, 2009, Mac filed a motion in limine pursuant to section 642 of the Probate Code requesting an order from the probate court that Latimer had interests adverse to Jean and that Latimer lacked standing to participate in the guardianship proceeding. On February 11, 2010, the trial court granted Mac's motion in limine and declared that based on her adverse interest, Latimer lacked standing to participate in the guardianship proceeding, but she may participate in any restoration hearing regarding Jean. Latimer did not appeal the February 11, 2010 order.

On March 11, 2011, Latimer filed a motion to enforce visitation rights, motion for case investigator visit and report, and application for appointment of temporary and permanent guardian. Mac moved to dismiss Latimer's motions on the grounds that she lacked standing. On June 30, 2011, the trial court entered an order denying Mac's motions to dismiss. Mac seeks mandamus relief from the June 30, 2011 order.

Absent extraordinary circumstances not present here, a denial of a motion to dismiss is a ruling incident to the ordinary trial process that will not be corrected by mandamus, but by the legal remedy of the ordinary appellate process. Hooks v. Fourth Court of Appeals, 808 S.W.2d 56, 59 (Tex. 1991) (orig. proceeding). Relator has not presented extraordinary circumstances for issuance of mandamus to correct the trial court's ruling on his motion to dismiss Latimer's motions.

Emergency Motion
According to relator's emergency motion, a hearing was held on Mac's motions in which the trial court orally ordered that Latimer is entitled to weekly visitation with Jean, and such visitations shall begin July 13, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. However, the court reporter has not prepared a transcription of the hearing, and there is no written order on the visitation rights. Nonetheless, relator asks this court to stay the trial court's order permitting visitation. Because relator did not file either a written order or record of an oral order, we deny temporary relief. See Tex. R. App. P. 52.3(k)(1)(A).
Relator has not established entitlement to the extraordinary relief of a writ of mandamus. Accordingly, we deny relator's petition for writ of mandamus and also deny relator's related emergency motion for temporary relief.

Source: In Re Mckain Joseph Dennis, Jr.,Guardian of the person of Wilma Jean Dennis, An Incapaticipated Person--Appeal from Probate Court of Galveston County

Thursday, November 15, 2012

FL ALF Owner Sentenced for Medicare Fraud

The owner of a Miami-Dade County assisted living facility (ALF) was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for her role in a kickback scheme that funneled ALF patients to fraudulent mental health providers American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC) and Health Care Solutions Network (HCSN), announced U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office.

Alba Serrano, 66, of Miami, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in the Southern District of Florida. In addition to her prison term, Serrano was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $258,329 in restitution.

On June 6, 2012, Serrano pleaded guilty in Miami to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

According to court documents, Serrano was the owner of Elsa’s House, an ALF that she operated for more than two decades in South Miami. Serrano pleaded guilty to sending Medicare beneficiaries who resided at Elsa’s House to both ATC and HCSN for partial hospitalization program (PHP) services, a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness, in exchange for illegal health care kickbacks. In her plea agreement, Serrano admitted that she referred beneficiaries to both ATC and HCSN in exchange for cash kickbacks, even though she knew that some of the beneficiaries did not suffer from severe mental illness and accepting health care kickbacks was illegal.

According to the plea agreement, Serrano’s participation in the fraud resulted in at least $591,385 in fraudulent billing to the Medicare program.

Full Article and Source:
Miami Assisted Living Facility Owner Sentenced for Medicare Fraud

Georga Paralegal Admits Stealing Almost $300K

An Elberta woman today admitted to stealing almost $300,000 from a Foley lawyer for whom she worked and then forging his signature on letters to her creditors.

Katrina Duke Williamson pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The identity theft charge carries a mandatory-minimum prison term of two years in addition to her punishment on the bank fraud charge, which the U.S. Probation Office estimates would be at least three years and five months.

Court records describe a systematic scheme to embezzle money both from Stephen Middleton’s law firm and from trust accounts held on behalf of his clients from February 2008 until June of last year.

Assistant Federal Defender Latisha Colvin said her client was a paralegal with bookkeeping responsibilities. She said she did not want to comment until the defendant’s sentencing hearing in May.

Full Article and Source:
Paralegal Admids Stealing Almost $300,000 From Foley Lawyer, Forging His Signature

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Guardian Oversight Program in Lubbock, TX

A program launched in May to oversee guardianships in Lubbock County has closed more than 50 cases because either the guardian or the ward has died, County Judge Tom Head said.

Head held a brief news conference during an Adult Protective Services conference in Lubbock on fraud and exploitation of the elderly.

Guardians are appointed in situations where someone is considered legally incompetent to make decisions or sign contracts — a situation that can arise because of mental infirmities such as dementia.

The guardianship oversight program is part of the county’s Office of Dispute Resolution, and has a goal of making contact at least once a year with each legal guardianship, using court investigator and court visitor services.

The county launched the program May 1, and, according to a news release, has conducted 80 investigations into guardianship applications and modifications, and reviewed more than 140 old cases.

So far, there have also been eight court-initiated guardianship applications, and five cases referred to either law enforcement, Adult Protective Services or the state Department of Age and Disability Services for investigation.

Full Article and Source:
New County Guardian Oversight Program Poring Over Old Cases

TX Supreme Court Reinstates Judge Who Beat Disabled Daughter

The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted the suspension of an Aransas County judge who was caught on video beating his 16-year-old disabled daughter.

Judge William Adams was suspended with pay last year while the State Commission on Judicial Conduct investigated the allegations against him. In September, the commission issued a public warning, stating that Adams conduct discredited the judiciary because he had regularly presided over child custody, child abuse, and family violence cases. He will no longer preside over some cases brought by the Texas Department of Family and Protective services.

The Corpus Christi Caller Times noted it is typical for judicial suspensions to be lift after the commission issues a censure, unless that censure calls for the judge to be removed from the bench.

Adam’s disabled daughter, Hillary, uploaded the video to YouTube last year, claiming the recording from 2004 showed only a snippet of the abuse she had endured from her father.

Full Article and Source:
Texas Supreme Court Reinstates Judge Who Beat Disabled Daughter

Estranged Wife of Former KY Mayor Accused of Financial Exploitation

James A. Brown served as Cynthiana Mayor in the mid 90s and then was re-elected in 2007 to 2009.

James Brown's estranged wife, Brenda Kay Brown is now accused of exploiting him.

According to an indictment, Kay is accused of financially exploiting Brown while he was incapable, due to mental or physical dysfunctioning to manage his own resources.

Kay Brown also faces a first degree perjury charge and second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

WKYT was not able to locate Kay Brown to ask for a comment.

Full Article and Source:
Estranged Wife of Former Kentucky Mayor Accused of Financial Exploitation

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Linda Kincaid Reports: Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse: Public Guardian Takes Control of Gisela Riordan

San Jose, California resident Gisela Riordan, 84, prays every night for God to take her. Imprisoned and isolated, she is denied visitors, phone calls, and mail. Her arms are boney, and her cheeks sunken. Her features stir memories of Holocaust survivors. Forbidden companionship of her loved ones, Gisela languishes in despair.

Gisela has not been charged with a crime. She has not been sentenced to prison. No judge ordered her isolation. Gisela lost her freedom with the stroke of a pen, when Judge Thomas Cain approved a conservatorship petition submitted by Santa Clara County Public Guardian Donald Moody.

Moody seized Gisela’s bank accounts in 2010 and sold her home in 2011. Moody now uses Gisela’s own estate to keep her imprisoned at Villa Fontana, a residential care facility that will violate resident’s rights in exchange for payment. Taxpayer dollars, authorized by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, fund the Public Guardian’s abusive activities.

Imprisoned and Isolated

In March 2010, control of Gisela Riordan’s life was given to the Public Guardian. The Public Guardian seized Gisela’s assets, imprisoned her in a facility, and denied her contact with the outside world.

As of October 2012, Gisela is still imprisoned at Villa Fontana. The Public Guardian still denies Gisela’s right to visitation. The Public Guardian refuses to allow friends, advocates, or clergy to establish contact with Gisela and check on her welfare.

Gisela’s liberty and property were taken from her with the stoke of a pen. Gisela was denied her right to a trial. Gisela was denied her right to a jury of her peers. Gisela was denied her right to face her accusers and to address the court. Gisela was denied her right to counsel representing her interests.

A quirk of the Probate Code denies Marcus Riordan standing to sue for elder abuse while Gisela lives. Standing to sue lies with the Public Guardian, who is Gisela’s abuser. Marcus will gain standing only after Gisela dies.

Full Article and Source:
Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse

KS Former AG Phill Kline Discipline Case Goes Before Kansas Supreme Court

Lawyers for former Attorney General Phill Kline and for the disciplinary administrator's office will have one hour on Thursday to persuade a Kansas Supreme Court panel what disciplinary path to take with Kline.

Attorneys are getting more time during the hearing. Normally, each side gets 15 minutes, a total of 30 minutes to hear the case. In the Kline case, each side will get double that — 30 minutes per side.

It is unknown when the Supreme Court panel will rule on the Kline case, Kansas Supreme Court spokesman Ron Keefover said Friday.

“It’s up to them,” Keefover said. It could be longer because there are five judges who routinely aren’t on the court, he said.

Keefover referred to Kansas Court of Appeals Judges Henry W. Green and Karen M. Arnold-Burger and Chief Judge Edward E. Bouker of the 23rd judicial district, Chief Judge Bruce T. Gatterman of the 24th judicial district, and Douglas County District Court Judge Michael J. Malone.

The five replaced Supreme Court justices who recused themselves from hearing the Kline disciplinary case.

It isn’t uncommon for disciplinary cases to be heard in the Kansas Supreme Court, Keefover said. There usually are two disciplinary cases on every court docket.

The unusual part of the Kline case are the recusal requests by Kline and the hearing has its own special setting on Thursday rather than being included in the regular docket.

“Attorney discipline cases become public once a formal complaint is filed,” Keefover said. “The hearing before the board of discipline is open. Then if there is a finding of a violation, the case then comes before the court. Attorneys file briefs, and they have oral argument.”

Kline opposes findings that he violated ethics rules governing the conduct of lawyers.

Full Article and Source:
Kline Disciplinary Case Goes Before Kansas Supreme Court

Monday, November 12, 2012

Former Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter Pleads Guilty to Fraud!

Rita Hunter, former Jasper County public administrator, pleaded guilty to document fraud today [Nov 6] in U.S. Federal Court in Springfield.

Hunter, 60, who served a single term as administrator ending in 2008, entered a plea to the charge related to illegally obtaining federal benefits, that was contained in a Dec. 14, 2011 federal indictment.

By pleading guilty, Hunter admitted to a scheme involving a total fraud of $70,000 to $120,000, according to a release from the federal court. She directed her employees to submit materially false Medicaid applications for wards under the custody of the public administrator’s office. The applications falsely stated the wards had assets below the $1,000 threshold to be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits, when in fact the wards had assets of more than $1,000.

Under federal statutes, Hunter is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order or restitution.

Former Jasper County Public Administrator Pleads Guilty to Document Fraud

See Also:
Civil Suits Against Rita Hunter Pending

FL Appeal: Trust Agreements Entered Into by Wards

In the recent decision of Jasser v. Saadeh, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal determined that a ward, with an emergency temporary guardian who has been granted all of the ward’s legal rights, lacks legal capacity to enter into trust agreements. Any trust agreement entered into by the ward is void ab initio.

Guardianship proceedings were initiated against Karim Saadeh, and the Florida probate and guardianship court appointed an emergency temporary guardian (ETG). In appointing an emergency temporary guardian for Saadeh, the trial court removed all of Saadeh’s rights, except his right to vote. The order appointing the emergency temporary guardian delegated to the emergency temporary guardian the power to exercise all delegable legal rights and powers of Saadeh with the exception of Saadeh’s right to vote.

During the time of Saadeh’s emergency temporary guardianship, Saadeh’s emergency temporary guardian (ETG) directed Saadeh to sign a trust agreement. After Saadeh’s execution of the trust, an examining committee was appointed to determine Saadeh’s incapacity. In all other respects, the temporary guardianship continued, and Saadeh did not regain any of his rights. Upon the reports of the examining committee, which unanimously determined that Saadeh was competent, the Florida court dismissed the petition for guardianship.

Saadeh filed a petition to revoke the trust that Saadeh had signed under the direction of Saadeh’s emergency temporary guardian. The trial court found that when it appointed the emergency temporary guardian and granted her all of the ward’s legal rights, it thereby removed them from the ward. Thus, Saadeh had no legal capacity to enter into the trust agreements. Therefore, the trust agreement was void ab initio. Thus, even though Saadeh was ultimately determined competent, because Saadeh had signed the trust during the time period when his power to exercise his legal rights had been delegated to the emergency temporary guardian (ETG), Saadeh had no legal right to sign the trust.

The Florida court reasoned: “[A]t the time of the execution of the trust, the right to contract had been removed from Saadeh…Thus, because Saadeh had no legal right to execute the trust, the trust was invalid and void.” Even though Saadeh had actual capacity to execute the trust, Saadeh had no legal capacity.

Emergency Temporary Guardianship (ETG)

Erie County DA Announces Financial Elder Abuse Case Grand Larceny Conviction

Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announced that 40 year old Charmesa Brown of 32 Linda Drive, Cheektowaga, pleaded guilty, as charged, this afternoon to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree before County Court Judge Thomas P. Franczyk. These are the highest charges for which the defendant could have been convicted had she gone to trial.

Brown admitted that during the period between October 6, 2010 and July 11, 2012, while employed as an Administrator with Basset Manor, 245 Bassett Road, Williamsville, she stole a total of $110,174 from an elderly patient. Brown agreed to assist the victim by writing checks to the facility, but also wrote checks payable to herself. Brown did not report those earnings on her New York State Income Tax return. The nursing facility has agreed to make the victim whole.

This is the third major financial elder abuse conviction obtained by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office within the last month. On October 17, 2012, paralegal Pamela Blood pleaded guilty, as charged, to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, in connection with an embezzlement of over $300,000 from an elderly client. On October 30, 2012, con-man Richard Kesick pleaded guilty to bilking a 91 year old priest out of more than $500,000.

District Attorneys’ Association President and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. announced the formation of the New York White Collar Crime Task late last month.

Ms. Brown is scheduled to be sentenced on February 1, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Franczyk; she faces maximum prison sentence of 19 years.

Full Article and Source:
Another Financial Elder Abuse Case Leads to Grand Larceny Conviction

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans in Peril

Our current Veterans and heroes of past wars often fall victim to unlawful and abusive guardianship / conservatorship, either as a result of disability or advanced age. The numbers continue to grow.

The pirates target our young disabled Veterans - lured by their veteran's benefits, disability pensions, and now even their Social Security benefits. Our aging Veterans are even more tempting - perhaps they have well-managed, nice sized estates to go with their pensions.

Denied the very rights and liberties they fought for; confined in nursing homes; left to languish; receiving perhaps just a pittance for their personal use from their guardians - after years of service and sacrifice to our country, is this what our Veterans have to look forward to?

Supporting the troops and our fallen heroes should mean supporting them not only when we need them - but also when they need us. And they need us fighting for them when they become vulnerable.

Source: NASGA: Veterans in Peril

T.S. Radio Tonight: The Tragic Saga of Gary Harvey

In 2006, Vietnam era veteran Gary Harvey sustained a traumatic brain injury from a fall down the stairs in his home. The injury left Gary in a semi-vegetative state, requiring assistance with all activities of daily living. Gary’s wife Sara wishes to bring Gary home and care for him. Sara has the necessary training and equipment in her home to provide the care Gary needs.

Rather than allow Gary the best quality of life possible and the companionship of family and friends, Chemung County keeps Gary isolated.

Join Marti Oakley and Linda Kincaid tonight!
5:00 PST … 6:00 MST … 7:00 CST … 8:00 EST

Call-ins are welcome the last 30 minutes of the show: (917) 388-4520

Click here to LISTEN LIVE tonight or listen to the archive later

YouTube: Taking Advantage of Vulnerable Adults

YouTube: Mean Care Takers...Taken Advantage of Vulnerable Adults