Saturday, December 15, 2012

Alabama: Legislation Would Protect Seniors From Physical Abuse, Monetary Crimes

A group of Alabama legislators and government agency officials [12/10] announced proposed changes to state laws they said will boost protection for people 60 and older in cases of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

State Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster and Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood attended the press conference at the Heardmont Senior Center to show their support of the proposed legislation they are sponsoring.

"This is the opportunity to finally go in and look at where some of the loopholes have been," DeMarco said about state laws pertaining to elder abuse and financial exploitation.

The bill would target caregivers, people with power of attorney, legal guardians and anyone else who monetarily takes advantage of elderly or physically abuses them. It expands the criminal penalties associated with such acts and provides more avenues for prosecution.

Full Article and Source:
Legislation Would Protect Seniors From Physical Abuse, Monetary Crimes

MO: Columbia Woman Charged With Financial Exploitation is Sentenced to Prison

A Columbia woman who pleaded guilty in October to financially exploiting a person with a disability will serve four months in prison and will then be placed on probation so she can begin to pay back the woman she bilked out of tens 0f thousands of dollars.

Deanna Harris received a sentence of eight years in prison but will spend 120 days in prison, after which Circuit Judge Christine Carpenter will review the case to see if probation is warranted. When Harris is released, she will be required to pay at least $400 a month in restitution to Luana Harrison, the victim of the crime. If she fails to make the payment, she will be sent back to prison.

"I think it would be very beneficial to Ms. Harrison to receive some of her money, but I just don't trust you," Carpenter said in Boone County Circuit Court on Monday in explaining her decision to send Harris to prison for some time.

Harris borrowed thousands of dollars from Harrison between April and September of 2010 under false pretenses and didn't pay her back.

Harrison testified last month that she would like to see Harris given the maximum possible sentence.

Full Article and Source:
Columbia Woman Charged With Financial Exploitation is Sentenced to Prison

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lawless America: Mary Claire Connors

NOTE: The "" link mentioned in the video is incorrect. The correct link to "NASGA" is as shown above:

Lawless America: Mary Claire Connors
See Also
NASGA: Grace Connors, Pennsylvania Victim

Nebraska Woman Fighting Guardianship Law

A Nebraska law designed to prevent abuse of vulnerable citizens by their guardians has gone too far, according to Margaret Smith of Broken Bow, and she wants it repealed.

“This law is very cruel and unnecessary,” Smith said. “It made no allowances for people who had been married for a lifetime. It has the same regulations as if being a guardian for someone you didn’t even know.”

LB157, also known as the Guardianship Reform Act of 2011, passed unanimously in the Nebraska Legislature. The author of the bill was District 27 Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln. Gov. Dave Heineman signed the bill in February 2011, and it took effect in January.

Margaret has been the guardian for her husband, Bob, since March 2006 when he was hurt while working at a cattle sale in Broken Bow. He hit his head on the concrete and even though he regained consciousness two months later, he remains physically and mentally disabled and lives in a nursing home.

At the time of the accident, Margaret already had power of attorney for her husband’s medical care, but because he couldn’t sign his name to grant her power of attorney over his finances, she did the only other thing she could — she got a guardianship of him. With that, she could continue to manage the couple’s business.

In February, when Margaret went to the judge’s office to turn in her annual report regarding her husband’s condition, she was given a large stack of papers containing new regulations and forms she needed to fill out.

“I got as far as the paragraph that said I would need a court order to take any money out of our joint accounts and took it all to my attorney,” Margaret said.

Some of the 16 mandates of LB157 include that funds of the guardian and ward should not be co-mingled. A guardian will take no money out of the shared accounts by any means, for any purpose without a court order, and guardians are required to use specific forms downloaded from the Nebraska Supreme Court’s website. In addition, guardians are required to pay a $5 fee to file required reports.

Until this law passed, Margaret said she didn’t have a problem. Now she said believes she needs a court order to buy a tube of toothpaste from the joint bank account she shares with her incapacitated husband.

Full Article and Source:
Broken Bow Woman Fighting Guardianship Law

Realty Firm Accused of Fraud and Elder Abuse

Argus Realty lured investors with commercial real estate securities it touted as "institutional grade," but it was "a rigged game in which the sponsors made millions in fees while taking savings from people earned over a lifetime," 11 plaintiffs claim in court.

Six LLCs, led by ARI-NBCC 2, and five people sued Argus Realty Investors, Argus Realty, and several affiliated companies and people, in Orange County Superior Court.

"The sponsors and entities behind this offering gorged themselves on unconscionable fees and costs associated with the offering and the management of the properties while placing the investors in a hopeless, fraudulent investment structure that had no chance of providing a reasonable return," the complaint states. "While the investment was touted as 'institutional grade,' it was anything but institutional grade. This TIC was no investment in any sense, but a rigged game in which the sponsors made millions in fees while taking savings from people earned over a lifetime.
Full Article and Source:

Realty Firm Accused of Fraud and Elder Abuse

Thursday, December 13, 2012

High Court Concerned, Just Not Enough

The old widow wasn't asking for much. All she wanted was a chance to plead her case to an unbiased judge, a fresh eye to decide whether the people charged with protecting her were justified in sucking up her life savings.

Two courts, after all, had said the probate commissioner overseeing her estate acted unethically, that the court-sanctioned siphoning of her bank account was "inexcusable."

The widow's story prompted no less than the chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court to convene a committee to consider reforms to the Probate Court. "I've read your columns," Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch told me in 2010. "They cause concern."

As a result of what happened to Marie Long and a few others, laws were changed and reforms were enacted in the hope of better protecting the most vulnerable among us.

All, that is, except for Marie Long.

The state Supreme Court dashed her hopes recently by refusing to consider her appeal.

"It's a very sad day for Marie Long," attorney Candess Hunter wrote after being notified that Berch's court denied Marie's request to take a look at what happened.

Marie Long was worth $1.3 million when she suffered a stroke and came under the "protection" of the Probate Court in 2005. By 2009, she was destitute and dependent upon taxpayers for support, her savings sucked dry while the Probate Court looked the other way.

In 2010, then-Commissioner Lindsay Ellis wrote that the attorneys and fiduciaries were justified in helping themselves to well over $1 million. As for the lawyers who tried to stop the bleeding -- the ones who were volunteering their time to help Marie -- Ellis laid into them, charging that their "venomous" attacks challenging the six-figure bills forced the other side to defend itself.

With Marie's money, naturally.

Two months after Ellis' ruling, we learned that Ellis had her assistant slip an advance copy of her ruling to one side -- the side that wound up with Marie's money.

Full Article and Source:
High Court Concerned, Just Not Enough

See Also:
Guardianship Agency Cost Elderly Woman Dearly

Probate Judge Indictment Thrown Out

A judge has thrown out the indictment against Franklin County Probate Judge Eddie Fowler.

Fowler was indicted in September on one count of misdemeanor sexual battery after being arrested in late August.

During a hearing November 29th in Franklin County Superior Court, Fowler’s attorney Daniel Moore asked the indictment be quashed.

Moore said by law his client was to have received written notice from the District Attorney’s office of their intent to take the charges before the grand jury and he was also to receive a written copy of the charges against him 15 days before the case went before the Grand Jury.

Moore told Senior Court Judge Robert Adamson Fowler received the notice of intent, but not the written copy of the charges.

The judge agreed and in a ruling issued December 5th overturned the indictment. That ruling was made public this week.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Judge Indictment Thrown Out
See Also:
Associate Probate Judge Named in Franklin County

Caretaker Charged With Bilking Elderly Madison Couple Of Several Hundred Thousand Dollars

On December 6, 2012, the Madison Police Department, with the cooperation of the Milford Police Department, arrested Linda Correira for one violation of Connecticut General Statute 53a-122: Larceny in the First Degree.

Correira’s arrest comes after nearly a year-long investigation by the Madison Police Department into unauthorized withdrawals from multiple bank accounts belonging to an elderly Madison couple. Correira allegedly bilked the elderly Madison couple out of several hundred thousand dollars, during the time period of July 2011 through December 2011. The missing funds include some service fees as well as unauthorized withdrawals. Correira accessed the couples various accounts while working as an in-home caretaker for the two Madison residents.

Correira has numerous past arrests for larcenies and other crimes in Milford, Torrington, Winchester, Manchester, Stratford, and Fairfield.

Full Article and Source:
Caretaker Charged With Bilking Elderly Madison Couple Of Several Hundred Thousand Dollars

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

CT: Probate Fight Over Southington Farm Continues

In a nearly empty courtroom in Hartford on Monday, a half-dozen lawyers continued to fight over the dying wishes of a Southington woman who wanted to give her farm to the man who helped her care for the place for decades.

Incredibly, Sam Manzo, the caretaker, is still the loser in the Smoron Farm controversy. He lives in an unheated trailer on a farm he was supposed to inherit three years ago.

Instead of the probate court system making sure Manzo inherited the farm – what Josephine Smoron explicitly stated in her 2004 will – the controversy drags on, bouncing about dreary courtrooms, waiting for a judge to take charge and right a monumental wrong.

"My client is in desperate need to have this go forward,'' Eliot Gersten, one of Manzo's lawyers, told Superior Court Judge William H. Bright on Monday morning, complaining that bills aren't getting paid. "This delay is hurting my client. He is living without heat."

The case has landed in Judge Bright's courtroom because the man appointed as conservator for Smoron, Southington lawyer John Nugent, has refused to step aside and admit his error. Nugent still controls two trusts that he set up in 2009 — unbeknownst to the dying Smoron or Manzo — that contain the estate's assets.

The plan might have gone unchallenged if Manzo hadn't complained to court authorities, who eventually ruled that Nugent abused his position as conservator. The Southington probate judge who appointed him, Bryan Meccariello, was censured by the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct for allowing Nugent to set up the trusts, which circumvent Smoron's will. Meccariello did not run for re-election in 2010.

The trusts remain, and efforts to restore Manzo's inheritance have stalled.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Fight Over Southington Farm Continues

See Also:
Rick Green: Probate Court Mess Continues

FL: Wards of the State Depend on Their Guardian Angels

A decades-old photo of Santa Claus and a child in winter clothing sits on the dresser in a holiday-bedecked bedroom.

That little girl, who was developmentally disabled and had cerebral palsy, lived with her parents in Massachusetts.

Now, at 62, with no family left to see to her needs, Kathy lives in a Space Coast group home as a legal ward of the state’s Statewide Public Guardianship Office. At the request of her guardian and because of privacy concerns, FLORIDA TODAY agreed not to publish her last name.

Along with 82 other adults in Brevard who’ve been declared incapacitated, all aspects of Kathy’s care falls to Aging Solutions, a nonprofit appointed by the state as the Office of the Public Guardian here and in three other counties.

The often-sad stories of these wards are highlighted annually over the holidays through Aging Solutions’ “Elves for Elders” campaign, which provides basic gifts for the organization’s charges.

But how do these Floridians, most older than 60, land in guardianship in the first place? And how are their needs met the rest of the year?

Wards, many cognitively and physically impaired, wind up under state guardianship for diverse reasons. Some were exploited financially by caretakers or family. Some living in dangerous, unhealthy situations were referred by the Department of Children and Families; others by hospitals or neighbors. Those with sufficient assets often are put in a private guardian’s care. Those who are indigent can fall under the state’s protection.

All share a bond: They no longer can care for themselves and have no family or friends to step up and take the lead. For example, Kathy’s parents and brother are deceased, and though she has one aunt in Brevard County, the older woman is unable to look after her niece.

Full Article and Source:
Wards of the State Depend on Their Guardian Angels

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

San Jose: Appeals Court Justice Accuses Local Estate Trustee of "Feeding Frenzy"

Accusing a local trustee of engaging in a "feeding frenzy," an appeals court justice Thursday expressed outrage over a case that has brought widespread attention to excessive fees plundering the estates of elderly and disabled adults.

Private estate manager Thomas Thorpe of Los Gatos charged a brain-injured San Jose man $108,771 after just 4½ months' work -- and then billed him more than twice that much in a legal battle to defend his fees.

"What did he contribute to the whole process? For the $100,000, could you give me one example?" Justice Franklin Elia demanded of Thorpe's attorney, Ellyn Nesbit. "Give me a $20,000 example!"

At the rate Thorpe and his lawyers were running up bills in 2010, Elia said, there would soon be nothing left of 37-year-old Danny Reed's $653,000 in life savings.

"Ultimately, it became a feeding frenzy," the justice said.

In their first appearance before the 6th District Court of Appeal, lawyers on both sides of Reed's case made oral arguments Thursday, but a decision is not expected for weeks.

Reed's plight was first publicized in this newspaper in July to illustrate how some Silicon Valley estate managers and their attorneys have charged extraordinary rates as trustees and conservators appointed by Santa Clara County Superior Court judges.

After Thorpe submitted his $108,771 bill for a judge's approval, Reed challenged the fees in court. That led to $261,878 in additional charges for Thorpe and his attorneys to defend the original bill.

Full Article and Source:
San Jose: Appeals Court Justice Accuses Local Estate Trustee of 'Feeding Frenzy'

See Also:
San Jose:Judge Rejects Nearly $30,000 Attorney Fee to Disabled Man's Trust

Greeley Funeral Services Provider Sought on Charges of Bilking the Elderly

Greeley police are trying to track down a former funeral-services provider who allegedly collected money from elderly people for pre-paid funeral services and then left town.

An arrest warrant has been issued for 44-year-old Paul Acuna, who authorities believe is living in the San Diego area. The Weld County district attorney's office has charged him with several felonies, including two counts of theft from an at-risk adult and 10 counts of forgery.

Acuna owned Paul's Funeral Service in Greeley. He allegedly told his prepaid-services clients that if his business closed, their accounts would be transferred to another business, which did not happen after his business closed in April and no refunds were issued, prosecutors said. Acuna also is being investigated for allegedly sending fraudulent bills for funeral assistance to the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Full Article and Source:
Greeley Funeral Services Provider Sought on Charges of Bilking the Elderly

Manager of Marin Elderly Home to be Arraigned on Fraud, Abuse Charges

The manager of an assisted-living facility in Mill Valley who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of fraud, identity theft and financial elder abuse of a resident is scheduled to be arraigned in Marin County Superior Court on Christmas Eve.

Marianita Capra, 49, of Novato, posted bail and was released from the Marin County jail.

Mill Valley police have released more information about the alleged crimes.

Marianita is suspected of defrauding more than $40,000 from an 80-year-old female resident of the 49-bed Marin Terrace assisted-living facility at 297 Miller Ave. during the last several months, Detective Sgt. Paul Wrapp said.

She allegedly stole the elderly woman’s identity, applied and received credit cards in her name and bought retail goods and personal and home items, Wrapp said. The woman has been living at Marin Terrace for about six months.

Most of the allegedly stolen money was spent, Wrapp said.

Police have identified one victim so far and are determining whether there are other victims.

Full Article and Source:
Manager of Marin Elderly Home to be Arraigned on Fraud, Abuse Charges

Monday, December 10, 2012

NY Guardian System Needs Fixes and Oversight: Law School Report

The state's system of guardianship for incapacitated individuals is plagued by delays, a lack of resources for poor families and periodic scandals that underscore the need for more accountability, according to a report released Monday [12/3].

The report, by a Cardozo School of Law clinic, has outlined a series of recommendations to help improve the system, including a statewide task force and increased scrutiny of potential guardians. It also suggested that state officials consider alternatives to guardianship that allow incapacitated individuals more control over their own affairs while providing the necessary support.

"Our goal is twofold: to move forward on some of the shorter-term, simpler recommendations and then to create a conversation about some of the bigger picture questions, like creating an alternative to guardianship," Rebekah Diller, the head of the Cardozo clinic, said in an interview.

Article 81 of the state's Mental Hygiene Law, passed 20 years ago, created the modern system of guardianship and remains "a model statute" in many ways, according to the report, "Guardianship in New York: Developing an Agenda for Change."

The statute mandates the least restrictive approach so that an individual is only deprived of those decision-making rights that are necessary to protect them, and courts are required to consider alternatives. In addition, a hearing and an investigation by a court evaluator are required, and the right to counsel is afforded the individual.

"Notwithstanding these important reforms, noteworthy challenges remain two decades later," the authors wrote.

The recommendations range from systemic reforms, like instituting a statewide data management system to track cases, to relatively small changes, like standardizing guardianship-related forms and making them accessible online.

Perhaps most important, according to the report, is the establishment of a statewide task force on guardianship, a move that Missouri, Ohio and Delaware either are contemplating or have already carried out.

"Without a standing body to identify key policy and practice issues and to coordinate reform implementation, change is not likely to occur," the report said.

Full Article and Source:
NY Guardian System Needs Fixes and Oversight: Law School Report

See Also:
Read "Guardianship in New York: Developing an Agenda for Change"

CA: Santa Monica Attorney Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

A Santa Monica attorney was sentenced Monday to three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution for schemes to evade taxes and misappropriate client fees, according to the IRS, which investigated the case.

Robert M.L. Baker III, who owns a law firm on 20th Street and Wilshire Boulevard, also was sentenced to three years of supervised release following imprisonment.

Baker, 46, pleaded guilty in January to “willfully subscribing and filing false tax returns in a conspiracy to commit tax fraud,” said IRS Special Agent Felicia McCain.

According to the plea agreement, Baker admitted that he “along with others devised a scheme to misappropriate client fees and settlements in order to evade payment of his tax obligations,” McCain said.

Judge Otis D. Wright ordered Baker to pay $1,140,879 in restitution to the IRS and $916,000 in restitution to a victim.

Full Article and Source:
Santa Monica Attorney Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Special Guest, Joe Roubicek

5:00 PST...6:00 MST...7:00 CST...8:00 EST

Author of : “Financial Abuse of the Elderly; A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes”

Joe Roubicek has investigated over a thousand exploitation of the elderly crimes over the past 25 years, primarily during his 20 year career with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. In 1994 he testified before the Florida House and Senate to improve laws designed to protect the elderly and he contributed to the writing of Florida Statute 825.103: Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult.

Joe also contributed directly to statewide training of law enforcement officers and APS investigators through the accredited Florida Department of Law Enforcement and university of Miami advanced training courses.

Joe has testified as an expert in both criminal and civil courts, and has been a keynote speaker on exploitation crimes throughout the country.

In 2008 he published the book, “Financial Abuse of the Elderly; A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes,” which serves as an educational tool for the public and class textbook for university criminal justice courses throughout the country.
Joe’s present project is titled, “KILL MOM, KILL DAD: Disposing Of The Elderly For Profit," and the first few chapters are being posted on his website: www.

Joe is presently the economic crimes investigator for the State Attorney’s Office 17th Judicial Circuit of Florida.

LISTEN LIVE tonite or listen to the archive later

OR: A Lawyer's Personal Touch at $600 an Hour

You can't say attorney James Berrien wasn't devoted to Geraldine and Ned McMurtry.

In December 2008 -- a fairly typical month, best I can tell -- Berrien tended to the elderly siblings' affairs on 21 different occasions, including Christmas Eve. He frequently dropped by their 135-acre Newberg property, made arrangements to install a new furnace, bought Ned a shaver and signed checks for their caregivers.

Heck, according to his fastidious records, the Hillsboro attorney even lent his shoulder to "extracting" the McMurtrys' car from a snow drift.

So, yes, Berrien was devoted to Geraldine -- 92 at the time -- and her 89-year-old brother.

And he billed them accordingly. The bill for December 2008 came to $24,415, including $1,200 for each "visit" with his clients, $720 to check-in on Ned at his rehab center and $25 each time Berrien signed a check.

Between 2003 and 2010, when Berrien had total control of the McMurtrys' finances, he billed the siblings more than $1,084,000 in attorney fees at his austere hourly rate.

"We have multiple documented charges of $600 an hour," said Kateri Walsh, spokeswoman for the Oregon State Bar.

Steve Duin: A Lawyer's Personal Touch at $600 an Hour

Editorial: Assisted Suicide Make it Easier to Cover up Elder Abuse, Even Murder

Re: Assisted Suicide and Elder Abuse
This letter responds to your recent AP article about assisted-suicide (Associated Press, Nov. 16). I write to emphasize elder financial abuse as a reason to keep assisted suicide out of Montana.

The landmark 2009 report by MetLife Mature Market Institute describes elder financial abuse as a crime “growing in intensity.” (See, p.16.) The perpetrators are often family members, some of whom feel themselves “entitled” to the elder’s assets (Id, pp. 13-14.) The report states that they start out with small crimes, such as stealing jewelry and blank checks, before moving on to larger items or coercing elders to sign over the deeds to their homes, change their wills or liquidate their assets (Id, p. 14.) The report states that victims “may even be murdered” by perpetrators (Id., p. 24.)

With legal assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington state, perpetrators are instead able to take a “legal” route by getting an elder to sign a lethal dose request. Once the prescription is filled, there is no supervision over administration. The elder could be cajoled or coerced into taking the lethal dose, for example, while under the influence of alcohol. The lethal dose could be administered while the elder slept. If he awoke and struggled, who would know?

Alex Schadenberg,
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition,
London, Ontario, Canada

Assisted Suicide Make it Easier to Cover up Elder Abuse, Even Murder

NJ Voters Support Doctor-Assisted Suicide, Poll Shows

Voters support physician-assisted suicide in New Jersey, according to a a new poll released [12/3].

The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll of 433 New Jersey voters found that 46 percent support Assemblyman John Burzichelli’s (D-Gloucester)”Death with Dignity Act,” while 38 percent oppose it.

The bill (A3328) would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to patients with under six months to live.

Patients would self-administer the drugs after requesting them verbally and then writing, signed by two witnesses, 15 days later.

After that, the doctor would have to offer the patient a chance to rescind the request and recommend the patient's next of kin be notified. A second doctor would then have to certify the original doctor's diagnosis and affirm that the patient is acting voluntarily and capable of making the decision.

Patients deemed to have impaired judgment would not be eligible, and the doctors would be required to refer them to counseling. And health care facilities would be able to prohibit their doctors from writing the prescriptions.

Full Article and Source:
NJ Voters Support Doctor-Assisted Suicide, Poll Shows

Vermont Governonr 'Confident' Assisted Suicide Will Pass Next Year

Despite strong opposition from pro-life forces and a recent high-profile defeat in neighboring Massachusetts, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said last week he is confident the state legislature will pass a bill legalizing assisted suicide during the next session.

Referring to assisted suicide as “death with dignity,” Shumlin laid out his agenda for 2013 in a press conference last week.

“I’m confident that regardless of who leads the various bodies in the legislature, that we can pass decriminalization of marijuana, death with dignity, and the [unionization] bill for childcare workers,” the governor said. “We’re going to get them done.”

But the Democratic governor will face strong resistance, even from within his own party.

Senate president John Campbell, also a Democrat, has consistently opposed so-called “death with dignity” legislation. He said last week that he has not changed his position on the issue and doubts whether it has enough support to pass the state legislature.

Full Article and Source:
Vermont Governor Confident Assisted Suicide Will Pass Next Year