Saturday, February 16, 2013

NJ's Volunteer "The Guardianship Monitoring Program"

COURT HOUSE – Cape May County Surrogate M. Susan Sheppard endorses the program initiated by New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner on Jan. 30 that calls for volunteers to monitor the well-being of the elderly and disabled who rely on legal guardians to manage their financial and health-related decisions. Surrogate Sheppard said, “Volunteers are the foundation of this initiative - The Guardianship Monitoring Program will enable Attorneys, Accountants, Retired Professionals, Students and others to volunteer to assist and protect our most vulnerable residents. I look forward to developing this program in Cape May County.”

“As a society, we must protect those who are most vulnerable, it is our responsibility to ensure that those who have guardians appointed are well taken care of in Cape May County,” added Surrogate Sheppard. According to Census data, the population of elderly and disabled Americans will grow dramatically in coming years. Surrogate Sheppard stressed, “It is essential that we take steps now to protect those with guardians by increasing and enhancing the level of oversight of legal guardians.”

Surrogate Sheppard said, “Volunteers will work directly in my office and in Surrogate’s offices throughout the state to review guardian files and the annual reports.” Volunteers will receive detailed training from court staff on how to read and analyze the guardians’ annual reports and how to gather data for the new computer system. With the new database, missing or incomplete reports will be easier to identify. Volunteer monitors will flag inconsistent or incomplete financial information, which will be reported to judges for appropriate action.

The program is expected to be statewide by November 2013.

Full Article and Source:
Sheppard Wants Volunteer Guardianship Monitoring Program

Millions in Disability Housing Aid on Way

Nearly $98 million in rental assistance is headed to states to help thousands of people with disabilities live in the community.

The federal money is expected to fund 3,530 housing units in 13 states for people who require long-term services and supports to live independently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said this week. Housing agencies within the states are now working with Medicaid and Health and Human Services officials to identify very low-income individuals with disabilities who are in need of the rental assistance.

Federal officials say they expect many people receiving the new funds to be transitioning out of institutions.

“Our nation is strongest when all our citizens are able to fully participate and contribute,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “This unique collaboration of federal and state agencies will enable thousands of Americans with disabilities to lead productive, meaningful lives in their communities.”

Full Article and Source:
Disability Scoop: Millions in Disability Housing Aid on Way

PA Attorney Accused of Federal Tax Fraud Pleads Not Guilty

A court-appointed attorney accused of federal tax fraud showed up in court and pleaded not guilty on Friday.

Danielle Ross is currently suspended from her job as the attorney who represents the interests of children in Lackawanna County family court.

Earlier this week, Ross was indicted on federal tax charges.

Ross and her attorney said they will fight the federal charges of tax evasion and filing false income tax returns.

She was suspended from her position of guardian ad litem in Lackawanna County court.

Guardian ad litem represents the interests of children in court in custody and visitation hearings.

Ross has worked on hundreds of those cases and some of the families were in court Friday. They claimed that Ross’s claims were biased and not based on facts and her billing was excessive.

Ross is facing charges that she did not pay taxes on the billings above her base salary.

Full Article and Source:
Attorney Accused of Federal Tax Fraud Pleads Not Guilty

See Also:
PA Lawyer Indicted for Tax Evasion

Friday, February 15, 2013

Making Grief a Mental Disorder

After the American Psychiatric Association (APA) approved the latest version of its diagnostic bible, the DSM-5, psychiatrist Allen Frances, the former chair of the DSM-4 taskforce and currently professor emeritus at Duke, announced, “This is the saddest moment in my 45-year career of practicing, studying and teaching psychiatry” (“ A Tense Compromise on Defining Disorders”).

On Jan. 7, 2013 in “Last Plea to DSM-5:  Save Grief From the Drug Companies,"  Frances wrote, “Making grief a mental disorder will be a bonanza for drug companies, but a disaster for grievers. The decision is also self-destructive for DSM-5 and further undermines the credibility of the APA. Psychiatry should not be mislabeling the normal.”

In the DSM-4, which Frances helped create, there had been a so-called “bereavement exclusion,” which stated that grieving the loss of a loved one, even when accompanied by symptoms of depression, should not be considered the psychiatric disorder of depression. Prior to the DSM-5, the APA had acknowledged that to have symptoms of depression while grieving the loss of a loved one is normal and not a disease. Come this spring, normal human grief accompanied by depression symptoms will be a mental disorder. Psychiatry’s official diagnostic battle is over. Mental illness gatekeepers such as Frances who are concerned about further undermining the credibility of the APA have lost, and mental illness expansionists —psychiatry’s “neocons”— have won.

Full Article and Source:
Why Newest Psychiatric Diagnostic Bible Will Boon Big Pharma

Office of Aging director defends decision to move elderly couple from home

The county Office of Aging director said at a news conference Friday that her agency followed the law in removing an elderly couple from their East Petersburg home and placing them in a nursing home against their wishes.

Without addressing the case directly, executive director Jacqueline Burch outlined her agency's general process in protecting the elderly and said those unhappy with any result may ask county Judge Jay J. Hoberg for a review hearing.

"That can be done as informally as writing a letter to the judge," said Burch, who was joined by county Commissioner Scott Martin and other county officials.

After the press event, a self-appointed advocate on behalf of Nels and Irene Highberg, who are now confined to a Landisville nursing home, said he'll continue to investigate because he believes the law was not followed.

Full Article & Source:
Office of Aging director defends decision to move elderly couple from home

See Also:
Elderly Couple Removed From Longtime Home; Family, Friend Dispute Office of Aging Findings

PA Lawyer Indicted for Tax Evasion

A federal grand jury indicted the legal advocate for children in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania on charges of tax evasion and filing two false federal income tax returns stemming from her failure to report payments she received from parents.

Attorney Danielle Ross, who was appointed by the court to represent children in parent custody disputes since 2008, did not disclose to the IRS any of the income from the payments she received from parents in 2009 and 2010, according to the four-count indictment handed up in Scranton on Tuesday.

Full Article and Source:
Pennsylvania Lawyer Indicted for Tax Evasion

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sue Johnston was married to John for 46 years. Every Valentine's Day, he would send her flowers with the message: "My love for you grows." John passed away, and on Sue's first Valentine's day alone after his death, she still received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from John. When Sue called the florist about this delivery, the florist explained that before John passed away, he prepaid for many years and asked the florist to continue sending bouquets to Sue on Valentine's Day. The attached card on this first bouquet from beyond the grave read, "My love for you is eternal."

See Valentine's Gesture From Dead Husband to Wife Will Make You Melt, Huffington Post, Feb. 20, 2013.

Full Article & Source:
P.S. I Love You

Quiet deaths don't come easy

A study finds that Medicare patients near death are increasingly choosing hospice or palliative care over heroic measures in their last days — but that many go through futile hospitalizations and treatments first.
February 05, 2013|By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
For Americans with a terminal diagnosis, death increasingly comes in the places and ways they say they want it — at home and in the comfort of hospice care.

But for a growing number of dying patients, that is preceded by a tumultuous month in which they endure procedures that are often as invasive and painful as they are futile.

New research finds that the proportion of Medicare patients dying in hospice care nearly doubled from 22% in 2000 to 42% in 2009, an apparent bow to patients' overwhelming preference for more peaceful passings free of heroic measures. At the same time, though, many of those patients were treated aggressively until days before death seemed inevitable.

Based on the medical and death records of almost 850,000 Medicare patients, the study, published in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn., paints a picture of increasing commotion in the final weeks of patients' lives.

The patients in the analysis all suffered from the end stages of chronic diseases such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or dementia. But thousands of them endured multiple hospitalizations and treatments before receiving care aimed solely at making their final days comfortable.

During the decade studied, the proportion of patients who spent part of their last month in an intensive care unit grew from 24% to 29%, and the percentage who were hooked to a ventilator rose from 8% to 9%. Among dying patients, the median number of disruptive moves — for example, from nursing home to hospital, from hospital to hospice, from rehabilitation facility to home — grew from 2.1 to 3.1. Among those who spent their final days in a hospice program, 28% were there for under four days.

"I suspect this is not what patients want," said Dr. Joan Teno, a palliative care physician and professor of health services policy and practice at Brown University, who led the study.

See Full Article & Source:
Quiet deaths don't come easy

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lokuta sues former judges over removal from bench

Deposed former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta, silent for more than 15 months after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected her appeal, re-emerged with a vengeance Wednesday, firing a federal civil rights lawsuit at the colleagues and officials she said conspired to oust her from the bench.

Lokuta, the first woman to sit on the Luzerne County bench, filed the lawsuit in an attempt to reverse a state judicial discipline panel's ruling four years ago that removed her from office, stripped her state-funded medical benefits, life insurance and vested pension, and precluded her from holding future judicial office. Lokuta, 59, also asked for unspecified monetary damages.

Lokuta and her attorneys, George A. Michak and Ronald V. Santora, reiterated in the lawsuit her long-held contention that former county president Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan orchestrated her removal because she cooperated with federal investigators probing their pocketing of $2.8 million in payoffs from the backers of a pair of for-profit detention centers.

Lokuta claimed the former judges testified against her before the state Court of Judicial Discipline to punish her for continuing to speak to federal agents. The former judges, she said, used their influence over courthouse personnel to persuade more than two dozen other witnesses to substantiate allegations Lokuta showed up late for court, berated attorneys and court staff members and misappropriated county resources.

"Lokuta was subject to relentless intimidation and retaliation by (Conahan and Ciavarella), particularly Conahan, as they controlled the Luzerne County Courthouse as their private domain and crushed anyone who failed to follow their directives," the lawsuit said.

Full Article & Source:
Lokuta sues former judges over removal from bench

See Also:
Lokuta's Last Shot at Reinstatement

Government takes steps to expose financial ties between drug makers and doctors

WASHINGTON D.C. - After more than a year of prodding from the Senate Special Committee on Aging, the federal government took a major step today aimed at exposing potential conflicts of interests between doctors and drug companies.

The long-awaited rule – drawn from the Physician Payments Sunshine Act - was released late Friday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The rule puts in place a system requiring pharmaceutical and medical device makers to disclose payments and gifts given to physicians. Consumers will have access to the information through a database administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Critics have long contended that the drug industry's practice of paying doctors influences medical decisions and leads to over-prescribing medicines and patients receiving unnecessary and expensive drug treatments.

Full Article & Source:
Government takes steps to expose financial ties between drug makers and doctors

Local woman sentenced in elder abuse case

Tulare County Superior Court Judge James Hollman sentenced 54-year-old Mary Louise Moore of Porterville to five years probation and 270 days in jail for felony elder abuse.

The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office said Friday that Moore was ordered to pay $18,781 in restitution and is prohibited from having firearms or ammunition and gambling, as she is now considered a convicted felon.

Moore must turn herself in to do her jail time by March 18, said Phil Esbenshada, superivision district attorney.

Moore was arrested in May of 2012 for taking approximately $28,000 from an 87-year-old woman who was in her care. According to police reports, detectives with the Porterville Police Department were contacted by the Tulare County Adult Protective Services alleging financial abuse that had been occurring since 2010.

The crime took place at an assisted living home in the 500 block of West Kanai Avenue, where Moore worked as a caregiver.

Full Article & Source:
Local woman sentenced in elder abuse case

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Trial set for Aug. 19 for former guardian

APPLETON — A former Appleton guardian accused of stealing about $500,000 from his elderly and disabled clients is expected to go to trial in August.

Jeffrey M. Schend, 46, appeared in Outagamie County Court on Thursday for a status conference. He’s charged with 15 felony theft counts and 12 misdemeanor counts of falsifying accounting records.

Theresa Schmieder, Schend’s recently appointed attorney, said it’ll take significant time to review evidence and develop a strategy for trial. She said she doesn’t foresee a plea agreement.

Full Article & Source:
Trial set for Aug. 19 for former guardian

Disciplinary court moves against ex-judge

Although Willie Singletary resigned from Philadelphia Traffic Court in February following a scandal involving lewd photos, the state Court of Judicial Discipline formally ordered Thursday that he be removed from his former job. In October, the court issued an opinion stating that Singletary was subject to discipline for his conduct. After news broke late last year that Singletary allegedly showed photos of his genitals to a coworker, the state Supreme Court suspended him without pay in January. He resigned the next month. The Court of Judicial Discipline said it would take no further action against Singletary. - Robert Moran

Full Article & Source:
Disciplinary court moves against ex-judge

Deputies: Caretaker arrested again for exploiting elderly

Detectives say they arrested a 68-year-old man on additional charges of elderly exploitation Tuesday after he allegedly stole from a 76-year-old victim on several occasions
The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said Wayne Joseph Dziadul, 68, was arrested on Feb. 1 for similar, unrelated charges. He was arrested then on a charge of exploitation of the elderly for $100,000 or more.
Sheriffs said Dziadul remains in the St. Johns County Jail with $25,000 bond that was ordered Wednesday morning during first appearance. Detectives said they believe that there may be other victims in the area.

Full Article & Source:
Deputies: Caretaker arrested again for exploiting elderly

Monday, February 11, 2013

'Justice for Jenny' Down syndrome guardianship case headed for trial

NEWPORT NEWS — Friends of Margaret "Jenny" Hatch — a 28-year-old with Down syndrome who is the subject of a contested guardianship case — on Thursday were permitted by a judge to intervene in the case, giving them a chance to win guardianship or argue that Hatch does not need a guardian.

Hatch was before Newport News Circuit Court Judge David Pugh, who ruled on a number of motions in the case.

But the friends, Hampton couple Jim Talbert and Kelly Morris, said they were disappointed that Pugh also granted temporary guardianship to Hatch's mother and stepfather, Julia and Richard Ross.

Since last summer, Hatch has been forced into a group home and been placed under temporary guardianship against her will, according to court records. Jewish Family Service had been the temporary guardian until Thursday, and now there will be a seven-day transition period before the Rosses will be granted the temporary guardianship. Jewish Family Service requested out of the case, because their attorney said they had been badgered by people advocating for Hatch.

Pugh agreed to allow JFS to exit the guardianship case before granting the Rosses temporary guardianship.

"No!" Hatch shouted as Pugh made the decision. Pugh cleared the courtroom after additional outbursts by Morris and Talbert and gasps from the audience. Several wore "Justice for Jenny" t-shirts, an advocacy group started by Talbert and Morris.

Julia Ross declined to comment to the Daily Press. Richard Ross emphasized that it was a temporary decision.

"We want what's best for Jenny," said Richard Ross, who declined further comment.

The case could now go to trial, and a trial date is set for May 1, said Hatch's attorney Robert Brown. The central issue that has yet to be determined is the extent to which Hatch can care for herself, and whether she needs a guardian or a group home. Hatch had been living semi-independently, including at one point for more than a month with Talbert and Morris in 2012. Talbert and Morris now have legal standing in the case to present arguments and evidence.

Full Article & Source:
'Justice for Jenny' Down syndrome guardianship case headed for trial

See Also:
Justice for Jenny

Petition:  Justice for Jenny

CA Professional Fiduciaries Bureau Issues A Citation

On October 17, 2012, the California Professional Fiduciary Bureau issued a Citation Order against Mary M. Pynenburg of Albany, California, case number 2011-50, for five (5) violations consisting of a violation for failing to keep complete accurate records of client accounts and for failing to provide the Bureau with records upon request by the Bureau.

Furthermore, Pynenburg was cited for failing to post a bond as required in a breach of fiduciary duties and violation of the Bureau’s Code of Ethics, and for failing to file an initial financial statement or an annual financial statement as required by law.

Not only did fiduciary Pynenburg fail to comply with the above mentioned laws, Pynenburg signed her application renewal application under the penalty of perjury asserting that she had completed her annual statement as required by law, however, in all reality failed to sumbit her annual statement with regards to complaint number PF2011000050.

Full Article & Source:
CA Professional Fiduciaries Bureau Issues A Citation

Nonprofit takes long look at senior transportation

DOWNTOWN — A recent survey released by WISE & Healthy Aging suggests that Santa Monica may need to alter the way it provides transportation to its most senior residents to get them out of the house and remain active in the community.

The survey, conducted between Aug. 27 and Nov. 5 with 369 respondents, asked seniors aged 80 and above how often and for what purpose they used Dial-a-Ride, a service that allows seniors to arrange for rides to the grocery store, medical appointments or other necessities.

It also queried how often seniors used the after-hours taxi, a service that picks up after Dial-a-Ride ends for the day.

Results showed that many seniors don’t use local transportation options like Dial-a-Ride or the after-hours taxi as much as they could, largely because they’re unfamiliar with the programs.
Instead, they end up taking public transportation, driving their own car or getting a ride from someone else.

Over half of Santa Monica’s octogenarians didn’t know that the after-hours option was available, and just under 50 percent of those above the age of 90 were unaware that they could arrange for a cab at night twice a month if need be.

That was huge for staff at WISE & Healthy Aging, who plan to ramp up efforts to familiarize aging Santa Monicans with the transportation options that are available to them, said Grace Cheng Braun, president and CEO of WISE & Healthy Aging.

Snagging a spot in a Dial-a-Ride van or the after-hours taxi takes some advance preparation. The person setting up the ride has to be a member, and in many cases the request must be made at least two days in advance for either service.

Trips also cost 50 cents one-way for the Dial-a-Ride van to city meetings, and $3 each way for the taxi service, according to a flyer.

While it’s important for seniors to know their options, where and when those modes of transportation are available make a huge difference in the likelihood that a resident will take advantage of them.
Most of the almost 400 seniors polled reported that they would like to use the services to attend daytime group activities like movies or communal meals, Braun said, and many chose not to use the taxi service because they had no desire to go out that late at night.   

Full Article & Source:
Nonprofit takes long look at senior transportation

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Guardian Abuse: Laws Protecting Predatory Guardians

This evening we will be focused on upcoming laws in New Mexico that will make legal (not lawful) the grip of predatory commercial fiduciary's one year after death of the elder victim. Evidently this law is needed in NM due to the predators inability to loot the total estate prior to death in many cases.

Leonie Rosenstiel will join us from New Mexico to talk about the ongoing efforts in that state to legalize the theft of estates by "commercial guardians" and to allow New Mexico family and probate courts to continue holding secret meetings which adversely affect the targeted victim. These secret court proceedings are used to violate the rights of the victim and the extended family.

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

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Do 'Be on the lookout' Silver Alert warnings work?

When an 86-year-old Glen Rock man disappeared after leaving a relative’s home one evening two years ago, his family searched, police searched and — in a novel approach at the time — motorists across New Jersey were asked to be on the lookout.

A silver alert on a sign at Routes 4 and 208 in Fair Lawn.
 An alert comes about every two days.

Signs up and down New Jersey’s highways the next morning flashed the words “Silver Alert” along with a description and license plate of Edmund Ommundsen’s car. A woman responded, informing police that he had asked her for directions to Hoboken the previous night.

Ommundsen, who had become disoriented from an undiagnosed infection, was found the following night by a Connecticut state highway trooper when his car ran out of gas on an interstate near Andover, almost 150 miles away.

While the woman’s report to police didn’t immediately lead to his rescue, Ommundsen’s son, Glenn, was grateful someone had noticed the signs and called authorities. As the 30 hours of worry went on before his father was found, the family was comforted to know “there were other eyes out there looking for my dad,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
Do 'Be on the lookout' Silver Alert warnings work?

Psychiatric drugs tied to falls in the elderly

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Seniors taking psychiatric drugs may be at extra high risk for falling, new Dutch research suggests.

Of about 400 elderly people in the study, those who took medications including antidepressants and antipsychotics were twice as likely to report having fallen three or more times in the previous year, researchers found.

The new study can't prove that falls were due to the effects of the drugs, themselves, and not to seniors' underlying medical conditions, for example.

But a number of side effects of psychiatric drugs - from changes in thinking and attention to drops in blood pressure - could put elderly people at greater risk for falls, according to Dr. Allen Huang, head of geriatrics at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada.

"In my clinical observation, it's usually the first two weeks when people start something new that bad things happen," said Huang, who has studied psychiatric drugs in older adults but wasn't involved in the new research.

Seniors are especially vulnerable to falls, which at their worst can cause hip fractures, head injuries or death.

Full Article & Source:
Psychiatric drugs tied to falls in the elderly