Saturday, March 16, 2013

Woman charged with stealing $423,000 from elderly uncle

TACOMA, Wash. -- A woman is in jail after allegedly stealing more than $420,000 from her 96-year-old uncle while he suffered from Alzheimer's and dementia.

The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office charged Betsey Cammon, 54, with 34 counts of theft, a crime she initially blamed on threats and extortion from an unknown person.

According to the Prosecutor's Office, Cammon was given power of attorney for her uncle in 1998. But, that would only go into effect once he was no longer able to make his own decisions regarding his financial affairs.

In May 2007, Cammon was added to her uncle's bank accounts. He was admitted to a nursing home two years later.

In March 2009, Cammon's power of attorney was finally activated when a doctor found her uncle could no longer manage his affairs. At that point, Cammon had already withdrawn nearly $200,000 from his bank accounts, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Cammon failed to pay her uncle's nursing home bill in 2010. Rainier Guardianship Services took over guardianship of Cammon's uncle in May of that year and needed to liquidate his assets to pay his living expenses because his accounts had been almost completed depleted, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Cammon's uncle died four months later, and his nephew was appointed as his personal representative, finding a number of discrepancies in his uncle's accounts.

According to the Prosecutor's Office, Cammon promised to produce information and an explanation for the missing funds. She didn't, later claiming she was threatened and extorted for the money by an unknown person.

A family member finally reported the situation to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office in April 2012. According to the Prosecutor's Office, an investigation showed Cammon withdrew $423,120.75 from her uncle's accounts and gifted another $49,450 to her friends.

She used some of the money to pay property taxes on two homes she owns with her boyfriend, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Cammon is being held on $25,000 bail and may still face additional charges.

“Our Elder Fraud team vigorously prosecutes cases of elder fraud and theft,” Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a press release. “We encourage family and friends of elder victims to come forward and report these crimes against some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Full Article & Source:
Woman charged with stealing $423,000 from elderly uncle

Assisted suicide reaches State House

Recently the Vermont legislature has been considering a bill (S.77) that would legalize the practice of “death with dignity,” or “patient-directed dying,” or some other misleading euphemism conjured up by evidently abashed legislators.

Make no mistake: the bill would make killing another person legal, under the name of “compassion.”
The aforementioned bill states that a patient afflicted with a “terminal” illness, that is, an illness that affords its host less than six months to live, may be legally killed by a doctor, if they request medication to “hasten death.”
You probably hear appeals for state-approved suicide similar to this one all the time. But whatever the case, the amount of time a patient is told he has to live is irrelevant.
Medical experts admit that it is nearly impossible to predict when a patient will die of an illness. Moreover, some people diagnosed with a “terminal condition” do not die for years, and sometimes not at all (at least not of that particular condition).
The fact of the matter is that nobody can accurately predict when one’s life becomes meaningless.
Euthanasia ideologues say legalizing assisted suicide would lower healthcare costs, as the drugs used to end a patient’s life are much cheaper than the drugs used to preserve it. This is not an ethically based argument. It argues that there is money to be saved by killing a patient, rather than actually helping one.
Advocates of euthanasia are naive if they do not believe that health-care providers won’t urge—or pay—doctors to, in turn, urge their patients to choose suicide over treatment.
Doctors might exaggerate the severity or dreadfulness of the ailment, as it would be in their financial interest to do so. Patients would be mindlessly receptive of a doctor’s deceptive advice, for people are unlikely to disagree with an expert.
Oregon, which has already legalized assisted suicide, has similarly witnessed this “profits over people” mentality.
Not long after the passage of the euthanasia bill, Oregon announced that it would make severe cuts to its state version of Medicaid. Oregon didn’t use the money they saved to increase the quality of their healthcare; rather, the state pocketed the money.
The next fallacy in the argument of euthanasia advocates: that the choice to die would be strictly voluntary. It is foolish to deny the pressures that would exist to encourage a patient to choose death.
Poorer patients would be especially encouraged to choose death, lest they perceive themselves financial burdens to family members.
See Full Article & Source:

Friday, March 15, 2013

FL State Supreme Court Confirms Discipline Measures for Rude Judge

The Florida Supreme Court has affirmed a trial judge's discipline for "rude and intemperate behavior" that included screaming at attorneys and sentencing a defendant without his lawyer present.
The court on Thursday ruled that Orange County Circuit Judge Tim Shea should send letters of apology and continue mental health treatment. Its decision also requires Shea to appear before the high court for a public reprimand.
But the justices also recognized that Shea had admitted mistakes and had been going through a "particularly stressful time" because of a family member's mental illness.

State Supreme Court Confirms Discipline Measures for Rude Judge

Lawyer strikes plea deal in bilking of widow

Cherry Hill lawyer Michael Kwasnik, under federal investigation in an alleged $8.5 million Ponzi scheme, has pleaded guilty to state money-laundering charges in the theft of $1.1 million from a 96-year-old widow.

The New Jersey Attorney General's Office said that under the plea agreement, signed quietly in late January, Kwasnik will repay the estate of the Cherry Hill woman, who died sometime after he was indicted on Nov. 7, 2011.

Kwasnik remains the focus of a federal criminal probe into the scheme that authorities say was used to bilk dozens of elderly victims.

"The plea agreement does not in any way affect any potential criminal charges that would be filed in connection with the Ponzi scheme," said Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.

Kwasnik is scheduled for sentencing May 10 before Superior Court Judge Irvin J. Snyder. He will serve no time beyond the five months he spent in the Camden County Jail after his arrest. He agreed to repay the estate by the end of his up-to-five-year probationary period, the Attorney General's Office said.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer strikes plea deal in bilking of widow

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Recommended Website: Not Dead Yet - The Resistance

Not Dead Yet is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people.

Not Dead Yet helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices based on secular social justice arguments.

Not Dead Yet demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so called “mercy killing” whose lives are seen as worth-less.


Wards demand right to vote / Adult guardianship system's denial of privilege incites legal battles

The Yomiuri Shimbun Is it unconstitutional to take away the voting rights of adults who are placed under guardianship due to a disability or dementia?

The Public Offices Election Law stipulates that when an adult is placed under guardianship, he or she loses the right to vote. The first judicial ruling on this regulation will be handed down Thursday at the Tokyo District Court.

Is it legal for the adult guardianship system, which is supposed to protect the rights of the handicapped, to deprive the individuals subject to the system of their voting rights? Lawsuits similar to Thursday's case are currently under way at three other district courts.

"I want to vote again with my father and mother," said 50-year-old Takumi Nagoya from Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Jan. 24. She clearly voiced her opinion in the No. 103 courtroom at the Tokyo District Court when presiding Judge Makoto Jyozuka asked her to speak at the close of a 1-1/2-year-long lawsuit.

According to her father, Seikichi, 81, although Takumi suffers from Down syndrome and has a moderate intellectual impairment, she can read simple kanji and has a job labeling sundry goods. Since turning 20, she has always read official election newsletters and had gone to vote. When an official at the voting station thanked her for taking the trouble, Takumi looked proud, her father said.

Seikichi decided to use the adult guardian system because he was worried about property management for Takumi, and was appointed in February 2007 as her guardian by a family court. Since then, Takumi has not been able to vote.

Seikichi has apologized to her, saying he meant to protect her rights but in the end her rights were taken away. "It's OK," Takumi reportedly said to him.

The guardian system started in 2000 to replace the former incompetency system, with the aim of supporting people who do not have adequate capacities to make judgments due to a disability or dementia. There are three types of arrangements according to a person's abilities: guardianship, curatorship and assistance. Only the guardianship category effectively requires wards to abdicate their right to vote. About 136,000 people had guardians as of the end of 2012.

Full Article & Source:
Wards demand right to vote / Adult guardianship system's denial of privilege incites legal battles

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Linda Kincaid Reports: Shameful abuse of Gary Harvey: Disabled veteran in Chemung County, New York

  Gary Harvey received a special treat for his birthday on February 27, 2013. On that day, and only on that day, Gary’s wife was allowed to kiss Gary on the cheek two times. Gary’s wife was also allowed to hold his hand for five minutes.

Gary is not a criminal. Neither is his wife, Sara Harvey. Gary is a disabled adult.

In 2006, Gary suffered a head injury that left him in a vegetative state. Gary is completely dependent on caregivers for all of his care. Gary’s wife, Sara, was by his side at the facility for months. Sara became trained on Gary’s care and made arrangements to bring him home.

In 2007, the Chemung County Court placed the Public Guardian in control of Gary’s life. In a story familiar to many victims of the court system, false allegations were made against Sara. Lacking the legal savvy to navigate a hostile court environment, Sara lost all voice in Gary’s care.

Full Article & Source:
Shameful abuse of Gary Harvey: Disabled veteran in Chemung County, New York

See Also:
Gary Harvey Series: In Darkness & Isolation

Chemung county continues persecuting Sara and Gary Harvey

Still Troubled by Terri Schiavo's Death, but Inspired Too

Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network

Terri Schiavo's Brother, Bobby Schindler, Petitions Court to Intervene in Guardianship Case

The Dictators of Non-Compassion: Gary Harvey Case and the Unexpected Twist

Power of Attorney: 'People don't realize the extent of the power they're giving'

Before a Bensalem man entered Bucks County prison to serve a 10-month sentence, he asked his fiancée to watch over his finances.

She made sure his bills were paid -- as well as her own, unbeknownst to him, police said.
In a matter of months, the woman spent nearly $230,000 on vacations, breast implants, home repairs, furniture, school tuition and financial penalties, police added.

She cashed in certificates of deposit and bonds in his name; withdrew money from his IRA, incurring penalties; and she wrote checks for her business and personal attorneys, authorities added. She opened credit cards in his name, too, they said.

The woman even attempted to obtain a loan on the man’s home, according to Bensalem police, who filed theft, forgery and related criminal charges against her in December.

But recently, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office withdrew all charges against the 51-year-old Warrington woman, a decision that didn’t surprise some attorneys.

That's because the woman had the legal authority to spend her boyfriend’s money. And that is the power behind the power of attorney, a legal document granting its holder the ability to act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business or legal matters.

When used appropriately, the document is a valid tool to protect assets and pay bills for someone who's unable to oversee or control his or her financial interests. It also avoids the more drastic measure of appointing a legal guardian, legal experts and consumer advocates say.

But there are many misconceptions about how power of attorney works, said Debra Kroll, a law professor at Temple University’s James Beasley School of Law.

Among the most prevalent mistakes is the belief that once granted power of attorney, the person has sole control over the representative’s financial decisions. Not true, said Kroll, who teaches about law and aging. The agent can make financial decisions only if the person is mentally incapacitated.

Full Article & Source:
Power of Attorney: 'People don't realize the extent of the power they're giving'

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

California Court Rules Against Conservator in Defamation Lawsuit

A California woman serving as a conservator lost her defamation lawsuit against a Sacramento television station as an appeals court concluded that she could not prove that the reports aired the report with knowledge that their information was false, or at least reckless disregard for its falsity. In reaching it conclusion, the court in Young v. CBS decided that, because conservators are very powerful agents acting under the authority of a court order, and could reasonably trigger scrutiny by the public, they are public figures for purposes of defamation lawsuits. The ruling serves as a warning to any a conservator in California, making clear that, by accepting an appointment as a conservator, any person may subject him/herself to public figure status, and a much more difficult path to recovery, if he/she believes he/she is defamed by a news organization.

In November 2006, Sacramento County Adult Protective Services asked Carolyn Young to serve as the conservator for an allegedly incapacitated adult, 86-year-old Mary Jane Mann. Young, a professional conservator and fiduciary for more than a decade and a half, petitioned the court for the appointment. Almost immediately after the court appointed Young as temporary conservator, the senior and one of her daughters, Monika Mann, began contesting the conservatorship. A non-judicial mediation yielded an agreement where Young agreed to petition for dissolution of the conservatorship in exchange for Young becoming a co-trustee of Mann's trust.

Shortly thereafter, the CBS television station in Sacramento, KOVR-TV, investigated the Mann conservatorship. A week later, KOVR aired a news story entitled "A Life Hijacked," which stated that Young "effectively took over Mann's life without Mann's knowledge [including] Mann's bank accounts, investments, and her trust. Young had Mann's mail forwarded to her office and had Mann's driver's license lifted." The report went on to claim, or insinuate, that Young stole from Mann, threatened her, battered her and trespassed onto her property.

Full Article & Source:
California Court Rules Against Conservator in Defamation Lawsuit

See Also:
California Court of Appeal Holds That a Private Conservator is a Public Official; Finds No Actual Malice Shown in Claim Based on CBS Report About Conservatorships

Monday, March 11, 2013

Gary Harvey Series: In Darkness & Isolation

Gary Harvey of “warehoused scenario central”, New York, is living in an inexcusable isolation! What visits this man is allowed are limited, restricted and supervised. Permission must be obtained to even touch him. A kiss on the cheek must also be approved by the authority now deemed in control of his very existence. An authority that seems to enjoy toying with the lives and emotions of those they can control and the friends and loved ones that have dared to challenge or question their decisions, behaviors and directives.
Chemung County, New York, supposedly cares for its wards, even the ones they claim not to want, but then fight desperately to keep. Their decisions are always in the best interest of those wards, right? (That’s what they say anyway.) This then makes one wonder why they would hesitate to make sure the eye care that Gary Harvey gets is top-notch (they certainly aren’t paying for it) and to stay on top of what might be an eye problem in the making or a condition getting worse.

Gary Harvey suffers from a traumatic brain injury. That’s true. However, no one knows how far he could come along, if he were to receive therapy and stimulation, such as having frequent visitors who are allowed to touch him and give him a kiss on the cheek, just because giving him a kiss on the cheek might be a gesture of affection he is needing. No one knows and it seems like those in control — simply don’t care.

Full Article & Source:
Gary Harvey Series: In Darkness & Isolation

See Also:
Chemung county continues persecuting Sara and Gary Harvey

Still Troubled by Terri Schiavo's Death, but Inspired Too

Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network

Terri Schiavo's Brother, Bobby Schindler, Petitions Court to Intervene in Guardianship Case

The Dictators of Non-Compassion: Gary Harvey Case and the Unexpected Twist

Mentally ill patients face spartan conditions, long delays in New Hampshire

Joshua Knight was alone, had been for hours. He curled up on the mattress on the floor, shut his eyes and tried to block out his memories of the day.
Knight, 33, had been handcuffed and dragged out of his basement apartment in Chichester that September day last year. His mother, Carla Northrup, had been crying so hard the police told her she had to leave because she was upsetting him even more.
She hadn’t been to see him at Concord Hospital where the police had brought him, not yet. So Knight was alone.
He had a mattress, bolted to the floor. A plastic cube served as a hard, backless chair. A television glowed behind a plastic window. At least the staff was kind enough to leave him the remote, he remembered four months after his three-day stay in what is known as Yellow Pod, a handful of rooms at the hospital staffed by Riverbend Community Mental Health.
For the first two days of his stay at Yellow Pod, Northrup called the hospital to check on her son. Hearing it could be several days more before a bed was available at New Hampshire Hospital, the state psychiatric facility in Concord, she visited to drop off clean clothes and magazines.

The room smelled of urine; Knight was unresponsive, curled up on the mattress so tightly his wrists hurt for weeks after from being tucked into his chest.
Doctors would come and go, assuring him they were working on getting him to the state hospital. He didn’t believe them. He couldn’t go outside for three days, until he was transferred to the state facility.
“It’s really frightening,” he said. “I was locked up in this little room, this tiny cell. I was treated like somebody who couldn’t take care of themself. Like an animal.”

Full Article & Source:
Mentally ill patients face spartan conditions, long delays in New Hampshire

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Compassion for the Elderly: The Forgotten Ones

Many elderly people in cities, live alone, with their windows sealed or nailed shut because they are so afraid of crime-afraid that someone will break in, and they will be defenseless.   So many are poor and sick, hardly able to care for themselves, with no family or friends, and are often dealing with some level of confusion or dementia. When the elderly die, they usually die alone, just as they have lived in their later years. Sometimes they die at home alone, and sometimes they die in hospitals, or nursing homes. It is such a tragic end for a person who has given so much of their lifetime to others, and yet, when it is their time to depart, there is no one to be there for them. Many times their bodies are not discovered for a long time, because no one cares, or notices that they are missing.

They are sometimes referred to as "elder orphans."

There is so much isolation in today's society. In a 2004 issue of Geriatric Times, Bruce G. Rosenthal, of the American Homes and Services for the Aging, commented, "As many as 60% of nursing home residents have no regular visitors."

Many older people have experienced multiple bereavements as well. Those with dementia or cognitive impairment can't manage the grief process as a healthy person would. They may even forget their loved ones are gone, and wake up each day searching for them. Even for the elderly with good mental function, often clinical depression sets in, and there is insomnia, weight loss, poor nutrition, and withdrawal. They don't usually ask for help, or reach out to others.

It makes me angry that older people are in such horrible situations. All of my life, I have loved the elderly. Perhaps it is because I was raised by by grandparents (alongside my mom) until I was 7. But now that I am caring for my mom, who is widowed, aging, and very ill, I can't imagine her having to face her difficult situation alone. And I can't help but wonder how many people there are like her,or in much worse condition, who are sick, frail, and totally alone.

* The lonely and forgotten elderly need us so desperately. They sit, crying and alone, with broken hearts, and no hope. No one visits them. They need our love...our touch...our warm smiles. Please be there for those who have no one. ♥

 ~ by Lonnette Harrel
Facebook - Compassion for the Elderly - The Forgotten Ones

NCPJ - National College of Probate Judges

The National College of Probate Judges ("NCPJ"), organized in 1968, is the only national organization exclusively dedicated to improving probate law and probate courts. "Probate jurisdiction" varies from state to state. However, generally, all probate courts handle cases involving the estates of deceased persons, adult guardianship and protective proceedings, and mental health and addictive disease treatment, and matters concerning developmentally disabled persons. In some states, probate courts handle adoptions, certain juvenile matters, and/or guardianship and conservatorship of minors.

Probate jurisdiction is exercised exlusively or partly in separate probate courts in seventeen (17) states. In the remaining thirty-three (33) states and the District of Columbia, probate jurisdiction is exercised in the general jurisdiction trial courts by assignment or rotation among the judges in multi-judge districts or circuits.


See Also:
2013 National Probate Court Standards