Saturday, March 30, 2013

Couple Charged With Exploitation of Elderly Could Face More Charges

A Jonesborough husband and wife charged with bilking an elderly couple out of $150,000 in cash could face additional theft charges with new information prosecutors learned after their arrest, an attorney said Thursday.
Jama Curtis, 39, and Tony Curtis, 40, are charged with theft over $60,000, theft over $10,000 and willful exploitation of an adult. They were in court Thursday for a bond reduction hearing and so Judge Robert Cupp could rule on the state’s motion to extend a restraining order to keep the Curtises away from the victim’s money and property.

Jama Curtis was the designated caregiver for the victims, a non-married couple, Ben A. Roberts, 85, and Billie Godwin, 82, according to Assistant District Attorney General Erin McArdle.
She’s accused of taking around $47,000 from Roberts’ account with daily ATM withdrawals up to $1,000 at various locations in Jonesborough and Johnson City, writing checks from the account to herself and her husband’s business for work that was never authorized or completed.

McArdle said in a restraining order that approximately $84,943.51 was made out in checks to the Curtises.

Full Article and Source:
Couple Charged With Exploitation of Elderly Could Face More Charges

See Also:
TN Couple Reportedly Exploited Elderly Residents

Certified Financial Board of Standards (CFB) Releases Guide for Protecting Older Americans From Financial Abuse

Older Americans are too often victims of financial fraud and abuse. Recognizing this unfortunate trend, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. today released a free guide, Financial Self-Defense for Seniors, which is informed by recent survey data on senior financial exploitation, to help older Americans and their families identify the warning signs of financial abuse and to better protect themselves and their loved ones.

"CFP Board remains deeply concerned about incidents of consumers – particularly senior citizens – being misled by those claiming to be trusted financial professionals," said CFP Board CEO Kevin R. Keller , CAE. "This guide to financial self-defense will help protect seniors from abusive, fraudulent and unethical financial practices."

Financial Self-Defense for Seniors was written by CFP Board Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP®. It describes 10 "Red Flags" – common situations in which older Americans are vulnerable to financial abuse – and provides warning signs of financial abuse; real-life situations in which seniors are often taken advantage of; and advice for guarding against such abuse.

The guide draws upon CFP Board's 2012 Senior Financial Exploitation Survey of more than 2,600 CFP® professionals, which found that more than half had personally worked with an older client who had been subject to unfair, deceptive or abusive financial practices in the delivery of financial advice or the sale of financial products. Participating CFP® professionals estimated that only five percent of senior citizens actually report such financial abuse.

The survey also found that CFP® professionals were aware of a variety of abusive practices in the delivery of financial advice or the sale of financial products, including some practices that could violate state and federal regulations:

•Nearly three-quarters (73%) were aware of older investors who have been invited to "free meal" seminars that were actually sales pitches;
•58% were aware of older investors who have received unsolicited pitches for financial products or services; •Nearly three-quarters (74%) of CFP® professionals were aware of older investors who have been offered unsuitable financial products; and
•58% were aware of older investors who have been subject to omission of material facts about financial products.

"CFP Board wants to shine a bright light on those who seek to abuse older Americans so that all seniors and their families can defend themselves against scammers," Blayney said. "Seniors have contributed so much to our families, communities and our country. We owe them our thanks, but also our protection, so that they may live out their remaining years in financial security."

Financial Self-Defense for Seniors is part of CFP Board's series of financial self-defense guides, including the Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense, released in 2010. The U.S. General Services Administration's (GSA) will include the guide in its Fall 2013 Consumer Information Catalog. The public can access an online version by visiting or requesting a hard copy by sending an email to or calling 800-487-1497.

Full Press Release and Source:
CFP Board Releases Guide for Protecting Older Americans From Financial Abuse

See Also:
Financial Self Defense for Seniors

Britney Spears Conservatorship Judge Grants Attorney's Request to Move Singer's Assets into Different Investment Strategy

Britney Spears seems to have gotten her personal life back on track after finding romance with new beau David Lucado following her defunct engagement to ex-fiancĂ©  Jason Trawick.

Now, her legal team is hoping to get the pop star's business affairs in order as well.

The "Scream & Shout" singer's conservatorship attorneys were in court Friday morning to ask a judge for authority to modify the investment allocation strategy of Spears' assets—the latest development in a seemingly never-emdomg string of court hearings since her conservatorship was established in the aftermath of her notorious 2008 mental-health crisis and subsequent public meltdown.

Britney Spears Conservatorship Judge Grants Attorney's Request to Move Singer's Assets into Different Investment Strategy

Friday, March 29, 2013


When my mother, Patricia C. Rosen, was put under conservatorship, I discovered the need for reform and public oversight.

For example, she was said to have dementia by professional conservators, attorneys and others profiting off her estate. The neuropsychological evaluator my mom hired by saving her scant allowance, as well as her doctor of 25 years, both found her competent but were ignored. Then the professional conservator resigned due to my "interference", and my mom was placed in the hands of the Public Guardian, Harry Hagan, whose office found her to be competent.  The Public Guardian needed its funds for those truly in need, so terminated the conservatorship that had been going on for over five years.  Unlike the profit-making network, there was no incentive to keep her under conservatorship. Conservatorship is a huge cash cow. Is there a conflict of interest here?

Also, conservators are supposed to justify their fees to the court.

In my mother's case, when the conservator resigned, there never was a final accounting submitted to the court. $83,000 of my mother's money was used up with absolutely no court oversight. I had wanted to contest many of the fees, as I felt the conservator had done wrongdoing, but was deprived of my right to do so. The judge at the time didn't try to stop this transgression of due process; in fact, he, along with the attorneys profiting off the estate, signed a court order allowing the conservator to be paid with no explanation to the court. Many other older persons are having their rights violated in this court system.  Oversight is important, the public needs to be watching.  One can help elders by being a watchdog and attending the probate court in Dept. 5 of the old courthouse building Thursdays at 9 am. Trouble is one can't hear what's going on at these "public" hearings. Other courtrooms have microphones. At a recent hearing a man in the audience informed Judge Stern that the public couldn't hear, but was completely ignored. I don't think the profit-making network wants us to know what's going on.

To find out more about how elders are abused by conservators go to the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA) website at

~Bryan Rosen, Monticeto

Need for Oversight in Conservatorships

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How To Prevent Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Elder financial abuse is an expensive drain on the U.S. economy. A study of media reports from April to June 2010 "estimated that financial exploitation cost older adults at least $2.9 billion" that year, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO. According to the report: "The money that older adults lose in these cases is rarely recovered, and this loss can undermine both the health of older adults and their ability to support and care for themselves."

That often means that taxpayers end up footing the bill for housing and medical care once an exploited senior has been drained of his or her assets. In fact, the report says that in 80 cases involving Utah's elderly, that state's Medicaid program could pony up about $900,000 in Medicaid costs alone.

The GAO report points out that unless law enforcement, the courts and adult protective services get better at protecting the assets of older adults, this country could see a sharp increase in the amount of public dollars replacing private funds that are illegally drained from their estates. And as the senior population increases, those numbers will only continue to climb. Certified Fraud Examiner Steve Lee says that "pre-grave robbing" -- which often goes unreported -- is an issue frequently encountered by private investigators, specialists in elder care law and colleagues.

Tom Fields' personal experience has led him to crusade for more effective legislation targeting elder financial abuse. "There is a clear lack of protection under current laws and legislation," says Fields, who is from Mentor, Ohio. He believes that in addition to current law being insufficient, law enforcement often has little idea of how to handle these cases.

"It's true that police reaction to cases of elder financial abuse varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and there is little crime-specific training available to them. Many jurisdictions treat these cases as civil, rather than criminal, cases, leaving families to struggle with stopping the siphoning of an elderly person's assets via a sluggish court system.

Full Article and Source:
How to Prevent Financial Abuse of Elderly Parents

Alleged fraudster charged with bilking elderly

A 62-year-old man accused of bilking several people out of more than $70,000 with stories ranging from his wife’s miscarriage to a legally entangled inheritance pleaded not guilty to 13 felonies.

Prosecutors say James Keeton gained the trust of the victims, ages 51 to 88, before gaining their money. He met them through the San Mateo Horseman’s Association and St. Pius Parish in Redwood City ultimately sought personal loans between $3,000 and $23,650. He reportedly claimed his wife had recently miscarried twins and their home was at risk of foreclosure but that that they could repay the money with a pending large inheritance tied up in litigation in New York. Keeton took the loans but never repaid the money, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The total amount taken from all the alleged victims is $73,650.

Keeton pleaded not guilty to seven counts of fraud and six counts of elder abuse. He did not waive his right to a speedy trial and a preliminary hearing was set for March 29.

Bail was set at $750,000 with the order that any bond posted be examined to ensure it does not include any of the allegedly defrauded funds. He remains in custody and returns to court March 27 for a review conference.

Full Article & Source:
Alleged fraudster charged with bilking elderly

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Justice at Last for Disinherited Caretaker, Sam Manzo!

It has taken too long for justice to prevail — 3 1/2 years.

The arc of history is finally bending toward justice in the case of Sam Manzo and the valuable but ramshackle farm he stands to inherit in Southington. 

This past week, a Superior Court judge hearing Mr. Manzo's appeal of a Southington probate court order removed what is probably the last significant roadblock between Mr. Manzo and his rightful inheritance.

Now the case goes to Hartford Probate Judge Robert Killian to resolve the few remaining questions. Surely the erudite, experienced Judge Killian can wrap up the case — which has been an ugly sore on the probate system — with dispatch.

The farm was the property of Josephine Smoron, who died at 92 on June 20, 2009. Ms. Smoron wanted Mr. Manzo, her longtime caretaker, to have the farm — and especially her beloved cows. She said so, specifically, in two wills.

But while Ms. Smoron lay dying in a nursing home, a probate judge who would later be censured by the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct and a lawyer who was castigated by the Statewide Grievance Committee ignored the old lady's wishes and sought to hustle Mr. Manzo out of his eventual inheritance.

The probate judge, Bryan Meccariello, expressed doubts about Mr. Manzo's ability to take care of Ms. Smoron as she declined and wondered whether the caretaker was putting his own interests first. He terminated Mr. Manzo's conservatorship of Ms. Smoron.

Mr. Meccariello then allowed the lawyer, John Nugent, who became Ms. Smoron's conservator, to set up two trusts, transfer her assets into them and name others to be the beneficiaries — putting the farm beyond Mr. Manzo's reach. Mr. Nugent wanted the Smoron farm sold to a developer.

It was a brazen scheme. But Superior Court Judge William H. Bright, who heard Mr. Manzo's appeal of the Southington probate court order setting up the trusts, would have none of it.

Full Article and Source:
Justice at Last for Disinherited Caretaker

See Also:
Panel Rules AGainst Lawyer in Smoron Probate Case

Astor son, 88, loses appeal, could face prison

NEW YORK (AP) — New York philanthropist Brooke Astor's 88-year-old son has lost an appeal that kept him out of prison after he was convicted of plundering her fortune.

The state Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled Tuesday that Anthony Marshall's 2009 conviction was based on legally sufficient evidence. Appeals judges also rejected Marshall's argument that his age and illness warranted sparing him prison.

Marshall was sentenced to at least a year in prison, but he was allowed to stay free on bail during the appeal. It's not clear whether Marshall will now have to report to prison or may appeal further and remain free on bail.

Lawyer John Cuti says Marshall is exploring his legal options.

Full Article & Source:
Astor son, 88, loses appeal, could face prison

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Judge Kennedy Replaces Davidson Public Guardian as Woman's Conservator

The Davidson public guardian who courts records show charged $986 to accompany her ward to a Christmas concert at the Schermerhorn was replaced without opposition Wednesday by Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy after a brief hearing.

Kennedy approved a petition to have Myra S. Whitaker of Hendersonville take over as the conservator of her sister, Marlene Spalding. Whitaker replaces Davidson Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart.

The move to replace Stuart followed a report in The Tennessean on the fees charged by Stuart, who was first voted into the post by Metro Council in 2008 and is now serving her second four-year term. Court records show Stuart has regularly charged her full hourly fee for legal services regardless of the service performed. Her current fee is $225 an hour. In Spalding’s case she charged $197.22 an hour to attend the 2011 Christmas performance of Handel’s Messiah. She charged $1,282 to accompany Spalding on a shopping trip in March of last year. In court Wednesday, Everette Parrish, the attorney for Whitaker, said that Spalding’s sister was now willing and able to become conservator. Whitaker was the original conservator but she was replaced by Stuart in 2010 when her husband became ill. He has since recovered and was present at the hearing.

In court papers Parrish noted that Whitaker would serve without charging any fees. Stuart told Kennedy she had no objection to Whitaker’s appointment. Kennedy has said he will not assign any additional cases to Stuart pending a review of the fees she has charged.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Replaces Davidson Public Guardian as Woman's Conservator

See Also:
NASGA:  Ginger Franklin, Tennessee Victim

The Waiting Game: Mentally Ill Patients in New Hampshire Face Spartan Conditions, Long Delays

Concord — 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.”
Knight, who suffers from depression and anxiety, was alone, but his experience is not singular.

Full Article & Source:
The Waiting Game: Mentally Ill Patients in New Hampshire Face Spartan Conditions, Long Delays

Judge goes after Sarkozy over alleged elder abuse

PARIS -- Allies of former President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed shock and “incomprehension”yesterday after he was informed on Thursday that he would face a formal investigation into whether he abused the frailty of Liliane Bettencourt, 90, the heiress to the L’Oreal fortune and France’s richest woman, to get funds for his 2007 presidential campaign.

Sarkozy has denied accepting illegal campaign money from Bettencourt, either personally or through his party treasurer at the time, Eric Woerth, as alleged by Bettencourt’s former butler.

Full Article & Source:
Judge goes after Sarkozy over alleged elder abuse

Monday, March 25, 2013

Judge Paul Seeman, Charged With Elder Abuse, Resigns

An Alameda County judge charged with stealing thousands of dollars from his Berkeley neighbor, selling her art, and using her garage to store his Thunderbird has resigned and agreed to never be a judge again.

Kathleen Ewins wrote in an email to NBC Bay Area on Thursday that her client, former Judge Paul Seeman, had resigned. He had a "distinguished career," she wrote and "he felt this was an appropriate action to take at this time for the good of the court."

Seeman resigned in exchange for the Commission on Judicial Performance halting its investigation into him, according to the Oakland Tribune.   The newspaper reported that he had remained on the bench - and continued to receive a paycheck - while his criminal case proceeded, though he had not appeared in court since his arrest.

Seeman was charged in June 2012 with one count of elder theft and 11 counts of perjury, all felonies, as well as enhancements alleging that he stole at least $200,000. This month, the Tribune reported that the District Attorney amended its complaint, charging Seeman with 20 additional crimes, for a total of 32 counts in all.

After a two-year investigation, Berkeley police said Seeman, who has overseen several Occupy Cal protester cases, started off as a neighbor who tried to help Anne Nutting and her frail husband, who were forced to leave their home.

Court records state that Seeman obtained power-of-attorney for the couple in 1999 after stating that he had found $1 million worth of stock certificates and uncashed dividend checks in their house.

Full Article and Source:
East Bay Judge Charged With Elder Abuse Resigns

Zsa Zsa Gabor's Husband Wants to Sell Couple's Home

Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband, the court-appointed conservator of his ailing wife, is asking a judge to allow him to sell the couple’s longtime residence for more than $1 million.
The sale is necessary because a $1.15 million loan comes due on the Bel Air Road property where Gabor, who used to own a home in the 500 block of Chino Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, has lived for nearly 40 years, according to court papers filed Monday by Frederic Prinz von Anhalt.

Von Anhalt is hoping for a deferred sale that would allow his wife to remain at the home for at least three years, according to his court papers. Gabor’s right leg was amputated in January 2011 because of gangrene.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz recently ruled that von Anhalt will remain as his 96-year-old wife’s interim caretaker at least until Aug. 21. The judge originally appointed him to the position last July. A hearing on the petition to sell the home is scheduled April 5.

Full Article and Source:
Zsa Zsa Gabor's Husband Von Anhalt Seeks to Sell Couple's Home

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Elder Abuse Thriving in Washington Probate Courts

Beverly Newman, Elder Advocate, Florida, will co-host this show.

Our guest this evening is Bill Sheidler from Washington state. Bill has been the victim of corrupt courts and attorneys who have reached the status of virtually "untouchable".

On his website, which is currently under construction, Bill is beginning the documentation of all the players. Who is untouchable? Who is making money through human trafficking? How is this affecting future cases?

For example: Assume a disabled person is stripped of his property under color of law. The person cannot afford an attorney and goes to court under represented. The case is decided against this disabled person; and may establish a precedent. NOW this case (this precedent) is fodder for going after another persons property.

BY FIRST going after the property of the weak, old, disabled so as to establish the 'common law' it sets the stage for later going after the property of the "somewhat stronger" citizen.

It is the transfer of property from citizens to government by ONE CASE AT A TIME.

THIS is why the issues which you, me and many others have taken a stand against NEEDS TO GET THE ATTENTION of our citizens.

One day it will be their property that is taken and the "common law" will have been well established to allow government to walk in and take what they want.

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

LISTEN TO THE SHOW LIVE or listen to the archive later!

UTAH: Guardian of Abused Woman Kept in Closet Sent to Prison for Her Death

Those who loved Christina "Nina" Harms drove 1,500 miles from their homes in Minnesota and South Dakota to stand in front of a judge Friday and tell them about the person they lost.

They wore T-shirts printed with Harms' smiling face. They carried a cardboard display covered in pictures of the woman throughout her life.

"Nina wanted to go to college, she wanted more kids, she was very loving," Marilee Nelson said. "She loved her daughter more than anything. Nina was the most loving person you would ever meet."

Harms was 22 when she died on March 25, 2011, as the result of abuse and neglect in the Kearns home she shared with the woman who was her guardian, Cassandra Marie Shepard, their children and Shepard's mother and stepfather.

"I don't think there will ever be understanding, but today there will be justice," 3rd District Judge Katie Bernards-Goodman said before sentencing Shepard, 29, to prison. Shepard, who pleaded guilty to aggravated abuse of a disabled adult, a first-degree felony, and manslaughter, a second-degree felony, was sentenced to consecutive terms of five years to life and one to 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Harms, who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and had the mental capacity of an 8- to 12-year-old, was constantly kept in a small closet where she was forced to eat and go to the bathroom while being bound to a metal bar.

Harms had ligature marks on her ankles consistent with plastic zip ties when officials examined her, severe bruising on her thigh and head, bloodshot eyes, a pepper seed in one of her eyelids, and her hands were completely covered with bandaging material, which would have prevented her from getting the pepper seed out.

Full Article and Source:
Guardian of Abused Woman Kept in Closet Sent to Prison for Her Death

See Also:
Guardian Accused of Causing Death of Disabled Woman

The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly

A pessimist, they say, sees a glass of water as being half empty; an optimist sees the same glass as half full. But a giving person sees a glass of water and starts looking for someone who might be thirsty. ~ G. Donald Gale

*Please volunteer to visit the lonely and forgotten elderly in your community. ♥

Facebook:  The Forgotten Ones:  Compassion for the Elderly

NJ Healthcare Worker Charged with Using Stolen Credit Card to Buy Online Merchandise

Police have charged a woman, who allegedly stole personal information about residents from her employer, with credit card fraud and theft.

Detective Robert Harms arrested Jennifer De Los Santos, 23, on March 14 at a healthcare facility in Linden where she worked as a patient service supervisor, after he identified her as a suspect in an investigation of credit card fraud, police said.

The investigation began when Roselle Park Police were alerted that a resident’s credit card account information had been compromised after a telephone billing transaction with the healthcare facility.

The theft/fraud suspect, later identified as De Los Santos, allegedly used the patient’s credit card information to purchase merchandise online from Forever 21, and Target. De Los Santos had the companies ship the merchandise to the healthcare facility using a fictitious name, police said.

Full Article and Source:
Healthcare worker charged with using stolen credit card information to buy online merchandise