Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Judge a Little More Than a Week, and Then OD'd

A former longtime prosecutor who died at the cabin of a fellow southwestern Illinois judge now under federal investigation succumbed to a cocaine overdose, a coroner announced Friday.

Pike County Coroner Paul Petty, who also serves as sheriff, said in a statement that toxicology tests showed Joe Christ, 49, died of cocaine intoxication in St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook’s cabin about 65 miles northwest of St. Louis in March.

Petty said alcohol also was found in Christ’s system, and that Cook was the only person with Christ at the time. Cocaine and paraphernalia was seized from the cabin, Petty said.

Christ died a little more than a week after being sworn in as a judge in St. Clair County. Cook, a judge in the same county, was booted from his docket of hundreds of cases Thursday because of the unfolding federal investigation confirmed by that county’s state’s attorney and chief judge.

Full Article and Source:
Illinois Judge Died of Cocaine Overdose

CBS11: Friend, "They Just Took Her Away"

Friends say Denise Tighe was an independent woman, a native of Switzerland who came to the United States and, as a young adult, helped manage a bank on Wall Street.

“She was a huge animal lover,” said friend Virginia Pritchett, especially when it came to her playful cat, a short-haired gray-and-white feline named Bobby.

But more than a year ago, friends and neighbors began to see a change in Tighe, who was in her mid-80s.

A court in February 2012 ruled that Tighe needed to be placed under the state’s guardianship program after finding that she was too “incapacitated,” both mentally and physically, to care for herself, and had little chance of rebounding.

The court, located in Palo Pinto County, also ruled that no one close to Tighe was capable of providing the care she needed. So it appointed a Fort Worth lawyer to be guardian over her belongings and financial affairs, and the state’s Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) to guard over her personal welfare.

Since then, Tighe has been moved to an assisted living facility in Weatherford, where her access to visitors must first be approved and monitored by the state.

One of her guardians arranged an estate sale at her house, where organizers promoted the sale of Tighe’s “high-end collectibles,” including Waterford Crystal, jewelry and “excellent furniture.”

And her house is up for sale.

“They just took her away,” friend Kathy Gilbreath told CBS 11’s I-Team.

The state says proceeds from the sales go toward caring for Tighe, and that the assisted living facility in Weatherford is the best place to receive that care.

So who’s taking care of Bobby…her cat?

“His health is almost perfect. There’s nothing wrong with him,” Mineral Wells veterinarian Flint Immel said, with Bobby purring in his lap.

Immel and his assistant, Angel Jiminez, told the I-Team they were shocked when Tighe’s court-appointed guardian called nearly a year ago and said he would no longer pay to have Bobby boarded at their clinic.

“He told me bluntly, the cat will be euthanized because there will be no more boarding fees paid,” Jiminez said.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Friend: "They Just Took Her Away"

Jared E. Shafer Loses Guardianship; Looted Senior Citizen Returns to Claim Home and Possessions After Winning Termination in a Bitter Sweet Victory

For the first time known, a wealthy senior citizen was able to escape from the custody of Nevada court appointed "guardian" Jared E. Shafer, and recover the majority of his assets before he dies.

Because of an arcane Nevada law, many elderly people who decide to spend their golden years in one of Las Vegas' pristine retirement communities have found themselves in financial servitude after the death of a spouse. It's not unusual to learn of a elderly widow or widower -- at their most vulnerable time -- becoming a "ward" of one of our state's licensed private "guardians" who completely takes over the senior's person and estate while waiting for their death in order to claim his or her assets for the county, or in the worst case, themselves.
This is possible because in Nevada a person who is handicapped or elderly and has a sizable estate can be forced into guardianship unless there's a qualified relative living in the same state that can care for their needs. Too often, as in the case of Guadalupe Olvera, the nearest relative lives in another state, and under Nevada law, is prohibited from becoming a guardian after the death of a care giving spouse. Mr. Olvera suffered the consequences of this law when it was discovered by strangers in the Clark County Family Court system that he had over a half million dollars cash in his trust account, and a fully paid for 3,000 square foot Sun City Anthem home worth another half million.

On the outside, Olvera looked ripe for the picking, a rich old man with severe physical disabilities, and no relatives in sight. The only problem? WW2 hero Guadalupe Olvera was not ready to die, and he had a tough as nails, loving family five hundred miles away who wanted him to come home to spend his final days in Central California, not cooped up in a big empty house in a cold, strange town waiting for Jared Shafer to see fit to end his "temporary guardianship."

Full Article and Source:
Jared E. Shafer Loses Guardianship. Looted Senior Citizen Returns To Claim Home And Possessions After Winning Termination In A Bitter Sweet Victory

See Also:
NASGA: Lupe Olvera, Nevada/California Victim

Zsa Zsa's Home Sells for $11 Million

A judge Monday approved the terms of the sale of the ailing Zsa Zsa Gabor's longtime Bel Air residence for $11 million in a deal that will allow the 96-year-old actress to remain in the residence for three years.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz gave a final nod to the deal despite the reservations of a lawyer for Gabor's daughter that the aging celebrity could end up with nothing because of the potential tax consequences of the sale.

"If she lives beyond three years it could be a disaster," said Kenneth Kossoff, who represents Constance Francesca Gabor Hilton.

But Gabor's husband and temporary conservator, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, was upbeat about the transaction with the buyer, identified as Jade Enterprises LLC. "It's a good deal for me and it's good for my wife," von Anhalt said. "It will give us both peace of mind."

Full Article and Source:
Zsa Zsa Gabor's Home Sells for $11 Million

See Also:
Zsa Zsa Gabor's Husband Extended as Conservator

GA: Lawyer Discipline Cases Include Suspension, License Surrender

In the Supreme Court of Georgia
Decided: May 20, 2013S13Y0399.

This disciplinary matter is before the Court on the petition of Dale E. Calomeni (State Bar No. 105311) for voluntary discipline. In his petition, Calomeni admits violations of Rules 1.2, 1.15 (I), and 5.3 (d) of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct, see Bar Rule 4-102 (d), and for these violations, he agrees to accept a Review Panel reprimand.1 The State Bar has no objection to the petition, but for the reasons that follow, we reject it. According to the petition, Calomeni was retained to represent a client in the enforcement of a divorce decree. Calomeni successfully pursued garnishment as a remedy for his client, and he collected $17,510.28 for his client through the garnishment process. Calomeni, however, failed to notify his client that he had collected and received these funds, and he failed to put the funds into his trust account, apparently because he believed that the client owed him at least as much in fees. The client later asked Calomeni for a meeting to discuss her bill, but Calomeni declined to meet with her. Eventually, the client filed a petition for arbitration with the State Bar Fee Arbitration Program, and she was awarded a portion of the amount that Calomeni had retained as a fee, which Calomeni now has paid to her in full. Calomeni admits that this conduct amounts to a violation of Rule 1.15 (I).

The petition also shows that Calomeni employed a disbarred lawyer as a paralegal. Calomeni failed to take appropriate measures to prevent this disbarred lawyer from having direct contact and communications with his clients concerning legal matters, and Calomeni permitted the disbarred lawyer to have direct contact with more than one of his clients on numerous occasions. Calomeni admits that this conduct amounts to a violation of Rule 5.3 (d).

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer Discipline: Cases Include Suspension, License Surrender

Friday, May 24, 2013

TN Governor, Bill Haslam Approves New Conservatorship Law

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law a measure making the first major revisions in more than a decade to the state law governing the process of placing state residents under the control of a court-appointed conservator.

The new statute, which will take effect July 1, was the product of a series of hearings held across the state by the Tennessee Bar Association. It sets out for the first time uniform procedures for placing a person in a conservatorship on an emergency basis.

“The intent of this law is to clarify the process, to make sure people aren’t being taken advantage of,” said Rep. Andrew Farmer, the House sponsor of the measure.

Under the new law, a person being placed in a conservatorship in an emergency situation must be informed of the proceedings within 48 hours and a hearing must be held within five days.

The judge also will be required to certify that absent the conservatorship, the person would be likely to suffer substantial harm.

Testimony at the bar association hearings last year, including a session in Nashville, showed the emergency process varied from courtroom to courtroom across the state. Several witnesses, including Jewell Tinnon of Nashville, said their rights and possessions had been taken away without notice or justification and they questioned the need for emergency action.

Tinnon’s story was told in a special report by the Tennessean last year. Her house, car, and all of her personal possessions were stripped away while she was in a conservatorship initiated by two relatives who she said she hadn’t seen in years. Tinnon now lives in public housing.

Under the new law, a judge will be required to specify exactly what rights are being taken away and what rights the ward will retain. The law mandates that the restrictions be as limited as possible.

Under a last-minute amendment, specific provisions were added to clarify the procedure for a health care provider to follow in placing a patient in a conservatorship on a temporary basis. The change was sought by hospitals.

Full Article and Source:
Haslam Approves New Conservatorhsip Law

Two Arkansas Judges Disciplined for Courtroom Behavior

The State Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission today announced disciplinary actions against two judges for unethical behavior.

* CIRCUIT JUDGE GERALD KENT CROW of Berryville was reprimanded and censured. In a drug and a DWI case the judge mounted his own investigation of some facts of the cases, though neither the state nor defense had requested it. He also was found to have retaliated against Public Defender Beau Allen, attorney in one of the cases, for filing a complaint against the judge with the Judicial Commission.

The censure, a more serious punishment, was for the retaliation against Allen.The commission's order said Crow got consideration for admitting to ethical missteps. He was directed to review his docket for possible conflicts with others, refrain from issuing orders in which his employees or families are parties, not have ex parte communications, not step outside the ordinany judicial role and "endeavor to cooperate with other prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys to the extent that you can, while maintaining decorum and dignity in your courtroom." He also was instructed to refrain from threatening lawyers with turning them into the Committee on Professional Conduct.

* DISTRICT JUDGE ROBERT BATTON of Jacksonville was reprimanded for a heated exchange with a frequent court defendant who became obstreperous. Batton accused the defendant, who is black, of being a racist toward white people. When the man left Batton's courtroom, the judge remarked: "There goes another angry black man." Batton said he knew the statements weren't right or proper but he expressed a "desire to vindicate to those in the court that he is not prejudiced against blacks." He was reprimanded as an appropriate sanction because of his "willingness to accept that your actions were in violation of the code and your commitment to be more aware of the issues listed above in the future....."

Two Judges Disciplined for Courtroom Behavior

Charges Piling up Against Ohio Lawyer Javier Armengau

Additional charges have been filed against a local lawyer accused of gross sexual imposition.

Defense attorney Javier Armengau, 51, was charged with six counts of rape, five counts of sexual battery, three counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of kidnapping and one count of public indecency in an indictment returned Friday by a Franklin County grand jury.

Judge Kimberly Brown set a $25,000 appearance bond for Armengau, which included the initial $10,000 already paid for a previous hearing. The bond was paid Monday night.

Brown also posted a $50,000 recognizance bond for the attorney, which must be paid if he misses a court appearance.

Full Article and Source:
Armengau Denies Sexual Assaults as Charges Added

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Physician Assisted Suicide

Vermont is now the fourth state in the country that allows physician assisted suicide.

The law, allowing physicians to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients, took effect Monday when it was signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin. But it could be some time before the first person is able to take advantage of the law. Dick Walters, of the group End of Life Choices, says he doesn't think many people will take advantage of the law to end their lives, but it will improve end-of-life options for Vermonters.

Now it's up to the Vermont Health Department to implement the rules.  For the first three years, the Vermont law will require patients to state three times they wish to die. One of those statements must be in writing.

Full Article and Source:
Physician Assisted Suicide in Michigan?

Senators Klobuchar and Cornyn Introduce "The Court-Appointed Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act"

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) this week introduced bipartisan legislation to help protect seniors from neglect and financial exploitation.

The Court-Appointed Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act would help crack down on elder abuse by strengthening oversight and accountability for guardians and conservators. The bill is similar to legislation the senators introduced last year.

“Seniors deserve to live their lives safe from abuse and mistreatment,” Klobuchar said. “While most court-appointed guardians are undoubtedly professional, caring and law-abiding, there is mounting evidence that some guardians use their position of power for their own gain. This legislation would help increase accountability and oversight of guardians and protect those who are most vulnerable.”

“Caring for our seniors is an important role that many choose to take on, and I am grateful for all the support that the majority of guardians provide for these members of our communities,” said Cornyn. “I’m proud to sponsor legislation that will provide valuable safeguards for all seniors by adding accountability to the court process of appointing guardians.”

The senators’ legislation would provide support to states to implement programs to increase oversight of guardians and conservators.

Specifically, the bill makes state courts eligible for an already existing program designed to protect seniors. Under the program, state courts would be able to apply for funding to assess the handling of proceedings relating to guardians and conservators, and then make the necessary improvements to their practices. For example, the courts could conduct background checks on potential guardians and conservators, or implement an electronic filing system in order to better monitor and audit onservatorships and guardianships.

Full Article and Source:
Klobuchar, Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Lgislation to Protect Seniors From Neglect and Abuse by Guardians

Texas Judge Christopher Dupuy Indicted on 8 Criminal Charges

A Galveston County judge has been indicted on eight criminal counts charging him with abuse of office, including retaliation against the attorney representing the judge's wife in a divorce case.

The indictments, presented to state District Judge Kerry Neves by attorneys from the Texas Attorney General's Office on Wednesday, accuse County-Court-at-Law Judge Christopher Dupuy of two felony counts of obstruction or retaliation, two misdemeanor counts of official oppression and four misdemeanor counts of abuse of official capacity. If convicted on any count, Dupuy would be automatically removed from office.

He was arrested about 3 p.m. and posted bail of $19,000 about two hours later, Galveston County sheriff's spokesman Major Ray Tuttoilmondo said.

Dupuy could not be reached for comment and a spokesman for the attorney general declined to discuss the case.

The indictments offer few details, but they were presented only hours after a Galveston County attorney filed a civil lawsuit seeking the judge's removal from office. The petition for removal accuses Dupuy of failing to obey an order from a state appeals court, abusing his authority by retaliating against attorneys and threatening the district clerk while attempting to interfere in Dupuy's own divorce case.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Indicted on 8 Criminal Counts

See Also:
Retraction and Apology to District Judge Kerry Neves of Texas

Retraction and Apology to District Judge Kerry Neves of Texas

In our blogpost of the article regarding Texas Judge, Christopher Dupuy, who was indicted on eight criminal charges, (posted 5/23/13) we inadvertendly transposed Mr. Dupuy's name in the title of our post with the name of state District Judge Kerry Neves, who was not indicted but instead was presented with said indictments against Mr. Dupuy.

Upon being informed of the error, we immediately deleted the post in its entirety and reposted the story with the corrections at this URL: Texas Judge Christopher Dupuy Indicted on 8 Criminal Charges

Our sincere apologies to District Judge Kerry Neves.

Illinois Lawyer Faces 3-Year License Suspension

An attorney who questioned the integrity and fairness of four judges should lose his law license for three years and until further court order, a lawyer-discipline panel recommended.

The Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission Hearing Board found 'Lanre O.Amu knowingly made false statements or statements with reckless disregard for the truth.

"Given the respondent's lack of remorse, failure to understand the wrongfulness of his misconduct and inclination to personalize adverse rulings, we are concerned that he will be unable to conform his future conduct to professional standards," the hearing board report says.

The ARDC administrator filed a four-count complaint against Amu in December 2011 asserting that he made statements about the integrity of four judges that were false or made with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity.

Amu represented clients in two personal-injury cases, a medical-malpractice action and a legal-malpractice lawsuit. Those cases were before then-Cook County Circuit Judges Francis J. Dolan and Thomas R. Chiola, along with Circuit Court Judges Lynn M. Egan and Irwin S. Solganick. 

The four judges all made rulings adverse to Amu's clients.

Amu asserted that Dolan's ruling in a personal-injury case barring all the plaintiff's witnesses was improper and attacked the judge's integrity and fairness.
Amu, who represented himself before the hearing board, testified that he "stands by [his] statements," and his statements were 100 percent correct, the report says. Amu also called his statements "courageous."

The ARDC administrator's office urged that Amu be disbarred. The hearing board disagreed.

"While we recognize respondent's misconduct is serious and deserving of substantial discipline, we do not believe disbarment, the harshest possible sanction, would better advance the goals of the disciplinary system," says the hearing board report, which was issued last week.

"We do, however, believe a three-year suspension is necessary to impress upon respondent the wrongfulness of his misconduct and deter future misconduct."

As for the suspension-until-further-court-order condition, the report says, "We are confident this hurdle is necessary for respondent because he continues to view his conduct as not only acceptable but necessary, lacks remorse and has demonstrated throughout these disciplinary proceedings that he will likely continue to engage in the same course of conduct whenever he believes he has been treated unfairly."

Debra J. BraseltonThe hearing board consisted of its chair,  Debra J. Braselton (pictured at left), Andrea D. Rice and Donald D. Torisky, a non-lawyer. In the matter of Lanre O. Amu, No. 2011 PR 00106.

Amu said the ARDC is "abusing its processes" and he plans to file exceptions to the hearing board report with the ARDC Review Board, an appellate tribunal.

"What they have done there is a miscarriage of justice," he said. "I reject it completely."
ARDC Deputy Administrator James J. Grogan declined to comment about the hearing board report.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer Faces 3-Year License Suspension
See Also:
Information regarding 'Lanre O.Amu

Exploitation of Seniors Cost Them $3B a Year

A call from someone posing as a distressed grandchild needing emergency cash. An unannounced visit from men claiming they can repave a driveway at a discount. An email from a stranger who asks to be a penpal, then asks for money.
All are scams, and all have been effective at bilking seniors out of thousands of dollars, a group of elder-fraud experts told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Thursday.
More than 25 million adults, many 65 and older, were victims of fraud in 2011, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The Government Accountability Office, Congress' watchdog, estimates that “financial exploitation” cost seniors $3 billion in 2010.
Experts say the true numbers are underreported because the elderly are especially embarrassed to report they've been victimized. Those living alone and suffering from dementia can be easy prey, they said.
The problem is expected to get worse thanks to technological advances that have made reaching — and scamming — vulnerable seniors much easier, said Kay Brown, director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security for the GAO. She said it demands a national strategy that encourages cooperation and training among federal, state and local authorities, and an aggressive education campaign for seniors, she said.
There are signs of action:
• The Elder Justice Coordinating Council, a group of high-ranking officials from various federal agencies, is working to come up with ways to improve coordination to combat elder fraud.
• Lawmakers from Vermont and Florida this week introduced a bipartisan bill that would start an office at the Federal Trade Commission to alert consumers to new scams and ensure that fraud complaints “are quickly connected to the appropriate state and local law enforcement agency.”
• Officials in Jamaica promised Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, last month that they will extradite scammers who use the false promise of lottery winnings to cheat seniors out of their savings.

Full Article and Source:
Exploitation of Seniors Costs Them $3B a Year

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Judge Randy Kennedy Removes Public Guardian, Jeanan Mills Stuart

Citing “significant concerns” that she charged excessive fees to her clients, Davidson County Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy Wednesday permanently suspended Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart and vowed to help seek her replacement.

Stuart, who had held the job for five years, submitted a resignation letter effective in a week. Her letter was forwarded to members of Metro Council along with a letter from Kennedy announcing her termination.

In his five-paragraph letter to council, Kennedy wrote that while most conservatorship cases, including those assigned to Stuart “have been handled properly; even the perception that excessive fees have been charged is inexcusable.”

Stuart’s termination and simultaneous resignation follows a series of Tennessean stories raising questions about her billing practices.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Removes Public Guardian After She Charged Lawyer Fees for Non-Legal Work

See Also:
Tennessee Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart's Fees Exceed $1.8 Million

Probate Sharks: Some Thoughts on Illinois Attorney Ken Ditkowsky

Ken Ditkowsky is a modern John Brown who placed his life on the block to fight a "peculiar" institution called slavery.

Ken Ditkowsky is fighting a "peculiar" institution within the probate court system called legalized theft.

The similarities between the two men and their struggles are haunting. Brown's plan was a statement rather than a plan. Brown fought the might of the United States and the slave state of Virginia with 18 men; Ken Ditkowsky fights the powerful probate court and ARDC with his wits, skill and knowledge.

Even die hard abolitionists felt that Brown rocked the boat...until his off the cuff, spontaneous and eloquent 600 word speech denouncing slavery in the Virginia courtroom after he was sentenced to death.

I have faith that Ken Ditkowsky's eloquence will be heard and his mission will succeed. *

~ Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster,

*NASGA wholeheartedly agrees with our Shark collegues!

Some Thoughts on Ken Ditkowsky

See Also:
Northshore Live:  Interview with Ken Ditkowsky

Colorado: 2 Disbarments, 2 Suspensions in April

The Colorado Supreme Court’s Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge announced two disbarments, two suspensions and one reinstatement for the month of April.

Judge William Lucero disbarred both David Albert Solomon and Gregg McReynolds for converting client funds. Solomon represented a bank over the course of nine years, during which time he negotiated settlements without his client’s consent and converted client funds by ignoring his obligation to hold in trust those settlement payments. He also failed to keep his clients’ funds separate from his own. Solomon was previously suspended in 2005 for six months for neglecting a client matter and failing to protect his client’s interests.

McReynolds also converted funds he received on behalf of his client for her personal injury case (though he ultimately refunded those funds to her). In a second case, McReynolds settled a matter on his client’s behalf but failed to inform her he’d received the funds.

People v. Solomon. 12PDJ055. February 22. Attorney Regulation. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge disbarred David Albert Solomon (Attorney Registration No. 03176), effective March 29. Solomon, who was retained by a bank to handle collection matters, negotiated settlements without his client’s consent and converted client funds by ignoring his obligation to hold in trust those settlement payments. Solomon also failed to keep funds belonging to his client separate from his own, failed to promptly deliver to his client property it was entitled to receive, failed provide an accounting regarding his interests in the property, and failed to withdraw from the representation. His misconduct constitutes grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5 and violated Colo. RPC 1.2(a), 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 1.15(c), 1.16(a)(3), and 8.4(c).

Full Article and Source:
2 Disbarments, 2 Suspensions in April

Colorado Lawyer Indicted on Charges of Defrauding the IRS

A Denver-area lawyer has been indicted for allegedly defrauding the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver said Monday.

According to the indictment, the lawyer, Eva Melissa Sugar, 59, worked with Financial Fortress Associates, an organization that the government said promoted and advised clients on schemes to avoid the payment of income and other federal taxes.

Sugar, of Aurora, is self-employed and specializes in tax and other legal matters in Denver.

The indictment accuses Sugar and others of conspiring to defraud the United States for "the purpose of impeding, impairing, obstructing, and defeating" the "lawful functions" of the IRS.

Full Article and Source:
Denver Area Lawyer Indicted on Charges She Defrauded the IRS

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Editorial: D.C. Council Still Stalling on Elder Abuse

Last March, the daughter of the late D.C. Councilwoman Hilda Mason told the Office on Aging's Elder Abuse Prevention Committee that even her politically connected mother and multimillionaire stepfather became victims of neglect and financial exploitation at the hands of court-approved "conservators" who pilfered their fortune while forcing them to live in squalor.

The District's Adult Protective Services failed to protect her parents and still fails to protect vulnerable seniors, Carolyn Nicholas, president of Advocates for Elder Justice, testified.

As The Washington Examiner reported last year, Nicholas has been pleading with current council members to amend the Adult Protective Services Act to bring the District law in line with other states' best practices. But they're still dragging their feet.

In February, Council member Marion Barry, D-Ward 8, introduced a bill in memory of his old friend and political ally. The Charles and Hilda Mason Elder Abuse Clarification and Expansion Act of 2013 clarifies the definition of elder abuse and increases the penalties for preying on vulnerable seniors.

Guardians or conservators are only supposed to be appointed for people who do not have other plans in place when they become physically or mentally incapacitated. But D.C. Superior Court judges have overridden seniors' wishes, assigning "representatives" to people who have already designated a family member, friend or attorney to handle their affairs when they became frail or incapacitated.

Court-appointed guardians and conservators have total control over their wards' persons and property, but some are completely unsupervised, with no requirement to submit to outside audits or even file periodic accountings with the court for how they spent assets it took a lifetime to accumulate.

With such absolute power and little or no oversight by the courts or the city, abuse is inevitable. "Many court-appointed attorneys, guardians and/or conservators have in fact become nothing more than predators," Nicholas told The Examiner.

Barry's bill, which has been co-sponsored by Council members Anita Bonds, D-at large, Yvette Alexander, D-Ward 7, and Jim Graham, D-Ward 1, would make financial abuse of the elderly a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison, and allow elderly victims to sue for restitution. It would also prevent those convicted of exploiting seniors by "deception, intimidation, misrepresentation, fraud or undue influence" from inheriting their victims' estates.

Full Editorial and Source:
D.C. Council Still Stalling on Elder Abuse

One in 10 Elders is Abused or Neglected

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, one out of every 10 older Americans is abused or neglected.

Even worse? For every case of elder abuse we know about, an estimated 23 more go unreported. And all too often, the source of the problem hits very close to home.

Dr. Laura Mosqueda is the director of geriatrics at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine.

"What surprises a lot of people is that the most common abusers are family members, not paid caregivers," says Mosqueda. "Most of the abuse occurs in the home, typically by either a spouse or an adult child. Many of us can never imagine ourselves getting so angry that we would push or hit a loved one, but we can get driven to that point more easily than many of us realize."

Full Article and Source:
One in 10 Elders is Abused or Neglected

Monday, May 20, 2013

Family Fears Ashes are Just Sand....

A day after sheriff’s deputies pull permits and seize 17 bodies from a Modesto funeral home under criminal and civil investigation, one grieving family has new fears about what happened with their loved one.

“If this is not him where’s my husband? Where’s his body,” asks Willie Cotton.

Those are questions Willie Cotton never thought she’d be asking about the man she loved for 25 years. She never thought she’d have nagging questions after paying a now shuttered funeral home to cremate him and spread his ashes between several urns and special lockets.

“That was the purpose, that he wanted to be cremated so that we could have a part of him,” she said.

Soon after, Dewey Cotton senior was memorialized in March. His wife and 10 children began asking Shaun McGuire of McGuire Crematorium and Funeral Services about his ashes.

McGuire promised them by March 16 — Dewey’s birthday — but they arrived much, much later.

When the remains were finally delivered to the Cotton home, family members say they immediately felt something was wrong. Promised lockets were empty and the consistency of their loved one’s remains seemed off. The I.D. tag other morticians tell FOX40 should have been burned with the body was found loose in the bag of supposed ashes.

The Cottons don’t believe it’s him and reports of an investigation at McGuire’s have them even more concerned.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Family Fears That Ashes are Just Sand

See Also:
Bodies Taken From Modesto Funeral Home

91-Year-Old Man Raised Money to Prevent Eviction by Daughter

A 91-year-old man wants to stop his daughter from evicting him from the home he built 56 years ago in Zaleski, Ohio, a small community south of Columbus.
In 2004, John Potter and his wife, who has since died, gave the general power of attorney to his daughter for future matters if they declined in health, including to take care of her autistic adult brother, now 63.

But unbeknownst to Potter, his daughter Janice Cottrill eventually used that power to convey the deed to the one-story home to herself. In 2010, Potter said he learned of the deed transfer and switched power of attorney to his granddaughter, Jaclyn Fraley, now 35.

Potter, a World War II veteran and retired train dispatcher for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, sued to get the home back, arguing that his daughter had transferred the deed to herself illegally because those with the power of attorney are not permitted to transfer assets to themselves from the estate they oversee.

Potter won in Vinton County Court, but an appeals court ruled last year that the statute of limitations of four years had passed on the accusation of fraud and thus the deed could not be handed back to Potter.

Early this year, his daughter and her husband sent Potter an eviction notice, saying they had terminated his "existing lease." An eviction hearing will take place on June 12, during which the judge will have no choice but to evict Potter, Fraley told ABC News.

When asked how he feels about being evicted by his daughter and son-in-law, Potter was at a loss for words.

"I just cannot believe my daughter would ever do anything like that to me," he said.

Full Article and Source:
91-Year-Old Man Raised Money to Prevent Eviction by Daughter

Florida Man Accused of Bilking Elderly Woman Out of $170,000

A Pasco County man is accused of exploiting an 84-year-old woman and taking $170,000 from her, police said.

Bryant D. Gattos, 46, became Agnes Claire Raymond's financial adviser in July 2011. Raymond was diagnosed with moderate dementia, Tampa police said. In December 2011, Gattos obtained her power of attorney.

The next month, he took $170,000 from her "while knowing that she lacked the capacity to consent to the transfer of funds," police said. Gattos used the money for several purchases, including a Mercedes-Benz and a Harley-Davidson, police said.

Gattos faces a charge of exploitation of the elderly. He was being held in the Pasco County jail on $170,000 bail.

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Pasco Man Accused of Bilking Elderly Tampa Woman Out of $170,000

Sunday, May 19, 2013

MA Lawyer Admits Facts in Multiple Cases Against Him

A disbarred Edgartown attorney admitted to sufficient facts on several charges last week in Edgartown district court, including identity fraud, credit card fraud and a removed attorney practicing law.

John C. McBride, 64, was facing 18 charges in five different cases for allegedly continuing to provide legal services after being disbarred and taking money from two clients. In one case from March 2011, he allegedly provided legal help for a 21-year-old Oak Bluffs man who believed he was facing criminal charges after a car accident in Rhode Island. The man allegedly paid more than $3,000 to Mr. McBride for legal services and later came to the police after reading about Mr. McBride’s other legal problems.

Police determined that the man was not charged with a criminal offense and said in the report that Mr. McBride “took advantage of a young adult who was under the impression that he was in legal trouble.” Mr. McBride admitted to sufficient facts on a charge of a removed attorney practicing law; the case was continued without a finding for two years and he was ordered to pay $3,325 in restitution. Charges of unauthorized practice of law and larceny more than $250 by single scheme were dismissed.

In another case, Mr. McBride allegedly represented an Edgartown man who was seeking an insurance claim following a bicycle accident. In September 2011, Mr. McBride allegedly accepted a $5,000 settlement check, forged the man’s signature and deposited the check into his own account. Mr. McBride said he did not intend to keep the money in his account and was going to give it to the man, whom he considered a friend. He admitted to sufficient facts on a charge of removed attorney practicing law; the case was continued without a finding for two years. A charge of unauthorized practice of law was dismissed.

He also admitted to sufficient facts on charges of forgery of a check and uttering a promissory note falsely endorsed; the case was continued without a finding for two years. A charge of larceny more than $250 was dismissed.

Mr. McBride also admitted to sufficient facts on four counts of credit card theft under $250 and the matter was continued without a finding for two years. In that case from November 2011, he was charged with fraudulently using a credit card left in an ATM machine. Two charges of forgery of a document and two charges of utter false writing were dismissed upon request of the commonwealth because of a lack of jurisdiction.

Mr. McBride admitted to sufficient facts on two counts of identity fraud from June 2012, also continued without a finding for two years. He was ordered to have an evaluation for and participate in counseling as mandated by probation.

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Disbarred Attorney Admits Facts in Multiple Cases Against Him

Tonight on T.S. Radio: FL Guardianship Files Disappear

Join us this evening as we discuss the strange disappearance of Florida online guardianship files that ocurred over a two week period.

The files mysteriously reappeared within 10 minutes when Doug Franks questioned their wherabouts. Doug and his brother had to request permission to see their mother for Mother's Day.

 The judge agreed, but the order was not received until the day after the holiday.

The viscious and vengeful restrictions placed on the Franks brothers by the guardian are the most stringent and invasive we have ever seen. In what is clearly a case of retaliation, the malfeasance of the judge involved and the contracted employees of the court should be grounds for prosecution.

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

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Former Mayor Gets Nearly 5 Years for Bilking Elderly Man Out of $600K

Peter DiRosa, former mayor of Manchester, Conn., was described in court Thursday afternoon as a one-time congressional hopeful who became obsessed with launching a Hungarian resort as a way to reclaim his past stature and who used the retirement savings of a Kennebunk man to pursue the ultimately failed scheme.

DiRosa, 66, still of Manchester, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal to 57 months — four years and nine months — in prison on fraud charges and ordered to pay the now 81-year-old retiree back the $540,000 he convinced the victim to invest in the project.

DiRosa, who wore a dark suit to the afternoon hearing, was ordered to report for his sentence at 2 p.m. June 19 at a federal facility to be determined, but which Singal agreed should be “as close as possible to Manchester, Conn.”

During the sentencing hearing in the federal courthouse in Portland, several of DiRosa’s friends and colleagues spoke about his character, his background as a high school teacher and successful business owner, his active role in his church community and his time in public service.

But Singal chose a sentence closer to the 71-month prison term recommended by prosecutor Craig Wolff from the U.S. attorney’s office than the 30-day incarceration with 14 months of home detention sought by defense attorney William Maselli.

“It’s certainly a puzzle how people who knew Mr. DiRosa for so many years had one view of him, while the jury in this case, after hearing the evidence, had a very different view,” Singal said. “I think what happened here was Mr. DiRosa became obsessed. He felt like this project would make him more than what he was.”

The victim’s son told the judge during the hearing that the stress caused by DiRosa’s “trickery” forced both his mother and father to seek medical treatment.

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Former Conn. Mayor Gets Nearly 5 Years for Bilking Elderly Maine Man Out of $600,000

Michigan Scheduling Statewide Elder Abuse Summit in June

FLINT, MI -- Genesee County will host a statewide summit exploring elder abuse -- a problem that officials say is only expected to get worse.

Catherine A. Emerson, from the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, said Genesee County was selected to host the summit in part because of the success of an elder abuse task force headed by Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell.

Pickell said his program, which is funded through a county millage, has obtained more than 400 felony warrants, including about two dozen so far this year.

The sheriff added that his elder abuse program has the time and manpower to handle incidents that local police agencies may not have the time or specialized skills needed to properly investigate.

Emerson said the issue of elder abuse is a growing problem, particularly as a large number of Baby Boomers age.

"There's a perfect storm out there," said Emerson, noting the aging population and continued financial hardships felt by many in the state.

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Genesee County to Host Statewide Elder Abuse Summit in June