Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ky attorney disbarred over criminal conviction

A Lexington attorney has been permanently disbarred after admitting to taking $631,000 from a client over a 20-year period and another $46,000 in a separate case.

The Kentucky Supreme Court concluded Thursday that 65-year-old Brian P. Gilfedder's conduct warranted a permanent ban on practicing law. Gilfedder agreed to the disbarment as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in April that resulted in a 41-month prison sentence.  

Gilfedder admitted to taking $631,000 from a disabled veteran for whom he was appointed conservator in 1990. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing the benefits and using them for himself from 1991 and 2011.

In the other case, Gilfedder acknowledged keeping $46,000 paid by an insurance company to four clients after an auto accident.

Full Article and Source:
Ky attorney disbarred over criminal conviction

Deal allows Galveston judge replacement

GALVESTON - Indicted Galveston County Court-at-Law Judge Christopher Dupuy agreed Thursday to a deal allowing a replacement judge to be named until criminal and civil cases against him are resolved.

Although Dupuy is under suspension by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, a second suspension order was sought in a civil lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and local attorney Greg Hughes.

The suspension in the civil lawsuit will allow visiting District Judge Robert Kern of Fort Bend County to appoint a temporary replacement in County Court-at-Law Court No. 3.

Noting that Dupuy is already suspended, Assistant Attorney General David Glickler called the second suspension "an exercise in legal gymnastics."

Dupuy was indicted last month on eight criminal charges relating to his conduct in office, including two felony charges of official oppression. A Galveston County grand jury issued a ninth indictment last week accusing Dupuy of improperly practicing law as a sitting judge.

Dupuy would be removed permanently and automatically from office if convicted of one of the felony charges.

Full Article and Source:
Deal allows Galveston judge replacement

See Also:
Indicted Texas Judge's Ex-Finance Changes Her Story

Retraction and Apology to District Judge Kerry Neves of Texas

60 Plus Association

Founded in 1992, the 60 Plus Association is a non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues.

60 Plus has set ending the federal estate tax and saving Social Security for the young as its top priorities.

 60 Plus is often viewed as the conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

60 Plus Association

Friday, June 21, 2013

Linda Kincaid Reports: California Senate Judiciary Committee vote to curb elder abuse by conservators

AB937 will clarify that a conservatee retains basic personal rights guaranteed in the California Constitution. These rights include the right to receive visitors, the right to telephone calls, and the right to personal mail, unless specifically limited by court order.

This most basic right to engage in personal relationships is routinely violated by California conservators. The bill’s author, Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski writes in the bill analysis:
They then use their incorrect belief of absolute control to completely isolate conservatee from the outside world. No visitors, no phone calls, no mail from life partner, family, friends, neighbors, clergy, and/or advocates. 
AB 937 clarifies the Probate Code to state that in a conservatorship, the conservatee still retains personal rights such as the right to receive visitors, telephone calls and mail, unless these rights are limited by court order or need to be limited to protect the conservatee from abuse.

The bill analysis adds comments from an advocate whose mother was the victim of an abusive conservator.
My mother, Carol Hahn in San Bernardino County, was isolated by her conservator for fifteen months in 2010 and 2011. The conservator allowed no visitation and severely restricted phone calls. Mom's right to visitation was finally restored by a restraining order against continued isolation. That effort cost family $70K in legal fees. The cost to my mom was far greater. During the time she was isolated, Mom lost her memories of loved ones and she lost the ability to walk.  
I soon learned of other victims of the same type of abuse. The Santa Clara County Public Guardian isolated Gisela Riordan and Lillie Scalia beginning in 2010. Gisela was allowed no visitors, phone calls, or mail for two years. Lillie was completely isolated from family for one year; then she was allowed some limited visitation the second year.
Personal rights were restored to Gisela and Lille as a result of media coverage by ABC7 in San Francisco. Lillie has been returned to her home, and Gisela is now allowed visitors. Without media coverage, both women would likely still be prisoners.
Full Article and Source:
California Senate Judiciary Committee vote to curb elder abuse by conservators

'Ending Elder Abuse'

Nearly 1.6 million Americans now live in nursing homes. That number will double in the next twenty years, as medical science lengthens our life expectancies and the senior population grows. Inevitably, most of us will have to supervise the care of aging parents or grandparents, and every one of us faces the prospect of growing old and possibly frail. Thirty percent of elderly Americans say they would rather die than move into a nursing home. Their fears are well founded: Inspection documents show that more than a  quarter of the nursing homes in the United States have been repeatedly cited for violations that caused serious harm or death to residents. In California, fully one-third caused serious injury or death, and less than 2 percent of nursing homes had no violations!

**Diane Sandell's ninety-one-year-old mother was severely beaten in a nursing home in Orange County, California. She died six weeks later. The home was never cited for abuse, nor was anyone ever prosecuted.

Ending Elder Abuse confronts the inexcusable pervasiveness of abuse, verbal, physical, mental, sexual, and financial, of America’s elder generation. Its practical, creative approach provides hope and encouragement to the elderly and their families.

Available at Barnes Noble

Four in ten U.S. adults care for sick and elderly relatives

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four in 10 U.S. adults are now caring for a sick or elderly family member as more people develop chronic illnesses and the population ages, a new study has found.

“More health care is happening at home,” said Susannah Fox, associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life project and the study’s lead author. “As more people are able to be saved by medical advances, their lives are being extended, but they’re also being sent home medically fragile. It’s caregivers who are the first line of defense.”

Researchers, which found that the number of caregivers increased 10 percent between 2010 and 2013, surveyed 3,014 adults nationwide and found that most caregivers were between 30 and 64 years old.

Fox also said the slow U.S. economy could explain why family members are becoming more responsible for care. With fewer or depleted savings, many people are less able to hire professional help, she said.

About half of the United States population has at least one chronic condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adults ages 65 and older, 75 percent of whom have chronic conditions, are expected to make up 19 percent of the population by 2030, compared with 12 percent in 2000.

“As a chronic illness progresses, family members step in to help out,” said Denise Brown, founder of the support site “There’s a better understanding of the progression of the disease than the practitioner because they live with it.”

Full Article and Source:
Four in ten U.S. adults care for sick and elderly relatives

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Social services worker in Texas stole from clients

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — A social services worker in Southeast Texas serving as a guardian to help people manage their money has pleaded guilty to felony theft.

The Galveston County Daily News ( ) reported Wednesday that 47-year-old Sylvia Ann Villarreal of Hitchcock faces up to 20 years in prison. The penalty phase begins in August for Villarreal, who pleaded guilty Monday.

Records show Villarreal worked for Galveston County's guardianship program for nearly 15 years before she was fired in March 2010. She was later indicted on a charge of theft by public servant involving between $20,000 and $100,000 of funds since 2007.

The investigation began when a judge who appointed Villarreal to assist wards of the county noticed irregularities with their checking accounts.

Full Article and Source:
Social services worker in Texas stole from clients

Connecticut judge suspended 30 days for late decisions

A Connecticut state judge has been suspended for 30 business days after admitting being late in issuing child welfare rulings.

The suspension approved Wednesday by the state Judicial Review Council was the second discipline in four years against Judge E. Curtissa R. Cofield. She was also suspended for eight months in 2009 after being accused of drunken driving and using racial slurs while arguing with Glastonbury police.

Cofield apologized for her conduct Wednesday during a more than 30-minute speech before the council. She said she has done many good deeds including helping women get off drugs and prostitution.

Full Article and Source:
Connecticut judge suspended 30 days for late decisions

Study: Depressed, Lonely Elderly Most Apt to be Defrauded

Elder exploitation -- such as telemarketing scams, fake home repairs, check scams and identity theft -- costs U.S. seniors $3 billion a year, researchers say.

Lead author Peter Lichtenberg, director of Wayne State University's Institute of Gerontology, in collaboration with Illinois Institute of Technology, said the study included 4,440 participants.

The study, published in Clinical Gerontologist, found the most psychologically vulnerable -- with the highest levels of depression and lowest levels of social-needs fulfillment -- experienced higher levels of fraud compared to those who were not vulnerable psychologically.

"The combination of high depression and low social-status fulfillment was associated with a 226 percent increase in fraud prevalence in this population," Lichtenberg said in a statement. "This supports our theory that depressive symptoms and lack of social-needs fulfillment have an effect on fraud prediction, and serves as a reminder to clinical gerontologists how psychological vulnerability can affect older adults' lives in a variety of ways."
Full Article and Source:
Study - Depressed, Lonely Elderly Most Apt to be Defrauded

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Judge's outburst 'disturbing'

The judicial conduct commissioner has described a judge's "shrill and unprofessional outburst" during a Family Court hearing as "disturbing".
A complaint was laid against Judge Emma Smith by a family concerned about her behaviour during a hearing into the terms of a parenting order over their daughter in 2010. Commissioner Sir David Gascoigne made a report in October, last year.
He said the complaint was not trivial, and "not frivolous, vexatious or made otherwise than in good faith".
Smith is quoted in the report as saying "I reject any improper behaviour by myself as alleged". She did, however, state that there were tense times during the hearing when all became frustrated, including her.
Sir David had concerns with a particular audio passage featuring Smith. "It is my opinion that what occurred during this part of the hearing was a shrill and unprofessional outburst on the judge's part.
This amounted to gross and gratuitous discourtesy to a professional witness who, on my assessment, maintained his own complete professionalism in the face of a distinctly challenging situation."
The commissioner also considered a claim of bias against Judge Smith, but found there was no conduct warranting his intervention.
He referred the matter to the "head of bench", chief district court judge Jan-Marie Doogue, saying there was a "significant and troublesome aspect of judicial conduct present".
A responding letter by Judge Doogue in March said had she known about personal difficulties Judge Smith was having at the time she may have required her to stand aside, and would be reminding judges to advise her if they were faced with undue personal pressures that might create inappropriate judicial behaviours in future.
"I can advise that the judge accepts on reflection that the witness experienced her questions, attitude and approach as disrespectful, unprofessional, excessive and debilitating.
"Whilst it is not an excuse, it is an explanation to say that the judge was enduring traumatic personal circumstances herself at the time."
Judge Smith had since sought and obtained professional assistance, regretted the circumstances and was genuinely apologetic for any and all distress caused, she said.
"As Head of Bench, however, I must be mindful that judges are human beings and sometimes subjected to unbearable pressure themselves."
The family who laid the original complaint have lodged another complaint to have Judge Smith seen as incapacitated in some way, and wanted to see her decision to allow unsupervised visits between their daughter and her birth father overturned. This is despite a 2011 appeal to the High Court being dismissed.

Full Article and Source:
Judge's outburst 'disturbing'

Protecting the elderly

An elderly woman was living in a house so small she couldn’t use her walker to get around. An adult daughter checked on her daily. A quick visit, to make sure she had some food. Unable to reach a table, she was reduced to crawling and eating food while on the floor, Park recalled.

The woman also needed help going to the bathroom. So she was given two diapers each day, Park said.

The woman lost more than 20 pounds. “It’s just horrific,” the judge said. “That someone would treat (her) that way.”

The story didn’t have a bad ending.

An emergency court hearing took place. Adult Protective Services got involved and the woman was placed at a nursing home.

Roughly a year later, she died, Park said. But her quality of life had been vastly improved until then, she said.

That type of case is why Park and numerous agencies have teamed together to raise awareness of the issue of elderly care and neglect and abuse.

Agencies, attorneys, probate court, law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office and Adult Protective Services (part of the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services) also have worked together to respond to cases of neglect and abuse more efficiently and effectively.

The group, named the Stark Multidisciplinary Advocacy Protective Resources Team (SMART), is holding a seminar Friday on the topic. Saturday is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

It’s the third year for the event. Attorneys and those who work with the elderly will be attending the presentation, titled “Justice for All — Protecting the Elderly and Disabled: The Gray Zone of Incompetency and Incapacity.”

The registration deadline for the event has passed.


Susan Stroup, of Coleman Professional Services, says that public awareness is high for child neglect and abuse. The Stark County Department of Job and Family Services contracts with Coleman to investigate cases of elderly neglect and abuse.

But the issue of elderly abuse is sometimes forgotten, lost in the shadows, she said.

Full Article and Source:
Protecting the elderly

B-Vitamins May Reduce Brain Shrinkage, Reduce Alzheimer's Risk

British researchers say vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid lower levels of homocysteine, which may reduce Alzheimer's disease risk.

Dr. David Smith of Oxford University in England said the amino acid homocysteine is linked to shrinkage of the brain. Shrinkage of the brain is linked to Alzheimer's disease.

Previous studies show patients with mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to Alzheimer's disease, suffered 50 percent less brain shrinkage overall if they took vitamin B supplements.

The current study of 156 patients, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, found brain shrinkage was reduced by 90 percent in particular areas of the brain most vulnerable in Alzheimer's patients, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Full Article and Source:
B-Vitamins May Reduce Brain Shrinkage, Reduce Alzheimer's Risk

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Efforts intensify in Michigan to protect elderly, vulnerable adults

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith
Elder and vulnerable adult abuse in recent years was like child abuse in the 1960s, says Macomb County elder advocate Marty Prehn.
It wasn’t talked about. It was kept in the family.
But that is changing, as elder advocates in Michigan have instituted a slew of laws and initiated programs to create awareness and protect elderly and vulnerable adults, over the past year.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Rhonda Powell, former director of the Macomb County Senior Citizen Services Department and now deputy director of the state Office of Services on Aging. “There hasn’t been this big of a movement to protect elders in a long time. Unfortunately we’ve arrived at a point in time where these safeguards are needed.”

Full Article and Source:
Efforts intensify in Michigan to protect elderly, vulnerable adults

Court: Iowa lawyers overbilled ill Vietnam veteran

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Lawyers who billed a mentally ill Vietnam War veteran $125 per hour for "services," such as attending his birthday parties and taking him shopping, will have their licenses suspended for 18 months, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.
Keota law partners Donald Laing and Scott Railsback falsely claimed too many hours for providing conservator services to John KIein over three decades and charged excessive rates for services that didn't require legal training, the court ruled. The attorneys received $178,000 in excess fees while managing Klein's assets — even while he complained that they didn't give him enough money to buy cigarettes and energy drinks.
"They turned everything into a profit for themselves," said Oskaloosa attorney Garold Heslinga, who exposed the excess after suing Laing and Railsback on behalf of Klein in 2008. "They charged him to go visit him on his birthday. They charged him for going to Iowa City to buy presents to give some woman. It was just ridiculous."
He said the discipline should have come "a long time ago," and now may have little impact. The pair's former law firm has changed hands, and a secretary said Friday they've retired. Their phone numbers were disconnected.
Laing was appointed Klein's conservator in 1974 after Klein inherited valuable farmland and property. Then 24, he did not have a legal guardian at the time. Klein, who had a history of paranoid schizophrenia, depression and substance abuse, later inherited additional land and money worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The court said that Klein's illness and volatile behavior posed significant and time-consuming challenges for Laing and Railsback, who helped relocate Klein to residential care facilities in California, Colorado and Connecticut. When Klein lived on his own, he had trouble with crime, relationships and money management.
Klein, now 63 and living independently in Iowa, admitted that the men were very helpful over the years, even if they were tight-fisted.
The court credited Laing and Railsback for assisting Klein in the absence of relatives but found the two ultimately took advantage of the relationship through indefensible charges.
Full Article and Source:

Regulators Try to Stop Financial Abuse of Seniors

WASHINGTON –Two federal regulators are teaming up to help prevent financial exploitation of the elderly.

A new curriculum developed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aims to help the elderly avoid being subject to financial scams and frauds.

Seniors are considered easy targets for predators, the regulators say. Insurance company MetLife MET +2.12%has found that older Americans lose $2.9 billion a year due to financial abuse.

Known as “Money Smart for Older Adults” the curriculum  is designed to teach seniors and their care-givers about financial scams.  It is also designed to ensure that older adults plan for a future in which they lose the capability to make financial decisions.

Officials envision the 2 1/2-hour curriculum being taught by providers of services to seniors as well as bank employees. It covers issues including veterans scams, identify theft, medical identify theft, scams involving reverse mortgages, planning for unexpected events and disaster planning.

Earlier this year, the CFPB found in a report that seniors are often confused by a wide array of professional titles designed to convey financial expertise.

Seniors, family members and care-givers should be wary of signs of financial abuse, said Richard Cordray, the agency’s director.

“Sometimes the indicators are obvious:  funds disappearing from accounts, bills that go unpaid, belongings that are missing,” Mr. Cordray said. “Sometimes they are more subtle, such as electronic or ATM withdrawals that fly under the radar or a new friend or acquaintance showing up with power of attorney or being added on a joint account.”

Full Article and Source:
Regulators Try to Stop Financial Abuse of Seniors

Monday, June 17, 2013

Linda Kincaid Reports: California Assembly Judiciary Committee vote to curb elder abuse by conservators

San Francisco’s ABC7 I-Team investigated elder abuse by the Santa Clara County Public Guardian. See Public guardian under fire for isolating elderly.

AB937 aims to curb those abuses. See I-Team investigation gets woman more visits, law proposed.
The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all persons have the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” However, some conservators routinely violate that “inalienable right” that was so clearly penned by Thomas Jefferson.
  • In Stanislaus County, June Guinn has not seen her family since 2008. The conservator will not disclose June’s location. Family fears that June is dead.
  • In Sacramento County, David Fettgather, a young man with Down syndrome, is allowed to see his father only on alternate weekends.
  • In San Joaquin County, the Public Guardian isolated Maria Jordanou from her family for the last month of her life. Maria died believing her family abandoned her.
  • In Los Angeles County, Helen Kasof was allowed only limited visitation with her son for 15 months.
  • In Santa Clara County, the Public Guardian isolated Gisela Riordan and Lillie Scalia beginning in 2010. Gisela was allowed no visitors, phone calls, or mail for over two years. Lillie was isolated for a year.
  • In San Bernardino County, Jean Swope was taken from her home, hidden from family, and isolated for 15 months. The conservator allowed no visitation and severely restricted phone calls.

Full Article and Source:
California Assembly Judiciary Committee vote to curb elder abuse by conservators

See Also:
Linda Kincaid Reports: Elder Abuse of June Guinn by Modesto, California Conservator

 'David Fettgather: Dependent Adult Abused by Californial Conservator'

 Linda Kincaid Reports: Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse: Public Guardian Takes Control of Gisela Riordan

 Linda Kincaid Reports: Isolation and False Police Report in CA Facility

Disciplinary hearing begins for Wayne County Judge Bruce Morrow

(WXYZ) - Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow is known by some inside his courtroom as “Cut ‘em loose Bruce,” a nickname started by those who think he’s too easy on accused criminals.

Now, it’s Morrow asking for leniency at his hearings before the Judicial Tenure Commission begin.

Today’s first witness was retired Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Jeffrey Caminsky, who said Morrow “seemed to have some personal animus towards me.”

Caminsky said Judge Morrow improperly closed the courtroom in the high-profile murder case of Jean Pierre Orlewicz, after he’d been convicted of killing 26-year-old Daniel Sorenson.

When a hearing was held to ask for a new trial, Judge Morrow barred Channel 7 from attending.  But then he went further. Even though the defendant didn’t ask for it, Morrow closed the courtroom to the public, and the victim’s family.

Full Article and Source:
Disciplinary hearing begins for Wayne County Judge Bruce Morrow

Elmer Cerano: Guardianship bills must be changed

“Death panels,” but this time a panel of one, again rears its ugly head supported by those who cautioned against it in the past.

Several bills are pending in the Michigan Legislature that, if passed, will expand the role and the authority of Michigan guardianship laws. The bills, as written, will allow guardians to invoke a “do not resuscitate” order for a certain group of individuals with disabilities who can not communicate their wishes. This is a very dangerous first step that will allow individual and corporate guardians the authority to prohibit resuscitation of people with disabilities. Here are the problems:

1. Some guardians, primarily court-appointed public guardians, have no prior knowledge of the individual or any type of substantial relationship with the incapacitated person. We do not believe that such a person should be allowed to make decisions of this magnitude on behalf of someone they hardly know.

2. These bills, as written, do not take into account the physical health status of the patient. As result, a perfectly healthy individual could be stripped of a long life due to the decision-making of a person who very well might be a stranger.

3. It allows guardians who may be inconvenienced by — or who may financially benefit from the patient’s death — to decide whether or not to resuscitate.

Full Article and Source:
Elmer Cerano: Guardianship bills must be changed

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Oregon NASGA Member Erna Boldt Writes to Her Congressman for Help.....

Dear Rep. Blumenauer:

Sometime in 2004/2005 Your Portland office was informed by the Oregon Justice Department, that I was not in the class of the "indigent". That was a direct discrimination - and abuse against an elder citizen.

This has morphed into abuse under the American with Disabilities Act, ADA, Title II, in which the protection from Judicial Fundamental Attribution Error, "a type of abuse that occurs when exploitation, deception,mischaracterization, and intimidation are being used by an opponent for the strategic purpose of confusing the Trier of Fact and diminishing Ms. Boldt's ability to function in court", was ignored.

Not only have I been discriminated against, suffered the deprivation of my assets at my age, but this last matter has driven me to insolvency, because federal laws were not upheld in my 10 years of judicial tyranny in Oregon.

Someone needs to investigate, why federal law, including the federal Uniform trust code, and the American with Disabilities act (I was diagnosed under post stroke recovery, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, translating into legal abuse, has been denied in Clackamas Circuit Court (5th judicial district). It is the duty of the Justice Department to investigate such complaint and disregard for my Constitutional rights.
Thank you,
Erna Boldt

In a message dated 3/5/2012 12:58:01 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:
March 5, 2012
Erna Boldt

Ms. Boldt:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

I appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention. Since it is a legal issue, it is very difficult for me to get involved. As a Member of Congress, it would be inappropriate for me to give advice about legal matters. I don't have jurisdiction over the legal system or civil lawsuits.

If you haven't done so already, seeking legal counsel may be your best course of action. The office of the Oregon State Bar Association is a good resource for information on legal services and has a lawyer referral service.

Their phone number is 503-684-3763.

Thank you again for contacting me.
Sincerely, Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress

Reform Lands Maricopa County Superior Court's Probate Court Top Honor

The National Association of Court Management has awarded Maricopa County Superior Court's Probate Court with the 2013 Justice Achievement Award.
The award recognizes comprehensive reform efforts of judicial officers, administrators and court staff over the last three years, according to a news release from the Superior Court of Arizona.

"It is clear that over the past few years the Maricopa County Probate Court has experienced significant reform and innovation under the able leadership of Probate Presiding Judge Rosa Mroz," said Superior Court Presiding Judge Norman Davis in the release.

"The process of improvement is by its nature perpetual, and the Maricopa County Superior Court has always, and will continue to strive for excellence in providing the public with the best judicial system possible," Davis said.

The Court will accept the award at the NACM Annual Conference on July 15.

The Justice Achievement Award was established in 1988 to recognize outstanding achievement and meritorious projects that enhance the administration of justice, according to the release.

In 2010, Superior Court received a Justice Achievement Award for the re-design of its CASA website.

Reform Lands Probate Court Top Honor