Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ohio attorney faces discipline in billing probe

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A private southwest Ohio attorney who was appointed by various courts to handle the cases of people who couldn't afford a lawyer is being disciplined after an audit found he had submitted bills for working 29 hours in a single day and more than 20 hours per day in other occasions.

The Dayton Daily News ( ) reported Thursday that a disciplinary action against Dayton attorney Ben Swift has been filed with the Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners.

The state's highest court will determine Swift's sanction.

Courts are allowed to hire private attorneys when public defenders aren't available and the state and county pay their bills. Swift at some point had handled nearly 850 cases.

Full Article and Source:
Ohio attorney faces discipline in billing probe

Ex-councilwoman in Hagerstown indicted on theft, perjury charges

HAGERSTOWN, Maryland — A Washington County grand jury has indicted a formerly Hagerstown city councilwoman on theft and perjury charges for money allegedly taken from an estate.

The indictment against Kelly S. Cromer was filed in court on Tuesday. It alleges that Cromer, an attorney, stole thousands of dollars from the estate of a woman who died in 2011 and from two of her grandchildren.

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Ex-councilwoman in Hagerstown indicted on theft, perjury charges

Friday, September 13, 2013

Left With Nothing

On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb.

Movers carted out his easy chair, his clothes, his television. Next came the things that were closest to his heart: his Marine Corps medals and photographs of his dead wife, Martha. The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered. By sundown, he had nowhere to go.
All because he didn’t pay a $134 property tax bill.
The retired Marine sergeant lost his house on that summer day two years ago through a tax lien sale — an obscure program run by D.C. government that enlists private investors to help the city recover unpaid taxes.
For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid.
But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.
As the housing market soared, the investors scooped up liens in every corner of the city, then started charging homeowners thousands in legal fees and other costs that far exceeded their original tax bills, with rates for attorneys reaching $450 an hour.

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Left With Nothing

Indicted Texas Judge Loses Bid To Nix Removal Suit

Law360, Houston (September 12, 2013, 3:15 PM ET) -- A Texas appeals court declined Thursday to throw out a civil removal suit aimed at a state judge indicted on abuse of office charges, clearing the way for proceedings to continue in the case.

The First District Court of Appeals denied Galveston County Court at Law Judge Christopher Dupuy's petition for mandamus, in which he said that the trial court hearing the removal suit should have dismissed the case.

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Indicted Texas Judge Loses Bid To Nix Removal Suit

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

California Bill Makes it Easier to File a Financial Elder Abuse Lawsuit

Sacramento, CA: Victims of financial elder abuse in California may find it easier to file an elderly financial abuse lawsuit now that Assembly Bill 381 has been passed. The bill gives victims of financial elderly abuse by those who have power of attorney the ability to recover attorney’s fees and costs if they are successful in their lawsuit.

Assembly Bill 381 (AB 381) was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on August 14, and was written by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park). According to a news release from Assemblymember Chau, the law allows the court to award attorney’s costs and fees to seniors who are financially abused by people who use their power of attorney in bad faith.

Prior to AB 381, California law allowed double damages to senior victims of misappropriation of their funds, theft or bad faith on the part of someone with power of attorney. The problem with that was in many cases the cost of the lawsuit itself was even more than double the amount taken from the senior, meaning the senior would actually lose money by filing a lawsuit against someone who had stolen from him or her. The senior was left with the choice of either letting the perpetrator get away with the crime or incurring even more expenses by filing a lawsuit.

 AB 381 would allow the awarding of attorney’s costs and fees when the senior is successful in his or her lawsuit, making it more financially viable for the senior to file a lawsuit.

“Each year in California, elder and dependent adults are devastated by the loss of property taken from them through financial scams,” said Assemblymember Chau in his news release. “This bill makes certain that seniors who are victims of financial elder abuse will no longer have to worry about the cost of seeking justice.”

Full Article and Source:
California Bill Makes It Easier to File a Financial Elder Abuse Lawsuit

Judge Again Blocks Ohio Hospital's Attempt to Force Amish Girll to Resume Treatments

A judge has again blocked an Ohio hospital from forcing a 10-year-old Amish girl to resume chemotherapy after her parents decided to stop the treatments.

The order siding with the parents comes just a week after an appeals court sent the case back to the judge and told him to give more consideration to the request by Akron Children’s Hospital.

The hospital wants a registered nurse to take over limited guardianship of Sarah Hershberger and decide whether she should continue treatments for leukemia. The hospital believes Sarah’s leukemia is treatable and says she will die without chemotherapy.

Andy Hershberger, the girl’s father, said the family agreed to begin two years of treatments for Sarah last spring but stopped a second round of chemotherapy in June because it was making her extremely sick.

Judge John Lohn, in Medina County, said in his ruling Tuesday that not allowing the parents to make medical decisions for their daughter would take away their rights. He also said there is no guarantee that chemotherapy would be successful.
“They are good parents,” he said. “They understand completely the grave situation their daughter is in and the consequences of their choice to refuse chemotherapy for Sarah at this time.”

Lohn said also that allowing for a guardian would go against the girl’s wishes.
Full Article and Source:
Judge again blocks Ohio hospital’s attempt to force Amish girl to resume cancer treatments

See Also:
Judge sides with hospital that forced chemotherapy for Amish girl with leukemia

Ohio hospital wants to force Amish girl’s cancer treatment after parents stop chemotherapy

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Recommended Blog: The Myths of Guardianship

Joe Roubicek, Author of "Financial Abuse of the Elderly - A Detective's Case Files of Exploitation Crimes" and a new book in progress, "KILL MOM, KILL DAD; Disposing of the Elderly for Profit" has also started a new Blog, "The Myths of Guardianship."   

CLICK HERE to join the discussion on "The Myths of Guardianship"

Joe Roubicek has 28 years of first-hand experience investigating exploitation crime. 

CLICK HERE to take advantage of a simple consultation with Joe for only $25

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hampton's Ashwood raises questions about licensing process

Months into a waiting game on the future of Ashwood Assisted Living in Hampton, owner Scott Schuett has voluntarily closed two additional homes, Oakwood in Suffolk in June and, last month, Colonial Home in Chesapeake. Of the six homes, housing 400 residents, which he operated just a couple of years ago, only Ashwood and Chesapeake Home in Chesapeake remain open. Neither has a current license.

Conditions at Ashwood have failed to meet state standards on countless occasions over the past few years. Multiple inspections have revealed hundreds of violations, including medication mismanagement, bedbugs and insufficient food for residents. Its license expired a year ago, on Aug. 25, 2012, but it continues to operate while its revocation is under appeal. Chesapeake Home's provisional license expired on June 30.

The latest step in the Ashwood appeal took place at a closed hearing in Newport News at the end of May. At that time the hearing officer said a decision would be made within 90 days. But, according to Patricia "Trish" Meyer, regional licensing administrator for the Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS), the need for additional information extended the hearing process into mid-July, which pushed back the 90-day window. Once the hearing officer's recommendation is received, the DSS Commissioner then has an additional 30 days to make a case decision.

"I would love for this to be resolved as soon as possible," said Lynne Williams, director of the Division of Licensing Programs for DSS which regulates the state's 539 assisted living facilities or ALFs. "I believe providers have rights and should have appeal rights. It can take a very long time to get through the appeals process. It can be quite frustrating."

According to Williams, there are two means of closing a facility, the current process being pursued by DSS with regard to Ashwood, and summary suspension. With the latter, the DSS commissioner can order a facility to close immediately, but it has to go before a judge within three days. "I doubt if we've done it at all this year. There's a heavy burden of proof on us," said Williams, citing an instance where a judge dismissed a case against a facility because "it hadn't killed anyone recently."

When Schuett took over Ashwood in 2009, it was his first foray into working with residents receiving state auxiliary grants. Used with Social Security income, they provide homes with about $1,100 a month for each resident. In a December 2012 interview, Schuett claimed to be the largest provider of auxiliary grant beds in the state. (The program serves about 6,000 people statewide.) Since then, he has declined to give interviews to the newspaper. An administrator who answered the phone at Ashwood this week declined to comment on the facility's status.

"Our goal is always to keep facilities open and get them within compliance," said Williams, citing license revocation as a last resort.

Full Article and Source:
Hampton's Ashwood raises questions about licensing process

See Also:
Virginia: Scott Schuett, Operator of 5 ALF's, License Revoked!

Scott Schuett: Operator of Peninsula Assisted Living Homes Fights for License

Newport News Assisted Living Facility Closes

Woman arrested for malicious wounding in Newport News retirement home incident

Man Charged in Assulting Woman, 92, in Suffolk

Injury Leads to More Scrutiny for Suffolk Home

Assisted Living Concerns: Facility Resident Tried to Enter Home

Board Alleges Improper Care at Adultcare Homes

State Suspends Assisted-Living Facility Administrator's Licenses

Check the License Status of Any Facility Through the Virginia Department of Social Services Website

Nursing assistant to go on trial for murder

BRATTLEBORO — A judge has rejected an 11th-hour move by a former Brattleboro nursing assistant, charged with murdering one of her nursing home patients, to dismiss most of the charges.

Judge David Suntag rejected the motion from Jodi LaClaire’s attorney, Daniel Sedon, who was seeking to have related financial exploitation charges dismissed.

Suntag’s decision sets the stage for LaClaire’s murder trial to begin Monday in Brattleboro criminal court.

LaClaire, 39, formerly of Bennington, N.H., faces charges of second-degree murder, elder abuse and seven counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. She is accused of injecting 85-year-old Nita Lowery of Brattleboro with a fatal dose of insulin on March 23, 2009 — medicine Lowery had never taken in her life.

According to pre-trial information from medical experts, the insulin injection left Lowery brain dead.

Lowery’s cause of death on April 1, 2009, was hypoglycemia, or extremely low blood sugar.

Court records say that in the early morning hours of March 23, LaClaire tried to use Lowery’s credit card as Lowery lay dying in her nursing home room.

LaClaire is also charged with accessing Lowery’s financial accounts in the weeks following Lowery’s death, pocketing about $4,000.

Sedon, in a motion filed last week, had asked that all of the financial charges against his client be dismissed. He argued that two necessary legal elements were missing from many of the charges against LaClaire.

But Assistant Attorney General Ultan Doyle criticized Sedon’s reasoning in his response to the motion. He said that by Sedon’s reading of the elderly exploitation statute, there was no crime involved by LaClaire using a dead woman’s credit card.

“He argues that if a person willfully uses funds of a vulnerable adult, without legal authority, for wrongful profit, no crime has been committed, and that, similarly, if a person willfully acquires possession of an interest in funds of a vulnerable adult through the use of undue influence, no crime has been committed,” Doyle wrote.

Sedon had argued that the language of the state law was flawed, and that the state’s charges “do not contain a plain, concise and definite written statement” of an alleged crime.

Sedon argued that in order for a crime to have been committed, the state had to allege that not only had funds been used by an unauthorized person, but that the acquisition of the funds was by ‘‘wrongful means.”

LaClaire was the only nursing assistant on Lowery’s floor that night, court records stated.

According to court records, LaClaire had financial problems, mostly medical bills from Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, N.H. There were also records of LaClaire selling pieces of jewelry at a pawn shop in Massachusetts.

In late August, the state dropped nine of the financial exploitation and attempted financial exploitation counts against LaClaire, leaving seven in place.

Doyle noted that he would not present evidence about another patient at Thompson House, the Brattleboro nursing home where LaClaire worked. That patient also ended up in the emergency room with extremely low blood sugar, a sign of an insulin overdose.

Like Lowery, “T.I.” did not take insulin and was not a diabetic. “T.I.” was hospitalized and recovered from her severely low blood sugar, but died 10 months later from natural causes, court records stated.

According to court records, LaClaire herself is a diabetic and used injectable insulin.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing assistant to go on trial for murder

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Against All Odds - Congratulations Guadalupe Olvera!

On August 21, 2013, California Superior Court Judge Paul M. Marigonda restored the rights of 94-yr-old WW2 hero Guadalupe Olvera after a court appointed Nevada guardian bled $300,000.00 from Olvera's family trust, deprived him of his civil rights, and held him captive in his Henderson, Nevada home from the beginning of November 2009 until the end of September 2010 when Olvera defied Nevada for-hire guardian Jared Shafer's orders and moved back to California to spend his final days with his family.

Shafer then spent Olvera's funds paying attorneys in Nevada and California in an expensive but failed effort to force Olvera to return to Nevada, while holding his estate captive until August 21, 2013 when Judge Marigonda finally restored Olvera's civil rights.  Confirming that Guadalupe Olvera was and is competent to handle his own personal and financial affairs, Judge Marigonda overruled the orders of Shafer crony, Clark County Family Court "Guardianship Commissioner" Jon Norheim, and released Olvera from a forced California guardianship required by Shafer as a condition for the Nevada termination of Shafer's four-year-long control of Olvera's person and fortune.

Asked how he feels after regaining his civil rights, Guadalupe Olvera stated: 'I'm glad I'm free from what he did to me. I'm free now and I don't ever want to hear his name again. I hope he goes to jail.'

Jared Shafer

Full Article and Source:
Daughter of WW2 Vet Succeeds in Terminating Jared E. Shafer's Nevada guardianship and a California Conservatorship Dictated by Shafer

See Also:
NASGA:  Lupe Olvera
Marcy Dudek

Deadline set for Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown to respond to petition seeking her removal

The Indiana Supreme Court on Friday set a noon Wednesday deadline for Marion Superior Judge Kimberly J. Brown to file a response challenging an emergency petition to remove her from the bench.

The order signed by Chief Justice Brent E. Dickson says the deadline was set because disciplinary rules do not specifically establish a deadline for responses to interim suspension petitions.

The state Commission on Judicial Qualifications last month filed a complaint against Brown alleging 45 counts of misconduct. At the same time, the commission filed an emergency petition seeking her suspension, with pay, pending outcome of a disciplinary case involving the alleged misconduct.

The action to remove a judge before completion of a disciplinary case is an “extraordinary measure,” the court noted when announcing the action against Brown on Aug. 26.

Brown, a Democrat elected in 2008, faces charges that include dereliction of duty, delaying the release of at least nine defendants from jail, failing to train or supervise court employees, creating a hostile environment for staff and attorneys and failing to properly complete paperwork.

A staff member who answered the phone in Brown’s court Friday said that the judge was “unavailable” but could not say whether or not Brown was working. Brown was reported to be on vacation when the charges were filed and it was not clear Friday whether she had returned to the bench.

Full Article and Source:
Deadline set for Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown to respond to petition seeking her removal

Survey Finds Disability Abuse Widespread

More than 7 in 10 with disabilities say they’ve been abused, according to a new national survey, and in many cases individuals say the problems occur repeatedly.

In what’s believed to be the largest survey of its kind, over 7,200 people with disabilities, family members, advocates, service providers and other professionals were polled between May and October 2012.

The findings, released this week, suggest that abuse of people with disabilities is widespread across the country and often overlooked.

More than 70 percent of those with disabilities polled said they had been abused and over 60 percent of family members indicated that their loved one with special needs had been mistreated.

In about half of cases, victims said they experienced physical abuse. Some 40 percent reported sexual abuse and nearly 90 percent of those who said they had been violated indicated they were verbally or emotionally harmed. Neglect and financial abuse were also frequently cited.

“Too many people are abused too much, with very little on the response side to help in the aftermath,” said Nora J. Baladerian, director of the Disability and Abuse Project, which conducted the survey. “The extent of abuse is epidemic, and the inadequate response is disturbing.”

Among those who were victimized, more than 9 in 10 said they were abused more than once with 57 percent indicating they had experienced mistreatment more than 20 times, the survey found.

Incidents of abuse were not reported in about half of cases and even when authorities were alerted, survey results indicate that arrests were made only about 10 percent of the time.

Full Article and Source:
Survey Finds Disability Abuse Widespread