Saturday, September 21, 2013

CPA Disbarred for Stealing from Daughter’s Trust Fund

The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday that its Office of Professional Responsibility has prevailed in seeking the disbarment of David O. Christensen after he was convicted of theft for misappropriating funds as the conservator of his daughter’s trust account.

Christensen’s CPA licenses in Washington and Oregon had been revoked previously as a result of his conviction.

In a final agency decision, the IRS administrative law judge declined to grant a request by Christensen to continue in a limited practice as a tax return preparer, and instead, disbarred him from all practice before the IRS. The judge found that Christensen’s conviction for theft, along with the revocation of his CPA licenses, constituted disreputable conduct under Circular 230.  Christensen had argued that he should be permitted to continue to prepare tax returns because his theft conviction resulted from a family matter that had nothing to do with his tax preparation practice before the IRS.

“OPR strives to protect the integrity of the tax system from unscrupulous and incompetent practitioners regardless of how those traits become known,” said OPR director Karen L. Hawkins in a statement.

Agreeing with OPR’s proposed sanction, the administrative law judge held that the seriousness of Christensen’s offense warranted disbarment from practicing before the IRS finding, that the “respondent has displayed a lack of integrity, including in his testimony at trial, in attempting to distinguish his professional actions from his ‘father-daughter’ relationship.”

Christensen is therefore prohibited from any practice, including tax preparation, before the IRS for a five-year period.

Full Article and Source:
CPA Disbarred for Stealing from Daughter’s Trust Fund

Rothstein Estate Gets Revenue From Versace Mansion Auction

Law360, Miami (September 18, 2013, 4:39 PM ET) -- Almost $700,000 of the $41.5 million sale price of Gianni Versace's former South Beach mansion will go toward the estate of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's law firm, an attorney for the mansion's owner told a Florida bankruptcy court Wednesday.

Lawrence Pecan of Marshall Socarras Grant PL told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurel M. Isicoff that the estate of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler PA would receive $692,109 of the auction proceeds under a deal hammered out in January settling a $4.92 million secured claim asserted by the law firm's...

Full Article and Source:
Rothstein Estate Gets Revenue From Versace Mansion Auction

Friday, September 20, 2013

This Man's Shocking Story of Elder Financial Abuse Will Make You Hug Your Grandparents

“I should preface this by saying that my brother has always been a sociopath,” Brian Litwak told me. “But I had no other choice than to trust him because the doctor had told him, but not me, that I was supposed to die in six months.”
A former teacher, he tells his tale in a nonchalant, matter-of-fact voice. At 78 he's wrinkled and pale, but his eyes still twinkle and his memory seems precise. I hear flickers of anger as he sits, cane in hand, in an armchair across from me.
He has reason to be upset. 
Brian is a victim of the financial side of elder abuse. His younger brother, he tells me, stole thousands of dollars from him when Brian moved into an assisted living home in Tucson in 2003..
He came to Tucson from California with about $250,000 and ended up with $12,000. The money, which Brian earned over 33 years as a teacher, started to disappear after his brother was granted a [pwer of attorney to take care of his health issues and finances.

Although his brother thought he didn't have much time left, Brian soldiered on. In 2008, he visited his technologically savvy son in San Francisco, who finally uncovered that Brian’s brother had lied to him about how much his California condominium had sold for (he thought it went for $139,000, he says it actually sold for $295,000).

"Feeling there was something wrong" when he returned to Tucson, Brian unsuccessfully tried to broach the subject with his brother. Things took a turn for the worse when he got a letter from Medicare that said that because he hadn’t paid his fees for five months and was suspended from the program. His brother, he said, had been neglecting these payments.

“That’s very scary for an old person, not to have medical coverage,”he said.

Brian is not alone. More than 500,000 adults will be abused or neglected annually, and that number is probably an underestimate because many people are likely too scared or otherwise unable to seek help.

This is especially concerning when you take into account that the elder population is rapidly increasing. By 2050, 20 percent of the population will be made up of people who are 65 and older, and the fastest growing portion of the population is people 85 and up.

Thankfully, Handmaker — the assisted living home where Brian lives — has a policy where if you’ve been living at their facility for at least three years and your money runs out, they don’t kick you out. Handmaker also doesn't look like your typical assisted living home. With long, wide hallways, tall ceilings and a plethora of windows, it almost has a university feel to it.

Full Article and Source:
This Man's Shocking Story of Elder Financial Abuse Will Make You Hug Your Grandparents

Family Court judge to face disciplinary hearing in December

The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline has set a Dec. 2 public hearing in Las Vegas into allegations Family Court Judge Steven Jones mishandled a romantic relationship with a prosecutor who appeared before him.

The hearing had been scheduled for July 29, but Jones and his lawyers mounted an 11th-hour campaign at the Nevada Supreme Court and District Court to block it.

Both courts denied the judge’s bid, but the hearing had to be put off amid the legal wrangling.
Jones contended the judicial commission failed to follow its own rules when investigating him and violated his due process rights.

Commission lawyers maintained the judge’s rights were protected and his last-minute effort to derail the disciplinary proceedings was a ploy to avoid sanctions.

According to a 12-count complaint filed by commission lawyers in December, former Deputy District Attorney Lisa Willardson “actively litigated cases” in the judge’s courtroom while she maintained a relationship with him in 2011. Jones didn’t disqualify himself from her cases.

The Nevada State Bar, which regulates lawyers, declined to discipline Willardson, who was fired from the district attorney’s office after the relationship was revealed.

The professional organization sent her a “letter of caution” that suggested her conduct “undermined” public trust in the justice system.

Jones has denied the misconduct allegations, first brought to light in a 2011 Las Vegas Review-Journal story.

The judicial commission suspended Jones in November after a federal grand jury charged him with participating in a $3 million investment fraud scheme.

Jones, who is to stand trial in the criminal case March 3, has continued to receive his $200,000 annual salary.

Full Article and Source:
Family Court judge to face disciplinary hearing in December

See Also:
Judge Jones tries to stop discipline hearing over alleged mishandled relationship

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Expedited Probate Docket Is An Initial Success

Over a month ago, Davidson County Trial Courts approved the establishment of an Expedited Probate Docket.  Judge Randy Kennedy and Presiding Judge Joe P. Binkley, Jr. jointly announced that due to the large and growing volume of cases filed in the Seventh Circuit Court; it has been determined to be in the best interest of the public and for the efficient administration of justice to establish and maintain an Expedited Probate Docket, as distinguished from the regular probate dockets.

Over 100 cases have been tried by Special Probate Master Jennifer Surber and Special Master John Manson who alternately preside over expedited dockets and conduct hearings on uncontested probate matters including name change petitions, small estate administrative proceedings, petitions to administer intestate estates, petitions to probate wills, codicils and other testamentary instruments.  

Full Article and Source:
Expedited Probate Docket Is An Initial Success

See Also:
TN: Conservator Jeanan Mills-Stuart and Judge Randy Kennedy

Huguette Clark estate trial delayed 2 days to allow attempt at settlement

Huguette Clark estate, "Empty Mansions"
The copper heiress Huguette Clark
 poses in a Japanese print dress
 in about 1943, when she was 37.
NEW YORK — A last-ditch effort at a settlement is delaying Tuesday's scheduled start of the trial to determine who will inherit the $300 million estate of Huguette M. Clark, the reclusive heiress to a copper mining fortune, attorneys said Monday.

To allow time for negotiations, jury selection has been put off until Thursday morning in Surrogate's Court in Lower Manhattan.

The office of the New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, is trying to broker a settlement, attorneys said. His office's Charities Bureau has made previous attempts, but Clark's relatives, who are challenging her last will and testament, have not been able to find common ground with the beneficiaries named in the will.
It wasn't clear Monday night how close a settlement might be. Several of the more than 60 attorneys in the case declined to comment. Schneiderman's office had no comment.
Huguette (pronounced "oo-GET") Marcelle Clark was the youngest daughter of former U.S. Sen. William Andrews Clark (1839-1925), one of the copper kings of Montana and one of the richest men of the Gilded Age, a railroad builder and founder of Las Vegas. Born in Paris in 1906, Huguette was a shy painter and doll collector who spent her last 20 years living in simple hospital rooms. She attracted the attention of NBC News in 2009 because her fabulous homes in Connecticut, California and New York sat unoccupied but carefully maintained.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Full Article and Source:
Huguette Clark estate trial delayed 2 days to allow attempt at settlement

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cuyahoga County and Other Jurisdictions Don’t Live Up to Sunshine Law , Ohio Auditor Says

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost says a test of 20 counties and cities from different areas of the state shows about 40 percent are not fully following Ohio’s Sunshine law. 

"I would say I was disappointed,” he said. “You know, transparency has become such a watch word for local government and state government—government everywhere. And we see so many people in local governments fighting to maintain and further that transparency, but we also see places where the door is being shut, the curtains are being drawn. And barriers are being erected. And that’s just wrong. When government is not open but is closed, it’s a short path for government to become our master instead of our servant.”

Yost’s findings show Crawford County as well as the cities of Beavercreek and Bowling Green failed to track public records requests by date and fulfillment. In Cuyahoga County, Yost says there’s a lack of consistency across county departments on how public records logs are kept. He notes there is a lack of evidence that county officials attended public records training and the manual for those employees did not include public records training requirements.

Full Article and Source:
Cuyahoga County and Other Jurisdictions Don’t Live Up to Sunshine Law , Ohio Auditor Says

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hampton facility one step closer to losing license

Hearing officer is 'haunted by the tragic images of residents … This is a sad place to live … its doors must close.'
Ashwood Assisted Living in Hampton has moved one step closer to losing its license to operate. Eighty one residents with various physical and psychological impairments, all dependent on state auxiliary grants, live in conditions that the state has reported as putting them "at risk for their health, safety and welfare" for more than two years.

Three months after a May 30 hearing, closed at the request of owner Scott Schuett, hearing officer Sarah Smith Freeman sent her recommendation supporting revocation to the commissioner of the Department of Social Services for a final ruling. The 10-day period allowing for objections from both sides — the DSS and Schuett — ended Friday with no input from either, according to Freeman.

"This Hearing Officer is haunted by the tragic images of the residents who were questioned or observed during the inspections — the terminally ill resident, locked in a Geri chair and left to die over his eating tray, the female resident whose fingernails were worn and dirty with her own waste and the man who did not know he deserved to wear shoes even if his feet were quite wide. … This is a sad place to live. … The facility has come to its logical end and its doors must close," Freeman wrote in her 46-page recommendation.

Commissioner Margaret Ross Schultze, who answered questions via email, but was unavailable for comment in person, has 30 days to respond. According to Joron Moore, agency spokesperson, there's a possible extension of another 30 days. However, Freeman assured, "This one is going to generate a timely response."

The Department of Social Services, which oversees assisted living facilities in the state, first issued a notice of its intent to revoke Ashwood's license in June 2012. The home's temporary license expired more than a year ago, in August 2012. During the extended appeals process, it has remained open as inspection reports by the DSS have continued to enumerate violations that range from medication mismanagement to bed bug infestations to unsafe conditions.

Until recently, Schuett, who was stripped of his administrator's license in December 2012, operated six assisted living facilities in the region. All but Ashwood and Chesapeake Home in Chesapeake have now closed.

Full Article and Source:
Hampton facility one step closer to losing license

Woman guilty of exploiting elderly York woman: ‘I put her first in almost everything’

YORK Shirley Patton – who for two years supervised caregivers in Margie Miller’s home, ensured she was bathed and fed and held her power of attorney – pleaded guilty Tuesday to cashing $240,000 worth of the York woman’s life insurance checks.

Circuit Court Judge Derham Cole sentenced Patton, 54, to four years in prison, followed by five years of probation. decided. She also must pay restitution, with the amount determined later.

Patton this week was standing trial for the second time. She was charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult and breach of trust with fraudulent intent, accused of stealing money from two life insurance policies belonging to Miller.

Police and prosecutors say she instructed the insurance company to send Miller’s checks to a Charlotte address, then deposited them in a Bank of America checking account. Miller, who died in September 2012, never saw a dime. She was 87.

She admitted to spending $78,000 on repairs to her home in Waxhaw, N.C., and paying herself a $26,000 salary.

Patton’s first trial ended in a mistrial after one juror refused to convict her.

By Tuesday afternoon, after prosecutors presented their case, Patton pleaded guilty to breach of trust. In exchange, E.B. Springs, the assistant 16th Circuit solicitor prosecuting Patton, dropped the exploitation charge.

But Haskell Patton said afterward that his wife felt “forced” into the plea deal by a “malicious” prosecutor and several witnesses who he said conspired to have Miller declared incompetent so they could gain ownership of land she owned.

His wife, he said, “just got in the way.”

Full Article and Source:
Woman guilty of exploiting elderly York woman: ‘I put her first in almost everything’

Read more here:

Monday, September 16, 2013

3 ex-CNAs won’t serve jail time in elderly patient-abuse case at Johnson City nursing home

Three former CNAs who admitted spraying two Appalachian Christian Village nursing home patients with water to agitate them were denied judicial diversion, but won’t serve any jail time.

A fourth woman was granted diversion because she didn’t participate in the abuse. She was charged because even though she didn’t participate, she saw the abuse on one occasion and didn’t report it.

Rebecca Blevins, 39; Jessica Ketterman, 22; and Jennifer Ketterman, 20, all of Elizabethton, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of willful abuse, neglect or exploitation of a dependent adult. Blevins was not eligible for diversion due to previous bad check convictions. At that same hearing, Amanda Adolphi, 33, Gray, pleaded guilty to failure to report the abuse.

In the plea agreements, the women were each given an 11 month, 29 day sentence, which will be served on probation. Adolphi was the only one granted diversion. After her year of probation, the conviction can be erased from her record.

A fifth woman, Bonita Scott, 51, Chuckey, was also charged in the incident, but she pleaded guilty to her case shortly after being charged.

“This case tears me up,” said Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood. “We have over here four, probably very nice people, who have been contributing members of society. It’s inscrutable.”

Full Article and Source:
3 ex-CNAs won’t serve jail time in elderly patient-abuse case at Johnson City nursing home

Nurse faces drug charge

A state registered nurse supplied Temazepam prescribed for another patient to an elderly woman in a nursing home.

Patricia Connolly, 56, of Back Westgate, Hornsea admitted to supplying Temazepam to 93-year-old Bertha Hutchinson during her employment as a nurse at Northfield Manor Nursing Home in Driffield.

The offence took place in January this year.

On Wednesday 4 September at Bridlington Magistrates’ Court it was heard Connolly is a state registered nurse, and has previously worked as a psychiatric nurse.

Prosecution solicitor David Ward said: “There was an elderly lady who was 93-years-old and she appears to have been prescribed some extra Temazepam which was actually for another patient. That idea was that this would help her to sleep as she was having problems sleeping, walking round at night.

“She was reported by a cleaner as being the only nurse that didn’t follow the normal procedure. Mrs Connolly would administer the drugs without anybody else present and would ask the cleaner who was also a qualified as an assistant to sign the paper work.

“Subsequently this was reported to the doctor and saying perhaps this wasn’t helping with her problem. The extra medication she was on was affecting her balance, so it may have been counter-productive.

“The defendant was interviewed and made full admissions. It is a willful administration of a prescribed drug.

“It seems quite a sad case.”

Full Article and Source:
Nurse faces drug charge

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Court's question: Which judges can suspend judges?

Right after Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Mark A. Bruno was indicted in a federal ticket-fixing probe, the state Supreme Court landed on him hard, suspending him without pay.

But then, another judicial oversight organization weighed in. Not so fast, said the state Court of Judicial Discipline.

In May, that panel ruled that the federal case against Bruno was weak and ordered his pay - but not his duties - reinstated until his criminal trial.

With those rival rulings as a backdrop, a lawyer for the Judicial Conduct Board, the investigative and prosecutorial arm of the judicial court, stood in court Tuesday to argue that the Supreme Court needed to butt out - that it was the job of the conduct board and its judicial court to suspend judges.
In one of the day's many ironies, Robert A. Graci had to make this argument to the very body whose actions he was challenging, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Graci also argued that the Supreme Court had overstepped its bounds and wrongly sought to discipline another Traffic Court judge, Christine Solomon. In April, the justices put Solomon on notice that they planned to suspend her without pay for three months - a $22,000 cut - for allegedly stonewalling an internal inquiry into Traffic Court corruption.

The report from that inquiry gave Solomon some notoriety: She was quoted as having told investigators she was aware of ticket-fixing, but did not want to incriminate others by providing details.

The same report strongly suggested that a state Supreme Court justice, Seamus P. McCaffery, had fixed a ticket for his wife. McCaffery has denied this.

 Full Article and Source:
Court's question: Which judges can suspend judges?

Probate judge, Horry County Sheriff’s Office issue warning of possible fraud

A probate judge contacted the Horry County Sheriff’s Office when she learned of a possible scam, said agency spokesman Jeff Benton.

A resident told Judge Deirdre Edmonds someone came to their door claiming to be with the Horry County Probate Court and asked about a recent death in the family. Benton said the intent of the suspect is not known, but Benton said suspects in events like this typically prey on vulnerable people to gain access to their home or defraud them of money.

Probate court handles administration of estates of deceased persons, Edmonds said, but will not solicit families of the deceased and court representatives would never be sent to a home or property to inquire about a death. The only time a someone from the probate court would visit a home is when a guardianship or conservatorship action has been filed in the court for an incapacitated adult who is unable to manage personal or financial affairs.

Full Article and Source:
Probate judge, Horry County Sheriff’s Office issue warning of possible fraud