Saturday, October 26, 2013

Quick Dismissal of Caregiver Abuse Cases Puts California Patients at Risk

California regulators routinely have conducted cursory and indifferent investigations into suspected violence and misconduct committed by hundreds of nursing assistants and in-home health aides – putting the elderly, sick and disabled at risk over the past decade.

In 2009, the state Department of Public Health quietly ordered its investigators to dismiss nearly 1,000 pending cases of abuse and theft – often with a single phone call from Sacramento headquarters. The closing of cases en masse came after officials determined their swelling backlog had become a crisis.

Four years later, state investigators are opening and closing investigations into suspected abuse without ever leaving their desks, The Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED have found. In some instances, caregivers who have sexually assaulted or abused patients have retained their licenses and moved to other facilities.

An estimated 160,000 nursing assistants and in-home health aides are employed throughout California. These workers – all regulated by the Department of Public Health – are certified to work in hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, developmental centers and private homes.

Since the mass dismissal of cases in 2009, the overwhelming majority of allegations of abuse and misconduct have been closed without action. The state also has dramatically reduced the number of license revocations for aides suspected of abuse and misconduct.

“I would tell anybody, do not count on the government taking care of you,” said Brian Woods, former director of the Department of Public Health’s West Covina office.  
Credit: Adithya Sambamurthy/The Center for Investigative Reporting

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Quick Dismissal of Caregiver Abuse Cases Puts Calif. Patients at Risk

Dysfunction at the California Fiduciaries Bureau

The California Department of Consumer Affairs Professional Fiduciaries Bureau (“DCAPFB”) has recently released, through its advisory committee, a 2013 Strategic Planning Session with attachments, which indicates great dysfunction within the DCAPFB, and which also includes a 2013 DCAPFB Environmental Scan Analysis.

The analysis includes interviews conducted with Advisory Committee Members of the DCAFFB, three separate online surveys for internal Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) stakeholders, external stakeholders, and advocates of consumers, though Fiduciary Watch, Inc., was not asked to participate.  And, three separate online surveys for internal DCA stakeholders, external stakeholders and advocates of consumers, which the DCAPFB claims it planned to use as a discussion guide for the August 1, 2013, Fiduciary Bureau planning sessions of August 1, 2013, and August 2, 2013, which conveniently, the DCAPFB did not video tape, thereby preventing those who did not attend, including the California Pubic, and vulnerable California consumers, from knowing that licensing, not consumer protection, is first and foremost, at the DCAPFB.

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Dysfunction at the California Fiduciaries Bureau

Read the report:  Professional Fiduciaries Bureau Strategic Planning Session

Rossen Reports: Thieves target seniors at nursing homes

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Across the United States, nursing-home residents are having their money stolen by people they know: the homes’ bookkeepers and office managers who handle their trust funds and manage their expenses.

It's a crime that's been committed against thousands of nursing-home residents, including Leo Foster’s 89-year-old mother at the Vicksburg Convalescent Center in Vicksburg, Miss.

“It made me feel sick at my stomach,” Leo’s wife Phyllis Foster told TODAY's National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen. “It just didn't dawn on me that someone would be so low as to steal from a vulnerable adult.”

Police learned that a woman named Lee Ray Martin, a business office coordinator at the Vicksburg Convalescent Center and Shady Lawn Health and Rehabilitation homes, had been raiding residents’ trust accounts.

“In (a) three-month period there were 12 or 15 cash withdrawals,” Phyllis Foster said of her mother-in-law’s account. “And we knew that there was something drastically wrong.”

In August, Martin pleaded guilty to 29 counts of exploitation of a vulnerable person and one count of conspiracy. She is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from 83 residents’ trust funds and going on shopping sprees at stores like J.C. Penney, Gap, Walmart and American Eagle. In one instance, Martin bought a pair of designer jeans and expensed them to an elderly resident with no legs.

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Rossen Reports: Thieves target seniors at nursing homes

SSI ‘Processing Fee’ Prompts Federal Charges

A Social Security claims representative is facing federal charges for allegedly imposing a fee in order to “process” Supplemental Security Income claims.

A federal grand jury indicted Montrell Levelle Arnold, 42, of Memphis, Tenn. this week on two counts of extortion and two counts of bribery.

According to the indictment, several SSI beneficiaries agreed to pay Arnold a fee to process their claims.

After SSI benefits were electronically deposited into their accounts, Arnold allegedly contacted beneficiaries by telephone and text message to confirm the payments and arrange for his “processing fee.”

Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Memphis said that they believe Arnold may have taken advantage of more Social Security beneficiaries during his tenure with the agency than they are currently aware of and are asking anyone with information to contact the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General at 855-260-6353.

Arnold faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each extortion charge in addition to as many as 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each bribery charge.

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SSI ‘Processing Fee’ Prompts Federal Charges

Friday, October 25, 2013

KC attorney wants equal justice for judges discipline process


Frustrated by the secretive way the state of Missouri deals with complaints against judges, Kansas City attorney Michelle Puckett is calling for transparency and revealing the contents of two complaints filed against 43rd judicial circuit court judge Brent Elliot.

When most citizens stand before a judge, the proceedings happen in open court. Judges are treated differently; with closed-door hearings in front of a six-member Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline. The only time this panel can make details of these cases public as after misconduct is found or a judge under investigation gives the commission permission to talk. It is a process Puckett says is long overdue for change.

"I don't think any type of secrecy in something this important, confidence in our judicial system, should ever be tolerated," Puckett said. "It should be open. It should be public. And I, as a complainant, should have the right to review. It's an important issue."

Puckett's strong feelings stem from her experiences with two separate complaints filed against Elliot.
The first followed a strange exchange made during an otherwise ordinary divorce court proceeding in January 2012. According to the transcript, opposing council Stephen Griffin asked Elliot to allow a last-minute witness.

Puckett objected saying, "this young lady was not listed as a witness."

Griffin responded, "I wanted to see what she looked like to see if this was somebody that the guy would want to spend all his time with."

"Good call," Elliot said.

The judge overruled Puckett's objection and allowed the witness to testify.

Offended by that comment, Puckett's client decided to file a complaint against Elliot for sexist behavior. Puckett says she knew nothing about the complaint.

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KC attorney wants equal justice for judges discipline process

NYS Cuts Red Tape, Saves $$ for Guardians Who Care for Loved Ones in Other States

— /PRNewswire/ -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law an AARP-backed bill that will cut red tape and save money for guardians by simplifying the process for exercising their rights when their loved ones live in another state.

The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (S2534/A857) will eliminate costly and time-consuming red tape for guardians in exercising health care, financial and other legal responsibilities for elderly parents or other loved ones who live out of state.

Under current law, guardians who live in New York must often hire lawyers to help them navigate other states' court systems to receive approval to exercise their responsibilities - after they've already obtained such legal orders in New York.

The New York law is part of AARP's national fight to focus on care, not courts, by removing the barriers that prevent caregivers from providing for their loved ones, regardless of where the loved ones live. New York becomes the most populous state with the law in place, joining 36 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

"Forcing caregivers to spend time in lengthy and expensive court proceedings that drain family resources undermines their ability to provide care for their loves ones," said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York.  "Governor Cuomo has taken an important step toward cutting red tape for New Yorkers who care for loved ones in more than two thirds of other states, which already have this law on the books. AARP hopes the momentum will push the final states to join and create uniformity and reciprocity across the nation."

Read more here:

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NYS Cuts Red Tape, Saves $$ for Guardians Who Care for Loved Ones in Other States

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sacramento caregiver to stand trial in death of 88-year-old

Both sides agree that Silvia Cata’s “Super Home Care” facility in Sacramento was “neat and clean,” and that 88-year-old Georgia Holzmeister seemed content to live there.

And that’s where the agreement pretty much ends.

On Tuesday – 16 months after the death of Holzmeister, who was hospitalized in June 2012 with gaping bedsores – Cata was ordered to stand trial in a unique criminal case being pursued by California’s attorney general.  Following a three-hour preliminary hearing, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Ernest W. Sawtelle found sufficient evidence that Cata be tried on felony charges of elder abuse and involuntary manslaughter.

The manslaughter charge is believed to be a first for state prosecutors in an elder-abuse case, filed by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse. In addition to the felony counts, the case against Cata moves forward with two special allegations that the elderly victim suffered great bodily injury, and that neglect and abuse caused her death.

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Sacramento caregiver to stand trial in death of 88-year-old

Three accused of bilking elderly Owls Head woman of more than $20,000

OWLS HEAD, Maine — Three people have been charged in connection with the theft of more than $20,000 from an elderly woman.

Caregivers Tasha Campbell, 22, of Searsmont and Alicia Rawley, 45, of Waldoboro were charged with Class C theft, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Campbell was arrested Sept. 12 and has since been released on bail. She is scheduled to make her initial appearance in Rockland District Court on Oct. 30. Rawley was issued a summons on Oct. 2. No court date has been set for her.

Also, Terry Perry, 40, of South Thomaston was arrested Sept. 26 and charged with Class C theft in connection with the case. Perry made his initial court appearance Sept. 27 in Rockland District Court and is free on bail. He is next scheduled to appear in Knox County Superior Court on Dec. 20.
Perry is a friend of Campbell, according to the sheriff’s office.

All three admitted to Detective Donald Murray that they took the money, according to the sheriff’s office. The lengthy investigation began with a complaint fielded by Deputy Paul Pinkham.

Wednesday’s news release stated that the suspects admitted that on many occasions they used the victim’s debit and credit cards to buy items and obtain cash. The victim was unaware that her debit card was used in more than 80 transactions for cash withdrawals, the sheriff’s office reported.

Murray said Wednesday that the investigation continues and that the amount of money taken from the 75-year-old woman was significantly more than $20,000. He said the caregivers were not from a home health agency.

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Three accused of bilking elderly Owls Head woman of more than $20,000

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bucks lawyer indicted on tax, ID theft charges

A Bucks County lawyer was indicted for allegedly defrauding a client’s estate of more than $1.7 million, federal prosecutors in Philadelphia said Thursday.

Randolph Scott, 70, of Doylestown, Pa., who maintained his own law firm in Warrington, was charged with one count of mail fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of tax evasion, one count of attempting to interfere with administration of internal revenue laws and three counts of failure to file income tax returns.

According to the indictment, between December 2005 and October 2011, while representing the estate of John C. Bready, Scott diverted approximately $1.76 million of estate funds to his law office accounts. Because the estate was valued at more than $6 million at the time of Bready’s death in 2005, federal law required that a federal estate tax return be filed which would have resulted in approximately $520,351 being paid to the Internal Revenue Service. The indictment alleges that Scott purposefully failed to file the required form in order to keep enough money in the estate to pay its beneficiaries and to avoid detection of the theft.

Prosecutors also said after the estate’s executor died in 2009, Scott failed to disclose the death so that the investment account manager would continue to send the executor’s checks to Scott’s law firm. Scott then allegedly forged the executor’s signature and deposited the checks into his law firm’s account. Prosecutors said Scott also had the successor executor sign a document renouncing the position of successor executor so that Scott could continue to forge the signature of the deceased executor and divert money belonging to the estate.

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Bucks lawyer indicted on tax, ID theft charges

Portsmouth lawyer punished for mishandling client funds

PORTSMOUTH — Local attorney Richard Foley's law license was suspended for six months by the Supreme Court's Professional Conduct Committee, which placed the suspension in abeyance for a year, providing Foley adheres to a list of conditions.
According to PCC records, the suspension of Foley's law license is related to his mishandling of funds he received from a client he was representing in a divorce case between 2009 and 2012. During the pendency of that case, Foley commingled his client's funds with his own, failed to keep his client “reasonably informed,” spent his client's money before earning it, and falsely reported that he was in compliance with financial rules, according to the PCC order.
Further, the PCC reports, Foley failed to perform “monthly reconciliations of any of his client trust accounts” between June 1, 2007 and May 31, 2012.
“Mr. Foley's breaches were fundamental, evincing a lack of understanding of even the basics of law office accounting procedures,” the PCC order states.
“There was no written fee agreement with the complainant regarding his representation in the matter; only an oral agreement to represent her at $200 per hour,” according to the PCC. “At no time during the pendency of the divorce proceedings did Mr. Foley provide the complainant with an accounting of his time spent on her matter. The initial retainer check was not deposited into Mr. Foley's client trust account.”
Foley also told his client that his fees for an appeal of the divorce case would be a flat fee and not hours-based, and never communicated the actual amount of the flat fee, the PCC found.
According to the PCC order, Foley agreed to pay all costs associated with an investigation into the matter, as well as to provide all future clients with written fee agreements, to track time spent on clients' cases, and to complete 6 hours of training “regarding how to properly handle his client trust account.”
Foley is also ordered to hire a certified public accountant and for a year and to provide the Attorney Discipline Office with monthly client trust account reconciliations.

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Portsmouth lawyer punished for mishandling client funds

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Minn. high court to decide end-of-life case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court will decide whether guardians have the legal authority to take their wards off life support.
The high court agreed Wednesday to review the case of Jeffers Tschumy. That means the court will for the first time in nearly 30 years revisit an end-of-life issue that could affect many of the more than 12,000 Minnesotans under guardianship who don't have health care directives, the Star Tribune reported Saturday ( ).
The key issue is whether guardians must receive a judge's approval to remove life support, or whether guardians already have that power.
Tschumy was a mentally disabled man with no family and no health care directive who had been under guardianship since 2008. He choked on food last year and was declared severely brain-damaged with little hope of recovery.
The Allina Health System requested that a judge allow him to be removed from life support, either by clarifying that his guardian had the right to make the decision, or by issuing an order allowing his removal from life support. District Judge Jay Quam denied the guardian's request for sole power to make that decision, but authorized the termination of Tschumy's life support. He died.
Quam wrote that guardians have a strong case to make end-of-life decisions under a state law that grants them the power to allow or withhold medical care, but he said the law does not specifically allow them to end life support. Until the Legislature decides to address the issue, he wrote, only judges or legally authorized representatives can order life support removed.
Last summer, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed Quam's ruling, reasoning that the final authority lies with guardians and that end-of-life decisions shouldn't be dictated by the court. The appeals court relied on a 1984 Supreme Court ruling.
The state attorney general's office, which weighed in with briefs supporting a mandatory judge's sign-off, is expected to do so again before the Supreme Court.

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Minn. high court to decide end-of-life case

Former Kansas AG Phill Kline is suspended from law practice for at least 3 years

Rejecting an attorney discipline administrator's call for disbarment of a former Kansas attorney general, the state's supreme court on Friday indefinitely suspended attorney Phill Kline.

Now working as a visiting law professor at Liberty University in Virginia, Kline is expected to be able to continue in his job there even if he does not have a law license, the Kansas City Star reports. He can reapply for bar admission in three years.

Kilne's lawyer, Thomas Condit, called the 154-page ruling by the state's top court "not an acceptable result" and said he and his client are exploring their options for further action. Condit said "there was never any deliberate dishonesty" on Kline's part and said the disciplinary action resulted from "cherry picking" comments that Kline made over a period of more than five years and taking them out of context.

At issue in the case was Kline's conduct both as AG and Johnson County district attorney concerning investigations of abortion clinics operated by the late George Tiller in Wichita and by Planned Parenthood in Overland Park. Kline accused the two clinics of violating state law concerning abortions and shielding pedophiles by not reporting when underage girls sought abortions. Kline sought medical records.

He brought a criminal case against Planned Parenthood in 2007, which a subsequent AG opted not to pursue. It charged the clinic with falsifying records and providing illegal abortions, reports the Associated Press. Tiller was acquitted by a jury in 2009 on all 19 counts in a misdemeanor case alleging that he illegally performed late-term abortions. The physician was murdered later in 2009 while he was attending church in Wichita with his wife.

Tiller's lawyer and the forewoman of a Johnson County grand jury investigating Planned Parenthood accused Kline of misleading the court and mishandling evidence, resulting in the legal ethics case against him. Kline has complained that the case was politically motivated, fueled by those who object to his views on abortion.

Although the supreme court did not agree with all of the conclusions of a three-member disciplinary panel, it found that Kline had violated 11 legal ethics rules and what it called a pattern of misconduct with a selfish motive. The supreme court also expressed concern that Kline has not acknowledged his wrongful actions.

Among other misconduct, Kline failed to properly advise a grand jury about applicable law, gave false and misleading information to courts about the handling of patient medical records from abortion clinics and instructed his staff to attach sealed documents to a public filing, in violation of a court order, the supreme court found.

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Former Kansas AG Phill Kline is suspended from law practice for at least 3 years

Monday, October 21, 2013

Editorials from around Pennsylvania: Focus on Guardians Paramount

The issue of guardianships for the elderly and disabled gets lost amid the major issues of the day.

But the guardianship issue is not one to be regarded lightly, and it will become more significant as baby boomers continue to age.
That's why Blair County court officials' move to beef up the monitoring of such arrangements comes at a good time. The initiative must not become lost among other pressing county business.
Still, it was disconcerting to hear county officials admit that the current monitoring of such arrangements here leaves something to be desired. As reported in an article in the Oct. 6 Mirror, Blair County Prothonotary Carol Newman, in whose office guardianships are filed, described the local monitoring as "hit and miss."
According to Newman, no organized process for tracking the county's guardianship cases is in place. Thus, there could be instances where required annual reports have not been filed on time or at all, making it impossible to monitor what is happening in those cases.
That raises the question of whether there ever is comprehensive review of many of those reports that are received.

Again, the growth of the elderly population makes it imperative that the guardianship issue gets much more attention than it has received in the past. Meanwhile, the existing situation is an embarrassment for a county that usually prides itself on doing things right.
Full Article and Source:
Editorials From Around Pennsylvania

Guardianship battle for intellectually challenged man settled

The bitter battle for guardianship of Gary Ford has been settled.
The intellectually challenged man who was once a resident of the now closed Huronia Regional Centre will continue living with his longtime caregiver while his sister is entitled to a number of visits and unlimited telephone access.
Under the agreement, reached on the eve of a full-fledged court fight, Ford will continue to live with Shelley Klintworth at her farm in Campbellcroft, Ont. Sister Ruby Williams can have him stay at her home near Dresden, Ont., 30 days a year.
“We weren’t fighting for Gary, we already had Gary,” Klintworth, 47, said Wednesday, claiming she had to spend $50,000 in legal fees to keep Ford where he’s lived for the past decade.

“We were fighting to prove that I wasn’t a thief. And that’s the part that’s making me so freaking mad.”
In the protracted battle between the two women, allegations flew from both sides. Sister Williams noted her concern that caregiver Klintworth was convicted in June 2006 of shoplifting from a Walmart store in Cobourg, while she was with Ford, netting her a criminal record and probation.
A Walmart security guard testified he saw Klintworth load up Ford’s shopping cart, then go outside and wait as he bypassed the cashiers without paying for $152.26 worth of merchandise. The judge accepted the security guard’s evidence, which he said was also consistent with a security videotape.
“I’m pretty sure if I was a kidnapper and a thief Gary wouldn’t be living with me,” Klintworth said. “I only wish the lies and deception and the expense our family suffered the last two years could have been avoided.”
Klintworth received a full pardon for the conviction.

Full Article and Source:
Guardianship battle for intellectually challenged man settled

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Ohio and Michigan - Another Toxic Guardianship

Marge Cook has been trying for seven years to gain guardianship of her now, 24 year old grandson.  Originally guardianized at 18, her grandson had suffered the abuse and molestation of his stepfather for years which was never addressed and a subsequent psychological shock.  Now, he is a prisoner in a residential home and his grandmother cannot see him, cannot contact him and doesn't know for sure where he is even being held at this point.

Orignally held in Ohio, Marge was able to get her grandson transferred to Michigan where she resides.  Ohio had promised that if she took her grandson to Genessee Community Health, guardianship would be transferred to her.  Instead, her grandson was given to a professional fiduciary who immediately had him housed in a residential home owned by Eric McBean.

McBean had been previously cited for illegal imprisonment on his Mill Road Home.  He owns two others and whether Marge's grandson is housed in one of these is uncertain.

Although Marge has petitioned repeatedly for guardianship of her grandson, Genesee County has refused to even recognize her efforts.  Marge has had to battle Judge Jennie E. Barkey, a judge who has been disqualified and over ruled in several other guardianship cases.

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Cops: Englewood woman beat up 82-year-old mother-in-law, knocked out teeth

An Englewood woman accused of beating her 82-year-old mother-in-law so violently that she knocked out several teeth and gave her a concussion was transferred from the Bronx yesterday to the Bergen County Jail.

Mary Tene, 54, was being held on $125,000 bail, charged with aggravated assault and elderly abuse, after being extradited.
Police said the 5-foot-5-inch, 105-pound Tene beat the older woman the night of Sept. 11 after she tried to convince her to kick a drug habit. Tene then high-tailed it across the Hudson, they said.
Even though she cut and dyed her hair, Englewood police tracked Tene to an Adams Place tenement in the Bronx, Englewood Detective Capt. Timothy Torell told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
On Sept. 30, she “walked right into the arms” of Detectives Chris Kedersha and Carlos Marte on Sept. 30 as she headed to there, he said.
“She tried to pass herself off as a cousin of hers,” Torell said, but the detectives weren’t fooled (SEE: Fugitive accused of beating mother-in-law nabbed by Englewood detectives in the Bronx).
Investigators had been looking for Tene since the night of Sept. 11, when responding officers found the severely beaten victim at an East Palisade Avenue apartment between Dean and Engle streets.
Detectives learned that her mother-in-law “had been trying to counsel Tene about her drug problem” when the attack occurred, Torell said.
The victim “was in rough shape when our officers got there,” he said.
Tene has a violent criminal history spanning New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Florida, records show.

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Cops: Englewood woman beat up 82-year-old mother-in-law, knocked out teeth

Casey Kasem Early Dementia 'Shuffles' Around

Casey Kasem is mainly bedridden with advanced Parkinson's disease, only able to "shuffle short distances" and may have the early onset of dementia ... this according to new legal docs obtained by TMZ.

The docs were filed by Julie, one of Casey's 3 kids from his first marriage, asking a judge to create a conservatorship and give her and her husband the power to control Casey's health care decision.

Julie says in the papers that Casey's wife of 33 years, Jean, has isolated Casey from his kids.  Julie says Jean won't even allow Casey's kids to talk with them by phone.

Julie claims she currently has a power of attorney to make health care decisions for Casey, and that should give more than enough authority to have contact with him.

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Casey Kasem Early Dementia 'Shuffles' Around