Saturday, November 30, 2013

Linda Kincaid Reports: Monterey Counsel and Public Guardian Strip Woman of Constitutional Rights

There is no joy or thanksgiving for  Margarita Zelade this holiday season. Margarita is confined and isolated by order of Deputy Public Guardian  Jennifer Empasis. Empasis allows Margarita no contact with loved ones or advocates.

Since March 25, 2013, Empasis kept Margarita in false imprisonment and isolated from contact with her only child. After violating Margarita’s right to visitation for seven months, Senior Deputy Public Guardian Teri Scarlett allowed Margarita three one-hour visits with daughter Patricia Conklin.

On October 31, November 7, and November 15, Margarita was brought to an outdoor location where she sat near a noisy road that made conversation difficult. At least two guards were present at each visit. They often interrupted the conversation, barking orders at Patricia.

During those brief visits, Margarita clung to Patricia sobbing and begging for her liberty.
'The most important thing for any person is their liberty. I want my liberty. I am in prison.'
Margarita repeatedly asked Patricia why they were separated. Patricia explained that she had been in jail, accused of abusing Margarita. Margarita responded:
'They lie. They lie!
They are thieves and liars.'
Full Article and Source:
Monterey County Counsel and Public Guardian Strip Woman of Constitutional Rights

Relative: Ohio Amish Girl in Chemo Case Doing Well

An Amish girl with leukemia spent time at a natural cancer treatment center in Central America after she left home with her parents in Ohio to avoid being forced to resume chemotherapy treatments, the girl's grandfather said.

Sarah Hershberger, who recently turned 11, her parents and the couple's baby daughter now are in hiding in the United States, Isaac Keim said.

The family left the small Amish community where they live in rural northeast Ohio just days before a state appeals court appointed a guardian in October to take over medical decisions for Sarah, said Keim, who told the Akron Beacon Journal that he accompanied them to the unnamed clinic.

The Hershbergers have been fighting Doctors at Akron's Children's Hospital in court for months after the parents decided to halt the treatments because they were making Sarah sick.

Doctors say her leukemia is treatable, but say she will die within a year without chemotherapy. The hospital sought to force treatment after the family opted to try natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins.

The family has appealed the court decision that gave an attorney who's also a registered nurse limited guardianship over Sarah. They don't plan on returning until the ruling is reversed.

Full Aricle and Source:
Relative:  Ohio Amish Girl in Chemo Case Doing Well

See Also:
Unclear if Amish Girl Resumed Chemo Amid Fight With Hospital, Whereabouts Unknown

Feds: Washington State DSHS Neglected Disabled to Cut Costs, May Owe $16 M

In an attempt to save money, Washington state has been illegally denying needed services to two dozen developmentally disabled residents for more than two years, according to a recently completed federal review.

The move was meant to save more than $1 million. But breaking the law may cost the state $16 million — and may have done irreparable damage to the residents, advocates say.

The review found the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) broke the law at least 41,231 times by deciding in 2011 to take away services such as physical therapy, personal-care training and recreation from 27 of the residents at Spokane County’s Lakeland Village.

In a Nov. 7 letter to state officials, Carol Peverly of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited requirements that federally funded long-term care facilities provide the specialized services residents need.

“After a review of all evidence and correspondence, we find that Lakeland Village nursing facility is not in compliance,” Peverly wrote, adding that the removal of services “violated federal law, and as a consequence the state has received (federal funds) in error.”

Peverly wrote that the feds want their money back, and also plan to examine other DSHS facilities.

Full Article and Source:
Feds: DSHS neglected disabled to cut costs, may owe $16M

Outrage Over Financial Exploitation of Elderly Drives California Lawyer

Beverly Hills, CA: After 45 years practicing law, Phil Brown could go golfing and forget about coming to the office every day. Instead, he says he can’t wait to get to work every morning. His focus for almost a decade now has been financial elder abuse.

He often sees situations so egregious, so despicable, that he’s on a mission to see the perpetrators held in check. “You want to eat these people up,” says Brown, in a remarkably calm and measured tone. “You’re outraged each time you get a new case.

“I am really not a hard-assed lawyer. I would rather talk to the opposing lawyer and talk things out and avoid stress for my clients,” says Brown.

“Just getting near a courtroom is very stressful for all parties, and if you can avoid it, that is good thing. However, there are times when it is going to happen.”

Sadly, as Brown explains, it is often family members who advise a parent to turn over a bank account for safekeeping, then bleed it dry or perhaps take advantage of a frail and failing mind to obtain title to a property. “It’s quite like stealing,” says Brown.

Frequently, it’s a third party who calls out the perpetrator and saves the senior from financial ruin, or from a set of circumstances the victim never would have approved of or wanted.

Full Article and Source:
Outrage Over Financial Exploitation of Elderly Drives California Lawyer

Friday, November 29, 2013

Former Conservator John E. Clemmons Gets Potential Break on Prison Sentence

Over the strong protest of the court official who first caught him stealing from a helpless ward, suspended Nashville attorney John E. Clemmons has won approval for a plea deal that could get him out of prison in five years and four months.

In a 30-minute session before Rutherford Circuit Judge David Bragg, Rutherford Chancery Court Clerk and Master John Bratcher said he was cut out of the negotiations leading to the plea arrangement and that it amounted to a travesty of justice.

It was Bratcher, in his role as clerk and master, who first discovered that Clemmons was, without court authorization, taking money from the accounts of wards who had been entrusted to him.

Since that discovery and subsequent criminal investigations, Clemmons has admitted to stealing at least $1.4 million from four wards. He has pleaded guilty to three counts of theft of more than $60,000 in Davidson County and one count of theft of more than $60,000 in the Rutherford case. He also has entered a guilty plea in Davidson to TennCare fraud and perjury.

Clemmons’ case comes amid growing concern about the handling of conservatorships in Tennessee. Earlier this year, the General Assembly, after recommendations from the Tennessee Bar Association, approved the first major changes in the state’s conservatorship laws in a decade.

Under the plea deal unveiled Friday, a decision on just how Clemmons will serve an 8-year sentence for stealing about $120,000 from his ward Russell Church of Murfreesboro will be deferred until Clemmons gets out of prison on the charges he has pleaded to in Davidson County. Under his 18-year sentence in Davidson County, he could apply for parole after serving five years and four months.
Under Bragg’s ruling, Clemmons pending motion to serve out those eight years under alternative sentencing, such as home detention, or to get quick probation will be put on hold until his release on the Davidson charges.

Handcuffed and wearing an orange prison jump suit, Clemmons, 66, told Judge Bragg in a barely audible voice that he understood the plea deal and had agreed to it.

“He stole over $100,000 from a helpless man,” Bratcher said, barely holding back anger. “He stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from wards in Davidson and he’s been doing it for 10 years.”

Full Article and Source:
Former conservator Clemmons gets potential break on prison sentence

See Also:
Nashville Lawyer Admits to Stealing  $1.3 million, Gets 18 years in Prison

Woman Accused of Bilking Elderly Dementia Patient

A Santa Barbara woman was jailed on a variety of felony charges Thursday after she allegedly abused and stole large sums of money from an 80-year-old city resident with dementia, according to the  Santa Barbara Police Department. 

Rosemary Rebekah Baugh, 57, was arrested at her State Street home, culminating an 11-month investigation, said Sgt. Riley Harwood.

She was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail  on charges of grand theft, financial elder abuse, and elder neglect, with bail set at $650,000, Harwood said.

The investigation began after relatives of the victim, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, came to Santa Barbara in December 2012.

"They found him malnourished, filthy, and living in squalor," Harwood said.

Baugh is a longtime acquaintance of the victim, whose name was not released, and he had at times given her gifts of cash to help with her rent and expenses, Harwood said.

After the death of the victim's only local relative, Baugh assumed the role of caregiver for him.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Accused of Bilking Elderly Dementia Patient

Former Judge, Andrea Peterman, Pleads Guilty in Theft Case

Andrea Peterman will spend the next decade under the supervision of law enforcement officers who used to call her “your Honor” and “judge.”

Peterman, who had served as both Crawford County’s chief magistrate judge and Probate Court clerk, was sentenced Monday morning to serve 160 to 180 days in a state detention center, with the remainder of her 10-year sentence on probation.

In a plea deal, Peterman agreed to plead guilty to a count of fiduciary theft from Crawford County Probate Court and a count of violating her oath of office as the county’s elected chief magistrate judge.

She pleaded guilty in a courtroom with many co-workers in attendance. On her way in to plead guilty, she exchanged hugs with a female deputy.

District Attorney David Cooke told Senior Superior Court Judge Tracy Moulton Jr. that “Ms. Peterman admitted essentially she’d been taking money from the till and using that for family expenses.”

Peterman responded with a firm voice to questions from Moulton about her understanding of the plea agreement, but she said nothing else. Her attorney, Michael Chidester, said Peterman took his advice about her financial problems and wishes she had done so sooner.

“She’s truly remorseful for what has occurred,” Chidester told the judge.

Read more here:

Full Article and Source:
Former Crawford County Judge Pleads Guilty in Theft Case

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Unclear if Amish Girl Resumed Chemo Amid Fight With Hospital, Whereabouts Unknown

A 10-year-old Amish girl with leukemia and her parents haven't contacted a guardian appointed two months ago to make medical decisions for the girl after her parents stopped her chemotherapy treatments, the guardian's attorney said Wednesday.

It's unclear whether the girl has resumed treatments, and there are indications that the family has left its farm in rural northeast Ohio.

The girl, Sarah Hershberger, has not restarted treatments at Akron Children's Hospital, said Clair Dickinson, the guardian's attorney. He said it's not known whether she is undergoing chemotherapy anywhere else.

Doctors at the Akron hospital believe Sarah's leukemia is treatable but say she will die without chemotherapy. The hospital went to court after the family decided to stop chemotherapy and treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins.

An appeals court ruling in October gave an attorney who's also a registered nurse limited guardianship over Sarah and the power to make medical decisions for her. The court said the beliefs and convictions of her parents can't outweigh the rights of the state to protect the child.

The family has appealed the decision to both the appeals court and the Ohio Supreme Court.

Full Article and Source:
Attorney:  Unclear if Amish Girl Resumed Chemo Amid Fight With Hospital, Whereabouts Unknown

See Also:
Ohio Appeals Court Again Sides With Hospital Seeking to Send Amish Girl Back to Chemotherapy

Growing Old....

Note: Origin unknown

Visiting People With Alzheimer's & Dementia on the Holidays

Holidays are bittersweet for many Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers. The happy memories of the past contrast with the difficulties of the present, and extra demands on time and energy can seem overwhelming. Finding a balance between rest and activity can help. Here are some tips from the U.S. National Institutes of Health: 
  • Keep or adapt family traditions that are important to you.
  • Include the person with Alzheimer's as much as possible.
  • Recognize that things will be different, and have realistic expectations about what you can do.
  • Encourage friends and family to visit. Limit the number of visitors at one time, and try to schedule visits during the time of day when the person is at his or her best.
  • Avoid crowds, changes in routine, and strange surroundings that may cause confusion or agitation.
  • Do your best to enjoy yourself. Try to find time for the holiday things you like to do, even if it means asking a friend or family member to spend time with the person while you are out.
  • At larger gatherings such as weddings or family reunions, try to have a space available where the person can rest, be by themselves, or spend some time with a smaller number of people, if needed.

Full Article and Source:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MI: Conservator Can File Divorce on Behalf of Ward

The powers of a conservator were recently challenged in a separate maintenance case from Kent County.  The Michigan Court of Appeals held in the Estate of Jeff Bently -v- Ruby Bell Bently, that a conservator could file for separate maintenance and divorce.

The husband was unable to care for his own affairs and had been separated from his wife of 20-years since 2008.  After a conservator was appointed, the conservator promptly filed for separate maintenance; she could have just as easily filed for divorce.

On appeal, the wife argued that the Kent County Family Court Judge did not have the authority to order a judgment of separate maintenance because her husband lacked the capacity to consent to the proposed property division.  In affirming the family court, the Court of Appeals held that the conservatorship statute and applicable court rules provide for a conservator to file law suits and defend law suits on behalf of the protected individual, without limitation.

Based on a plain reading of these applicable statutes and court rules, the Court of Appeals held that a conservator, and presumably a guardian as well, can prosecute a divorce proceeding on behalf of the ward.

Conservator Can File Divorce on Behalf of Ward

Michigan Motel Owner Did Not Tie His Elderly Parents to Bed, Attorney Says

Eric Gala loves his parents and would never abuse or neglect them.

That’s what his attorney, Tim Barkovic, said of the Fraser motel owner accused of tying his elderly parents to a bed or chair and keeping them in an unsanitary room attached to the motel’s main office.

“He vehemently denies these allegations. He cares for and loves his parents,” Barkovic said Monday after Gala’s preliminary exam was adjourned until Dec. 20 in 39th District Court. “My client is absolutely not guilty.”

Fraser public safety officials said they responded to the Flamingo Motel on Groesbeck on Nov. 6 on an abuse complaint from a former employee.

They said they found the couple, ages 92 and 78, in a dark room filled with flies, lying in their own feces and urine. The mother, 78, had a strap around her waist that was tied to a chair next to the bed, Lt. Dan Kolke had said. He did not know how the father, 92, was being held, but said he was in the same bed.

The couple also was tied to a chair when watching TV, and an inside door handle was taken off so they couldn’t leave, Kolke had said. He said police believe Gala did not want to put his parents in a nursing home.

Gala, 55, of Lenox Township, is charged with two counts of second-degree vulnerable adult abuse, a four-year felony.

Full Article and Source:
Michigan Motel Owner Did Not Tie His Elderly Parents to Bed, Attorney Says

Woman Gets Probation for Financial Exploitation

A Rochester woman accused of spending more than $17,000 of another woman's money was sentenced Monday to 10 years probation.

Theresa Anne Kuhn, 49, pleaded guilty Oct. 10 to felony financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult; in exchange, an identical count of financial exploitation and one count of felony financial transaction card fraud were dismissed.

In addition to the probation, Olmsted County District Court Judge Debra Jacobson ordered Kuhn to pay restitution and undergo a mental health screening, among other conditions.

Investigators were assigned to the case after a social worker alerted Rochester police to the transactions allegedly made by Kuhn, who had power of attorney for the 76-year-old woman.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Gets Probation for Financial Exploitation

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nebraska State Auditor: Guardian Fleeced State Wards

Judith Widener of Scottsbluff has confessed to embezzling money from state wards who could not take care of themselves, Nebraska State Auditor Mike Foley said Monday in a press conference.

Widener, 70, had 46 wards in Lincoln County, according to the state auditor's report.  
In a finding of wide ranging fraud, Foley said Widener, a Health and Human Services guardian with 600 clients scattered across the state, is under prosecution.
Widener confessed Wednesday to auditors, accompanied by the Nebraska State Patrol. She was jailed Friday in Scottsbluff.
She held an array of credit cards and more than 40 bank accounts that could have been used to shuffle money. Foley said her bank accounts contained more than $600,000.
She made a recorded confession to the auditors, indicating she knowingly misappropriated monies that belonged to wards, Foley said.
She is held on $500,000 bond.
Widener also operated a debt and credit counseling service company called Safe Haven, Inc.
Widener's alleged embezzlement was the worst case among several, Foley said. Auditors looked at assistance programs for roughly 6,000 vulnerable Nebraskans who are elderly, blind, or disabled.
The programs are run by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and cost nearly $15 million a year in state tax dollars. The audit team found the programs to be riddled with problems – some of which are criminal in nature, Foley said.
The random check by auditors found, in 36% of the instances that were reviewed, the Department of Health and Human Services was making cash payments for living expenses or medical payments that were unreasonable or in direct violation of state law or regulations, Foley said.
Full Article and Source:
State Auditor:  Guardian Fleeced State Wards

YouTube: 'OC Public Guardian's Abuse'

OC Public Guardian Abuse 87 yo Widow and Seize $1.8 million estate

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ian Mulgrew: Manitoba case involving nude judge photos illustrates disciplinary dysfunction

The collapse of the Canadian Judicial Council inquiry into nude photos of a Manitoba justice after more than two years proves the disciplinary process for judges needs repair.

The five-member committee led by Alberta Chief Justice Catherine Fraser decided Wednesday there was no point in continuing the charade and threw in the towel.

No wonder — the hearings into the complaint against Queen’s Bench Justice Lori Douglas have been in limbo for more than a year.

Talk about the Senate not being able to discipline itself — take a look at another constitutional institution, the judiciary.

These entire proceedings have been neither fair nor expeditious and public interest has been ignored.
It could have been another year or more before the legal squabbles were resolved and the inquiry underway again.

The committee decided that was ridiculous given the time and public money already incinerated.

“It is ironic that the only way this committee can meet the transparency requirements so essential for public confidence and inform the public of this critical flaw in the process is to resign but, regrettably, that appears to be the case,” the judges said.

This is the first time a panel has ever resigned but these bawdy proceedings had already drawn enormous unwanted attention to the flawed process of asking judges to police each other.

The council is chaired by Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin and includes 38 other chief justices and associate chief justices from across the nation.

It now has been proven to be a toothless, self-regulatory watchdog.

Top legal beagles from across the country were involved in this case, yet from the start it has been an embarrassment.

Full Article and Source:
Ian Mulgrew: Manitoba case involving nude judge photos illustrates disciplinary dysfunction

Innovative Program Shines Light on Civil Attorney’s Role in Elder Abuse Cases

Elder abuse cases are extremely complicated and often involve the need for one or more legal interventions. JASA, one of the NYC Elder Abuse Center’s (NYCEAC) partners and one of the largest and most-trusted non-profits serving older adults in NYC, has a unique program that offers social work and civil legal services specifically tailored to the complex needs of elder abuse victims. NYCEAC is excited to highlight JASA’s ground-breaking program entitled, Legal, Social Work, Elder Abuse Program (LEAP). I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Donna Dougherty, Esq., Attorney-in-Charge, for a look inside JASA LEAP and the unique role of an attorney in this work.

Overview of JASA LEAP

Elder abuse victims are often abused by someone close-a family member, such as an adult child or grandchild, or a close friend-causing victims tremendous conflict when determining how to respond to the abuse. JASA LEAP’s staff, sensitive to these complex family dynamics, recognized the need for a multidisciplinary approach with social workers and lawyers working together to provide no-cost social services and legal representation to clients. The first multidisciplinary team of lawyers and social workers was created in Queens, and LEAP now offers services in Manhattan and Brooklyn as well.

Full Article and Source:
Innovative Program Shines Light on Civil Attorney’s Role in Elder Abuse Cases

Sunday, November 24, 2013

T.S. Radio With Guest, Dr. Sam Sugar

Dr. Sam Sugar joins us this evening! 

We will be talking at length about patients rights. When are they applicable? When do they end? At what point does HIPAA end and the defacto death certificate referred to as guardianized "ward" begin?

If you are hospitalized due to illness and have not been declared a "ward", what right does the state and its agencies and agents have to intervene in your care or decisions?

Dr Sugar has also helped to author a bill in the Florida legislature FL SB412 which calls for revision of standing statutes and protection from predators working within the probate/family court system.
Why should anyone, by virtue of disability, and/or unproven mental incompetence lose all of their Constitutional protections and rights?

Why should anyone be "dead in the law" because they were deemed "ward" of the court?

At what point does the individual cease to exist and to have rights, especially when no "team of experts" has determined them to be incapacitated?

Why should vulnerability allow a predator to loot the estates, take SS and veterans checks, personal belongings, valuable property for their own purposes.

Dr.Sam Sugar has much to say about all of this.

These and many other questions will be addressed along with Dr. Sugar's Florida legislation that calls for major changes in the care and treatment of the elderly and others who fall prey to the organized criminal rings operating in our family and probate courts.

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

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

The Disney Family Court Battle Continues

On Labor Day 2009, a young woman named Michelle Lund was rushed to an Orange County, Calif. hospital with a brain aneurysm following a night of partying with friends. Within days, as she teetered on the brink of death, the lines had been drawn in a vicious battle over $400 million that has torn one of the nation’s most famous families apart.
Michelle and her twin brother, Brad Lund, are the grandchildren of late entertainment titan Walt Disney. In the 1950s and 1960s, their father Bill, a real estate developer, helped Walt scout the swampy acreage in Central Florida that would become Disney World.

Bill married Walt’s daughter, Sharon, in 1968, and the twins were born in 1970. Before she died in 1993, Sharon set up trust funds for Brad and Michelle that are now worth about $400 million. According to the terms of the trust, the siblings were each to receive annual payments, plus lump sums at five-year intervals.

But now the twins have squared off -- Brad with father Bill in his corner, Michelle in hers with the estate’s trustees. They are set to meet in a California courtroom for a civil trial that begins Dec. 5.

The legal battle began immediately after Michelle’s aneurysm, while she was comatose. Bill tried to move her to a hospital in Arizona, where he lives, and the trustees filed suit. When she recovered, Michelle took the trustees’ side. Ever since, they’ve been paying out Michelle’s regular multimillion-dollar disbursements according to the terms mandated by Sharon, but withholding Brad’s payments. In next month’s trial, Bill and Brad will try to end the trustees’ control of Brad’s money.

Michelle’s side says Brad is incapable of managing the chunk of the Disney fortune due him because he has “chronic cognitive disability.” The trustees also allege that Bill Lund has “taken advantage” of his son’s “disability” to gain millions in the past, in the form of “secret profits” using trust fund money.

Bill denies wrongdoing, charging it’s the trustees who’ve looted the trust fund of millions. They've been manipulating Michelle by releasing funds to her while denying payments to Brad, he says.

Full Article and Source:
The Disneys:  Not the Happiest Family on Earth

Justices refuse to delay disciplinary hearing of Judge Jones

The Nevada Supreme Court Friday rejected the latest attempt by suspended Clark County District Judge Steven Jones to delay a disciplinary hearing scheduled to begin Dec. 2 in Las Vegas.

The court said a postponement of the hearing by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline is not warranted.

The unanimous ruling said among other things that Jones failed to show he would suffer "irreparable or serious injury" if the stay was denied. The court upheld the ruling of District Judge Kathleen Delaney, who dismissed the latest legal action by Jones.

Jones is accused of presiding over cases involving the son of his girlfriend, Deputy District Attorney Lisa Willard, in which she was involved. Jones has denied the allegation.

The commission originally set the hearing for March 11 this year and then rescheduled it for June 24. Jones had filed suits saying his constitutional rights were violated during the investigation by the commission.

Full Article and Source:
Justices refuse to delay disciplinary hearing of Judge Jones

Brevard court has doctor shortage to help with guardian cases

The court needs more doctors who are willing to examine people in Brevard County, as a part of a process to appoint guardians, to see if they are able to make decisions on their own.

If someone is unable to make decisions, the court can authorize a guardian to do so on his or her behalf. But with an increasing caseload and the retirement of one of the two doctors typically called upon for the process, Brevard is in need, according to court spokeswoman Michelle Kennedy.

Chief Judge John Harris explained such a situation could impact any average family. Typically, it involves an elderly person dealing with issues of dementia, but it could also be someone who suffered a head injury. The court can then appoint a guardian to make that person’s financial or medical decisions. The process to appoint a guardian includes having a doctor make a report after examining the person — looking at medical records, talking to the patient, their primary physician and their family.

Hundreds of people every year require this sort of help from the court system — attorney William Johnson described one recent case where a woman in her 80s needed a guardian. She lives in Eau Gallie and she’s adamant about staying in the home her father built in the 1950s, but she began wandering away from home. Her son, who is in his 60s and has health issues of his own, was “at his wits end,” trying to care for her, Johnson said. Her home had been broken into, the police have been there about six times in the past month and strangers started drinking beer on her porch.

Johnson said the Department of Children and Families was called. They determined the situation was unsafe. A professional guardian assessed the woman and agreed with DCF. The son consented, agreeing that he could no longer be her caregiver, Johnson said.

Full Article and Source:
Brevard court has doctor shortage to help with guardian cases