Saturday, December 21, 2013

OH Judge Delays Decision on Guardian's Request to End Effort to Forced Chemo for Amish Girl

A judge in Ohio isn't ready to rule on whether a court-appointed guardian can drop her attempt to force an 11-year-old Amish girl with leukemia to resume chemotherapy.

The delay comes because the judge said in a court filing that he might not have authority to grant the request because of an ongoing appeal in state court.

The guardian told the Medina County judge earlier this month that she was dropping her efforts because she doesn't know where the girl is and said it's impossible to make medical decisions for her.

The move came two months after the girl and her parents fled their home in northeast Ohio to avoid the treatments. The family decided to halt the treatments because they feared the chemotherapy could end up killing the girl.

Judge delays decision on guardian's request to end effort to force chemo for Ohio Amish girl

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

Attorney Hopes Ohio Amish Family Can Return Home Soon

An Ohio Amish couple who fled their home with their 11-year-old daughter so she wouldn't be forced to get chemotherapy could be home for the holidays but not without a favorable decision from a judge, their lawyer says.

Attorney Maurice Thompson said he hopes the judge will issue a ruling soon on medical guardianship of Sarah Hershberger and she and her family can return home to rural northeast Ohio in time for Christmas.

"They won't be coming home until the guardianship is no longer in effect," Thompson said Tuesday.
The family left home two months ago just days before an Ohio appeals court allowed a guardian to take over medical decisions for the girl. Since then, the guardian has asked the court to allow her to drop her attempt to force Sarah to resume chemotherapy for her leukemia.

On Monday, Medina County Probate Judge Kevin Dunn said he was delaying a decision on the court-appointed guardian's request because he first wants to make sure he has authority to grant it in light of an ongoing appeal in state court.

Full Article and Source:
Attorney Hopes Ohio Amish Family Can Return Home Soon

Read more here:

Former PA Guardian ad Litem, Danielle Ross, Pleads Guilty to Tax Charge

A Lackawanna County attorney who was investigated for her handling of child custody disputes pleaded guilty Monday to tax evasion, bringing to a close one chapter of an investigation into the county's family court system.

Danielle Ross, former guardian ad litem for the county, admitted she failed to report more than $200,000 in income she received from parents who were required to hire her to review their cases and provide a recommendation to judges tasked with deciding custody arrangements.

The plea comes 10 months after a grand jury issued an indictment against Ms. Ross, who has been heavily criticized by several parents who claimed she coerced them into following unreasonable recommendations and forced them to pay fees for services they neither wanted nor needed.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms. Ross' attorney, David Solfanelli, stressed the plea, entered before Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo, had no connection to any allegations of misconduct involving her handling of cases. It deals solely with her failure to report income.

"Some people may perceive it, but it had nothing to do with her job performance," Mr. Solfanelli said. "It has to deal with reporting taxes."

The county paid Ms. Ross a retainer of $38,000. She was also permitted to privately bill parents $50 per hour. The investigation revealed she failed to report the private fees paid to her in 2009 and 2010.

Under a plea deal, Ms. Ross pleaded guilty to one count of attempted income tax evasion for 2009. In exchange, a second tax charge was dropped.

In a related case, Ms. Ross' husband, Walter Pietralczyk Jr., pleaded guilty on Dec. 4 to filing a false tax return for 2009.

Full Article and Source:
Former Lackawanna guardian ad litem pleads guilty to tax charge

See Also:
PA Attorney Accused of Federal Tax Fraud Pleads Not Guilty

Friday, December 20, 2013

Former CA Judge Who Stole From Elderly Neighbor Barred from Ever Working for Judicial Branch

A former Alameda County Superior Court judge who pleaded no contest to criminal charges that he stole more than $1 million from an elderly neighbor while acting as if he was looking after her affairs is now formally barred from ever returning to the bench or working for state courts in any capacity, a judicial panel announced Monday.
Paul D. Seeman, received the maximum penalty the California Commission on Judicial Performance can impose on a former judge. "The severe sanction of a public censure and bar is necessary for the protection of the public and the reputation of the judiciary," its order states. Seeman, a judge since 2009, did not contest the punishment. He is already banned from practicing law in the state.
In August, Seeman, 59, of Berkeley, reached a deal to avoid prison time and pleaded no contest to one charge each of perjury and elder abuse. He was sentenced in October to five years probation and ordered to repay $300,000 to the estate of Anne Nutting, his former neighbor.

The plea deal took place before any formal airing of the allegation against Seeman, including a preliminary hearing. He was originally charged with 32 felonies.

Prosecutors alleged Seeman systemically siphoned off Nutting's retirement accounts and stole items from her home after he was secured "durable power of attorney" over her assets in 1999 and promised to look after her. Another lawyer working for Anne Nutting eventually found that her assets had been drained away. She died in 2010 at age 97.

Full Article and Source:
Former judge who stole from elderly neighbor barred from ever working for judicial branch

Passaic County woman charged with stealing $84K from long-term care facility in Wayne

A business office manager at a long-term care facility in Wayne was charged in an indictment Wednesday with stealing $84,000 from the facility, according to a report on

Traci Meyers, 38, of Haledon, was slapped with a charge of theft by deception, which could earn her a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars and a fine up to $150,000, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Meyers allegedly stole the money from Advanced Care Center at Lakeview of Wayne, the report said. From April 2011 until May 2013, Meyers was accused of pocketing money from two separate petty cash accounts under her control. She allegedly wrote checks for patient needs or operating expenses but kept the money after the checks were cashed, the report said.

Full Article and Source:
Passaic County woman charged with stealing $84K from long-term care facility in Wayne

Despite Inaction, Washington State Seeks More Time on Fix for 'Boarding' Mentally Ill

When a Pierce County judge declared last spring that it was unconstitutional to put involuntarily committed residents in emergency rooms, officials successfully pleaded for a delay in the ruling so they could “think about” new ways to “attack the problem” of not having enough treatment beds for mentally ill residents.

Six months and zero policy changes later, the state is headed back to court to request another delay.

Superior Court Judge Kathryn Nelson will decide Tuesday whether to extend her stay, weighing civil liberties and community safety in the latest in a highly charged and closely watched case that could affect the entire state.

Nelson said after her ruling that she was “reluctant at this point to stay it any longer than six months.”

But state officials, who are appealing the ruling, plan to argue that if Nelson does not extend the stay, they will have no choice but to release dangerous people to the streets when no treatment beds are available.

Full Article and Source:
Despite inaction, state seeks more time on fix for ‘boarding’ mentally ill

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Marie Long, a Widow 'Protected' into the Poorhouse, Gets Some of Her Money Back - Finally!

The elderly widow wasn’t asking for much. Just a little protection so she could live out her life as she’d planned.

So that she could go out to lunch with friends or buy a new hat or new teeth.

Instead, Marie Long was protected right into the poorhouse. In just four years, the woman who came into Probate Court with $1.3 million in assets was left penniless, her life savings sucked up by the very people appointed to watch over her — all as the judge looked on.

Or away, more likely.

As a result of what happened to Marie Long, laws were changed and reforms were enacted in the hope of better protecting the most vulnerable among us.

All that is, except for Marie.

Now, at long last — and with no thanks to the courts —Marie Long, at 92, has a little of her own back.

Marie had no children to look after her in her old age. Her daughter died of cancer long ago at age 16. The following year, her 20-year-old son was killed in Vietnam. When her husband, Cliff, died in 2003, Marie was in good financial shape.

But a stroke in 2005 and a family dispute over where and how she would live landed Marie under the “protection” of Maricopa County’s Probate Court.

By 2009, her $1.3 million estate was gone, much of it sucked up by attorneys and fiduciaries under the not-so-watchful eye of then-Commissioner Lindsay Ellis.

Ellis ruled that those attorneys and fiduciaries were justified in helping themselves to more than $1 million of Marie’s money. She lambasted Marie’s lawyers — Kitchel, Pat Gitre and Marie’s nephew Dan Raynak, people who for years volunteered their services to help Marie as her accounts dwindled.

Ellis wrote that their “venomous” attacks challenging the six-figure bills forced the fiduciaries and lawyers on the other side to defend themselves.

With Marie’s money, naturally.

Full Article and Source:
Widow ‘protected’ into the poorhouse gets some of her money back (finally)

See Also: (NOTE:  NASGA worked directly with CBS in 2010 on the report listed below.)
CBS Evening News- Guardianship Agency Costs Elderly Woman Dearly

Linda Kincaid Reports: Elder Abuse and Deprivation of Rights by Monterey County, California

Monterey County Counsel Cathleen Giovanni demanded that Patricia Conklin, daughter of conservatee Margarita Zelada, sign away her civil rights or lose a lifetime of personal property and family treasures. Giovannini emailed the document at 4:30pm Monday, December 16. Giovannini demanded Patricia’s signature by 8:30am Tuesday, December 17.

Giovannini demonstrated her penchant for deprivation of rights in November when she obtained a court order to strip Margarita of her right to contact elder rights advocates. Giovannini’s recent email to Patricia shows the same proclivity for deprivation of rights.
"Here is a proposed release---please review as soon as possible, as it is hoped that the check exchange and move can be accomplished tomorrow morning. I understand that Teri Scarlett and Jennifer Empasis are planning to meet Patricia Conklin and a representative from Tijuana Walker at the Del Rey Oaks Starbucks at 8:30 tomorrow a.m. " 
According to Patricia’s cousin Bonnie Lind (who provided the document to this Examiner):
"[Patricia] was given two minutes to call me to ask what she should do. [Public Guardians] Scarlett and Empasis warned her to sign it or she gets nothing! "
Elder rights advocate Dr. Robert Fettgather commented:
"Is this the Machiavellian standard: hold out property to victims who sign away their rights?"
Full Article, Source: and the Complete Text of the Release:
Elder Abuse and Deprivation of Rights by Monterey County, California

See Also:
Linda Kincaid Reports Public Experts Discuss Elder Abuse by Monterey County Public Guardian

New Mexico Nursing Home Company Agrees to Fine for Obstructing Efforts of State Ombudsman

A company that manages two nursing homes in Santa Fe has agreed to pay a fine and change its practices after admitting to obstructing the efforts of a state ombudsman that investigates resident complaints.

“The administration making derogatory comments about the Ombudsman or saying ‘don’t talk to the Ombudsman, come to me instead’ that is obstruction and intimidation,” said Sondra Everhart, state long-term care ombudsman.

As part of a settlement agreement, Preferred Care Partners Management Group will pay the state $3,500. Everhart said it is the fourth time in her nine years as ombudsman that she has fined a nursing home, and New Mexico is one of the only states where the ombudsman’s office can impose penalties.

In a telephone interview, Everhart said the derogatory comments about the long-term care ombudsman came from the administration at Casa Real Healthcare Center, 150 Galisteo St., and verified by sworn statements by current or former staff members. Her office issued a notice of violation Nov. 1 and imposed an initial fine of $23,500.

But Everhart said the company acknowledged the problems and agreed to make changes, which is the reason the penalty was reduced.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Company Agrees to Fine, Changes

Judge Proves Money Can Buy Injustice for Rich Texas Teen

One of my law professors once told our class: I'd rather be rich and guilty than poor and innocent.

Maybe he was right. In Texas, in the courtroom of Judge Jean Boyd, not only can the wealthy afford top-notch attorneys and experts, they are afforded their very own legal defense. It's called "affluenza."

Ethan Couch is a 16-year-old troubled teen who drove drunk and killed four innocent people. He lost control of his Ford F-350 truck, rolled it and slammed into them as they tried to fix a disabled car on the road's shoulder in a Fort Worth suburb. One of his seven teen passengers was thrown from the truck and permanently paralyzed. He can only communicate by blinking.

Prosecutors had sought the maximum sentence of 20 years in state custody.

In court, paid experts on Couch's behalf argued he suffered from "affluenza" — a previously made-up diagnosis not even recognized by the American Psychiatric Association — and that his behavior was excused because of how he was raised.

The theory was that Couch was not to blame for his actions because his rich parents gave him too much, never set limits for him, and he never learned consequences for his actions. His parents and his family's wealth were to blame, they argued.

The defense is ridiculous. And the judge's decision — despicable.

Full Article and Source:
Judge proves money can buy injustice for rich Texas teen

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blind NJ Woman Left in Limbo by Cracks in Social Services

Leila Laufer is a legally blind but otherwise healthy 77-year-old who has just learned she falls between the cracks of different government programs that offer help to the disabled and the elderly.

She was recently declared too old to remain in a government program for working-age people with disabilities, but she isn’t needy enough or frail enough to qualify for many state and county programs that help pay for home aides for the elderly .

So at the moment, she is without the twice-a-week aide who used to help with essential tasks such as grocery shopping, cleaning her home in Fair Lawn or even reading the official letters denying her services. And she doesn’t know how she’ll fare without that help.

“They describe this as if I have maxed out on the services, like I’m a credit card instead of a human being,” Laufer said. “I am afraid of what’s going to happen.”

Advocates say her situation isn’t uncommon among the elderly and visually impaired when they become too old for one government system and may or may not be eligible for another — which doesn’t always meet their needs.

“The big push is to have our seniors live at home as long as possible, but then we don’t always give them the support they need to do so,” said Joseph Ruffalo, president of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey.

Full Article and Source:
Blind Fair Lawn Senior Left in Limbo by Cracks in Social Services

Appeal of $10,000 Fine to CA Facility for Leaving Suicidal Patient Unattended is Denied

A federal appeals court has upheld a $10,000 fine against a skilled nursing facility for leaving a suicidal patient unattended, who then walked out of the facility and killed himself.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the Department of Health and Human Services' ruled that the decision (Del Rosa Villa v. Sebelius, 2013 BL 330965, 9th Cir., No. 12-71685, 11/26/13) to fine petitioner Del Rosa Villa was supported by substantial evidence. The court denied a petition to overrule decisions that led to the fine.

The unidentified patient first received care at Del Rosa Villa in May 2009 after he broke his leg in a suicide attempt. Hospital employees who treated the man noted psychiatric issues and a risk of self-harm.

After admission to Del Rosa Villa, a nurse noted that the patient should be put on 24-hour suicide watch. The patient was sent to the emergency room after Del Rosa Villa staff couldn't calm him June 5. The patient returned two days later and resumed the unusual behavior. On June 9, the nursing staff allowed him to go outside the facility to smoke, according to court records. He was found 20 minutes later hanging from his belt.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home $10,000 Suicide Fine Upheld

Manchin,Rockefeller Introduce National Silver Alert Act

Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller want to take West Virginia's Silver Alert program nationwide.

Manchin and Rockefeller, along with four other senators introduced the National Silver Alert Act on Tuesday.

It would create a federal program to help local and state law enforcement agencies find missing adults and senior citizens.

“We know that a strong communications network is critical to first responders when they’re dealing with an emergency situation, such as when an elderly person goes missing,” said Senator Rockefeller.

“The Silver Alert, which is modeled after a successful West Virginia program, has the potential to greatly improve the way we locate missing adults and seniors by allowing for coordination and support across jurisdictions.”

The Silver Alert Program has been in place in West Virginia since 2009.

Full Article and Source:
Manchin, Rockefeller Introduce National Silver Alert Act

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Multiple Arrests Made After Investigation of Columbus,GA, Care Center

New details have emerged about the poor conditions inside a Columbus senior care facility. The Facility Director of Loving Care Senior Citizen Home was arrested on Dec. 4 on multiple charges. According to officials, Sheryl Drakeford willingly exploited disabled adults, elderly persons, or residents at the facility. Three others connected to the institution were arrested as well.

Multimple Arrests Made After Investigation at Columbus Senior Care Center

Three Former Funeral Directors Indicted on Theft Charges That Could Put Them in Prison for 20 Years

Three former owners of funeral homes in Girard and Niles each face possible jail sentences of 20 years for purportedly stealing thousands of dollars from customers at their businesses.

Robert J. McClurkin, 49; Patrick J. McClurkin, 47; and Robert P. McDermott Sr., 51, dressed in suits and ties, looked out of place sitting with jail inmates Monday morning in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Each was secretly indicted last week on between 10 and 20 charges, including ones accusing them of selling prepaid funeral services to more than 50 customers and then pocketing the money instead of setting it aside for its later use, as required by law.

The charges included engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft from an elderly or disabled person and a variety of other fraud and theft offenses.

Full Article and Source:
Three former funeral directors indicted on theft charges that could put them in prison 20 years

Florida Celebrates Five Years of Silver Alerts

Florida’s Silver Alert plan is five years old.

The Silver Alert program sends out statewide alerts shortly after a senior with Alzheimer's or related dementia goes missing. Since Silver Alerts began, 712 Alerts have been issued and 92 seniors have been found after an individual saw a Silver Alert, recognized the missing senior and called law enforcement.
“Silver Alerts are a valuable tool for law enforcement,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “If you see a Silver Alert, take notice. Your actions could help save a life.”

“Seniors make up almost a quarter of Florida’s population, and the number of older Floridians is expected to double by 2030,” said Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Charles T. Corley. “The success of the Silver Alert program demonstrates the commitment by all of Florida’s citizens to protect vulnerable members of our families and our communities.”

Florida’s Silver Alert plan was initiated by an executive order signed on Oct. 8, 2008, and was codified into law by the Florida legislature in 2011. It is a standardized system to aid local law enforcement in the rescue of an elderly person with an irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties (such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) who goes missing. The plan calls for the broadcast of information via the media and highway message signs (when a vehicle is involved) to enlist citizens in the search for an endangered senior. This year, the Silver Alert Committee is partnering with AAA South to provide notifications to AAA automotive service vehicle drivers throughout Florida.

Full Article and Source:
Florida Celebrates Five Years of Silver Alerts

Monday, December 16, 2013

Linda Kincaid Reports: Public Experts Discuss Elder Abuse by Monterey County Public Guardian

The December 9 and 10, 2013 annual conference of the Southern California Public Health Association hosted public health authorities discussing the latest in policy and best practices. Speakers and attendees represented many parts of southern California and north to the greater San Jose area.

An expert panel discussed elder abuse by court appointed conservators throughout California. Abuse of San Francisco resident Margarita Zelada by the Monterey County Public Guardian drew considerable attention.

Public health practitioners were appalled to learn that Monterey County public health funds are used to facilitate elder abuse. The Monterey County Public Guardian, an office under the  Health Department, is currently engaged in civil rights violations and heinous elder abuse of conservatee Margarita Zelada.

On March 25, 2013, ten Pacific Grove police officers forcibly removed Margarita from her daughter’s home. Witnesses said the officers pulled Margarita from her bed, rolled her in a sheet, strapped her to a gurney, and forced her into a waiting ambulance. A neighbor spoke of Margarita’s screams as the most horrible sounds she ever heard.

Deputy Public Guardian Jennifer Empasis has kept Margarita unlawfully confined and forcibly isolated since the March siege. Other than three brief visits Margarita is denied all contact with her daughter Patricia Conklin, Margarita’s only blood relative in the United States.

Full Article and Source:
Public Experts Discuss Elder Abuse by Monterey County Public Guardian

Couple Accused of Exploiting Elderly Man With Dementia, Selling His Wedding Ring

Two people are accused of intimidating an elderly man into letting them live in his house.

Peachtree City police said William Porter, 55, and Ericka Porter, 51, took advantage of the man's mental condition.

Police said the two continually visited the 79-year-old at the Towne Club senior living facility and got him to sign paperwork allowing them move into his house on Hilltop Drive.

"They appear to have intimidated him or convinced him to sign this lease committing an act of fraud against this poor man," said Peachtree police Lt. Mark Brown. 

Workers at the victim's assisted living facility and his neighbors alerted police.

"We've always looked after him because his health is failing and he has dementia," said neighbor Joy Thompson.

Investigators said not only were the Porters living in the home illegally, they said the two were also selling the victim's property

Full Article and Source:
Couple accused of exploiting elderly man with dementia, selling his wedding ring

National Guardianship Association Picks Excellence Award Winner

Clay County Public Administrator Debbie Gwin likes to refer to her office as the best-kept secret in the county. Tucked in the corner on the ground floor of the James S. Rooney Justice Center, Gwin and her team provide financial and personal services for 345 clients in the county’s guardianship and conservatorship programs.

But after the National Guardianship Association’s annual conference this past October, the secret that Gwin has kept since taking office in 2005 may be out. While attending the conference in Tampa, Fla., Gwin was presented with the National Certified Guardian Excellence Award. The award recognizes an individual’s work as a certified guardian, and knowledge of guardianship concepts, ethics and issues.

Full Article and Source:
Debbie Gwin Receives National Guardianship Excellence Award

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Elder Abuse and Exploitation in Australia With Tony Hutton

Listen as Tony Hutton speaks about the horrendous physical and financial abuse of his mother by Bendigo Bank (Australia) employee, Christine Frankham. Frankham is still employed by the bank although other cases have surfaced where she acted in the same manner and collected from the estate of an elderly person by having herself inserted into the will and naming her guardian.

From the October 12th 2013 article published in the Banking and Finance Consumer Support Association (Inc) BFCSA: "We have documentary evidence in the Just Better Care Diary (found in my Mother’s home when we contacted Police to gain access on 21/05/2011. -JBC called at my Mother's home every day for about 3/4 of an hour to prepare her a meal) of the horrendous neglect of my Mother by Frankham & Bogaard. She was in a deplorable state when Max (my husband) & I found her on the 21/5/2011. We had to contact the Police to gain access to the house as Frankham & Bogaard had the locks changed again (for the third time & at my Mother’s expense) to deny our family access. My Mother had been on the timber floor for possibly up to 20 hours wearing only a thin nightie. It had also been a very cold night. My Mother was hypothermic, tachycardic, had a urinary tract infection & impacted faeces & severe scalding in her private regions. In other words she had been totally financially abused & medically neglected & had been kept a hostage. My Mother was taken to Mona Vale Hospital by Ambulance. We also have obtained Mona Vale Hospital Emergency Admission & Clinical Notes which have also been given to Dee Why Police."

And not one person has been prosecuted for the abuse of this woman.

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

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

See Also:
Facebook:  BendigoBanksters

Bendigo Bank - Christine Frankham

WI Attorney's License Suspended Due to Guardianship Case; James Grenisen to Undergo Psychological Evaluation

A La Crosse attorney won’t be allowed to practice law for three months under an order imposed Friday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

James Grenisen must undergo a psychological evaluation before his license is reinstated.

The Office of Lawyer Regula-tion in December 2012 filed a complaint against Grenisen citing five counts of misconduct stemming from his representation of a 66-year-old woman in protective placement and guardianship.

During his representation, Grenisen took a $3,440 insurance payout owed to the woman and claimed it was a gift, had her sign an affidavit without permission of her guardian, and admitted that he has no experience in guardianship and protective placement, according to court records.

He also refused to comply with La Crosse County Circuit Judge Elliott Levine’s order not to contact the woman. Levine removed Grenisen as the woman’s attorney in 2011.

A referee recommended his license be suspended after a hearing earlier this year.

Full Article and Source:
La Crosse attorney’s license suspended

Linda Kincaid's Advovacy Efforts Recognized by Berkeley

Linda Kincaid presented two posters at the 2013 American Public Health Association conference in Boston.  The posters focused on elder abuse by Public Guardians and private conservators.

She writes that she left her safety consultant career after her mother was taken from her home, isolated, and imprisoned by an abusive conservator. “Law enforcement, government agencies, and the court failed to protect the victim’s rights. The District Attorney said the situation was ‘nothing out of the ordinary.’  Many other families tell similar stories of loved ones taken from their homes, imprisoned and isolated, and estates rapidly depleted.”

Kincaid is now a full-time advocate for civil rights of the elderly and disabled.

Linda Kincaid, MPH'01