Saturday, January 25, 2014

ABC Action News I-Team: Experts Say Court-Approved Sale Was Below Market Value

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Fla. -  The I-Team has uncovered a real estate transaction, done with the court’s approval, potentially benefiting an officer of the court.

The purchase involved an attorney hired to represent a woman who had been incapacitated and placed in Florida’s guardianship system.

 Experts say the attorney didn't pay a fair price for the property and walked away with a big real estate bargain.

 Jacqueline Harwood, now 77-years-old,  lived in the home from the time it was built in the 1940's until last June.

 “This is a good lot here. It's deep and it has water access to the Inland Waterway,” said Arthur Goetz, describing his neighbor’s home. “It’s a nice piece of property.”

 Filled with a lifetime of belongings, it needs updating, but it meets the number one rule in real estate.... location.

 “It's a quiet little street, tucked away in its own private oasis where you can put your boat dock, mangrove lined canals, and when you look out, you can see the Gulf of Mexico. It's something unique,” said Jeff Beggins, a broker for Century 21 who oversees 300 agents in 11 offices.

 The sale of the home was approved by a Pinellas County Probate judge in December for $165,000.

 “I just think that’s way under market value,” said Goetz.

 Harwood was declared incapacitated by a court in June of 2013 after showing signs of dementia, like repeatedly locking herself out of her home and walking down the street in her bathrobe during the day.

Patricia Johnson was appointed as her professional guardian after she told us she was contacted about the case by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

 The I-Team has referred to some of Johnson’s other cases as part of our series of reports on Florida’s guardianship system.

 Johnson moved Harwood into an assisted living center and hired attorney Gary Fernald to serve as Harwood’s guardianship attorney.

 “Typically the lawyer has a relationship with the guardian, but they're both paid out of the assets of the ward,” said retired Hillsborough County Judge Susan Sexton, who has overseen thousands of guardianship cases.

 Sexton says part of the attorney's role is to make sure every transaction involving the ward's assets is done by the book.

 “Absolutely, that is the attorney's role,” she said.

 The sale of Harwood's home would help pay for her future care, but the house was never put on the market by a realtor.

 Court records show, however, that a company called Rebecca Jane and Associates, LLC., which is not a registered company in Florida, offered to buy the home in November.

 Attorney Gretchen-Elizabeth filed that petition to sell the home on Johnson’s behalf.

 When the I-team questioned the transaction, both Gretchen-Elizabeth and Johnson resigned.

 “Shortly after the hearing was set, Mrs. Johnson made the decision to resign as Mrs. Harwood’s guardian,” said Fernald, in an e-mail sent to the I-Team. “At that point Gretchen-Elizabeth canceled the hearing and withdrew her appearance.  Judge St. Arnold signed the first order approving the sale on November 20, 2013.   Mrs. Johnson filed her petition for discharge on November 27, 2013.”

 It turns out the original buyer was actually Gary Fernald, the attorney who asked for Harwood to be incapacitated.

In December, Judge Jack St. Arnold signed an order allowing Fernald to buy his former client's home for $165,000.

Full Article, Video and Source:
I-Team:  Experts Say Court-Appointed Sale Was Below Market Value

Real Estate Deal Questioned

See Also:
Jeff Brandes:  Bill Would Help Keep Unscrupulous Guardians in CheckABC Action News I-Team:  Al Katz Center Educates and Fights Against Abusive Professional Guardianships

Fetus in Texas Life Support Case 'Distinctly Abnormal'

(Newser) – The 22-week-old fetus of the pregnant Texas woman being kept on life support against her wishes is "distinctly abnormal," lawyers for Marlise Munoz's family say. The attorneys say they have medical records showing as much, and want to clear up any "misconceptions about the condition of the fetus," NBC News reports. Specifically, their statement says:
  • "The lower extremities are deformed to the extent the gender cannot be determined."
  • The fetus is experiencing hydrocephalus, or brain swelling.
  • The fetus may also have a heart problem.
  • There appear to be "further abnormalities" that can't be specifically determined since Munoz's body is "immobile," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
 Full Article & Source:
Fetus in Texas Life Support Case 'Distinctly Abnormal'

Erie judge being reprimanded over waving gun

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A special court that disciplines Pennsylvania judges who misbehave on Thursday ordered a written reprimand for an Erie district judge who waved a handgun at another motorist in a road-rage incident five years ago.

The state Court of Judicial Discipline, under orders from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to sanction Judge Thomas Carney, unanimously approved the penalty following an hour-long hearing. A reprimand is among the least severe of available sanctions that include suspension and removal from office.

Judge Charles Clement, a Camp Hill district judge who presides over the disciplinary panel, said he would write the reprimand within two weeks.

Carney, 60, who was accompanied to court by at least two longtime friends who testified that he is honest and fair, was relieved by the decision.

Full Article & Source:
Erie judge being reprimanded over waving gun

Ex-judge’s law license suspended for six months

The law license of former Sangamon County Associate Judge Robert Hall will be suspended for six months beginning Feb. 7. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed the discipline on Hall, 61, during its January term.

A state Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission investigation found that Hall dismissed a traffic ticket received by the daughter of a fellow associate judge in 2010 and falsely said that a prosecutor had made a motion to dismiss the ticket.

The ARDC had recommended that Hall’s license be suspended for two years, but a hearing board last year trimmed the recommendation to six months.

Hall has not practiced law since he retired as a judge in July 2010, less than a month after the traffic-ticket incident.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-judge’s law license suspended for six months

Friday, January 24, 2014

Former Nevada Guardian Patience Bristol Released, DA Drops 19 of 20 Felony Charges

On the day before Las Vegas' giant New Years Eve celebration, a quiet hearing took place in Clark County District Court, and a confessed exploiter of the elderly/vulnerable was set free on drastically reduced charges.

Serving over 120 days on five counts of exploiting; eight counts of burglary in the first degree; three counts of obtaining money, property, or labor under false pretense; and four counts of embezzlement against old/vulnerable persons, Patience Bristol was allowed to ring in the New Year as a free woman.
We have to assume that the other 19 charges dropped were in exchange for something. But what exactly was that something? And no one expects Bristol to serve more time based on just one charge.

Her release is either very good, or very bad news for the elderly/vulnerable. Either she ratted on her former employer and mentor Jared Shafer, or the FIX is in!

I can't help but believe Bristol's arrest in November may have been a decoy to distract from much longer term crimes against the elderly committed by her mentor Shafer. If so, its possible that the DA is in cahoots with Shafer, and a deal was cut with Bristol to plead to the one and only charge, pay restitution (probably paid by Shafer), and be sentenced to time served with a plum job waiting for her with one of Shafer's cronies when the story is no longer relevant, and the heat is off.

Or, if I'm wrong, Wolfson got a full confession from Bristol, and based on that information is actively pursuing Shafer on much more serious charges.  Either way, the truth should be known by April 28, 2014, when Patience Bristol is sentenced - unless the U.S. Department of Justice steps in and takes this clear cut RICO case to a higher level as should have happened long ago.  In the meantime, elderly/vulnerable people in Southern Nevada continue to be drained of their life savings by a group of politically connected vultures and grave robbers using the power of the Clark County Family Court to disguise their heinous acts.

Full Article, List of Charges, and Source:
Elder Exploiter Patience Bristol Released, DA Drops 19 or 20 Felony Charges, Jared Shafer Not Yet Charged

See Also:
Nevada Guardian Patience Bristol Arraigned on Robbery Charges

Larceny charge against former Attleboro city councilor dropped

Larceny charge against former Attleboro city councilor dropped
See Also: Ex-councilor’s trial on alleged larceny of former judge to resume Wednesday

Proposed Medicare rules would tighten CMS oversight of nursing home prescriptions

In light of reports that Medicare Part D prescribing practices are endangering seniors — many of them in long-term care facilities — the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued a proposed rule that would give the agency more power to oversee and control the prescription drug program.

To date, CMS has taken a limited role in overseeing Part D, saying that this is the responsibility of the private health plans that administer it. This has led to some problematic prescribers doling out potentially harmful medications to seniors for years, according to investigative journalism organization ProPublica.

Some of the seniors most at risk reside in skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care settings, according to a high-profile report published last year by ProPublica and The Washington Post. The article focused on some of the most prolific Part D prescribers in the nation, such as Adolphus Ray Lewis. Even after admitting responsibility for the death of a nursing home resident given excessive doses of painkillers, Lewis went on to account for the fifth-highest number of Medicare prescription claims in the country in 2010.

Miami psychiatrist Enrique Casuso was another doctor investigated. He prescribed more antipsychotic medications to Medicare beneficiaries than any other physician in the nation in 2010, and many of those seniors had dementia and were living in facilities, according to ProPublica.

Full Article & Source:
Proposed Medicare rules would tighten CMS oversight of nursing home prescriptions

Thursday, January 23, 2014

“I’m Not Me Anymore”

Once a songwriter for Johnny Cash, Jerry Lansdowne sings about the thoughts, fears, anger and anguish that fill the mind of someone slowly being devoured by Alzheimers.
Source: "Im Not Me Anymore"

Woman accused of exploiting ill family friend in Mower County

AUSTIN — An Idaho woman is expected to make her first appearance in a Minnesota courtroom on Thursday after being accused of stealing more than $60,000 from a woman she was hired to help.

Kathy Marie Schafer, 41, of Blackfoot, Idaho, has been charged in Mower County District Court with two counts of felony financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

According to the criminal complaint, Schafer and a cousin of the victim were appointed to act as co-powers of attorney for the 76-year-old woman in July 2012.

The alleged victim needed assistance because she was undergoing medical treatment, was very sick, had a poor memory and was unable to walk, the report says.

The woman told investigators she'd opened her financial accounts in April 2010 with about $120,000. In June 2013, there was about $118,000 left, she said.

After allegedly discovering several unauthorized checks and withdrawals on her accounts in November 2013, she closed them. There was about $61,150 remaining, the complaint says.

Schafer said she took care of the woman's medical needs, paperwork, storage units and personal property; she told investigators the victim's attorney suggested she pay herself $25 per hour.

According to the criminal complaint, Schafer issued seven checks to herself, totaling $37,500; made payments to Barclaycard US totaling $9,785; paid Citicards $8,102; and made a $2,000 payment to Chase. In addition, the complaint says, cash withdrawals in the amount of $1,500 and $2,000 were made.

Full Article & Source:
Woman accused of exploiting ill family friend in Mower County

How Internet Sleuths Unraveled a Family's 20-Year-Old Mystery

The Internet loves a challenge. Case in point: When a woman asked an online forum for help decoding her dying grandmother's "cancer-addled ramblings," users began to unravel the decades-old mystery in a matter of minutes.

Janna Holm posted two images — the front and back of an index card, each side covered in long strings of letters — to the site Ask MetaFilter on Monday. Holm explained that her grandmother Dorothy Holm, while dying of brain cancer in 1994, left the cards to her grandchildren as puzzles. Holm was about 11 years old when her grandmother passed away.

"She declined rapidly; she lost a lot of her memory," Holm told Mashable. "She seemed really confused, but she left these cool codes that I thought I would decipher."

Holm and her family spent months trying to solve the puzzles to no avail; they eventually stopped trying. That was until Holm's father happened across one of the cards several days ago.

Full Article & Source:
How Internet Sleuths Unraveled a Family's 20-Year-Old Mystery

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Amish family fighting forced chemo: Allowing guardian for daughter could affect other parents

TOLEDO, Ohio — A judge's decision appointing a guardian to make medical decisions for an Amish girl after her parents stopped her chemotherapy violated their constitutional rights and could affect the rights of other parents to make their own medical choices, the family's attorney said in a court filing.

The lawyer for the family of the girl, Sarah Hershberger, wants a state appeals court to overturn the order assigning the guardian.

Sarah and her parents have been in hiding to avoid resuming chemotherapy since the guardian was appointed in October. They won't return to their farm in northeastern Ohio until the guardian is removed, their attorney has said.

The guardian, Maria Schimer, an attorney who's also a registered nurse, also no longer wants to force 11-year-old Sarah to undergo chemotherapy for her leukemia because she can't contact the girl or her parents.

But she also said that an Ohio appeals court should not grant the Hershberger family's request to reverse the ruling that made her the girl's guardian because the family didn't raise the issue of their constitutional rights being violated in the trial court.

The lawyer for Sarah's family disagreed, responding in a filing on Friday with the Ninth District Court of Appeals in Akron that "fundamental and constitutional rights that implicate matters of great public importance and constitutional significance cannot be forfeited."

Allowing the guardian to overrule the parents "affects the parental rights and health care freedom of all Ohio parents," wrote Maurice Thompson, who leads the libertarian 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in Ohio.

"Any parent could have significant decisions second-guessed, any parent could lose the right to choose the doctor, hospital and course of medical treatment of their choice," the family's attorney said.

Full Article & Source:
Amish family fighting forced chemo: Allowing guardian for daughter could affect other parents

See Also:

Guardian: Court shouldn't change Ohio Amish ruling

Ohio Amish argue against guardian in chemo case

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

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

Assisted living facility fined $64,500

Shallotte | Shallotte Assisted Living has been fined $64,500 by the state for failing to protect residents from mental and physical abuse, and for failing to maintain rules about controlled substances and personal care and supervision.

The N.C. Division of Health Service Regulations, after its second inspection, found the facility failed to protect residents from verbal and physical assaults of an aggressive resident, and that the facility did not follow proper procedures for controlled substances, personal care and supervision, and health care.

The facility was assessed $16,000 for five penalties in August, and the additional penalties result from the state's findings that two violations were not abated within the 60-day compliance period. That resulted in daily fines totaling $64,500 for the facility.

The total penalty, if upheld after appeals, would be the stiffest monetary penalty for an assisted living center in Southeastern North Carolina since 2006, when the state started logging records online. It exceeds the fines imposed on Waterbrooke Assisted Living in Columbus County, which was assessed $48,000 in fines earlier this year before the facility closed.

David Goldston III, executive director of Shallotte Assisted Living, said Monday that his organization will appeal the $64,500 penalty and that the process could take three or four years.

Full Article & Source:
Assisted living facility fined $64,500

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Press readers aid man impoverished during guardianship

TOMS RIVER — Ken Schmidt, who won an uphill battle last month to regain the legal rights he lost when he suffered a brain injury in a fall two years ago, is starting the new year on a happier note, thanks in part to the generosity of Asbury Park Press readers.

The 75-year-old Toms River resident finally was able to extricate himself from the confines of a court-ordered guardianship on Dec. 16, only to find his old life in disarray.

While under the protection of the state Public Guardian, who was responsible for making medical and financial decisions on Schmidt’s behalf, his savings were wiped out, most of his furniture and other belongings were disposed of, and his townhouse wound up in foreclosure.

His home wasn’t even habitable when the guardianship was terminated because all the utilities had been shut off for nonpayment during his absence. Helen C. Dodick, the acting Public Guardian, told the Press last month that her agency is constrained by the limits of a ward’s assets, if any exist, and often can’t pay off all of the person’s debts.

Over the past few weeks, however, the kindness of strangers has given Schmidt’s spirits a boost.

So far, more than a dozen people who read about Schmidt’s predicament in the Press have contributed more than $700 to help him out, in addition to donating a sofa, new dishes and other household items to replace the possessions Schmidt lost.

“I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart, and God bless you,” Schmidt said.

The Office of the Public Guardian has stepped up, too. The agency’s attorney, Suzanne Dykes, arranged to have Schmidt’s utilities restored, and has persuaded Schmidt’s bank not to pursue the foreclosure, he said. Schmidt paid off his mortgage years ago, but the reverse mortgage he obtained in 2005 gave the bank the right to foreclose if he stopped living in the home.

Full Article & Source:
Press readers aid man impoverished during guardianship

See Also:
NJ guardian laws leave Toms River man fighting to regain freedom

NJ Man Free of Guardianship He Said He No Longer Needs!

Man sought for allegedly conning relatives out of $109,000

Boone County sheriff's deputies are looking for a 44-year-old Sturgeon man they believe swindled elderly relatives out of $109,000 in April, Detective Tom O'Sullivan said in a news release.

A warrant was issued Jan. 3 for the arrest of Farrel G. Pride of the 20000 block of North Route V. He was charged in December with financial exploitation of the elderly after a sheriff's department investigation.

The couple Pride allegedly bilked out of the cash live in Colorado and contacted the sheriff's department in April once they realized they had been the victims of a ruse, O'Sullivan said.

Full Article & Source:
Man sought for allegedly conning relatives out of $109,000

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marie Winkelman’s Case demands Litigation, not Mediation, to protect her Life, Liberty and Property?

This is the second column I have written about Marie Winkelman. Read the first column by clicking here. Marie is the author of a book about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor in Poland titled “Keeping A Promise: To Tell My Story of Survival in Warsaw During WW II.”

Marie is another victim of financial guardianship abuse.  The first I wrote about was Al Katz, the father of Beverly Newman, another Holocaust Survivor.

What is at stake here? A woman’s life, liberty and her property valued in excess of $3 million… in this case, a Holocaust Survivor who in childhood was robbed of her property and stability and now is re-living the traumas of betrayal and asset seizure.  Who benefits from Marie’s guardianship? Robert and Corinne Szychowski and the State of Florida’s guardianship system.

What is happening? The systematic financial abuse of an elder.

Audrey Bear
Audrey Bear, Marie’s lawyer, at a court hearing before Sarasota County Probate Court Judge Deno Economou on January 8, 2014 agreed to “mediate her clients capacity” with lawyers representing Robert Szychowski. This is not what Marie wants according to Beverly Newman, Director of the Al Katz Center.

Full Article & Source:
Marie Winkelman’s Case demands Litigation, not Mediation, to protect her Life, Liberty and Property?

Judge orders independent look at Justina Pelletier’s medical controversy

WEST HARTFORD — After nearly a year of forced separation from her family, Justina Pelletier, 15, was barred from going home with her family to their West Hartford home for Christmas this year. A postponement in a ruling has ensured the family’s legal battles will continue through the holidays.

Judge Joseph Johnston, recently postponed his final custody decision until Jan. 10, leaving the teen in the state custody in Massachusetts, but also appointed an independent investigator to take a new look at her case.

“I don’t understand how they can do this. I didn’t do anything wrong,” her mother, Linda Pelletier, said as she left the courtroom, sobbing, according to a report published by The Boston Globe.

Judge Joseph Johnston appointed a new guardian ad litem — who is required under state law to take an “objective and even-handed” look at the facts in the case, according to the Globe’s report.

The parents accused the hospital and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families of virtually kidnapping their daughter, and ignoring the medical advice of Dr. Mark Korson, the chief of metabolism at Tufts Medical Center. Korson had given Justina a working diagnosis of mitochondrial disorder over the past year.

Full Article & Source:
Judge orders independent look at Justina Pelletier’s medical controversy

See Also:
Parents lose custody of teen after seeking 2nd medical opinion; girl indefinitely detained in psych ward

Judge Orders West Hartford Girl To Remain In Mass. State Custody

Judge for Pomfret, Fredonia disciplined in domestic violence case

Justice David A. Prince of the Pomfret Town Court and Fredonia Village Court in Chautauqua County was admonished Monday by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which issued its lowest possible punishment to the veteran jurist for his handling of an arraignment in a domestic violence case some months ago, Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said.

Prince, the commission determined, was disciplined for his reported failure during that court proceeding to advise the defendant of his right to assigned legal counsel.

The judge was also admonished for comments he made during that arraignment that appeared to prejudge the defendant’s guilt, as well as critical comments he made about the alleged victim of the incident, Tembeckjian said.

“It is fundamental to the role of a judge to be and appear impartial and to ensure that all parties to a proceeding are afforded their legal rights,” Tembeckjian said. “Judge Prince has acknowledged his failure to do so in this case and renewed his commitment to these basic judicial obligations, and had this been part of a pattern, the discipline might well have been harsher than an admonition.”

Full Article & Source:
Judge for Pomfret, Fredonia disciplined in domestic violence case

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Ginny Johnson

T.S Radio Hosted by Marti Oakley and Guest Host Tony Hutton Presents: Ginny Johnson the daughter of the Late Captain Hugh Johnson: War Hero, POW and Guardianship Victim.

The whole broadcast is available to be heard 24/7 for the WORLD to and is highly recommended listening, I would strongly suggest that you take the time to listen to the Archive of this Show if you miss it..!!!


From North Carolina Linda Kincaid Reported: Aging Family Services threatens daughter for exposing Elder Abuse of the Late War Hero Captain Hugh Johnson.

The National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse posted a memorial for war hero, Captain Hugh Johnson. NASGA honored Johnson’s service in World War II and recounted the horrors of being a German prisoner of war. The memorial also recounted the greater horrors of Johnson’s last months in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Horrors of war and POW camps did not prepare Hugh for the horrors of guardianship in Wake County, North Carolina. A healthy active man who still enjoyed golf at 95, Hugh deteriorated rapidly under Guardian Cheryl Theriault of Raleigh based Aging Family Services.”

“Guardian Chery Theriault immediately removed Hugh from his upscale home, isolated him from family, and chemically restrained him with the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel. Five months after being taken from home, Hugh was frail, bedridden, and incontinent. His legs and feet were covered with sores that would not heal.”

On January 9, 2014, attorney A. Justin Eldreth sent Ginny Johnson a cease and desist letter. The letter threatens that Cheryl Theriault and Aging Family Services will sue Ginny for defamation if Hugh Johnson’s memorial is not removed from the NASGA website.

“Accordingly, we demand that you (a) immediately cease and desist your unlawful defamation of Cheryl Theriault and Aging Family Services, Inc., by writing to the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse to request that they remove any mention of either Cheryl Theriault or Aging Family Services, Inc. from their website, specifically, the information located at ; (b) provide this office with a copy of your written request; and (c) provide this office with prompt written assurance that you will cease and desist from further defamation of the character and reputation of Cheryl Theriault and Aging Family Services, Inc. All this must be done within ten (10) days from the date of this letter.

If you do not comply with the cease and desist demand within this time period, Cheryl Theriault and Aging Family Services, Inc. is entitled to seek monetary damages and equitable relief for your defamation. In the event that you fail to meet this demand, please be informed that Cheryl Theriault and Aging Family Services. Inc. has asked us to communicate to you that she will pursue all available remedies, including seeking monetary damages, injunctive relief, and an order that you pay court costs and attorney’s fees. Your liability and exposure under such legal action could be considerable….”

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST7:00 pm CST 8:00 pm EST

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

See Also:
NASGA Victims Page

Linda Kincaid Reports:  Aging Family Services Exposes Daughter for Exposing Elder Abuse of War Hero 

Plans for sweeping change at assisted-living homes

A bipartisan group of California legislators is calling for widespread changes in how the state licenses assisted-living homes, from increasing the public's ability to review complaints made against facilities to quadrupling the number of training hours required of caregivers.

With more than a dozen bills making up a residential-care-facility reform package - their costs not yet determined - advocates calling for greater transparency and accountability say they feel confident the money needed to fix the Department of Social Services' Community Care Licensing Division will be there.

Those efforts will be aided by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who control the purse strings in each house as budget chairs. Both are authoring bills addressing residential-care concerns borne from last year's faulty closure of Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley.

More than a dozen residents were left behind at the assisted- living facility after the state ordered the care home to be closed but did little to ensure that its elderly residents were transferred or cared for.

A cook and a janitor with no training in caring for the elderly stayed with the residents after caregivers and managers left. The two, working without pay, repeatedly called 911, saying the residents needed help. The owner of the facility had previous violations at a facility in Oakland.

Full Article Source:
Plans for sweeping change at assisted-living homes

See Also:
Castro Valley care home patients abandoned

Cooks, Caregivers Struggled to Aid Abandoned Care Home Patients

Alameda County: Assisted living reform advocates hope new director will overhaul state's licensing agency