Saturday, March 22, 2014

From NASGA's Archives: Legal Guardian Denies Alzheimer's Patient Her Home and Family Contact

Note:  Awareness is spreading about guardians who wrongfully isolate their wards from family and friends.  NASGA believes isolation (without court order) is cruel and inhumane treatment and must be classified as the crime it truly is.

The following article is from our 2009 archives:

Carol Kinnear, a retired Belleair Elementary teacher in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, signed an update to her trust in June 2008.

Her wish was clear: For the rest of her life, regardless of her health, she wanted to stay home.

The trust provision, her daughters thought, would assure she could do that.

On Monday, Kinnear, 78, was taken from home and moved to an unnamed facility, the act of a court-appointed guardian. She would be treated there for "high anxiety and confusion," the guardian wrote in an e-mail. Her children, blocked from contact, were told it was in their mother's best interest.

Earlier this year, to safeguard their mother's estate after money had come up missing, they had filed for guardianship in a Pinellas court.

Now they find themselves the victims of unintended consequences, guarded against by the person they had sought for help.

Kinnear's first guardian, Sandra Scott, caused her to fall after giving too high a dose of medication, said Kellee Watt, 45, of Indian Rocks Beach.

Teri St. Hilaire, who replaced Scott on July 1, didn't return phone calls and e-mails from the daughters.

Full Article and Source:
Legal guardian denies Alzheimer's patient her home and family contact

Sandra Scott certified with the Center for Guardianship Certification, an allied foundation of the National Guardianship Association (NGA).

Teri St. Hilaire is certified with the
Center for Guardianship Certification, an allied foundation of the National Guardianship Association (NGA).

Judge Rules Charlie Fink Will Stay in Custody

Charlie Fink, an 85-year-old man who made a call for help recently to FOX 4 after the state took emergency custody of him, had a date in court on Friday.  

Fink fought for his freedom, but it was not to be.

The state, through its expert witness, testified Fink could not take care of himself and in fact would be in danger if he returned home.

That witness testified Fink did poorly on a battery of tests, and Dr. C. Alan Hopewell said that while Fink could handle minor physical and mental tasks, he was not able to function independently and that he had substantial cognitive impairment.

That finding was in contrast to that of another state psychologist and the findings of Dr. William Tedford, the former chair of psychology at SMU who also evaluated Fink.

It was Tedford's opinion that nothing is wrong with Fink that would prevent him from living in his own home. At the end of the day, Judge John B. Peyton allowed the emergency protective custody order of Adult Protective Services to stay in place.

"We're extremely disappointed with the findings by the judge," said Fink's attorney, Lysette Rios.

"We didn't believe there was enough credible evidence by any doctor that indicated Mr. Fink lacked capacity. The records speak for themselves; you've got two reports out of three indicating he has none to mild impairment, and then one report by a doctor who didn't include half of his objective findings in his report."

Officials with Adult Protective Services disagreed with Rios, though.

"We do feel that Mr. Fink lacks capacity," said Shari Pulliam with Adult Protective Services. "We're concerned for his health and safety in his own home living alone. We are also now concerned with financial exploitation, which is huge in elderly populations. We want to prevent that before it happens, and that's what we are doing here today -- trying to make sure that Mr. Fink is going to be safe financially."

Fink says the state's witness was untruthful in his testimony on Friday and that what he testified to in court was not the same thing he told Fink after performing a psychological test on him at the Arlington nursing home he has been in and returns to Friday.

"Yes, I'm disappointed," said Fink. "If it's against me, if he tells the truth and the judge rules against me, I can take it, but don't rule against me on account of lies. Don't do that on account of boldfaced lies."

Fink is in custody for another 30 days. The state says it will move forward now seeking guardianship of Fink.

Judge Rules N.Texas Man Will Stay in Custody

See Also:
Texas:  Charlie Fink May Bet to Go Home

Cleveland Municipal Judge Angela Stokes needs to surrender her gavel: editorial

According to Cleveland Municipal Judge Angela Stokes’ recent written statement, Administrative Judge Ronald Adrine’s  decision to remove her from hearing criminal cases beginning this week is “warrantless.”

On the contrary, it’s clear that Adrine’s decision is very much warranted in view of continual allegations that Stokes abuses court staff, lawyers and defendants.

She should step down immediately.

Questions have been raised for years about Stokes’ courtroom behavior. In October, the Ohio Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel charged that she mistreats people in her courtroom. The Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline has yet to act on that finding, but considering Adrine’s decision, the slow-as-molasses board must act quickly if Stokes refuses to step down.

 Adrine did the right thing — the only thing he could do — by removing Stokes from hearing criminal cases. She will be assigned much rarer civil cases, although it would be  understandable if some lawyers balked even at that.

Adrine said in his motion — he would not comment further because Stokes’ case is before the disciplinary board — that he removed her from hearing criminal cases because he continues to receive complaints about her behavior.

His decision followed a motion by the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office that the court transfer criminal cases from her courtroom and refrain from assigning any more such cases to her docket.

Stokes' denies all of the charges, saying she will “resort to the court judicial system” and pointing out that the board rejected a request from the disciplinary counsel that she undergo a psychiatric examination.

However, that decision hardly puts her in the clear, since complaints about her actions keep multiplying.

This growing controversy calls into question the quality of justice in the Municipal Court and undermines Stokes’ good family’s name.

Stokes, the daughter of former Congressman Louis Stokes, a highly respected member of this community, and the niece of the late Carl Stokes, the first black mayor of a major American city, stood out at the ballot box.

But the barrage of complaints has proven — once again — that a respected family name is no guarantee of a quality public servant.

Do the right thing, Judge Stokes. Step down.

Full Article & Source:
Cleveland Municipal Judge Angela Stokes needs to surrender her gavel: editorial 

See Also:
Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes barred from hearing criminal cases 

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes says she will defend against court complaint recommending she undergo psych exam

Ex-Denver resident Akihiko Siegfried sentenced to 63 months in prison for defrauding elderly victim

DENVER - A former Denver man, who pled guilty to defrauding an elderly victim, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison Wednesday.

Akihiko Siegfried, 55, was also ordered to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his prison sentence and pay $512,341.97 in restitution to the victim.

Siegfried was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on June 17, 2013. He pled guilty on Oct. 28, 2013 to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering.

According to the facts contained in the indictment as well as the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, in January 2008, Siegfried knocked on the door of the elderly victim's residence and when the door opened Siegfried pretended to be distraught and was crying.

Siegfried falsely told the victim that Siegfried's parents had just died in a car crash and that he had no money and no family to turn to for help.  Siegfried asked to borrow money.  The victim, who was then an 89-year-old widower of Japanese descent with little family, asked Siegfried if he was Japanese which he replied that he was.  He felt sorry for Siegfried and, in part because of their shared Japanese heritage, decided to help Siegfried.

Siegfried borrowed from the victim several times and in the middle of 2008 falsely told the victim he would inherit substantial money as a result of his parents' death, but that it would be tied up in probate for some time and he needed money for paying the associated fees and taxes. 

Full Article & Source:
Ex-Denver resident Akihiko Siegfried sentenced to 63 months in prison for defrauding elderly victim

OLPR accuses Perham lawyer of “impermissible conflict of interest”

The Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline with the Supreme Court seeking the suspension of Bruce Anthony Kunz of Perham.

He was admitted to practice law in 1992 and was disciplined before in 2008. In that case he was privately reprimanded for commingling client funds with personal money in his trust account, using that account to process funds received from a personal real estate deal, failure to respond to discovery requests from opposing counsel and other charges.

In this matter he is accused of entering in to an improper business relationship with a client and causing a conflict of interest. From 2001 to approximately 2010 Kunz represented the farming operation B&B Feeders Inc. owned by Roger and Kathryn Bryniarski. Kunz represented the family in a series of criminal, business, bankruptcy, real estate and civil matters. The OLPR alleges that during that time he also entered in to a series of business transaction with members of the Bryniarski family including buying real estate and farm equipment jointly. He failed to advise the family to obtain the advice of an independent attorney in these deals. The real estate deals created an “impermissible conflict of interest,” the complaint states.

Kunz represented Roger Bryniarski in a bankruptcy proceeding in 2008 and did not disclose that he and Roger were partners in several business deals. He also is accused of lying to the trustee and the creditors and failing to disclose his interest in the transactions.

Kunz has until early next month to respond to the allegations.

Full Article & Source:
OLPR accuses Perham lawyer of “impermissible conflict of interest”

Friday, March 21, 2014

NJ Attorney General Announces Arrests In Major Elder Fraud Case

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a prominent Atlantic County attorney who specializes in elder law and the owner of an in-home senior care company were arrested on charges they conspired to prey on elderly clients and steal their life savings.  The two women allegedly stole over $2 million from at least 10 victims. The company owner’s sister and a former employee also are charged in the investigation by the State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice.

The following two women were arrested yesterday in the ongoing investigation. They are charged by complaint with first-degree money laundering, second-degree conspiracy and second-degree theft by deception for allegedly stealing from the victims, who lived in Atlantic and Cape May counties.

 Barbara Lieberman, 62, of Northfield, the attorney, was arrested at her home on Northwood Court.  Search warrants were executed there and at her law office on New Road in Northfield.  She was lodged in jail with bail set at $300,000.  The state froze approximately $5 million in assets Lieberman holds in various accounts, which it will seek to use for restitution.

·Jan Van Holt, 57, of Linwood, the owner of “A Better Choice,” a company that purportedly offered seniors “custom designed life care and legal financial planning,” was arrested at her home on West Vernon Avenue. She also was lodged in jail with bail set at $300,000.

Investigators previously filed charges of second-degree theft by deception against Van Holt’s sister, Sondra Steen, 58, of Linwood, who lives with her and helped her operate “A Better Choice,” and Susan Hamlett, 55, of Egg Harbor Township, who worked for them as an aid for elderly clients.

The defendants allegedly targeted elderly clients with substantial assets who typically did not have any immediate family, offering them non-medical care and assistance, including financial and legal services.  The defendants allegedly took control of the finances of their victims by forging a power of attorney or obtaining one on false pretenses.  The defendants then added their names to the victims’ bank accounts or transferred the victims’ funds into new accounts they controlled.  Thereafter, the defendants allegedly siphoned away the money to pay their own expenses, including, for Van Holt, two Mercedes cars, a Florida condo, pool supplies and veterinary bills for her pets.  Lieberman allegedly used stolen funds to pay off six-figure credit card bills.  In one case, the defendants allegedly put a reverse mortgage for $195,000 on a 94-year-old woman’s home.  That victim died in a nursing home because she could not afford to live in her home after her assets allegedly were stolen.  Lieberman and Van Holt also executed the wills of some of the victims and allegedly continued to steal from their estates after they died.

“These women allegedly preyed ruthlessly on elderly clients, most of whom were facing the end of life without family and with only their savings to ensure they would be cared for properly,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “We’re supposed to honor our elders, but these women heartlessly exploited them, allegedly stripping them of their life savings and their ability to live out their final days in comfort, peace and dignity. This is an ongoing investigation, and we urge any individuals who suspect that they or their loved ones may have had their assets stolen by these defendants to notify us.”

Full Article & Source:
NJ Attorney General Announces Arrests In Major Elder Fraud Case

New NC law shrouds judicial discipline process in secrecy

Late last summer, lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory agreed to shroud in secrecy the state’s process for disciplining judges.

The result is apparent today at the online space where notices of pending judicial discipline were traditionally posted for the public to see. Now, that Web page is blank except for a disclaimer in bold: “All proceedings for judicial discipline are confidential,” it says, citing legislation McCrory signed into law on Aug. 23.

Anyone interested in judicial discipline who had clicked on that page in, say, September 2011 would have seen pending cases against two judges and their answers to the charges. In 2008, charges were brought against six judges, with the public able to read the allegations and responses from the elected or appointed judges.

Before state law changed last year, the public could see charges brought against judges; the judges' responses; and find hearing notices to attend public hearings as with this archive of the commission's webpage from Nov. 2011. The judicial discipline process was an open one.

Read more here:

For decades, the state’s Judicial Standards Commission has led the work to investigate and recommend discipline of judges when questions arise about their professional conduct. That work, too, was largely conducted in secret until a committee, acting as a sort of grand jury, had determined that there was sufficient evidence against a judge to merit sanction or punishment. Then the charges became public.

A different panel would then conduct a hearing, with any recommendations about punishment beyond a “public reprimand” going to the state Supreme Court. Those hearings were also open to the public.

The commission still plays the role of investigator and conducts hearings about judicial conduct. But the new law keeps it all behind closed doors.

Read more here:
Full Article & Source:
New NC law shrouds judicial discipline process in secrecy

Gainesville Elder Law Attorney Shannon Miller Helps Develop Bill to Protect the Elderly

Gainesville, FL (PRWEB) March 19, 2014 

A new bill developed by Gainesville elder law attorney Shannon Miller and fellow Floridian lawyers will make it much easier to protect elderly and disabled adults from exploitation.

Currently, it is extremely difficult to prosecute elderly exploitation. "Before this year, we had no prosecutions in Alachua County on elder exploitation cases," Miller told The Gainesville Sun. Attorneys must prove deception and intimidation of the victim has taken place, which many victims cannot or will not admit to due to incompetence or embarrassment.

The new bill, however, will make it much easier to prosecute such cases. The presumption of exploitation would apply when someone is not a family member, has known the victim for less than two years, and a transfer of assets has occurred. The bill will allow prosecutors to help protect elderly and disabled adults who have joint bank accounts for convenience. "The presumption of exploitation will really help address some of the deficits that we currently have in the law as it stands," Miller said to GTN News.

No other state has such a presumption in place, making House Bill 409 the first of its kind. "This legislation that is pending is literally groundbreaking," Miller said.

Miller is working hard with fellow elder law attorneys to secure the bill's promising future. The bill has support from Gainesville State Attorney Bill Cervone and legislative committee approval.
Shannon Miller is a Board Certified Specialist in elder law at the Miller Elder Law Firm in Gainesville, Florida. She sits on the Elder Law Certification Committee of the Florida Bar.

For more information, contact Shannon Miller at (352) 379-1900 or visit

Full Article & Source:
Gainesville Elder Law Attorney Shannon Miller Helps Develop Bill to Protect the Elderly

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The "Boys" in the Bunkhouse

For more than 30 years, [Clayton Berg] and a few dozen other men with intellectual disabilities — affecting their reasoning and learning — lived in a dot of a place called Atalissa, about 100 miles south of here. Every morning before dawn, they were sent to eviscerate turkeys at a processing plant, in return for food, lodging, the occasional diversion and $65 a month. For more than 30 years.

Their supervisors never received specialized training; never tapped into Iowa’s social service system; never gave the men the choices in life granted by decades of advancement in disability civil rights. Increasingly neglected and abused, the men remained in heartland servitude for most of their adult lives.

This Dickensian story — told here through court records, internal documents and extensive first-time interviews with several of the men — is little known beyond Iowa. But five years after their rescue, it continues to resound in halls of power. Last year the case led to the largest jury verdict in the history of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: $240 million in damages — an award later drastically reduced, yet still regarded as a watershed moment for disability rights in the workplace. In both direct and subtle ways, it has also influenced government initiatives, advocates say, including President Obama’s recent executive order to increase the minimum wage for certain workers.

Overall, the Atalissa case has been a catalyst for change, according to Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, a longtime champion of people with disabilities, who still struggles with what these vulnerable men endured in his home state.

“I hate to see what happened to them,” the senator says. “But, by gosh, something might happen from them.”

Full Article and Source:
The "Boys" in the Bunkhouse

Coroner pleads 'not guilty'

Perry County Coroner Herbert Miller entered a plea of “not guilty” on Friday to charges of theft and financial exploitation of the elderly.

Miller was arrested Jan. 13 and charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person and stealing, both Class B felonies when a state investigation concluded Miller, age 65, allegedly took more than $80,000 from a 94-year old woman over whom he was appointed durable power of attorney.

Cape Girardeau attorney Stephen C. Wilson is representing Miller.

Friday morning at the Perry County courthouse, Miller, waved his arraignment before Cape Girardeau Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Lewis, and a trial date was set for May 9.

Prior to his arrest, Miller had been the subject of an investigation conducted by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Special Investigation Unit. According to a probable cause affidavit, Miller was appointed the power of attorney for the victim in Jan. 2004. She became a resident of a local nursing facility in August 2008, after being diagnosed with dementia and other cognitive disabilities.

During a preliminary hearing in February, Andrea Southard, billing manager for the nursing home where the alleged victim is a resident, said a billing issue arose with the elderly woman, prompting Southard to contact Medicaid to determine if anyone had applied for assistance on the woman’s behalf.

According to her testimony, upon learning no application for assistance for the elderly woman was on file with the state, Southard asked Miller to bring the woman’s financial records so she could review the information and submit an application.

It was then discovered a number of checks were written for cash or to Miller’s personal business, a Perryville funeral home.

The coroner admits to writing the checks, but claims they were gifts from the victim.

Full Article & Source: 
Coroner pleads 'not guilty'

Elderly Exploitation- Caretakers taking advantage

HOUSTON (FOX 26) - She was 91 years old and full of life. A grandmother to 23 grand kids and 53 great grand kids. Willy May Brooks was known to many as the happiest grandmother alive, but, her joy was taken from her just months before her death.

"She died of a broken heart because she was sabotage and she was dooped," says her granddaughter Aquanetter Clurksy.

"My mother would ask me linda when can I come back into my home," crys [sic] Linda Drumgo, daughter of the victim.

But Willy May was never able to return to her home, not because of the Alzheimer's or the dementia that she suffered from, but because her caregiver took advantage of her, getting this elderly woman to sign over her house and property.

She became a part of the growing number of elderly folks who are financially exploited every day by someone that's gained their trust.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly Exploitation- Caretakers taking advantage

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dismay as Justina Pelletier Custody Case Postponed; DCF Ignores Dr. Phil

There was widespread dismay as Judge Joseph Johnston failed to deliver his ruling in the Justina Pelletier custody case in Boston yesterday. He postponed the case and said he would give a ruling “by Friday.”

Meanwhile the celebrated Dr. Phil announced that he had called the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) on several occasions to discuss the case with them, but they had not returned any of his calls. While this authority ignores Dr. Phil, Justina remains at the Massachusetts Wayside Youth and Family Support Network where she has been since January. This is in spite of a DCF undertaking made nearly three weeks ago that she would be treated by a medical team at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, which is where her family wants her to be.

The judge will also rule later this week on whether Mathew Staver, the Dean of Liberty University School of Law, and founder and chairman of Liberty Council, an international nonprofit organization, is permitted to be the Pelletier’s official lawyer. Staver was appointed late February after a billionaire benefactor came forward on the Glenn Beck radio show with a sponsorship to ensure that Justina gets the best possible legal representation. The DCF is opposing the request.

Additionally, an increasing number of people have joined the struggle to have Justina, who is from Connecticut, returned to the care of her parents. There have been rallies and vigils, and even a TweetStorm on Monday evening that had a reach of 4,717,900 and 13,485,341 impacts. But in spite of this overwhelming support, she remains at Wayside in the custody of the Massachusetts DCF.

A crowd rallied outside the court yesterday carrying banners calling for the release from DCF custody of the Connecticut teenager. There was also a prayer vigil outside the court while the session was in progress. Several people addressed the crowd, including Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition who said this was not “a partisan issue” but “an issue of justice.” State representative Jim Lyons, one of several lawmakers who tried unsuccessfully to force the House of Representatives to get involved in the case, said what was happening “should alarm every parent in America.”

Full Article and Source:
Dismay as Justina Pelletier Custody Case Postponed; DCF Ignores Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil Show:
The Fight over Justina: Medical Child Abuse by Parents or Abuse of Power by a Hospital?

Luck for Dorothy!

Dorothy Luck finally nabbed a break in her ongoing battle against a Tarrant County probate court that has seemed bent on bleeding her dry financially in an ironic attempt to protect her.

Judge Steven King signed an agreement this month that frees Luck from guardianship in a controversial case that removed her rights — including her ability to hire an attorney — even as it sucked an estimated $1 million or more of her savings (“Grabbing the Purse,” Sept. 4, 2013).

“I wanted you to be the first to know,” Luck told Fort Worth Weekly after receiving the news. “Your article had everything to do with it.”

Over the past six years, the Weekly has published several stories spotlighting the county’s two probate judges (King and Pat Ferchill) and their web of attorneys, investigators, bankers, social workers, and others who sometimes appear overzealous in their attempts to manage — and sometimes benefit from — the lives and bank accounts of elderly and disabled residents.

The first story (“Saving Katia,” July 2, 2008) chronicled Kathie Seidel’s attempts to overturn Ferchill’s decision to remove her adoptive daughter from the Seidel home, place her under guardianship, and heavily restrict her communication with relatives. The judge made the decision in a closed hearing without the mother’s input. Seidel is still fighting to get what her now-adult daughter wants: restoration of her rights or at least a more family-friendly guardian.

Seidel sees the recent action in Luck’s case, along with a couple of other recent guardianship reversals, as victories for everyone trying to protect the rights of wards, which is what the guardianship system is supposed to do.

“This is an important decision,” Seidel said. “They [probate courts] are trying to tidy up questionable rulings.”

Seidel credits several factors in addition to media scrutiny led by the Weekly.

Full Article and Source:
Luck for Dorothy

See Also:
Grabbing the Purse

Saving Katia

"Judicial Theft"

YouTube:  "Judicial Theft"

New Vermont law will give investigators new power to probe elderly abuse cases

MONTPELIER -- The Vermont Senate is considering legislation that will give investigators access to financial and medical records in certain elder abuse cases.

Currently, a relative who has the power of attorney and is being investigated for elder abuse can refuse to turn over records. 

In such cases, the senior citizen cannot give investigators with Adult Protective Services access to financial or medical information. 

"Unfortunately there are cases of drug diversion or financial exploitation where this becomes a problem," said Barbara Prine, an attorney with Vermont Legal Aid's Senior Law Project. 
"There are situations where someone is taking grandma's check book and signing her name, or a caretaker is taking the pain meds of a senior with diminished capacity," Prine said. 

It can be hard to prove wrongdoing in these cases, or even launch an investigation without access to medical and financial records, she added. 

A bill before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, S.23, would allow investigators to subpoena relevant documents when the person suspected of exploiting a senior also has power-of-attorney. 

Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, chair of Health and Welfare, said her committee will ask for a suspension of the rules in order to vote on the bill next Tuesday.

Full Article & Source:
New Vermont law will give investigators new power to probe elderly abuse cases

Financial abuse of Grandma a big problem for families

Financial abuse and exploitation of older Americans is on the rise, according to a recently released survey by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.

Seventy-one percent of the 325 care managers surveyed nationwide said financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly are a growing problem in their communities.

• The top five types of financial abuse are:

• Theft of money or property by family members, friends or neighbors.

• Theft of money or property by a caretaker or in-home care provider.

• Investment schemes through the mail or phone.

• Home Repair scams.

• Getting senior to sign a deed, will, power of attorney through deception.

“Financial abuse of seniors is a growing problem,” said Emily Saltz, president of the geriatric care managers’ organization. “Families with older parents need to know the warning signs of this all too common and often hidden form of elder abuse. Our survey shows that close oversight of vulnerable adults by family members or qualified professionals is crucial.”

Full Article & Source:
Financial abuse of Grandma a big problem for families

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Nancy Pantoni is on a mission to save the life of her son, Dom. Dom was born with a genetic disorder known as Deletion 22Q Syndrome, which causes life-long physical and mental impairment. He has dealt with special needs throughout his life. Nancy is a health care professional, a practicing nurse, and she is convinced he is not receiving proper medical care for his condition.

YouTube:  Help Rescue Dom

See Also:

Banker feared exploitation of elderly woman

During a 27-year banking career, a Portsmouth bank executive only once called state officials to report a possible case of financial exploitation. The person she thought might be "taking advantage of" an elderly and wealthy bank customer was Portsmouth police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin.

That testimony was offered by a senior executive for a downtown Portsmouth bank during a sworn deposition on Feb. 11 in the Shaines and McEachern law office. The deposition was taken as part of a dispute over the last will and trust for the late Geraldine Webber, who changed her estate plans shortly before her December 2012 death, so Goodwin would inherit her riverfront home, stocks, bonds and Cadillac.

Multiple parties are alleging Goodwin exerted undue influence over Webber, who had been diagnosed with dementia.

During her deposition last month, the Portsmouth banker said she and another bank employee phoned the New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly & Adult Services because they were "concerned" about possible "financial abuse" of Webber by Goodwin. The banker said Webber had a checking account, savings account, certificates of deposit worth about $350,000 and a safe deposit box with unknown contents.

Webber's "financial capacity" had diminished, said the banker, who explained that Webber had lost the keys to her safe deposit box, forgot to cash checks, lost checks and was carrying large amounts of cash.

Full Article & Source:
Banker feared exploitation of elderly woman

Former Nevada judge, ousted in rare judicial disciplinary spectacle in 2008, dead in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — A former Nevada state court judge whose courtroom misconduct, disciplinary suspension, domestic turmoil and eventual removal from the bench in November 2008 became a rare public spectacle has died in Las Vegas at age 56.

Elizabeth LaMacchia, who was Elizabeth Halverson when she was elected and sworn in to a newly created judicial post in January 2007, died March 1, according to a Southern Nevada Health District death certificate. District spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore said she could release no other information.

Attempts to reach LaMacchia's relatives Friday in San Francisco and Oakland, California, were unsuccessful.

As a Clark County District Court judge, Halverson served fewer than five turmoil-filled months before she was suspended with her $130,000-per-year salary. Eighteen more months of accusations and public hearings followed before she was removed from her elected position by the state Commission on Judicial Discipline and banned from ever serving again as a judge. By then, she had filed for re-election.

Halverson, who once served as a law clerk for the chief judge with whom she later clashed, blamed the allegations against her on vindictive colleagues and disgruntled staff. She told the commission that she didn't feel safe in the courthouse.

She was accused of falling asleep during proceedings, tainting juries resulting in at least two mistrials, treating staff members like personal servants and making false statements.

Full Article & Source: 
Former Nevada judge ousted in rare judicial disciplinary spectacle in 2008 dead in Las Vegas

Monday, March 17, 2014

CA: Monterey Public Guardian Seeks to Chemically Restrain Elder Abuse Victim

On January 29, 2014, the Monterey County, California Public Guardian sought permissionn from the Court to forcibly administer psychotropic medications to conservatee and elder abuse victim Margarita Zelada.  The court continued the hearing to Wednesday, March 19, 2014, when they will again consider whether the Public Guardian will forcibly administer chemical restraint to a frail elderly woman who pleads for her liberty.
In March 2013, the Public Guardian engaged Pacific Grove Police Department to forcibly remove Margarita from her daughter’s home where she was visiting. Witnesses tell of ten officers with guns drawn and leveled Margarita’s daughter.
A private duty nurse recalls a female officer “barrel chested” Margarita’s daughter after the daughter asked to see a warrant authorizing entry into her home. No warrant was presented.
The same nurse said Margarita’s screams were the most horrible thing she ever heard. A year later, Margarita’s nightmare continues.
Margarita is imprisoned and isolated at Senior Paradise in Del Rey Oaks, over two hours from her home in San Francisco. The front door of the facility has three locks preventing entry or escape. Director Margaret Camera told elder rights advocates the Public Guardian instructed her to call police if anyone asked to visit Margarita.
Bowing to pressure from elder rights advocates, the Public Guardian allowed Margarita three short visits with her daughter in fall of 2013. Margarita spoke of being in prison and begged for her liberty.
The Public Guardian terminated the visits. Margarita last visited with her daughter on November 15, 2013.
The Public Guardian also obtained a court order denying Margarita her right to contact with advocates. Monterey County was the first to seek an order specifically crafted to circumvent the personal rights stated in AB937, signed into law in August 2013.
Seeking validation to further violate Margarita’s civil rights, the Public Guardian will return to court on March 19 with a motion to forcibly administer psychotropic medications.

The Public Guardian reports to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. Readers may contact the Board at the following email addresses.

District 1: Fernando Armenta,
District 2: Louis R. Calcagno,
District 3: Simón Salinas,
District 4: Jane Parker,
District 5: Dave Potter,

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes barred from hearing criminal cases

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes -- who's been under investigation for allegations that she abused court staff, lawyers and defendants -- will no longer hear criminal cases beginning Monday. 

The municipal court's administrative judge, Ronald Adrine, made the decision Friday, according to court papers. The move follows continuing complaints about Stokes' behavior and a dramatic decision by the Cuyahoga County Public Defender's to seek a motion to transfer cases -- and its lawyers -- from her courtroom. The public defender's municipal division represents indigent clients charged with such things as petty theft, assault, DUI, domestic violence and driving under suspension. 

Adrine will handle Stokes' current cases (visiting Judge Mabel Jasper will help with the case load next week). Future criminal cases that would have normally been assigned to Stokes will be divided among the court's 11 other judges who handle similar dockets. These cases will boost each judge's workload by about 8 percent.

Stokes will continue to be assigned civil cases, which include small claims, and she will continue to review civil cases handled by magistrates. Civil cases represent only a small fraction of a municipal court judge's docket.

In October, the Supreme Court of Ohio's Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a lengthy complaint against Stokes. The 49-page complaint charges she abuses court resources, lawyers, court staff and defendants who appear before her. The complaint is based in part on 337 incident reports filed in municipal court against Stokes. The complaint recommends to the Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline that Stokes be ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination because she may be "suffering from a mental illness that substantially impairs her ability to perform her duties as a judicial officer."

Full Article & Source:
Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes barred from hearing criminal cases 

See Also:
Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes says she will defend against court complaint recommending she undergo psych exam

Lawmakers: Nebraskans who need guardians, conservators could benefit from public program

LINCOLN, Nebraska — Some of the state's most vulnerable people who can't make decisions on their own could soon be supported by a state guardian.

A bill creating an Office of the Public Guardian advanced from the first round on a unanimous vote on Feb. 21 as Nebraska edges toward ending its status as the only state without such an office.

Under current law, a county court can appoint a guardian or conservator to someone who is unable to make responsible decisions for themselves, due to reasons such as disability or mental illness. But in some cases there is no one willing or able to serve in this role.

A guardian is appointed to oversee life decisions, including health care and residence, while a conservator deals with money and property.

A bill introduced by Sen. Colby Coash, of Lincoln, would create an office with a director, deputy director and up to 12 associate public guardians. The office would serve in situations of last resort where there is no guardian or conservator.

There are some very vulnerable people who are at risk of being taken advantage of, Coash said, and these vulnerable people need someone to provide oversight.

The need is rising as baby boomers age and get to a point where more need the help of a guardian or conservator, said Sen. Steve Lathrop, of Omaha.

"You have a number of people who don't have the means or the family or anyone interested in them to serve in that capacity," Lathrop said.

Now, without a statewide guardian, county courts ask lawyers to volunteer to serve, Lathrop said.
"The need has exceeded the capacity of lawyers who volunteer," Lathrop said.

Joanne Farrell, a social worker at Aging Partners in Lincoln, which offers information and services to seniors, has seen the ways seniors can be taken advantage of.

Some may get scammed through an online dating website or by thinking they've won something, she said.

There has been a need for this program for a long time, she said.

"The communities like to take care of their own, but at this point we're seeing there is a need everywhere in the state," Farrell said.

An auditor's report last year on Department of Health and Human Services programs that help people who are aged, blind and disabled found that one person, Judith Widener, had served as a guardian, conservator, or both, for more than 600 people in the state.

Widener, of Bayard, has been charged with stealing more than $35,000 intended for court-appointed wards for her personal use. Earlier this month Widener pleaded not guilty to a felony theft charge, and she is currently out on bond.

That case is the biggest example of abuses and problems in the current system, Coash said.

Full Article & Source: 
Lawmakers: Nebraskans who need guardians, conservators could benefit from public program

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Sentencing In Albany Elder Abuse Case

Nurse's Aide Twisted Elderly Patient's Arm, Fractured Bone

ALBANY — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the sentencing of Sarina Francis, a certified nurse's aide at the Hudson Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Albany, who fractured the arm of an elderly nursing home patient. Francis twisted the patient's arm after a confrontation.

"Families put significant trust in nursing homes and their staff when they are chosen to provide care for loved ones," said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will hold people accountable when patients are mistreated or neglected." 

On January 13, 2014, Francis pleaded guilty to one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Person or an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the Second Degree in violation §260.32(2) of the Penal Law, a class E felony. 

Francis admitted that on August 17, 2013, she physically abused an elderly resident of the Hudson Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. While Francis was taking the resident to her room, the resident became combative and struck her in the face. In response, Francis grabbed the resident by the wrist and twisted the resident’s arm behind her head, resulting in a fracture to the resident's left distal ulna. 

Francis, 36, of Troy, was sentenced by the Honorable Peter Lynch in Albany County Court to 30 days in the Albany County Jail and five years’ probation. Francis will also surrender her certified nurses' aide certificate.

The case was investigated by Special Investigators John Jurs, Jr. and Jeffrey Haber, and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Paul A. Clyne of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s (MFCU) Albany Regional Office. Katheen A. Boland is the Regional Director of the MFCU Albany Office. and Catherine Wagner is the Chief of Criminal Investigations-Upstate. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is led by Acting MFCU Director Amy Held. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.

Full Article & Source:
A.G. Schneiderman Announces Sentencing In Albany Elder Abuse Case

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tonight on T. S. Radio: "Guardianship: Organizing for Change in a Sea of Predators!"

Join us this evening as we discuss how to effect change in the lucrative guardianship industry.  While many believe this business to be centered on caring for elderly or disabled adults, the truth of the system is far different.

It must be magic!  Billions are stolen from the estates of elderly vicitms each year through the process of predatory guardianships.  While state and federal officials pretend not to know what is going on, the victims are drugged, neglected and abused, often times ending up dead once the estate is depleted.

How do we change this system?  And how, do we stop the interference of the BAR Association and other stakeholders, in the guardianship for profit trade?

5:00 pm PST6:00 pm MST7:00 pm CST8:00 pm EST

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later!

Michelle Graves: Power of Money - Elder Financial Abuse (With NASGA Affiliate, Tom Fields)

Elder Financial Abuse is fast approaching epidemic levels as an aging population finds itself vulnerable to internet predators, scam artists, family members and friends. On Part 1, two recognized experts in this area, Craig Matthews, Esquire and Tom Fields, Ohio Director of National Association to End Elder Financial Abuse discuss some of the challenges facing seniors today. A must watch!

Power of Money - Elder Financial Abuse

See Also:
NASGA:  Irving Lincoln Fields, Ohio Victim

Linda Kincaid Reports: American Society on Aging workshop on elder abuse in long-term care

On Thursday, March 13, 2014, the American Society on Aging conference will present an interactive workshop on Isolation: Elder Abuse in Long-Term Care. The workshop will take place from 1:00 – 2:30 PM in Regatta B (4th floor, Harbor Tower) of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Workshop presenters are Linda Kincaid, MPH and Robert Fettgather, PhD.
The abstract for the workshop explains:
Social isolation and loneliness increase adverse health outcomes, including depression, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Social isolation is also a risk factor for elder maltreatment.
However, some long-term care facilities prohibit visitors, phone calls, and mail. Residents have been isolated from loved ones for years. Law enforcement rarely intervenes. Isolated residents have no access to legal representation. Heirs lack legal standing until the death of the victim. Families of victims may find no remedy at law when a loved one is isolated in a facility.
The presenters will discuss case studies and their investigations of unlawful isolation in long-term care facilities.
Case studies indicate California long-term care facilities often ignore residents’ personal rights. False imprisonment and forced isolation are common. Law enforcement rarely assists elder abuse victims.
In a San Bernardino County survey, most assisted living facilities stated they will isolate residents. One resident was unlawfully isolated for fifteen months. The investigating deputy and Deputy District Attorney determined the situation was a civil matter.
In Santa Clara County, an assisted living resident was unlawfully isolated for over two years. San Jose Police and a Deputy District Attorney determined the situation was a civil matter. California’s Director of Social Services stated the extended isolation was not a violation of the resident’s right to visitation.
The research demonstrated a need for education across all levels of law enforcement and social services agencies. Important points include (1) false imprisonment is a crime, (2) isolation is a crime, (3) mental abuse is a crime. Knowledge gained in this session can be applied by all professions that address ling-term care and elder rights.

Full Article & Source:
American Society on Aging workshop on elder abuse in long-term care

Pa. Justices Urged To Trim Judge's Sanction For Lying

Law360, Philadelphia (March 11, 2014, 5:11 PM ET) -- The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline acted too harshly when it issued a decision in August removing a Philadelphia County judge from the bench after withholding information about his legal and financial struggles as part of a review of judicial candidates, the state’s Supreme Court heard Tuesday.

Samuel Stretton, an attorney for former judge Thomas Nocella, told the justices during oral arguments that the lifetime ban on holding judicial office that his client was slapped with for the offense in August presented the Supreme Court with a chance to assert its authority under the Pennsylvania Constitution to supervise the whole of the state’s judicial system.

“This is a good case … for this court to consider its standard of review,” Stretton said, arguing that the disciplinary measure was out of line with punishments imposed on other judges for what he said were greater offenses. “It was inconsistent with numerous decisions by the CJD. It was too harsh.”

In 2012, Nocella was slapped with accusations by the state’s Judicial Conduct Board that, in both 2009 and 2011, he withheld material facts about his legal problems as part of an evaluation that the Philadelphia Bar Association Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention conducts for judicial candidates. In particular, Nocella failed to disclose nearly $500,000 in liens he was facing, and accusations that Nocella had intentionally dissipated the funds of a public action committee that was under court order to pay a $39,000 fine.

Full Article & Source:
Pa. Justices Urged To Trim Judge's Sanction For Lying