Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fraudulent "Guardianship" in Matrimonial Action Ends in Unlawful Eviction of Wife

The matrimonial case in which an unlawful "guardianship" appeared to be fraudulently  imposed, ended in eviction, and the court refused to sign an order to show cause to stop it, which order was based on the judge's unauthorized "ultra vires" action, which, as a matter of law makes the order void..

The eviction was postponed until Monday at 10am.

For location and more details, see:
"Go to a Homeless Shelter," Judge Tells Wife About to be Evicted From Marital Residence, Based on a Fraudulent and Unlawful "Guardianship.

By Ima Reformer

Survey of Families and People With Disabilities on Guardianship - An Opportunity to be Heard!!!

Dear Guardianship Reform and Supported Decision-Making Workgroup,

Rona Statman, Director of Family Services at the Arc of Texas, and one of our folks in the GRSDM, and would like you to complete the survey below to learn more about how and when people with disabilities are put under guardianship (or conservatorship).  Please also distribute to your networks if you choose.  The survey is to be filled out by parents or people with disabilities.

The Survey: 

Our colleagues at TASH, ASAN, ACLU, The Arc of Michigan, and Quality Trust are collaborating on a survey of parents and individuals with disabilities.  The survey is being conducted by a group of individuals (researchers, lawyers and policy analysts) who work with TASH and want to learn more about how and when people with disabilities are put under guardianship (or conservatorship).  

The survey is IRB (Institutional Review Board) approved for a research article and applies to students because they reach the age of majority while in school. There are important questions to answer about how people with I/DD/ their families learn of and seek guardianship in order to know how to address the issue and to what audience. The study will be published in TASH's research journal RPSD; and will likely inform a position paper based on the data.

They are asking for your help!  Please take this very quick survey (if applicable) or send along to others who might have interest?   

Click here to respond:

Respondent name and personal information will be kept confidential.
The survey will close on June 4th, so please respond before that date. 

Bradley County Lawyer Censured

Brent J. McIntosh, of Cleveland, was publicly censured Friday by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a Petition for Discipline against Mr. McIntosh pursuant to Rule 9, Rules of the Supreme Court.  A hearing panel determined that, while representing a client, Mr. McIntosh threatened to present a criminal charge against an unrepresented person for the purpose of obtaining an advantage in a civil matter.

Mr. McIntosh’s actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 4.4(a) (2), Respect for the Rights of Third Persons; and 8.4(a), Misconduct.  

For these violations, the Tennessee Supreme Court publicly censured Mr. McIntosh.  A public censure is a rebuke and warning to the attorney, but does not affect the attorney’s ability to practice law.

Full Article & Source:
Bradley County Lawyer Censured

State fines West Melbourne nursing home for neglect

A Brevard County nursing home was fined $36,000 after committing numerous clerical and medical errors involving a patient who eventually died, a state agency recently reported.

The Agency for Health Care Administration fined West Melbourne Health & Rehabilitation Center after finding the infractions during an administrative complaint inspection on Dec. 27.

The home will be subjected to inspections every six months for two years, the report, filed April 29, said.

A phone call to the nursing home administrator, listed as Randall Blue on the AHCA website, was not returned to FLORIDA TODAY.

During the December inspection, AHCA reported staff from the 180-bed facility failed to follow physician orders, assess bruising from an unknown source and properly administer blood-thinning drugs given to the patient.

Staff members also did not consistently update the patient’s medical charts.

AHCA questioned the use of three blood-thinning medications prescribed to the patient at the same time.

“Physicians’ notes . . . did not indicate any documentation of the rationale for the three blood-thinning medications ordered with similar effects, which would increase risk of bleeding/hemorrhage,” the report stated.

“This noncompliance (among others),” the report stated, “caused or is likely to cause, serious injury, harm, impairment or death.”

Full Article & Source:
State fines West Melbourne nursing home for neglect

Friday, May 16, 2014

Letter of Support to IL Representative David Harris Regarding HB5573, Introduced to Strengthen and Enforce Power of Attorney and Advance Directives

Dear Rep. Harris and members of the Illinois State Legislature,

Thank you Rep. Harris for bringing this Bill to a vote based on the very troubling Dolores Bedin case.

As a physician for more than 35 years, practicing both in a Hospital and privately, I ask you and the Illinois State Legislature to strongly support this bill.
I have heard numerous medical horror stories like what the Bedin family experienced. People, devoted to the health care of their aged or infirm family members, have been bullied, harassed, intimidated and extorted by hospitals and Hospitalists who do not take the time to assess the circumstance but jump to erroneous conclusions about family members who often devote their livelihood and very lives to protect their loved ones.

I cannot say why such travesty of care has occurred. Whether for financial gain, inadequate training, or incompetent assessment of the situation. Perhaps it is attributable to the philosophy of a particular institution or personal grievance when challenged by a devoted family member advocate.
Each situation, of course should be judged on its own merits and not have a blanket procedure take place which has even disenfranchised some families and their loved ones, when ill, like Dolores Bedin.

I have direct knowledge of the Dolores Bedin situation having been a friend of the entire family for many decades. The incidents of this "case" were disclosed to me contemporaneously by Ms. Bedin. The daughter of Dolores Bedin, Janet Bedin, has not only been a devoted daughter and sister but indefatigable in being an advocate for her father, mother and brother's medical care.

What occurred to them is unconscionable. They learned by accident while Dolores was in the ER, of a series of CT Scan results taken at the hospital documenting a mass in Dolores’ pancreas which was never disclosed to the patient or family. This was clearly wrong.

When they found out and asked questions, they were bullied, intimidated and all threatened to be kicked out of Hospital, this was wrong.
To have Dolores not be given the diagnosis, after multiple CT Scan reports, or told that she had a mass in her pancreas in a timely fashion even with multiple studies performed, was wrong. For this family to learn, only by chance, that Dolores had pancreatic cancer was wrong.

To threaten Janet and her disabled brother Lex, who Dolores cared for all her life, with a phalanx of attorneys, and hospital administrators, ordering Hospitalists to document Dolores as incompetent, falsely I might add, unless she agrees to their discharge plan, was more than simply wrong, it was sadistic

It would seem, the fear of Risk Management being called to task on the errors of care led the hospital to use such punitive tactics.
I wish you the best of luck in getting this Bill passed and each of you should feel gratified for trying to prevent more tragedies like this from occurring.


~Philip B. Luloff MD


NOTE:  Highlight of the Proposed Legislation:

11    (755 ILCS 5/11a-8.2 new)
12    Sec. 11a-8.2. Petitions; previously executed documents. No
13petition under this Article shall seek relief that is in
14conflict with any properly and previously executed will, trust,
15power of attorney, durable power of attorney, health care
16directive, advance directive, or other directive unless undue
17influence is proven in the creation of the document, by clear
18and convincing evidence, at a hearing conducted under the rules
19of civil procedure of this State.
See Also:
NASGA Members in Legislative Action

Read More About Illinois Representative Harris

Read the full text of HB5573 and follow the bill

NASGA on HB5573

Dolores Bedin, Illinois Victim

A Growing Trend in Medicine, by Tina Stein

Note:  A little over a month after his installation, Pope Francis met with daughter, Janet Bedin, and blessed Dolores Bedin's photo (Dolores was a devout Catholic.) Janet wrote a letter to him about what happened to her mother and told him how guardianship can be used as an abuse of process in a retaliatory manner by a hospital (April 22, 2013).

Las Cruces magistrate judge candidate explains suspension on record

Other four candidates in primary have no discipline record

LAS CRUCES >> One of the five candidates for magistrate judge squaring off in the June 3 primary election has been subject to previous discipline by the New Mexico Supreme Court due to violations of the state's professional conduct rules for attorneys.

Longtime local attorney Kent E. Yalkut was suspended for a year in October 2007, according to state Supreme Court filings.

Authorities determined that Yalkut accepted money from a client but did not deposit it into a trust account as required by New Mexico attorney conduct rules. Then, the court filings state, Yalkut withdrew the money, which he had not yet earned, for personal use.

A hearing committee appointed by the state Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board recommended disbarment, alleging that Yalkut violated a number of attorney conduct rules in his dealing with the money and subsequent actions. The committee concluded he knowingly made false statements in the course of the investigation.

But the state Supreme Court disagreed, and deemed disbarment inappropriate. The reasoning: the hearing committee "did not find dishonesty on his part," according to the court filing. Instead, Yalkut "erroneously believed he was entitled to withdraw the flat fee he had deposited into his personal account."

His suspension was deferred, an administrative assistant at the state Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board said Wednesday, meaning Yalkut was allowed to practice as long has he abided by the court order. He had to pay restitution (more than $5,000) and court costs. He was also placed on probation, which required Yalkut to be monitored by another experienced attorney.

"That's the blemish," Yalkut said Wednesday, talking openly about the sanction. "Everything else has been fine."

Full Article & Source:
Las Cruces magistrate judge candidate explains suspension on record

Oklahoma Insurance Dept.: Insurance Agent Pleads Guilty to Exploitation of the Elderly

The Oklahoma Insurance Department said a Tulsa insurance agent has pleaded guilty to exploitation of the elderly for defrauding a Muskogee couple out of nearly $300,000.

Presley Keith Dennis was arrested in January after an investigation by the Oklahoma Insurance Department's Anti-Fraud Unit.

"We take crimes like this very seriously," said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. "Licensed insurance agents should protect their clients, not take advantage of them. I commend our Anti-Fraud investigators for their hard work in this case. They will continue to look out for Oklahoma consumers and make sure any bad actors out there are brought to justice."

According to a release, the victims, an 80-year-old man and his 68-year-old wife, told investigators that Dennis convinced them to withdraw $300,000 from their annuities and invest it in his company, Dennis Investments, an unlicensed investment firm. They also said Dennis persuaded them to create a joint checking account with him so he could access the money to make investments. Instead of investing the money, Dennis spent it on past due child support, country club memberships, and restaurants.

Dennis pleaded guilty to one count of exploitation of the elderly. He was given a 15-year suspended sentence, ordered to pay a $500 fine and pay $293,265.83 in restitution.

Full Article & Source:
Oklahoma Insurance Dept.: Insurance Agent Pleads Guilty to Exploitation of the Elderly

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Go to a Homeless Shelter," Judge Tells Wife About to be Evicted From Marital Residence, Based on a Fraudulent and Unlawful "Guardianship."

NASGA has been fighting unlawful and abusive guardianships – the real thing - but this case involved a shocker – a make-believe guardianship.

A member in Westchester County, New York, is about to be UNLAWFULLY evicted tomorrow morning, May 16, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. from her marital residence based on an unlawfully imposed "guardianship" by a judge who knew or should have known that she was violating the law and the rights of the wife.

If you're anywhere within travel distance of Katonah, NY, and can be present tomorrow morning, the address is:  21 Equestrian Drive, Katonah, NY - the former marital residence of Michael Rotanelli and Diane Colletti.

I have never seen a record of such judicial misconduct in my long experience. It involved an extremely contentious matrimonial action, a lot of money and property, and an ex-husband who is quite wealthy and known politically.  His attorney is Gordon Burrows, whose name is also known locally.

In court, without a lawyer, as the wife realized her rights were being violated, she began to object.  The judge interrupted her and said she was going to appoint a guardian, and had the wife removed from court.

In court the next day, a stranger came over to the wife and announced that he was her attorney.  The wife went into the courtroom, objecting strenuously, and this time she was physically removed from court.  A document had been placed on the table where she sat, but when she was removed, it remained behind, so she did not know what it contained.

Hearing that the trial had been adjourned for a week, the wife appeared in court, only to learn that the trial had actually taken place without her, after her removal, the prior week.

It was later learned that total control over the wife was given to Atty. Kenneth L. Bunting, as Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) whom the court had ordered to represent the wife.   The Court also ordered the GAL to sign all necessary documents (instead of the wife signing them), to inventory everything, to act as a Receiver, and take control and transfer all property, including wife’s premarital property, inherited property, jewelry, etc., to arrange for what was described as a "logical" conclusion.   He was also told to pay himself $300 an hour from the wife’s frozen bank account, which is now in his name, as the GAL.

Subsequently, another judge signed a facially void and fraudulent judgment of eviction with a perverted case caption - guess what?  He's now retired! Oh, yes, and the one who took away all the wife's rights - she's been elevated to a higher court!

The wife went to court today with a show cause order - alone, without a lawyer!  Can you guess what happened there?  They returned her papers, unsigned, without even holding them long enough to read them!  (Would that surprise you?)

What did the judge tell her when she asked how she could maintain herself, after the judge had manipulated the case so that she would lose everything?   "Go to a homeless shelter!”   She has a sick dog and you can't take pets to a shelter!  There was a lot of money involved, but most everything is now in control of the husband, thanks to the  judicial misconduct, which is readily apparent from the court documents.

We're aware of other cases where guardianships have been interjected into matrimonials, in order to gain control over a party.

We're told that documents and exhibits have been altered and/or removed from the record; that the docket sheet itself has been altered, so that it does not reflect what actually happened in this case.  Actually, it doesn't reflect anything, with mostly meaningless one-word entries.

A GAL is restricted to merely helping a party to a litigation and reporting to the judge; they do not have any power or control over the assets or property of the party on whose behalf they are appointed, cannot force a party to make decisions they do not want to make, and cannot sign documents in place of the party who must sign them, as a matter of law.  Only in a Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 proceeding with full due process procedures - which this was not - can a guardian make decisions that result in the loss of a fundamental right. A GAL has no such power and the court is not authorized or empowered to grant such authority to a GAL.
But grant it, she did!  

NASGA slogan:  If you don’t know your rights; you don’t have any!
(This case involves egregious violation of rights!)


By a NASGA member.

Casey Kasem, Legendary Radio Personality, Has Been Found

Casey Kasem, the 82-year old DJ has been found, a representative of the family told TheWrap.

Kasem was confirmed as missing on May 12. At that time, his daughter Kerri Kasem began seeking temporary conservatorship over her father, in order to facilitate a search effort.

In an official statement issued, the family reports, “We have received confirmation that Casey Kasem has been found. The family has grave concerns about his health and will do everything in their power to bring him back home.”

The family has been at odds with Kasem's wife, Jean, over visitation rights. Jean Kasem has been moving Casey Kasem from hospital to hospital, and refusing to let his children see him. Casey Kasem is suffering from Lewy Body Disease, which is a similar form of dementia to Parkinson's Disease, and has left him barely able to talk.

According to The New York Daily News, Casey Kasem was found in Washington just hours after Kerri Kasem was able to officially file a missing persons report. After hearing the news, Kerri Kasem released the following statement, ”We are grateful to the local authorities for finding my Dad. We are one step closer to bringing him home.”

Full Article & Source:
Casey Kasem, Legendary Radio Personality, Has Been Found

See Also:
Authorities: Casey Kasem found in Washington state

Judge orders investigation into Casey Kasem's whereabouts

Judge rejects conservatorship for Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem Near Death but Alert, Children Suing Wife Jean for Conservatorship NOT Will and Money

Man faces charges in beating at Oakwood

A Suffolk judge on Friday ordered the re-evaluation of a man’s mental competency to stand trial over the alleged assault of a 92-year-old woman inside now-closed Oakwood Assisted Living.

According to Circuit Court filings, William Keith Ruffin, exactly two years ago Saturday and then 42 years old, responded to internal voices when he allegedly beat Violet Compton nearly to death.

Ruffin had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder and has abused crack cocaine, alcohol and marijuana, according to the court documents, which stated he had told investigators he had been napping in his room at the East Washington Street facility, when “he began to hear voices in his head.”

The voices told him, “Get up N—!” “The people” were “trying to take his face,” the voices said.
Ruffin told investigators that he thought Compton was one of the main people “trying to take his face off.”

Arriving at the facility about 6:12 p.m., first-responders found Compton “severely beaten and injured” after Ruffin “(beat) her about her face and head with (his) fists.” She was airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Charged with aggravated malicious wounding, Ruffin has since been remanded to Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk and Central State Hospital in Petersburg, where staff have been working on his psychological rehabilitation.

His first hospitalization, according to court filings, was in 1999, and the pattern has been “involuntary psychiatric admission,” court-ordered medical treatment, improvement, but then relapse into substance abuse upon discharge.

Court filings describe two contacts with Western Tidewater Community Services Board. On March 26, 2012, he presented with “somatic delusions,” but improved “with support and being able to share his feelings;” he received an injection of Invega Sustenna, used in the treatment of schizophrenia, but resisted taking his anti-depressant Zoloft.

Ruffin’s second contact with board staff was on April 2, 2012 — three days before Compton was beaten at Oakwood — when “there was no indication given that he was suicidal or homicidal.”

At the beginning of February, concerned that his responses to questions indicated poor mental health, Judge Carl E. Eason Jr. declined to accept Ruffin’s not-guilty plea, and ordered the first evaluation of his competency to stand trial.

When Ruffin was later back before the court with his “competency restored,” doubts arose over whether he was still receiving, inside the jail, the same medications the state hospital had prescribed, Eason said in court Friday.

As a sheriff’s deputy escorted him into the courtroom, Ruffin gazed into the public gallery with an unfocused stare.

Full Article & Source:
Man faces charges in beating at Oakwood

Judge orders investigation into Casey Kasem's whereabouts

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A judge on Monday ordered an investigation into the whereabouts of Casey Kasem after an attorney for the ailing radio personality's wife said the former "Top 40" host had been removed from the country.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Murphy ordered a court investigator and adult protective services to find out where Kasem is being treated and report back to the court. Kasem, 82, suffers from advanced Parkinson's disease, can no longer speak and has been in various medical facilities chosen by his wife, Jean Kasem.

Casey Kasem's children have complained that they have been unable to see their father in accordance with an agreement with their stepmother. Daughter Kerri Kasem had sought a temporary conservatorship and was appointed her father's temporary caretaker on Monday. Her attorney, Troy Martin, said the family believes the entertainer has been taken to an Indian reservation in Washington state.

Murphy's order came after Craig Marcus, an attorney who appeared on Jean Kasem's behalf at Monday's hearing, said he did not know where the radio personality was but knew that he had been removed from the country.

"I have no idea where he is," Marcus said.

The revelation brought stunned protests from Murphy and two of Casey Kasem's daughters, two of the entertainer's three children from a previous marriage.

"Your statements concern me even more," the judge told Marcus, who declined to comment after the hearing.

Full Article & Source:
Judge orders investigation into Casey Kasem's whereabouts

See Also:
Judge rejects conservatorship for Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem Near Death but Alert, Children Suing Wife Jean for Conservatorship NOT Will and Money

Federal Nursing Home Enforcement System is Not Punitive: Setting the Record Straight Again

The Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General recently reported that nearly one third-of nursing home residents suffered an adverse event or other harm during a stay in a Medicare-participating nursing home in August 2011, and that most of the adverse events or other harm were preventable and the result of problems in staffing.[1]  Despite evidence of poor quality of care, the nursing home industry continues calls for a "new examination" of the public oversight process, choosing to believe the oversight process, rather than the care itself, is the problem.[2]

Industry challenges to the federal oversight system are certainly not new.[3]  Nevertheless, in light of the industry's continued attacks on the regulatory system and its call for a new method of nursing facility oversight, it is time to set the record straight again: the regulatory system does not need a "new examination." Rather, it needs to be fully and effectively implemented.

Industry Claims

LeadingAge, the national trade association of not-for-profit nursing facilities, claims that the current enforcement system is punitive and does not serve its primary purpose of protecting residents and ensuring quality.  It proposes what it calls "an objective, third-party examination of the present federal-state nursing home oversight process."[4]  In support of its proposal, the trade association cites the Inspector General's March 2014 report about adverse events and harm, a series of reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) "issued over the past decade [that] have found that the present nursing home oversight process is inadequate to ensure quality care and is overwhelming for regulatory agencies to administer,"[5] and its own 2006 report, Broken and Beyond Repair.[6]  LeadingAge describes the regulatory system as "a punitive oversight process, built on fines and punishment"[7] and touts its own initiatives, notably Advancing Excellence in America's Nursing Homes and Quality First, as the solution to poor quality of care.

The Federal Regulatory System Is Not Punitive

The Inspector General's (IG's) recent report identifying extraordinarily poor care for Medicare residents does not support LeadingAge's thesis that the regulatory system is poorly designed and punitive.  Similarly, reports issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) offer no support for LeadingAge's claim.  Over the past decade, the IG and the GAO have uniformly reported that it is not the regulatory system itself that is the problem, but rather the implementation of the system, finding, specifically, that implementation has been too ineffectual, too timid, and too poorly used to make a difference.  Not even the reports cited by industry groups claim that the enforcement system has been fully implemented and nevertheless failed to improve care for residents.  GAO report titles graphically make this point: Nursing Homes: Addressing the Factors Underlying Understatement of Serious Care Problems Requires Sustained CMS and State Commitment,[8] Federal Monitoring Surveys Demonstrate Continued Understatement of Serious Care Problems and CMS Oversight Weaknesses,[9] Efforts to Strengthen Federal Enforcement Have Not Deterred Some Homes from Repeatedly Harming Residents,[10] Nursing Home Deaths: Arkansas Coroner Referrals Confirm Weaknesses in State and Federal Oversight of Quality of Care.[11]

Full Article & Source:
Federal Nursing Home Enforcement System is Not Punitive: Setting the Record Straight Again

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

First of Many Expected Lawsuits Just Filed Against For-Hire "Guardian" Jared E. Shafer and Two of His Employees

Long time Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc. PFSN, Inc.Registered Guardian Patience M. Bristol awaits sentencing on May 28, 2014 in the court of Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez. Bristol's boss Jared E. Shafer has not yet been charged with a crime, and proclaims that she never worked for him.

On October 3, 2013, the State of Nevada issued a 21 count felony arrest warrant for Bristol who had been employed at PFSN, Inc. for over ten years. During that time, Jared Shafer had assigned her PFSN, Inc. "wards" for guardianship services. In Bristol's plea bargain, she admits to stealing the assets of the elderly and disabled wards assigned to her.

Bristol has struck a plea bargain with Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson who agreed to drop all but one of the 21 felony charges. But plea bargains are not set in stone. Judge Gonzalez still has the option of honoring the plea bargain on May 28, or throwing the book at Bristol.

On March 19, 2012, a year and a half before Bristol was arrested, a family member of one of Bristol's former PFSN, Inc. wards filed the second of two complaints with the Center for Guardianship Certification (CGC), the agency that certifies private guardians, trying to forewarn them about PFSN, Inc. and Bristol's exploitative actions.

On May 1, 2014, the first of several expected civil lawsuits was filed in Nevada State Court against JARED E. SHAFER, his firm PFSN, Inc.; Shafer's office manager, secretary, and bookkeeper AMY VIGGIANO DEITTRICK and her company AVID BOOKKEEPING; and PSFN, Inc. Registered Guardian PATIENCE M. BRISTOL and her company GUARDIAN SOLUTIONS, Inc.

In the most recent 6 page complaint, attorneys Michael Olson and Thomas Grover representing former PFSN, Inc. "ward" Kristina Berger (45), accuse Shafer and his associates of embezzling $456,795.61 of Berger's assets between September 2008 and March 2013 while she was a ward of the Clark County Family Court that assigned her to PFSN, Inc. for guardianship. Like many well to do elderly or disabled persons who need temporary assistance, certain Family Court Judges will often assign PFSN, Inc. to take full power of attorney over a wealthy ward's personal and financial affairs to purportedly work to ensure the best possible health, welfare, safety and financial protection until a family member living in Nevada can take that responsibility, or in Berger's case, her condition improves to the extent she can care for herself and handle her own financial affairs.

When Kristina Berger recovered from her illness, she received the shock of her life! By January 11, 2013, after four and one half years under PFSN, Inc. guardianship, only $34,599.46 remained from her once half million dollar estate. The rest was either missing or unaccounted for.

Krstina was one of several PFSN, Inc. clients to file a criminal complaint against Bristol for stealing, but Berger took it a step further and went to Family Court to try to find out what happened to her assets. There she was met by indifference and condescending from Guardianship Commissioner Jon Norheim who appeared to be working for Shafer. During the heated hearing, Shafer told the Judge that Bristol didn't work for him, and he was not responsible for her actions even though he assigned Bristol to provide care for Berger and protect her assets.

Full Article and Source:
First of Many Expected Lawsuits Just Filed Against For-Hire "Guardian" Jared E. Shafer and Two of His Employees

See Also:
Court-Appointed Guardian Arrested for Stealing READ the two complaints filed with the CGC

READ the 16 page complaint

READ the full Berger Complaint

The Jason Hanson - Jared E. Shafer Story

District judge required defendant to contribute to Catholic charity

DALLAS -- State District Judge Jeanine Howard is coming under more scrutiny.

News 8 has learned the judge is requiring defendants contribute money to a charity of her choice as part of their probation conditions. Experts say that is wrong.

“A judge can not do that," said Lillian Hardwick, a judicial ethics attorney.

Former District Judge John Cruezot said he's never seen it done by another judge.

"She does it, and I have not seen anyone else do it," he said.

Court documents show Judge Howard required a defendant pay $200 to the Society of St. Vincent De Paul Pantry, which is a Catholic charity. Howard is Catholic and a member of Christ the King Church.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct has issued an opinion on this issue in the past.

“Judicial power should not be used to force litigants to provide gifts or services to specified charities or to other organizations; judges should not be choosing among competing charities," the opinion states.

Full Article & Source:
District judge required defendant to contribute to Catholic charity

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Brooklyn DA Probes Late Judge John L. Phillips' Penniless Death in Nursing Home

The Brooklyn DA is probing how a prominent judge came to die penniless in a nursing home, after angry relatives claimed his estate had been looted and demanded an investigation.
Relatives of Civil Court Judge John Phillips — known as “the kung-fu judge” because of his black belt — say his court-appointed guardians took exorbitant fees and ran up a million-dollar IRS bill by failing to file taxes.

The Rev. Samuel Boykin, a nephew of the Alzheimer’s- stricken Phillips, estimates the alleged rip-off cost the judge and his heirs $20 million to $30 million.

A spokeswoman for DA Kenneth Thompson said his office is reviewing documents Boykin submitted.

One guardian was accused in 2006 of improperly paying herself out of Phillips’ assets. Then-DA Charles Hynes referred the case to the Appellate Division, and the guardian was suspended for taking $327,000.

DA Probes Prominent Judge's Penniless Death in Nursing Home

Senators Valesky, Gallivan Release Report Exposing Elderly Abuse and Exploitation

Legislators Propose Preventative Measures that Include Providing Banks the Authority to Reject Deceptive Financial Transactions

(Albany, NY – May 10, 2014) Senator David Valesky (D-Oneida pictured) and Senator Patrick Gallivan (R-Elma) released an extensive report that shows financial abuse amongst New York’s seniors to be more prevalent than initially thought, with much higher rates of undocumented incidents that actually exist.  Data obtained by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services project a surge in the number of cases of financial abuse by the year 2030, with nearly 200,000 incidents predicted to occur.

The number of incidents involving elder abuse correlate with statistics that show a significant increase in New York’s senior population, which is the third most populous in the United States. Unfortunately, these incidents often times go unreported due to the startling fact that the abuser is someone that the victim either trusts, is a caregiver, or more often than not, is a family relative.

Seniors tend to be vulnerable to certain degrees of financial abuse, including theft, concealment of funds, or even property. Yet while they possess adequate financial assets, they lack the capability to manage these items as they age and begin to suffer cognitive illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Senator David Valesky, Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, said: “The prevalence of elder abuse in all forms, especially financial, is increasing as our senior population grows. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that there are laws on the books to protect seniors and give law enforcement the tools they need to prosecute offenders.”

Senator Patrick Gallivan, Chairman of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee, said: “Our seniors deserve our respect and our protection.  As a former New York State Trooper and Sheriff of Erie County, I believe we must do everything we can to guard against all forms of elder abuse, whether physical, psychological or financial.  This legislation will make sure these despicable acts do not go unpunished.”

Over the years, there has existed a wide array of types of financial abuse that are targeted towards seniors. These include scam solicitations via robo-call advertising or using other modes of communication such as the internet. While there are many law enforcement agencies and nonprofit organizations that conduct their own investigations into crimes committed relating to elder abuse, there is no single institution that collects all data incidences of elder abuse statewide.

In addition, New York State lacks a statutory definition for prosecuting elder abuse. Instead, it relies upon separate definitions under the New York State Social Services Law. One pertains to “adult abuse” for individuals over the age of 18 who may be dependent on someone else, while another, “financial exploitation,” deals with the improper use of ones funds, property, resources, and so forth.

According to one study referenced in the report, Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, while documented cases provided by agencies amounted to 3.24 cases per 1,000 seniors in 2010, researchers concluded that the actual caseload of abuse was, in fact, much higher. When using self-reported data collected, researchers estimated that the total amount was actually closer to a rate of 76 per 1,000. In other words, nearly 280,000 seniors experienced at least one type of abuse during that year, with about 155,000 facing financial abuse alone.

Full Article & Source:
Senators Valesky, Gallivan Release Report Exposing Elderly Abuse and Exploitation

For senior pageant entrants, it's all about fun -- and maybe the tiara

Contestant No. 9 took the stage wearing satin gloves and a billowy chiffon gown. She had 35 seconds at the mike:

"To be happy in life," Gail Stebbins told the audience, "you have to learn to adjust to the things you can't change."

When she lost her teeth years ago, she got new ones. When her hair fell out, she began to wear wigs. And when her bosom headed south, she gave it a lift with a little padding.

It's not exactly the kind of thing a beauty queen cares to admit. But Stebbins was not here for the crown. She just wanted to look good and have a little fun.

That was the case for many of the contestants who lined up on a recent Sunday to compete for the title of Ms. Senior Culver City.

They gathered at the senior center, teased hair smelling sweet from hair spray, necks glistening with rhinestones, feet aching in high heels. Elaine Brammell, a blond from Carlsbad, was the youngest candidate at 64. Sandra Miller-Erkus, a redhead from Granada Hills, was the oldest at 79.

Stebbins, 73, whose hair color depends on which wig she's wearing, came in from Oceanside. A girlfriend drove her despite the fact that her husband insisted she stay home. He's not a big fan of the shows.

The women are. Some have dreamed of starring in a pageant all their lives, and not until they reached their 60s did they have the courage or the time. They've been in dozens of shows. They have closets full of gowns, and trophies on their mantels.

On this day many were looking east, toward Atlantic City. That's where each year, in a big hotel casino off the boardwalk, judges crown Ms. Senior America. Her name is announced before an audience of hundreds, and a towering tiara is placed on her head.

Since California began participating in the national contest in 1986, women from the Golden State have scored five crowns, a record number.

"My girls mean business," said Marilyn Kohler, the state pageant director. "They are very hard to beat."

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For senior pageant entrants, it's all about fun -- and maybe the tiara

Monday, May 12, 2014

County adopts new tool for providing emergency services

Services will go to those gravely disabled by mental illness

REGION — San Diego County has adopted new means of providing services for those gravely disabled by mental illness by allowing extended psychiatric treatment for people who are committed involuntarily. The new tool may save the county thousands of dollars.

An individual suffering from mental illness can be involuntarily detained for treatment in a hospital or mental health clinic. To be committed involuntarily, a law enforcement officer, mental health clinician, or doctor must determine that the person is unable to care for themselves or may be a danger to themselves or others.

Currently in San Diego County, doctors have the ability to keep a person for treatment for up to 17 days. If a doctor believes that a patient will need psychiatric treatment beyond those two-and-a-half weeks, the doctor must petition for temporary conservatorship.

A temporary conservatorship appoints a person to make medical and legal decisions on behalf of another person who is deemed unable to do so on their own. In cases involving the gravely mentally ill, a temporary conservatorship gives the appointed conservator and doctor the legal authority to continue involuntary psychiatric treatment beyond 17 days.

The catch is that doctors do not have the full 17 days to decide whether or not to petition for temporary conservatorship on behalf of a patient, according to Dr. Michael Krelstein. Krelstein is the clinical director for the county Health and Human Services Agency’s Behavioral Health Services.

Doctors need to decide about the petition by the twelfth or thirteenth day of a patient’s treatment to allow the county conservator’s office enough time to investigate the case before the petition is decided in court.

According to Krelstein, less than two weeks is not enough time for a doctor to make a determination about petitioning for a temporary conservatorship. He explained that most of the time, psychiatric medications take about two weeks to fully take effect.

Because of this, doctors often end up filing temporary conservatorships that later turn out to be unnecessary when a patient responds to treatment and is ready to be discharged by the sixteenth or seventeenth day of involuntary treatment.

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County adopts new tool for providing emergency services

Mickey Rooney's widow contests late actor's will

Los Angeles (CNN) --Mickey Rooney's widow has filed a challenge against the validity of the will the legendary actor signed just weeks before his death at 93, her lawyer said.

The will left Rooney's estate to a stepson and nothing to his wife, Janice, or other children.

Attorney Eugene Belous told CNN he would be in Los Angeles County Probate Court on Monday morning to argue that the will contains "a blatant misstatement" about agreements between her, the actor and his conservator.

"There is NO provision in either of the two settlement agreements ... that terminates or in any way effects (her) rights as surviving spouse," Belous said.

A court filing says Jan Rooney signed an agreement waiving all claims to her husband's estate after the couple separated in June 2012 after 34 years of marriage.

Mickey Rooney's court-appointed conservator, who is also named as executor in the will, told CNN on Friday that the challenge of the will "is totally without merit."

Since there is not much money to fight over, attorney Michael Augustine said Rooney's widow, who was separated from her husband the last two years of his life, was seeking public attention with the challenge. "She cannot resist her additional five minutes of fame," Augustine said.

Although Rooney disinherited his children, his wife and all but one of her children in a will he signed just weeks before his death, court papers suggest there is not much in his estate to fight over. His personal property is valued at just $18,000 despite an unmatched 90-year film career.

The will signed by Rooney on March 11, 2014, left the entire estate to stepson Mark Rooney, one of Jan Rooney's sons, who was the actor's caretaker the last two years of his life. He died on April 7.
Rooney "intentionally omitted" and disinherited his eight surviving biological children and two other stepchildren from his last marriage, the will said.

Rooney had no negative feelings toward his surviving children, but they were all financially better off than he was, Augustine said, adding that Rooney believed that what little he had to leave should go to Mark Rooney and his wife, because they had been taking good care of him in his final two years.

A hearing is scheduled for Monday to start the process of probating the actor's will.

An attorney for Mickey Rooney's children is also contesting the will, Belous said.

Augustine said there was no question that Rooney was of sound mind when he signed the will last March. The actor had just finished filming his "Night at the Museum" scenes with Dick Van Dyke, in which he had no trouble learning his lines, he said.

An independent lawyer appointed by a judge confirmed that he found Rooney to be "perfectly competent," Augustine said.

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Mickey Rooney's widow contests late actor's will

Ex-banker gets 5 years for defrauding elderly

Diane Elizabeth Niehaus
DAYTON —A former Centerville Union Savings Bank manager was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $1 million from elderly and vulnerable customers.

Diane Elizabeth Niehaus, 40, was convicted of embezzlement, money laundering and filing a false tax return in Dayton’s U.S. District Court after a yearslong scheme of what prosecutors said was taking advantage of customers who were dying, sick and suffering from cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Before he announced the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black told Niehaus she was as “skillful and sophisticated a manipulator as this judge has seen in 20 years” and that her bank job put her in “perfect position to rape and pillage (the victims’) savings.”

The amount of restitution Niehaus must pay — which Black said was between $400,000 and $700,000 — will be determined at a future hearing. Most of the money that victims got back came from Union Savings Bank and insurance companies, not from Niehaus.

Black allowed Niehaus to leave the court on a promise to return in 30 to 45 days when she will report to serve her sentence in a federal penitentiary.

At Black’s urging, Niehaus turned and apologized to Joan Lyons, the eldest daughter of Dorothy Cline and the late Jesse Cline. Court records show Niehaus and her husband, Paul, often visited the Clines under the guise of helping them.

Niehaus ultimately convinced Dorothy Cline, who was suffering from dementia, to draw up a new will and to turn against her own children. Prosecutors say Niehaus used the money to buy a $460,000 home and be able to afford five cars.

“I believe it was her plan to leave her penniless and a ward of the state,” Lyons said Thursday in court. “She almost achieved it.”

Neither Black nor Lyons bought Niehaus’ apology. “I think the judge did what he could do with the sentencing guidelines (which called for between 57 and 71 months),” Lyons said after the sentencing. “I think her apology was very insincere.”

U.S. Assistant Attorney Brent G. Tabacchi said the sentence, which reflected prosecutors’ wishes, was fair and “reflected the seriousness of the offense and the nature of the victims.”

The Clines’ plight was first reported after local attorney Craig Matthews filed a civil lawsuit against Niehaus and her husband, Paul, whom Black called “an unindicted co-conspirator.”

“(Elder fraud) is something that we have seen more of within the last several years; it’s just a product of an aging population,” Tabacchi said. “We do have other investigations similar to this that are ongoing.

“Partly because of this case and the publicity it has received, people are much more aware of this type of fraud going on and are much more willing to reach out to law enforcement saying we’re seeing this kind of problem.”

Federal public defender Thomas Anderson said his client has “psychological distortions” and “major, major problems” but that Niehaus is “not today the same person she was” when she committed her crimes.

Anderson told Black he had a substantive objection on the length of the sentence imposed because Niehaus did not have a criminal record, though court documents show she was terminated from another bank for financial improprieties and once stole a family member’s identity to fraudulently obtain a loan and credit cards in the family member’s name.

Court records also show Niehaus used deceptive tactics such as: creating fictitious gift letters and fraudulent powers of attorney; engaging in complicated and layered financial transactions to conceal theft; falsely accusing a fellow employee; and falsely claiming to be a cancer survivor from a wealthy family with ties to Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble.

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Ex-banker gets 5 years for defrauding elderly

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Video: Public Guadians Abuse 87-Year-Old Widow and Seize $1.8 Million

For Lucille Castillo Lyon, the new OC Public Guardian, it's "business as usual" as she continues the practices of her predecessors, William D. Mahoney and John S. Williams.

In this video, the seizure and demise of the $1.8 million Klubnikin Trust is disclosed, along with its devastating impact on the 87 yo widow and her two sons.

Ms. Lucille Lyon, the new Public Guardian, is seeking court approval on August 31, 2011 of a contract to sell one of their three rental properties at $151,000 BELOW market value.

The family fears that eventually she will institutionalize the perfectly healthy and sane widow in order to liquidate all their rental properties as well as their family home, leave the youngest son and former Trustee of the Trust homeless, and then deplete the estate with conservator fees which will result in its eventual demise, as well as the widow and her two sons.

When and how will this end? Stay tuned.

YouTube:  OC Public Guardians Abuse 87 Yo Widow and Seize $1.8 million

DCF refuses to let Justina Pelletier be with her Mother on Mother's Day

Department of Children and Families (DCF) denied the meeting for Linda Pelletier to be with Justina after a request was submitted by the Pelletier's attorneys.
Tragically this continues a trend by DCF which has not allowed Justina to be with her family on special holidays and occasions in the past which also included Mother's Day last year.
Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Pelletier family Spokesperson, states:
"It is hard to imagine that after DCF issued a reunification plan and stated their desire to return Justina home to her family as quickly as possible, they would then turn around and deny Linda Pelletier the right to be with her daughter on Mother's Day.
"Every child at Wayside will have the opportunity to see their mother on Mother's Day but one; Justina Pelletier. The question must be asked, If DCF was truly concerned about the welfare of Justina and the family, why would they deny this simple face to face meeting on Mother's Day? One could only imagine what Justina will be experiencing seeing all the other residents spending time with their mothers while she sits alone in her room.
"It is now becoming so much clearer that the only solution to this tragedy is getting Justina back into the loving arms of her family as soon as possible."
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Nightmare of Pelletier Family - DCF Refuses to let Justina be with her Mother on Mother's Day

Honoring our Mothers - Many of Whom Were Wrongfully Taken into Guardianship

Many of whom were forced into facilities against their will and denied our comfort when they most needed us. 

We honor those lost in guardianship and treasure those whom we are lucky to still have with us on this earth.

Judge ordered into anger management, and other courthouse corrections

Few authorities in our society have the power of judges, so when they go astray, it may seem that those affected by their transgressions have no recourse apart from voting them out in the next election. But an agency called the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards has the power to investigate complaints and discipline judges. Late last month, the board issued an unusual two reprimands in the same week:

Judge Terrence M. Walters, who's been on the bench for 11 years and presides in Wabasha County, got in trouble for a number of problems, according to the board's order. One of them was failing to supervise his clerk, who in an effort to avoid boredom from having nothing to do, decided to take on some pro bono cases during his work hours. As a result, the state paid the clerk for 257 hours when he was not at work over a nearly six-month period. After the state investigated, the clerk repaid the money, but Walters was faulted for failing to ensure his clerk was working on state business.

Walters also tried a defendant in absentia, a no-no unless the trial is already underway and the defendant fails to show up; gave a defendant more jail time than a plea agreement allowed, without allowing the plea to be withdrawn; and treated a court-appointed consultant with discourtesy. In the disciplinary order, Walters agreed to change his ways and seek out an anger management program or therapist, at his own expense. I tried to reach Walters for comment without success.

Judge Steven J. Cahill, based in Moorhead, Minn., and first appointed to the bench in 2006, received a reprimand for at least 18 violations of the rules governing the conduct of judges, according to the reprimand order. Many of those violations stemmed from what appeared to be a compassionate impulse that the board considered way over the line. Cahill bumped down the charge on one immigrant so he could avoid deportation. A National Guard member got a lighter sentence because the judge knew he would otherwise lose the right to handle firearms. The judge allowed a man to put on a motorcycle race without allowing the county to argue its case that the man did not have the necessary permits.

On Thanksgiving Day 2012, the judge stopped by the Clay County jail and granted a 24-hour furlough to a prisoner. The prisoner, who thought it was some kind of mistake, declined the get-out-of-jail free card. Without consulting prosecutors, the judge also gave a three-hour furlough to a teenager who had a court-imposed 9 p.m. curfew after a vehicular homicide charge. The purpose? So the boy could attend the prom.

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Judge ordered into anger management, and other courthouse corrections

Possibly Incapacitated N.Y. Lawyer Disbarred

(CN) - A New York appeals court has disbarred a lawyer who pleaded guilty to harassment and stalking charges for threatening behavior, which included mailing a judge a box cutter.

The court considered evidence that Scott Stern, who was admitted in 2009 to the psychiatric ward of the UCLA Medical Center with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

A California court terminated the "involuntary hold" on Stern after a little more than a week, however, after finding that he was not "gravely disabled."

Around the same time he was released, in February 2009, Stern told a court clerk that he should be taken seriously and was "seriously considering resorting to violence."

That same month, Stern asked the clerk whether he would have to "come back [to the courthouse] with a bat."

The box-cutter incident entailed Stern mailing the tool to a judge along with a letter directing her to show it to six other judges as well as attorneys who represented his landlord in a summary proceeding that was brought against him.

These events led Stern to plead guilty in early 2010 to three counts of aggravated harassment in the second degree, and two counts of stalking in the fourth degree.

Stern's plea required him to voluntarily resign from the bar, but there were errors in Stern's filings to the Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department.

The committee in turn examined Stern under oath in 2011, at which point he admitted to the aforementioned behavior.

The committee attempted to have a psychiatrist evaluate Stern's mental capacity, but Stern failed to comply with these orders.

Stern did not submit an answer to the charges the committee subsequently served against him.

A referee recommended disbarment after a hearing at which Stern did not appear, but a hearing panel recommended indefinite suspension to account for Stern's "possible lack of capacity during both the period of the underlying acts of misconduct and at various times since then."

A five-justice panel of the Appellate Division instead had Stern disbarred on Tuesday.

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Possibly Incapacitated N.Y. Lawyer Disbarred