Saturday, October 4, 2014

How to Stop Guardianship Abuse: Hotline Monitors Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County in Florida has long been a haven for the wealthiest retirees. With some 22% of 1.6 million residents aged 65 and older, it’s no wonder the county clerk established a guardianship fraud unit three years ago.

“When the economy started going down in 2008, we expected to see an increase in criminal cases,” said Sharon Bock, who was elected clerk of the circuit court in 2004. “Instead, we noticed an uptick in guardianship and probate court filings.”

Currently, the county has 2,800 open guardianship cases on file, and between 2009 and 2012 there was a 15% increase year over year. That was a red flag for Bock given that Florida has more elderly residents than any other U.S. state.

“I hired a certified fraud examiner with an accounting background and he began reviewing how court appointed guardians were spending the ward’s money,” Bock told MainStreet.

Fraud Examiner Anthony Palmieri discovered guardians were spending money on Botox, cruises and even latex surgery for themselves.

“We’ve seen double and over billing of guardianship fees, flat out hiding of assets and the creation of joint accounts with the wards,” Palmieri told MainStreet.

More than half a billion dollars are in the hands of guardians in Palm Beach County, and surprisingly 75% of those guardians are family members or neighbors vs. 25% who are professional guardians or lawyers.

“We found out that in most cases family members lack the education and expertise to be a guardian,” Palmieri said. “In many cases, the annual accounting documents they filed were questionable as to whether they were filled out properly.”

The National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse is weary, however, of courts that bring in a third-party guardian without a due process hearing to address alleged financial abuse by family members.

“Family theft is often used to rationalize the appointment of a third-party guardian, and yes, some family members do steal from their elderly relatives," said Elaine Renoire, president of the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse in Indiana. "However, it is also true that other family members are often pushed aside based solely on allegations or innuendos of theft without any formal police charges or proper investigation."

“We know these guardianship fraud programs are effective, because we’ve seen real results in Palm Beach County,” said Bock.

So far, the fraud unit’s investigations have led to two arrests and uncovered more than $3 million in questionable expenses and misreported assets.

Full Article and Source:
How to Stop Guardianship Abuse: Hotline Monitors Palm Beach County

See Also:
To Prevent Elder Abuse Families Need to Use Certified Guardians

Financial Abuse by Profiteering Heirs Awaits Boomers and Heirs

Portsmouth officer to be deposed about $2.7M inheritance

PORTSMOUTH — A police officer accused of exploiting an elderly woman with dementia to inherit her $2.7 million estate is scheduled to be deposed Oct. 27 by multiple lawyers on both sides of the debate.

The officer, Sgt. Aaron Goodwin, is accused in the Rockingham County probate court of exerting undue influence over the late Geraldine Webber, who died at age 94 on Dec. 11, 2012. Seven months before her death, Webber endorsed a new will and trust, naming Goodwin as the primary beneficiary of her waterfront home, stocks, bonds and a Cadillac.

Photo by Deb Cram
Goodwin, who is being represented by attorney Chuck Doleac, has consistently denied the allegations. Webber’s neighbor, retired officer John Connors, previously told the Herald that he saw Goodwin visit Webber’s home, in a police cruiser, more than 100 times.

According to court records, several lawyers declined to rewrite Webber’s 2009 will, while citing concerns about her mental capacity, before Hampton attorney Ralph Holmes agreed to do so. Parties involved in the estate dispute were notified this week that Holmes is also scheduled to be deposed in October.

The depositions were scheduled by Manchester attorney David Eby, who is representing the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Society and The Shriners Hospital for Children. Eby’s clients were each $500,000 beneficiaries under a 2009 will Webber had written by Portsmouth attorney Jim Ritzo, then were named as $80,000 beneficiaries under the 2012 estate plans drafted by Holmes.

Eby alleges Goodwin befriended Webber, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2010, before helping her visit "more than one attorney for the purpose of changing her estate plan."

During a Sept. 4 deposition, Webber’s physician, Dr. Ira Schwartz, testified that Holmes met with him in January 2012 to ask about Webber’s mental competency and that he told Holmes, “not only do I consider her unable to make an informed decision, but I believe she was judged to be that way by psychiatrists during a prior admission (at Portsmouth Regional Hospital).

Full Article & Source:
Portsmouth officer to be deposed about $2.7M inheritance

Iowa: Families to Convert Old Winery to Help Disabled

Four Iowa families have purchased an old winery where they plan to hold enrichment programs for their children and young adults with intellectual disabilities.

The rural, 10-acre former home of Wallace Winery, which closed in 2009, has a house, a barn, another building and plenty of land for gardening and outdoor activities. The families are planning to eventually convert a farmhouse on the property into a residential facility for young adults when they're ready to leave their parents' residence.

They're laying the groundwork for what they're calling the Village Community, a place for people with intellectual disabilities to learn, work, and one day, live together, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.

Ann Brownsberger said the families got the idea for the Village Community last year after meeting at a seminar in Coralville about guardianship for adults with disabilities. The families gathered at a restaurant to discuss how their children would be cared and provided for years after their parents were gone.

"We were looking for a model where we could continue to be that primary caregiver and protector, but we wouldn't be doing it on our own because we're acutely aware that we're not going to live forever," Brownsberger said. "Our children will mostly likely outlive us, so it was really important to us that they be cared for beyond our lifetime."

Full Article and Source:
Iowa:  Families to Convert Old Winery to Help Disabled

Friday, October 3, 2014

NASGA Director Sylvia Rudek Guests on Patient Safety Radio

Guest – Sylvia Rudek director of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse explains the hard facts about abusive guardians and laws and what you should do today to stay safe.

LISTEN to the archive of the show

See Also:
NASGA Members in Legislative Action

NY AG Press Release: A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Two Nursing Home Employees On Charges They Neglected Disabled Resident

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of two employees of Erie County Medical Center Skilled Nursing Facility (now known as Terrace View Long Term Care Facility) in Buffalo, following an investigation into their treatment of a nursing home resident.

The investigation, which relied on a hidden camera placed in the patient’s room, revealed an alleged pattern of neglect. The two nursing assistants are charged with a variety of felony and misdemeanor counts in Buffalo City Court.

“Nursing home residents are among our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and the neglect that the victim in this case suffered is reprehensible,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Today’s arrests send a clear message that my office will not tolerate anyone being neglected by those responsible for their care, and we will use every tool in our arsenal, including hidden cameras, to ensure that those most in need of help are safely cared for and treated with respect and dignity.”

The victim in this case, identified in court papers only as “MH” in order to protect her privacy, is a 79-year-old resident who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. She is non-ambulatory and totally dependent on nursing staff of the facility for her care.

Full Press Release and Source:
A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Two Nursing Home Employees On Charges They Neglected Disabled Resident

AARP Mass Director Credits Members With Legislative Wins, Including UAGPPJA

Mike Festa has a lot of experience serving the state’s aging community. He assumed the post of AARP Massachusetts’ state director in January 2013, and previously served as the state’s Secretary of Elder Affairs.

Before that he had been a state representative for Melrose and parts of Wakefield for five terms prior to that. In his 17 plus months at AARP, Festa has learned about the respect his organization carries when it comes to advocating for issues important to the lives of residents 50 and older.

“We’re engaged in a lot of big issues that affect people’s lives: financial security, health care, health security and just having a livable and fulfilled life in our communities,” Festa said of AARP. “When you have a non-profit organization as powerful and as well-perceived as AARP is, it gives you a wide swath of opportunities to speak on issues and it gives you a lot of credibility.”

One of those issues was the passing of the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA), which was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick last month and becomes law on Nov. 6., making Massachusetts the 39th state, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. “Although it only affects a small amount of people, it will allow people to move from one state to another and not have a problem and not have to start from scratch with their guardianship,” Festa said.

He credits AARP Mass. members for playing an important role in convincing their elected officials to put the law into place. “There’s no way this law would have passed the house and the senate without a lot of people making the phone calls to their Legislators and the Speaker of the House, the Senate President and chairs of Ways and Means. There was a point a couple weeks ago we were getting a 100 plus calls into the legislature every day.”

It’s a key victory for the state’s 50 and older population. “It’s been a very good year for the state in terms of its government’s commitment to supporting family caregivers — whether it’s in the home care programs or quality of life things like increasing resources for fighting elder abuse. And there was a significant increase of the senior center/council on aging funding,” Festa said, noting it was the first time in six years there have been significant increases in some of those areas.

While progress has been made, Festa said, “We’re an aging state and we have to expand the resources to support people in their communities. There’s no question that people want to live at home, but you can’t do that without these kinds of supports, whether it’s Meals on Wheels or the home care program.”

Full Article and Source:
AARP Mass. Director Credits Members With Legislative Wins

Thursday, October 2, 2014

To Prevent Elder Abuse Families Need to Use Certified Guardians

Richard Lambie has been a professional guardian in California for 18 years, managing 45 elderly wards and their trusts. His clients typically come through referrals from attorneys.

“There is an underserved elderly population who have no family support system, either by choice or due to their own unique circumstance,” said Lambie.

Yet despite the growing demand for guardianship, families need to be wary of elder abuse, especially with regard to financial matters such as inheritance decisions. That's why families who secure guardians for their elderly relatives need to be sure the guardians are, like Lambie, associated with an accredited organization.

Lambie is one of some 600 guardians in California alone who are members of the state’s Professional Fiduciary Association of California, managing more than $8 billion in assets.

“We can only discipline guardians who are certified through our organization,” said Denise Calabrese, executive director with the Center for Guardianship Certification (CGC). “If they are not certified by CGC, we advise the complainant to go through the court system or the state’s guardianship office if one exists.”

Families who use an accredited guardian are also in greater control of the expense for these caretakers and financial fiduciaries. “In most states, guardian fees are approved by the court,” said Kim Grier, president with the National Guardianship Association in Atlanta. “Professional guardians can get paid from the estate of the individual they have been appointed to and public guardians are paid through public funds.

“There will always be a need for guardians, but it should only be for those persons who are truly incompetent, and that’s what guardianship law was created for in the first place,” said Elaine Renoire, president of the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse in Indiana.

Full Article and Source:
To Prevent Elder Abuse Families Need to Use Certified Guardians

Nurse at Syracuse Nursing Home Accused of Physically Abusing 92-Year Old Woman

A nurse manager at the Loretto Health and Rehabilitation Center in Syracuse has been accused of physically abusing a resident of the nursing home  and falsifying records to cover it up.

Natalie M. Harris, 42, of Liverpool, was arrested July 30 and charged in Syracuse City Court based on a felony complaint filed by the state Attorney General's Office which is investigating the matter.

The complaint says Harris abused a 92-year-old resident who did not want to move from her bed to a wheelchair on March 25. Harris grabbed the woman by the upper arms, lifted her from the bed and forced her into a wheelchair, causing substantial bruising on the resident's upper arms, according to the complaint.

The elderly woman became frightened and yelled, asking Harris to stop, the complaint says. Since the incident, the resident has been anxious and fearful of care providers, according to the complaint.
Harris denies the accusation, which she says is based on false statements made by co-workers who did not like her. She said she intends to fight the charges and go to trial. Harris said she has been a nurse for 14 years and worked for the last year at Loretto, managing a 34-bed unit on the eighth floor.

The complaint says the bruising was reported by other care providers to administration, which assigned Harris to investigate. Harris wrote in an incident report and medical records that the marks on the resident's arms were "senile purpura," a skin condition caused by blood vessel fragility in older people, according to the complaint.

But a doctor and a physician assistant diagnosed the marks as bruising, not senile purpura, according to the complaint.

"The false entries were made to hide or conceal the act of abuse which caused the bruising to the victim's upper arms," the complaint says.

Full Article and Source:
Nurse at Syracuse Nursing Home Accused of Physically Abusing 92-Year Old Woman

Ohio Justices Deciding Length of Ex-Judge Harland H. Hale's Suspension

Fixing a friend’s speeding ticket and lying under oath will result in the suspension of former Franklin County Environmental Court Judge Harland H. Hale’s law license.

The question remains: For how long?

The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday about how severely Hale should be disciplined amid disagreement about his proposed punishment.

Hale’s attorney and the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline agree that a six-month suspension is appropriate. The justices, however, previously rejected a recommended six-month loss of license as too lenient.

Joseph M. Caligiuri, an assistant disciplinary counsel, told the justices that Hale, who was on the bench for 10 years, should pay for his misconduct with a one-year suspension.

“We have a sitting judge in the state of Ohio fixing a personal speeding ticket for a friend and lawyer … and who took efforts to cover his path. It is beyond the pale,” Caligiuri said.

Hale, who claimed he served a self-imposed suspension, compounded his misconduct when he lied in a disciplinary hearing that he did not represent clients for six months after stepping down under fire on May 24, 2013, Caligiuri said.

Hale’s attorney, George D. Jonson of Cincinnati, countered that an emotional and teary Hale did not lie during the hearing but “misspoke” in failing to recall five minor cases that he handled for free for friends and associates.

Full Article and Source:
Justices deciding length of ex-judge Hale’s suspension

See Also:
Ex-Judge Hale's Punishment Not Enough, Supreme Court Says

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

When Guardianship Becomes Human Trafficking

Florida Statute Sec. 787.06 – Human Trafficking
1. (c) The [Florida State] Legislature finds that traffickers use various techniques to instill fear in victims and to keep them enslaved. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. However, the most frequently used practices are less obvious techniques that include isolating victims from the public and family members; confiscating … identification documents; using or threatening to use violence toward victims or their families; telling victims that they will be imprisoned … if they contact authorities; and controlling the victims’ funds by holding the money ostensibly for safekeeping.
(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that the perpetrators of human trafficking be penalized for their illegal conduct and that the victims of trafficking be protected and assisted by this state and its agencies.
“The Legislature finds that human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery,” which it is, and it proliferates in the Sunshine State, where elders have amassed in numbers greater than in any other state. Holding scores of thousands of elders in guardianship, the State of Florida reaps at least many millions of dollars from its Wards every year and from desperate families trying to release their parents from state control.

How does guardianship qualify as “human trafficking”?
This article does not allege that every guardianship, whether in Florida or any other state, meets the criteria of human trafficking; however, many, if not most public and professional guardianships match most of the elements of trafficking, specifically:
  1. The victims or Wards are kept under lock and key.
  2. They are transported away from their homes without their consent and oftentimes without their comprehension of where they are being taken or for what reason and for what period of time.
  3. Isolation is a key element of the typical lives of state Wards, including absolute or near-total separation from family and participation in public activities.
  4. Identification documents, whether driver licenses, Social Security cards, or passports, are routinely taken from elders too feeble to use vehicles or travel anywhere.
  5. Verbal attacks, incarceration, and Baker Act imprisonments are part and parcel of the tactics used against both Wards and their families attempting to visit or comfort them during the traumas of guardianship.
  6. Use of punitive measures against Wards and their families is rampant when reports against guardians are made to the authorities.
  7. The key element of guardianship abuse is the controlling of funds belonging to the Ward, most often spent on extravagant attorney and guardianship fees, frequently totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in a year or so of forced guardianship.
  8. Regardless of the laws in place in every state, Wards are trafficked by professionals who fear no consequences or penalties for their illegal conduct.
  9. Although unlisted as an element of trafficking, the widespread use of physical and chemical restraints is common to both guardianships and trafficking. Thus, guardianship becomes trafficking when helpless elders are restrained by pill mills and tethers, such that they are either unable to process sensory input due to excessive pharmaceuticals or unable to move themselves as normal human beings do day-in and day-out.
Full Article and Source:
When Guardianship Becomes Human Trafficking

MN Woman Accused of Financial Exploitation

A Webster woman is slated to be in Olmsted County Court Oct. 9 to face two counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult (VA) and one count of theft by swindle.

According to the criminal complaint filed against her, Debra Lynn Hitchcock-Gale, 54, allegedly made $226,000 worth of illegal transactions involving VA’s financial resources. Hitchcock-Gale is a family member of VA’s and served as his power of attorney.

VA, a resident in Webster, was diagnosed with dementia in 2001, bought a town house in Pine Island, Minn. in 2010, moved there in 2011 and resided there until he was placed in an adult foster care facility in July 2014.
Hitchcock-Gale, from September 2011 to July 2014, allegedly made transactions on VA’s account of roughly $47,000, including debit card cash withdrawals from ATMs at the St. Croix Casino in Danbury, casino’s in Las Vegas as well as debit card purchases at locations VA did not frequent.
In addition, Hitchcock-Gale, a realtor in the area, sold VA’s Webster residence in 2013 for $185,000.

Proceeds from the sale were used to pay off VA’s town home in Pine Island, Minn. The defendant also wrote herself a $41,000 check and a $13,000 check to her husband’s business from the proceeds.

Full Article and Source:
Webster Woman Accused of Financial Exploitation

Lawyer Timothy Griffin Accused of Spending Clients' Cash on Club, Cars....

Authorities say Bronxville lawyer Timothy Griffin lived large — and stole over $1 million from his clients to help pay for it.

Griffin, 54, who has also worked as a prosecutor for the village, was arrested Thursday, accused of taking money from clients that was supposed to be held in escrow accounts.

Instead, according to the state Attorney General's Office, between April 2009 and February 2014, he stashed the cash in his personal bank account and used it to pay for a membership at the Waccabuc Country Club, a BMW, a Lexus, expensive jewelry and other personal items.

Griffin, who lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and has a practice at 77 Pondfield Road in Bronxville, was arraigned Thursday in New Rochelle City Court before Judge Susan Kettner on seven counts of felony grand larceny. He was released without bail and is due back in court on Oct. 7.

"Clients must be able to trust their attorneys, and abusing that trust is both unethical and illegal," state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in announcing Griffin's arrest.

Investigators said the thefts came to light after Griffin was charged with grand larceny in another case earlier this year, in which he was accused of stealing $1.9 million that was supposed to be held in escrow for United Hebrew Cemetery in Staten Island. Griffin had been serving as acting president of the cemetery since 2012, after the former president and his wife were found guilty of embezzling $850,000.

Griffin was indicted on a felony grand larceny charge in February and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted in the Staten Island case; he faces an additional 25 years if convicted of the new charges.

Full Article and Source:
A.G.: Bronxville lawyer spent clients' cash on club, cars

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

NJ Judges Face Discipline for Dining With Indicted Friend

An ethics prosecutor asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to punish two judges for fraternizing with a close friend who happened to also be a public official recently indicted on corruption charges.

On Sept. 23, Tracie Gelbstein, counsel to the court's Disciplinary Review Board, asked the court to admonish Passaic County Superior Court Judge Raymond Redden and Paterson Municipal Court Judge Gerald Keegan, who have admitted attending weekly church group dinners with the defendant, Anthony Ardis, a former Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission official.

Reddin and Keegan have both denied acting unethically.

"To be clear, there was no actual impropriety," Gelbstein told the court. "They did not intend to violate the Code of Judicial Conduct. However, they created an appearance of impropriety."

The judges "did not scrutinize their behavior from the viewpoint of the public," Gelbstein said.

Justice Barry Albin asked whether it would be improper for the judges and Ardis to walk into church together, sit in the same pew or speak to each other.

Gelbstein said the ACJC would look at the facts and make a determination.

Appellate Division Judge Mary Catherine Cuff, temporarily assigned, asked whether judges, in regulating their behavior, had to subject themselves to the public's "lowest common denominator."

"Judges have to accept some restraints on their behavior," Gelbstein replied.

Full Article and Source:
Judges Face Discipline for Dining with Indicted Friend

Wrongful Termination Suit by Former County Associate Probate Judge Against Probate Judge John Wheaton Tentatively Settled

An apparent settlement has been reached in the wrongful termination suit brought by former Lee County Associate Probate Judge Kathie Cash against the county and Probate Court Judge John Wheaton, according to an email between county officials.

In a lawsuit filed in Lee County Superior Court in July of 2013, Cash claimed that she was wrongfully dismissed by Wheaton after she alleged his granddaughter, Amanda Battzell, who is employed as a court clerk in the probate judge’s office, was turning in inflated time sheets. Cash claims her firing was in retaliation for reporting the issue.

County Manager Ron Rabun
According to an email from county attorney Jimmy Skipper to county manager Ron Rabun, the parties have agreed to a tentative $150,000 settlement in regard to Cash’s dismissal in early February of last year.
In the July 8 email to Rabun, Skipper wrote, “The purpose of this message is to advise you that I have been advised that the case went to mediation yesterday and was settled for $150,000 to be paid to the Plaintiff (Cash).
The settlement will be paid by the county’s insurance carrier, less any applicable deductible. According to the attorney hired by the County’s insurance carrier to defend the case, the settlement was actually less than what he was afraid it might be (or what a jury might award) given so many of the facts were brought out in the case and through discovery were not helpful to Judge Wheaton’s position.

Preventing Elder Abuse: Getting Back to the Golden Rule

The Indiana Adult Protective Services received nearly 40,000 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults last year. Of those reports, unit two which encompasses Kosciusko, St. Joseph, Marshall and Elkhart counties, received over 5,000 calls.

According to APS, approximately 90 percent of abusers of the elderly are family members. However, St. Joseph County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Kenneth Cotter, says anyone can be an abuser "It could be a relative, a stranger, or it could be themselves."

Cotter says most of the cases APS handles are self-neglect, "Over half the calls APS receives are for that specific reason. Usually they are just not able to take care of themselves anymore." In 2013, APS opened 542, self-neglect cases.

The Prosecuting Attorney's Office does not work with self-neglect cases, Cotter says APS or the victims family can work on stopping the abuse. He says they see a lot of financial exploitation cases, APS opened 257 cases last year.

"Quite frankly, it's easier," Cotter says. "It doesn't leave marks and the person may very well have been competent for so many years and then as they have gotten more elderly... the competency has kind of gone away a little bit."

Cotter says he prosecuted a man a few years ago for committing home improvement fraud on an elderly woman. The man was able to steal half a million dollars from this woman before her son called the police.

The penalty for financially exploiting someone for more than $10,000 or anyone over the age of 60-years-old is a class 6 felony and the abuser can face anywhere from six months to two and a half years in prison.

Full Article and Source:
Preventing Elder Abuse:  Getting Back to the Golden Rule

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Dr. Gary Kohls Discusses Drugging Children and the Elderly

Psychiatric drug side effects, dangers, psychiatric drugging of children and the elderly, causing them to appear to be mentally ill.

Dr. Kohls will also speak about alternatives and preventative mental health care.
BIO: Gary G. Kohls, M.D.
Practicing physician, Mind Body Medicine, Inc.

Dr. Gary G. Kohls is a family practitioner, who specializes in holistic and preventive mental health care. He has expertise in the areas of traumatic stress disorders, brain nutrition, non-pharmaceutical approaches to mental ill health, neurotransmitter disorders, neurotoxicity from food additives (and other environmental toxins) and the problems with psychotropic drugs.

Dr. Kohls’ treats patients who have had adverse psychotropic drug reactions, dependency, withdrawal symptoms and/or toxicity symptoms from the drugs and who wish to safely discontinue the medications. He also works with patients who are fearful of synthetic chemicals that alter the brain and who wish an alternative approach.

Dr. Kohls feels there are a number of integral parts to achieving optimal mental health. Educating the patient is essential. Therefore, Dr. Kohls does a lot of patient teaching, including teaching the principles of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), neuroscience, brain nutrition, and the importance of being fully aware of toxic child-rearing, toxic workplaces, toxic violence, toxic drugs (both illicit and prescription drugs), toxic food, toxic entertainment, toxic politics, toxic theologies.

 Dr. Kohls received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota. He now practices in Duluth, Minnesota.

 Dr. Kohls is a member of the International Center for the Study of Psychology and Psychiatry, Mind Freedom International and a past member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

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

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Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission Could Seek Lifetime Ban for Convicted Ex-Judge Steven Jones

Former Family Court Judge Steven Jones is off the public payroll, but the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission may not be ready to let him go quietly.

Paul Deyhle, the commission’s executive director, said Thursday the seven-member panel will consider a lifetime ban to prevent Jones from running for judicial office again.

“Conceivably, after he gets out of prison, he could run to be a judge again,” Deyhle said.

Atty Draskovich and Steven Jones
Jones faces more than two years behind bars after his guilty plea Wednesday in a $2.6 million investment scheme that occurred between 2002 and 2012.

He submitted a terse, handwritten resignation to Gov. Brian Sandoval after he pleaded guilty, and the state stopped paying his annual $200,000 salary.

Jones, 56, first elected to the bench in 1992, also informed the State Bar of Nevada Wednesday that he was giving up his law license.

His defense lawyer, Robert Draskovich, said Jones would have to reapply for his license before he could run for judge again, and that’s not likely to happen.

“He has no intention of getting his law license back,” Draskovich said.

Deyhle said there is no urgency for the commission to act on a lifetime ban because Jones is headed for prison and no longer being paid by taxpayers. But Deyhle added he expected the commission would want to take up the matter soon.

Jones has had a long and combative relationship with the judicial commission. He fought disciplinary proceedings against him all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Full Article and Source:
Commission Could Seek Lifetime Ban for Convicted Ex-Judge

See Also:
Suspended Judge Steven Jones Inks Plea Deal in Fraud Case

Assisted Living Workers Charged with Exploiting Elderly Man

Two assisted living employees were charged with exploiting an 88-year-old Mebane man.

Carol Elaine Cofery, 38,  was charged with exploitation of a disabled or elder adult through a position of trust or business relationship, and exploitation of a disabled or elder adult lacking capacity; and Brooke Michelle Mason  was charged with exploitation of a disabled or elder person lacking capacity, according to a Mebane Police Department press release. Both individuals were employees of Pittsboro-based Carolina Home Stay.

Adult Protective Services notified the Mebane Police Department of a possible elder adult exploitation case May 1 after the man and his daughter hired Carolina Home Stay to stay with him and assist him with daily activates.

“Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that employees working for Carolina Home Stay LLC and possibly other non-employees had exploited (the victim) for monetary gain,” according to the press release.

It is estimated that approximately $400,000 was exploited from the victim during a two-year time period, according to Alamance County warrants.

Full Article and Source:
Assisted Living Workers Charged With Exploiting Elderly Mebane Man

Man and His Mother Charged with FInancial Exploitation

Ramona man and his mother were charged in Washington County District Court with financial exploitation of an elderly person.

Tracy Darin Turner, 44, and Ann Marie Turner, 69, of Missouri, appeared before Special Judge Kyra Williams, who set bond at $3,500 for each of them on the felony charges.

The victim told Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Gardella that he had a verbal agreement with Tracy Turner under which he agreed to transfer ownership of his property, livestock, farm equipment and tools to Turner, though the victim would live on his property for the rest of his life and the Turner family would care for him. A revocable living trust was established putting the agreement into place and including Ann Turner on part of the arrangements, an affidavit stated.

Though the victim planned to remain living at his home, the Turner family had him removed by ambulance under a complaint that he was “becoming agitated and having a mental problem,” the affidavit stated. He was put in a hospital for two weeks and then housed at an assisted-living center where Ann Turner signed up for him to receive just one meal a day, the affidavit stated.

The Turners are accused of exploiting the victim by taking advantage of the trust he placed in them and “paying for property and personal expenses” from the victim’s checking account, the affidavit stated.

Full Article and Source:
Couple Charged With Exploitation of Elderly Man

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Christine Porter from Clear the Bench Arizona

Christine Porter from CLEAR THE BENCH ARIZONA joins the show at 7:30 pm CST to talk about the formation of this group and its mission.

MISSION STATEMENT: Toward the end that the Arizona judiciary remains impartial, apolitical, and able to dispense justice, we are organized to hold all judges, courts, commissioners, court officers and personnel accountable to the People and Constitutions of Arizona and the United States. Clear the Bench Arizona is located in Phoenix and works with many people who have been victims of the court system, Arizona State Bar and attorneys and is seeking to clear up and clean up the system from politics and profiting off of the people it is supposed to protect.

GOALS: Educate Arizona voters on the importance of judges observing principles of the ?rule of law? in deciding cases; Educate Arizona voters on their right to non-retain judges who do not follow these principles; Evaluate judicial performance on the basis of the Arizona Constitution, established statutory law, legal precedent, & ?rule of law? principles (as a means of providing substantive information to educate voters). Address the failure to correct documented misconduct in the recent past as the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct is not a sufficient means of addressing Arizona's judicial corruption.

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From "Best of People & Places 2014"

Politician Most Likely to Sell Grandma to the Highest Bidder
Critic’s choice: Tarrant County Judge Steve King

Tarrant County Judge Pat Ferchill isn’t the only jurist abusing his position to suck elderly and disable people into a legal system that strips their rights while emptying their bank accounts. Tarrant County boasts two elected judges –– Ferchill and King –– who hear guardianship cases on a regular basis and seem overly eager to put people (and their money) under guardianship. They do this under the guise of protecting the seniors, but many of those seniors say what they most need protection from is the court.

Best of People & Places 2014
Judge Pat Ferchill

Woman Jailed Over Probate Court Case Wins Appeal

A woman who spent several days in jail in 2013 stemming from a guardianship case in Stark County Probate Court has won her appeal.

The 5th District Court of Appeals last month reversed a ruling by Probate Judge Dixie Park, concluding that Park had abused her discretion by finding the woman in contempt of court.

Barbara Lockhart, formerly of Alliance, was jailed for around 10 days on the orders of Park after Lockhart missed some court hearings — and failed to provide requested documents — in the guardianship case of an 83-year-old man, according to probate court records. A guardian was seeking to revoke the power of attorney Lockhart held on behalf of the man, and Park had requested records regarding his finances, court records said.

Attorney Jeffrey Jakmides, who handled Lockhart’s appeal, said Lockhart was jailed without bond in October 2013. He noted that the woman — 56 years old during her jail stay — did not have a criminal record.

Lockhart has “recovered from (her jail stay) at this point, at least as much as she can recover from an experience like that, and is just wanting to move forward with her life,” Jakmides said.

Some of the probate court hearings took place in August 2013. Lockhart showed up at a Sept. 17 hearing, and then missed a Sept. 24 hearing, resulting in the contempt charge and Lockhart’s arrest and jailing on Oct. 1. Court records indicate Lockhart thought the last hearing had been continued.
Park set another hearing for Oct. 2, but Lockhart couldn’t provide the requested documents to purge her contempt charge because she was transported directly from the Stark County Jail to the hearing, according to the appeals ruling.

Lockhart was eventually released on Oct. 11 after a motion was filed to suspend the rest of her 30-day jail sentence. She later supplied the court with the financial documents.

During the case, the power of attorney was revoked for Lockhart. Park found that Lockhart put about $12,000 in Social Security and pension funds belonging to the elderly man in an account under her own name.

In court records, Park wrote that Lockhart had admitted she opened the bank account in her name even though she knew the man’s bank accounts had been frozen by the court. The funds were either retained or used for the benefit of Lockhart or the man’s daughter, Park wrote in court records. The judge ordered Lockhart to return $12,239 to the estate.

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Woman Jailed Over Probate Court Case Wins Appeal

New Study Shows Some 'Vegetative' Patients are Mentally Active

Patients in what doctors call a “persistent vegetative state” may be much more aware of their surroundings than previously believed, according to a new study from the University of Western Ontario.

The study’s authors, neuroscientists Lorina Naci and Adrian Owen, put 12 healthy volunteers in an fMRI machine and showed them an 8-minute condensed version of a 1961 Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode called “Bang!  You’re Dead!” while scanning their brains for reactions.  The suspenseful plot depicts a little boy carrying a partially loaded gun – which he believes is just a toy – walking around his neighborhood pointing the weapon at people and pulling the trigger.

Naci and Owen found that in healthy participants, the frontal parietal brain regions – which control attention – became more active during tense moments, and that the activity built in intensity until the episode’s climax, when the boy almost hits the family maid with a real bullet.  The brain activity tracked closely with the way the healthy subjects reported feeling as they watched the film, indicating a strong connection between their brain’s reaction and their emotional response.

Next, the pair put a 35-year-old man who had been unresponsive since age 17 into the machine and showed him the same film.  Although he could not tell the researchers how he was feeling, the fMRI revealed nearly identical responses in his frontal parietal brain region, indicating that he was not only aware of the video, but able to follow the plot.

“The patient's brain response to the movie suggested that his conscious experience was highly similar to that of each and every healthy participant, including his moment-to-moment perception of the movie content, as well as his executive engagement with its plot," the scientists wrote.

Full Article and Source:
New Study Shows Some Vegetative Patients are Mentally Active

See Also:
Read "A Common Neural Code for Similar Conscious Experiences in Different Individuals"

TX Pastor David DeFor Sentenced for Bilking Elderly Woman

An Austin pastor accused of bilking an 82-year-old woman with dementia out of more than $40,000 has been ordered to pay $17,000 restitution and placed on 10 years probation.

The Rev. David Vernon DeFor had been charged in June 2013 with four felony counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. He pleaded guilty in June 2014 to one of the counts; in exchange for the plea, the other three were dismissed.

The sentence was handed down Friday in Mower County District Court. District Court Judge Bernard Borene also ordered DeFor to complete 80 hours of community work service.
DeFor, 70, is a pastor at Austin Church of Christ (Christian). He and the victim initially became friends while serving on the Salvation Army Board together about seven years ago, according to the court complaint. DeFor was granted power of attorney for the victim on July 27, 2010.

Full Article and Source:
Austin Pastor Sentenced for Bilking Elderly Woman

See Also:
Pastor Pleads Guilty to Exploiting Elderly Woman