Saturday, October 25, 2014

Zavalidroga stripped of power of attorney status for mother

ROME>> After a two-day guardianship hearing this week in Oneida County Supreme Court, Judge Samuel Hester ruled that Tomas Zavalidroga no longer has power of attorney status over his mother, Margaret Zavalidroga, an attorney connected to the case said.

In court, Tomas faced off against his brothers Victor and Jon Zavalidroga, who sought to have Tomas stripped of his power of attorney status over Margaret Zavalidroga and void recent land transfers from Margaret to Tomas. One of the main issues being two quitclaim deeds filed by Tomas using his power of attorney status, transferring to him two parcels of land on Forward Road in Blossvale, that had previously been in Margaret’s name.

Colin LaReaux, a Utica-based attorney representing Victor and Jon in the guardianship matter said that Tomas did not retain an attorney to represent him for this matter.

The hearing was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday after which Hester ruled that Tomas was not to be his mother’s power of attorney, and neither was Jon or Victor, LaReaux said, adding that “soon” mother Margaret will have a court-appointed guardian.

LaReaux declined to go into specifics regarding why the judge ruled for an independent guardian rather than Jon and Victor handle Margarets affairs, other than saying that Hester felt it best to appoint someone outside the family.

Previously, Hester ruled that the press and public will be barred from the guardianship hearing because of the need to discuss health and financial information of Margaret Zavalidroga.

Related to the guardianship issue, is an ongoing criminal case that began in July, when Tomas was charged with reckless endangerment and making a false report to police, both misdemeanors; after he reported Margaret Zavalidroga, 83 missing.

Police say that Tomas knowingly led his mother into the woods and then made a missing persons report.

They both lived on Forward Road in Blossvale. Margaret was missing for almost three days, before being found partially clothed in a wooded area of Oneida by a search and rescue team.

Full Article & Source:
Zavalidroga stripped of power of attorney status for mother

See Also:
Judge closes Zavalidroga guardianship proceedings to public

Brothers Seek Control of Mother's Finances

Former Edmonson nursing home employees arraigned

Three former employees at Genesis HealthCare’s Edmonson Center nursing home pleaded not guilty Monday to several charges stemming from allegations of residential abuse.

Jerry Snyder, Kelly Duvall and Kayla Kinser will return to Edmonson Circuit Court on Dec. 15 following their arraignments.

Snyder, 30, of Leitchfield, is charged with 14 counts each of first-degree criminal abuse, knowingly abusing or neglecting an adult and fourth-degree assault, plus two counts of second-degree wanton endangerment.

Duvall, 49, of Sweeden, and Kinser, 22, of Leitchfield, each face charges of four counts of first-degree criminal abuse, knowingly abusing or neglecting an adult and fourth-degree assault, along with two counts of second-degree wanton endangerment.

The indictments against the one-time employees accuse them of abusing two women who reside at the nursing home between August 2013 and February.

Full Article & Source:
Former Edmonson nursing home employees arraigned

Bibb’s elder, disabled abuse unit a voice for the ‘silent victims’

In fall 2013, then-95-year-old Ella Mae Potts’ bank account was overdrawn, and there was no money to buy groceries or pay bills.

Her granddaughter, 50-year-old Martha Gail Baker, was her primary caregiver.

An investigation later showed that Baker had been forging some of Potts’ checks and forcing her to sign others to steal more than $1,685, according to police records.

Baker’s case is one of about two dozen routed through the Bibb County District Attorney’s Office’s Elder and Disabled Abuse Unit since the unit formed last year.

Prior to last May, the office had handled three elder abuse cases dating back to 2005, said Will Johnson, the prosecutor assigned to the new unit.

Adult Protective Services is Georgia’s agency that investigates abuse to people aged 65 and up or disabled people over 18 who don’t live in long-term care facilities.

The agency’s director, Barbara Pastirik, said Adult Protective Services’ partnership with prosecutors across the state is very important.

“We aspire not just to uncover the abuse and stop it from happening but also to hold people accountable,” she said. “It takes the team.”

District Attorney David Cooke established the special prosecuting unit in May 2013 after taking note of the referrals his office received relating to elder abuse and the increasing elderly population. He saw a need for a specialist.

Bibb County’s program is one of two in the state, Cooke said last week.

“As our population ages, protecting the elderly is one of the best things we can do to protect our families,” he said.

Johnson said Bibb County’s unit is patterned after the other unit in the state that’s located at the De- Kalb County District Attorney’s Office.

DeKalb’s unit was launched about five years ago after its leader, assistant district attorney Jeanne Canavan, prosecuted a group of telemarketers who called 10,000 seniors and tricked them into disclosing their Social Security and bank account numbers.

Listening to recordings of the calls, Canavan said it made her “blood boil.”

Her unit started with only two people but has grown to have three attorneys and support staff.

They’ve handled 157 cases, mostly involving financial exploitation or neglect. Physical abuse cases are handled by other prosecutors, Canavan said.

In Bibb County, all forms of abuse on an elderly or disabled person -- including physical abuse -- are handled by Johnson’s unit.

People found guilty can be sentenced to up to 20 years.

Punishments vary.

In Baker’s case, she was sentenced to 15 years on probation and to complete a residential substance abuse treatment center program after she pleaded guilty to one count of exploitation of an elder person, according to Bibb County Superior Court records.

Attempts to reach Baker were unsuccessful last week.

Johnson said his work on the unit has been rewarding, and it has made him more sensitive to how vulnerable some people can be.

In addition to prosecuting crimes, Johnson has become a clearinghouse for the elderly and disabled who don’t know who to call for information about food stamps, housing or other needs.

Sometimes people need help navigating the system, and “I can get them to people who can provide those services,” he said.

Johnson is part of a new Vulnerable Adult Justice Task Force launched Friday, which brings together representatives from Adult Protective Services, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, service providers, prosecutors and law enforcement to review how past cases were handled and how investigations and services provided can be improved.

Although the task force initially will only be reviewing Bibb County cases, Johnson said he hopes the group will expand to include Middle Georgia.

“Our elders and our disabled are our silent victims,” Johnson said.

Unlike crimes against children that get publicity, crimes against the elderly rarely are in the spotlight.

“I want to make sure that an elder or disabled person gets a voice and they get justice,” he said. “Just because you’re not a prominent victim doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to justice and to have a voice in the process.”

Full Article & Source:
Bibb’s elder, disabled abuse unit a voice for the ‘silent victims’

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Mother in Coma Heard Everything, Was Scared They’d Turn Off Her Life Support

Kate Allat suffered a stroke at the age of 39 and the mother spent 10 days in a coma afterwards. Now that she is past that frightful ordeal, Allat reveals in a new interview that she heard everything going on around her in her hospital room and she was fearful her life support would be turned off.

Kate Allat
Allat indicates that her mind was functioning normally during her coma but everyone around her thought she was brain-dead as she laid in her hospital bed paralyzed and unable to speak or breathe on her own. She listened in fright as medical staff discussed switching off her life support with her family.

It took two weeks before she was able to communicate with anyone, according to news reports.
LifeNews has focused on these kinds of cases before, where patients heard everything going on around them despite their comatose state. It’s another reason to oppose euthanasia and another reason why doctors and families should take their time before determining someone is “too far gone.”

“They thought I was in a vegetative state. I couldn’t move a muscle. There was no signal I was in there,” She said.

“I was on life support and they might have turned it off.”

“I couldn’t breathe for myself but I could hear conversations that I didn’t want to hear.”

Lucky for Kate, she made a full recovery, and she is urging people to remain aware of the syndrome and strokes.

She also discusses the embarrassment of being in the state.

“There were nurses that spoke over me. They lowered their expectations of me,” she told The Daily Mail.

“It’s fair to call me a control freak so to be in that situation is awful.”

“I’d be left on my shower seat for 20 minutes after a shower, naked.”
Full Article & Source:
Mother in Coma Heard Everything, Was Scared They’d Turn Off Her Life Support

Birmingham law firm employee bilked elderly clients out of $295,000 to fund lavish lifestyle, authorities say

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - A Jefferson County woman employed by a Birmingham law firm stole nearly $300,000 from clients deemed unable to oversee their own finances and used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, authorities said today.

Janice Davis
A grand jury this month indicted 36-year-old Janice Davis, of Minor, on 35 criminal charges. The U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force arrested Davis at her home Oct. 16. She was released the following day after posting $250,000 bond.

Jefferson County sheriff's Chief Deputy Randy Christian said the law firm of Hand Arendall LLC in July contacted the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office after noticing a discrepancy in the firm's Guardianship Department. The inquiry was handed over to the sheriff's office, which launched an investigation.

Davis, authorities said, was responsible for the disbursement of payments for the firm's attorney who had been appointed fiduciary by the Jefferson County Probate Court or the Veteran's Administration to assist clients who had been deemed unable to oversee their personal financial affairs.

Once the discrepancy was noticed, Christian said, Davis was fired from Hand Arendall. The investigation found almost $295,000 was misappropriated from 34 accounts the firm managed through manipulation of the payment system they had in place.

The theft took place over nearly three years. Authorities said Davis used the money to pay personal bills including a $66,000 credit card balance and she bought two Mercedes.

The case was presented to a Jefferson County grand jury this month. Davis was indicted on the following charges: 10 counts of elderly abuse/neglect, 12 counts of first-degree financial exploitation of an elderly person, eight counts of second-degree financial exploitation of an elderly person, four counts of third-degree of financial exploitation an elderly person, and one count of firs-degree theft of property.

Roger Bates, a managing partner at Hand Arendall, said none of the victims will suffer any financial loss, nor did they suffer any loss of services, medical treatment, care or housing. The firm also had launched additional layers of security to its Guardianship accounts.

Full Article & Source:
Birmingham law firm employee bilked elderly clients out of $295,000 to fund lavish lifestyle, authorities say

Man indicted for bilking elderly women out of thousands

A Dothan man has been indicted on charges he bilked thousands of dollars from two elderly women. A Geneva County grand jury recently found there is sufficient evidence against Willie N. Williams to take him to trial.

Williams, 50, is charged with financial exploitation of the elderly in connection with allegations he bilked two Geneva women out of more than $2,000 each. One alleged victim is her 80’s while the other is believed to be about 70.

Police say the crimes occurred in mid-June when Norris offered to perform tree trimming and other lawn work for the victims. He is accused of intimidating them into paying $2,700 in one case and $2,070 in the other.

Full Article & Source:
Man indicted for bilking elderly women out of thousands

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Attorney Ken Ditkowsky on Northshore "LIVE": Cooper's Corner

10-14-14 Ken Ditkowsky

Attorney Ditkowsky received a four-year suspension for advocating and speaking up against guardianship abuse, specifically the Mary Sykes case, in Cook County, IL.

See Also:
NASGA:  Mary Sykes, Illinois Victim

Northshore LIVE:  Cooper's Corner:  Ken Ditkowsky

Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspends Justice Seamus McCaffery

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday night suspended Justice Seamus McCaffery, who last week publicly apologized for forwarding sexually explicit emails to a state employee.

In its order, the court said it was suspending McCaffery with pay to "protect and preserve the integrity" of the state's judicial system and called on the independent Judicial Conduct Board to complete an investigation in 30 days.

The 4-1 decision, with two recusals, said McCaffery may have sought favors for his wife, who has been his chief legal clerk. Without elaborating, the court said McCaffery "may have attempted to exert influence" in judicial court appointments in his hometown of Philadelphia.

"More recently, Justice McCaffery has publicly accepted responsibility for exchanging hundreds of sexually explicit emails with a member or members of the office of attorney general," which surfaced during the attorney general's review of its handling of the Jerry Sandusky investigation, the court said in its order.

The court also cited a claim by Justice J. Michael Eakin that McCaffery on Thursday had "importuned him" to urge Chief Justice Ron Castille to retract his statements about the emails, or McCaffery would release emails embarrassing Eakin.

In a concurring opinion, Castille said, "It would be impossible for this court to function effectively while Justice McCaffery sits on this court."

McCaffery has referred to the email scandal as a "cooked-up controversy" that's part of a "vindictive pattern of attacks" on him by Castille. In his opinion Monday, Castille suggested that McCaffery displays "pathological symptoms [that] describe a sociopath" who blames others for his "transgressions."

Castille conducted his own inquiry into the emails after an Oct. 2 story in The Morning Call, which reported McCaffery had forwarded sexually explicit emails to a state worker who forwarded them to other state workers.

In its order Monday, the court relied on Castille's description of the 234 sexually explicit emails he reviewed from the attorney general's office as "highly demeaning portrayals of … women, elderly persons and uniformed school girls."

Full Article, Video & Source:
Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspends Justice Seamus McCaffery

Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Announces New Plan to Raise Awareness of Attorney Discipline

New Procedure Will Work to Ensure Public Knowledge of Misconduct

Harrisburg, Pa. – Demonstrating its commitment to safeguarding the public and the reputation of the legal profession, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania announces an initiative to make it easier for the public to determine when an attorney has received public discipline. Effective immediately, the Board is issuing a news release to media outlets in communities where an attorney does business when the attorney is disbarred or suspended by order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Although the Board has a longstanding practice of posting these notices on its website for the public and notifying newspapers of appropriate disciplinary actions, the notices typically appear only in the legal notices section of classified advertising. This latest effort is designed to broaden the reach of the disciplinary notices to boost public awareness of the actions.

The Disciplinary Board was created by the Supreme Court in 1972 to consider and investigate the conduct of any attorney admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania. Funded by annual assessments paid by attorneys licensed to practice in the Commonwealth, it assists the Supreme Court in all matters involving attorney licensing and discipline throughout the Commonwealth.

“As members of the Disciplinary Board, our duty is to assist the Supreme Court in protecting the public, preserving the integrity of the legal profession and safeguarding the reputation of our courts and the legal system,” said R. Burke McLemore, Jr., Chair of the Disciplinary Board. “By raising awareness of attorney discipline, we highlight our commitment to achieving these goals by demonstrating to the public how the profession is policing itself.”

The decision to focus additional efforts on raising public awareness of such actions was partly prompted by events earlier this year when a Dauphin County lawyer failed to notify his clients that he was forced to surrender his law license. Some of his clients claimed significant financial loss.

To stay up to date on the latest notices, the public also is encouraged to visit the Board’s website at Designed for easy viewing, the website enables users to search recent actions on attorneys, including Supreme Court orders detailing the actions and reasons under the Look Up – Supreme Court Actions tab.

About the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of PA

The Disciplinary Board's goals are to protect the general public, maintain a high standard of integrity in the legal profession, and safeguard the reputation of the courts of Pennsylvania. The Disciplinary Board was created by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to review conduct and assure compliance by all attorneys to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct. For more information about the Disciplinary Board, please visit

Full Article & Source:
Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Announces New Plan to Raise Awareness of Attorney Discipline

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Loose cannon fires away: Mary Rain blind to her own flaws as a prosecutor, public servant

As district attorney, Mary E. Rain has become an embarrassment and impediment to the criminal justice system in St. Lawrence County.

She refuses to accept instruction from anyone on points of law, even from individuals who are as well versed — if not more so — in the law as she is. Her quest for personal vindication has blinded her to the need for professionalism and respect as someone who holds a public trust.

In a ruling issued Thursday, County Judge Jerome J. Richards enumerated numerous mistakes that Ms. Rain committed in obtaining a grand jury indictment against Oral N. Hillary in the 2011 death of Garrett J. Phillips. But instead of accepting the chance to correct the criticisms by empaneling a new grand jury to consider a proper indictment of Mr. Hillary, Ms. Rain appealed the decision and castigated Judge Richards by claiming the judge has a personal bias against her and has sabotaged her work since July.

Full Article & Source:
Loose cannon fires away: Mary Rain blind to her own flaws as a prosecutor, public servant

Brain Cancer Will Likely Kill Me, But There’s No Way I’ll Kill Myself

Like Brittany Maynard, I have extremely aggressive brain cancer. But I’m not downing any kill pills.

Kara Tippetts and family
I’m not surprised that an Oct. 6, 2014 article by Nicole Weisensee Egan—titled “Terminally Ill 29-Year Old Woman: Why I’m Choosing to Die on My Own Terms” featuring a well-produced video found on—has gone viral.

The video, which features interviews of Brittany Maynard and her family members, is very emotional. Maynard, who was diagnosed this past spring, suffers from a stage-four gliobastoma multiforme brain tumor. She has a very aggressive form of brain cancer, and it is difficult to control its growth. In her video story, she describes how she was diagnosed and relates her understanding that the glioblastoma will eventually kill her. She then relates her fear that this scenario will be “out of her control.”

As I watched the video, I wanted to hug Brittany and shed tears right along with her because I, too, know those fears. I was also diagnosed this past spring with a stage-four glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor.

I can identify with Maynard and her spunky, adventurous spirit. She describes her love of travel. In my profession with The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod’s mercy outreach, I’ve led medical mission teams and worked on relief projects in 11 countries, loving every minute of it. I have seen the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick. I have seen suffering that would make anyone’s stomach turn.

The Hardest Part Is Not Knowing When

Now I face my own prognosis of future suffering. Some days are joyful. Some days the diagnosis feels like a huge weight in my backpack.
The hardest part of a terminal diagnosis is not knowing the timeline. I speak candidly with my physicians and pray that they can keep my tumor under control with the latest therapies to extend my life, one more year, month, day. Someday, I hope my tumor qualifies to be studied in one of the many clinical trials for brain cancer. I’d like to think my situation was part of a cure for someone else.

My doctors have applauded my decision to step down from my physically and emotionally demanding job to spend precious time with my family. I have a husband and three daughters who I hope will always remember me as a strong, thoughtful (but bull-headed) woman, carrying Christ’s mercy and compassion for others in my soul with rich joy and meaning.

Suicide Is Not the Answer to Brain Cancer

And here is where my comparison with Brittany Maynard ends. Maynard chose to move her family to Oregon earlier this year to have legal access to physician-assisted suicide and to receive a prescription for drugs that she has stated she will use to take her life two days following her husband’s birthday, on Nov. 1, 2014. It’s interesting that Maynard steadfastly refuses to refer to her decision as an act of suicide, even though she will, quite literally, take her own life.

Many people who choose assisted-suicide have expressed that they are uncomfortable with the term. Assisted suicide, which means helping someone take his or her own life, has been redefined into the more euphemistic “aid in dying” or sometimes “death with dignity” campaign which has been spearheaded by the well-funded special-interest group Compassion and Choices (previously known as The Hemlock Society).

However well-intentioned, this is one area where the old adage that “Hard cases make bad law” comes into play. To make good policy decisions about assisted suicide for our society, we need to follow the rabbit trail all the way down the hole to see where it leads. Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, warned that “assisted suicide is not progressive, in fact, it puts many vulnerable people at risk, and we have already seen examples of that where it is legal.” Folks concerned about the rights of people with disabilities are worried about this.

Full Article & Source:
Brain Cancer Will Likely Kill Me, But There’s No Way I’ll Kill Myself

Boxer Leon Spinks to Undergo Additional Surgery

Boxing legend Leon Spinks is set to undergo a third surgery after he was hospitalised earlier this month (Oct14) for undisclosed reasons. It has emerged the 61-year-old Olympic gold medal winner, who famously beat Muhammad Ali in 1978, is being treated for abdominal issues after accidentally swallowing a chicken bone, which became trapped in his intestines, according to He is reportedly conscious and recovering, but has to have another surgery.

Meanwhile, Spinks' attorney has dismissed claims from his ex-wife, Betty, alleging she has power of attorney and guardianship over him to make medical decisions. He tells, "(His current wife) Brenda and Leon have a power of attorney agreement. Betty's power of attorney was expressly revoked by Leon."

Full Article and Source:
Boxer Leon Spinks to Undergo Additional Surgery

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guardianship bill of rights developed

Ohio Attorney General’s information
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, State Senator Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) and State Representative Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) unveiled legislation to establish a ward’s bill of rights for those Ohioans who are under the care of a guardianship as well as introduced a new, user-friendly Guardianship Guide prepared by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Mike DeWine
“People placed in guardianships are especially vulnerable, and there is a great need for volunteers, family members, and attorneys to act on their behalf,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “My office created this guide to reduce confusion surrounding guardianships, so that individuals are better equipped to serve as guardians or protect relatives under guardianship.”

Copies of the Guardianship Guide are being mailed to Probate Courts across the state as well as to advocacy groups like the Ohio Area Agencies on Aging and Disability Rights Ohio.

The Guide was prepared by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office with input from: Disability Rights Ohio; the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities; the Ohio Department of Aging; Representative Dorothy Pelanda; Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift, and Julia Nack of the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.

Representative Pelanda has introduced House Bill 624 that seeks to enact section 2111.01 of the Ohio Revised Code to provide a ward’s bill of rights and to require that a guardian receive the Ohio Guardianship Guide prepared by the Ohio Attorney General.  The rights of the ward are listed on pages 12-14 in the Guide.

Senator Jones has introduced a companion bill, Senate Bill 365.

“This legislation and the Guide are meant to encourage best-practices and to raise awareness of the unique issues presented in caring for our juvenile and our elderly wards,” said Representative Pelanda.

“The recent allegations regarding widespread abuse in the guardianship system are serious and disturbing,” said Senator Jones. “This legislation is an important first step to ensure our most vulnerable Ohioan’s are treated with respect and dignity. I am grateful for the leadership of Attorney General DeWine and Representative Pelanda.”

For individuals who are not able to take care of their basic needs, finances, or medical issues, Ohio law gives probate courts the responsibility of assigning guardianship when less restrictive options are not feasible.   Currently in Ohio there are 65,000 people who are under the care of a guardian, and that number is expected to rise as the Baby Boom generation ages.

The Guide can be downloaded from the Ohio Attorney General’s website at

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship bill of rights developed

Elder Abuse: Study Finds Agencies Recruit Dangerous Caregivers

Be careful who you entrust to care for your parents. New research from Northwestern Medicine suggests that many nursing agencies recruit people with no experience to provide in-home care for seniors off Craigslist.

The study, published Friday in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, found that many agencies nationwide fail to conduct criminal background checks or drug testing for new hires and don't require any real experience or training, which may lead to elder abuse.

"People have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency," lead study author Lee Lindquist, M.D., said in a statement. "There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect. It's dangerous for the elderly patient who may be cognitively impaired."

Of the 180 agencies researchers surveyed in the study, 55 percent conducted a federal criminal background check and only one-third of those agencies interviewed administered drug tests.

"Considering that seniors often take pain medications, including narcotics, this is risky," Lindquist said. "Some of the paid caregivers may be illicit drug users and could easily use or steal the seniors' drugs to support their own habits."

Lindquist, a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, recalled a particular situation in which she witnessed dangerous caregiving first-hand. The caregiver of a 103-year-old patient was frequently mixing up her own medications with the patient's, giving her medicines to the elderly patient by mistake because she was illiterate.

"Some of the paid caregivers are so unqualified it's scary and really puts the senior at risk" for elder albuse, Lindquist said.

Full Article & Source:
Elder Abuse: Study Finds Agencies Recruit Dangerous Caregivers

Springfield man charged with exploiting the elderly

A Springfield man has been charged with 15 counts of financial exploitation of the elderly for what court documents call scams — such as saying he was selling magazines to benefit the military.

Tim W. Hughes, 25, is accused of scamming elderly people in door-to-door solicitations between October 2013 and January 2014, according to Greene County court documents. Most of the charges are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.

Hughes represented himself as a student or fundraiser who was raising money for school trips, sports or the military overseas, according to court documents. He allegedly got 16 people to write him checks.

Police interviewed him four times, starting in January, but he continued his scams until August, according to court records.

Full Article & Source:
Springfield man charged with exploiting the elderly

Monday, October 20, 2014

Inspector sees state action as retaliation

A state worker who inspects assisted-living facilities said his bosses placed him on paid administrative leave Tuesday in retaliation for speaking to the Globe and other media about the Patrick administration’s failure to investigate serious incidents at assisted-living centers.

Peter Antonellis, a compliance officer at the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, said he was handed a letter saying he is being investigated for multiple instances of “potentially inappropriate and unprofessional conduct.” He said he was asked to gather his personal belongings and leave the office.
Antonellis, 64, said that when he asked supervisors what conduct had triggered the action, he was not given details.

“What really makes my blood boil is my colleagues and I have been complaining for the last six years about this program and not once has the department gathered us in a room to address our complaints,” Antonellis said.

A Globe story last month quoted Antonellis about his concerns regarding the agency’s oversight of assisted-living facilities. He said that the office has just two ombudsmen to handle thousands of complaints that pour in each year involving assisted-living residences and that the agency did not have the staff to regulate the apartment-like facilities for older adults.

Full Article & Source:

39 Texas Lawyers Disciplined

Disciplinary Actions — September & October  2014 State Bar list (verbatim from the State Bar of Texas)

General questions regarding attorney discipline should be directed to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office, toll-free (877) 953-5535 or (512) 453-5535. The Board of Disciplinary Appeals may be reached at (512) 475-1578. Information and copies of actual orders are available at The State Commission on Judicial Conduct may be contacted toll-free, (877) 228-5750 or (512) 463-5533. Please note that persons disciplined by the Commission on Judicial Conduct are not necessarily licensed attorneys.


On April 9, 2014, Don D. Becker [#02012888], 60, of Houston, was disbarred. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in two separate matters Becker neglected the legal matters entrusted to him, failed to keep his clients reasonably informed about the status of their legal matters, failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, and upon termination of representation, failed to refund advance payments of fee that had not been earned. Becker also failed to timely furnish to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel responses or other information as required by the rules and failed to comply with section 13.01 of the rules relating to the notification of his cessation of practice. Becker violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.15(d), 8.04(a)(8), and 8.04(a)(10). He was ordered to pay $6,500.00 in restitution and $1,640.00 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses. Becker did not file an appeal.

On May 9, 2014, Joseph Campbell Schultz [#24041886], 37, of Bellaire, accepted a two-year partially probated suspension effective June 1, 2014, with the first six months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that, among four different matters, Schultz neglected a legal matter entrusted to him, failed to keep clients reasonably informed about the status of their legal matters, failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, failed to keep funds belonging to third parties in a trust account, and failed to promptly deliver to third parties funds that they were entitled to receive. Schultz violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.14(a), and 1.14(b). He was ordered to pay $2,475 in attorneys’ fees and $536.66 in direct expenses.

On June 6, 2014, Jeffrey Scott Barry [#24036193], 40, of Houston, accepted a two-year partially pro-bated suspension effective June 13, 2014, with the first year actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in representing his client, Barry neglected the legal matter entrusted to him, failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the case and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, and failed to explain the legal matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit his client to make informed decisions regarding the representation. Upon termination of representation, Barry failed to refund advance payments of fee that had not been earned and also violated a prior disciplinary judgment. Barry violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.03(b), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(7). He was ordered to pay $3,150 in restitution, $250 in attorneys’ fees, and $70 in direct expenses.

On June 4, 2014, Timothy Wayne Weltin [#24008260], 48, of Houston, agreed to an 18-month fully probated suspension effective June 1, 2014. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in representing his client, Weltin neglected the legal matter entrusted to him, failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of his legal matter and failed to comply with reasonable requests for information, failed to hold funds belonging to his client that were in Weltin’s possession separate from his own property, and failed to promptly deliver to his client funds that the client was entitled to receive. Weltin violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.14(a), and 1.14(b). He was ordered to pay $500 in attorneys’ fees.

To continue reading, click here.

Full Article & Source:
39 Texas Lawyers Disciplined

The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt. ~ Frederick Buechner

*Please make the call and volunteer to visit the lonely and forgotten elderly. They need our love so desperately.

     The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly

The Forgotten Ones:  Compassion for the Elderly

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fired probate court administrator's lawsuit can continue in circuit court

The estate of the fired administrator of Macomb County Probate Court can continue its Whistleblower Protection Act claims against the court and two judges, the state Court of Appeals ruled this week.

The Court of Appeals reversed a Macomb County judge by saying that enough “disputed questions of facts exist” to debate whether the late Donald Housey was fired in retaliation for complaining about a judge and a guardianship services law firm.

Judge Mark Switalski
Housey was let go in January 2010 by then Chief Judge Mark Switalski, who contends he had the authority to fire Housey for any reason. “Coach’s decision,” he said.

Housey sued Switalski, Probate Judge Kathryn George, Macomb County Probate Court and Macomb County three times in two courts.

The federal case has been dismissed, but the two Macomb Circuit Court cases remain in regards to the WPA claim.

This week’s ruling mirrored and was based upon an April opinion by a different panel in the same court that a lawsuit can continue against only Probate Court for the WPA claim. The recent ruling also dismissed the wrongful dismissal claim.

The defendant filed an application to appeal to the state Supreme Court. That has not yet been ruled upon.

Kathleen Bogas, attorney for Housey’s estate, which is represented by his son, Mitchell, said she was pleased with the ruling.

“That (WPA) has always been the strongest part of our case,” she said.

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Fired probate court administrator's lawsuit can continue in circuit court

Fleecing Grandma and Grandpa: Protecting Against Scams, Cons, and Frauds

Falling for a scam or con is humiliating for anyone, and can have terrible consequences. But for the elderly, being the victim of fraud can be disastrous, and they are the most common and vulnerable targets of everyday scams, cons, and frauds. From identity theft to gambling scams, from power of attorney issues to pyramid schemes, there is no dearth of creativity in the ways some criminals will relieve the elderly from their money and their homes. Here, Alt and Wells describe the most common scams, offer the stories of actual victims, and detail ways to protect yourself and your family from becoming easy targets.

What makes the elderly such easy marks for con artists? How can they avoid the common traps? Knowing about them is one place to start, and this book helps readers to understand and identify the most common scams perpetrated against the elderly. Because such cons are so hard to prosecute, it is important to know the methods criminals employ to separate innocents from their hard-earned money. This lively, vivid account of one of the most insidious forms of crime will help families and individuals protect themselves and their loved ones from the machinations of those who view them as easy marks.

Available through Amazon

Amanda Bynes’ Conservatorship: One Year Of Confinement & Medication

Amanda Bynes’ conservatorship allows for the troubled star to remain confined and medicated for up to a year, according to sources. Bynes was put under a 5150 psychiatric hold on Friday after her parents utilized the help of former Britney Spears confidante Sam Lutfi. He deceived her into thinking that she would be meeting up with her attorney in order to file a lawsuit against her parents, but she was actually taken to a mental health facility where she was placed under an involuntary hold.

The hold was originally set for 72 hours, but it was extended to two weeks. In that time, her parents were looking to get a conservatorship over her, but her doctors may have beaten them to the punch. Her doctors are in the process of getting an LPS Hold, which is basically committing her to the facility in order to administer medications.

Doctors plan on securing the LPS Hold when Bynes is fully diagnosed within the next week. The Hold will allow her doctors to give her medications against her will, whereas under a normal conservatorship, her parents wouldn’t have been able to do so — or confine her.
The LPS Hold is far more stringent than what her parents could get. The parents could not legally force meds on Amanda nor could they effectively restrain her. We’re told Amanda literally hates her parents now after they tricked her into coming to the mental hospital.
You may recall … doctors got an LPS Hold on Amanda a little more than a year ago after she went off the rails … ending with lighting a driveway on fire and dousing her dog with gasoline. That LPS Hold expired last month.
Things had gotten so bad for Bynes that she allegedly shoplifted while talking to herself, threatened to sue a magazine of which she’d given an interview, called her dad a child molester and then backtracked and had been placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold.

Full Article & Source:
Amanda Bynes’ Conservatorship: One Year Of Confinement & Medication