Saturday, November 8, 2014

Kane's office begins punishing workers in porn email scandal: report

A Pittsburgh newspaper is reporting that Attorney General Kathleen Kane has begun punishing some of the reported 30 current employees implicated in a pornography-sharing ring under her predecessors.

The offensive emails were unearthed earlier this year, as part of Kane's review of her predecessor's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The resulting shock waves have already forced a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, a Corbett Administration cabinet secretary, and a member of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to leave their jobs.

The latter two were former OAG staffers.

Kane has pledged to take disciplinary action against any current staffer shown to have been involved in friend-to-friend porn email exchanges, though her office has said it will only comment on that process when it is complete.

Full Article & Source:
Kane's office begins punishing workers in porn email scandal: report

See Also:
Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspends Justice Seamus McCaffery

Judicial board to review McCaffery e-mails complaint

Porn Email Claims Could Trigger Discipline For Pa. Justice

Lorain attorney faces possible disciplinary action

LORAIN — Former Lorain Law Director Mark Provenza is facing potential sanctions from the Ohio Supreme Court’s disciplinary arm for allegedly failing to provide legal services for two of his clients and then refusing to cooperate with the investigation into allegations against him.

According to a certified complaint filed by the Lorain County Bar Association with the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline last week, Provenza neglected his responsibilities to the two clients earlier this year.

In one instance Provenza is accused of taking $800 from Robin Maxwell-Smith to file a divorce for her and then not doing any of the work.

Maxwell-Smith paid Provenza $300 on Dec. 27, 2013, for the divorce paperwork to be filed. That money should have been deposited in Provenza’s trust account, where lawyers are supposed to keep money from clients while cases are pending, but that never happened, the complaint said.

Over the next few months, Maxwell-Smith made several attempts to contact Provenza, but never had any meaningful communication with him, although she did pay him another $500 on Feb. 20. That money also wasn’t put into the trust account.

Provenza told Maxwell-Smith to meet him in court March 31, but that day he ignored text messages from her and only talked to her when she had him paged by court staff at the Lorain County Justice Center.

Provenza then told her “that he had not filed any divorce pleadings on her behalf and had forgotten he told her to appear in court for a hearing,” the complaint said.

He also didn’t return the money Maxwell-Smith paid him after she demanded a refund in April, according to the complaint.

Full Article & Source:
Lorain attorney faces possible disciplinary action

Dying In America: Care Should Be Kinder

Editor's note: This article is part of a year-long project about aging well, planning for the changes aging brings and shaping how society thinks about aging. 

Last week’s release of the Dying in America Report adds to the discussion those of us in the field have been having for years. Its 507 pages clearly demonstrate that our country's system of delivering care to the elderly is badly broken.

The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report is especially timely as the number of those suffering from “some combination of frailty, physical and cognitive disabilities, chronic illness and functional limitations,” grows.

We need more care that puts these patients — no matter their wealth or cultural background — at the center of care.

(MORE: Help Parents Avoid Unwanted Medical Treatment)

Another key point the report makes is that we need to understand how care needs have changed and why Medicare should support long-term care.

To paraphrase Hamlet, the health care system is out of joint. It simply has not kept up with the change in disease patterns. We have built the equivalent of a medical Maginot Line. Just as the French built fortifications to refight World War I only to have them totally circumvented by armored columns, we remain geared up to fight against acute disease in an era dominated by chronic illness.

The Dying In America report's finding that we spend large amounts on ineffective (and often dangerous) care at the end of life is but one symptom of this much larger problem.

Full Article & Source:
Dying In America: Care Should Be Kinder

Friday, November 7, 2014

Linda Kincaid Reports: Elder abuse in California conservatorships: Conference discusses exploitation

The 2014 Southwest Conference on Disability discussed elder abuse of conservatees by unethical conservators. Discussions focused on unlawful imprisonment and forced isolation of vulnerable elders with large estates. 

Conservators have access to their victims’ estates to pay themselves and service providers of their choice. Social services agencies are unwilling or unable to respond effectively. Law enforcement often considers elder abuse to be a civil matter. Courts provide minimal oversight of conservatorships.

Historical cases included:
  • San Bernardino County – Carol Hahn was imprisoned and isolated for 15 months
  • Santa Clara County – Gisela Riordan was imprisoned and isolated for 2 years
Current cases included:
  • Alameda County – Elinor Frerichs has been imprisoned and isolated since summer 2012
  • Monterey County – Margarita Zelada has been imprisoned and isolated since March 2013
Unlawful imprisonment and forced isolation of dependent adults follows a similar pattern. In Santa Clara County, two families allege that loved ones under the control of San Andreas Regional Center are similarly imprisoned and isolated. 

Full Article & Source:
Elder abuse in California conservatorships: Conference discusses exploitation

Elder Abuse Task Force formed in York County

A new task force will fight the abuse of elderly people in York County. York County District Attorney Tom Kearney and the York County Area Agency on Aging made the announcement Wednesday at the weekly county commissioners’ meeting.

Over the last three years, York County has seen a 28% increase in elderly abuse reports. With 96,000 people over the age of 60 in York County, there are a lot of potential victims.

“It’s a shame that we prey on those among community who are weak,” said Kearney. Members of his office will serve on the task force. “It’s a shame that we prey on those among community who are weak, but we do, and that’s something that we in the District Attorney’s office and the Area Agency on Aging needs to address. This allows us to coordinate our resources and ensure that those prosecutions are done well,” said Kearney.

The goal of the task force is to better coordinate and prosecute elder abuse cases.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in financial exploitation,” said York County Area Agency on Aging Director, Dianna Benaknin. She has worked for the agency for 30 years. She has seen abuse at the hands of family members, caregivers, and even scammers. While abuse can be physical or emotional, she says the most common is financial. “We have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars dry up in a short amount of time,” said Benaknin.

Kearney highlighted a recent case where a woman’s great-niece, and power-of-attorney, stole $300,000 from her over four years.

“Elder abuse is part of a vulnerable population, like children. But, unlike children, they have usually have resources, and those resources become the subject of exploitation,” said Kearney.

The hope is that more attention to the issue will prompt more people to call and report suspected abuse. “My concern is that there is still so many people out there that are victims of some type of abuse that we never hear about,” said Benaknin.

The first Elder Abuse Task Force meeting will be Wednesday November 12, 2014.

For more information on the Elder Abuse Task Force click here.

Full Article & Source:
Elder Abuse Task Force formed in York County

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Attorney pleads guilty to bilking elderly clients

An elder-law attorney pleaded guilty Monday to stealing millions from clients in their 80s and 90s she was supposed to be helping.

Barbara Lieberman, 62, admitted manipulating clients’ accounts to put co-conspirators in charge of the finances, then having unauthorized checks written from those accounts. She pleaded guilty to one first-degree count of money laundering, which carries as much as 20 years in prison.

Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend a 10-year term with 3½ years of parole ineligibility. She also agreed to forfeit $3 million seized by the government.

The deal did not sit well with Barbara Martin, whose dogged insistence that her aunt was a victim of Lieberman was credited by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew with helping spark the case.

“It’s an inappropriate deal. It’s a disgusting deal. It’s a joke,” Martin said when told of the terms. “Barbara Lieberman is a serial thief who betrayed her oath to uphold the law.”

Martin’s aunt, Helen Hugo, was one of many who had Lieberman as a court-appointed guardian in Atlantic County. There have been no charges in connection with Lieberman’s work in that capacity.

In March, county Surrogate Jim Curcio said “a comprehensive review of all the files in this office is underway, and appropriate Superior Court action is going to be taken.”

Nothing more has been released on that.

Full Article & Source: 
Attorney pleads guilty to bilking elderly clients

Pill addiction blamed in Jonesborough woman's admittance of stealing from elderly ward

Jama Curtis
An addiction to prescription pain pills is what led a Jonesborough woman to steal more than $80,000 from an elderly man she helped take care of, she told a Washington County Criminal Court judge Monday.

In the process of entering a guilty plea to the charge of willful exploitation of an elderly adult, Jama Curtis, 40, 1412 Mill Springs Road, said her husband had nothing to do with taking the money and he had no knowledge she was doing it.

Tony Curtis had also been charged along with his wife, but part of her plea agreement included the charges against him being dismissed by Assistant District Attorney General Erin McArdle.

Judge Lisa Rice told Jama Curtis she should be happy her attorney, Don Spurrell, worked out the plea and sentence because if it had been left up to the judge, Curtis would face a harsher outcome.

The agreement called for two other charges — theft over $60,000 and theft over $10,000 — being dismissed. Curtis was sentenced to four years in prison, which was reduced to probation. She must serve a total of 120 days in jail, but that will come in 30-day blocks for each of the years she’s on probation.

Rice ordered that first jail stint to begin Nov. 30.

“That will give her Thanksgiving with her family, but she will be in jail over Christmas,” Rice said. “Don’t ask me to reconsider.”

Full Article & Source:
Pill addiction blamed in Jonesborough woman's admittance of stealing from elderly ward

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Seattle woman: 'Guardianship system stole my mother'

(Click picture to watch video)

From her earliest days, Dorothy Haskell of Spokane lived life her way.

"My mother was very strong willed, independent and opinionated," said her daughter, Lori Haskell.

After getting married and raising two kids in Spokane, Dorothy Haskell had no intention of leaving the house that she and her husband built, even after he died in 1984, according to Lori.

"This house was her pride and joy, she did not want to leave it. She loved this little house, she really did," Lori said.

Neighbors agree that Dorothy was a force to be reckoned with.

"Always jokingly thought in my mind that she would have to be drug kicking and screaming from her house because she was very independent and liked where she lived," said Janet Sanders, who lived next to Dorothy Haskell for more than 20 years.

But when Dorothy reached her mid-80s, her physical and mental health were declining. Lori said she wanted to move her mother into assisted living in Spokane, or to Seattle where Lori runs her own law practice.

"I brought it up to her several times, she would not discuss it."

Lori says when she drove her mother to an assisted living facility in Spokane just to take a look, Dorothy refused to get out of the car.

Legally, Lori couldn't force her mother move--not unless she were declared totally incompetent. Lori says she and her mother's doctor felt that Dorothy should be evaluated.

The experts determined that Dorothy was still legally competent, a decision that Lori says left her in a difficult position.

"If my mother won't move and she is still legally competent I have no authority to move her," she said.

Lori continued to travel back and forth between Seattle and Spokane. There were happy visits for birthdays and holidays, but Lori says there were clashes when Dorothy fired people Lori had hired to help.

Oddly enough, it would be Dorothy's dog "Duffy" that set in motion the events that would change everything. After a visit to a Spokane veterinary clinic, the veterinarian's wife, Kathryn Rush, struck up a friendship with Dorothy.

"She told me that she liked elderly people and she wanted to work with my mother and she had been checking in on her. And it was not a formal situation, she was kind of doing the 'good Samaritan' thing," Lori said.

Full Article, Video & Source:
Seattle woman: 'Guardianship system stole my mother'

A father’s scars: For Va.’s Creigh Deeds, tragedy brings unending questions

Creigh Deeds (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

HE WAKES UP, and even before he opens his eyes, he can see his beautiful, delusional son.

Gus, Creigh Deeds thinks.

He lies in bed a few minutes more, trying to conjure specific images. Gus dancing. Gus playing the banjo. Gus with the puppies. Any images of Gus other than the final ones he has of his 24-year-old, mentally ill son attacking him and then walking away to kill himself, images that intrude on his days and nights along with the questions that he will begin asking himself soon, but not yet. A few minutes more. Gus fishing. Gus looking at him. Gus smiling at him. Time to start the day.

He gets out of bed, where a piece of the shotgun he had taken apart in those last days of his son’s life is still hidden under the mattress. He goes outside to feed the animals, first the chickens in the yard and then the horses in the red-sided barn. He leads the blind thoroughbred outside with a bucket of feed, the same bucket he was holding when he saw Gus walking toward him — “Morning, Bud,” he said; “Morning,” Gus said, and began stabbing him — and then he goes back inside.

Breakfast, shower, shave, mirror. Almost a year. He is 56 now. He looks at the scars across his face, around his ear, along his upper chest and right arm. He gets dressed and goes outside to his truck, and there’s the fence that he somehow managed to climb even though he was bleeding, and there’s the field he staggered across to a rutted road where he was found.

This is how most days begin for Creigh Deeds, a father who had a son with mental illness, who struggled to understand him, tried to get help for him, and was ultimately left alone to deal with him, and who now looks over at the barn where he had so suddenly dropped the feed bucket.

To continue reading click here.

Full Article & Source:
A father’s scars: For Va.’s Creigh Deeds, tragedy brings unending questions

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Restrictions Sought On Guardians Of Elderly

Calls for tighter controls on elder guardians pervaded the seminars and hallways of the American Bar Association’s National Aging and Law Conference Thursday and Friday.

“Powers of attorney are so widely abused it is like writing a check with no one looking over,” said Charles Sabatino, director of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging.

Sabatino argued that there should be a third party—perhaps a family member—watching over a guardian’s activities. Documents should mandate such controls, he added, citing as one example a requirement that a second signature be necessary when a guardian conducts a transaction on behalf of an elderly client over a certain amount of money, say $10,000.

Guardians should also be required to send the third party an annual financial report.

“There are a lot of creative things that can be done,” he said.

Lawyers who draft estate planning documents should be trained to spot senior fraud and be aware of potential pitfalls that could lead to elder abuse, Sabatino added.

Courts usually require a doctor to determine whether individuals have lost his their ability to think clearly before agreeing to impose a guardian and strip them of the rights to manage their financial affairs.

But most doctors lack the training to diagnose if a person is mentally disabled, cautioned Susan Cassidy, a Florida attorney with wealthy clients and the former medical director of the NFL Player Benefit Plan.

“Unless you have fundamentally lost it, you should be allowed to make decisions about your life and have your personal liberties respected, said Cassidy.

The American Bar Association is developing materials for lawyers to promote the righting of the least restrictive powers of attorney for clients, said Lori Stiegel, senior attorney for the ABA’s Commission on Law and Aging.

Full Article & Source:
Restrictions Sought On Guardians Of Elderly

Deceased attorney under investigation over missing money

Nov. 02--WATERLOO -- An attorney at a prominent Waterloo firm who died in September is at the center of a probe over missing money, according to court records.

Last week, a Waverly family filed a claim against David Alan Roth's estate, seeking more than $64,000 he allegedly pocketed after promising to invest proceeds from a life insurance policy following a fatal accident.

"If the allegations are true, it's a tragedy," said attorney Thomas Houser, who is handling Roth's estate. "I don't have any basis to know if those allegations are accurate. We are just in the infancy of the administration of the estate."

Officials at the firm where Roth practiced, Gallagher, Langlas and Gallagher, declined to comment.

"I can't really talk about that," Edward "E.J." Gallagher III said. He said the firm has legal counsel in the matter.

Attorney David Engelbrecht, who is representing the Schneider family of Waverly, couldn't be reached for comment.

Roth, 51, had been with Gallagher, Langlas and Gallagher since 1992, a year after finishing law school at Drake. He became the registering agent for the law firm in February 2004, and at the time of his death was the firm's president and secretary, according to filings with the Iowa Secretary of State. He handled family law as well as personal injury, criminal and insurance cases, according to the group's website.

On the afternoon of Sept. 22, Roth sent a text message to a friend indicating he was going to do something to himself, and he was found later that day at his Hudson home, according to his death certificate. His death was ruled suicide by hanging, which the medical examiner said was a consequence of depression.

His death came about a month after he allegedly took money from the family of Adam Schneider, according to a claim Engelbrecht submitted in Roth's estate.

The claim alleges fraud and malpractice on the part of Roth.

"Decedent (Roth) simply stole the funds from claimant for his own personal use," the claim states.

Schneider, 26, and his father, Rick, 49, operated a family milling business in Waverly. Both men died in March 2013 when they were overcome by high level of carbon monoxide inside a grain bin where a small fire had been smoldering.

Full Article & Source:
Deceased attorney under investigation over missing money

TX: A Road Map to Guardianship Alternatives

Texas guardianship proceedings can be intrusive, burdensome and costly. Practitioners should be aware of the many alternatives to guardianship that are available to Texas residents. This guide provides an overview of those alternatives, including specific forms that can be used to avoid a court-supervised administration of affairs.

A Road Map to Guardianship Alternatives, previously published as Contingency Planning, is intended to support practitioners in every area by providing knowledgeable and cost-effective legal support to families making plans for financial and medical care. This useful handbook has been expanded and updated to reflect legislative changes that have occurred since the previous publication.

A Road Map to Guardianship Alternatives

Monday, November 3, 2014

Metro Could Be on Hook for Money Stolen from Estate

By Walter F. Roche, Jr.
The attorney for an estate bilked out of $771,009 is asking a judge to rule that Metro government should be held liable for those losses because the probate court clerk's office failed to perform its statutorily mandated duty to monitor the case.

The argument filed this week in a 17-page document filed in circuit court concludes that the Probate Clerk's office headed by Robert Bradshaw negligently failed to require the now jailed administrator of the estate to file annual reports for a full decade.

The suit against Metro government follows the guilty plea by attorney John E. Clemmons to charges that he stole over $1 million from estates and conservatorships he had been assigned to manage. The pleas included the estate of William C. Link, the subject of this week's filings.

Metro attorneys already have filed motions to dismiss the case citing governmental immunity and quasi-judicial immunity.

Patrick B. Mason, who was hired to represent the estate in the civil suit, argued that neither governmental immunity or quasi-judicial immunity should apply in the case because the probate clerk's duties are set out by specific statutes and the duties were put in place to protect a specific individual and not the general public.

Clemmons, who is serving a 16 year jail sentence imposed after his guilty pleas, was appointed administrator of the Link estate in 2003. While he filed an annual accounting in 2004, he never filed another before his removal from the case in 2013.

In a nearly identical brief filed this week, Mason argued that Metro also should also be held liable in another case handled by Clemmons, the conservatorship of Donald E. Griggs.

In his briefs Mason charged that Bradshaw's office "negligently failed to ensure that proper accountings were filed."

In the Griggs case, according to the brief, three years had passed without a proper accounting at the time Clemmons was removed from his role as conservator. Grigg's lost $172,506 while Clemmons served as his conservator, according to court records.

Mason noted that the clerk's office knew the Link and Griggs estates had substantial assets and they also knew "the substantial and unjustifiable risk of their misconduct."

He also cited Davidson County rules of procedure and several prior court cases to bolster the argument.

In fact, the brief argues, the clerk's office owed a special duty of care to the Link estate and its beneficiaries.

"For a period of 10 years the probate clerk's office failed to follow their duty to ensure proper accounting, failed to monitor estate administration, failed to cite Mr. Clemmons for his failure and failed to obtain a contempt order," the filing states.

The inaction, Mason concluded, amount to "reckless conduct."

The cases were originally assigned to Judge Thomas Brothers but he recused himself from the case and it has been reassigned to Senior Judge Ben H. Cantrell.

Clemmons was removed from his role in four cases in Rutherford and Davidson counties shortly after his license to practice law was suspended in April 2013. He was later disbarred.

Full Article & Source:
Metro Could Be on Hook for Money Stolen from Estate

See Also:
Metro Pulled in to Another Conservatorship Case

Nashville lawyer admits to stealing $1.3 million, gets 18 years in prison

How to put order back in Pa. courts

Recent revelations of pornographic e-mails, name-calling in the media, allegations of criminal and ethical misconduct, and amateur psychological diagnoses have done nothing but tarnish the commonwealth's justice system.

It's disheartening to see this kind of behavior coming from the Supreme Court. Every justice should be working to reassure Pennsylvanians that they can come to court and be heard by qualified, fair, and impartial judges. Just the appearance of impropriety or misbehavior can be devastating to people's confidence in the judiciary, even if no legal wrongdoing has occurred.

And the last few weeks are the tip of the iceberg. The last decade has seen a series of embarrassing court scandals: Luzerne County's Kids-for-Cash, the conviction of former Justice Joan Orie Melvin for campaign corruption, administrative missteps in the process of building the much-needed new Philadelphia Family Court, Philadelphia Traffic Court judges facing federal charges of ticket-fixing and favoritism. And now this.

When is enough enough?

Because they sit in judgment of others and make decisions that affect every part of our lives, judges must be held to the highest possible standard. The court system must maintain the confidence of the people it serves. Pennsylvanians deserve judges they can trust to exercise good judgment both professionally and personally.

So where do we go from here? We have suggestions for the stakeholders.

The state's Judicial Conduct Board. It must move quickly, thoroughly, and as transparently as possible to investigate the serious allegations against Justice Seamus McCaffery. If appropriate, the board should file charges in the Court of Judicial Discipline without delay. If the board needs additional resources, they should be provided quickly and without strings. Anyone who is asked to provide information to the board, including judges, should comply without hesitation. We can't move forward until we know the truth.

Full Article & Source:
How to put order back in Pa. courts

Colorado’s judicial discipline agency budget mostly secret

Since its inception nearly 50 years ago, the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline has only made three disciplinary cases against judges public, and the director told that even the commission’s budget is a state secret.

Colorado, whose judicial discipline secrecy is enshrined in the state constitution, is one of only a handful of states where the fact-finding hearing after formal charges isn’t public, records from the American Judicature Society show. In the three times the information was released in Colorado there was a formal hearing scheduled before the state Supreme Court.

CCJD Executive Director William Campbell, who noted he increased transparency since taking over about six years ago, said the process works fine and sees no reason to change it.

“When there’s a problem, we address it,” he said. “Nothing is getting shuffled under the rug.”

But Cynthia Gray, director of the Center for Judicial Ethics, said judges should face a similar system as when there are criminal complaints against average people.

“That’s how the court system works,” she said. “The grand jury proceedings are confidential, but when an indictment is filed it is public.”

Photo by Arthur Kane
Campbell said Colorado doesn’t have the same problems as places that elect their judges and has a State Commission on Judicial Performance that recommends whether voters should retain the appointed judges.

He also said there have been between 20 and 30 cases in the commission’s history that would have become public, but the judges resigned or retired before the cases made it to the state Supreme Court. There have also been about 300 private disciplinary actions since 1967 when the CCJD started its work, Campbell wrote in an email.

“People who complain about a judge will be more comfortable if their names are not public,” he said. “They don’t want to be in the news. And people might not want to be judges if complaints are public.”

Gray said a public hearing helps protect the accused judge and society.

“It’s a protection for the judge involved so he can defend himself in public and for the public to make sure the work is being done properly,” she said.

Only 15 states and the District of Columbia make formal action public only if a court orders or recommends public discipline, AJS records show. The other states make formal charges against a judge public or have open hearings on those allegations.

Campbell said two Colorado judges were publicly disciplined in the 1980s and last year the state Supreme Court publicly censured Larimer County Judge Robert A. Rand. He resigned before the formal Supreme Court hearing.

Campbell said Rand made “racy” comments that left people in his court — particularly women — uncomfortable, met privately with people before his court without the competing side present and used state resources for his personal antique car business.

The CCJD’s annual reports show that the public never finds out about the details of dozens of sometimes significant complaints. Last year, the commission received 189 complaints, similar numbers to previous years. Campbell dismissed 170 of those because they didn’t meet the guidelines of what the commission investigates and the commission dismissed all but 10 of the rest as unfounded or under the jurisdiction of appellate courts.

Of the remaining complaints, one judge was put on diversionary education for docket management, one complaint was solved when the judge retired, one — apparently Rand — was put into formal proceeding and two judges received private discipline. Five cases were carried over to 2014, according to the CCJD’s annual report.

Campbell said the private discipline is often about relatively minor issues like docket management or when a judge says something in court he or she shouldn’t have.

“I think it’s working pretty well,” he said. “The kinds of things we run into here are not typically as serious as states with elected judges.”

One of the two private disciplinary measures detailed in the 2013 annual report was a reprimand against a judge who didn’t recuse himself or notify litigants in cases involving a company where the judge’s brother was employed as a top executive. The CCJD only investigated when the issue was highlighted by a media report.

Full Article & Source:
Colorado’s judicial discipline agency budget mostly secret

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Couple allegedly robbed by caretaker: “It’s like somebody taking a knife and stabbing you in the back”

Yorktown, Va. – Trust. It’s what 92-year-olds Ruth and Edward Martin say lost them nearly $14,000.

“I always trusted her. I really did. We had no reason not to trust her; she came across so sincere, but it was all not true ,” the couple told NewsChannel 3.

They’re talking about their previous caretaker, Michelle Conley.

The couple hired her privately after a recommendation from Edward’s friend. For a year, the Martins treated her like family. They loved her.

“It’s so hard when you see a friend that would do what she did to me. I couldn’t believe it.”

Court documents say Conley used Ruth’s credit card to make dozens of charges on just about everything including, hotels, concert tickets, bills, zumba classes and more.

“When the bank statements came in, we never got them because she was at this end here in a position to intercept them.”

It didn’t end there. Court papers say Conley cashed multiple checks from Edward.

Full Article & Source:
Couple allegedly robbed by caretaker: “It’s like somebody taking a knife and stabbing you in the back”

Wyden supports legislation that would add elder abuse investigators

US Sen. Ron Wyden
PORTLAND — During a Friday speech, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden threw his support behind plans to save a stalled piece of federal legislation that could give states $100 million to hire new elder abuse investigators at a time when their caseload is at an all-time high.

“It’s clear right now the U.S. Congress is having problems ordering a Coca-Cola,” Wyden, D-Ore., said as he addressed the National Adult Protective Services’ Fifth Annual Elder Abuse Summit in Portland. “But we can pull out all the stops and get that done.” 

First drafted in 2002, the Elder Justice Act provides federal funding to state adult protective services programs that protect vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities and often serve on the front lines in the war on elder abuse. 

The current version of the law — which provides $100 million of support to the country’s adult protective services programs — was attached to the Affordable Care Act and became law when President Barack Obama signed that package of health care reforms in March 2010. 

“Despite the fact this law passed four years ago, there has not been a single penny allocated to (hiring new investigators),” said Bill Benson, the national policy adviser for the National Adult Protective Services Association , explaining a “terrible climate in Washington” has kept the act from being funded and could lead to its disappearance altogether.

The need
According to a recent report, Oregon’s 160 adult protective services investigators received 28,449 “calls of concern” reporting a suspected case of elder abuse in 2013. They substantiated, or found enough evidence to prove abuse occurred, 4,221 of these cases last year.

This number of substantiated cases — which includes 152 substantiated cases of elder abuse in Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties — represents a 36 percent increase from the number of substantiated cases the agency handled in 2012. Central Oregon saw a 30 percent increase in its substantiated cases of elder abuse between 2012 and 2013, according to the report.

“Most of our cases are getting more and more complex and we know our caseloads are only going to get bigger,” said Marie Cervantes, director of Oregon’s Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations.

The report also found the state’s total number of substantiated financial exploitation or financial abuse cases increased by 31 percent between 2010 and 2013 

Cervantes said these cases — which make up 25 to 40 percent of her agency’s caseload each year — can sometimes take two to three weeks longer than the typical elder abuse case to investigate because they involve complicated financial transactions and gathering evidence from many banks and lending institutions. 

A typical elder abuse case takes 30 to 45 days from start to finish, she added, explaining her investigators often spend two or three days just building up a trusting relationship with an alleged victim that allows them to move forward with a case.

Full Article & Source:
Wyden supports legislation that would add elder abuse investigators

How Neurologic Conditions Affect Planning

To best address current and future client needs, practitioners must understand the incidence and nature of the challenges that aging and disease can create. Many practitioners plan under the misconceptions that: (1) physical disability means a client who’s wheelchair-bound, and (2) cognitive issues are typified by a client lacking any decision-making capacity (that is, a black and white paradigm). Thus, many plans trigger springing durable POAs when a client is “disabled.” In reality, only about 7 percent of those with disabilities use a walking aid (wheelchair or otherwise), and there are myriad shades of gray between being competent and completely lacking any decision-making capacity. Further, disabilities often aren’t suddenly present at a certain point in time, but wax and wane during the progression of a disease, and even during the course of a day, as the effects of medications may vary. So, many clients may prefer a more refined or tailored trigger mechanism. Brain disease, in particular, presents a wide range of symptoms and planning challenges that affect a surprisingly large number of clients.

As the importance of planning to minimize estate tax has waned and the population continues to age, both the incidence and relative importance of planning for clients’ brain disease or brain injury will increase substantially. 

Not only should legal documents be tailored to address a client’s specific challenges, but also the planning team must educate clients to take practical steps to implement the planning. Bear in mind that the risks faced by those with neurologic disease may be broader than those faced by other clients.

There’s a greater risk that the client may be taken advantage of by those with access to the client’s financial assets.

Full Article and Source:
How Neurologic Conditions Affect Planning