Saturday, November 15, 2014

Belfast lawyer accused of exploiting elderly clients indicted by grand jury

BELFAST, Maine — A Belfast lawyer accused last year of financially exploiting two elderly clients was indicted by the Waldo County grand jury on charges of theft and misuse of entrusted property on Thursday.

Last October, the Waldo County Probate Court removed two elderly women from the control of William L. Dawson, 60, who had been granted power of attorney by both women. In one year, Dawson allegedly paid himself nearly $150,000 from the bank accounts of an 86-year-old woman who suffers from memory loss and depression, according to documents filed at the probate court. In a nine-month period, Dawson allegedly paid himself $178,500 from the bank accounts of a 98-year-old woman, who suffers from dementia.

Both women were widows with no children and few family members living nearby, according to court documents.

Dawson was charged by the grand jury with two counts of Class B theft and two counts of Class D misuse of entrusted property. According to the indictment, Dawson allegedly stole from one client between February 2009 and March 2013. He allegedly stole from the other woman from July 2012 to March 2013.

If found guilty of the Class B theft charges, Dawson could be sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

The alleged financial exploitation was first brought to light by concerned bankers, who contacted officials with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to say that they suspected something bad was happening, one of the women’s newly appointed guardians told the BDN last year.

Jacquelyn Parisi of Machias, one of the new guardians, described the then-98-year-old woman who was like an aunt to her as “the sweetest person and very trusting.”

Dawson submitted many pages to the court to show why he had charged the two women so much money, with his attorney bills at times adding up to $20,000 per month. He wrote that he and his staff would check on his clients’ homes, pick up items for them at stores and review their bills, among other work. Both women resided at the Harbor Hill assisted care facility in Belfast.

DHHS caseworker Joanne Cookson submitted a request for temporary guardianship in May 2013, writing in court documents that both women were “at risk of further possible financial exploitation.”

Full Article & Source:
Belfast lawyer accused of exploiting elderly clients indicted by grand jury

Former commissioner charged with embezzlement

ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — A former Allegan County commissioner is facing embezzlement charges after he allegedly stole thousands of dollars from his friend’s bank account.

Terry Burns was formally charged Wednesday with embezzlement of between $20,000 and $50,000 or more from a vulnerable adult.

He could face up to 10 years in prison for allegedly taking money from his friend Joe Migas after he petitioned to become Migas’s guardian.

The initial petition in September 2012 said that Migas stated his “long friend” Burns would be a “good guardian and special conservator.” Burns wrote in the petition to become guardian that his friend Migas needed his help because the older man had severe dementia, a heart condition and Parkinson’s disease.

In March 2013, Burns sold property Migas owned to pay off some of the man’s debts.  He deposited more than $167,000 into Migas’s account — of which he was the conservator — in July of that year.

Several weeks after the deposit, Migas’s girlfriend and caretaker contacted Migas’ bank, saying that money had been “improperly removed, diverted or stolen” from the account.

The bank began an investigation that revealed “unusual activity” in the account, which included $80,000 being removed by Burns within a 90-day period. It contacted the court in November 2013.

The bank stated more than $18,000 had been withdrawn from Migas’s account through checks written out to cash. The documents also allege Burns took out thousands of dollars at a time from Migas’s account and put it directly into his own.
Burns said in court documents that some of that money went to home improvements for the residence where Migas lived.

When Burns was asked about the money, the documents say, he told the court that Migas agreed to loan him $30,000 for his run for state representative — a race he dropped out of.

Burns posted on his Facebook page in November that he “borrowed a significant amount of money from the guardianship account which was under my control!” He went on to apologize for his actions and stated all the money had been paid back to Migas.

24 Hour News 8 saw Burns agreed to pay $16,000, but did not see any payment beyond that in probate court documents.

Burns told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone he was shocked by the criminal charges against him.

“I don’t know what they’re doing, but that other than that I have no comment,” Burns said. “We’ll figure that out in court.”

He said he is not guilty.  He also stated that he couldn’t say more about the issue and directed 24 Hour News 8 to speak to his attorney. He left jail on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

Full Article & Source:
Former commissioner charged with embezzlement

Couple convicted of bilking elderly parents

Sheila & Roger Tomasek

GOLDEN – A husband and wife team defrauded her parents of their life savings, leaving them penniless and in debt, according to Jefferson County prosecutors.

Monday, Roger Tomasek was sentenced to five years of probation for his role in the crimes. In August, a jury found him guilty on several counts.

His wife, Sheila Tomasek, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in October of 2013 for her part in the conspiracy. It was her third felony theft conviction.

Prosecutors say in March of 2011, Roger Tomasek obtained power of attorney over Fritz and Georgina Mason. Within a week, Roger Tomasek changed the title of their BMW into his name.

Prosecutors say the Tomaseks took over the finances of the elderly couple, taking over $272,000 from their bank accounts between 2011 and 2012.

Investigators say the couple stole the savings, property, jewelry and credit from the elderly parents, using the victims' money to pay off debts and remodel their house.

According to investigators, Sheila Tomasek's brother, Frank Mason, who lives out of state, visited shortly before his father's death in July of 2012. He discovered bounced checks and money missing from his parents' accounts. He reported it to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Prosecutors say the Tomasek's took steps to legally ban Mason from visiting his parents. Roger Tomasek hired 24-hour caregivers to prevent the elderly couple from seeing Mason.

According to Jefferson County investigators, the Tomaseks left Georgina Mason, 91, a "penniless widow with over $42,000 in debt."

Full Article & Source:
Couple convicted of bilking elderly parents

Friday, November 14, 2014

Part 3: California falls short in disclosing nursing-home ownership

Charlene Harrington

Last of three parts.

Ten years ago, Pat McGinnis took the state of California to court.

As head of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, McGinnis was peeved that state officials failed to follow the law and collect complete and accurate nursing-home ownership information. What the state did collect, her group charged, was “often outdated and so poorly organized” it was virtually inaccessible to the public.

The advocacy group won its lawsuit, but the fight was not remotely over.

Today, McGinnis’ group is back in court with a new complaint about how the Department of Public Health is overseeing the complex, multilayered nursing-home industry in California. And she is spitting mad over what she calls the department’s “contempt” in keeping its promises to ferret out and fully disclose the identities of California’s nursing-home owners.

“The state doesn’t know who the hell owns nursing homes,” said McGinnis, CANHR’s executive director.

“They haven’t done diddly-squat.”

The lawsuits, along with tense legislative hearings this year and harsh reports, reflect a growing discontent with how the state regulates nursing homes.

California has more nursing homes than any other state, and one of the country’s highest percentages of facilities owned by for-profit interests. Yet, as more private investment groups acquire skilled-nursing facilities, and ownership structures grow ever more layered and complex, the department has not kept pace with industry changes to help consumers evaluate chains – or even to identify the principals behind them.

The state says it does assemble ownership information turned over by companies, and that the law requires owners to report any changes. A spokesman for the Department of Public Health acknowledged that this detailed ownership information is not included on the public website, but said it is available upon request.

The convoluted nature of nursing-home ownership – often a tangle of interrelated limited liability companies and partnerships – has confounded other state agencies charged with oversight.

The Department of Health Care Services, for instance, which audits all nursing homes that receive Medi-Cal money, recently stated in court documents that auditors had never seen a complete list of facilities owned by the state’s largest nursing-home owner, Shlomo Rechnitz of Los Angeles, until March of this year.

The federal government also has stumbled in its efforts to increase nursing-home transparency, though officials recently announced changes to help consumers find quality care.

At the heart of the issue is a problem Charlene Harrington, an academic researcher and registered nurse, has been hammering on for years: getting regulators to monitor the performance of nursing-home chains – not just individual homes.

“They need to be focusing at the chain level,” said Harrington, professor emerita of sociology and nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, who has researched the nursing-home industry for more than three decades.

“These (facilities) are micromanaged at the chain level,” she said. “The problems usually exist throughout the chain.”

Data still incomplete

In California, the complex ownership structures of many nursing-home companies – and the resulting lack of transparency for consumers – is a matter state lawmakers resolved years ago.

Or so they thought.

In 1997, the Legislature began requiring the Department of Health Services (now the Department of Public Health) to collect “accurate and up-to-date” ownership information on nursing homes, and to make it readily available to the public.

Fed up by a lack of progress, McGinnis’ San Francisco-based advocacy group took the state to court in 2004 and forced officials to sign an agreement two years later saying they would follow the law. Among many things, the department agreed to list the names and addresses of each person having a beneficial ownership interest of 5 percent or more. And, the state agreed to provide the names and addresses of parent organizations, if the nursing home was a subsidiary.

A decade later, the department’s online “Health Facilities Consumer Information System,” which allows viewers to look up individual nursing homes, falls short of these requirements. The listed data remain incomplete and frequently misleading.

In entry after entry, the confusing nature of many nursing-home organizations plays out on the state’s website. The names of many well-known parent companies are missing from the site, and there is no attempt to catalog identities of owners with more than a 5 percent stake. Some of the state’s largest nursing-home chains – including Plum Healthcare and Mariner Health Care Management Co. – are nowhere to be found in the public database.

For instance, a consumer trying to research the Sea Cliff Healthcare Center in Huntington Beach would see on the state’s website that the licensee is HB Healthcare Associates LLC.

What the consumer wouldn’t learn is that the facility’s parent company is The Ensign Group Inc., a publicly traded national chain based in Mission Viejo. In a highly publicized case, the corporation agreed last year to pay $48 million to the federal government to resolve allegations that six of its Southern California facilities had knowingly submitted inflated Medicare bills for therapy services that were medically unnecessary or never provided. The company denied wrongdoing in the case.

Want to know more about Saylor Lane Healthcare Center in Sacramento? According to the state’s website, the licensee of that Folsom Boulevard nursing home is S.L.H.C.C. Inc., a for-profit corporation. What the site doesn’t tell you is that Saylor Lane and five other nursing homes in the Sacramento region are owned by John Lund, a Montecito businessman charged in 2008 with 18 felony counts of defrauding Medi-Cal, filing false cost reports and perjury.

Full Article & Source:
Part 3: California falls short in disclosing nursing-home ownership

See Also:
Unmasked: How California’s largest nursing home chains perform

Unmasked: Who owns California’s nursing homes?
Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Attorney General Kathleen Kane disciplines 61 in pornographic email case

A spokesman for Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Wednesday that 61 current staff members were found to have been participating in offensive and pornographic email swap rings that violated internal office policies.
The internal investigation grew out of the discovery of pornographic emails earlier this year, during Kane's review of her predecessor's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.

"This behavior violated computer and email policies and on an even more troubling level showed a fundamental disregard and disrespect for people who work in OAG and for Pennsylvanians," Kane said in a statement released Wednesday.

"I am determined to put an end to this behavior."

Kane spokesman Renee Martin said the investigation of the initial email threads uncovered this year showed participation by 61 current employees at all levels in the agency, and in some cases right up through this summer, when the emails' existence was confirmed through media Right To Know Law requests.

Of those disciplined, Wednesday's report stated six have been terminated; two resigned in advance of receiving discipline; and 11 have been suspended without pay with the ability to return.

The suspensions ran from three to 10 days, Martin said.

The remaining 42, Martin said, have been given a formal written reprimand, required to take sexual harassment counseling, or both.

None of the violations rose to the level of a criminal offense, Martin said.

The 61 staffers caught account for about 8 percent of OAG's 730-plus employees.

Martin said the range of disciplinary actions taken were based on an evaluation of factors including the volume of offensive material found in one's queue; the content; and their position within the office.

Full Article & Source:
Attorney General Kathleen Kane disciplines 61 in pornographic email case

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

Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspends Justice Seamus McCaffery

Judicial board to review McCaffery e-mails complaint

Porn Email Claims Could Trigger Discipline For Pa. Justice

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Unmasked: Who owns California’s nursing homes?

Marisa & Dane Conover

Second of three parts.

Marisa Conover of Fair Oaks built her career dealing with complicated people and problems. As a former executive with CBS Records International, she handled worldwide distribution of video and merchandising for such artists as Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and The Rolling Stones.

Then she encountered a challenge closer to home.

Conover believes that questionable care at a Roseville nursing home – and the injection of a powerful antipsychotic drug – contributed to the death of her mother in December 2012. Genine Zizzo, a 5-foot-1 widow who had lived in the same Orangevale home for 50 years, died at age 82 following a 10-day stay at Roseville Point Health & Wellness Center.

Conover filed a complaint with the state through a Sacramento-based advocacy group. She researched the controversial use of “chemical restraints” in nursing homes to subdue and control patients. She gathered her mother’s medical records and coroner’s reports, highlighting in yellow the apparent inconsistencies and contradictions.

But when Conover began poking around the Internet to research the ownership history of Roseville Point, she hit a wall.

Despite her business acumen, she gleaned surprisingly little about the individuals behind the 98-bed nursing home on Sunrise Avenue.

“Who are these people?” asked Conover, 56, nearly two years after her mother’s death.
Conover had bumped up against one of the most complicated ownership groups in the state.

As it turns out, Roseville Point is part of Shlomo Rechnitz’s expanding universe of homes across California.

Shlomo Rechnitz
Rechnitz, a 43-year-old Los Angeles entrepreneur, has rapidly become the state’s largest nursing-home owner with about 75 facilities from San Diego to Los Angeles to Roseville to Eureka. His homes have been the target of more complaints and federal deficiencies per bed than most other large chains in California, according to a Sacramento Bee investigation.

Consumers would be hard-pressed to know that – or even to link Rechnitz to any particular nursing home using the state’s website. Some of the state’s leading elder-care advocates said they had never heard of Rechnitz or his principal company, Brius Healthcare Services.

Rechnitz’s history in California is a case study in the evolving nature of nursing-home ownership, and the complexity of the industry’s corporate structures. As private investment groups scoop up an ever-larger share of the nation’s skilled-nursing care market, it has become increasingly difficult to decipher who owns the nation’s largest chains.

Elder-care advocates will tell you this is no accident: A convoluted ownership structure, they say, is a way for owners to hide assets and shield themselves from civil and criminal liability when patients are abused or neglected in their care. Confusing lines of ownership also make it harder for regulators to detect worrisome patterns of care among facilities within a chain.

Congress felt so strongly about improving nursing-home transparency that the Affordable Care Act now includes strict new reporting requirements for owners. But the government’s ability to untangle the ownership web has been slow and inconsistent.

A 1997 California law requires state officials to make detailed ownership information publicly available, but the state’s health facilities website continues to provide scant and often misleading information.

Full Article & Source:
Unmasked: Who owns California’s nursing homes?

See Also:
Unmasked: How California’s largest nursing home chains perform
Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Ex-Arlington attorney gets 20 years in prison

Tiffany Lewis
A disbarred Arlington attorney who had also worked as a municipal judge in Dallas is going to prison for pretending to be a lawyer.

Tiffany Lynn Lewis received a 10-year sentence from a Tarrant County jury Friday before state District Judge Robb Catalano, who presided over the trial, tacked on another 10 years after revoking her probation.

Lewis, 46, testified Thursday and Friday to try to persuade the jury to not give her a lengthy prison sentence. The minimum sentence was two years. Instead, she got the maximum of 20.

Lewis had been taken into custody Wednesday after a jury convicted her of falsely holding herself out to be a lawyer.

“You had it all,” her attorney, Leon Haley, said as he questioned Lewis on Thursday. “You had the look, you had the clothes, you had the car. How’d you let it all slip away from you?”

The State Bar of Texas stripped Lewis of her law license in April 2005 because she had spent money that had been awarded to one of her clients in a 2003 probate case.

She had also worked as a municipal judge in Dallas but resigned that position in 2007 to avoid disciplinary action by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Lewis pleaded guilty in September 2009 to misapplication of fiduciary property in the 2003 probate case, admitting to spending a $78,000 probate settlement awarded to a Dallas family.

She was sentenced to 10 years’ probation and 60 days in jail and ordered to repay $58,000. She was also forbidden to hold herself out as an attorney or work as a fiduciary.

But according to testimony Thursday, Lewis shredded the conditions of her probation. She started a business and acted as a fiduciary, repeatedly failed to pay restitution in the ordered amounts and moved out of Tarrant County without her probation officer’s permission.

A probation officer familiar with her case gave Lewis the worst score possible when he was asked to rate her as a probationer.

During her five years on probation, Lewis rarely paid the minimum in restitution and fees and was more than $15,000 in arrears, said Queinton Waldon, a senior officer with the Tarrant County Community Supervision and Correction Department.

Lewis blamed her lapses in judgment on abusive relationships with two men.

Lewis testified that after being disbarred, she started a business to help people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. During one of her transactions, Lewis cashed a $500 check that identified her as an attorney.

“I didn’t pay any attention to what she wrote on the check,” Lewis testified. “I don’t want to practice law anymore. I’m a business owner and an entrepreneur.”

According to Lori Burks, Tarrant County assistant district attorney, that check was one of several that Lewis cashed in violation of her probation and the law.

“This had been going on for a long time, since 2005,” said Burks, who prosecuted the case with Tiffany Burks and Zena McNulty.

Read more here:

Full Article & Source:
Ex-Arlington attorney gets 20 years in prison

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Suspect in KC fraud case wants Georgia judge arrested

Generally, when you’re suspected of a federal crime that could send you to prison for decades, staying on the good side of judges is prudent.

Actively antagonizing them is rash.

But somehow, Freya D. Pearson didn’t get that memo.

Years after she became a suspect in the theft of almost $500,000 from a Kansas City lottery winner, and just one day before a local federal grand jury indicted her in that case last week, Pearson swore out a criminal complaint against a judge in Conyers, Ga.

Asking a Rockdale County court to issue arrest warrants against one of its own, Pearson, 41, alleged that Probate Judge Charles Mays Sr. owed her about $20,000 in unpaid wages.

Asked during a brief telephone interview to comment on her legal issues, Pearson declined. But she acknowledged that her situation has turned into a media spectacle as reporters in Georgia and Missouri scrambled to learn more about the cases.

“You guys are just enjoying this, and I’m not,” she said. “I don’t have anything to say.”

Pearson, who is free on bond from the Kansas City federal charges, has been living, along with her teenage daughter and young granddaughter, with the probate judge and his family in a rented Conyers home.

Mays invited them into his house after Pearson moved there from California several months ago to serve as a consultant to his court, according to Georgia court filings. Now that they’ve become legal adversaries, the judge wants her out of the house.

Mays filed an eviction action against Pearson, alleging that she owes him $5,600 in back rent and interest. But minutes before the case was to go to court this week, Mays dropped his eviction demand.

Pearson’s attorney speculated to reporters there that the dismissal came after the judge realized he might have to testify and open himself to questions about Pearson’s back pay claims.

That attorney, Michael Waldrop, filed the request for arrest warrants against Mays under a provision of Georgia law that allows citizens, and not just prosecutors, to petition a court for criminal charges.

If a judge finds probable cause after a hearing, arrest warrants are issued and the case proceeds just as if a prosecutor or grand jury had filed the charges, according to Georgia statute.

The sight of a woman trying to jail a probate judge, with whom she is living, while fighting felony fraud charges in Missouri has set tongues wagging in Conyers, a small city about 24 miles east of Atlanta.

Charmaine Moss, a Mays supporter and the pastor of a nondenominational church in Conyers, described the judge as a generous, warm-hearted man who has become the victim of his political enemies. Voters elected Mays in 2012 as the county’s first African-American probate judge. She believes Pearson, who also is African-American, is being used against Mays by his political opponents.

“Because of it being a big deal in Conyers, it could have a major impact on the people here,” Moss said. “It’s real important to us that the truth comes out.”

Mays, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment to The Star, although just as the controversy erupted in October, he told a Conyers newspaper that he was the victim of a “political vendetta.”

Waldrop, who serves as the city attorney for Conyers, did not return calls from The Star for comment. But in court filings, he said the judge deserved to feel “the full weight of the law” because he hadn’t paid Pearson what she was owed.

“I am not sure that I have seen a more vicious and morally bankrupt stance taken in my 26 years of practice,” Waldrop wrote.

Speaking with Georgia reporters on Thursday, Waldrop predicted that Pearson would be exonerated of the Kansas City fraud charges and said that any discussion of them in Georgia was just an attempt to tarnish her reputation and make Mays appear less guilty.

Still, one woman from Pearson’s past isn’t surprised that Pearson has again found herself at the center of a controversy where broken promises, shattered trust and money are at issue.

Marva Wilson lost $480,000 in lottery winnings to Pearson, federal prosecutors alleged in the Kansas City indictment.

Wilson won $2 million from the Missouri Lottery in 2008. She spent some of the money on two houses and established an annuity that would have paid her $30,000 a year for the rest of her life.

But in 2010, a family member introduced her to Pearson, who offered to help with a real estate matter, Wilson said. Wilson said she was under the impression that Pearson was a lawyer. Later, Wilson said, Pearson drove a wedge between her and a financial adviser who looked after her lottery winnings.

Kansas City court records alleged that Pearson took $480,000, plowed it into a nonprofit company and used the cash for gambling, travel, cars, clothes and furniture.

When questioned by investigators in 2011 and 2013, Pearson described her financial dealings with Wilson as “business.” And Waldrop said recently that the transaction amounted to a loan that Pearson was unable to repay.

But prosecutors alleged it was fraud.

“She was smart, slick and sinister, and everything that went along with it,” Wilson said.

Full Article & Source:
Suspect in KC fraud case wants Georgia judge arrested

See Also:
Probate judge troubles continue

Accountability court effort led to legal woes for Probate Court judge

Archangels of Justice Speak Out Against Guardianship Abuse

YouTube:  Guardianship Abuse is not Funny

See Also:
Facebook:  Archangels of Justice

Judicial Destruction of Dorothy Wilson

NASGA Member Diane Wilson's Mom, Dorothy Wilson, Tricked and Dumped into a Facility

NASGA:  Dorothy Wilson - New York Victim

Study: 1 in 5 nursing home residents abused

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The horrific possibility that their loved one has been abused in a nursing home can dawn on family members after the appearance of an unexplained cut or bruise.

Now, researchers say that such injuries are often inflicted not by overworked health aides, but by a seemingly harmless roommate, or someone living just down the hall.

The first study to look at the scope of negative aggression between residents of U.S. nursing homes has found that almost one in five people who live in these facilities are involved in such encounters within a four-week period.

These invasive, disruptive or hostile incidents — from something so mild as rummaging through a fellow resident's belongings to outright physical or sexual assault — are so common at long-term care facilities that “staff members seem almost unaware” that it's a problem, said lead author Karl Pillemer, a professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and Cornell University.

The study results were made public Thursday at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America. They provide new insight into the lives of almost 1.4 million nursing home residents in the United States, more than 72,000 of them in Florida. 

“Nursing home care is essential for some older Americans; these are very necessary institutions and often very caring institutions,” Pillemer said. “So it may come as a surprise that we found such high rates of conflict and violence. It's very likely that the consequences of resident-to-resident mistreatment are severe, leading to lacerations, bruises and fractures. The residents' frailty makes these altercations more dangerous."

Full Article & Source
Study: 1 in 5 nursing home residents abused

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ex-guardian's death leaves void for elderly, disabled

Last year's death of Jeffrey M. Schend, a former Appleton guardian, effectively ended the criminal case that accused him of living lavishly off the elderly and disabled people he was sworn to protect.

But frustrations remain high for ex-clients of Schend, including John Pike of Appleton, who suspects he lost close to $35,000. He's still trying to recoup his losses.

"I'm penniless," Pike said. "I'm trying to pay back on all these bills that Jeff Schend should have already paid."

A civil court hearing in Outagamie County on Monday will determine whether the lone safety net required of Schend — a business service bond — provided protection of the assets of vulnerable people who were placed under his care. Schend purchased a $250,000 bond as part of his contract with the county to handle the finances of those who were determined by a court to be incompetent.

The firm that sold the bond, Minnesota-based Platte River Insurance Co., is asking Judge Mitch Metropulos to declare it isn't liable for losses.

The company's arguments boil down to contract language. Under terms of the bond, the company would pay in the event of "any fraudulent or dishonest act." The trigger point for payout, however, would come only after Schend or one of his employees was "tried and convicted by a court of proper jurisdiction."

Schend committed suicide before the case concluded.

"Because no criminal conviction was entered against Schend, Platte River has no obligation to any actual or potential claimant under the bond," attorney Daniel Gregerson said in written arguments.

Carey Reed, an attorney for Pike, argues that the company is relying on a technicality and trying to benefit from a suicide "despite overwhelming evidence against Schend."

Money was missing
An investigation into Schend began after county officials received complaints in late 2010 that the bills of those placed under his watch weren't being paid.

Police determined that about $500,000 was missing from accounts within his oversight. Schend maintained his innocence and attributed discrepancies to poor bookkeeping.

Guardians are appointed by courts to oversee assets and pay bills when it's determined a person can no longer manage his or her finances.

An accountant hired by prosecutors combed bank records and provided a detailed analysis of Schend's income and spending. Spending included flights, cruises, limousine rentals and yacht club fees.

His lifestyle, however, didn't match his earning capacity.

Schend's business, JMS Guardianship Services, could have collected a maximum $51,000 in fees from those placed under his watch in 2010. His personal spending reached nearly $165,000 that year, records show.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-guardian's death leaves void for elderly, disabled

See Also:
Jeffrey Schend's attorney asks for dismissal because of delays in prosecution

Bonds in Jeffrey M. Schend's Appleton guardian case won't cover losses

WI: Jeffrey Schend Theft Case Prompts Tougher Guardian Rules

State Supreme Court Censures Attorney Goan

Crystal Goan
Crystal Goan

Greeneville lawyer Crystal Michelle Goan was publicly censured on Oct. 17 by the Supreme Court of Tennessee at Nashville.

A news release issued Oct. 21 by the Court's Board of Professional Responsibility (BOPR) indicated that the Court's censure action resulted from actions of Goan more than five years ago relating to former husband James Roy Klumb.

A public censure is "a rebuke and warning to the attorney," but does not affect the attorney's ability to practice law, according to the news release.

The BOPR is the administrative agency of the Supreme Court that monitors the professional conduct of lawyers in the state.

The board investigates complaints and takes disciplinary action when the board considers it appropriate.

If discipline of some kind is determined to be appropriate in a case, the BOPR has disciplinary options including disbarment, the most severe option, which terminates the individual's status as an attorney; suspension from law practice for a specified minimum period of time; temporary suspension; public censure; private reprimand; and private informal admonition.

The public censure of Goan stems from her actions prior to a divorce lawsuit she filed against former husband James Roy Klumb in September 2007. Their divorce was finalized in January 2009. They had married in April 2006.

Subsequent to the couple's divorce, Klumb filed a civil lawsuit against Goan in U.S. District Court.

Klumb, a former Greeneville businessman, claimed in the lawsuit that, during their marriage, Goan installed spyware on his business computers without his knowledge, altered documents and emails and committed other acts of deception calculated by Goan to enable her to receive a favorable divorce settlement.

A December 2011 bench trial in U.S. District Court in Greeneville concluded with a ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter, of Chattanooga, in favor of Klumb.

Carter ultimately decided that Klumb's allegations were accurate. He explained his reasoning in a detailed, 46-page ruling issued in July 2012.

In the ruling, Carter noted that the case was not a "garden variety" example of one spouse putting spyware on the other's computer to eavesdrop electronically.

He wrote in the judgment that Goan "engaged in an elaborate, deceptive scheme which involved wiretapping [Klumb's] computer to intercept emails" and "altering those emails to make it appear [Klumb] was having an affair, and altering legal documents in order to provide that if [Klumb] did have an affair, [Goan] would receive more money in a divorce."

Carter concluded that Klumb prevailed in the civil case "on his claims that [Goan] had violated the federal Wiretap Act [and] the Tennessee Wiretap Act" by installing spyware on the computers of Klumb's employers to intercept his incoming email.

Carter awarded Klumb $10,000 in statutory damages plus $10,000 in punitive damages.

Goan was also ordered to pay Klumb's "reasonable attorney's fees and expenses, and his costs of action."

In addition to bringing the civil lawsuit against Goan, Klumb filed a complaint concerning her actions with the Board of Professional Responsibility.

Full Article & Source:
State Supreme Court Censures Attorney Goan

Legal and Financial Exploitation of Elders

The pitfalls of involuntary guardianship can cost you: your civil rights, your life savings, your right to live where and how you wish, yours or your children's inheritance and your familial relationships.

You will learn: how to prepare yourself from becoming a target, the tricks, manipulations and strategies used to prematurely institutionalize, and how to help change and improve probate court involuntary guardianship laws.

The article, "Rampant Elder Abuse and Fraud in Adult Guardianship" quoted Money Magazine, "Guardianship is all about money . . . the laws (that every state in the nation has passed to control the conduction of a guardianship) are universally ignored . . . if you or a well meaning relative try to fight this system, the court allows the guardian to use your money (the ward's money) to fight you (the ward)".

Available from Amazon

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Unmasked: How California’s largest nursing home chains perform

Bonnie Nidiver of Paradise holds a photo of her late husband, Eugene, 88

First of three parts
One nursing home chain operating in California racked up abuse complaints last year at a pace seven times the statewide rate.

A large competitor placed one in every 15 of its long-term residents in restraints.

Still another corporate giant whose nursing homes dominate the Sacramento region experienced high nursing staff turnover at 90 percent of its facilities.

If you’re a consumer anguishing over the placement of a loved one needing full-time nursing, how would you know this?

The short answer: You wouldn’t.

As the population ages, and more families face the daunting task of choosing long-term care, consumers remain largely in the dark about the ownership of many California nursing homes – and their track records.

While industry officials contend they are intensely regulated by both the state and federal government, no single agency routinely evaluates nursing-home chains to gauge the overall care provided by their facilities.

Data are available for individual nursing homes, as federal, state and nonprofit groups keep records that chronicle staffing levels, bedsore rates and use of antipsychotic drugs, among many issues. But in California, the agency charged with overseeing these skilled-nursing facilities, the Department of Public Health, makes no effort to measure quality of care throughout a chain, or determine whether corporate policies and practices are contributing to any patterns.

Some companies doing business in California go to great lengths to create complex business structures, building layers of limited liability companies and partnerships with curious relationships to one another. The tangled corporate webs make it difficult for consumers and government regulators to identify who’s running the operations – and who should be held responsible when things go wrong.

“It’s a huge maze to try and figure out who owns what,” said Charlene Harrington, professor emerita of sociology and nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, who has spent 35 years researching the nursing-home industry.

“And that’s deliberately done.”

Yet knowing who owns what can be critical for fragile patients seeking long-term care, according to a Sacramento Bee investigation, which analyzed thousands of federal and state records detailing the ownership of the state’s 1,260 nursing homes.

In addition to identifying owners with at least a 5 percent stake in any California-based facility, The Bee also examined government and industry data to determine how the largest owners and their facilities performed on 46 measures, including quality-of-care indicators, staffing, complaints and deficiencies found during inspections. The analysis took into account the federal government’s star-rating system, as well as rankings determined by the nonprofit California HealthCare Foundation. State and federal inspectors logged most of the measures, although nursing homes self-reported patient care and staffing data.

Clear differences emerged among the state’s biggest operators. In the same way that restaurant franchises or department-store chains deliver similar experiences to consumers – for better or worseThe Bee found that some large nursing-home companies also produce systemic results.
Among the findings:

▪ In California, 25 for-profit nursing-home chains control about half of the state’s 120,000 licensed beds. The Bee found 10 of those chains – including the two largest, Plum Healthcare Group and a network owned by Shlomo Rechnitz of Los Angeles – performed below statewide averages last year in more than half of the examined quality-of-care categories, which gauge the incidence of problems such as pressure sores, infections and falls. Twenty of the top 25 chains fell below state averages in at least three out of five staffing measures.

▪ Some large chains have facilities suffering from the same care issues, despite being located hundreds of miles apart. For instance, within Plum Healthcare Group, which operates more nursing homes in the Sacramento region than any other company, 90 percent of the company’s 42 homes statewide last year had higher than average nursing-staff turnover. About 65 percent of the facilities owned by Longwood Management Corp. have higher than average rates of patients in restraints.

▪ Among the 25 largest chains doing business in California, the lowest performing in The Bee’s analysis are EmpRes Healthcare Management LLC and LifeHouse Health Services. Facilities owned by these chains consistently fell below state averages on most measures, and both owners were more likely to log complaints and federal deficiencies than most of their large competitors.

▪ Below-average staffing or high turnover were problems in nine out of 10 of the state’s largest nursing-home chains in 2012, the most recent year staffing data are available. The state’s largest chain, headed by Rechnitz, earned poor or below-average staffing ratings from the nonprofit California HealthCare Foundation in about 80 percent of its 54 homes. Even so, Rechnitz recently was given a federal judge’s blessing to purchase 19 more facilities.

Oversight of California nursing homes, and their owners, has waxed and waned over the years. In 2001 and 2002, under then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the state aggressively pursued chains by prosecuting two of the largest nursing home owners: Sun Healthcare Group of Irvine, and the California subsidiary of Beverly Enterprises Inc. In both cases, the state got permanent injunctions requiring that they improve care.

By contrast, the Department of Public Health was hauled before legislative leaders earlier this year amid charges it was dismissing hundreds of nursing-home complaints without adequate investigations. Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, grilled health officials at the hearing and requested an audit of how the department regulates long-term care facilities.

“The state is not doing its job in protecting its most vulnerable residents,” said Carole Herman of the Sacramento-based Foundation Aiding the Elderly, who filed a lawsuit last year against the Department of Public Health charging it failed to promptly investigate nursing-home complaints.

Full Article & Source:
Unmasked: How California’s largest nursing home chains perform

Financial exploitation case against Perry County coroner set for trial

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- The financial exploitation case against Herbert Miller is headed to trial next month.

Miller -- who has served as Perry County, Missouri, coroner since 1995 -- was charged in January with one count each of theft and financial exploitation of the elderly, both Class B felonies punishable by five to 15 years in prison.

Miller is accused of taking more than $80,000 from a 94-year-old woman over whom he had power of attorney.

The case is set for jury trial Dec. 9 and 10.

At a pretrial conference Friday, Circuit Judge Benjamin Lewis said 70 people would be summoned for jury duty.

From that pool, 12 jurors will be chosen to hear the case and render judgment.

According to a probable-cause affidavit filed by Gregrey Martin, an investigator for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, a woman, now 94, appointed Miller as her durable power of attorney in January 2004.

She entered a Perryville nursing home in August 2008 after being diagnosed with dementia.

At a preliminary hearing in February, Andrea Southard, the nursing home's billing manager, said after a billing issue arose in April or May 2013, she asked Miller to bring her some financial records so she could review them and submit a Medicaid application on the woman's behalf.

Southard said in reviewing the records, she noticed several checks payable to cash, beginning in 2009, and a few checks to Miller's business, Miller Family Funeral Home, in "excessive amounts" she characterized as "red flags."

Martin said during the preliminary hearing that Miller admitted writing the checks for cash but claimed half were for the woman's personal use, while half were for services he provided.

Miller also said more than $22,000 in checks to his funeral home were "gifts" the woman meant for him to use for operating expenses, Martin testified.

Martin said based on information from the woman's doctor and a conversation with her in July, he did not believe she was competent to authorize such gifts.

Full Article & Source:
Financial exploitation case against Perry County coroner set for trial

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Perry County coroner accused of financially exploiting 94-year-old woman