Saturday, November 29, 2014

Missouri prosecutor admits stealing $540k from elderly client

KANSAS CITY, Mo.   •  A lawyer who was elected this month as a northwestern Missouri county prosecutor won’t be serving in that role after all, having pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing more than half a million dollars from an elderly client.

Richard F. Turner, 39, of Bethany, Mo., pleaded guilty Wednesday in Kansas City to one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements on his tax return, according to U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson’s office. He also pleaded guilty to an asset forfeiture count.

Turner, who previously had served as Harrison County prosecutor and was again elected to that post Nov. 4, admitted trying to steal roughly $728,000 from his client but managing to obtain only $540,803.

More than $327,000 of the money was spent paying off and improving his home in Bethany — including installing a swimming pool — while a portion also went toward trying to prop up his struggling clothing store, Richard’s/TD Clothiers.

“This is an egregious case of elder abuse,” Dickinson said. “When those in positions of responsibility and trust abuse the elderly, we will bring the full resources of federal and state law enforcement to bring them to justice.”

Full Article & Source:
Missouri prosecutor admits stealing $540k from elderly client

Thanksgiving brings special appreciation for those exposing probate abuse

While a specific Estate of Denial® Thanksgiving post hadn’t previously been planned, today provided two probate-related reasons for special thanks so, what can I say, a post became a must-do.

First, the newly-released Har Justice documentary, America’s Secret Wealth Exchanges, is an exciting project offering important insight regarding the atrocities being perpetrated by the legal industry via probate courts. Assets are being hijacked, civil liberties are being trampled. It’s impacting people at all economic levels and from all walks of life. Anyone who thinks it couldn’t happen to them falls into one single category – that of being a fool. Harsh as that sounds, it’s the truth. Economic and emotional devastation is the best way to describe the trail of targets these acts create.

Congratulations to Athena Roe and the Har Justice team for creating and producing this important work. A new means by which to communicate the dangers facing a largely unsuspecting public is indeed cause for giving thanks.

Years ago when EoD first started, credible, analytical reporting on the realities and true culprits of abusive probate actions was rare. In the last years, while the problem exists as much as ever, public awareness is slowly growing though resistance continues when it comes to recognizing the commonality of this issue.

New media sources including websites like EoD and others along with online radio programs have done much to highlight the issue. And while traditional media outlets often continue touting the talking points of community influencers (never underestimate the clout of local governments and prominent business leaders), new pressure to not be scooped by those “bloggers or their ilk” sometimes prompts a bit more honesty in coverage.

That said, some media outlets have boldly reported on the ugly realities of such actions and one standout on that front here in Texas has been Fort Worth Weekly’s Jeff Prince. Click here for some of Prince’s great work.

And to once again reiterate the lurking dangers posed by probate courts and those presiding over them, Fort Worth Weekly gave a special nod to the Tarrant County probate courts – venues known as corrupt and brutal to many falling under its jurisdiction – in its 2014 Turkey Awards noting the recipients as “The birds that drove us to distraction this year.”

Full Article & Source:
Thanksgiving brings special appreciation for those exposing probate abuse

Friday, November 28, 2014

Tips for Seniors: How to Avoid Incarceration in a Nursing Home

Like most able-bodied, independent seniors, I’m surrounded by loving and supportive family members who are chomping at the bit to strip me of my dignity and lock me away in the most Draconian nursing home money can buy.

It may be because they’re worried about accidental falls, could be an issue of deteriorating health or it might just be payback for not buying them a damned pony when they were eight – but whatever the reason, young people today are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to lock us oldsters away and we need to be on guard.

In an effort to help my senior brethren, I’m providing the following 5 simple strategies to deter your children from pulling the family rug out from under you, rolling your body up in it and then dropping it off in the lobby of the nearest Super 8 Seniors Lodge.

1. Don’t Buy the Propaganda

Note: Actual Staff Do Not Smile and May Attempt to Kill You
Your kids are likely to begin their campaign by presenting you with all manner of glossy brochures filled with pictures of happy seniors potting geraniums, eating pudding and breathing independently. Don’t buy it for a damned moment!

Despite the slick packaging and promises of active living these homes are nothing but second rate hell holes staffed with disgruntled nursing-school dropouts and misfits deemed too dangerous to even work with farm animals.

They’re havens for abuse, neglect and cruel disregard for the dignity of old folks. In fact, the only difference between a nursing home and prison is that in a nursing home you don’t get an orange jumpsuit, won’t be asked to join a gang and have a marginally slimmer chance of being sexually violated.

Don’t believe the brochures! Don’t read them, don’t look at them and don’t allow them into your home.

2. Never Sign Anything!

If subtle nudging doesn’t work you can expect your children to start stuffing legal papers under your nose and expressing an interest in helping to manage your affairs in the “unfortunate event” that you become incapacitated and unable to do so on your own.

I call it a familial phishing scam. They lure you in with promises of financial security in exchange for access to your personal information but as soon as you hand it over the gloves come off and they strip you clean, pick you dry and move on to the next gullible relative with white hair, a plump bank account and a trusting nature.

Bear in mind that the average length of time between signing a power of attorney form and finding your ass strapped to a gurney and shipped to the Nurse Ratched Home for the Aged is about 12 damned minutes.

If you absolutely feel you need to sign legal papers consider getting a restraining order instead – your ungrateful clan can’t act against you if they aren’t allowed within 200 feet of your home.

3. Never Complain About Your Health

Telling your family you’ve had a dizzy spell or a bout of impetigo is nothing more than an open invitation to a court-ordered incarceration. Complain about communists, complain about the weather, complain about the quality of Marmaduke cartoons but wherever possible keep your hip replacement surgery or triple bypass a closely guarded secret. They can smell weakness.

If you absolutely need to get to hospital take public transit under cover of darkness and in some manner of disguise. The number one reason that so many seniors spend three days lying injured on the basement floor isn’t because they couldn’t reach the phone, it’s because they were smart enough to know that calling their daughter for assistance was a one way ticket to God’s waiting room.

4. Never Let Them Know Your Net Worth

Like most seniors, I’ve stashed away almost every penny I’ve ever earned and could buy and sell my children if I was so inclined (or if the law would allow it). But I’m careful not to spread that piece of information around.

If your children think you have money they’ll either want to lock you up so they can get their filthy paws on it, or out of fear that you might spend it yourself. Either way – it’s best to keep up the pretence of comfortable impoverishment.

Don’t be flashing cash or boasting about the quarter million you have stuffed in your Sealy Posturepedic. Keep your diet, attire and mode of transportation understated. Nothing drives a young person battier than seeing their old parents buying expensive marmalade, brand name dentures or generally attempting to enjoy the money they worked 60 years to save.

5. Get The Dirt on Them

Chances are that at some point most members of your extended family have considered you ineffectual and useless enough to speak freely about their problems in your presence. They’ll just have assumed you’ve forgotten or are too brain-addled to understand and make use of the information.

Full Article & Source:
Tips for Seniors: How to Avoid Incarceration in a Nursing Home

No Injury in Huge Senior Financial Abuse Case

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) - A federal judge dismissed all claims in a lawsuit alleging that a Palo Alto retirement community funneled nearly $200 million of its residents' money to its corporate parent and put the seniors' cash in jeopardy.

In an order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila ruled that the six seniors who filed a class action earlier this year did not show that they've suffered any actual injuries.

Lead plaintiff Burton Richter, on behalf of the residents of the retirement community Vi, claimed in the lawsuit that the home's operator CC-Palo Alto transferred more than $190 million in resident entrance fees to its parent company CC-Development Group without obtaining collateral or a repayment promise.

Richter said CC-Palo Alto has collected more than $450 million in entrance fees from residents - which are considered loans to the company and are partially repayable if a senior dies or moves out of an apartment - but now has a deficit of more than $300 million and will not be able to return the loans when they come due.

Defendants CC-Palo Alto, Classic Residence Management Limited Partnership and CC-Development Group filed their motions to dismiss this past March.

Davila ruled that there is no actual or imminent injury to the seniors. And there's no indication that any of them have left Vi and have been denied the repayable portion of their entrance fee, Davila said.

There's also no indication that any senior is in such poor health that they'll die and soon require their fees to be repaid to their heirs, he added.

Davila also ruled that the seniors' monthly apartment fees have not been artificially inflated as they claimed.

"Nothing has occurred to run afoul of the contract terms," he said.

The seniors have 15 days to file an amended complaint.

Full Article & Source:
No Injury in Huge Senior Financial Abuse Case

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oregon, Illinois, attorney has license suspended

Oregon, Illinois, attorney Richard Folk has had his license suspended for two years by the Supreme Court of Illinois after the attorney was found guilty of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Folk, whose office is at 302 Washington St., Oregon, Illinois, has had his license suspended for two years or until further order of the court, with the suspension stayed after 90 days by a two-year period of conditional probation. The attorney was first licensed in 2007.

A summary of Folk’s suspension from the Supreme Court of Illinois reads: “While in California, he purchased 7.25 pounds of marijuana. During his return trip to Illinois, he was stopped by a police officer in Nevada, falsely denied that he had any controlled substances in his car, and refused to allow a search of his vehicle. He was later found guilty of misdemeanor possession of marijuana, was sentenced to time served for the 19 days he spent in jail, forfeited his automobile, and paid a $250 fine.”

Full Article & Source:
Oregon, Illinois, attorney has license suspended

Belleville attorney to be suspended for 60 days

Belleville attorney Charles Stegmeyer, 72, will be suspended from the practice of law for 60 days beginning Dec. 4, by order of the Illinois Supreme Court.

The suspension stems from misconduct charges brought by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), which accused Stegmeyer of failing to timely repay $15,000 loaned to him by a company that provides funding to lawyers anticipating fees from settlements, and for making false statements to that company’s attorney.

According to ARDC’s Nov. 13 petition to impose discipline, Stegmeyer agreed in February 2010 to assign his expected fees in a case against an ambulance company to Modeso, a New York-based company that buys portions of legal fees on settled cases.

Stegmeyer had further agreed that once he received settlement funds, he would deposit them into his trust account and immediately repay Modeso $15,000, plus interest. If repaid by March 25, 2010, the amount due under the assignment would have been $15,815.79, according to ARDC administrator Jerome Larkin

Larkin wrote that Stegmeyer received settlement proceeds in March 2010, but did not immediately repay Modeso. Further, the account balance in his trust account fell to $6,340.79, as Stegmeyer distributed settlement funds to his clients and made other payments from the account, Larkin stated.

When approached about the status of the agreement by legal counsel for Modeso in August 2010, Stegmeyer “falsely told her there had been no settlement of the underlying case,” Larkin wrote.

In August 2010, Stegmeyer wrote to Modeso’s legal counsel “and falsely stated there had been a misunderstanding, and that he had been under the impression repayment would occur after the probate estate was settled,” Larkin wrote.

“Pursuant to the terms of the assignment, the repayment was actually to be made after the settlement with the ambulance company, not once all matters in the estate were settled.”

Again in 2012, Modeso inquired about repayment, according to Larkin.

In August 2012, Stegmeyer “falsely stated in writing that he was holding the money to satisfy the assignment in his trust account. At the time he made that statement, the balance in Respondent’s trust account was only $11,510.78, less than the amount he owed to Modeso,” Larkin wrote.

In October and December 2012, Stegmeyer then paid $16,500 of the funds owed to Modeso, according to Larkin. In 2014, after the ARDC complaint was filed, he paid all remaining funds owed to Modeso.

In its recommendation for discipline, Larkin took into account Stegmeyer’s discipline-free record and that he had been remorseful and cooperative in proceedings. Larkin further noted that Stegmeyer had ongoing cancer treaments in 2011 and 2012.

“In addition, Respondent would have presented testimony from a character witness to the effect that Respondent is well-respected and has a good reputation among the local judges and attorneys,” Larkin wrote.

“In aggravation, Respondent was an experienced attorney at the time he engaged in the misconduct, and had financial difficulties at the time he used the funds that were to be repaid to Modeso,” he wrote.

In addition to his 60 day suspension, Stegmeyer was ordered to reimburse the Client Protection Program Trust Fund for any client protection payments arising from his conduct prior to the termination of the period of suspension.

Full Article & Source:
Belleville attorney to be suspended for 60 days

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Florida Guardianship Court Permits Dismissal of Incapacity Petition

Sometimes, family members file a Petition for Incapacity over a relative.  Sometimes, the person filing the Petition for Incapacity wants to withdraw the pleading.  Perhaps the Petition was misguided, or the family is able to work things out without the benefit of the guardianship system taking control over the allged incapacitated person.  

One would think that the dismissal of a Petition for Incapacity would be allowed.  Two recent cases from Florida appellate courts come to different conclusions, however.  The most recent case, Katke v. Bersche, 2014 Fla. App. Lexis 19080 (5th DCA  2014), permits the withdrawal of a Petition for Incapacity.  

The facts of the case are somewhat common.  The daughter of the alleged incapacited person, Bersche, filed a Petition for Incapacity.  Shortly thereafter, the guardianship court appointed an emergency temporary guardian ("ETG"), a professional guardian named Kardos.  A short time later, Bersche withdrew the Petition for Incapacity. The professional guardian Kardos then filed her own petition for incapacity in the same proceeding. In mandating the dismissal of the case, the Court explained as follows:

    A party may voluntarily dismiss any claim, and such a dismissal, if accepted by the trial court, deprives the court of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim dismissed." Cutler v. Cutler, 84 So. 3d 1172 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012). The plaintiff's right to voluntarily dismiss its own lawsuit is almost absolute, with exceptions for fraud on the court and child custody. Tobkin v. State, 777 So. 2d 1160, 1162 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001). Here, there was no allegation of fraud. Further-more, the trial court specifically found that the original petition was withdrawn and that all motions attacking the peti-tion were therefore moot. Once the trial court accepted the withdrawal, it lost jurisdiction over the case.  Thus, the court could not find that Kardos had standing to file the Second Petition in the same case or that the parties could set hearings on outstanding discovery motions.

In the earlier case, Jasser v. Saadeh, 97 So.2d 241 (4th DCA 2012), the Petition for Incapacity was filed.  After some litigation, but before the alleged incapacitated person was adjudicated incapacitated, the parties (the AIP, children, and ETG) purportedly settled the case and sought to dismiss the proceedings.  After the settlement fell apart, an appeal from many of the orders of the guardianship court was had.  The appellate court held that the Petition for Incapacity could not be dismissed, as follows:

    The statutes and rules do not provide for the dismissal of a petition to determine the incapacity of an individual before the actual determination of the issue. In Borden v. Guardianship of Borden-Moore, 818 So. 2d 604 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002), the court held that a petition for guardianship could not be dismissed before receiving the report of the examining committee:

    Section 744.331 contemplates that once a facially sufficient petition to determine incapacity has been filed, the court must ensure that the alleged incapacitated person has an attorney, that an appropriately qualified examining committee promptly examines the person, and that an adjudicatory hearing be set no more than fourteen days after the filing of the report of the examining committee, unless good cause is shown to extend that time. Compliance with the requirements of section 744.331 is mandatory and the trial court's failure to adhere to those requirements constitutes reversible error.

    Id. at 608-09. See § 744. 331(4), Fla. Stat. (2008); see also In re Keene, 343 So. 2d 916, 917 (Fla. 4th DCA 1977) ("Proceedings to determine the competency of a person are generally controlled by statute and where a statute prescribes a certain method of proceeding to make that determination, the statute must be strictly followed.") An attorney for the person may not waive an adjudicatory hearing when required. See In re Frederick, 508 So. 2d 44, 45 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987).

    There is good reason for such a rule. If a person is incompetent, it is the duty of the court to assure that person's protection and his or her autonomy is respected to the greatest extent possible. See § 744.1012, Fla. Stat. (2008). To permit dismissal of proceedings where a party is in fact incompetent may endanger that person. On the other hand, without knowing whether the person is actually incompetent, the court could restrict a person's independent ability to deal with his property and place it out of the control of a person who may be completely capacitated. The guardianship statutes and rules should not be used to protect competent persons from their spendthrift ways or to protect their beneficiaries. An individual who is competent should not be subject to the control of the courts through guardianship proceedings, temporary or plenary.

    That the order dismissing the plenary guardianship proceedings was a nullity is further supported by the fact that the order did not dismiss the petition for emergency temporary guardian, revoke the letters of guardianship, or terminate the same. Section 744.3031(1), Florida Statutes (2008), permits the appointment of an ETG only after a petition for determination of incapacity has been filed. For an ETG to be appointed there must be a pending determination of incapacity. As such, the court could not dismiss the petition for incapacity and retain the ETG. Unfortunately, that is what occurred in these proceedings.

The guardianship law in Florida is now tangled, but one point is obvious:  do not file a Petition for Incapacity unless (a) the alleged incapacitated person is truly incapacitated, and (b) you understand that you may not be able to withdraw the petition.  Using a Petition for Incapacity as a tool to coerce settlement or some other behavior is therefore not acceptable (not that it ever was).

Full Article & Source:
Florida Guardianship Court Permits Dismissal of Incapacity Petition

Senior-to-Senior Aggression Common in U.S. Nursing Homes

FRIDAY, Nov. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly adults who live in nursing homes may commonly deal with aggressive or inappropriate behavior from fellow residents, a new study suggests.

The study of 10 centers in New York state found that, in the space of just one month, nearly 20 percent of residents were involved in some type of incident with a fellow resident.

Most often, it was a verbal clash, with someone yelling or cursing at another resident. In other cases, the incidents involved hitting or kicking -- or, in a small percentage, inappropriate touching.

"We discovered that this is a much more prevalent problem than any of us realized," said researcher Karl Pillemer, a gerontology professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Results of the study were presented at a recent meeting of the Gerontological Society of America. Findings from studies presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Pillemer's research also zeroed in on the residents who were most likely to be involved in incidents. "Typically," Pillemer said, "they were people who were in the moderate stages of dementia, but were still physically able to get around."

That makes sense, according to Dr. Laura Mosqueda, a geriatrics specialist who was not involved in the study. Mosqueda directs the National Center on Elder Abuse at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.

Nursing home residents with dementia commonly become confused, and may act out aggressively -- but only if they have the physical capacity to do so, explained Mosqueda.

"I think the point this study raises is, who's responsible or accountable for this behavior?" Mosqueda said. "It's not the residents. In my view, it's the owners and people running the facilities. Do they have enough staff with the appropriate training?"

Still, Mosqueda also cautioned against an alarmist interpretation of the findings.

She noted that one of the more common forms of "aggression" in this study was "unwelcome entry" into another resident's room or going through another person's possessions.

"I'm not saying that behavior is OK," Mosqueda said. But, she added, it's common for dementia patients to become confused and unintentionally wander into a room that is not theirs.

For the study, Pillemer's team randomly selected 10 nursing homes in New York state that housed more than 2,000 residents altogether. Through staff interviews, surveys of residents and direct observation, the researchers estimated that over one month, nearly 20 percent of residents were involved in at least one incident of aggressive or inappropriate behavior.

Overall, 16 percent were involved in a verbal clash, while 10.5 percent had an invasion-of-privacy issue. Almost 6 percent were involved in a physical incident, like kicking, biting or hitting; and just over 1 percent experienced a sexual incident, like inappropriate touching, according to the researchers.
Pillemer said his team did not try to distinguish between "perpetrator" and "victim."

"It's often difficult to know," he noted. "And when you're talking about people with dementia, the traditional terms of 'perpetrator' and 'victim' don't hold up anyway."

One surprise, Pillemer said, was that men and women were equally likely to be involved in these incidents. "We'd suspected that it might be more common among men, but that wasn't the case," he said.

Pillemer added that the findings highlight an issue for nursing home administrators to address. Facilities need not only enough staff members, but also adequately trained ones, he said.

"We believe that the first line of defense is appropriate staff training," Pillemer said. He added that right now, staff often feel frustrated by incidents between residents, but "relatively helpless" in preventing them.

Full Article & Source:
Senior-to-Senior Aggression Common in U.S. Nursing Homes

Monday, November 24, 2014

Documentary: America's Secret Wealth Exchanges

This documentary is the story of a woman who lost her husband then was plunged into the ugly world of greed, corruption, and legal abuse via unnecessary and predatory litigation. The widow was intentionally kept from mitigating damages to the Estate due to the insider activities between lawyers, and an asset management company. The widow was denied economic and civil rights and half of the assets of the estate were drained from her husband's estate. This is known as a public, private, partnership scheme. The short film exposes the billions of dollars that are wasted each year and reveals what has been referred to as "The Dead Man's Scam" and "The Tomb Raider's Club" and involves attorneys, banks, and YOUR property! Legal fees for probate, divorce, and frivolous litigation add up to $315.5 billion per year.

There are cameos by Professor and Rabbi, Kris McDaniel-Miccio, Athena Roe, Shaun T. Lally, Rosemary Lytle, President of the NAACP, Maureen Grier, Carolyn Cathey, and video clips courtesy of Rod Fisher and Haimo Law. Many people falsely believe that having a Will protects your home and assets. Anyone can die suddenly and this is not an age related topic. While people do not want to think about death, everyone will die. The probate system is predatory and survives largely because we as a society have silly beliefs about death and estate planning. Amy Weinhouse, Howard Hughes, Sonny Bono are well-known figures who died without Wills.

Today, America's legal system is commonly used as an abusive bludgeon that forces millions of families to ask for government assistance. This timely documentary unravels the little known facts and statistics to viewers and will shock most. The short documentary reveals the often ignored topic of Estate administration and explains why America must wake up and start "watch dogging" the legal system before there is even more dire consequences to America's families and future.

Athena Roe of HAR Justice Presents: America's Secret Wealth Exchanges

Sunday, November 23, 2014

2 caretakers charged with stealing at least $184,000 from elderly couple

Laticia Lewis, left, and Justina Kemokai

Two live-in caretakers who worked separately for a Highland Park couple have been charged with stealing at least $184,000 through unapproved ATM withdrawals, fraudulent credit card transactions and double billing for services rendered.
The fraudulent activity dating back to 2011 was discovered by the couple's adult children during a review of their parents' accounts, according to police.

Justina Kemokai, 32, of the 6400 block of South Stony Island Avenue, Chicago, has been charged with financial exploitation of the elderly, theft, fraud and forgery.
Laticia Lewis, 40, of the first block of Oxford Drive, Carpentersville, has been charged with financial exploitation of the elderly and theft.

Full Article & Source:
2 caretakers charged with stealing at least $184,000 from elderly couple

Criminal Charges for Belfast Lawyer Accused of Bilking 2 Elderly Clients

A lawyer from Belfast accused of bilking two elderly clients of more than $300,000 has been indicted by a Waldo County grand jury for theft and misuse of entrusted property.

60-year-old William Dawson is accused of paying himself more than $150,000  from the bank account of an 86-year-old woman.

Court documents say he stole the money over four years, ending last year.

Dawson’s also accused of taking more than $135,000  from a 98-year-old woman.

That reportedly went on for nine months.

Court documents say Dawson overbilled the clients, too.

Last year a probate judge removed Dawson from control of the accounts.

Both women have since died.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in December Dawson can still practice law, but under strict conditions.

He’s due in court on the criminal charges next month.

Full Article & Source:
Criminal Charges for Belfast Lawyer Accused of Bilking 2 Elderly Clients