Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wayne Residents Among Six Home Health Agency Employees Charged with Scamming Medicaid

Press release:
Six current and former home health agency employees have been charged by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor for scamming Medicaid, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.

Recently, Anatoli Rountsev, 52, of Totowa, pleaded guilty to charges that he caused bills to be submitted to the Medicaid program for services that were never provided.

Rountsev pleaded guilty Dec. 19 to one count of second-degree health care claims fraud. As part of the plea agreement, the State recommended that he serve three years in state prison and pay restitution in the amount of $12,598. His sentencing is scheduled for March 27, 2015.

Rountsev admitted that between January 2008 and June 2009, he caused 463 false claims to be submitted to Medicaid for services that he did not provide. Rountsev failed to provide home health aide services for Medicaid beneficiaries on hundreds of claims since he was actually at another, unrelated job, and therefore unable to have performed any of the services, Hoffman said. The investigation determined that, as a result, Medicaid paid out $12,598.

Rountsev was a certified homemaker home health aide at Confident Care Corporation, a company that is headquartered in Hackensack and has ten satellite offices throughout New Jersey, as well as offices in Florida.

He is one of six current or former employees of Confident Care to be charged by OIFP for scamming Medicaid in a similar fashion. The others include:
  • Vladimir Faerman, 66, of Hawthorne, charged in October with 175 counts of second-degree health care claims fraud, second-degree theft by deception and third-degree Medicaid fraud. Faerman allegedly caused fraudulent claims totaling $87,616.23 to be submitted to the Medicaid program for work he never actually completed.

  • Elhan Gurban, 52, of Fort Lee, charged in July with 45 counts of second-degree health care claims fraud and one count each of third-degree Medicaid fraud and third-degree theft by deception. Gurban allegedly caused 1,413 false claims to be submitted to Medicaid, which paid out $64,125.

  • Roman Abashkin, 32, of Wayne, charged in July with 24 counts of second-degree health care claims fraud and one count each of third-degree Medicaid fraud and third-degree theft by deception. Abashkin allegedly caused 212 fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicaid, which paid out $6,664.

  • Semen Rybalov, 68, of Wayne, charged in July with 15 counts of second-degree health care claims fraud and one count each of third-degree Medicaid fraud and third-degree theft by deception. Rybalov allegedly caused 45 false claims to be submitted to Medicaid, which paid out $2,180.

  • Naum Lavnevich, 56, of Oakland charged in June with 154 counts of second-degree health care claims fraud, one count of third-degree Medicaid fraud and one count of third-degree theft by deception. Lavenich allegedly caused 178 false claims to be submitted to Medicaid, which paid out $5,614.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll‑free hotline at 1‑877‑55‑FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.

Full Article & Source:
Wayne Residents Among Six Home Health Agency Employees Charged with Scamming Medicaid

Armengau, 5 other lawyers face misconduct charges

Six Columbus-area lawyers, including one convicted of raping a client, face professional-misconduct charges before the disciplinary arm of the Ohio Supreme Court.

The filing of the cases before the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline seeking action against the lawyers’ licenses was announced this week by court officials.

A probable-cause panel recommended that suspended Columbus lawyer Javier Armengau be permanently disbarred following his conviction for raping one client and sexually assaulting two other women.

Armengau, 52, was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Aug. 26. But, the disciplinary complaint against him further accuses Armengau of a laundry-list of misconduct involving at least a dozen cases.

The complaint accuses him of conflicts of interest, charging excessive fees, making false statements, failing to return client funds, dishonesty, incivility, false advertising and client trust-fund violations.

Six other local lawyers also face charges before the disciplinary board.

Stephen E. Hillman, of Dublin, was cited for misconduct involving federal income tax violations from 2009 to 2011. He was placed on six months of house arrest this year and ordered to pay $133,899 to the IRS.

Full Article & Source:
Armengau, 5 other lawyers face misconduct charges

Friday, December 26, 2014

Texas Guardians Sue the Department of Aging and Disability Services

After months of protesting and petitions, guardians of disabled Austin State Supported Living Center residents – ordered to transfer their loved ones from the place they call home – have taken their fight to court.

In June, families received a letter from the Department of Aging and Disability Services, notifying them it would be closing seven cottages at the West 35th Street SSLC, due to staffing shortages. Seventy-one residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities would need to either find placement at a community home or move to an SSLC outside of Austin – most likely Bren­ham or San Antonio, placing the disabled up to 90 miles away from their support networks. (See the Chronicle's Sept. 19 cover story "Evicted and Helpless.") The Sunset Advisory Commission separately recommended closing the Austin SSLC altogether, largely for cost-saving reasons; the final decision will be made by the Legislature. Some caretakers of severely disabled residents are concerned that the vulnerable SSLC residents would not be able to survive in a community/group home setting.

Today, of the 71 residents asked to leave the SSLC, 34 are going to a residence in the community and 24 are transferring to other SSLCs. But according to DADS spokesperson Melissa Gale, 13 have chosen "other options" – including 11 who have requested an administrative hearing to contest the proposed transfer, and guardians Stephen Wallace and Forrest Novy, who have each filed lawsuits to challenge the decision made by state health officials.

Fighting to keep his severely autistic son, Justin, at the SSLC, attorney Wallace filed suit against Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek, Deputy Commissioner Chris Traylor, and DADS Assistant Commissioner Scott Schalchlin in U.S. Western District Court in late August, alleging violations of equal protection and due process. State officials offered only two alternatives before "forced eviction": move to a community setting or to the SSLC in Brenham. Absent any compelling reason based on Justin's actual needs, Wallace charges, the option to remain at the Austin SSLC wasn't even on the table. "The state actors, without proper planning or preparation, seek to commence life-changing and possibly life threatening alterations to this severely handicapped individual's services," writes Wallace.

Other guardians contesting the eviction say they're also considering legal action. Jeanette Ball, the 90-year-old mother of a 43-year SSLC resident with brain damage and seizure disorders, said she doesn't feel her son would be able to receive equal care in a community setting and that she would not be able to make the 80-mile journey to San Antonio to visit him. "It's his home. These are the only people he knows, besides family members," said Ball. Autistic and blind Bradley Brisbane's mother, Emma, says her son has lived at the Austin SSLC for more than 40 years, and she fears for his safety if transferred. Carol Cook, a single mother of an SSLC resident with behavioral disorders and uncontrollable seizures, is also challenging the transfer. "Someone else is making these decisions and I don't have a choice," said Cook. "I think that's the worst thing."

The lawsuits, while delaying the transfers, may simply prolong the inevitable. "We know it's a David versus Goliath battle; we know we might be grasping at straws," said Justin's mother, Debra Wallace. "But what else are we supposed to do? Just give up?"

Guardians also wonder if these agency plans have been in the works well before the eviction notices. For years, the developer who owns land 75 feet from the cottages sought rezoning for multifamily housing, and in 2007, Texas Land Com­mis­sioner Jerry Patterson urged the Austin City Council to rezone the land, and the state to sell or lease the "underutilized" SSLC property to "maximize" the land value of the 95-acre tract of potentially prime Westside real estate. In May 2014, Council finally agreed to townhouse and condo zoning for the adjacent tract. A month later, state officials notified SSLC residents of the closure.

Full Article and Source:
Guardians Sue DADS

Mental Health Court Waiver Denied for Georgia Probate Judge Mays

A request for a waiver that would have allowed Rockdale County’s Probate Court judge to preside over an adult mental health court has been denied.

Probate Judge Charles K. Mays Sr. was notified in a letter from the Judicial Council of Georgia on Dec. 1 that the request was denied based on “failure to meet the requirement of ongoing judicial interaction.”
The letter goes on to point out that standards require that a Superior Court judge preside over felony courts or a judge from another class of court if that judge is designated by the chief judge of the judicial circuit.
Mays has been attempting to establish an adult mental health court for more than six months, even though he is not an attorney and does not qualify to preside over such a court. He initially applied in March for a grant of more than $360,000.
In a June 6 letter from Rockdale Chief Superior Court Judge Irwin to Rockdale County’s Finance Department, obtained by the Citizen through an Open Records request, Irwin wrote that the Probate Court in Rockdale County has no jurisdiction to operate an accountability court. Irwin also stated that he did not sign any grant proposal seeking funds for an accountability court.
According to the Judicial Council letter, in order to receive state appropriations for an accountability court, the court must be certified or have a received a waiver, for good cause, from the council.
Mays is embroiled in a legal battle related to his efforts to start and oversee an adult mental health court. Earlier this year he hired Freya Pearson as a consultant preparing grant applications for accountability courts, according to Pearson’s attorney, Michael Waldrop.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holidays can be very hard on the elderly, especially those living in facilities

Make Christmas Special this Year!

Let the forgotten know they are remembered 
 that someone truly cares!

If you can't visit...

Give the next best thing...

Give a Merry Christmas call!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sheriff Seeks Victims of Financial Exploitation

Joseph Perou - (courtey: Phelps County Sheriff's Dept.)

ROLLA, Mo. - The Phelps County sheriff is asking anyone who may have been victimized by a man jailed in Rolla on charges of financial exploitation of the elderly and forgery to contact his office.

Sheriff Rick Lisenbe said in a news release Thursday, “If you have had any type transaction with (Joseph Matthew) Perou and believe it may be fraudulent, call the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department at (573) 426-3860.”

Perou is in the Phelps County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond in connection with the exploitation charges and $100,000 on the forgery case.

The charges stem from what the sheriff called phony or fraudulent construction contracts and a forged check. He said Perou was a suspect of multiple fraudulent construction contracts throughout the Phelps County area since January.

Full Article & Source:
Sheriff Seeks Victims of Financial Exploitation

Sentence hearing held for Orillia couple found guilty of elder abuse

Sentence hearing
Click Above for Video

An Orillia couple found guilty of not providing proper care for an elderly woman will soon learn their fate.

A sentencing hearing in the case was held in a Barrie courtroom on Friday.

Both the Crown and the defence made their pre-sentence submissions and because of the seriousness of the case the Crown is seeking a significant prison sentence.

The maximum is five years in jail; the Crown wants 18 months to two year plus probation for two more years.

Both defence lawyers are asking for a condition sentence with probation.

Diane Davy and her husband James Davy were convicted with failing to provide the necessities of life for Diane’s mother – 76-year-old Viola Simonds.

Simonds was found in her bed in the couple’s home covered in vomit, urine and feces suffering from a broken hip. She died a few months later.

Three family members offered victim impact statements Friday in court.

Sue McConnell, Simonds' daughter-in-law, said her kids were not able to get to know what kind of a woman she was and she prays that she has found peace.

When asked by the judge if they had anything to say James Davy said no and Diane Davy said she never meant any harm and did what she could.

The judge is expected to hand down his sentence in mid-January.

Full Article & Source:
Sentence hearing held for Orillia couple found guilty of elder abuse

Two men set to be sentenced after filming shocking abuse of elderly people in Lowestoft and Gorleston

Ipswich Crown Court, where the two men will be sentenced next month

Two men who hoped to make money out of filming elderly people being verbally abused are to be sentenced in January.

Ian Hatwell was filmed by Scott King as he went up to elderly people and swore at them and blew an airhorn in their faces.

The elderly victims were said to have been shocked and sickened by the abuse they suffered at the hands of Hatwell as he was filmed by King.

Today, both men pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to using threatening behaviour and sentence was adjourned until January 12 to allow a pre-sentence report to be prepared on King and for the film footage to be seen by the sentencing judge.

At an earlier hearing, Lowestoft Magistrates heard that Hatwell, 31, of Compass Street, Lowestoft, and Scott King, 29, of Clarkson Road, Norwich, targeted elderly victims in 2011 to make a DVD of their reactions as a quick way to make money.

Their crimes came to light after officers found the DVD, which had 16 minutes of footage of mainly Hatwell abusing victims as King drove him around in a car and recorded him on camera.

A laptop computer was then found with further shocking images.

The images showed Hatwell going up to elderly people in the street and abusing them, knocking on people’s doors and blowing an airhorn straight into occupants faces, setting off a rape alarm in Tesco and throwing liquid into an elderly person’s face,

One image shows an elderly woman in Kessingland being abused and told “to have a short life”.
A victim statement said the woman “felt sick at what she had been called”.

Another victim, identified by police, was a security guard at the Pontins holiday centre in Pakefield who had a hearing aid and was seen having an airhorn blown into his face as he was filmed.

The incident left the man “shocked”.

A third victim was seen to have liquid thrown at him as he was working on a wall in Florence Road, Pakefield.

The court was told PC Kevin Durrant had investigated the images and he had found the footage “completely abhorrent”.  (Read more)

Full Article & Source:
Two men set to be sentenced after filming shocking abuse of elderly people in Lowestoft and Gorleston

Monday, December 22, 2014

Guards for guardians?

Recognize potential for greed to warp the process

There are, sadly, all too many ways to exploit the elderly, from complex investment scams to simple theft. That is one big reason guardianship laws were created -- to protect a vulnerable population. But a recent Herald-Tribune series exposed the reality that guardianships themselves sometimes become a form of abuse -- draining elders' crucial financial assets in the twilight years.

Though such cases don't represent the majority of guardianships, there are enough troubling examples to paint a clear picture of a system needing reforms. Steps should be pursued that would reduce escalating legal costs, strengthen independent oversight, resolve family conflicts before they get to court, and -- when feasible -- choose protections that are less invasive than full guardianship.

As the Herald-Tribune's Barbara Peters Smith reported in her series "The Kindness of Strangers," Florida's guardianship statute "is considered one of the best in the world, but its practical application has been criticized by advocacy groups and elder law scholars as paternalistic, ruthless and even corrupt."

Taking away control

The series focused on cases in which elders were swept (often with little or no warning) into a court system that deemed them "incapacitated," taking away their opportunity to control their own lives. 

Their assets were sold off or depleted in order to pay for care, nursing homes, attorneys' fees and such -- services that are often necessary when people present a danger to themselves or others. Yet there is a risk that less charitable motives -- such as gaining income from the ward's assets -- can enter into the push for guardianship. Failure to properly inform the ward, or relatives, of the legal process can further thwart an individual's right to dispute the action.

Full Article & Source:
Guards for guardians?

Readers respond to 'Kindness of Strangers' series

Enlightening. Scary. And sad.

These three words crop up often in the dozens of emails and phone calls I have received since the Herald-Tribune's publication of "The Kindness of Strangers," a look at elder guardianship in Florida.

The stories of people trapped and bewildered by a system designed to help them are certainly sad and scary — but I was especially happy to hear from people who are also focused on learning more about this overlooked aspect of elder justice, and arriving at workable solutions.

Some ways to make the process of protecting incapacitated elders less intrusive and more fair were touched on in Part 3 of the series.

But I've also heard from readers who want to know what they personally can do to protect themselves or loved ones from enduring the same legal tangles as the Floridians we profiled.

Having proper legal documents is a necessary first start. But when a petition for emergency temporary guardianship is filed, sometimes these written wishes can be set aside by the court, if there is any claim against their validity.

One attorney I spoke to suggested making a video of yourself while you are still fully in possession of your mental faculties. This vivid evidence that you were of sound mind and free of undue influences when you made decisions about who should handle your health care and finances, she said, can be very compelling to a judge.

And, of course, there is no substitute for clear, frank communications with your family and others you will rely on as you age. Avoiding conflict now, and making your intentions clear to everyone involved, will help your loved ones form a united front if they are ever called on to speak in your behalf.

One interesting response to our series came from Laurie Anspach, the executive director of the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights of Florida. This organization champions mental health rights, and has worked to curb the overmedication of children.

But Anspach said she sees parallels in the cases of adult wards who are medicated in long-term care facilities.

"We get a lot of hotline calls from family members whose parent has been committed through the Baker Act, and a guardian is appointed," she said.

One tactic CCHR is exploring could help delay the rush to guardianship that includes a court-ordered mental assessment. Anspach's group, consulting with attorneys, has prepared a document that withholds consent for this exam. The form is modeled on one that parents can use to refuse medical access to their children, and it is intended for use by an elder's designated health care surrogate.

"We have given it out to elders, but it's in the pilot stage," Anspach says. "I don't have any evidence yet that it's been used."

You can download the "Non-Consent Form for Elderly" at the group's website.  (Read more)

Full Article & Source:
Readers respond to 'Kindness of Strangers' series

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pasadena, TX Presbyterians Want State Agency to Return Church Assets, Allow Minister Visits

Members of Faith Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, TX are protesting the Texas Dept. of Aging and Disability Services' (DADS) lack of oversight of what they claim are their church assets, along with the four-year retention of an elderly ordained Presbyterian pastor.

Rev. John Stout,a former NASA chaplain and disabled WWII vet, helped form the 40,000-member Apollo Prayer League. APL worked with Apollo 14 astronauts to land the King James Version of the Holy Bible on the moon in 1971. The League operated under the auspices of Faith Presbyterian Church as a 501(c)3.

Now, 91, Stout, the League and the church figure prominently in a book about their roles in getting the first Bible to the moon onboard a spacecraft. "The Apostles of Apollo: The Journey of the Bible to the Moon..." by Carol Mersch.

According to court records, in October 2010, DADS took possession of Stout's assets, including various space memorabilia -- dozens of valuable lunar bibles in microfiche form that had gone to the lunar surface or circled the moon. A similar one was auctioned by Heritage Galleries in May.

The pastor and his wife, Mary Helen, were declared "incapacitated" wards of the state and relegated to the Heritage Villa Nursing Home, Dayton, TX, as federally-supported Medicaid residents. (Texas Case No. CV25849, 344th District Court. Texas Dept., 02/09/10, Order Appointing Permanent Guardian of the Person and Estate.

A DADS guardianship supervisor testified that Stout had indeed been held incommunicado in that facility. According to court documents, his computer was taken away; his mail censored; incoming and outgoing phone calls prohibited, along with stamps or writing materials, and only pre-approved visitors. Betty Duke,81, an Elder and Treasurer of Faith Presbyterian, she and a group of church parishioners visited the nursing home on Sept. 5 to visit Stout and console him in the loss of his wife, Helen, of 71 years. However, the home's administrator, Dexter Guice, denied access to the group on the grounds for "his (Stout's) own protection."

Duke mailed complaint letters Sept. 12 on church letterhead to DADS guardian Vicki Jones of Houston; DADS Commissioner John Weizenbaum, Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott, TV news commentator Glenn Beck and others.

In her letter, she questioned DADS compliance with Abbott's on-line definition of elder abuse. 

Full Article and Source:
Pasadena, TX Presbyterians Want State Agency to Return Church Assets, Allow Minister Visits  

Protect older loved ones from theft

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give an older loved one doesn't come with a bow on top. It's your alert, caring eye for signs of possible abuse.

Adult children who worry their parents may be financially exploited by a relative, caregiver or friend can often spot signs when the family gets together for the December holidays. While elder fraud is often committed by relatives of the victim, relatives are also the ones most likely to come to the rescue, suggests Jim Rothrock, commissioner of the Dept. of Aging and Rehabilitative Services.

Anne See, a public benefits and elder law paralegal at Blue Ridge Legal Services, says her case load of late bears that out.

Typical financial exploitation cases

Financial exploitation of older adults can involve theft in many forms: income, cash, accounts, assets, or property, See says.

"I had a case with an elderly gentleman who was being cared for by a relative who abandoned him to a nursing home," said the paralegal. "The relative continued to get his checks. It was the man's son who found and brought his father home, and asked us to try to get the money back."

A most common situation See encounters is the misuse of an older person's money by someone who's living with them.

"They have access," she explained. "They're on the bank account. But they use it for themselves rather than the family member."

One of her current cases involves a woman in an assisted living facility whose daughter is taking her mother's income.

"It's sad. The daughter's words to me were, 'My mother never took care of me when I was little, and I need to take care of my child, so I'm going to use the money," See said.

She also finds many older people signing over their homes to children who promise to care for them, and then don't.

Some seniors come to her wanting to change their power of attorney because they've discovered it's being misused. The power of attorney to make our medical or financial decisions when we're no longer capable is a powerful instrument. You must be fully competent to give someone that power, and fully competent to change it, See says.

Unfortunately, the exploitation often occurs when the person has grown less capable. In that case, Blue Ridge Legal Services tries to help concerned family members petition the court to become their loved one's guardian and conservator.

Full Article & Source:
Protect older loved ones from theft