Saturday, January 3, 2015

Guardianship bill needed

This should be top item on Ohio legislature’s new-year agenda

New court records and testimony accusing an Upper Arlington attorney of taking advantage of his court-appointed wards should galvanize the incoming General Assembly to finally pass clear protections for Ohio’s most-vulnerable residents.

A bill that would have accomplished this was left for dead by the lame-duck legislature earlier this month. The anti-abortion lobby seized on a ward’s “Bill of Rights,” whose provisions included a privacy-of-the body clause, as an opening for young girls to demand abortions. That’s a real stretch, given that the majority of Ohio’s 65,000 court-appointed wards are elderly, but the bill ran out of time to iron out the totally unexpected opposition.

House Bill 624 would have codified appropriate legal guidelines for guardians who are entrusted with making personal, financial and medical decisions in their ward’s best interests.

The crying need for this was demonstrated a week ago in a Franklin County probate courtroom, where two wards’ families accused attorney Paul S. Kormanik of looting their loved ones of valuable belongings, family heirlooms and cash.

They became suspicious after reading a Dispatch series, “Unguarded,” that detailed the lack of oversight of unscrupulous guardians by probate courts that are either negligent or complicit.

The newspaper detailed stories of wards stripped of everything: their freedom, homes, treasured belongings and dignity. Meanwhile, some attorney guardians siphoned accounts by charging high legal fees for ordinary work, or they hired their families and paid them from the wards’ accounts.

Among the worst, according to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, is Kormanik. At one time, he boasted his 400 wards probably made him the biggest guardian in the nation. Today, he faces two felony theft charges that could send him to prison for 4½ years.

Those criminal charges are unrelated to the probate court claims heard last week. If substantiated, O’Brien should pursue additional charges. Each and every victim deserves justice.

Likewise, the allegations raise concerns as to whether tax fraud was involved. Prosecutors should update the IRS, which has a talented pool of investigators who can root out financial misdeeds.

According to the probate-court testimony, more than $55,000 and valuable furnishings are unaccounted for from the Bexley home of a 91-year-old woman.

An elderly Galloway man’s home was missing at least 49 items, a daughter told the court. But one item did turn up: A riding mower is at the home of Kormanik’s paralegal, Julie Whisner. Her family has been using it for the past year. After initially refusing to return it, they’d agreed to — for a $120 delivery fee.

The family still hasn’t gotten the mower back.

Kormanik, who has since resigned or, in other cases, been removed from managing the affairs of his wards, invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege and declined to answer questions in court.

“This has been nothing but a nightmare,” said Linda Gomez, the daughter of the Bexley woman.
Ohio’s broken guardianship system demands repair. People are suffering.

State Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marysville, who co-wrote the guardianship bill with Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, vowed to reintroduce the bill with clearer requirements in the new session.
Lawmakers should take up this bill immediately and pass these protections.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship bill needed


Anonymous said...

People tend to think getting legislation passed is easy, but that's not the reality. The opposition has deep pockets.

Randy said...

I hope the good people of OH stay on their legislators. The Columbus Dispatch "Unguarded" articles paved the way; now it takes the public to keep pushing.

Rosanna said...

I knocked at Pelanda's door a number of times about the slaughtered investigation of my Mom's murder, the abuse my mentally impaired Dad was suffering and now he is being murdered on psychotropic drugs to restrain him after he's tried to commit suicide to go home, which he could. I was REFUSED the guardianship because the judicial cabal needs ownership of his signature. All this to extort $850,000 from my God loving, simple, humble, frugal, parents lifelong labor.

I was REFUSED assistance from Pelanda or ANY of my representatives. So if it took the media to get her to write a bill of rights this is proof it is not their masters they are working for. Thanks to the media turning the light on corruption and proving our representatives were NOT listening to us.

Have you ever web searched "bill of rights"? How many pop up? What happened to the Bill of Rights to the Constitution FOR the united States OF America? What was wrong with those rights? Or what about to the Declaration of Independence guaranteeing all men are EQUAL to our LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY? What happened to those ORGANIC LAWS? What representative, or better yet JUDICIAL CRIMINALS (who hold no such authority), outlawed them in our country?

If those Constitutional Bill of Rights can be IGNORED what in the world will a bill of rights for seniors do????

The problem is there are NO criminal codes attached to them. And until there is, this is NOTHING more than for appearance of justice and ignoring the real issue of criminal activity.

I know some will say "well at least they are doing something". What is something, when it will do nothing at all, except put more codes in the books and secure their salaries?

Too many of us are murdered, abused, exploited, suffering and oppressed beyond simple human decency that need no bill of rights!!! This well oiled criminal monster has gone so far as to refuse my Mother a headstone with her own money while they steal it and still no justice for her death.

Nothing will change till the legalized criminals are convicted and held to the highest penalty of the law. I vote to have the 10 Commandments reinstated. Most of them have the death penalty and then they will get the real judgment they deserve.

Kathleen said...

Guardianship as we know it is just away to legally steal and abuse people. There needs to be accountability for all this ABUSE.