Saturday, January 17, 2015

Linda Kincaid Reports: Family’s 4th request to CCL for elder abuse, sexual assault investigation

On August 2, 2012 Wildwood Canyon Villa resident Jean Swope required ambulance transport to the emergency room for vaginal bleeding and genital trauma. Records obtained from the San Bernardino County assisted living facility indicate that Jean was terrified of a male caregiver who worked alone at night. 

Jean would refuse personal care when the male caregiver was present. She was especially resistant to the male caregiver assisting her to the bathroom. Caregiver notes indicated that Jean feared he would kill her. Wildwood Canyon Villa concealed the incidents from family and from law enforcement. 

Jean’s medical records contained the following indicators of sexual assault.

· Vaginal bleeding
· Blood clots in vagina
· Thrombosed (clotted) tissue in vagina
· Thrombosed (clotted) tissue at urethra
· Necrotic (dead) tissue in vagina
· Fissures in labia
· Foul smelling discharge
· Brown yellow fluid
· Severe agitation on attempts to conduct exam
· Physical aggression on attempts to conduct exam
· Likely history of sexual abuse

Jean's family learned of the incidents in March 2013. On March 11, 2013, family asked Community Care Licensing (CCL) to investigate. On December 12, 2014, Regional Manager Robert Gomez responded with a letter confirming that CCL delayed nearly five months before conducting their required “10-day” initial investigation. 

CCL took ten months to complete their investigation. According to Gomez, the investigation included a review of Jean’s medical records containing the sexual assault indicators listed above. Then CCL determined the allegation to be “inconclusive.”

On November 26, 2014, legal counsel for Jean’s family took the deposition of the male caregiver who terrified Jean. When asked under oath if he sexually assaulted Jean, the male caregiver refused to answer the question. He exercised his Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating himself.

On December 3, 2015, Jean’s family sent the following letter to Robert Gomez.
Mr. Gomez,
RE: Fourth request to investigate sexual assault at Wildwood Canyon Villa, Request for public records
My March 11, 2013 letter asked Community Care Licensing (CCL) to investigate possible sexual assaults on my mom by a male caregiver at Wildwood Canyon Villa in Yucaipa. That letter contained indictors of sexual assault from documents created by Wildwood Canyon Villa and Senior Home Caregivers.
My December 12, 2014 letter again asked CCL to investigate possible sexual assaults on my mom by a male caregiver at Wildwood Canyon Villa. That letter contained indicators of sexual assault from documents created by VITAS hospice nurse Sandra Coggins, RN.
My December 22, 2014 letter asked CCL to assign a competent investigator, conduct a thorough investigation of possible sexual assaults, and fulfill your duty as mandated reporters of elder abuse. That letter contained indicators of sexual assault from documents created by VITAS hospice physician Dr. Victoria Rains.
This letter is my fourth request for CCL to investigate possible sexual assaults on my mom by a male caregiver at Wildwood Canyon Villa. This letter contains indicators of sexual assault from documents created by Kaiser Permanente. This letter also contains a fax from the temporary conservator and her legal counsel instructing Wildwood Canyon Villa to conceal the incidents from family. Wildwood did in fact conceal the incidents from family and from law enforcement.
On December 24, 2014, you wrote:
In reviewing the chronology of inspection visits related to the complaint, Licensing Program Analyst (LPA) Susan Parker conducted an initial investigation on August 1, 2013.
Your response confirmed that CCL delayed from March until August prior to investigating an allegation of sexual assault. Your response did not provide any explanation for CCL’s delay of nearly five months prior to conducting the “10-day” initial investigation.
On December 24, 2014, you wrote:
On January 21, 2014, LPA Parker delivered the inconclusive findings regarding the above referenced allegation.
Your response did not address CCL’s delay of nearly a year prior to CCL concluding their investigation of sexual assault. Your response did not address CCL’s failure to notify family that CCL concluded their investigation. Your response did not address CCL’s refusal to provide a copy of the investigation report in a timely fashion. Your response did not answer my question as to whether CCL fulfilled their duty as mandated reporters of elder abuse.
On December 24, 2014, you wrote:
After reviewing the documentation from the facility and from Kaiser Hospital, it appears that the investigation was conducted appropriately and the inconclusive finding was issued appropriately.
Your response casts doubt on your veracity. CCL did not request Kaiser medical records from family or from our legal counsel. It seems unlikely that CCL independently subpoenaed my mom’s medical records. However, for the moment, we will accept your statement as true.
Let us revisit the Kaiser medical records that you indicate CCL reviewed. Those July and August 2012 medical records noted:
· Request for psychiatric evaluation
· Vaginal bleeding
· Blood clots in vagina
· Thrombosed (clotted) tissue in vagina
· Thrombosed (clotted) tissue at urethra
· Necrotic (dead) tissue in vagina
· Fissures in labia
· Foul smelling discharge
· Brown yellow fluid
· Severe agitation on attempts to conduct exam
· Physical aggression on attempts to conduct exam
· Likely history of sexual abuse
Your response indicates that CCL does not consider the issues above to be indicators of sexual assault. Therefore, I request that you provide CCL’s protocol for investigating allegations of sexual assault, including any indicators that CCL uses when investigating sexual assault. Please consider this letter a request for public records as covered under the California Public Records Act.
Mid-January, we expect to receive the certified deposition transcript of the male caregiver whom we believe repeatedly sexually assaulted my mom at Wildwood Canyon Villa. We will provide that transcript when it is available.
Readers who suspect a loved one may have been sexually assaulted by a male caregiver can contact this Examiner at

Full Article & Source:
Family’s 4th request to CCL for elder abuse, sexual assault investigation

Quincy man given probation in financial exploitation of elderly case

QUINCY -- A Quincy man was sentenced to probation on Wednesday in a financial exploitation of the elderly case in Adams County Circuit Court.

Judge Michael Atterberry adhered to the wishes of the mother of Kevin D. Fortman, 57, who asked that her son be given probation after an Adams County jury found in November that he illegally used funds from her checking account over an 18-month period. Atterberry sentenced Fortman to 30 months probation and 90 days in jail, with all of the jail time stayed pending a review in April.

Fortman could have been sentenced to between four and 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after being convicted of the Class 1 felony. The felony conviction is Fortman's first.

Assistant State's Attorney Anita Rodriguez said Fortman's 85-year-old mother asked that her son not be sent to prison or serve any jail time in the case.

"Given the circumstances, I think that is an appropriate recommendation," Rodriguez said.

Fortman had power of attorney over his 85-year-old mother's affairs. She was living in a Quincy nursing home when Fortman took nearly $8,000 from her between September 2012 and March 2014. Fortman will have to pay $7,993.32 in restitution. His mother will receive $1,740, and the rest will go to the nursing home where his mother lives.

Rodriguez said Fortman took money from his mother's checking account to pay off his credit card bills and bank loans.

Fortman was not allowed to have contact with his mother between his April 15 arrest and Nov. 18 at the end of the two-day trial. It took the jury only 45 minutes to render its decision. A no-contact order was lifted after the jury came to its decision.

"The most difficult time in my client's life was the period of time when he was out on bond and wasn't allowed to see her," said Drew Schnack, who represented Fortman.

Fortman's mother attended Wednesday's sentencing.

Fortman apologized for his actions, but he did not understand why he had been charged with a felony.

"This whole thing, in my mind, is a big misunderstanding," Fortman said. "If I have a felony on my record, I'm going to lose my business immediately. How am I supposed to pay this off if I can't work?"

Fortman has been free since being released on a $25,000 recognizance bond after he was arrested on April 15.

Full Article & Source:
Quincy man given probation in financial exploitation of elderly case

Fingerprint-Supported Web Portal Helps Kentucky Protect Vulnerable Citizens

The portal pulls state and federal law enforcement data on health-care job-seekers, adding another layer of protection that identifies prospective workers hiding illegal or abusive acts committed in other states. 

Kentucky is seeking to implement more stringent criminal records searches for those wanting to care for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Though still in the embryonic stage, the Kentucky Applicant Registry and Employment Screening program, or KARES, is another layer of protection aimed at weeding out prospective care workers hiding illegal or abusive deeds committed in other states.

The new high-tech background check program is a pre-hiring fingerprint-supported state and FBI Web portal available to long-term care facilities and employers. The portal was created to support the Kentucky National Background Check Program, a state effort intended to help reduce the potential for abuse — including financial exploitation — of elderly and vulnerable adults.

In August 2013, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Office of Inspector General launched a website for KARES, meant to supplement screening that providers currently must perform, said Al Ervin, business analyst for the office of administrative technology at CHFS.

A pilot venture kicked off last May, with 24 long-term care facilities across the state sending applicants to 35 fingerprint collection sites. Kentucky is one of 25 states to receive a $4 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to fund the program.

“Our goal with the pilot was to keep it to a limited number of participants in a controlled environment,” Ervin said.

The LiveScan electronic fingerprint units, provided by Virginia-based biometic and identity solution company MorphoTrak, are kept at three dozen employment training centers. The fingerprint scanning process takes about 30 minutes, after which applicant data is transmitted to local police and FBI offices. Results come back within 24 to 72 hours.

Employers eligible for the service include assisted living communities, home health agencies, hospices and nursing facilities. Under the program, backed by the Kentucky State Police among others, candidates seeking long-term care employment will no longer be able to hide criminal activity committed in other states, noted CHFS Inspector General Maryellen Mynear.

Workers subject to a background check under KARES have one-on-one contact with patients, said Mynear. This includes volunteers providing direct services similar to that of a paid worker.

During the program’s pilot phase, KARES proved it worked. The system made several ineligible rulings on individuals based on past criminal history. Among the disqualifying offenses are felonies related to sexual or violent crimes, as well as criminal abuse that involves a child or adult. Activity involving theft and embezzlement will also keep wannabe workers out of long-term care facilities.

“We’re trying to prevent any kind of abuse, exploitation or neglect of the elderly,” Mynear said.

“There are many ways our patients can be taken advantage of.”

Before KARES, state law required caregivers to use only name-based background checks conducted by state police or the Administrative Office of the Courts. A semblance of change in this procedure came in 2011 with the reinvigoration of a state-sponsored elder abuse prevention task force, initially created to strengthen support of a care facility system wracked by stories of neglect and ill treatment of patients. In 2007, the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services received 45,048 reports of adult abuse, 9,660 of which were for persons ages 60 and older, according to CHFS.

Discussions about adding a comprehensive fingerprint-based vetting system began in 2011 when the state Office of Inspector General (OIG) applied for grant funding. It took several years of development to integrate KARES into state employment centers. Ervin reports that the technology has been well received by participants since the pilot launched in spring 2014.

“It’s a simple, user-friendly platform to work with,” he said. “There have been no problems using the system or with the hiring of applicants.”

Challenges Ahead
That’s not to say there aren’t issues to smooth out before a statewide rollout of the KARES program takes place. For example, three dozen fingerprinting locations are not nearly enough for the state’s 120 counties, according to officials. Filling those gaps will likely mean buying more equipment or sharing resources across agencies. In addition, the OIG will have to address accessibility issues for scanning stations located in counties with geographical impediments like mountains that make them harder to reach.

Meanwhile, Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill that would make the multi-state background check a mandatory program for long-term care settings. Proceedings on the bill, which the OIG will present to the Kentucky General Assembly this year, are expected to delay wider implementation of KARES until at least mid-2015, Ervin said.

Full Article & Source:
Fingerprint-Supported Web Portal Helps Kentucky Protect Vulnerable Citizens

Friday, January 16, 2015

Former Family Court judge disbarred, awaits fraud sentence

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A former Nevada state court judge has been disbarred ahead of sentencing next month to what is expected to be a 27 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in a fraud case.

Steven Jones's defense attorney, Robert Draskovich, on Tuesday characterized the disbarment order issued Friday by Nevada Supreme Court as a formality and a fulfillment of his client's promise in a plea deal reached in September.

Prosecutors dropped 19 conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges in return for Jones' guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The 56-year-old Jones resigned from the bench after pleading guilty, and submitted his petition for disbarment after 30 years as a lawyer in Nevada, including 22 years as a Clark County Family Court judge in Las Vegas.

Full Article & Source:
Former Family Court judge disbarred, awaits fraud sentence

See Also:
Embattled Family Court Judge Steven Jones headed back to public payroll

Judge Steven Jones' romance allegations to come before panel

Family Court judge to face disciplinary hearing in December

Judge Jones tries to stop discipline hearing over alleged mishandled relationship

Judge sets $50,000 bond in the case of a second lawyer accused of fleecing disabled veteran

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A judge Wednesday set bond at $50,000 for a Solon attorney accused of stealing from the bank account of a disabled Army veteran who suffers mental illness.

Gary Bakst, 59, was indicted this week in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on charges of theft and tampering with evidence. He is accused of taking $1,218 from Kevin C. Hart, 54, in October. Bakst served as Hart's guardian since 2006. Hart suffers from schizophrenia, according to court records.

Bakst pleaded not guilty to the allegations Wednesday before Common Pleas Judge David Matia, who set the bond and ordered that Bakst surrender his passport. The case is the second involving Bakst's dealings with Hart.

Common Pleas Judge Pamela Barker is scheduled to sentence Bakst next week over the attorney's work with Hart and three other disabled military veterans. Bakst's attorneys, William and Andrea Whitaker, have asked to re-schedule that hearing, based on the new charge.

In the initial case, Bakst pleaded guilty in December to identity fraud and tampering with government records. He admitted to using another attorney's identity to bill for legal work in the cases of the veterans.

Prosecutors said Bakst did that to circumvent Cuyahoga County Probate Court rules that limited his ability to generate fees as both guardian and lawyer of the disabled veterans. He illegally billed $15,301 using the attorney's identity last April.

Based off evidence in that case, prosecutors pieced together a second indictment against Bakst. Authorities accused him of stealing from Hart's bank account Oct. 6, just as his attorneys were working out a negotiated plea deal in the initial case, said Matthew Meyer, an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor.

Meyer said his office will push to stop the sentencing in the first case and seek to vacate the plea, a move that could bring a trial.

"Why should he get the benefit of a plea when there was a requirement that he stop stealing from people?'' Meyer asked.

Because of the timing of the theft allegation and Bakst's financial means, Meyer urged Matia to set a $100,000 bond.

"The only thing that he respects is money,'' Meyer told the judge.

Bakst's attorney, Andrea Whitaker, fought the request for the high bond. She told Matia that her client's "risk of flight is zero. He absolutely denies that he stole from this veteran.''

In each case, Bakst was appointed as the guardian by a judge in Probate Court. Prosecutors said the tampering charges in both cases stem from Bakst submitting fraudulent documents to Probate Court and Hart's family. Hart's daughter, Alisha, could not be reached for comment.

Records show Bakst first became Hart's guardian in 2006. By then, he already was the guardian for disabled veterans Debra Presley, Arthur Huffine and Brent Walker. The three, as well as Hart, were named in the original identity-fraud case.

The new charges against Bakst come days after Common Pleas Judge Timothy McCormick sentenced Rocky River attorney Timothy Purcell to 16 months in prison for fleecing $262,000 from the estate of a disabled veteran. Like Bakst, a Probate Court judge appointed Purcell to handle the case. Purcell initially served as the veteran's guardian and later as the administrator of the estate.

"You need to be held accountable for the money you stole,'' McCormick told Purcell. "There has to be some consequences.''

Full Article & Source:
Judge sets $50,000 bond in the case of a second lawyer accused of fleecing disabled veteran

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Metro Office Overseeing Conservatorships

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Almost without notice a new office has gone into operation in Davidson County to oversee the handling of hundreds of persons placed in conservatorships because they have been judged incapable of handling some or all of their physical and financial needs.

The new Office of Conservatorship Management was created last year in the wake of a series of critical reports on the handling of such cases with problems ranging from questionable billing practices to outright larceny.

Metro's longtime public guardian, Jeanan Stuart, stepped down from the job in 2013 on the same day Probate Judge David "Randy" Kennedy announced he would not assign her any new cases because of questions about her billing practices. He also removed her from the cases she was then handling.

John Clemmons, a now disbarred Nashville attorney, is now serving a lengthy jail sentence after pleading guilty in 2013 to the theft of more than $1 million from conservatorship and estate cases he had been assigned to oversee.

The creation of the new agency was recommended by a task force appointed by Kennedy. Mayor Karl Dean subsequently included funding for the new office in his budget for the current fiscal year, which was approved by Metro Council.

The new office is headed by Rachelle Gallimore-Scruggs, a former Metro attorney. Her salary was set at $75,000 a year, according to court administrator Tim Townsend.

Townsend said in an email that the purpose of the new office is to review and monitor "the care and management provided by guardians and conservators."

Under Tennessee law conservators are appointed to care for adults, while guardians are named for minors.

Townsend said the new agency will work with existing Metro departments including Metro Social Services which will send workers out on home visits to those under conservatorship or guardianship. Financial reviews will be performed on the handling of the wards' estates, he added.

The new office comes into operation following the passage of a new state law recommended by a Tennessee Bar Association task force which held hearings across the state

The new law clarified the roles of lawyers assigned by the court to determine whether a conservatorship was justified. It also set new deadlines and standards for the granting of conservatorships on an emergency basis.

Townsend said that Stuart's post as public guardian was never filled. Instead a combination of willing attorneys and nonprofit agencies are filling the role.

Full Article & Source:
New Metro Office Overseeing Conservatorships 

TN Facility for Disabled to Close

By Walter F. Roche Jr

A state run facility for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities will close its doors next year under a plan to be submitted for federal court approval later this month.

The plan, which would move some 96 residents to other facilities, would permanently close the Greene Valley Developmental Center in Greeneville, one of the last such facilities in the state.

 Cara Kumari, spokeswoman for the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities said that the closure plans had been worked out in lengthy negotiations with the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit dating back more than a decade.

She said that the current residents will have the option of moving to newer and smaller facilities or to receive care in their family homes. The proposed closure date is June 30, 2016.

She said that transition plans for individual residents will be reviewed by a quality monitoring panel and the residents will continue to be monitored after relocation.

She stressed that the plan will not become binding unless it is approved by a federal judge.

"The goal is always to ensure people are being transitioned in the safest manner possible," Kumari wrote in an email response to questions, adding that the monitoring program will "ensure that people's needs are being met within their new homes.

The state is also moving to close the Clover Bottom Developmental Center in Nashville.

Kumari said that if the plan is approved the only remaining such facility will be the 12 bed Harold Jordan Center in Nashville.

Full Article & Source:
TN Facility for Disabled to Close

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Con Game: A Failure of Trust

The Con Game: A Failure of Trust is a riveting investigation into the silent epidemic of elder abuse in the U.S.

This helpful book looks at the myths and realities of aging in America and offers tips for recognizing warning signs and symptoms of elder abuse, effective prevention strategies, information about conservatorships, and advance planning resources.

'This book is an asset for anyone involved with or interested in elder mistreatment, or the practical legal resources and solutions available to assist and protect the elder.' -Susan A. Katzen, Elder Law/Estate Planning Attorney

'A compassionate and true-life story that provides perspectives of an aging America and presents the formalities of estate planning and conservatorships.' -Tim Murphy, CPA/Attorney/Professor

'Anyone who has an interest professionally or personally with the complexities of senior abuse and issues will find this book to be a great resource.' -Cliff H. Oilar, President, Back Home Senior Care

'The Con Game artfully mixes conservatorship law with personal experience of the darker side of conservatorship.  T. S. Laham's investigation is thorough, and her report is timely. Families caring for a vulnerable loved one will find the content unsettling but invaluable.  This book shows conservatorships for The Con Game that it so often becomes.' - Linda Kincaid, MPH, Coalition for Elder & Dependent Adult Rights

'T.S. Laham gives us a powerful step-by-step examination of conservatorship. Thoroughly documented, the process of establishing conservatorship is well defined and gives an insightful look into the role of a conservator model and the resulting aftermath left in its wake.' - Gwen Booze and Karen Anderson, Congress of California Seniors

Available from Amazon

Man awakens from 12 years in 'vegetative state'

Martin Pistorius
Martin Pistorius fell into a mysterious coma when he was a vibrant 12-year-old boy in the 1980s.

He found himself locked inside his own body – unable to speak, make eye contact or even move his own limbs.

Martin’s doctors told his parents, Rodney and Joan Pistorius, that the boy had cryptococci meningitis. They said Martin should be taken home to die in peace.

But Martin would live 12 years in that vegetative state.

Joan said, “Martin just kept going, just kept going.”

According to NPR, Martin’s father would wake up every day at 5 a.m., dress the boy, put him in the car and drive him to a special care center.

“Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores,” Rodney recalled.

And during those 12 years, according to the Pistorius family, there was never any indication that Martin’s condition was improving.

One day, Joan, in a state of hopelessness, told her son, “I hope you die.”

She never imagined that Martin would have understood those dreadful words.

Full Article & Source:
Man awakens from 12 years in 'vegetative state'

Ottawa judge who made crude Facebook post retires rather than face disciplinary hearing

Ottawa Justice Dianne Nicholas
An outspoken Ottawa judge who criticized a cancer-suffering colleague and another senior judge on Facebook has apologized and decided to retire rather than face a disciplinary hearing.

Ontario Court Justice Dianne Nicholas officially stepped down from the bench on Dec. 31. It was two weeks before she was scheduled to appear before the Ontario Judicial Council over remarks Nicholas said she inadvertently posted on the Facebook page of a local assistant Crown attorney in October 2012.

As a result of her retirement, the Ontario Judicial Council no longer has the jurisdiction to hold a hearing or discipline Nicholas.

“What I said was completely wrong,” Nicholas told the Citizen on Monday. “I regret it, I shouldn’t have said it, I apologized immediately.”

In the online post, Nicholas identified a fellow judge and regional senior justice by their initials and complained that one had given a woman a reduced sentence because she had a certain kind of cancer that “is hardly a killer . . . in fact the very same f’n cancer that (the sentencing judge) has herself… .!!!!”

Nicholas also lamented that between the two judges, the situation for sentences with driving offences “is getting ridiculous,” because their sentences were “far below the mark.” The contents of Nicholas’s post were part of an agreed statement of facts presented during a hearing in May 2014 into the judge’s conduct.

The Facebook post was seen by friends of the assistant Crown attorney, about 50 of whom were lawyers, and were “widely discussed” among defence lawyers, prosecutors, police and clerks at the courthouse.

Word of the remarks eventually reached the judges’ chambers and created what was described as a “toxic atmosphere,” according to Ontario Judicial Council documents. Two judges refused to work with Nicholas.

The Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa also expressed concerns about whether Nicholas could still be impartial in cases involving criminal driving offences.

Nicholas said Monday she regretted the post.

“I was horrified when I found out that I posted that. It was never meant to be public. It was at a time of great stress in my life. . . . I never intended to post it,” said Nicholas.

Nicholas, who has been off work since Oct.  22, 2012, said she went on long-term disability because of mental health issues.

She said she decided to retire on her doctor’s advice rather than face a lengthy and stressful disciplinary hearing.

Nicholas said the other judge was “absolutely right” to be upset about the cancer comment.

She said she doesn’t remember posting the comments, which she said were made during a difficult time in her life.

“Had I not been really exhausted and overworked and in a depression, I obviously wouldn’t have made those comments,” she said.

Nicholas — who had been a judge for 23 years — was facing anything from a warning or reprimand to suspension with or without pay, or removal from office, had the disciplinary hearing proceeded.

Full Article & Source:
Ottawa judge who made crude Facebook post retires rather than face disciplinary hearing

Probate court seeks volunteers for guardianship program

OTTAWA COUNTY—The Ottawa County Probate Court is seeking individuals from the community for its Volunteer Guardianship Program. Training for the volunteers is scheduled for 1-5 p.m. on March 25 and 26 at Magruder Hospital in Conference Room A.

Volunteers will serve as guardians for persons that primarily reside at a health care campus or community-based care facility, who have no family or other support system to fulfill the role of surrogate decision maker.

A volunteer guardian provides the opportunity to nurture, advocate and care for another person in Ottawa County who otherwise would have no one in his or her life. You can help make a difference in making someone’s life better.

To sign up or for more information about this volunteer opportunity and its responsibilities, please contact Jennifer Simpson at 419-734-6833.

Full Article & Source:
Probate court seeks volunteers for guardianship program

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

95 Year-Old WW 2 Hero Liberated from Exploiter/Guardian Jared Shafer, Celebrates New Year with Family

On September 23, 2010, WW 2 hero Guadalupe Olvera, then 91, ordered his daughter Becky and son-in-law Bob Schultz to rescue him from the quasi-legal guardianship of Las Vegas for-hire "guardian" Jared E. Shafer of Professional Fiduciaries of Southern Nevada (PFSN).

Guadalupe and his late wife Carmela moved to Sun City Anthem several years before her death, leaving family and friends in California, lured by promises made in glossy brochures sent to them by Del Webb Corporation.

Weeks after Carmela's passing, it was revealed that the Olveras were wealthy. appointed Clark County Guardianship Commissioner Jon Norheim was notified, and Guadalupe was immediately made a ward of the court and assigned PFSN guardians Jared Shafer and Patience Bristol (Bristol is now in Nevada State Prison for elder exploitation.)

Pleading in open court to be allowed to move back to Santa Cruz, California to spend his final years with his loving family (link to video transcript below), Norheim complied with the wishes of Shafer who had by then converted over $300,000.00 of Olvera's savings for his own use, and ignored Olvera's plea.

Olvera went into action, and within days of his family's compliance with his order to move him out of Nevada, Clark County Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin who appointed Norheim, issued a warrant for Becky Schultz' arrest.

Then, using funds he withdrew from Olvera's Las Vegas Wells Fargo bank account, Jared Shafer paid his over priced attorneys in Las Vegas to fight to have Olvera returned against his will to Nevada to be placed into a rest home of Shafer's choice.

The Schultz' went to court in California, and a Superior Court Judge their ruled that Olvera was competent to handle his own affairs, and removed Shafer as his guardian. With Shafer removed and his civil rights fully restored, Mr. Olvera has lived happily and healthfully for the past five years in the home of his only child Becky, while enjoying yearly honors bestowed on him by chapters of the Santa Cruz County VFW and other veterans groups as Santa Cruz County's oldest living veteran.

Olvera has also filed a federal law suit against Shafer to try to recover his converted assets.

Had Olvera not been liberated from Shafer's exploitation, he would have lost his half million dollar home in Sun City Anthem, his savings, and his life expectancy would probably have been less than six months while confined to a rest home hundreds of miles away from his family and friends.

At the next Nevada Legislature, a bill will be presented to limit the unfettered power of court appointed guardians over the persons and fortunes of wealthy retirees who have the misfortune of losing a spouse while living in Southern Nevada away from family members. The law will allow relatives who live outside Nevada to, for the first time, become the judiciaries for their loved ones living in our state.

Up until "Shafer's Law" is repealed, no one living outside Nevada could manage the assets of a parent or relative who is deemed a ward of the court after the loss of a spouse, opening the way for unscrupulous private guardians and guardianship commissioners to bilk the senior's fortune while out of state relatives helplessly watch this occur under color of Nevada law.

95 Year-Old WW2 Hero Liberated From Exploiter/Guardian Jared Shafer, Celebrates New Year With Family

See Also:
Guadelupe Olvera's War

Documents: Sims, attorney had adversarial relationship

Judge Sheva Sims
Shreveport City Court Judge Sheva Sims could be suspended for 90 days without pay if the Louisiana Supreme Court agrees with the findings of the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana.

Sims, who was re-elected to the District D bench Nov. 4, is accused of holding former Assistant City Prosecutor Katherine Gilmer in contempt of court after she refused to meet with Sims in her chambers about an administrative, non-emergency matter.

Sims also is accused of not following proper contempt procedures and dismissing 15 criminal cases — several involving domestic abuse battery, resisting an officer and criminal mischief charges — without taking evidence and having the authority to do so. She also is accused of failing to cooperate with the Office of Special Counsel during the investigation.

Sims, who appeared before commission Sept. 19, could not be reached for comment.

According to the court documents, she disputed holding Gilmer in contempt of court and testified that she did not out-right dismiss the cases, just rescheduled them.

The Judiciary Commission of Louisiana, a constitutional fact-finding body which cannot discipline judges, filed its recommendation with the the Louisiana Supreme Court's Clerk of Court Office Dec. 2. The matter is on the Louisiana Supreme Court's docket for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 29.

Attorney John Settle said he filed the original complaint in May 2012 after reading an article with no byline about dismissal of the cases.

"That kind of action is not explainable, excusable and should not be tolerated," he said. "I'm disappointed that the recommendation was not more severe and I'm hoping that the Supreme Court will take more severe action."

According to court documents obtained from Settle and the Louisiana Supreme Court's Clerk of Court Office, the disciplinary recommendation stems from an April 2012 incident between Gilmer and Sims. The judge was formally charged in Sept. 25, 2013.

The commission alleges Sims engaged in judicial misconduct and failed to uphold the integrity of the office. Gilmer, who now works at the firm Elton B. Richie and Associates, LLC., said she has seen the recommendation but did not wish to comment.

Sims was elected on Nov. 19, 2011, and had been a judge for less than six months at the time of the alleged incident which took place April 24, 2012.

The documents, in which the commission lays out its findings and portions of testimony offered during its investigation, portray Sims and Gilmera as foes whose adversarial relationship continued after Sims became judge.

In its filings the commission alleges Sims describes Gilmer's behavior during one court case as "rude and disrespectful." City Attorney Terri Scott, who also testified in the matter, intervened between the two women following a disagreement about how Sims handled drivers' license forfeitures and other administrative issues.

Scott also did not respond to requests via telephone or email for comment.

According to the filing, Scott communicated to Sims, her assistant prosecutors and other other judges her desires to be included in all meeting requests with her staff and to contact her about administrative issues.

Days before the April 24 incident, the court's judicial administrator emailed Gilmer requesting a meeting on Sims' behalf, according to the documents. Sims testified she asked for that meeting to discuss courtroom proceedings and because Gilmer did not respond to her secretary's earlier attempt to arrange one. She claimed not to be aware of Scott's directive until Scott sent a letter making the request, according to the documents.

Gilmer inquired about the nature of the meeting, copying Scott in the email. Scott again intervened and unsuccessfully attempted to contact Sims, the documents allege.

On April 24, 2012, Gilmer appeared in Sims' court for another legal matter when Sims again attempted to meet with her.

According to the documents, Gilmer called Scott, who allegedly told her not to go, according to the documents. Sims allegedly waited 20 minutes before approaching Gilmer to personally request, several times, a meeting. Gilmer refused and asked if the judge contacted Scott. Sims went to her bench and made the request again.

Full Article & Source:
Documents: Sims, attorney had adversarial relationship

Man arrested for exploiting vulnerable adult; how to prevent elder abuse

ST. GEORGE – A 21-year-old Washington City man was arrested Monday for alleged fraud connected to a stolen credit card and exploiting a vulnerable adult.

Roberto M. Serrano
St. George Police received a report from an independent senior living center Dec. 29, 2014, about a potential theft. A resident at the facility reported that his wallet had been taken and later returned, according to a probable cause statement written by St. George Police Officer K. Chamberlain.

An investigation discovered a credit card from the wallet had been used at multiple locations between the evening of Dec. 28 and early morning hours of Dec. 29. The card was used to withdraw up to $1,000 from an ATM at the Mountain America Credit Union on 3050 East and also for a purchase at an area business.

Surveillance footage from the Mountain America ATM and the living center was reviewed by the police. An employee of the living center also watched the footage and identified the individual alleged to be Roberto Maximillian Serrano, 21, of Washington City, also an employee at the center.

Chamberlain interviewed Serrano who denied allegations he had taken the wallet and used the credit card.

Serrano was later arrested and subsequently charged with two third-degree felonies for exploiting a vulnerable adult and unlawful acquisition of a finance card. He was also charged with various misdemeanors related to use of the theft and use of the finance card. According to Washington County Bookings information, bail was set at $14,779.

Serrano made bail and has been released from jail. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance in court Jan. 12.

Full Article & Source:
Man arrested for exploiting vulnerable adult; how to prevent elder abuse

Monday, January 12, 2015

Suit Against Former Public Guardian Ends

Ginger Franklin
by Walter F. Roche, Jr.

Shortly after yet another favorable ruling in her long legal battle, Ginger Franklin has voluntarily dismissed her suit against Jeanan Stuart, the former public guardian for Davidson County. In a one-page filing this week, Franklin's attorney, Michael G. Hoskins, gave notice that the suit was being dismissed "with prejudice."

When asked whether there was a settlement in the case, Hoskins replied, "No comment." "This dismissal operates as an adjudication of this lawsuit upon the merits," the filing states.

Franklin did not respond to an email seeking her comment.

The attorney for Metro Nashville, which had also been named as a defendant in the case, said the parties already had agreed to dismiss claims against the government prior to the overall dismissal.

"I do not know whether there was a settlement," Jeff Campbell wrote in an email response to questions.

"I can say that Metro did not settle this case and is not contributing to one."

He did say that lawyers for the other parties, Stuart and Franklin, recently "indicated the suit would be dismissed soon."

"As is their right, they declined to tell me whether there was a settlement or its terms," Campbell concluded.

Jeanan Mills Stuart
Emails to Stuart's lawyer, William B. Hubbard, drew no response.

The dismissal follows closely a ruling favorable to Franklin by Circuit Court Judge Hamilton Gayden, who turned back attempts by Stuart's attorney to have Metro government found liable, since Stuart had been appointed to her post by a vote of Metro Council.

The dismissal ends a legal battle that dates back to 2008 when Franklin was placed in a conservatorship without her knowledge after suffering a serious fall.

She has charged that she lost her home and all her belongings while Stuart had complete legal control of her finances and health care.

In the suit that has now ended, Franklin had charged that Stuart violated her fiduciary duties when, among other things, she allowed Franklin's car to be towed and auctioned off after it was abandoned in a parking garage.

Franklin also filed a separate suit in Sumner County against the group home where Stuart had placed her. That suit ended with a favorable ruling for Franklin.

Stuart stepped down from her post in 2013 on the same day that Probate Judge David "Randy" Kennedy announced he would no longer appoint her to any cases because of questions raised about her billing practices.

Suit Against Former Public Guardian Ends

See Also:
Former Davidson County TN Public Guardian Must Stand Trial

WWII Vet's Death a Textbook Case of Excessive Force, but no Hashtag for Him

By John Kass

And trial is scheduled to begin this week in south suburban Markham in the courtroom of Associate Judge Luciano Panici. A Park Forest police officer, Craig Taylor, stands accused of felony reckless conduct in connection with Wrana's death.

Veteran Wrana
Wrana served his country in India and Burma in the U.S. Army Air Forces and built a business and liked to play cards and shoot dice, and even have a drink on occasion. He died just weeks shy of his 96th birthday.

And he was in his room alone at an assisted living center in suburban Chicago on a night in July 2013. That's when five suburban cops rushed him.

One officer had a Taser and police riot shield, others had handguns, and one was armed with a 12-gauge Mossberg pump shotgun. The police said later they were afraid for their lives, though Wrana used a walker to get around.

What bothers me is that Taylor is the only cop charged by Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

There were others there with him. Police supervisors, others with higher rank.

Yes, Taylor pulled the trigger. He pumped the shotgun and pulled the trigger again and again, firing beanbag rounds at close range into the old man's guts, according to state investigators. So Taylor should wear the jacket, yes. But he wasn't in command. And he wasn't alone.

Unlike other, more celebrated police killings I mentioned above, the Wrana case hasn't generated all that much national attention, even though it is perhaps the perfect illustration of excessive force by law enforcement.

And someday perhaps, someone will explain to me why this one hasn't generated more discussion.

Full Article and Source:
WWII Vet's Death a Textbook Case of Excessive Force, but no Hashtag for Him

Sunday, January 11, 2015

State fails to report hundreds of abuse cases to law enforcement

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thousands of senior citizens live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across Texas, and family members want to know their aging loved ones are safe in the care of those facilities. When a report of alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation comes in to the Department of Aging and Disability Services, no matter who reports it, state law requires DADS to notify law enforcement within 24-hours so a criminal investigation can begin immediately.

 But A KXAN investigation into a family’s allegation its elderly mother was sexually assaulted at an Austin’s Longhorn Village assisted living facility has uncovered more failures in the state system that’s supposed to protect elderly and disabled.

Our investigation revealed the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, which regulates elder care facilities and investigated that case, broke the law by not reporting the Longhorn Village case to law enforcement. As a result, the state launched an internal review that now reveals DADS investigators failed to follow the law in hundreds of other elder abuse cases.

“You know they broke the law. People should be concerned about this,” said Amanda Fredriksen with the AARP.

Fredriksen says AARP is concerned DADS never reported 1,533 cases of alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation to law enforcement according to the internal review triggered by a KXAN investigation. That’s 78 percent of all cases DADS investigated in only a 29-month period between January 1, 2012 and May 16, 2014. In 314 of those cases the allegations were substantiated by DADS investigators.

“It’s appalling quite frankly,” said Fredriksen. “I mean, folks are depending on the state agency that regulates and licenses these facilities to follow the laws and the regulations and the fact the agency is not following the law, that’s designed to protect these folks, that’s appalling,” Fredriksen continued.

Full Article & Source:
State fails to report hundreds of abuse cases to law enforcement

Florida's Dirty Little Secret

With a home, a nest egg and careful planning, we can orchestrate our retirement to make sure we will live as comfortably and independently as we can for as long as we can. Then, with a little help from our family and friends, we can even extend that a little longer. That is what most of us do when we plan for our future. What we don’t plan for is when we can no longer speak for ourselves.

In Florida, it is estimated 50,000 citizens are enrolled in the guardianship program.  Mostly seniors, they are placed under the care of a professional "guardian": someone appointed by the courts and paid out their own pocket to manage their care. These seniors, usually categorized as “incapacitated” due to dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, end up enrolled in the program because a judge decided that they were no longer fit to make decisions for themselves and, for whatever reason, there was not a family member deemed equally as capable.

Most cases start when there is a family dispute regarding care of an individual. On the outset, it makes sense a judge would appoint an independent guardian to oversee the care for someone who is incapacitated. If the family members cannot come to terms in a dispute, an unbiased individual will be responsible. However, it doesn’t take long to start to feel like the system is rigged.

Retirement funds are quickly depleted and homes are put on the market to pay for the court-required guardianship that bills for each email, phone call and visit.  Family members, who have no rights, are forced to go to court for visitation. Bearing the financial burden, and without legal representation, family members walk into court ill-equipped to navigate the legal web of the Guardianship program.

In a two-year fight to keep her mother, Marise, with her family, local Sarasota resident, Julie Ferguson, writes on her Facebook page, “With a two and half day notice for a court hearing back in January '13, a judge denied me a continuance for a final hearing for a corporate guardianship to take over my Mother's finances and 'person'.  I wasn't given due process to protect my Mother's wishes as designated in all legal paperwork - from her making me her Power of Attorney to having an Irrevocable House Trust.  This is common across the U.S. Lawyers declare "EMERGENCIES", not giving family members a chance to even fight for the rights of a parent/loved one.”

She continues, “We are blindsided and then forced to hire legal counsel, when we're already behind 'the eight ball'. All I want - is to be able to take care of my Mom. Make sure her wishes are fulfilled by being with family who love her deeply and respect her.”

Julie’s story is not uncommon.  Lawyers, professors and doctors have all found themselves in the same situation when it came to their parents.  And one woman’s fight is for her child with cerebral palsy, who she has not seen in four years.

One has to question the bias of a system that pays for itself by deeming parties incapable or incapacitated. As we fight for the civil rights of gay Americans, immigrants and the poor, we must also remember the civil rights of our seniors.  Because if we wait too long to do something, who will speak for us when we are the ones in need?

Full Article & Source:
Florida's Dirty Little Secret