Saturday, April 4, 2015

Gavel Guardians

Dorothy Luck
Residents and activists are looking on with keen interest as lawmakers in Austin are discussing new bills that could give probate judges even more power to place people under guardianship. For years, probate judges in Tarrant County and across the country have used far-reaching powers to strip vulnerable residents of their rights and their money.

Tarrant County’s Guardianship Service Inc. is designed to protect vulnerable people’s assets. But what began in the 1980s as a way to provide volunteer guardians for the elderly evolved into a tight-knit and powerful system of professional probate judges, attorneys, bankers, investigators, and court-appointed guardians who can take over people’s lives, place their money in managed trusts, and relentlessly bleed the estates dry.

A growing number of disgruntled residents are striking back.

“You work all your life just to have these buzzards pick your estate apart,” said Michael Easton, an activist who agitates probate courts on behalf of people placed under guardianship in questionable cases. “That’s not right.”

The probate judges hear the groundswell of discontent. Rather than accept reforms –– or push for them –– some are digging in their heels. More than two dozen guardianship-related bills have been filed in the 84th legislative session currently under way. Critics say most of the bills appear to be filed by politicians on behalf of attorneys who profit most from the system.

“They steal old people’s money and parcel it out among themselves,” Easton said. “Family members are left watching on the sidelines. By the time the person dies or is no longer ‘incapacitated’ –– quote unquote –– there’s no money left.”

Easton, a paralegal and private arbitrator and mediator, worked with defendants in two guardianship cases in recent years. Seeing the amount of power that probate judges wield and their willingness to abuse those powers to gain access to people’s bank accounts convinced him the system needed changing. He has since joined many other activists, including some from Fort Worth, in attending legislative hearings in Austin to push for reforms.

Easton attended a hearing in 2013 where several probate judges, including Tarrant County’s Pat Ferchill, spoke out against proposed reforms. A bill intended to add transparency to probate courts was blasted by judges, who worried it might clog up their systems.

“Do you think they want to repair the system?” Easton told Fort Worth Weekly back then. “They are happy with the way it is. Right now there is no oversight, and they can do whatever they want.”
Rep. Elliott Naishtat has written two dozen guardianship-related bills since 1993, many of them brought to him or suggested by Probate Court Judge Guy Herman of Travis County, Naishtat said.

Naishtat said his bills have added safeguards to wards and families and enabled probate courts and judges to better determine if a guardianship is necessary.

“I firmly believe that protecting the elderly and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation should be a priority,” he said. “I am very proud of the work I have done with respect to the guardianship-related needs of many of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Critics say legislators who write bills to please judges are part of the problem –– but the critics save their harshest words for judges such as Herman and Ferchill, who lobby lawmakers for legal changes.

“Naishtat is in Herman’s pocket,” Easton said. “Whatever Herman wants to do, he drafts it and sends it to Naishtat, who sponsors it. Ferchill testified that he wanted … things passed that would benefit the probate judiciary. How can this man be a judge when he’s down here legislating? Judges are supposed to interpret the law and make decisions on that law, but they’re not supposed to have any say in writing the law. Proactive judges cannot hear cases.”

Probate courts get involved after someone reports a person at risk due to mental or physical incapacitation. The guardianship system was designed to prevent relatives or others from taking advantage of vulnerable people. The Weekly has profiled several people forced into guardianships unwillingly and has fielded phone calls from at least 50 other local families accusing the courts of initiating guardianships simply to seize assets and parcel money out to lawyers, bankers, and others.

Some residents have been stripped of their right to hire an attorney, leaving them unable to fight back. Consider Dorothy Luck’s situation (“Luck for Dorothy,” March 19, 2014): Several of her relatives sued her after a disagreement about money. The attorney working against Luck was a familiar face in the probate courts, and he threatened to initiate a guardianship case against her if she refused to settle. Luck wouldn’t budge. She’d never heard of a guardianship case and was unaware of the incestuous nature of the system.

Before long, a guardianship referral appeared in Probate Judge Steven King’s court expressing concern about Luck’s mental health. Luck’s relatives protested. They said Luck wasn’t incapacitated, simply stubborn. They didn’t want her shackled with guardianship. But attorney Monika Cooper of the ShannonGrace law firm submitted a guardian referral. She described herself on the referral as being Luck’s friend, although Luck said they’d never met at the time.

King then appointed Lisa Jamieson, an attorney with whom Cooper works, to represent Luck, putting, in effect, the enemy in charge of Luck’s defense. Luck’s doctors examined her and declared her mentally competent. So King appointed one of his familiar courtroom experts to examine her and deemed Luck partially incapacitated. That was enough for King to put her in guardianship and place her money in a trust. Regular withdrawals began occurring to pay for the various attorneys, guardians, and experts appointed by King. Before long, half a million bucks had disappeared.

In another case, Ferchill held a hearing to determine whether Kathie Seidel was fit to care for her adopted daughter (“Saving Katia,” July 2, 2008). But Seidel wasn’t informed of the hearing and didn’t get to defend herself. Ferchill placed her daughter under guardianship and eventually barred Seidel from visits. To appeal the decision, Seidel would have to hire a private attorney and also put up thousands of dollars in a bond at the court’s insistence. She was effectively priced out of justice. She’s still fighting to free her daughter from guardianship.

“The average citizen has no idea this is happening until they’re roped into the system and can’t get out,” she said.

Seidel and others affected by court decisions formed Guardianship Reform Advocates for the Disabled and Elderly (GRADE) and began trekking to legislative hearings in Austin. That growing scrutiny is prompting judges and legislators to come up with new laws to strengthen their hands, Seidel said.

“Our small group [GRADE] and another group in Austin, the Guardianship Reform Supported Decision Making, have been making headway in showing the corruption of the courts, and so now they’re trying to get laws into effect,” she said. “I assume there is this rush to get laws in place so the reformers can’t have as much of an effect.”

More than two dozen bills related to probate courts have been filed so far. One bill gives judges more power to insist that defendants put up expensive bonds before appealing decisions. Another would allow judges to more easily sidestep having to recuse themselves. And yet another would give judges access to a person’s financial records before guardianship had been declared.

“The fallout is that they will have carte blanche to look into people’s finances, determine who has the most money that they can get access to, and then put them under guardianship,” Seidel said.

Senate Bill 1369 is one of the few that activists deem as friendly to the people rather than the probate courts. Sen. Judith Zafrinni, a Democrat from Laredo, introduced the bill that would require better reporting of fees earned by probate attorneys. Most critics say the ease with which attorneys corral people into guardianships and then charge them fees could be somewhat diminished if the information was better reported.

GRADE Director Debbie Valdez hopes to see that bill passed. Still, she’s pored over the various bills for weeks and said all but a few would empower judges at the expense of defendants.

“The person in charge of protecting a ward … is the person who appointed the ward, and that’s the judge, who becomes the ultimate guardian,” Valdez said. “We are creating a system where people who provide guardianship services are immune from civil liability. If we don’t fix this, we’re all going to be victims of it.”

Full Article & Source:
Gavel Guardians

Longtime Cleveland attorney charged with stealing $115,000 from estate

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- An 84-year-old Cleveland attorney is accused of stealing $115,000 from the estate of a client, and using the money to pay his bills.

Gerald Cooper is charged in federal court with wire fraud for stealing from the estate of Henry Luke. He used the money to pay credit card bills, sports tickets and mortgage payments, among others, prosecutors allege.

The charges were filed Tuesday in an information, which usually means a guilty plea is forthcoming.

Cooper, a Pepper Pike resident, was admitted to practice law in Ohio in 1957. He is retired, according to the Supreme Court of Ohio's website.

Gordon Friedman, Cooper's attorney, said his client is working toward paying all of the money back.

"He has had an outstanding and remarkable career as a lawyer," Friedman said. "It is unfortunate that this final moment of his practice is kind of a dark mark on his reputation."

According to the information:

Cooper filed an application to administer Luke's estate in Cuyahoga County Probate Court. Between February and March 2014, he received $138,397 from three of Luke's bank accounts.

Cooper then took $115,000 from the estate between February to October 2014 by writing a series of checks. The money then went into his personal account.

Probate court records show Cooper resigned as the estate's administrator on March 6.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel, an arm of the state Supreme Court tasked with investigating and pursuing discipline against attorneys who commit wrongdoing, could not say Wednesday whether Cooper faced discipline.

Full Article & Source:
Longtime Cleveland attorney charged with stealing $115,000 from estate

Home health worker accused of bilking elderly lady of $13,000

Shirley Marie Scott Lockey
MAXTON — A Maxton woman is accused of taking thousands of dollars from an elderly woman for whom she worked as a caretaker.

Shirley Marie Scott Lockey is facing charges of misdemeanor financial card fraud, exploiting a disabled or elderly person and 20 counts of felony financial card fraud, according to Maxton police Capt. Jamie Oxendine, who investigated the case.

According to Oxendine, Lockey, 51, was working as a private home health care worker for an 88-year-old woman and used the woman’s debit card to withdraw money from account.

“This case started back in July 2014 and the last dates that we know this was occurring would have been January 2015,” Oxendine said. During that time, about $13,000 was fraudulently obtained, he said.

“With help from the banks that were involved, we were able to get this together,” Oxendine said of the lengthy investigation.

Lockey, of U.S. 501 in Maxton, was jailed under an $80,000 secured bond.

Oxendine said the Maxton Police Department has started a Facebook page to keep residents informed about crime in the area. Arrests and information about wanted suspects will be posted on the page, titled “Maxton PD,” Oxendine said.

“We ask our citizens to go on that page and report crime and become more familiar with the events going on here,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
Home health worker accused of bilking elderly lady of $13,000

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bid to update guardianship laws

Public feedback is being sought on proposed changes to ACT Guardianship laws, which will give people with disabilities more say in making decisions.

An inquiry is being conducted by the Australian National University (ANU) based ACT Law Reform Advisory Council (LRAC) into the Guardianship and Management of Property Act 1991, which affects a range of people, including those with intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, brain injury and dementia.

Council Chair, Professor Simon Rice said that people who needed help with making decisions at the moment get those decisions made for them.

"The ACT law is an old law, and international human rights have moved ahead," he said.

"The reforms are looking at helping those people make decisions for themselves about their life as far as they can, which is often much, much further than people give them credit for."

The Council began its public consultation following a request from Attorney-General, Simon Corbell request for advice on how guardianship laws could be amended to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

To give feedback, a response booklet is available from the Law Reform Advisory Council at, from the ANU College of Law and from disability agencies in the ACT.

Full Article & Source:
Bid to update guardianship laws

7 Decisions to Make for Your Durable Power of Attorney

by Harry S. Margolis
I've always said that the durable power of attorney is your most important estate planning document. It appoints your agent or agents (called your "attorney-in-fact") to step in and act for you on financial and legal matters in the event you ever become incapacitated. It can permit them to pay your bills, make investment decisions, take planning steps, and take care of your family when you can't do so yourself.

In theory, the durable power of attorney is a relatively simple document. All it should need to say is the following:
I, Joe Blow, hereby appoint Janet Planet to step in for me in the event of my incapacity to handle my financial and legal matters.

But in fact most durable powers of attorney run to several pages and involve a number of important decisions. Now, two nationally-known estate planners, Jonathan Blattmachr and Martin Shenkman, have written a whole ebook just on powers of attorney: Powers of Attorney: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Family's Wealth.
Here are some of the decisions you will need to make on your durable power of attorney:...

Full Article and Source:
7 Decisions to Make for Your Durable Power of Attorney

See Also:
NASGA:  Durable Power of Attorney

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sisters Who Ran Senior Care Company In Atlantic County Indicted on Conspiring Charges

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a state grand jury has indicted the owner of an in-home senior care company in Atlantic County and her sister on first-degree charges of conspiracy and money laundering for allegedly conspiring with a lawyer to steal over $2.7 million from a dozen elderly clients.

The indictment, handed up late yesterday, also charges three other people: an employee of their company who allegedly conspired with them to steal from one client; a former caseworker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services who allegedly conspired with them to steal from an elderly couple; and a doctor who allegedly lied to the State Police during the investigation.The lawyer, Barbara Lieberman, 63, of Northfield, who specialized in elder law in Atlantic County, pleaded guilty on Nov. 3 to first-degree money laundering and faces a recommended sentence of 10 years in state prison, including 3 ½ years of parole ineligibility. She forfeited $3 million in assets seized from her and her husband, as well as her law license. She is scheduled to be sentenced on March 25.

The Division of Criminal Justice yesterday obtained an 11-count state grand jury indictment charging these five defendants as follows:
  1. Jan Van Holt, 58, of Linwood, owner of “A Better Choice,” a company that offered elderly clients in-home “life care and legal financial planning.” Conspiracy (3 counts: two 1st degree and one 2nd degree), Money Laundering (3 counts: two 1st degree and one 2nd degree), Theft by Deception (3 counts: all 2nd degree) and Official Misconduct (2nd degree).
  2. Sondra Steen, 59, of Linwood, Van Holt’s sister, who helped run the company and assisted clients. Conspiracy (3 counts: two 1st degree and one 2nd degree), Money Laundering (3 counts: two 1st degree and one 2nd degree), Theft by Deception (3 counts: all 2nd degree) and Official Misconduct (2nd degree).
  3. Susan Hamlett, 56, of Egg Harbor Township, who worked as an aide for company clients. Conspiracy (2nd degree), Money Laundering (2nd degree) and Theft by Deception (2nd degree).
  4. William Price, 57, of Linwood, who was a caseworker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services when Van Holt was a county caseworker. Conspiracy (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Official Misconduct (2nd degree) and Theft by Deception (2nd degree).
  5. Dr. Maria Teresa S. Daclan, 53, of Galloway Township. Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution (3rd degree).
The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Financial Crimes Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau.

“Van Holt and Steen insinuated themselves into the lives of their elderly clients by posing as compassionate and trustworthy caregivers, all the while allegedly plotting to steal their life savings,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “In some cases, these sisters allegedly deprived their vulnerable victims of the ability to live out their final days in comfort and dignity, callously draining away the victims’ funds to pay for their own pets, swimming pool, expensive cars and Florida condo.”

“Con artists frequently target the elderly because of their vulnerability and accumulated assets,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This is a particularly egregious case of elder fraud because of the way in which Van Holt allegedly used her official position as a case worker for Adult Protective Services to identify victims to prey upon.”

“These individuals allegedly preyed on vulnerable, elderly victims and betrayed their trust, in order to funnel stolen money into their own greedy pockets,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This particular case of elder fraud is especially sinister, due to the conspiracy charges against so many defendants, who held such highly respected positions in society.”

Deputy Attorney General Yvonne G. Maher is prosecuting the case and presented it to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jill Mayer, who is Bureau Chief. Detective Richard Wheeler led the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Financial Crimes Unit. Deputy Attorney General Derek Miller is handling the state’s forfeiture action. Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the New Jersey Office of the Public Guardian for referring the case to the State Police.

It is alleged that Van Holt and Steen conspired with Lieberman to steal more than $2.7 million from 12 elderly clients between January 2003 and December 2012. Hamlett is charged in connection with a single client, a woman from whom Lieberman, Van Holt, Steen and Hamlett allegedly conspired to steal approximately $112,000. Price is charged in connection with an elderly couple he met through his job as a caseworker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services. Van Holt also was a county caseworker at the time, and Price allegedly conspired with Van Holt, Steen and Lieberman to steal more than $800,000 from the elderly couple and their estate. Price allegedly received $125,000 of the stolen funds.

Van Holt worked as a case worker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services from 2002 through December 2007, when she was terminated. Five of the alleged victims were recruited as clients after they came into contact with Van Holt through her official public position as a case worker. The official misconduct charge against Van Holt, Steen and Price relates to those victims.

It is alleged that Van Holt generally was the one to identify potential clients, approaching them to offer the services of A Better Choice and Lieberman. The defendants allegedly targeted elderly clients with substantial assets who typically did not have any immediate family, offering them non-medical care and services, including household chores, errands, driving clients to appointments, scheduling, budgeting, paying bills, balancing checkbooks, and other tasks. They did not provide healthcare services. Van Holt also created a company called “Elder Hospice,” but it was nothing more than a bank account.

Once a target accepted Van Holt’s offer of services, Steen usually would be put in place as the victim’s primary caregiver. In the case of the elderly couple connected to Price, Price also provided extensive assistance, particularly with household repairs. Lieberman would then be brought in to do legal work, preparing powers of attorney and wills for the clients. Lieberman was a leading specialist in elder law in Atlantic County who gave seminars to senior citizens on end of life affairs, wills and living wills.

The defendants allegedly took control of the finances of their victims by forging a power of attorney or obtaining one on false pretenses. The defendants then added their names to the victims’ bank accounts or transferred the victims’ funds into new accounts they controlled. Thereafter, the defendants allegedly stole from the accounts to pay their own expenses, including, for Van Holt and Steen – who lived together – veterinary bills for their pets, pool supplies, two Mercedes cars owned by Van Holt, and lease payments on a Florida condo.

A portion of the money was used to fund the victim’s continued expenses to keep the victim unaware of the thefts. In some cases, money from one victim would be transferred to another victim to pay expenses and cover up the thefts. If the victim owned stocks or bonds, they were cashed out and the funds were deposited into the account allegedly controlled by the defendants.

In one case, Steen allegedly posed as the niece of a 94-year-old woman and used a power of attorney to put a reverse mortgage for $195,000 on the victim’s home. In connection with the reverse mortgage, Dr. Daclan allegedly signed one or more letters for Van Holt related to the victim’s capacity to make financial decisions. In addition, Van Holt allegedly forged the doctor’s signature on a third letter. When a State Police detective asked Daclan about that third letter, Daclan allegedly lied in order to protect Van Holt, falsely claiming that she prepared and signed the letter. That is the basis for the charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution filed against Daclan.

When Lieberman prepared wills for the victims, she typically named herself or Van Holt as executor of the estate and named Steen as a beneficiary, or named other beneficiaries who had little or no ties to the victim and never actually received anything from the estate. The defendants allegedly relied on fraud, manipulation or forgery in the execution of the wills. In this manner, they allegedly continued to steal from the victims’ estates after they died.

Lieberman and Van Holt were arrested on March 19, 2014. Van Holt previously had been arrested with Steen and Hamlett on Dec. 20, 2012, in connection with one victim. The investigation began after the New Jersey Office of the Public Guardian referred the case of that one victim to the State Police.

First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $200,000. The first-degree money laundering charge carries a mandatory minimum term of parole ineligibility of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed. That charge also carries a criminal fine of up to $500,000, and an additional anti-money laundering profiteering penalty of up to $500,000 or three times the value of any property involved. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The second-degree charge of official misconduct carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years without possibility of parole. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Atlantic County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear at a later date for arraignment.

The indictment is posted with this press release at

Full Article & Source:
Sisters Who Ran Senior Care Company In Atlantic County Indicted on Conspiring Charges

Florida: Senate Bill1226 Passes Judiciary Committee!

Senator Nancy Detert
Click the "Source" link to view the hearing and discussion of SB1226.

Discussion of SB1226 begins at 4:30 - 18:00. 

NASGA member Doug Franks speaks at 12:06.

Senate Committee Hearing of 3/15/15

See Also:
Detert Files Bill to Reform Elder Guardianship System

Read and track SB1226

NASGA:  Ernestine Franks, Florida Victim

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

FOX 4 investigation yields bill seeking to protect elderly | Dallas-Fort Worth News, Weather, Sports  Guardians and attorneys who represent some of Texas' most vulnerable people may be required to start disclosing exactly what they are charging for their services.

A bill before the legislature involves stepping up financial accountability.

“I feel like I am not in America,” Michael Kidd said back in 2009, after the state determined that he and his wife could no longer care for themselves. “I can't believe that I have been high jacked off the street, virtually…imprisoned.”

The state placed Kidd and his wife in a nursing home against their will and took over all of their finances.

It was only after FOX 4 stepped in and aired their story that a judge allowed them to return home, but by then, their finances had been turned upside down.

In Austin on Monday, there were lots of similar stories, and now a bill has been proposed that would require more financial accountability for guardians.

“We have seen attorneys' fees in cases in Tarrant County, Dallas County, Travis County and Bexar Counties in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to represent an elderly person who is trapped,” said Deb Valdez, a guardianship reform advocate.

Virginia Pritchett also testified about her good friend, Denise Tighe, who was also placed in a nursing home against her will 20 miles away from her home.

Pritchett said Tighe had a sizable savings account. She later died with no friends or family with her.

“This guardianship law may have been passed to help people, but instead, it enables the greed to take full financial advantage of the elderly,” said Pritchett. “My friend was never able to spend a day in her home again, simply because she had lots of money.”

State Sen. Judith Zaffarini's bill, Senate Bill 1369, would require attorney and guardians to file a report with the name of each person appointed by the court, the hours they worked and the compensation paid, and those reports would have to be available online and physically at the court.

The senator says the current system requires reporting, but only 40 percent comply.

A Travis County judge testified Monday that he has grave concerns about the bill.

“This, I'm concerned about because it is putting a great burden upon the judge when I don't have enough staff in my office to do it,” said Judge Guy Herman of Travis County Probate Court.

Monday was the first reading of the bill, so it is still early in the legislative process.

Sadly, Michael and Jean Kidd both passed away after FOX 4's stories aired, but they were back in their home, and that is where they wanted to be. 

Full Article, Video & Source:
FOX 4 investigation yields bill seeking to protect elderly

Woman gets probation in financial exploitation case

A former area resident accused of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult has been sentenced to five years probation, 50 hours of community work service, and cannot work in a job that includes fiduciary responsibilities.

Ashley Loraine Marschel, formerly known as Ashley Dotzenrod, pleaded guilty in December to one felony count; in exchange for the plea, an identical exploitation charge and a single felony count of theft by swindle were dismissed.

Marschel, 29, of Apple Valley, entered an Alford plea in Olmsted County District Court. The plea means Marschel maintains her innocence, but acknowledges that the evidence would be sufficient to convict her.

The investigation began Sept. 27, 2013, when police were told by a Rochester financial institution that Marschel had deposited about $50,000 in checks written on the alleged victim's account into her own checking account. The victim was described in the criminal complaint as having "significant difficulty in speech and motor movements," as well as having seizures, all the result of a stroke several years ago.

The man required the assistance of others for basic needs, and had a power of attorney document to assist in financial matters, the report says, classifying him as a functional vulnerable adult.

In January 2011, the man named Marschel as his power of attorney; in May 2011, Marschel opened a joint savings account with the man.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim's former power of attorney said the victim was "frugal" and was "aware of Marschel's spending habits." The man set up the financial arrangement so if Marschel was going to be paid, he would have to write her the check. Since 2009, only one check has been written to Marschel, the records show.

When investigators spoke to the man in October 2013, he said Marschel had stolen his money.

Records obtained by law enforcement indicate Marschel made 143 transactions involving the victim's bank account from January 2011 to October 2013, for a total of more than $92,000.

Prior to January 2012, a credit card in the man's name was paid in full every month, the complaint says. From January 2012 to October 2013, records showed Marschel used the card 14 times, with purchases totaling about $11,800.

The man told investigators he hadn't given Marschel consent to use the card.

The combined check and credit card activity totals $103,864.

Full Article & Source:
Woman gets probation in financial exploitation case

Medical Report Suggests Antipsychotics Too Often Overprescribed to Elderly Dementia Patients

"In a new report, it seems that antipsychotic drugs are far too often prescribed, particularly to elder dementia patients (ie Alzheimer’s disease) in nursing homes.

Republican Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, is the chairwoman for the Senate Special Committee on Aging. She says, “The report raises many red flags concerning the potential misuse and excessive use of antipsychotic drugs for patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

Federal investigators comment that Medicare officials need to take immediate action in order to reduce not only the prevalence of these issues but also the ignorance of them....

Nursing home trade group, The American Health Care Association also comment that antipsychotic drugs do have some benefit for some patients with dementia. Those who suffer hallucinations or delusions, for example, could find great relief, but it is important to monitor use to make sure that they are not overprescribed and not used inappropriately.

The AHCA comments, “Antipsychotic drugs are expensive, costing hundreds of millions of Medicare dollars. They also increase the risk of death, falls with fractures, hospitalizations and other complications.”

The study indicates that several antipsychotic medications may be overprescribed—not just one or two in particular. This could include: Risperdal, Clozapine, Zyprexa, and Abilify."  as reported at Pioneer News

Full Article & Source:
Medical Report Suggests Antipsychotics Too Often Overprescribed to Elderly Dementia Patients

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Despite Improvements, Ohio Advocates Say Anti-Elder Abuse Funds Fall Short

Ramona Wilson
Part 2. 

COLUMBUS, Ohio--Ramona Wilson, 74, tidied her house, parked both of her cars in her garage, shut all the doors and turned on the engines.

But before she could climb behind the wheel and asphyxiate herself, two strangers were tap, tap, tapping on her front door. Wilson wanted to chase them away. But one of them — Dave Kessler, of  he Ohio attorney general’s office — told her he understood the shame and embarrassment she must have felt after being conned out of $50,000 by a man she thought loved her.

“She needed to hear that it wasn’t her fault,” Kessler said.

Ohio officials hope to elevate elder abuse to the forefront of societal concerns through stories such as Wilson’s in much the same way that attention was called to child abuse 30 years ago and to domestic violence 10 years ago, said Cynthia Dungey, director of Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services.

The state also plans to create a stronger statewide adult protective services (APS) system and wants to encourage the kind of collaboration among caseworkers, law-enforcement agencies, prosecutors and others that helped put Wilson’s life back together.

She Didn’t Have to 'Stop Living'

“It was like he had been sent from God,” Wilson said of Kessler. “I learned that while I couldn’t go back and change things, that didn’t mean I had to stop living.”

Wilson told Kessler how she had met Charles Sellers at church one summer afternoon in 2005. He was 24 years younger than she was, but they exchanged phone numbers and struck up a friendship.
What she didn’t know was that Sellers had recently been released from prison, after serving 10 years for fatally shooting a man during a gambling argument.

Wilson, who lost her third husband, James, not even a year earlier to Alzheimer’s, was lonely and still grieving. Sellers, who lavished attention on her, finally admitted details of his past, but he had convinced Wilson he was a reformed man, a good Christian, deserving of a second chance.

After a three-month courtship, Wilson and Sellers married. He then persuaded her to take out a $14,000 home-equity line of credit on her North Side house for home repairs and for a business opportunity.

Soon, Sellers disappeared, and Wilson saw ATM withdrawals. Before long he had blown $50,000, including Wilson’s entire life savings.

“Can you imagine your whole life gone like that?” Wilson asked. “The worst part was I lost my respect. Even my own children were talking behind my back.”

With Kessler’s help, Sellers was sentenced to five years in prison in 2007. He appealed and, in 2008, was given five years’ probation and ordered to pay $14,326 in restitution.

To spare others the pain she went through, Wilson, who had become pastor of her church, traveled the state with Kessler to tell her story.

“I’m not a victim anymore,” she said. “I’m an overcomer.”

State's New $10 Million Funding

As the nation grows older, state- and county-run APS programs will play a more critical role than ever in investigating abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, experts agree. But, they note, programs are underfunded, lack oversight and vary dramatically because no minimum standards have been set.

For example, Ohio has 88 counties and 88 different approaches to protecting elders.

To better coordinate the protection, Dungey, of Job and Family Services, said the state plans to spend about $2.6 million to create a central hotline, data-collection system and minimum standards and training requirements for the APS programs in the counties.

Last summer, a working group set up by Gov. John Kasich recommended that the state also provide $4.4 million in grants so counties can create plans to meet the new state requirements. Another almost $3 million will be available to counties that partner with other agencies to fill service gaps.

“Without question, the willingness of the legislature and the governor to put $10 million on the table seems to be an indication that the state is trying to make some traction on the issue of elder abuse,” said Bill Sundermeyer, AARP’s associate state director.

However, Lynn Wieland, a retired consultant who oversaw the APS in Cuyahoga County, which included Cleveland, said to truly solve the problems, the state needs to make a lasting commitment to elder abuse and provide strong leadership and funding.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced an Elder Justice Initiative last May to increase the investigation and prosecution of elder-abuse cases and improve victims’ access to services. It promises to bridge the gap between existing systems, including adult-protective services and local law enforcement. (See sidebar.)

Two state representatives reintroduced a bill in February that would extend the definition of elder abuse to include financial harm, neglect and exploitation and create a registry to identify and track patterns of abuse.

Once scammed, many have to go on Medicaid and other public assistance just to survive. “We want to help keep seniors self-sufficient and help protect taxpayer money,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Wes Retherford.

Innovative Approaches

The Ohio Family Violence Prevention Project, a group of health and social-services experts, is recommending that Ohio allow “convenience” bank accounts, which enable a designated party to monitor a senior’s account and to deposit and withdraw funds.

The project also recommends that the state consider creating an elder-abuse forensic center, Steinman said. At many of the forensic centers popping up across the country, public-health and law-enforcement officials are learning to use the same techniques popularized on the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV series to root out elder abuse and neglect.

Despite funding challenges, many adult-protective-services programs are learning to do more with less, said Andy Capehart, assistant director of the National Adult Protective Services Association.

For example, New York City sends caseworkers and trained volunteers each month into the homes of older adults who have problems managing their finances to help pay their bills and make sure they are not being abused or neglected, Capehart said.

Sacramento, Calif., contracts with hospitals to provide services to patients who are frequently hospitalized and at high risk of abuse or neglect. Fairfax County, Virginia, uses contracted psychologists and nurse practitioners to help assess the physical and cognitive abilities of older adults.

Some good work is being done in Ohio, too.

Licking County in Central Ohio, for example, has an interdisciplinary team of professionals, including court, fire, law-enforcement, mental-health and social workers, who meet monthly to work on the more complicated cases. This year, it plans to add representatives of banks and other financial institutions.

Cuyahoga and Franklin counties have both put more money into their APS agencies than the state provides. For instance, Franklin, which includes the state capital of Columbus, received $45,711 in state money last fiscal year but spends about $1.6 million a year to handle about 1,400 calls.

‘Making it Worth the Pain’

Dave Kessler, who helped Ramona Wilson regain her life, now works for the prosecutor and the Department of Job and Family Services in Fairfield County. He still aims to hold accountable the con men and women who take advantage of the elderly.

Wilson’s ex-husband, Charles Sellers, moved to Massachusetts in 2008. Wilson said he has paid her just $6 of the $14,326 the court says he owes. Sellers could not be reached for comment.

Now 82, Wilson can no longer handle the physical strains of touring the state to tell her story, but she has written a book that she hopes will lift the spirits of others who have been conned.

“It still hurts, but if I save just one person, all the pain will have been worth it,” she said.

This article is adapted from a longer story by Columbus Dispatch reporter Encarnacion Pyle, who wrote this series supported by the Journalists in Aging Fellows Program of the Gerontological Society of America and New America Media, sponsored by the Silver Century Foundation. Also see her article, “Often, Elderly Abused by Relatives.” Dispatch Librarians Linda Deitch, Julie Fulton and Susan Stonick contributed research for this series.

Full Article & Source:
Despite Improvements, Ohio Advocates Say Anti-Elder Abuse Funds Fall Short


WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today announced that they are renewing their efforts to assist families who are caring for seniors. With almost 12 million Americans needing some type of long-term care, many adult children are providing care for their elderly parents. The Senators announced that they have reintroduced the Americans Giving Care to Elders (AGE) Act to help reduce the financial burden on families by establishing a federal tax credit to assist with the costs of caring for an aging family member.

"I believe that 'Honor Thy Father and Mother' is a good commandment to live by and a good policy to govern by," Senator Mikulski said. "This legislation will provide the support families need as they care for an elderly family member, helping them to age in place and lead more independent and active lives. I will continue to fight so that we meet the needs of our growing and changing senior population and their loved ones who care for them."

"Millions of families find themselves as members of the 'sandwich generation,' coping with the challenges and costs of care for elderly parents at the same time they are caring for their own children," Senator Klobuchar said. "As the baby boomer generation ages, these numbers will continue to grow. We must do everything we can to support daughters and sons in this act of love, and this legislation will help make it easier for them to care for their families."

In addition to establishing a federal tax credit, the Americans Giving Care to Elders (AGE) Act would also help expand programs such as the National Family Caregivers Support Program, which provides education, guidance, and support to people taking care of loved ones with long-term care needs. Across the United States, more than 65.7 million family and informal caregivers provide care to someone ?who is ill, disabled, or aged.

Senator Mikulski has been a long-time champion for seniors and their families. She has cosponsored legislation to renew and expand the landmark Older Americans Act to further support access to nutritious food and critical care for the elderly. She created the original National Family Caregivers Support Program and has worked tirelessly to support nurses and nursing education programs. As Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski fought to pass fiscal years 2014 and 2015 spending bills to keep the government open and ensure critical funding remains available for programs that help seniors, including funding for Meals on Wheels, Senior Centers, caregivers, and senior transportation services. In addition, she has worked to support increased funding for the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute on Aging and for increases to overall medical research related to Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's, cancer, dementia, and heart disease.

Throughout her time in the Senate, Senator Klobuchar has been fighting to ensure that all Americans have safety, dignity, and good health in their senior years. She has authored the Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act, which pushes for stronger screening and oversight of court-appointed guardians for seniors and persons with disabilities. She supported the Elder Justice Act to prevent the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly, which was incorporated into the health care reform bill that passed in 2010. She has also worked to preserve and strengthen Medicare, improve access to less-expensive prescription drugs, and protect seniors from fraud.

Full Article & Source:

Monday, March 30, 2015

FOX 4 investigation yields bill seeking to protect elderly

Guardians and attorneys who represent some of Texas’ most vulnerable may be required to start disclosing exactly what they are charging for their services.

FOX 4 investigation yields bill seeking to protect elderly

Daughter’s suit alleges exploitation

It claims a former police detective took advantage of a man with dementia

PORTLAND — A former Medford police detective who specialized in investigating elder abuse has been accused of using her expertise to exploit the dementia of a Portland lawyer before his death last year.

The daughter of Victor Calzaretta says in a $4 million lawsuit filed in Portland that she was in line to inherit his estate until Calzaretta married the detective, Sue Campbell, after a brief courtship. Calzaretta changed his will in 2011 to make his wife the executor and sole beneficiary.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Diane Miller of La Center, Wash., says the detective was familiar with the signs of dementia and married Calzaretta — her elder by 13 years — “not because she loved him,” but to get access to his estate.

“Campbell’s actions were taken for the improper purpose of financially exploiting an elderly demented man for her own financial benefit,” the lawsuit states.

Sue Campbell Calzaretta declined comment by phone Thursday. Her lawyer, Jim Callahan, said his client adamantly denies the allegations, and he spoke no further.

Victor Calzaretta, who died at 72, worked as a police officer before switching careers in the early 1980s and, according to lawsuit, amassing an estate worth about $4 million.

In July 2003, he made out a will leaving his estate to his second wife, Anita. If she died before Victor Calzaretta, the estate would go to Miller. Anita Calzaretta died in 2004.

The lawsuit states that Calzaretta began showing signs of dementia in 2008, and it worsened the following year.

Toward the end of his legal career, Calzaretta was hit with two negligence complaints, court records show. One of them was filed by a client whose lawsuit was tossed by a judge early into a November 2010 trial. A news report from the time said the judge sharply criticized Calzaretta for his lack of preparation, including his inability to even say when his next witnesses would show.

According to the lawsuit, Calzaretta had been friends with Campbell and bought her a wedding dress in 1994. The two, however, went years without seeing each other until Campbell invited Calzaretta to attend a funeral with her in February 2010. They started dating and got married two months later.

Campbell worked for years investigating abuse cases involving the elderly. In 2007, the state Department of Human Services honored her as one of 11 “Everyday Heroes” in the fight against the crime. The agency said in a news release that the detective went “above and beyond” her professional duty by taking victims of elder abuse on outings, walking their dogs, baking them desserts and celebrating holidays with them.

Calzaretta’s will, a copy of which was found in Jackson County Probate Department records, is similar to the 2003 terms except that Sue Calzaretta’s name is substituted for the second wife. If Sue Calzaretta had preceded her husband in death, the estate would have gone to Diane Miller.

Victor Calzaretta’s other surviving child, Richard Calzaretta of Vancouver, Wash., was shut out in both versions.

Tara Lawrence, the lawyer for Diane Miller, said her client could not be interviewed and she wouldn’t discuss Miller’s financial situation.

“(The lawsuit) has so much less to do with finances,” Lawrence said Thursday. “It certainly plays a factor. But Diane is bringing this for justice for her father.”

One of Victor Calzaretta’s siblings, William Calzaretta, said he couldn’t shed any light on his brother’s relationship with Sue Campbell. But, he added, the family also didn’t know anything about Victor’s first and second wives until he married them.

“He never communicated with us,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
Daughter’s suit alleges exploitation

Company accused of sending uncertified health aides to homes of elderly clients

New Jersey has moved to suspend the license of a home health care agency because it alleges a recent inspection showed falsified records about the qualifications of many of its employees.

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Office of Consumer Protection, announced today it is seeking to is suspend the registration of Precious Hands LLC of West Orange or having sent uncertified workers to patients' homes. Many of those patients are elderly or disabled.

In addition, the state's allegations include the charge the company had no Director of Nursing on staff, but rather used three names of nurses - all of whom told the state they never worked there or even knew their names were being used.

The violations the state noted involved employee training records and patient treatment plans. There were no allegations of patient mistreatment.

UPDATE: Company to appeal order; says all aides are certified

For all 19 of its employees, the company allegedly failed to verify whether they were licensed or registered by the Board of Nursing, failed to verify their employment history, and failed to maintain other required employee records, according to the state.

For 14 out of 15 clients, the company failed to draft a 30-day plan of care or conduct 60-day evaluations of patient needs, as required.

In addition, it sent 23 uncertified workers to the homes of seven clients, according to the allegations.

The company could not be reached for comment.

In the wake of the deficiencies that turned up in the state inspection, Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee signed a order fining the company $2,000 and suspending its registration for six months, beginning April 6.

At the end of that six-month suspension, the company would have to prove it had corrected the alleged violations, including the hiring of "a legitimate Director of Nursing," the agency stated. The company would be able to resume business if the violations are corrected .

Residents who need to hire help for themselves or a relative can consult the Division's guide to the process, available here.

Full Article & Source:
Company accused of sending uncertified health aides to homes of elderly clients

Ohio Elder Abuse Mirrors National Picture of Government Neglect

Emma Rosenbaum
Part 1

COLUMBUS, Ohio--Emma Rosenbaum never married and had no children.

So when Rosenbaum, now 88, fell and shattered her arm at her Indiana home 3½ years ago, she agreed to move to a rehabilitation center in Columbus, Ohio, to be near her niece Terri Lane and Lane’s husband, Denny.

They were her closest relatives, and she loved them as if they were her own kids. Rosenbaum gave Mr. Lane, 63, who had worked as a broker for many years, power of attorney over her affairs.

A short time later, it became clear that Rosenbaum, who had dementia and was growing physically weaker, couldn’t live alone.

The Lanes placed her an assisted-living center and were supposed to pay Rosenbaum’s monthly bills with her long-term care insurance and General Electric pension. But Mr. Lane, who was unemployed, started dipping into Rosenbaum’s money to cover family living expenses.

By the time the assisted-living center alerted police about its concerns in the summer of 2013, Mr. Lane had spent $86,026 and Rosenbaum was being evicted.

‘Invisible, Expensive and Lethal’ Problem

An estimated 1 in 10 elderly Americans is abused or neglected every year, often at the hands of family members, caregivers or others entrusted to protect them, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. That doesn’t include people like Rosenbaum who have been exploited financially.

Elder abuse is a “rampant, largely invisible, expensive and lethal” problem that has serious and devastating effects and requires immediate action, said Kathleen Quinn, executive director of the National Adult Protective Services Association (NPSA).

Rosenbaum, who now has a court-appointed guardian, eventually went to another assisted-living center and then moved nursing home, when her health declined last December.

Ohio has seen 14,000 to 15,000 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of people 60 or older in each of the past five years. But the number reported elder abuse cases don’t show the whole problem. Victims often are unable or afraid to tell police, relatives or friends because of illness or fear of being harmed or removed from their homes.

A recent study funded by Ohio’s HealthPath Foundation estimates that at least 105,000 people 60-plus are abused or neglected each year in the state. By comparison, 103,000 are hurt in falls requiring emergency care and 123,000 discover they have cancer.

“Most people are shocked to learn that the incidence of elder abuse is as common as cancer,” said Kenny Steinman, an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio State University and co-director of the Ohio Family Prevention Project, which did the report.

Safety-Net Cuts to Worsen Problem

The problem will only get worse, experts say, as the nation grays and more seniors receive in-home care.

Cuts to other state safety-net programs, such as cash assistance, also are forcing more struggling adults, including some with alcohol and drug addictions, to move in with their parents and grandparents, increasing the likelihood of abuse or neglect, said Jack Frech, retired director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services.

Older adults who are abused often suffer lasting physical, mental and emotional anguish that can take years off their lives. Abused seniors are three times more likely to die early than those who have not been harmed, and almost 1 in 10 will go on Medicaid for the poor, after their funds have been drained, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association.

The problems with Ohio’s flawed adult-protective-services system are separate from but related to the state’s guardianship program. That system allowed court-approved guardians to neglect or abuse their wards. In early March, the Ohio Supreme Court issued new rules for the training and oversight of guardians, and the legislature is considering additional regulation.

Nationally, a new study by True Link Financial, a private financial-services company, recently concluded that elder exploitation costs victims about $36.5 billion a year — 12 times higher than previously thought.

“Sadly, they lose much more than just money,” said Kai Stinchcombe, True Link Financial’s CEO. “ Of seniors who experienced fraud, 1.8 percent lost their home or other major assets as a result, 6.7 percent skipped medical care, and 4.2 percent reduced the number of meals they ate, for budgetary reasons.”

Across the country, such programs charged with investigating reports of suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation are overextended and underfunded, experts agree.

“Workers are undertrained, overwhelmed and can barely keep up with the mounting caseloads,” said [Bob Blancato, national coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition in Washington, D.C.]

Many Ohio counties have tax levies that support senior services, but few use that money to fight the mistreatment of seniors.

“Our state funding keeps getting smaller as the number of elder-abuse cases keeps growing,” said Sara Lewellen, a supervisor with the Pike County Department of Job and Family Services. “As a result, we struggle to provide bare necessities.”

Ashland County, for instance, received $2,516 from the state this year and has budgeted another $6,748 from federal block-grant funds, but that still isn’t enough to pay for a full-time elder-abuse caseworker, said Cassandra Holtzmann, director of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services.

“It’s a real dilemma: The state wants us to build up our foundation, but they’re not willing to pay for it long term,” she said. The number of Ohio’s adult protective services caseworkers has shrunk from 630 in the early 1990s to about 250 today, according to state figures.

The Center for Community Solutions found in 2013 that 39 Ohio counties lacked a full-time staff person devoted to elder abuse, leaving child-welfare caseworkers or local police to handle the investigations.

Ohio’s Protections Vary Sharply

The realities of child- and adult-welfare cases are different, said Wendy Patton, a senior project director for Policy Matters Ohio, a policy research institute.

For example, caseworkers can’t remove adults from their homes simply because of their suspicions about abuse. And, if faced with a backlog, many counties place the priority on cases involving children.

The skills are different, too, Patton said. Child-abuse caseworkers are required to attend 102 hours of training their first year, followed by 36 hours of ongoing training annually and 12 hours of domestic-violence training within two years, said Bobbie Boyer, program manager for the Institute for Human Services.

Right now, training for elder-abuse workers is voluntary, but that might be changing. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services hired Boyer’s institute last summer to create a basic curriculum for workers in APS based on a national model including extensive in-person and online sessions.

A lack of financial and other resources has resulted in inconsistent services from county to county.
Ohio law requires that reports made to adult-protective-services agencies and programs be investigated within 24 hours in emergency situations, and three working days for non-emergencies.

After the initial investigation, the process can vary dramatically, depending on a county’s resources. Some counties investigate as required by law because that’s all they can afford. Others also connect seniors to social services such as transportation or home care and do follow-up visits to make sure the person is safe.

“Often, what you get depends on what side of the county border you happen to live on, which is unfortunate,” said Richard Browdie, president and CEO of the Cleveland-based nonprofit Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging.

Browdie, formerly Pennsylvania’s Secretary for Aging, said Ohio should beef up its mandate for the programs, set minimum standards, provide adequate funding so the requirements can be met, and hold them accountable.

Any additional support would help, advocates say, because cases are becoming increasingly complex and harder to resolve. A lack of training of law-enforcement officers, inadequate criminal investigations, low rates of prosecution and unwillingness by some courts to deal with elder-abuse issues can also be stumbling blocks.

Abuser in a Bind

In Emma Rosenbaum’s case, Franklin County APS petitioned Probate Court to appoint a guardian to help find new living arrangements. The agency also worked with law-enforcement officers and the prosecutor’s office to hold Mr. Lane accountable.

Now, though, the agency no longer works with people in eldercare facilities, as Rosenbaum was, leaving that to the state long-term care ombudsman’s office, said Sally Smith, a supervisor with APS, part of the Franklin County Office on Aging.

Mr. Lane knew what he did was wrong but felt he had little choice, said his attorney, Kyle Stoller. He and his wife were both dealing with health problems, and their daughter had been in a car crash and wasn’t insured, court records show.

“He was not using the money for drugs or gambling or fancy cars or a house,” Stoller wrote in court documents. “He was simply trying to take care of his family and stay afloat.”

Michael Juhola, a Worthington lawyer, who is Rosenbaum’s guardian, said, “I think it was a situation of a good person making a bad decision.” Mr. Lane pleaded guilty to a felony count of theft last May and was sentenced to four years in prison. He recently petitioned the court for early release so he can work to make restitution.

Juhola supports Mr. Lane’s early release as long as it benefits Rosenbaum, he said.

This article is adapted from a longer story by Columbus Dispatch reporter Encarnacion Pyle, who wrote this series supported by the Journalists in Aging Fellows Program of the Gerontological Society of America and New America Media, sponsored by the Silver Century Foundation. Also see her article, “Greed Often at Heart of Ohio Senior-Abuse Cases.”  Dispatch Librarians Linda Deitch, Julie Fulton and Susan Stonick contributed research for this series. Pyle also discusses her series on Sunny95 radio.

Full Article & Source:
Ohio Elder Abuse Mirrors National Picture of Government Neglect

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Steve Miller: "Multi-millionaire Leann Peccole Goorjian died in Feb.2008. Jared Shafer is still charging her a $50,000 per year "Administration Fee"

NRS 151.93: Winding up affairs
The guardian of the estate is entitled to retain possession of the ward's property already in the control of the guardian and is authorized to perform the duties of the guardian to wind up the affairs of the guardianship;
(a) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b), 9c) or (d), for not more than 180 days,
or a period that is reasonable and necessary determined by the court after the termination of the guardianship;

Clark County Family Court Guardianship Commissioner Jon Norheim who works under the supervision of Judge Charles Hoskin is allowing this violation of Nevada law to occur.

Leann is the niece of former Clark County Sheriff Ralph Lamb, and the daughter of the late William Peccole, developer of Peccole Ranch in Las Vegas. Leann has two sons, Gavin and Camden who run the family business, Peccole Nevada Corp., and believe Shafer is an "attorney" looking out for their late mother's best financial interest.

Jared Shafer is not an attorney. and I suggest that the Goorgian brothers terminate his "guardianship" immediately, and use whatever remains of her looted estate to set up a UNLV scholarship in her honor. - SM


See also:
Grave Robbery Under Color of Law

"We were told Mr. Shafer is an attorney and he's been looking out of Leann's son's best interest."  (Peccole family member)

"We have one really rich ward whose been dead for over five years."  (Patience Bristol)

Lawyer Who Refused to Give a Client a Refund Says He's Glad Texas State Bar Is Suing Him

In 2007, former television journalist and journalism professor Eric Gormly made history at the University of North Texas for suing one of his own students. In the suit, he accused two professors and the student of conspiring to give him a bad performance review that got him fired. School officials said it was the first time they had heard of a UNT professor suing a student. "The university is disappointed that a former faculty member would file a lawsuit against a student who trusted him to do his job and follow university policy with respect to initiating complaints," a UNT official said at the time.

In an interview now, Gormly downplays his lawsuit against a student. "I did not sue a student. My attorney at the time included a student as one of the defendants," he says.

However you slice it, Gormly clearly caught the legal bug. After leaving teaching, as he explains online, he got a degree from the SMU Dedman School of Law and opened a practice in Richardson that specializes in LGBT cases and family law.

But now it's Gormly's legal career that faces a bump in the road. In February, Gormly was sued in Dallas by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, a committee in the State Bar responsible for disciplining attorneys. According to the petition filed by the committee, a man named Anthony John Gonzalez had hired Gormly for a post-divorce family law case. Gonzalez paid $2,500 upfront. But Gormly "neglected" the client, the State Bar committee says, so Gonzalez fired him.

Gormly wasn't going to let himself be fired. Gormly "failed to withdraw from the ease, filing a petition on March 12, 2014, after he had been fired and after Gonzalez had made demand that his money be refunded," the commission writes. "Upon termination of representation, Respondent failed to refund advance payment of a fee that had not been earned."

Gormly says that he believes Gonzalez didn't deserve a refund and is confident that he has done nothing wrong. He suggests that his former client acted unethically. "Let's just say he made some accusations that were unfounded and inappropriate and then he threatened to take action," Gormly says.

In fact, Gormly describes angry clients as a widespread problem in the legal industry. "It's becoming more common that the client will fire the attorney and demand all their money back, and if they don't get their money back he'll file a complaint with the State Bar."

When an attorney faces a complaint from a client, the first, lowest level in the grievance procedure is a private disciplinary action handled by the State Bar. Public discipline against attorneys in the district court, on the other hand, isn't common. Gormly is the only attorney so far this year and the first since December to be sued in Dallas by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, public records show. Nevertheless, Gormly says he wants to be sued by the State Bar.

"When this happened to me, I was so outraged by the unfounded accusations, the audacity -- check that I didn't say that -- I was so outraged by the unfounded accusations, I decided that since I had done absolutely nothing wrong and I had nothing to hide, I wanted to pull this out of the administrative system and put this out in the district court. That was my decision."

He adds: "We're going to fight it in the public, that's my choice,"

In that spirit, you can read his disciplinary suit below:
Full Article & Source:
Lawyer Who Refused to Give a Client a Refund Says He's Glad Texas State Bar Is Suing Him

Bankruptcy Sometimes an Option for Homes Facing Mounting Lawsuits

When a nursing home has been accused of derogating its duty to properly care for a resident or residents, or suffers allegations of not just neglect but abuse, it can be subject to all types of legal action. This includes regulatory sanctions by the state or federal government (if the home accepts Medicare or Medicaid federal dollars), criminal prosecution against a staffer for abuse, a civil lawsuit by a state attorney general, or a civil lawsuit by a victim of neglect or abuse or that victim’s family or guardian. Some nursing homes or holding companies that own chains of nursing homes have seen multiple claims against them, and jury awards or settlement figures that can truly rack up. Yet many can survive because they are financial juggernauts – particularly the bigger, more corporate-owned facilities. This is not always the case, however. If faced with a burgeoning of lawsuits, a nursing home’s owners and administrators may decide it needs protection under bankruptcy law.

California Nursing Home Entity Goes Bankrupt

In recent news, it was reported that a nursing home owner in California filed for bankruptcy because it could be on the hook for millions of dollars if lawsuits against it go against them if there are jury awards or expensive settlements. North American Healthcare owns over thirty nursing homes in the western United States, and one of its facilities in California just faced fines levied by California for providing poor care to its residents on top of numerous lawsuits against them by residents or their families. That particular facility was reportedly fined $100,000 back in 2013 when a patient died from an overdose of a blood thinner, and has been the subject of numerous complaints to the state – one of its current lawsuits stems from a patient’s fall and subsequent death at the facility.

Increase in Health Provider Bankruptcies

As the New York Times has reported, from 2010 to 2014 there was a 38% increase in bankruptcy filings by healthcare providers across the country, presumably due to the types of lawsuits brought by patients as well as lawsuits and enforcement-type actions brought by the government for poor care or for accusations of health insurance (e.g. Medicaid) fraud. The health care entities making these filings include hospitals, home health care services, and nursing homes. Typical filings are under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, which allows for reorganization by an entity in order to shed debt, pay off certain debt, and become leaner yet remain functioning. Creditors, including those awaiting payments from a litigation award, must get in line to split what is available, and that could mean a smaller payout than what they were supposed to have received. As the article states, Chapter 11 filings overall dropped 60% during that 2010-2014 time, indicating the even starker difference between the need for bankruptcy protection between the health care industry and other industries.

Ulterior Motives?

Some critics ascribe bankruptcy filings not to an effort to become fiscally solvent and viable again, but rather as an escape mechanism to avoid the possible judgment awards or settlement payments that could happen. Proponents and the facility owners simply see it as a last ditch resort of self-preservation. In this particular case, the defendant company is still profitable, but anticipates it will not be if it loses too many lawsuits, therefore it is preemptively seeking bankruptcy protection.

Full Article & Source:
Bankruptcy Sometimes an Option for Homes Facing Mounting Lawsuits