Saturday, April 11, 2015

Wife Refuses to Give Up on Husband in Coma After Crash - Then He Wakes Up

Matt & Danielle Davis
Danielle Josey Davis had been married only seven months when a devastating motorcycle accident left her husband on life support and in a coma.

Doctors recommended letting Matt Davis die because there was a 90 percent chance he would never wake up, but Danielle told ABC News she decided it just wasn't time yet. Then, one day, he woke up.

"I'm sure glad I married her," Matt Davis told ABC News today, though he doesn't remember Danielle from before the 2010 crash that caused his traumatic brain injury

Danielle was 24 when the accident happened, and had only started dating Matt, then 23, two months before their wedding. 

Matt's father had died two years before the accident, and his mother was too ill to take care of him, Danielle said. But Danielle made the decision to keep him on life support and eventually fought to get him into rehab and to take him home, moving back into her mother's house. 

"If we've got to bring him home, let's make sure he has the best view in the world," she remembered telling her mother. "If he's going to be a body in a bed, let's give him something to look at."

Soon, Matt started following them with his eyes, and then he started communicating, Danielle said.
Three months after the accident, Danielle was holding Matt up in his bed trying to emulate what his therapist had done in rehab by asking him to reach out and grab a toy motorcycle. He'd never done it before, but this day, he did it, Danielle recalled. It was a start. 

The moment Danielle really felt that her husband's personality was still intact was when they asked him what he wanted to eat, and he responded in a barely audible whisper. "I kid you not, he says, 'buffalo chicken wrap from Cheddar's,'" she said, explaining that it had been his favorite food. "We all whipped around because we all knew what he said."

They eventually got him to another rehabilitation program for two and a half months. And he left on his own two feet with a walker, Danielle said. 
Matt Davis
It's taken some time for Matt to regain his sense of humor and his long-term memory, but he doesn't remember dating or marrying Danielle. He's gotten to know her all over again. She calls him "Mattie" or "cake," and he calls her "baby" or "doughnut."

They play scrabble and enjoy going to yoga classes together, and he's recently started driving a stick shift car for fun because he loves cars, she said.

Full Article & Source:
Wife Refuses to Give Up on Husband in Coma After Crash - Then He Wakes Up

Stabenow seeks HOPE for Alzheimer’s patients, families

John D. MacInnes put a face to Tuesday’s discussion about Alzheimer’s.

The 87-year-old Bloomfield Hills man took his turn, standing and offering comments that earned applause from the audience that had gathered in Southfield to hear U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow discuss legislation she has introduced in Congress. That legislation, if approved, would offer education and options to families of Alzheimer’s patients..

MacInnis had some ideas of his own.

“Eight years ago I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” said the articulate MacInnes, noting that he had just had an appointment with his neurologist. “She said that at your stage now, you should not be driving.

“I tell you, that’s a blow.”

MacInnes would later go on to offer further comments on what the needs are of those with the disease that robs its victims of their memories – things like a better transportation system than the metro area now has in place, and expanded use of caregivers to support families.

A stigma

The meeting had been marked by speaker after speaker, commenting on a medical community that they said frequently considers a diagnosis hopeless and doesn’t continue treatment.

There is a stigma to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, said Kristin E. Cahil, a social worker with U-M’s Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center. And she saw MacInnes, who has served on the Alzheimer’s Association advisory team, as the antithesis to that stigma.

Cahil commented on what she said was MacInness’ dignity, eloquent speech and ability to “give back,” and she called for others to “still respect people” who have the disease.

That’s part of what Stabenow wants her legislation to do – offer hope to families and the Alzheimer’s patients who, she said, sometimes are never even told what their diagnosis is. One in every three people will suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, she said.

Added to that is a lack of care available in the African-American community, said Paula Duren, a psychologist with an office in Farmington Hills who has devoted herself to helping fill that need.

Bringing HOPE

Stabenow, whom the Alzeimer’s Association praises for her advocacy, said that her proposed bipartisan legislation would bring HOPE (or Health Outcomes, Planning and Education for Alzheimer’s Act). The legislation would bring information and treatment options to those caring for patients, she said.

To those who worry about cost, Stabenow said that to not offer HOPE would cost more, but she worries about cuts in the next budget for both Medicare and Medicaid.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “The economy has turned around...We’re coming out of the hole.”

She suggested that loopholes allowing companies that “pretend to leave” the U.S. and not pay taxes should be closed.

Stabenow and officials with the Alzheimer’s Association encouraged those present and the general public to “not take no for an answer” when advocating for patients.

“It’s about priorities and values,” she said.

Full Article & Source:
Stabenow seeks HOPE for Alzheimer’s patients, families

Connecticut assisted suicide bill is likely dead.

By Alex Schadenberg

International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
For the past three years, the assisted suicide lobby in Connecticut has introduced an assisted suicide bill, paid lobbyists to promote the bill, and then a coalition of people opposing assisted suicide successfully defeat the bill.

Disability right group, 
Second Thoughts Connecticut, in coalition with other groups working in a unified manner, such as the Family Institute of Connecticut, have defeated the assisted suicide bills in Connecticut three years in a row.

An article by Daniela Altimari in the Hartford Courant states that assisted suicide bill - HB 7015 has likely died in committee again. The article quotes Michael Culhane who explaines how the bill was defeated:
Opponents have been counting votes since the bill was drafted in February and knew support was weak, he said. 
Culhane said the measure's failure to move forward was due to a large and diverse coalition that worked together to persuade legislators that the bill was bad public policy. 
It was a collective effort that produced the results that were announced today.
Stephen Mendolsohn, from Second Thoughts Connecticut, stated:
"We would urge the General Assembly to focus on improving hospice, palliative care and home care ... rather than continue to waste time on an issue that has now been rejected three years in a row without a committee vote,'' said Stephen Mendelsohn, a disability rights activist with the group Second Thoughts Connecticut. "Three strikes and you are out."
Assisted suicide bills, such as the Connecticut bill, are defeated when a unified coalition of people from differing perspectives and political ideologies work together for the sole purpose of protecting people from assisted suicide.

Thank you to the coalition leaders in Connecticut who successfully worked together again.

Full Article & Source:
Connecticut assisted suicide bill is likely dead.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Post investigates: Professional guardian’s lawyer empties man’s home

By John Pacenti

One afternoon three years ago, Skender Hoti received an unusual call from a neighbor asking whether he was moving out of his Lake Worth home.

Hoti rushed to the house to find a moving truck packed with furniture, heirlooms and valuables owned by him and the elderly woman he called mom. The lock on his front door was bashed in and the house ransacked.

Skender Hoti
But this wasn’t breaking and entering by a street thug. This was an attorney operating under a court-ordered guardianship.

Hoti’s “mom” was deemed incapacitated by a judge at the behest of her brother, Kenneth Davis, who along with his wife were granted temporary guardianship by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Martin Colin.

Currently, there are several bills in the Legislature looking to tighten oversight of professionals who serve as guardians. The legislation came about because of fear of guardians looting estates of the elderly, among other concerns.

Hoti’s case, though, shows the power a probate attorney can wield through the family member serving as guardian.

“Adult guardianship is a joke. It’s a scam. They are working with each other to take advantage of people,” Hoti said.

The action centered on Gwendolyn Batson, then an 88-year-old who, along with her late husband, had unofficially adopted Hoti three decades prior. She often could be found at Hoti’s restaurant, Little Italy, in Lake Worth.

Hoti said Batson attended his wedding in Europe and they intermingled finances like any family. She gave him power of attorney in 2011. “I don’t know what to say. She loved me and my family,” he said.

But in early 2012, Batson’s brother claimed Batson had Alzheimer’s disease and that Hoti was taking advantage of her. Davis hired Delray Beach attorney Sheri Hazeltine, who successfully petitioned a judge to name Davis and his wife temporary guardian and moved her to their Alabama home.

Hazeltine, one of the most prolific probate and elder law attorneys in Palm Beach County, hired a moving crew in February 2012 to confiscate the possessions in the home where Batson lived. The residence, though, was owned by Hoti and contained a lot of his possessions, even though he lived with his family elsewhere.

“When I went to my room, I was in tears. I didn’t see my gun, I didn’t see any of my jewelry. The wedding chain for my wife, which is traditional for us, was gone,” said Hoti, who was born in the country now known as Kosovo and has lived in Palm Beach County since the early 1980s.

“How can you allow this to happen in America? I lived in a communist country and they wouldn’t even do this.”

Court records shows that there was no legally required examination of Batson within five days of the appointment of temporary guardians to determine whether she was incapacitated by Alzheimer’s disease.

Hoti and Hazeltine and her clients, Batson’s brother and sister-in-law, clashed often. No less than three reports were generated by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office between January and April 2012. Hoti told police that Hazeltine and her clients, the temporary guardians, took Batson against her will to Alabama.

The deputies also were called back to the Lake Worth house when Davis tried to have Hoti forcibly removed from his own home. Deputies refused.

In a court pleading, Hoti said that Hazeltine mocked him in his home. “She was laughing and waving the house key in the air stating, ‘I have a key and a court order. I come into this house anytime I want.’ ”

Deputies ordered Hazeltine, against her strenuous objections, to return all the items taken from Hoti’s home after he proved he had title to the house, according to an offense report. Hoti claims many of the valuables are still missing and there were at least three confrontations between the parties at the home.

“This was breaking and entering. This was part of the scam,” Hoti said.

Kathy Graves, the neighbor who alerted Hoti to the moving van, said she came into his house and confronted Hazeltine and those assisting her. “I told them at some point I was a real estate agent and they said we might want to put this property on the market. They asked me how much the home was worth,” she said.

Hazeltine claimed in court documents that Hoti was a felon — he had a conviction in the 1980s — and then told the court that Batson had “severe dementia” and was being taken advantage of by him. “In fact, Mr. Hoti does not care about Mrs. Batson,” she wrote.

The strategy didn’t work. Circuit Judge James Martz overturned Colin’s previous ruling finding Batson incapacitated and appointing Davis as emergency temporary guardian. Martz interviewed Batson, finding her to “be delightful.”

Martz is no longer in the probate division and doesn’t miss adult guardianship cases.

“Guardianship cases are incredibly hard to get a handle on when family members are fighting,” the judge said. “Unfortunately, sometimes there is alleged to be greed with one family member saying they are just doing this because they want the house, the condominium, they want this or that.”

After Martz’s ruling, Hoti was able to keep Batson in South Florida. She died on April 2013.

Hazeltine, in an email response to The Palm Beach Post, remained resolved that Batson all along was being scammed by Hoti. “This was a case where the guardianship system failed to protect a vulnerable elderly person,” she wrote.

Hoti said he had been taking care of Batson for nearly two decades and that Hazeltine’s clients simply wanted her property. Davis declined to comment, saying he and his wife just want to forget the incident.

Hoti’s former attorney Debra Rochlin of Fort Lauderdale was also highly critical of Hazeltine, saying the elder law attorney “just made up stuff as she went along.”

“It was a miracle the judge (Martz) saw the light and saw what was going on. He understood. He was upset,” she said. “I think what happened to Skender was a crime.”

Full Article & Source:
Post investigates: Professional guardian’s lawyer empties man’s home

Man charged with kidnapping, forgery, exploitation claimed he was elderly victim’s ‘personal assistant’

SOUTH SALT LAKE – An elderly man was allegedly subjected to months of terror after he allowed a man he described as being homeless move in with him, and a deal to exchange room and board for personal assistance allegedly became a case of elderly abuse, forced confinement and forgery that resulted in the victim losing, “pretty much everything he owned and everything he worked for in his life.”

According to a statement of probable cause, 39-year-old Aaron Gibbs of South Salt Lake has been charged with kidnapping, exploitation of a vulnerable adult and two counts of forgery. A man named Loran Sant, 41, is listed as co-defendant. Police are still seeking both individuals, who may have fled the state.

According to a statement from the victim, a 72-year-old man from South Salt Lake, the man encountered Gibbs, who was homeless at the time, in mid-2012. Gibbs told the victim he was worried about people who take advantage of the elderly. The victim, who suffers from Parkinson ’s disease, agreed to let Gibbs into his home and provide room and board in exchange for his assistance. The victim stated he signed a written agreement with Gibbs but never saw the agreement again.

“The guy is warning him to be careful about, you know, people trying to take advantage of elderly people,” said Gary Keller, an executive officer and spokesman for South Salt Lake Police Department. “Anyway, that’s exactly what this guy did. He got settled in the house, brings in friends… they basically stole all his property.”

Shortly after making the deal for room and board, Gibbs allegedly moved three friends into the home, including his co-defendant Sant, without the victim’s permission. The statement alleges Gibbs and Sant began to mistreat and control the victim and would even lock him in his room for as long as a full day and would withhold food. Sant allegedly told the victim if he didn’t comply he, “would have the Aryan Nation put holes in him and throw acid on him and that they would then ‘bury him in the ground.’”

The victim said the threats prevented him from reporting the crimes. At this time, Gibbs also threatened to kill the victim if he did not surrender his truck to Gibbs, which the victim said he refused to do.

At one point during the months of abuse, the victim allegedly overheard Gibbs talking to someone about killing the victim, so he fled his home.

“He gets to the point where he is fearing for his life, he actually leaves and lives on the streets for a number of weeks,” Keller said of the victim.

The victim sent his son to his home to collect some of his property, and after several weeks of living homeless he called a friend who put him up in a hotel and contacted his family—who moved the victim to a retirement community.

South Salt Lake police responded to the residence November 5, 2012 on a complaint of theft, where an officer found Gibbs—who told the police he had been the victim’s personal assistant for the last 6 months and that, because the victim had been unable to pay him, the victim had signed over some of his property. Sant was present, and several other people were there helping Gibbs move property out of the home. Gibbs showed police a list of items he claimed the victim had signed over.

“We’ve only talked to the suspects just on the initial call,” Keller said. “We went over there, got some information from them, listened to their story about him being a personal assistant, and then we haven’t been able to find those people ever since. They have absconded, possibly out of the state.”

The statement of probable cause then goes on to say that in February of 2013 the victim’s daughter contacted police and gave them a list of her father’s property that Gibbs had taken, which included the victim’s truck and trailer. A detective verified that the truck and trailer were registered to Gibbs at that time, but when contacted Gibbs said he had the truck but could not register it because the victim wouldn’t give him the title.

The victim’s daughter showed police the titles to the truck and trailer. The title for the trailer had been filled out, purportedly by the victim, transferring the trailer to Gibbs as a “gift release” on October 30 of 2012. The victim stated that he did not sign this document and that his signature was forged.

The detective then obtained a bill of sale for the truck from the DMV, which showed the victim assigning the truck to Gibbs. According to the statement of probable cause, “[victim] could not remember having signed that document, but does recall signing documents for [Gibbs] under threat of bodily harm.”

The victim also showed police a document, again purportedly signed by him, that granted ownership of various property to Gibbs and the total amount of those items is estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The victim stated the signature was forged and that Gibbs and Sant had threatened to kill him if he didn’t sign.

“Unfortunately for our victim, he pretty much lost everything he had,” Keller said. “Luckily, he is living out of state now, and close to his daughter… He is doing well, healthy.”

Keller said they have been investigating and trying to get the District Attorney’s Office to screen charges since about May of 2013.

“You’d have to contact the District Attorney’s Office, see what the delay was there,” he said. “I have to commend our detectives, they did an excellent job. They were determined, they were persistent, and they kept calling back, calling back, seeing where we were on this case, and I realize that, you know, workloads peak and die down, but in this time it seemed like everything else was ahead of it… The good thing is the charges have been filed.”

Keller said they are still searching for the men and believe they may have fled the state. He said often when elderly people are targeted in scams the scammers pose as contractors and things began with some kind of project, like repairing sprinkler systems, roofing issues or cracks in concrete driveways. Keller said they encourage people to look out for those who may be vulnerable.

“If you have elderly friends or family, check on them once in a while,” he said. “You know, I don’t know how they became estranged from their… He has a daughter and a son, a son that is actually in town here, but, check on your parents or grandparents, wherever they may be and just make sure they’re OK, if there’s anything they need help with.”

Full Article & Source:
Man charged with kidnapping, forgery, exploitation claimed he was elderly victim’s ‘personal assistant’

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Third Sex Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Cottage Hospital

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

A complaint filed last Friday alleges that a Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital nursing assistant sexually abused a disabled male patient and that hospital staff knew about the accusations but intentionally concealed the information from the patient and his conservator.

The lawsuit contends that Pedro Hernandez sexually abused a 69-year-old patient, identified as “Manuel T.,” more than once between 2012 and 2014. Manuel T. was receiving treatment for a 2011 stroke that paralyzed him and caused him to develop a brain injury. Though criminal charges for sexual battery were filed against Hernandez for his treatment of Manuel T. and another patient in July 2014, Manuel T.’s wife and conservator wasn’t informed of the criminal proceedings until many months later.

According to the civil complaint, the plaintiffs are suing Cottage Health System for negligence and fraud, given that Cottage didn’t fire Hernandez when allegations of sexual misconduct against him first surfaced in 2010. These early allegations resulted in Hernandez and the Cottage defendants becoming the subjects of a 2011 civil suit claiming inappropriate sexual behavior by Hernandez toward another male patient. (That 2011 case reportedly concluded in a confidential settlement.) The new suit also claims negligence for Cottage’s failure to inform Manuel T.’s family of possible wrongful conduct by Hernandez.

This lawsuit marks the third case of its kind against Cottage within the past two years. In 2013, two partially paralyzed female patients filed lawsuits against Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital accusing the hospital of ignoring their reports of sexual assault by nursing assistant Jose Carrillo. These cases are set to go to trial in September and October.

David Ring and Louanne Masry, of the Los Angeles-based firm Taylor and Ring, are representing the patients in their suit. Calling Cottage’s conduct “outrageous” and describing the alleged victim as “extremely vulnerable,” Masry said she found it “extremely shocking that [Cottage] would allow a patient like Manuel to be cared for by a man they knew had problems in the past.” Masry and Ring also represent the women in the other two pending cases.

Masry noted that the patients are seeking punitive damages — an amount to be determined at a later date during a jury trial — in addition to seeking general damages for “extreme and severe emotional distress” and compensation for attorney’s fees.

Last week, the criminal case against Hernandez for his treatment of Manuel resulted in Hernandez pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges of battery; he was sentenced to three years of probation. As part of the plea agreement reached, Hernandez’s license as a certified nursing assistant was revoked by the California Department of Public Health, and he is prohibited from volunteering or working with patients in health care and with the elderly.

The Cottage defendants have not yet filed a response to the complaint, and a Cottage representative didn’t respond to a request for comment.

[UPDATE]: Cottage spokesperson Maria Zate issued the following statement this afternoon: “We are extremely saddened by these allegations. Our concern is for our patients and their families. The reported actions of this former employee go against the core values of Cottage and our employees. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our patients. We self-reported the incident to authorities, and an investigation was conducted with full cooperation of the hospital. ”

Full Article & Source:
Third Sex Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Cottage Hospital

14 Lawyers Disciplined on March List

Disciplinary Actions — March 2015  State Bar list (verbatim from the State Bar of Texas)

General questions regarding attorney discipline should be directed to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office, toll-free (877) 953-5535 or (512) 453-5535. The Board of Disciplinary Appeals may be reached at (512) 475-1578. Information and copies of actual orders are available at The State Commission on Judicial Conduct may be contacted toll-free, (877) 228-5750 or (512) 463-5533. Please note that persons disciplined by the Commission on Judicial Conduct are not necessarily licensed attorneys.

Houston area discipline:
On Feb. 3, 2015, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed a judgment of fully probated suspension against Houston attorney Ryan A. Beason [#01991200], 53. On or about Feb. 28, 2014, Beason was suspended from the practice of law for one year and one day, with all but 90 days deferred, by the Louisiana Supreme Court in In Re: Confidential Party (Bar Roll 30129), Case No. 14-B-205, for violating Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1(b) [failed to comply with minimal continuing legal education], 1.1(c) [failed to comply with requirements regarding annual registration, including the payment of bar dues, payment of disciplinary assessment, timely notification of change of address, and proper disclosure of trust account information], and 5.5(a) [practiced law in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction]. He is on a fully probated suspension from the practice of law in Texas for three years, beginning Feb. 3, 2015. BODA Cause No. 55410.

On Jan. 8, 2015, Jessica Ruth Alexander [#00993600], 65, of Houston, agreed to a two-year fully probated suspension effective Jan. 31, 2015. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in representing her client, Alexander neglected the legal matter entrusted to her, failed to keep her client reasonably informed about the status of her legal matter, failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, failed to surrender papers to which her client was entitled, and failed to refund advance payments of fees that had not been earned. Alexander violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), and 1.15(d). She was ordered to pay $500 in attorneys’ fees and $242 in direct expenses.

On Dec. 16, 2014, Jon Phillip Thomas [#24037593], 36, of Houston, received a 12-month fully probated suspension effective Jan. 1, 2015. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that Thomas failed to timely furnish to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel a response or other information as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Thomas violated Rule 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $70 in direct expenses.

On Oct. 3, 2014, Gary A. Hinchman [#09684350], 59, of Houston, received a public reprimand. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that Hinchman neglected the legal matter entrusted to him, failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of his divorce, and failed to promptly comply with his client’s reasonable requests for information. Hinchman further failed to refund advance payments of fees that had not been earned. Hinchman violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), and 1.15(d). He was ordered to pay $600 in restitution and $1,730 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On Jan. 5, 2015, Douglas C. McNabb [#13815400], 68, of Houston, accepted a public reprimand. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that upon termination of representation, McNabb failed to refund any advance payments of fees that had not been earned. McNabb violated Rule 1.15(d). He was ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution and $650 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On Jan. 23, 2015, Joseph Tan Tung [#24033408], 40, of Houston received an agreed judgment of public reprimand. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that upon termination of representation, Tung failed to refund advance payments of fees that had not been earned. Tung further failed to timely furnish to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel a response or other information as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Tung violated Rules 1.15(d) and 8.04(a)(8). He agreed to pay $960 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

The rest of Texas & elsewhere:
On Jan. 8, 2015, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals dismissed for want of prosecution the appeal of Dallas attorney Cary William Schulman [#00797390], 49, from a judgment of active suspension signed on March 25, 2014, by the evidentiary panel of the District 6-1 Grievance Committee in Case No. D0071246131. Schulman did not file a brief and the board issued an order to show cause to Schulman on Dec. 4, 2014. The show cause order gave him 30 days to respond and show cause as to why the appeal should not be dismissed for want of prosecution. Schulman did not respond. BODA Cause No. 54174.

On Feb. 3, 2015, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed a default judgment of fully probated suspension against Alexandria, Louisiana, attorney Darrell Keith Hickman [#09572980], 54. On or about May 16, 2014, Hickman was suspended from the practice of law for one year, with the suspension deferred in its entirety, by the Louisiana Supreme Court in In Re: Darrell K. Hickman, Case No. 14-B-0817, for violating Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4(a) [failed to properly communicate with a client regarding the true status of her case], 8.4(c) [engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, or misrepresentation], and 8.4(a) [violated or attempted to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct]. He is on a fully probated suspension from the practice of law in Texas for one year, beginning Feb. 3, 2015. Although cited to appear, Hickman did not answer or appear. BODA Cause No. 55412.

On Feb. 3, 2015, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed a judgment of disbarment of East Hampton, New York, attorney Richard Bruce Livingston [#12440000], 68. On or about June 3, 2014, Livingston was disbarred by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in In the Matter of Richard B. Livingston for violating New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(a) [failed to safeguard and knowing misappropriation of escrow funds], 1.15(d)(c) [record-keeping violations], and 8.1(b) [failed to cooperate with disciplinary authorities]. BODA Cause No. 54880.

On Feb. 3, 2015, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed a default judgment of suspension against Mesa, Arizona, attorney Gary L. Lassen [#11969500], 67. On or about March 13, 2014, Lassen was suspended from the practice of law for two years by the Arizona Supreme Court in In the Matter of a Member of the State Bar of Arizona, Gary L. Lassen, Bar No. 005259,  Arizona Supreme Court No. SB-14-0048-AP, Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge No. PDJ-2013-9068, for violating his duties and obligations as a lawyer. He is suspended from the practice of law in Texas for 18 months, beginning Feb. 3, 2015. Although cited to appear, Lassen did not answer or appear. BODA Cause No. 55413.

On Dec. 19, 2014, Holly Gail Crampton [#05004500], 66, of Wichita Falls, received a two-year partially probated suspension effective Jan. 1, 2015, with the first year actively served and the remainder probated. The 30th District Court of Wichita County found that Crampton committed professional misconduct by violating Rules 1.01(b)(1) [prohibiting a lawyer from neglecting a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer], 1.01(b)(2) [prohibiting a lawyer from frequently failing to carry out completely the obligations that the lawyer owes to a client], and 1.15(a)(1) [requiring a lawyer to decline representation of a client or, where representation has commenced, to withdraw from the representation of a client, if the representation will result in violation of Rule 3.08, other applicable rules of professional conduct, or other law]. Crampton violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.01(b)(2), and 1.15(a)(1). Crampton was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution and $5,000 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses. Crampton filed a notice of appeal on Jan. 20, 2015.

On Dec. 1, 2014, Keith Brian Kozura [#24015150], 43, of Flower Mound, received a six-month fully probated suspension effective Dec. 1, 2014. The District 14 Grievance Committee found that Kozura ac-cepted employment as an advocate before a tribunal in a pending adjudicatory proceeding when Kozura knew that he would be a witness necessary to establish an essential fact on behalf of Kozura’s client. Kozura violated Rule 3.08(a). He was ordered to pay $2,811.83 in attorneys’ fees.

On Oct. 24, 2014, William Allen Schultz [#00794609], 45, of Denton, received a six-month fully probated suspension effective Oct. 15, 2014. The District 14 Grievance Committee found that Schultz, as lead prosecutor in an aggravated assault matter, unlawfully obstructed another party’s access to evidence and failed to timely disclose to the defense all evidence or information known to him that tended to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigated the offense. Schultz violated Rules 3.04(a) and 3.09(d). Schultz filed a notice of appeal on Jan. 21, 2015.

On Jan. 13, 2015, Humberto G. Guerrero Jr. [#00784186], 48, of Austin, agreed to a judgment of public reprimand. The District 6 Grievance Committee found that in representing complainant in her personal injury matter, Guerrero neglected the legal matter entrusted to him by failing to attempt to have the defendant served, and, as a result, complainant’s lawsuit was dismissed for want of prosecution. Guerrero failed to keep complainant reasonably informed about the status of her case and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from complainant about her matter. Guerrero violated Rules 1.01(b)(1) and 1.03(a). He was ordered to pay $1,200 in attorneys’ fees.

Full Article & Source:
14 Lawyers Disciplined on March List

Woman charged with exploiting grandparents in nursing home

NEOSHO, Mo. — A Granby woman was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on charges that she drained more than $47,000 from the bank accounts of her grandparents while they were in a nursing home.

At the conclusion of a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Newton County Circuit Court, Associate Circuit Judge Gregory Stremel found probable cause for Angela B. Powell to stand trial on felony counts of misappropriating funds of nursing home residents and financial exploitation of an elderly person.

According to testimony at the hearing, Hershel and Ollie Tanner named Powell, 43, as guardian and conservator of their two checking accounts at Community Bank and Trust after they entered the Granby House nursing home in 2012. Ollie Tanner died in March 2013, and her husband died a year later while still a resident of the home.

David Reed Jr., an employee of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, testified that the state received a report while Hershel Tanner was still alive that his bills at the home were not being paid. Reed told the court that he began looking into the matter and learned from Hershel Tanner that Powell had been acting as his conservator. Further investigation showed that Powell was being sued by Clark Funeral Home for not paying Ollie Tanner's funeral expenses, he said.

Reed said he spoke with Powell and obtained financial releases from her to examine the records of the two bank accounts and an investment account. He testified that he found numerous questionable transactions on the bank accounts, with checks being written to cable television and telephone companies, to retailers and to Powell and members of her family for cash.

Reed said the questionable transactions totaled more than $47,000.

Powell's attorney, William Fleischaker, cross-examined Reed about his awareness of litigation concerning the Tanners' estates that was pending in probate court and how the bank transactions he cited might be viewed in the context of that litigation. He also asked if the Department of Health and Senior Services was aware that the Tanners owned a residence that Powell, as their conservator, was responsible for maintaining.

Reed acknowledged that the probate matter was beyond the scope of his investigation. But the transactions on the bank accounts did not appear to be in the interests of the Tanners, he said.
"I do not believe she spent (the money) maintaining the estate," Reed said.

Misty Shepherd, director of the Granby House, testified that the couple's nursing home bills were regularly paid until Ollie died. The granddaughter fell behind on payments at that time but caught back up in September 2013, Shepherd said. When she again fell behind, a collection letter was sent to her in December 2013. But no payments have been made since Hershel's death in March 2014 and the nursing home is still owed $25,674.32, Shepherd said.

Assistant Prosecutor Joe Schoeberl asked Shepherd about the couple's possessions at the nursing home.

"Did you ever see Ms. Powell provide anything to the Tanners?" he asked.

"No, sir," the administrator said.

Court date
The judge set the defendant's initial appearance in a trial division of the court for April 20.

Full Article & Source: 
Woman charged with exploiting grandparents in nursing home

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A radical experiment tried to make old people young again — and the results were astonishing

© Provided by Business Insider
The idea that getting old means getting frail and forgetful is so embedded in our cultural understanding of aging that it can be hard to tease apart medical realities and simple biases about the elderly. But Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist, has long wanted to try.

"Social conditions may foster what may erroneously appear to be necessary consequences of aging," Langer suggested in "Old Age: An Artifact?", a 1981 book chapter. So-called senior moments, after all, are not only the purview of seniors. "Young nonsenile people also are often forgetful."

How many of aging's negative effects could be manipulated and even erased by a psychological intervention?

In a radical experiment in 1979 that was featured in a New York Times Magazine cover story last fall, Langer and her grad students decided to take this question as far as they possibly could.

The results were extraordinary — but the research was also so unorthodox, so small, and so lacking in rigor that interpreting exactly what those results mean requires caution.

The 'counterclockwise' study

Imagine, for a moment, living in a nursing home. Your meals are in a cafeteria, your recreation is at scheduled times, and you're surrounded by other old people, mostly strangers. You've been robbed of your autonomy, maybe even your identity — the very things that make you you may be more tied to your past than your present, and nobody expects very much of you anymore.

No matter your age, this is not an environment in which most people thrive. But Langer thought that maybe, just maybe, if you could put people in a psychologically better setting — one they would associate with a better, younger version of themselves — their bodies might follow along. "Wherever you put the mind, you're necessarily putting the body," she explained many years later, on CBS This Morning.
Since Langer couldn't actually send elderly people into the past, she decided to bring the past into the present. "We would recreate the world of 1959 and ask subjects to live as though it were twenty years earlier," she wrote, in her 2009 book "Counterclockwise."

How exactly did that work? Here's how Bruce Grierson described the beginning of this experiment in The New York Times Magazine:
Eight men in their 70s stepped out of a van in front of a converted monastery in New Hampshire. They shuffled forward, a few of them arthritically stooped, a couple with canes. Then they passed through the door and entered a time warp. Perry Como crooned on a vintage radio. Ed Sullivan welcomed guests on a black-and-white TV. Everything inside — including the books on the shelves and the magazines lying around — were designed to conjure 1959.
The men didn't just reminisce about what things were like at that time (a control group did that). They were instructed to behave as if it were actually 1959, while the control group lived in a similar environment but didn't act as if it were decades ago.

They discussed historical events as if they were current news, and no provisions were made that acknowledged the men's weakened physical state; no one carried their bags or helped them up the stairs or treated them like they were old.

"Nothing — no mirrors, no modern-day clothing, no photos except portraits of their much younger selves — spoiled the illusion that they had shaken off 22 years," Grierson wrote.

A week later, both the control group and the experimental group showed improvements in "physical strength, manual dexterity, gait, posture, perception, memory, cognition, taste sensitivity, hearing, and vision," Langer wrote in "Counterclockwise."

And according to Langer's account, most of those improvements were much more significant in the group told to live as if it were actually 1959; a full 63% of them had better scores at the end of the experiment than they did at the beginning, compared to 44% in the control group. Four independent volunteers, who knew nothing about the study, looked at before-and-after photos of the men in the experimental group and perceived those in the "after" photos as an average of two years younger than those in the "before."

On the last day of the study, Langer wrote, men "who had seemed so frail" just days before ended up playing "an impromptu touch football game on the front lawn."

In some ways, the results should not be surprising. Grierson writes that Langer actually said to the participants that "we have good reason to believe that if you are successful at this, you will feel as you did in 1959."

When you believe that something will affect you in a particular way, it often does. That's why placebo controls are baked into every rigorous clinical trial.

Your own expectations, and the expectations of others, are powerful. And expectations of the declining cognitive and physical abilities that come with age are pervasive.

But as Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow noted in The Boston Globe Ideas section, in a story about the power of placebos, "there are limits to even the strongest placebo effect. No simulation could set a broken arm, of course, or clear a blocked artery. As a rule, placebos appear to affect symptoms rather than underlying diseases."

Still, Langer seemed to take the "counterclockwise" results as further confirmation of her theories about the power of the mind over the body, even as fuel for her argument that — as she wrote in 1981 — "many of the consequences of old age may be environmentally determined and thereby potentially reversed through manipulations of the environment."

Years later, she remained convinced. "These findings are in some ways astounding," Langer said, in a 2010 BBC documentary. "Remember, old people are only supposed to get worse."

Science... or stunt?

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Langer has talked and written about her "counterclockwise" experiment many times in the decades since it happened. She offered the most detailed record of it in a chapter of an Oxford University Press book she co-edited.

The findings, however, were never actually published in a peer-reviewed journal. And they were never replicated, except as made-for-TV stunts.

"Langer’s sensibility can feel at odds with the rigors of contemporary academia," Grierson wrote, in The New York Times Magazine article. "Sometimes she will give equal weight to casually hatched ideas and peer-reviewed studies."   

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In an interview about his cover story, Grierson acknowledged that while Langer's unorthodox techniques may inspire wonder, they should also provoke skepticism. "She’s still pretty far out there on a limb with some of this work," he said. "People won’t be convinced until it has been replicated under strictly controlled conditions. Nor should they be."

James Coyne, a longtime University of Pennsylvania psychologist and an indefatigable skeptic, goes even further.

"Ellen Langer’s identification as an eminent, well-published Harvard psychologist is an important part of her branding and the promotion of herself.... Yet, she assumes none of the responsibility that goes with being a scientist," he argues, in a critical response to Grierson's article on the blog Science-Based Medicine. "She does not consistently submit her work to peer review. She makes references to unpublished studies, even those that have remained so for many years... Langer has published in scientific journals, but she is not otherwise acting like a scientist."

Coyne takes issue not only with the unpublished counterclockwise experiment, but also with some of Langer's other work — especially her plans to test her theories in an upcoming study of cancer patients, who will be told to live as if it is 2003, before they had any signs of illness.

As Grierson writes, "positive psychology doesn't have a great track record as a way to fight cancer."

Looking forward

The media and general public seems to be especially captivated by the counterclockwise study — intuitively appealing in a society so fearful of aging — but it's of course just one part of Langer's decades-spanning career.

While there are plenty of compelling reasons to be skeptical of her most famous experiment (and, Coyne argues, many others too), the takeaways from most of Langer's work remain compelling: Mindfulness (conscious awareness of and focus on the present moment) is important; placebo effects cannot be discounted; and evidence supports the benefits of making sure people maintain agency and independence as they get older.

So what if we can't actually turn back the clock? Our lives need not be dictated by it.

Full Article & Source:
A radical experiment tried to make old people young again — and the results were astonishing

In an Iowa courtroom, an astonishing case of sex and Alzheimer’s

By Sarah Kaplan
In late March, a county courtroom in Iowa heard motions ahead of the trial of Henry Rayhons, who is accused of having sex with his wife after Alzheimer’s left her incapable of giving consent. His trial was set to begin April 8.

They started flirting in choir, the vivacious retiree and the grandfatherly politician, both single after the deaths of their longtime spouses. Less than two years later, they were married in the church where they met, surrounded by a gaggle of children and grandchildren and hundreds of guests dancing the polka. It was an unexpected second chance at love for Donna Lou Young and Henry Rayhons, both past 70 at the time of their wedding.

“They were two good people who were good together,” the couple’s pastor recalled.

After a four-year battle with Alzheimer’s, Donna Lou Rayhons died in a nursing home in August, just four days shy of her 79th birthday. A week later, Henry Rayhons was arrested and charged with sexual abuse. State prosecutors accused him of having sex with his wife while she was incapacitated by dementia.

Rayhons’s trial, which begins Wednesday, is a rare and possibly unprecedented examination of a little-explored aspect of consent. While much of the discussion about rape these days swirls around the influence of drugs, alcohol and the culture on college campuses, the Rayhons case asks a much different question: When is a previously consenting spouse suffering from dementia no longer able to say yes to sex?

Katherine C. Pearson, who teaches and writes about elder law at Penn State University, told Bloomberg News that this is the first case of its kind she’s seen in more than 20 years of working in the field.

“This is maybe the last great frontier of questions about capacity and dementia,” she said. “… Any partner in a marriage has the right to say no. What we haven’t completely understood is, as in this case, at what point in dementia do you lose the right to say yes?”

Friends and family say that Donna Lou and Henry Rayhons, a member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1997 until this year, were besotted with one another throughout their relationship. She often accompanied him to the state Capitol in Des Moines. He bought her dresses and acquired a bee suit so he could join her in her beekeeping.

“He treated her like a queen,” Charity McCauley Andeweg, who clerked for Rayhons, told Bloomberg.

But a few years into their marriage, Donna was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. She suffered headaches and forgetfulness, drove on the wrong side of the road and once put a single sock into the dryer instead of a full load of laundry, according to Bloomberg.

In March of last year, Donna’s daughter Linda Dunshee took her mother out to lunch. Beneath her winter coat and blazer, Donna was wearing only a sleep teddy that left her breasts exposed. Later, Donna put her hands in the toilet bowl in the restaurant bathroom, Dunshee told a state investigator.

On March 29, Donna was moved to Concord Care Center in Garner, Iowa, a five-minute drive from her home with Rayhons. Rayhons reportedly resisted the move and clashed with Donna’s daughters — both from her first marriage — over how she should be cared for at the facility.

In May, Dunshee and Donna’s other daughter, Suzan Brunes, met with Concord staff and drew up a care plan for Donna, according to a state affidavit. At the meeting, the women and doctors concluded that Donna was no longer able to consent to sex, a fact Rayhons was informed of.

But a week later, on May 23, surveillance video showed Rayhons spending about 30 minutes in his wife’s room. When he left, he was holding her underwear, which he dropped into a laundry bag in the hallway.

Donna’s roommate told nursing home staff that Rayhons had come into the room and closed a privacy curtain around his wife’s bed. She then heard noises indicating that Rayhons was having sex with Donna, the affidavit said.

That night, Brunes took Donna to the hospital for a rape test, Bloomberg reported. Her underwear and bedding were sent to a crime lab for an examination.

Shortly after, a judge approved Brunes’s application to become her mother’s temporary guardian, which cited issues between Rayhons, Concord staff and Donna’s other family members. Around the same time, a state investigator showed up at Rayhons’s home to interview him about the alleged assault. In the interview, Rayhons admitted to having “sexual contact” with his wife on May 23, according to the state affidavit.

Donna died just two months later, and Rayhons was arrested a week after that. Shortly before the charges were filed, Rayhons withdrew from a race to serve a 10th term as state representative for Iowa’s 8th District.

Rayhons’s prominence in the area prompted the Iowa attorney general’s office to seek to move the trial out of Hancock County, where prosecutors argued they would not be able to find an impartial jury after the charges had been covered so extensively in local news. A judge denied the request.

Now, as the case heads to trial, prosecutors will have to convince the jury on two points: First, that Rayhons had sex with Donna while she was at Concord Care, and second, that Donna was not capable of consenting to it.

The state crime lab found semen stains on Donna’s quilt and sheet that matched Rayhons’s genetic profile, the Associated Press reported.

If Rayhons is proved to have had sex with Donna, Iowa sexual assault law is vague about how the case should be treated. The state outlawed non-consensual sex between a husband and wife 25 years ago, Elizabeth Barnhill, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, told the Iowa City Press Citizen. State law also defines sex with a person suffering from a “mental defect or incapacity” as sexual abuse but is not explicit about what is meant by the term “mental defect.”

Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s experts differ on whether the disease really does preclude people from being able to give consent. Elizabeth Edgerly, a clinical psychologist who serves as chief program officer for the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association, told the AP it can be hard to determine capacity in cases of dementia.

“Is the person capable of saying no if they don’t want to do something? That’s one of the biggest pieces,” she said.

Edgerly added that physical closeness with loved ones can often be helpful to people with the disease.

According to Bloomberg, in the months after moving to Concord Care, Donna fared poorly on the Brief Interview for Mental Status, a cognitive test that measures dementia by asking patients a series of memory questions. On a May 13 test, just 10 days before the alleged assault, she got a score of zero on the BIMS test.

But Douglas Wornell, a Tacoma, Wash., geriatric psychiatrist and author of the book “Sexuality and Dementia,” told Bloomberg it was “na├»ve” to conclude that Donna’s memory loss indicates she was incapable to knowing whether she wanted to have sex, which is “along the order of knowing you want some food,” he said. 

A statement from Rayhons’s family released after criminal charges were filed against him dismisses the notion that any contact between Rayhons and his wife could be considered rape.

“Donna’s location did not change Dad’s love for Donna nor her love for him. It did not change their marriage relationship. And so he continued to have contact with his spouse in the nursing home; who among us would not?” it read. “… Accusing a spouse of a crime for continuing a relationship with his spouse in a nursing home seems to us to be incredibly illogical and unnatural, as well as incredibly hurtful.”

Full Article & Source:
In an Iowa courtroom, an astonishing case of sex and Alzheimer’s

See Also:
Daughter Appointed Temporary Guardian of Representative Rayhons' Wife

2 men accused of financial exploitation of elderly

SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -Two St. Peters, Missouri men are accused of financial exploitation of the elderly.

Harry Marks
Harry Marks, 63, and Brandon Parker-Marks, 22, were charged with financial exploitation of the elderly, a class B felony.

According to Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter, the men were arrested on Monday morning after a year-long search for them.

He said in May 2014, his office received information about an area business owner who had fallen victim to an alleged scam involving the sale of more than $160,000 of heavy equipment to the Marks for a much lower price.

Detectives investigating the crime found that the Marks were part of the Roma gypsy family with a long list of properties across the United States.

Brandon Parker-Marks
While trying to check these properties, detectives found the Marks allegedly used fake names and false business information.

Sheriff Walter said during the investigation, several potential victims were found in neighboring states.

On Sunday evening, the two men were found in St. Peters, Mo.

Sheriff Walter and other deputies went to St. Peters and took the Marks into custody shortly after 1 a.m.

They were taken to the Scott County Jail on the charges set by the Scott County Prosecuting Attorney.

Brandon Parker-Marks remains in the Scott County Jail with a bond of $10,000 cash only.

Harry Marks' bond was set at $10,000 cash or surety and he bonded out.

Full Article & Source:
2 men accused of financial exploitation of elderly

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Guardians Gone Bad?

Imagine yourself reaching the age of 93, you are still healthy and you have wealth, only to become a prisoner of the legal system in your own home. It is a scenario being played out in hundreds if not thousands of Florida homes.

The story of Ernestine Franks of Pensacola is compelling. At age 90, her sons couldn’t agree on where she should live…at home or with one of the brothers in New Orleans. A lawyer suggested a guardianship. Son Doug says that when the family nightmare began.

“My mom has the money. Did have the money. She pays nine hundred dollars, a hundred dollars an hour to see her children” says one of three siblings.

Private Guardians are for profit businesses. No one regulates them. Nancy Detert wants to change that.

“They’re in charge of your money, your assets, your health care, your family. So basically, they can take you prisoner and we don’t even have a complaint department” says the Republican Senator.

Last week Franks testified before his third legislative committee, telling lawmakers “What’s happened is this second group has been exploited financially and also isolated.”

After the testimony, the sons were denied an Easter visit to their now 93 year old mother. The email claims the sons conduct is brazen and harmful. We asked Detert what the Franks can do.

Q:”What does Mr. Franks do to see his mother without having to pay?”

A:”It’s impossible”

One of the problems is that no independent authority is checking what is true or not true.

Legislation on the move here at the Capitol would regulate all guardians…public and private. And it would set up a way for people to file complaints so people like Doug Franks don’t have to publish pamphlets about their case.

Franks and others who testified say the proposed law is a step in the right direction, but just a small step.

No professional private guardians testified against the legislative changes last week. The number of private guardians has gone from 23 in 2003 to 450 in 2015.

Full Article & Source:
Guardians Gone Bad?

See  Also:
Florida Bill, SB1226, Seeks to Stop "Cockroaches" From Preying on the Elderly

Escambia Senior Out $1 Million; Bill Seeks To Stop Predatory ‘Cockroaches’

NASGA:  Ernestine Franks, Florida Victim

Former Cook County attorney indefinitely suspended from practicing law

Former Cook County attorney Timothy Scannell has been suspended indefinitely from practicing law in an order filed by the state Supreme Court.

Scannell was convicted last summer on two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual misconduct related to his relationship with a 17-year-old girl. He was accused of kissing and touching the girl -- a family friend -- in a sexual way on two different instances in 2012.

He blamed his conduct on post-traumatic stress disorder after he was shot and wounded at the county courthouse in Grand Marais in 2011. A defendant whom he had just prosecuted for having sex with a 15-year-old fired the gun.

Scannell is also accused of making derogatory statements on his blog about criminal defendants that he was in the process of prosecuting, according to the Supreme Court’s order filed Wednesday.

The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility petitioned the court for disciplinary action against Scannell, who “unconditionally admitted the allegations in the petition,” according to the order.

Scannell agreed that the appropriate discipline was an indefinite suspension with no right to petition for reinstatement for three years, the order said.

Full Article & Source:
Former Cook County attorney indefinitely suspended from practicing law