Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ohio Supreme Court can’t investigate corrupt guardians, chief justice says

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is pushing back against more calls for the court to increase its scrutiny of the state’s guardianship system, the same system that Ohio’s attorney general said is “crying out for reform.”

O’Connor said on Thursday that the scrutiny should instead come from county probate judges.

O’Connor made headlines last week after blasting The Vindicator newspaper of Youngstown for requesting in an editorial that she appoint someone to investigate Mahoning County Probate Court and its former judge, Mark Belinky.

Belinky, who resigned from the bench last year, has been convicted of tampering with records. The Vindicator reported that he has admitted to investigators to stealing from wards for whom he was guardian, altering Probate Court records to hide those thefts and creating false records.

“You’re asking me to investigate criminal behavior, and I have no authority to do that,” O'Connor said in response to the paper’s request. “You’re giving the public the impression that the Supreme Court will be the investigators, judge, jury and executioner. That is a misconception the public has about the role of the court.”

Advocates and lawyers said that while the court does have the power to handle complaints, it cannot insert itself into a criminal investigation of a judge because it might have to rule on the matter later.

“I would agree with Justice O’Connor in (that) the court can’t do that,” said Susan Wasserman, a lawyer and one of Ohio’s two master guardians. “But there is also a need for further protection of wards, and that can come from elsewhere.”

The Supreme Court does have investigatory tools at its disposal, such as its disciplinary counsel. The counsel investigates complaints and allegations of wrongdoing against judges and lawyers and can revoke or suspend their licenses.

Wasserman said legislators in states such as California have created a statewide Professional Fiduciaries Bureau that licenses and regulates conservators, guardians, trustees and other agents who control the assets of another person.

Wasserman said county prosecutors should handle criminal investigations of probate courts.

Belinky’s actions are similar to those of Paul S. Kormanik, a former attorney in Franklin County who last month pleaded guilty to stealing from four of his wards and tampering with records. He will be sentenced in October.

Action by the court is something the public, elected leaders and advocates demanded after a five-day Dispatch series, “Unguarded,” that detailed a broken guardianship system administered by county probate courts. The system controls the lives of more than 65,000 Ohioans deemed incompetent to care for themselves.

The lack of safeguards, base-level recordkeeping and inaction by guardians and judges subjected thousands of wards to physical, verbal and financial abuse.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he was “appalled” by the actions of guardians and called for reforms. DeWine’s office has since created a handbook to guide guardians.

During her condemnation of The Vindicator’s call for a Supreme Court investigation, O’Connor asked rhetorically “Why just stop at Belinky?”

“Why doesn’t the court, under your scenario, (investigate) every judge I get an anecdotal tidbit about?” she said. “When would it stop?”

The Dispatch investigation also uncovered that a committee formed by the Ohio Supreme Court spent eight years trying to come up with new, stricter rules to fix holes in the probate system that led to abuse.

The court enacted those standards this year, mandating that probate courts for all 88 counties implement new training, monitoring and background checks. Guardians also must meet with their wards every three months.

The new standards fell short of enacting new guidelines that would better protect wards from financial exploitation, theft and losing their cherished possessions. The rules don’t protect wards from unscrupulous guardians such as Belinky.

O’Connor said that the new rules, if enforced properly by the courts and followed by guardians, will protect wards from most wrongdoing.

“If courts can’t enforce these rules because they are overwhelmed and underfunded, then that is a legislative issue and there needs to be discussion of more funding,” she said. “This shouldn’t be about trying to tar the probate courts or the (Supreme) Court — judges are trying to do the best they can.”

O’Connor said she was unfamiliar with the fiduciary board in California and could not comment on its merits.

Michael Kirkman, director of the nonprofit Disability Rights Ohio, said he agrees O’Connor shouldn’t insert the court into a criminal matter it might have to rule on later.

“But it does point out there might be a level of oversight lacking in the probate courts,” he said. “I think the new rules are a baseline and that’s important. You’re dealing with a system that hasn’t been well regulated for a number of years.”

Full Article & Source:
Ohio Supreme Court can’t investigate corrupt guardians, chief justice says

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan talks about toll Alzheimer's disease took on his father

LEMSON - U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan spoke Wednesday about the toll that Alzheimer’s disease took on his father before he died earlier this year.

“I watched my father become more and more aggressive due to the Alzheimer’s disease,” Duncan said during a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging field hearing at Clemson University’s Strom Thurmond Institute.

Duncan’s father, John Duncan, died April 14 of complications from the disease, which is a progressive, irreversible neurological disorder that primarily affects people over 65. The Republican from Laurens also recounted how his father’s illness created difficulties for his mother.

“My mom struggled with not having a power of attorney to access the funds that were going to be critical to take care of my father,” Duncan said.

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Duncan said that number is expected to rise by 40 percent in the next decade.

“In South Carolina, 81,000 people are stricken with the illness. By 2025, the number will explode to 120,000 people,” Duncan said. “As South Carolinians, we must confront this growing wave today before it consumes our friends and loved ones tomorrow.”

The committee’s chairman, Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, discussed the financial implications of Alzheimer’s disease during Wednesday session.

“In addition to the suffering that Alzheimer’s causes, it costs the United States more than $226 billion annually.” Collins said.

She added that Medicare and Medicaid pay 68 percent of that overall cost, which is expected to grow to $1.1 trillion per year by 2050.

Although federal spending on Alzheimer’s disease research is expected to increase from about $600 million annually to nearly $1 billion next year, Collins said that total is still too low.

“Clearly Alzheimer’s research funding is disproportionately low compared to its human and economic toll,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from Charleston who hosted Wednesday’s hearing, said Alzheimer’s disease and other aging-related health problems are a key issue in South Carolina.

“Currently 15 percent of our residents are over the age of 65,” Scott said.

More than 21 percent of Oconee County’s residents are 65 or older, said Martine LaBerge, executive director of Clemson’s Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus in Greenville.

LaBerge and an official from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston outlined initiatives currently underway in aging-related health research.

Wayne Roper, president of SCBIO, ticked off a number of private-sector life science ventures that his organization has helped get started in the state, including a company working to develop a blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease before the first symptoms appear.

The panel of speakers at the hearing included Anderson resident Jerry Welch, a retired minister who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, and his wife, Nancy.

“It is really difficult. It is a hard life,” Nancy Welch said. “There is very little support for the caregiver and also for the patient.”

She said she is more fortunate than many caregivers because her husband takes part in a respite group two days each week.

Jerry Welch said the group helps him deal with the isolation associated with his disease.

“When you get Alzheimer’s, you look around and all of the sudden your friends are gone, your job is gone. It is amazing,” he said. “Your car is gone, your freedom is gone. You are a prisoner.”

Duncan attended Wednesday’s hearing on what would have been his father’s 78th birthday.

“It was tough,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan talks about toll Alzheimer's disease took on his father

EDITORIAL | Nursing Homes Take Away Right to Sue

In January 2013, 80-year-old Esther Brown was found lying in her bed at a Pennsylvania nursing home with blood covering her hands and her pillowcase.

A nurse’s aide at the home reported that one of her co-workers had hit Esther and then had thrown a can of shaving cream in her face, striking the elderly woman above the eye. The incident was reported to the police, and Esther died several months later.

Her family sued the nursing home, alleging negligence and battery. But before the case could proceed to trial, the judge had to rule on whether the family had the right to file such a lawsuit. When Esther was admitted to the facility in 2011, she and her daughter signed a contract that required her, and her family, to submit any quality-of-care complaints to an arbitrator rather than to a judge or jury.

Late last year, Judge Jeffrey Sprecher upheld the family’s right to sue, finding the arbitration agreement “unconscionable” because it was presented to Brown at emotionally difficult time; consisted of long, confusing passages; improperly portrayed the deal as beneficial to all parties; and included a confidentiality provision that Sprecher said was “designed to bury all proof of bad things that may be alleged to occur in a nursing home.”

The sad reality is that these types of arbitration agreements are fairly common now among nursing homes, and they are often upheld by the courts. Prospective residents, who may be in the midst of a health care crisis, are asked to forfeit their right to sue as a condition of admission. As the judge in the Esther Brown case ruled, these binding arbitration agreements are sometimes “forced down the throat” of residents.

As Sprecher pointed out, these agreements also attempt to “inject fear in the patient by suggesting that a court action takes so much longer than arbitration, so that unless you select arbitration, the patient may die before his court case could be finished.”

At first glance, arbitration might sound like a reasonable, effective way to address complaints without resorting to litigation. The problem is that through litigation, complainants have the ability to use the discovery process to procure documents that speak to patterns of abuse or neglect. They can also subpoena witnesses for depositions, and secure sworn testimony as to the facts of the case. And all of that is handled through a public proceeding before a judge or a jury of one’s peers.

Many of the arbitration agreements restrict a complainant’s access to records, as well as the number of depositions and witnesses. Some place limits on how much a party can recover in damages.

The federal government could easily bar these types of mandatory agreements as a condition of a home’s participation in the Medicaid program — but it has repeatedly refused to do so. In fact, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is considering major changes in nursing home regulations, but under the proposed new rules, homes will only be required to “explain” arbitration agreements to residents.

Of course, many individuals are placed in nursing homes precisely because their cognitive abilities are greatly diminished. How many of them are in a position to understand the legal rights they are forfeiting by signing these agreements?

Fortunately, CMS says it is still considering whether it should simply prohibit binding arbitration agreements altogether, noting that residents who depend on nursing homes for urgently needed care may feel pressured to sign the contracts even when they’re not required as a condition of admission.

It’s time for CMS to ban arbitration agreements in nursing homes. If care facilities feel that’s an intrusion on their right to dictate the terms of admission, they’re free to bow out of the Medicaid program and accept only private-pay residents.

But as long as public money is paying for the care provided in these homes, the regulation of these facilities should be designed to protect the public and not to appease the industry.

Voice your opinion

CMS is accepting public comments through Sept. 14 on the proposed new nursing home regulations. To voice your opinion, go to, and enter “CMS-3260-P,” with the quotation marks, in the search engine. That will direct you to a link to the proposed regulations, labeled as Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Reform of Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities. Through that link, you can submit your written comments.

Full Article & Source:
EDITORIAL | Nursing Homes Take Away Right to Sue

Friday, September 4, 2015

Elder care worker guilty of stealing $125K from seniors

A man tasked with helping an elderly couple instead used their trust to drain their savings as part of a multi-million dollar fraud scheme.

William Price admitted he stole $125,000 from one elderly couple he met as a caseworker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services, according to the office of acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman.

Price was indicted with five other people accused of defrauding more than a dozen clients of $3.8 million.

The 57-year-old Linwood man pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree theft by deception, according to a release from Hoffman’s office. Under Price’s plea agreement, the state will recommend a sentence of five years in prison, and Price will have to repay the $125,000 he stole. He’s scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18.

Price worked with Jan Van Holt at Adult Protective Services where in 2006, he befriended the elderly couple and recruited them as clients for Van Holt, Sondra Steen, and Barbara Lieberman. The trio was accused with stealing more than $800,000 from the couple, the release said. Price received $125,000 of the stolen money.

“Price callously betrayed the trust and friendship of an elderly couple to enrich himself,” Hoffman said in the release. “As a social worker, he should have been all about helping them, but instead he set them up to have their savings stolen by him and his co-defendants.”  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Elder care worker guilty of stealing $125K from seniors

Dentist and former deputy mayor Andrew Istephan admits assaulting elderly patients

Andrew Istephan Photo: Dean Sewell

Former Hurstville deputy mayor and dentist Andrew Istephan engaged in the "deliberate, callous and systematic exploitation" of elderly people by performing unnecessary surgery for extra money.

Now Istephan has pleaded guilty to further assault charges relating to major dental procedures on Sydney nursing home residents.

In the Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday, Istephan pleaded guilty to three charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Prosecutors accepted those pleas and dropped four other charges against him.

Istephan, a former Liberal councillor, was convicted of five assault charges at trial in 2013, but a jury could not agree on a verdict for the seven remaining counts. He was due to face re-trial on those charges this month.

At Istephan's trial, the jury heard he began filing down patients' teeth within minutes of meeting them at nursing homes in the inner-west in 2011.

Some of the procedures were not consented to and, in some cases, were not necessary.

Istephan conducted surgery on patients under the Commonwealth-funded Chronic Disease Dental Scheme.

He was contracted by a company called Elderlink, which provided dental and other services to elderly people

The then 34-year-old was sentenced to a two-year intensive correction order, with Judge David Frearson saying Istephan had engaged in the "deliberate, callous and systematic exploitation of the residents with the view of financial reward".

Motivated by greed, Istephan had been "arrogantly dismissive" of the fundamental human right for bodily integrity, the judge said.

"The frail and elderly have a right to be treated with dignity and respect," he said.

"It's wholly reprehensible to exploit the elderly for financial gain."

Istephan will face a sentence hearing in December.

Full Article & Source:
Dentist and former deputy mayor Andrew Istephan admits assaulting elderly patients

Houston County grand jury hands up 36-count indictment in elder exploitation case

PERRY -- A Centerville woman was indicted Tuesday on 18 counts of exploitation of an elderly man three years ago.

Cheri Eileene Cox, 54, also was indicted on 14 counts of financial transaction card fraud and one count of theft.

She is accused of transferring funds out of the man’s credit union account to her own, convincing him to change his will for her benefit, using the man’s checks and debit card, paying off her own credit card with his money and cashing several of his bonds.

Also, in the same indictment, William M. Cox, 58, of Centerville, was indicted on one count of theft and two counts of exploitation of the same man.

William Cox is accused of accepting a transfer of the man’s money by Cheri Cox to his credit union account, of using the man’s debit card and paying off a credit card with the man’s money.

The incidents alleged in the 36-count indictment took place in 2012.

Full Article & Source:
Houston County grand jury hands up 36-count indictment in elder exploitation case

Thursday, September 3, 2015

From NASGA's Victims Page: Marcy Dudeck

Marcy & Michael Dudeck lived in Nevada. When Mr. Dudeck died in March of 2006, Heidi Pascal, the Dudeck’s daughter in California, asked her brother, Lance, to move from San Diego and take care of their mother. Lance moved into his parent’s home with his girlfriend, Marissa. Several months later Marcy’s daughter, Heidi, received a letter from her brother’s girlfriend stating Lance was beating her and she had witnessed Lance striking his mother. The letter went on to say the brother was making meth in the garage. Lance tested positive for meth by a county facility appointed by the Las Vegas Family court in September of 2006, which resulted in the mother being removed from the home. Due to these circumstances created by Lance Dudeck, a guardianship was established in Nevada for Marcy Dudeck.

In September and October of 2006 Heidi and her husband, Charles Pascal, made visits to Nevada and found Marcy to be living in horrible conditions at a senior home called Chancellor Gardens. She had lost weight, had no toilet paper and had not taken a bath for a long time. This facility had 108 State Board of Health violations and was almost shut down by the state. The Pascals appealed to the Nevada family court Commissioner Jon Norheim and were told that because the Pascals were not residents of Nevada they could not take Mrs. Dudeck out of Chancellor Gardens or the state even though Mrs. Dudeck wanted to come to California.

In November of 2006 after Commissioner Jon Norheim turned down their third request, The Pascals took Marcy to California and placed her in Sunrise Senior Assisted Living in Playa Del Rey. In 2007 the Nevada court granted Marcy Dudeck the right to stay in California and said she should remain at Sunrise for the rest of her life. The court appointed Jared E. Shafer, of Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, to act as her guardian, even though Marcy now resided in California.

One year past. Heidi and Charles received two calls from the IRS stating Marcy’s taxes had not been paid. Upon investigation the Pascals learned Jared E. Shafer had not only neglected to pay taxes but the bills from Marcy’s home in Nevada were not being paid. In addition, Jared E. Shafer had removed over $350,000 in fees from Marcy’s estate trust account even though he hadn’t performed any guardian services for Mrs. Dudeck, since the court order specifically stipulated Mrs. Dudeck must remain in California for the rest of her life. Based upon all of this information, the Pascals began a California conservatorship case to remove Jared E. Shafer as Marcy’s guardian. Exactly two days before an evidentiary hearing, which was to take place on August 6, 2009 in Los Angeles, Marcy E. Dudeck was kidnapped from Sunrise Senior Assisted Living in violation of an May 2007 Nevada court order which stated Mrs. Dudeck would remain in the California facility for the rest of her life. Witnesses heard her begging to not be taken away. Marcy was going to testify in court that she wanted her daughter, Heidi Pascal, to be the guardian of her person in California.

At the time Marcy was taken against her will, she was a beautiful and vibrant woman, youthful for her 91 years. She weighed 134 pounds, was very healthy, happy and active. She had a boy friend named Harold, went on field trips and took excursions with the group to see movies usually during the early afternoon. She had made many friends at Sunrise. Guardian Jared E. Shafer became extremely angry about Marcy’s field trips. He phoned the Pascals and told them he wouldn’t pay for the field trips. In fact, Mr. Shafer said he was going to put a stop to what he liked to call “field trip nonsense”. Marcy’s doctor said the trips were good for her. The Pascals paid for many of the trips for Marcy to insure she got to go on these outings.

The other victim of this story was Marcy’s boyfriend, Harold. After Marcy left his condition took a very bad turn and he died one month later. Harold’s daughter was very upset and said her father went into a funk after Marcy left and just didn’t want to do anything. Legally Mr. Shafer can’t be accused of Harold’s death, but morally, every human being has an orbit of influence. The things we do affect others around us. It would be hard to imagine the bad karma Mr. Shafer will experience when he crosses to the other side. Other lives associated with Mr. Shafer’s wards are also destroyed.

Judge to newspaper: Don’t publish any article in which a lawyer ‘is accused of dishonesty, fraud or deceit’ in connection with his discipline by the state supreme court

Here’s the text of an order issued by Louisiana state court Judge Curtis Sigur last Tuesday, in Groner v. Wick Communications Co.:

YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED, enjoined, and restrained, in the name of the State of Louisiana and of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Iberia, in accordance with a temporary restraining order, this day issued in above entitled numbered cause from;
This all apparently stemmed from a reader comment on a Daily Iberian article that said,
I read the paper where David Groner is representing Deputy Sanders Butler in the sexual harassment. The only thing you need to know is that Butler helped Groner in his failed bid for State Senator against Fred Mills and Simone Champagne. That’s when the truth came out about Groner having a reputation for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.
The comment linked to a 2008 Louisiana Supreme Court decision imposing discipline on Mr. Groner:
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (“ODC”) commenced an investigation into allegations that respondent engaged in a conflict of interest and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. Prior to the filing of formal charges, respondent and the ODC submitted a joint petition for consent discipline. Having reviewed the petition,
IT IS ORDERED that the Petition for Consent Discipline be accepted and that David W. Groner, Louisiana Bar Roll number 6349, be and he hereby is suspended from the practice of law for six months. This suspension shall be deferred in its entirety, subject to respondent’s successful completion of a one-year period of supervised probation governed by the terms and conditions set forth in the Petition for Consent Discipline. The probationary period shall commence from the date respondent, the ODC, and the probation monitor execute a formal probation plan. Any failure of respondent to comply with the conditions of probation, or any misconduct during the probationary period, may be grounds for making the deferred suspension executory, or imposing additional discipline, as appropriate.
I corresponded with Mr. Groner, and he sent me a copy of the joint memorandum supporting the agreed-on discipline, which says, in relevant part:
Rule 8.4(c) states that a lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. By issuing payment to the [clients] with the notation “Full and Final Settlement” and obtaining a Release Agreement containing a release for all claims against [Groner], the actions of [Groner] suggest an attempt to settle the [clients’] malpractice claims, without their being fully advised as to the nature of the agreement and the potential ramifications associated with their executing the agreement. At a minimum, there was a misrepresentation as to the true nature of the January 18, 2007 transaction between the [clients], Ms. Defelice [Groner’s associate] and David Groner, PLC.
You can decide for yourself whether the comment on the New Iberian site was fair, based on the disciplinary proceeding (read the whole joint memorandum, which is just four pages long, for more context). But it’s clear that the order barring a newspaper from publishing anything in which Mr. Groner was “accused of dishonesty, fraud or deceit in connection with a Louisiana Supreme Court decision” was unconstitutionally overbroad. That’s so given the facts of this case. And it’s so, even setting aside these facts, under the general principle that alleged defamation can’t be enjoined at least until a full trial on the merits in which it’s proved that a particular statement was false and defamatory (and maybe not even then).

In any event, the judge’s order led to a good deal of public commentary, both from the Daily Iberian and from other sources, such as Ken White (Popehat); and the Daily Iberian fought the order in court (and I suspect would have fought in higher courts if necessary). And yesterday Mr. Groner dismissed the case, which means the order has now been vacated. Here is what he wrote to me over the weekend, in response to an e-mail from me asking for his side of the story:
The case will be dismissed Monday am. So by the time you write about it the case will be over and the TRO lifted, by my own choice.
It has been blown way out of proportion, which I admit is my own fault. I have never been found guilty of fraud, dishonesty, or deceit so I asked them not to publish anonymous posting to that effect. The end result is classic Streisand effect, I made it worse by trying to correct it. I am fishing at a camp in the marsh and have no access to backup or I would send you the stipulation that imposed a sanction against me for a technical violation considered misrepresentation. [Shortly afterwards, Mr. Groner did send me the stipulation, which I quote and link to above. —EV] Unfortunately for me the rule is to sanction actions of dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation so the haters always pick up on the fraud, dishonesty and deceit and ignore the stipulation that led to the order which outlined a case for misrepresentation. For many that is splitting hairs, but for me it meant a lot. I forgot that because I am a lawyer it is open season and there are many that would love nothing more than to see me crash and burn.
I have now realized that I cannot control what is said on the internet and will do my best to return to anonymity.
I’m glad that the order has now been dissolved, and that Barbra Streisand continues to be doing her job. (To be sure, there is a bad version of the Streisand effect, in which even quite legitimate libel lawsuits are deterred by the worry that the publicity will only amplify the original false accusation. But here, given the clear unconstitutionality of the order, it seems to me that the Streisand effect has helped do good.)

UPDATE: Embarrassing error — the first line of the post originally said the judge’s name was Michael Thibodeaux, but that was the clerk of court. The judge himself was Curtis Sigur, and I’ve updated the post accordingly. My apologies to Mr. Thibodeaux, who was just doing his job.

Full Article & Source:
Judge to newspaper: Don’t publish any article in which a lawyer ‘is accused of dishonesty, fraud or deceit’ in connection with his discipline by the state supreme court

Lake Geneva man accused of posing as “bank examiner,” bilking elderly woman of $4,500

Francis Riordon
RACINE COUNTY — 72-year-old Francis Riordon of Lake Geneva is accused of posing as a bank examiner to bilk an elderly woman of money. Riordon faces charges including theft and falsely acting as a public official.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim in this case told police Riordon phoned her on August 7th “purporting to be a Bank Examiner.” The victim told police her husband had recently passed away — and she “received a call at home from a man who stated his name was ‘Mr. Bradley.'” Riordon allegedly told the victim “he was investigating a problem with her checking account and that she would need to void a check in the amount of $4,500, give the check to the bank teller, withdraw the cash and turn over the cash to him, Mr. Bradley, who in turn would be able to complete the investigation and return the money later.”

The complaint indicates the victim did as she was requested — and met “Mr. Bradley” at a grocery store parking lot where the exchange of money occurred. The complaint says Riordon showed the victim “a badge and other documents purported to be from the bank.” He then allegedly took the money and left. The victim never saw Riordon again.

Investigators were able to determine the phone number used to contact the victim — and use surveillance video to help identify Riordon. When they showed up at his Lake Geneva home, they found the vehicle Riordon used when he allegedly took the money from the victim. Officers also found the cell phone that was used, the fake bank documents and a “number of index cards with different individuals’ names.” Officials say all of the individuals named on the cards were elderly women.  Officers also found a search of the victim’s husband’s online obituary from the Racine Journal Times.

The complaint also indicates Riordon “attempted to contact 29 different elderly woman” on August 21st alone.

Full Article & Source:
Lake Geneva man accused of posing as “bank examiner,” bilking elderly woman of $4,500

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Homelessness, the Law, and Fla Guardianship

Julie Ferguson, #SaveMarise

... Julie London Ferguson vs Lutheran Family Services

One if the second most important cases in our county is this one.  Fighting for the right to be the guardian for her mother, Marise London, Ms. Ferguson is in a holding pattern.  For two years, she has tried to be recognized by the court as her mother caretaker.  She does this by all indications at the will of her mother.  No longer able to care for herself and unable to make decisions due to dementia, Marise signed a power of attorney prior to her current situation to her daughter, Julie.  Her son was named second in case Julie was not available.  But due to a criminal complaint against Marise’s other daughter, the courts questioned Marise’s ability to be cognizant.  They brought in Lutheran Family Services to be the guardian instead.  And like a steel leg trap, the judicial system and our state’s guardianship program became a hard to navigate maze for a daughter to maintain the rights granted to her by her mother.

This past week, Judge Williams, appointed a monitor to evaluate everyone involved in this case, including Lutheran Family Services.  Sitting in the courtroom was Republican Party Chair and State House Candidate, Joe Gruters, Herald Tribune Reporter, Barbara Peters Smith, Attorney Jan Schneider, Artist Jack Dowd, and myself.  Other noteworthy mention is Senator Nancy Detert who is following this case closely and well.  For it was this case that has inspired her legislation on Guardianship not only this past session, but also the upcoming one.

Sending Ms. Ferguson a message on Facebook, she writes:

“Way to go Julie! It’s been a long, stressful time for you and your mom. Monday I am refilling our bill so we can bring some oversight, regulation and clarity to these cases. Good for Judge Williams for digging deeper to help the elderly.” – Senator Nancy Detert

As much as the attorneys for Lutheran Family Services were wondering in court the other day, repeating over and over in their testimony, “Why doesn’t Ms. Ferguson just file an appeal?”  The members of the audience are hoping that when the court appointed monitor interviews them, they will make it obvious for the judge to make that happen.

Full Article & Source:
Homelessness, the Law, and Fla Guardianship

Butler County program leading way in guardianship overhaul

By Denise G. Callahan

BUTLER COUNTY — Becky DeLong sat across from Shashi and Aruna Anandpura and asked the question every parent dreads even thinking about: what happens to your child if you die before they are raised?

For the Anandpura family, the unthinkable could become more complicated because their daughter, Parul, has autism.

“Let’s say you two were in a car accident, the judge is the superior guardian and so he would pull her file and read about her from the stuff you have sent in. But that would be it,” DeLong explained to the Anandpura family as they met at Safe Haven Farm in Madison Twp. The farm is home to 16 adults with autism.

Changes at the state level now require all court-appointed guardians — lawyers and other professionals as well as family members and caregivers — be required to take training, whether they’re caring for an elderly person with dementia or a young adult with mental illness or developmental disabilities.

“The goal is to provide uniformity and consistency to Ohio’s guardianship system by providing clear guidance for best practices,” said Christy Tull, director of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Judicial College.

The court released the new minimum requirements in March, after years of study and a 2014 Columbus Dispatch investigation that revealed how the state’s patchwork of local rules had failed some of its most vulnerable residents.

The meeting DeLong is having with the Anandpura family is one of more than 1,000 that will happen across the county as part of a program launched by Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers.

In April, Rogers sent DeLong, his chief investigator, and a handful of interns to meet face-to-face with all of Butler County’s 1,100 guardians and their wards. DeLong has already met with about 550 people.

“I want to know all of our people so that when the judge looks at that, if that would ever happen, I want him to know who she is, so it’s not just a case number, I want him to have a sense of who she is …” she told the Anandpuras.

The Butler County program has received praise from the Ohio Supreme Court.

“That’s quite an undertaking for them,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said. “It’s a good program. I commend the judge for doing that.”

Almost half of the county’s guardianships are for people with developmental disabilities, DeLong estimated, and the rest are for the mentally ill and the elderly. She said there are times when establishing a guardianship can be difficult.

“A lot of times they don’t want to have a guardian, so some of our elderly folks think it’s crazy and they are competent and they don’t need a guardian,” she said. “They get angry about that, and who is it and how did that start and why are they doing it. They get upset with all that.”

The county’s guardianship program has been held up as a model for the state largely due to the court’s partnership with LifeSpan, according to Rogers.

“Butler County has been known for many, many years for its guardianship program,” he said. “It is administered by LifeSpan, which covers about 200 of our 1,100 guardianships. It’s a model for the state.”

Lisa Fry, LifeSpan’s guardian manager, said she and her six guardians visit their charges monthly, which is crucial.

The new rules say guardians must have contact with their wards at least quarterly.

“We meet with our clients every month and that does help with the rapport,” Fry said. “We put supports around that client, we try to keep them in a least restrictive environment and support them in the community or a facility where they are living. We advocate for them and seeing them every month is beneficial because over a period of time they get to know us and know we are there to help them.”

There is another effort going on regarding the guardianship world in Butler County at Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center.

Rogers has forged a new partnership with the center by offering its students internships. The center is also in the throes of surveying all probate courts in the state.

“We’re hoping to collect information about the number of guardianship cases in Ohio and get kind of a picture of what the guardians look like, get a picture of what the wards look like,” research associate Heather Reece said. “We also want to see what the challenges are and we are going to be looking for innovative programs that we can highlight.”

The chief justice said probably the most important piece of the new rules is the training. She said there could be parents who have been caring for their children all their lives who might wonder why they need to be trained.

If there is money involved — from Social Security or the developmentally disabled person’s job — there has to be accountability, O’Connor said.

“The training is the key to the whole thing, to make the guardians understand how important it is to be responsible and to follow the court rules with regard to their ward,” she said. “Obviously when you are spending money for your ward, sometimes it’s just a nominal amount that comes in but sometimes it could be millions of dollars.”

Full Article & Source:
Butler County program leading way in guardianship overhaul

Financial advising company sued for alleged securities fraud and elder abuse

Several California residents are suing financial advising company Total Wealth Management over an alleged scheme to obtain funds from its clients under false pretenses.

Albert Calderon, Laurence Gleason, Inga Gleason and Susan Antonucci, among others in the class, filed a class action complaint May 16, 2014, in the Superior Court of California County of San Diego against Total Wealth Management and other defendants in the class, alleging securities fraud, unfair competition, breach of fiduciary duty, constructive trust, conversion and elder abuse.

The complaint alleges that Total Wealth Management and its affiliated companies artificially inflated portfolio values and investors' risk of loss in order to pay themselves higher performance fees.

Plaintiffs seeking to invest in their retirement first heard about TWM's alleged scheme on a San Diego radio program the company conducted.

TWM was also being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over charges of fraud, which the company did not disclose to investors in the class, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that the plaintiffs would not have invested with TWM had they known the above facts. As a result, the plaintiffs suffered direct financial loss.

The plaintiffs seek damages according to proof and punitive damages on the fraud claims.

They are represented by Michael J. Aguirre and Maria C. Severson of Aguirre & Severson LLP in San Diego, and by Charles S. LiMandri and Paul M. Jonna of the Law Offices of Charles S. LiMandri APC in Rancho Santa Fe.

Superior Court of California County of San Diego case number: 3:15-cv-01632-BAS-NLS

Full Article & Source:
Financial advising company sued for alleged securities fraud and elder abuse

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Legislation Will Improve Oversight & Care in NJ Nursing Homes

By Paul Nichols

Assembly Democrats Angelica Jimenez, Joseph Lagana and Raj Mukherji have proposed legislation to improve oversight and the quality of care for the elderly in New Jersey nursing homes.

The bill (A-4636) would establish minimum certified nursing assistant-to-resident ratios for nursing homes.

"Hopefully these new standards will improve the level of service provided to nursing home residents in New Jersey," said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Passaic). "In turn, this will hopefully provide greater peace of mind for both residents and their loved ones."

Under current regulations, the Department of Health requires nursing homes to meet a minimum number of hours of direct care staff-to-resident time per day.

"Mandating specific certified nursing assistant-to-resident ratios will create more precise, enforceable standards," said Lagana. "Ultimately, this will raise the bar for the standard of care throughout nursing homes in New Jersey."

Under the bill, certified nursing assistant-to-resident ratios will be as follows:

1) one certified nursing assistant for every six residents on the day shift;
2) one certified nursing assistant for every nine residents on the evening shift; and
3) one certified nursing assistant for every 14 residents on the night shift.

"Seniors and their loved ones deserve the comfort of knowing that there is a sufficient level of staff to tend to their needs," said Mukherji (D-Hudson). "Hopefully this will minimize the chance for neglect and improve the overall quality of life for aging residents."

The bill also sets forth a methodology for computing the appropriate ratio, and provides that a nursing home that experiences an increase in resident census is exempt from increasing the number of certified nursing assistants for nine consecutive shifts.

Nothing in the bill would affect any other minimum staffing requirements as may be mandated by the Commissioner of Health for nursing home staff other than certified nursing assistants, and nothing in the bill would prohibit a nursing home from establishing staffing levels above the established minimum.

The legislation has been referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee.

Full Article & Source:
Legislation Will Improve Oversight & Care in NJ Nursing Homes

Kim Hone-McMahan: Be a guardian and friend to the lonely through volunteer program

Margie Newell & Lynn Spencer

By Kim Hone-McMahan 

They just may be the loneliest of the lonely in our community. They have no family or friends, or at least none who can care for them. They are unable to make important decisions for themselves. They are indigent. And they live in nursing homes where no one comes to visit.

They are adults who are wards of the Summit County Probate Court.

Concerned about these folks, Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer created the Volunteer Guardian Program, which pairs caring souls with those in need.

Imagine being alone. Maybe you have a physical or mental health illness and no one in your life who steps up to help you. Perhaps you’ve had a stroke or are someone who is mentally challenged. There are many scenarios, and the need for guardians is equally great.

“It’s a guardian’s job to make sure that a person is getting the care that they need,” explained Gizelle Jones, executive director of Jewish Family Service, which was selected to implement the program that began last year. “Nursing homes offer a variety of challenges so if you are not in decent mental health and unable to advocate for yourself … you need someone to help you.”

That’s where you come in. If you have been looking for a volunteer opportunity to change someone’s life in a significant way, this may be for you.

During a recent visit to Seasons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Stow, guardians Lynn Spencer of Munroe Falls and Jay Regallis of Wadsworth were visiting their new friends.

Jay, whose paying job is in sales and marketing for Servpro and who has volunteered helping the elderly in other ways, broke out in song. Odie Zickefoose, 56, who lives at the home, enjoys reminiscing about the old days, particularly chatting about songs from the ’60s and ’70s.

“And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire, the ring of fire,” Jay sang, to Odie’s delight.

A few feet away, resident Margie Newell, 55, was chatting with Lynn, who visits her about once a week. Sometimes they go to the park or the fair. Margie has even met Lynn’s family.

“I would recommend it for people who want to volunteer. It is a blessing spending time with Margie,” said Lynn, the retired director of a nonprofit organization that helped victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the Virgin Islands. “It works both ways — she gets something from me being here and I get something. We are companions for each other and share experiences together.”

As Lynn spoke, Margie grinned, adding, “I adopted her as my mom.”

Jennifer Mesko-Kimmich is program director of volunteers. She makes certain that the men and women who donate their time receive any help needed to do the best jobs for their wards, who are thrilled to receive visits from their guardians.

More people like Lynn and Jay will be needed.

“As our population is aging, we have people who are having physical problems … or the deterioration that comes with age,” explained Stormer. “The need grows every year. Most of the time, we can find a family member who is willing to take on the responsibility. But sometimes we have family members who are not appropriate or unable to care. And that’s why we turn to volunteers.

“We welcome anyone who has the heart to do this,” she added. “The training is available; they don’t have to have any prior experience.”

Volunteers must be 21 or older, have their own transportation and visit their ward once a month. A background check is done and volunteers must complete three hours of court-mandated training. That’s not much to change someone’s life.

If you’ve been thinking of volunteering, please consider this opportunity to help the loneliest of the lonely.

For more information, call 330-867-3388.

Full Article & Source:
Kim Hone-McMahan: Be a guardian and friend to the lonely through volunteer program

How to Handle Sibling Rivalry Over Family Money and Avoid Probate Court

by  Juliette Fairley

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Mary Rose is more than $100,000 in debt to attorneys since her 59-year-old brother, Robert Nabity, reportedly placed their mother in the Omaha, Neb., House of Hope locked Alzheimer's facility two and a half years ago. “Even though my brother and his well-connected attorney are violating state statutes and guardian responsibility guidelines there have been no consequences, because the judge does nothing about it,” said Rose, who works as a nurse in Grand Island, Neb.

Since she was separated from her 83-year-old mother, the 43-year-old says she does not have an accurate accounting of her family’s assets and belongings. “About $40,000 in bonds have been redeemed, a life insurance policy was cashed in and a $20,000 policy was signed over to a funeral home even though mother’s burial arrangements were already paid for,” Rose says. “There’s more, but I don’t have an inventory.”

That’s because Rose claims her brother has disclosed only inaccurate and incomplete financial information.

“Mother was happy living with me in my home until he kidnapped her in 2012,” Rose says. “She had given me medical power of attorney in 1998, and now I have limited access to see her.”

Nabity through his attorney Lisa Line declined to comment about the case PR12-1422, which is venued in the Douglas County Courts.

“I am allowed to visit my mother every Tuesday between 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., but I have to pay a monitor $50 an hour to supervise my visits with her,” says Rose, who lives five hours away by car roundtrip. “This is hard for my children, because they are in school until 4 p.m., so by the time we get there, it’s 6:30 and then we have to drive back for school the next morning.”

When it comes to wills, trusts and probate court, brothers and sisters can become the worst of enemies without best practices in place.

[A]ging parents often suffer the most when their adult family members are at war.

“My poor mother is locked up, isolated, drugged and kept away from her family, friends and the outside community," Rose says. "There is no medical research to back up or support that this is the best way to care for the elderly."

One way to avoid disputes over inheritance or family wealth is by spelling out wishes in a trust document.

"In addition to that, parents should make their intentions well known to all children well in advance," said Reno Frazzitta , founder and president of Secure My Funds, a retirement planning services firm.

To help families manage wealth, Merrill Lynch offers ten best practices, called Wealth Continuity and Family Unity. “By implementing these best practices, a family can understand who has a collaborative mindset and who may not want to participate,” says Michael Liersch, head of behavior finance at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. “The key is to go into these discussions with a nonjudgmental, open mind so that all perspectives can be heard, which may facilitate the information flow needed to make the best decisions possible.”
Among the practices are developing skillful communication, creating accountability and establishing a collaborative advisory team.

“The practice of creating a collaborative advisory team would be most related to the notion of helping a family member with a particular dysfunction,” Liersch says. “Pulling in the right expert for advice and guidance can help a family make the right decision for a loved one they are concerned about.”
Dysfunction among family members is often created by envy, jealousy and greed.

"The fires of sibling rivalry stoked with the flammable fuel of cash are almost impossible to extinguish," Sugar says. "Sadly, when lawyers become involved, it gets very ugly."

Full Article & Source:
How to Handle Sibling Rivalry Over Family Money and Avoid Probate Court

See Also:
NAGSA:  Evelyn Nabity, Nebraska Victim

Monday, August 31, 2015

Memphis VA retaliates against Veteran who exposed neglect

MEMPHIS, Aug. 28, 2015 – The patient who leaked shocking videos showing paralyzed veterans left unattended at the Memphis VA says the only change since the video is that the hospital is now retaliating against him.

Last week, CDN broke  the news that paraplegic and quadriplegic veterans at the Memphis VA are left alone while nurses attend staff meetings.

The story was first released on CDN, and then was picked up by the Fox News Channel, featured on Fox & Friends as well as on its website, sparking national outrage about lack of care at the VA.

Instead of rectifying a bad situation, hospital staff appears to have taken punitive action against the source of the video. Staff placed the patient, whose identity CDN is protecting for safety concerns, on bed rest after they speculated he could be responsible for the video. On bed rest, he is not allowed to move from his bed. “Before the videos, I was able to get up for an hour or so,” he told CDN. “I don’t understand why I can’t get up for an hour. It (moving around) helped with my mental health and with my overall outlook, I was able to go outside and get fresh air.”

The source noted, however, that there has been no change in terms of leaving patients unattended during staff meetings, which take place three times a day. “So far as I know it’s still the same thing. I’m in a room where I can actually see the front desk from my room.”

Willie Logan, the Memphis VA’s press representative, told CDN in its last story that a nurse was always at the nurse’s station and patients only needed to push a button to reach a nurse.

The source disagrees. He noted, “It’s apparent from the video that there is not somebody at the nurse’s station at all times. The room where they have that meeting is not a patient’s room so I’m not sure if they can hear the call.”

On the article, several commenters pointed out that a quadriplegic, someone paralyzed from the neck down, isn’t able to push a button.

A follow-up email to Logan on this issue was left unreturned, but the patient said shortly after the email was sent, several nursing managers who had never been in the ward before were working in the ward. “I’ve seen people in here I’ve never seen before,” he said. “They’re flipping beds and cleaning under mattresses and everything.”

Following the exposure, Paralyzed Veterans of America released a statement condemning the deplorable conditions. “This video speaks to a need that our organization has stressed to VA leaders, Congress and the public for quite some time: VA needs more nurses in specialized care services like spinal cord injury centers.”

The patient said his current care is indicative of the quality of care at the Memphis VA for years. “The treatment was so bad that I made up my mind not to come back,” he said of his experience four years ago.

Because of the severity of the injury, he said he was forced to get treatment at the Memphis VA because he didn’t have proper insurance for treatment outside the VA system.

Sean Higgins, the whistleblower who brought these videos to the attention of CDN, said this case is a microcosm of a bigger problem at the Memphis VA. “The situation in the Memphis VA has been out of hand for quite some time. To care for those who shall have borne the battle is clearly not the agenda at the Memphis VA,” Higgins said in a text message to CDN. “We veterans see the neglect from management that is filtered down to the staff that actually cares for these veterans. We continue to see more of the same: deny, delay, and hope you die before they have to pay.”

Full Article & Source:
Memphis VA retaliates against Veteran who exposed neglect

Ex-lawyer accused of hypnotizing women indicted on 27 charges

TOLEDO - A former Cleveland-area attorney accused of hypnotizing women for his sexual pleasure has been charged with kidnapping, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition following an investigation that began last fall.

Michael Fine was taken into custody Friday afternoon and charged with 27 counts before being released on bond, according to sheriff's records.

Police in the northeast Ohio village of Sheffield began investigating Fine after two women told investigators they believed they'd been hypnotized after losing track of time and being unable to recall meetings and phone calls with Fine. Police said they later recorded Fine using explicit language while talking to the women.

Fine's attorney, Robert Housel, said on Saturday that he was surprised by some of the charges. He also said that Fine had been undergoing medical treatment for quite a while.

Fine likely will be arraigned within the next week, Housel said.

Just over a week ago, Fine, 58, agreed to permanently surrender his law license, which means he no longer can practice law in the United States.

One woman told authorities she thought Fine hypnotized her numerous times on the phone and during meetings in his office and at conference rooms at the Lorain County Justice Center. She said she hired Fine in February 2013 for a custody dispute.

The woman decided to record phone conversations with Fine.

According to a motion filed by the Lorain County Bar Association, Fine used sexually explicit language during the calls, which ended with Fine and the woman discussing legal matters. She then took the recordings to Sheffield Lake police. According to the motion, she told investigators she didn't go to police earlier because she feared not being taken seriously.

Police officers and investigators from the county prosecutor's office wired the woman with video and audio recording equipment for a meeting in Fine's office last November, the motion said.

Investigators said they entered the room when Fine began discussing sex acts.

A second woman, who hired Fine in September to represent her in a divorce, told investigators that Fine discussed relaxation and meditation techniques during their first meeting and suspected that he tried to hypnotize her. The same thing happened in their next three meetings and afterward, according to the motion, the woman felt as if she'd lost time.

The second woman went to Fine's former law firm in early November when she learned he had not filed any paperwork in her case.

She told authorities that when she learned Fine was no longer with that firm, she told an attorney about her suspicions. The attorney advised her to contact authorities.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-lawyer accused of hypnotizing women indicted on 27 charges

The trials of collage artist Kasoundra Kasoundra

BY PENNY ARCADE, DANA DAVISON and MIKKI MAHER   |  suffocating and corrupt bureaucracy has grown up around social services for the elderly. Guardians, social workers, financial managers and other caregivers too often show a cavalier disregard for the welfare of their charges. And don’t imagine for a moment that it is only lonely, friendless, isolated denizens that become victims of abuse. If you are a senior caught in this bureaucratic quagmire, even your best friends can’t help you.

Consider the case of Kasoundra Kasoundra. This very original New York Underground personality, now pushing 80, has been an avant-garde artist for more than half a century. When she arrived in Manhattan as a Midwestern college dropout in the early ’60s, she boldly knocked on the doors of celebrities such as Hermione Gingold and Bob Dylan simply to find out what made them tick.

Modeling at the Art Students League to earn her living, Kasoundra inserted herself into the urban art underground, making friends with its creative geniuses while she perfected her own considerable talents as a witty collage artist. Brice Marden and Jonas Mekas, among others, collected her artworks, and Maurice Gerodias, founder of The Olympia Press, took her with him on trips to Europe.

Kasoundra hung out with the Alice’s Restaurant crowd at the church in the Berkshires, and acted in Harry Smith’s “Mahagonny.” Her poster of Harry looking at himself in his own eyeglasses is a sought-after treasure.

Flash-forward to January 2011, when Kasoundra was discovered lying on the floor of her kitchen and transported to Lenox Hill Hospital by Adult Protective Services. Kasoundra’s boyfriend had run off with her roommate, and despite her bad liver, Kasoundra had consumed an entire quart of vodka.

When her friends finally located her in the hospital, she was yellow with jaundice.

The physically feisty Kasoundra bounced back soon enough, but she was transferred to the hospital’s psych ward because she complained of depression. This proved to be a dangerous disclosure, because from that moment forward, Kasoundra was never to enjoy her freedom again.

A self-portrait collage by Kasoundra Kasoundra.

Although she has fought valiantly through three years of court hearings with three successive judges, Kasoundra remains marooned in a nursing home in New Rochelle with little hope of ever regaining her liberty. How could this happen?

Kasoundra’s trials began with her landlord. As she stayed in the psych ward month after month, her rent fell increasingly behind, and the landlord sued for eviction. Kasoundra paid him $2,000 as a gesture of good faith until she could return home and get her affairs in order, but the landlord was not appeased and the eviction proceeding continued.

Kasoundra had lived for 30 years in a rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper East Side, and under SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) she paid $684 a month. With a modest renovation, Kasoundra’s four-room apartment —particularly in view of the new Second Ave. subway line — might easily fetch $3,500 per month in today’s inflated real estate market. Such apartments have become valuable assets to landlords, who often pay rent-stabilized tenants thousands of dollars to move out.

Although the hospital helped Kasoundra acquire a pro bono lawyer to stave off her eviction proceeding, the better course might have been to help her set up an automated bill payment plan at her bank so her rent could be paid on a timely basis.

Kasoundra’s next problem was that her medical condition, hepatic encephalopathy, caused her liver function to wax and wane. This condition (and/or the medication taken for it) can cause symptoms of grogginess and occasional forgetfulness — side effects that dissipate once the liver returns to normal and the medication is discontinued.

In the meantime, the psych ward social worker was reluctant to send Kasoundra home to her apartment, a three-flight walk-up. The staff considered that she might be better off living in Lott House, an elegant, assisted-living facility in her neighborhood, where she could occupy a studio apartment and have her meals served in the spacious dining room with windows overlooking Central Park. Kasoundra loved the park, and had once been a volunteer gardener there.

An appointment was made for a visit to Lott House, but after Kasoundra’s initial interview, her social worker sat on the application for months. No one helped Kasoundra apply for “Community Medicaid,” which, in view of her meager Social Security income, would be needed to pay for homecare services or for her residency at Lott House. Instead, the hospital applied for and received a “hospital Medicaid” payment for the hefty bill Kasoundra now owed the hospital.

As the year drew to a close, Kasoundra’s social worker, who was about to retire, was under pressure to dispose of her cases. Because Community Medicaid had not been set up, Kasoundra could neither return home nor move into Lott House, and her social worker decided to dispense with the problem by seeking a court-appointed guardian under Article 81. For this purpose, Kasoundra was given the short form of the R-Bans Mental Status Test, and the social worker said afterward that Kasoundra had performed poorly “on one component of the test.”

On this flimsy basis, the hospital applied to the New York State Supreme Court for a court-appointed guardian. Since Kasoundra had been adopted and her adoptive parents had passed away, she had no one who could intercede on her behalf or halt the impending termination of her rights and ability to control her own destiny.

The first guardianship hearing took place in December 2011. Although Kasoundra was never sent court papers (a procedural violation), she asked one of her friends to inform the judge’s clerk that she wanted a “trial by jury,” and that she did not want the “court evaluator” to have access to her medical records, if the evaluator was going to base a competency judgment on the results of the paltry mental status test. Kasoundra was legally entitled to both of these options, but her requests were ignored. 

At the hearing, one of Kasoundra’s friends offered to become her guardian, but the social worker spoke out against this prospect, and the judge decided to appoint a professional guardianship agency.

Ironically, just before the hearing took place, Kasoundra’s latest liver test had come back “negative,” which meant that her medication would be discontinued and her sporadic grogginess would soon dissipate, which it subsequently did. But no doctor or social worker from the hospital brought up the results of Kasoundra’s latest liver test –– or its import –– at the hearing.

In her ruling, Judge Visitacion-Lewis stipulated that Kasoundra should be returned home with appropriate homecare services provided, or, if that proved too difficult because of the stairs, Kasoundra should be placed in an assisted-living facility “in her community.” (Since Lott House was the only such facility that accepted Medicaid, it was not only the most desirable but also the only option.) The judge also stipulated that the guardian should confer on all important matters with Kasoundra and work closely with her friends to insure that her needs were met. None of the judge’s directives were followed.

Kasoundra’s third problem was her guardian, Judah Samet of United Guardianship Services. Ignoring the judge’s orders, he promptly whisked Kasoundra to a nursing home in New Rochelle — far from her community and friends. Kasoundra was confined to a bed with a loud buzzer that went off every time she tried to get out of bed. She received no physical exercise, and soon her leg muscles began to atrophy. Even after her friends discovered where she was, they were unable to contact her because she had no working telephone. She remained isolated and alone for months.

Finally one of her friends brought a psychiatrist to the nursing home to evaluate Kasoundra. He gave her a routine mental status test and determined that her cognitive functioning was normal. He saw no reason why she should not live at home if she wished to do so.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
The trials of collage artist Kasoundra Kasoundra

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Katherine Hine - Who's Judging the Judges - Corruption in Our Courts

Guest: Katherine Hine, host of 3 weekly broadcasts on

Katherine Hine: The corruption in our courts has become so epidemic, so wide-spread and ingrained, that our courts are the last place to find justice.

Join us this evening as Katherine Hine of WLJA radio in Ohio joins the show to discuss just who is judging the judges?

You can call in to the show during the second part, by calling the above number and then hitting “1”.

Katherine will be talking about WLJA and the issues she and Pastor Caleb cover on WLJA, especially on Bedlam in America, God’s Healing Bounty, and Who Judges the Judges.

4:00 pm PST … 5:00 pm MST … 6:00 pm CST … 7:00 pm EST

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

Fran (Grady) Gilhooly on Eyes of Predator Guardians TV

YouTube: Fran (Grady) Gilhooly on Eyes of Predator Guardians TV

Is Someone Casing Your Estate?

Unintended ‘heirs’ might pounce. 

You likely have money, property and other items of value that you plan to leave to loved ones or charity. But do they know your plans? It’s important that you tell them — and sooner rather than later. Why?

Because communication is one of several ways you can protect yourself from an insidious, all-too-frequent crime that is both underreported and underprosecuted, and which victimizes families of all social and economic levels.

I’m talking about inheritance theft.

No matter how smart you are or how stable your family, no one’s estate is entirely safe. Thieves are known to siphon assets from healthy, highly educated people about as often as they do those of the infirm and feeble-minded. And they get away with it because the thieves usually know the victims — and know the victims won’t prosecute.

In other words, the thieves are likely to be members of your own family. Inheritance theft can be hard to detect because thieves use whispered lies, fraud, psychological manipulation and forgery — acts hard to uncover and even harder to prove in court.

Some people never discover they were victimized or the thief convinces them that no theft occurred. Other victims are ashamed to reveal that a family member or close friend stole from them, and others don’t report losses to avoid publicity.

There are two types of estate hijackers:

Family members. Some steal because they want revenge after a lifetime of feeling neglected or abused; others feel compelled because of drug addiction, their own marital or family needs or financial strife; and some simply are greedy.

Outsiders. These include overly friendly strangers, some of whom assist the elderly or infirm to gain their trust; club or church friends; spouses from second marriages; caregivers or healthcare workers; someone who constantly criticizes or tries to portray someone as incompetent; anyone entrusted with handling another person’s money or financial affairs; anyone with a power of attorney; unethical executors of wills or trustees of trusts; and salespeople pushing financial products that are not in a client’s best interests.

How can you protect your estate and intended heirs from thieves and interlopers? While nothing can make you invincible, here are four ways you can help yourself and your parents avoid becoming victims of inheritance theft:

1. Prepare an estate plan. Documenting your desires for the disposition of your assets is the first step in preventing people from claiming you made verbal promises to them. Hire an estate attorney that you’ve vetted personally or who is referred to you by a trusted source.

2. Choose a trusted friend or family member to serve as your executor and/or trustee. And to help make sure he or she follows your instructions, distribute copies of your will and trust documents to at least one other heir — and preferably to all of them. If you feel uncomfortable letting others see your plans, require your executor or trustee to retain the services of an estate attorney (at your or your estate’s expense) to oversee matters. Instruct that the attorney be paid on an hourly basis rather than as a percent of the estate’s value. (Note: We don’t recommend that you name an attorney, bank or trust company as executor or trustee because they typically charge exorbitant fees, often as a percentage of the estate’s value. And they can be difficult or even impossible to fire — leaving your heirs helpless if they are unhappy with the costs or service.)

3. Keep all your legal and financial documents in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box or a fire-resistant home safe. Create digital backups.

4. If you make changes to your documents, inform all concerned. And that includes your independent, objective, fee-based financial advisor.

Originally published in Inside Personal Finance July 2012

Full Article & Source:
Is Someone Casing Your Estate?