Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bring Nancy Home!

We are Jeff and Elsie Golin, devoted parents of Nancy Golin, our beautiful, happy, sweet autistic adult daughter. Like many families, we decided when she was 2 that we would raise her at home with us and protect her, instead of following a doctor’s suggestion that we institutionalize her. We raised her in safety and love since she was born and have enjoyed many happy times with her. She is now 44 years old.

In 2001, when she was 31, she was kidnapped by the Palo Alto police under color of law after she innocently wandered away from us. We immediately reported her missing and searched for her. The cops quickly found her but held her all night without disclosing it, pretending that she was still missing, and claiming it was somehow our fault. The nightmare escalated, after she was briefly returned to us for an hour. She was then inappropriately sent to a dangerous psych ward. We tried to get her back, but were attacked. Since then she was illegally sent to a group home and forced to live there exclusively with other developmentally disabled people. They trampled on our rights and we sued. She has been violated, drugged, maimed and injured. We miss her every day and cry for her return. We have a home waiting for her and the taxpayers do not have to pay for it.

Nancy has been denied the right to live at home by the San Andreas Regional Center for the past 14 years. They won’t listen. They limit our contacts with her. We have never stopped fighting for her return. Nancy wants desperately to be home with us. She has indicated to us and everyone in every way she can that she only wants to return to our love, comfort and safety, which she faithfully trusts. She is sad and lonely where she is.

Returning home to us is Nancy’s most cherished wish in life. We desperately want to grant her that wish.

Bring Nancy Home

See Also:
Free Nancy

Paralegal Indicted for Forging Signatures of 76 Judges

A former paralegal at personal injury firm Paris & Chaikin forged the signatures of state Supreme Court justices to create more than 100 bogus judicial orders in structured settlement matters, prosecutors allege.

Full Article & Source:
Paralegal Indicted for Forging Signatures of 76 Judges

Bobbi Kristina estate could end up paying Nick Gordon’s legal fees

Full Article & Source:
Bobbi Kristina estate could end up paying Nick Gordon’s legal fees

Friday, September 18, 2015

Federal Agents Arrest Indiana Caregiver Accused of Stealing Medicine from Elderly Patients

UPDATE (Sept. 17, 2015)-- Korisha Gaddie was found guilty and sentenced to 910 days minus time served. She will serve 892 days on probation.
MARION COUNTY (Jan. 30, 2015) - Federal agents arrested a caregiver accused of stealing medicine from her patients.
Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration arrived at Lawrence Manor Healthcare Center, 8935 E. 46th St., Friday morning to take Korisha Lynn Gaddie into custody.

Gaddie is charged with nine felony counts, including obtaining a controlled substance through fraud or deceit, possession of a narcotic drug, theft and interference with medical services.

"It's very troubling because it's not uncommon. This is not an unusual issue," said Kristen LaEace, CEO of the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

In 2014 there were nearly 40,000 cases of elderly abuse, neglect or exploitation reported to Adult Protective Services according to LaEace. Roughly 10,000 cases were investigated.

Agents went to arrest Gaddie as her shift ended Friday morning. Investigators said she was frisked and narcotics from the night before were hidden on her body.

LaEace says the growing issues impacting the elderly community will persist until the necessary resources are allocated towards assisting the elderly.

"There are not enough investigators in the state to handle all the cases that are coming in," said LaEace

Investigators said Gaddie stole powerful narcotics from the elderly patients she was caring for. She worked at several different elderly homes around the city. One of the other homes tipped off investigators about the thefts.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Federal Agents Arrest Caregiver Accused of Stealing Medicine From Elderly Patients

"Into the Light" - a New Film Being Made About Elder Abuse

While documenting a conference on elder abuse in 2014, Cameron Wheeless, became aware of a particularly tragic and disturbing case and was compelled to reach out to fellow filmmakers and friends to assemble a filmmaking team to tell this story.

Learn more and/or donate to the project: Into the Light

Wyckoff Lawyer Charged With Theft

William E. Gahwyler
A Wyckoff attorney was charged with theft after he allegedly used thousands of dollars last year for “personal expenses,” authorities said.

William E. Gahwyler, 53, received approximately $15,000 from an attorney that was to be placed into a trust fund for a “landlord and tenant” matter, said Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.

Gahwyler allegedly placed the money into his business account and used the money to pay for personal expenses, Molinelli said.

Gahwyler’s license to practice law was suspended in February 2013 for his failing to comply with ethics regulations, but he continued to practice anyway, authorities said.

Gahwyler was charged by members of the prosecutor’s office White Collar Crimes Unit Friday, authorities said. He was charged with theft by deception, misapplication of entrusted property, and unauthorized practice of law.

Full Article & Source:
Wyckoff Lawyer Charged With Theft

Three charged with exploitation of elderly, theft

KINGSTON — Three people remained in the Roane County jail Wednesday, accused of stealing nearly $100,000 from an elderly woman over an eight-month period.

One defendant is also charged in a separate incident involving an older Oak Ridge woman and a check-cashing scheme.

Charged with exploitation of an elderly person and theft of between $60,000 and $250,000 are Marty McGhee, 45, of Harriman; Jackie Lee McGhee, 41, of Oliver Springs; and Carmalita Genovea Bruschi, 35, of Oak Ridge.

The warrants were sworn out by Oak Ridge Police Detective Kevin Craig. Part of Oak Ridge is in Roane County.

According to those court records, the defendants cashed checks from the elderly woman "by misrepresentation, fraud, deceit and other trick or artifice" and then didn't use the money as the elderly woman requested.

The incidents occurred between August 2014 and March 2015, according to the warrants.

During that period, a total of $96,37038 was pilfered, the court documents state.

Jackie McGhee is also charged in a separate theft by fraud case from September 2014, when he allegedly swindled another elderly Oak Ridge woman out of $720.

In that incident, he returned a "small pile of finely shredded paper" to the victim, telling her it was the check she made out to him, and that he lost his ID and couldn't cash it.

After pocketing $360 in cash, Jackie McGhee cashed the original check, according to the warrant.

Full Article & Source:
Three charged with exploitation of elderly, theft

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Steve Miller: When is Clark County D.A. Steve Wolfson going to prosecute for-profit private "guardian" April Parks?

District Court Judge Cynthia Diane Steel stated on the record: "Court did not give April Parks permission to do anything with the trust assets and Elizabeth Indig can file a criminal complaint with the District Attorney."

So far, DA Steve Wolfson has done nothing to stop this professional parasite who preys on the elderly. - SM

Contact 13 Investigates Families Caught up in Guardianships Losing Their Homes

FBI raids residence of nursing home CEO

The home is owned by James G. Burkhart

CARMEL, Ind. — A cadre of agents, including personnel from the FBI, IRS and the Office of the Inspector General, raided the home of an executive of a chain of nursing homes Tuesday morning.

The home is owned by James G. Burkhart, the CEO of American Senior Communities, according to Hamilton County property records.

"The FBI is conducting an investigation into criminal activity in the Carmel area," FBI spokeswoman Wendy Osborne told The Indianapolis Star. She declined to provided any details.

An FBI truck was parked in the front drive of the red-brick, 9,000-square-foot house in the Claybridge at Springmill subdivision of million-dollar homes. A Carmel Police Department vehicle sat in front of the home.

Investigators from multiple agencies, including the FBI, Office of the Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service, worked inside and outside of the home, carrying papers and folders between the residence and the truck late Tuesday morning.

The subdivision is full of sprawling, stately homes, set far back from the residential streets. The neighborhood was mostly quiet Tuesday, with a few walkers and joggers occasionally passing and looking on curiously.

The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services participated in Tuesday’s raid, but a spokeswoman said she could not provide any details about the raid or what might have been seized. The office investigates allegations or suspicions of fraud, waste and abuse in federal health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The Southside Indianapolis headquarters of American Senior Communities was open Tuesday, with FBI investigators at the facility, according to WXIN-TV, Indianapolis.

A receptionist took down phone numbers, but declined to comment. No comment has come from American Senior Communities officials.

American Senior Communities has nearly 100 facilities, with many located in Central Indiana. The company's frequent television ads salute the accomplishments of elderly nursing home residents.

Burkhart and his wife, Angela, have been contributors to Republican and Democratic candidates, according to campaign records. He is a member of the Eskenazi Health Foundation Board and a trustee at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

In 2010, American Senior Communities agreed to pay $376,432 in penalties to settle a complaint that it employed seven workers who were ineligible under federal rules for reasons including the loss of licenses and a criminal conviction.

American Senior Communities operates a chain of nursing homes owned by Marion County Health and Hospital Corp.

Indiana Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes in Indiana, released a statement Tuesday, saying they were still gathering information on the raid. "Right now, our most important priority is the care of the Hoosiers in our 330 member centers across the state," the statement read.

Full Article & Source:
FBI raids residence of nursing home CEO

Tallahassee woman arrested in elderly exploitation case

Kiera Smith
A Tallahassee woman has been accused of stealing more than $1,214 from a 91-year-old for whom she served as a part-time nurse.

Kiera Smith, 22, faces 39 counts, including credit card fraud, use of another person's identification, exploiting the elderly and other charges, after police say she repeatedly used an elderly woman's credit card without consent.

Smith, whose mother is the primary nurse for the elderly woman, was arrested by the Leon County Sheriff's Office and is being held at the Leon County Jail on a $39,000 bond.

Deputies say that Smith, over the course of three weeks, used the 91-year-old woman's credit card at gas stations, stores and to withdraw money from ATMs throughout Tallahassee.

Smith's mother later told investigators her daughter admitted using the credit card without permission while she was on the street drug Molly.

The victim's son became worried and checked bank statements that indicated his mother's card had been used fraudulently 18 times over three weeks. LCSO deputies obtained surveillance video from several stores that showed Smith using the credit card.

Full Article & Source:
Tallahassee woman arrested in elderly exploitation case

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

From the Catherine Falk Organization: A Daughter's Tribute

My father, Peter Falk, best known for his role as Lt. Columbo in a tribute honoring his life. September 16, 1927- June 23, 2011. Rest in peace, daddy!

Peter Falk Loving Tribute 2015

JOIN the Catherine Falk Organization's Facebook Page

Families Caught up in Guardianship Losing Their Homes

Some of the people who need help the most are being robbed of their money and freedom.

Contact 13's investigation of Nevada's guardianship system has revealed double-billing, bank accounts drained and families torn apart.

Now, Darcy Spears has learned some have lost even more.

"Everything in this house is a memory," said Phyllis Moskowitz-Crowe as she looked wistfully around her modest home.

Phyllis has traveled the world, but for the past year and a half she wasn't allowed to step through her own front door.

"All of a sudden my whole life just blew up. And to this day I don't know why."

Spring of 2014 was what Phyllis calls "the beginning of the worst experience of my life."

The then 76-year-old was recovering in the hospital after a fall when the court granted private, for-profit guardian April Parks absolute power and control over her life and estate.

The sign Phyllis put on her door says 'Let Freedom Ring' but the sign April Parks put in the window means quite the opposite.

In fact, when Parks took over Phyllis' home, at some point she stopped paying the HOA dues so Phyllis says she nearly lost the house and everything in it.

"I'm alone. I was independently wealthy. I have no bills. Except I have a small reverse mortgage on my house. That was it! Perfect target!"

The homeowners' association foreclosed on Phyllis' home because the dues weren't being paid.

Full Article and Source:< br/>
Contact 13 Investigates Families Caught up in Guardianships Losing Their Homes

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Editorial: Guardian bill would improve oversight

The Florida Legislature will convene early in 2016, so Sen. Nancy Detert has filed an important elder-protection bill extra early.

State representatives and senators will commence their annual 60-day regular session Jan. 12, in order to conclude before the March 15 presidential-preference primaries.

Detert, a Sarasota County Republican, recently filed Senate Bill 232, which seeks to increase state oversight of all guardians appointed to oversee the affairs of incapacitated adults, most of whom are elderly. The bill would, among other things, establish an Office of Public and Professional Guardians. 

The office would, as Barbara Peters Smith reported in the Herald-Tribune, certify and supervise court-appointed guardians. It would also serve as a "complaint department," Detert said.

The September filing is consistent with the Legislature's schedule next year and, as Detert noted, "If it falls off the tracks, we have time to put it back [on]."

The proposed legislation is both warranted and welcome. It should have been passed during the 2015 regular session. (Detert's bill, filed under a different number, was approved by the Senate but died when the House of Representatives abruptly and irresponsibly adjourned.)

Fortunately, legislation to improve Florida's guardianship statute made it through both chambers of the Legislature before the adjournment. House Bill 5, filed by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, tightened the relevant law, clarified the duties of guardians, instituted tougher penalties for wrongdoing and required more notice of emergency, temporary proceedings.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source: 
Editorial: Guardian bill would improve oversight

Ducky's Truck

This is a sequel to "Ducky's Truck" which chronicled the plight of Douglas "Ducky" Ulbrich whose beloved 1969 Ford pick-up truck was taken away from him by a probate judge. The appeal went Ducky's way and the vehicle has been returned to him. He reflects on this reunion, ranch maintenance, and his physical/emotional well-being.
The Return of Ducky's Truck

See Also (Posted in 2012):
Douglas "Ducky" Ulbrich (84) is an old time Texas rancher who bought a new Ford pickup truck in 1968 shortly after he married Consuella Perkins. Two years ago, Consuella died, and before he could recover from the loss of his wife, her children convinced a probate court judge to let them take Ducky's 1969 Ford truck, which was his only working ranch vehicle. Now he feels like a cowboy without his favorite horse at a time in his life when he is too old to buy another Ford truck and keep it running for another 45 years. Ducky is appealing the judge's order but he is beside himself over the loss of his only working ranch vehicle which had served him well for half of his lifetime. His 160 acre hunting ranch, outside Hondo, Texas, is rugged and hilly and too tough for a new truck, and he needs his old Ford back.
Ducky's Truck

Monday, September 14, 2015

With new guardians, wards gain new hope

Lizzie Jolley spent most days alone in an East Side nursing home, asleep in bed or slumped in a wheelchair with a TV blaring.

Then last summer, the Columbus lawyer who served as her court-appointed guardian abruptly resigned amid allegations that he was stealing from some of his wards. Jolley was assigned a new guardian, Sonya Evans, and that’s when her life began to change.

Evans — an 80-year-old retired teacher and a volunteer guardian with the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging — is known for bringing hope to people who have been cast aside. She has a knack for figuring out what makes them tick.

Evans saw immediately that Jolley wasn’t getting enough stimulation. At 101, Jolley is still in excellent health, aside from a few minor medical problems and a fading memory. So Evans arranged for Jolley to move to a small nursing home on the Far North Side, a place with more activities, better ratings and a higher staff-to-resident ratio than her previous home.

Now, the two women take turns reading children’s books during Evans’ weekly visits. That helps Jolley remember cherished memories from her past.

From those sessions and their conversations, Evans has learned that Jolley grew up in Montezuma, Ga., a town of about 3,500 people, and that she might have worked as a seamstress, a cook or both after she moved to Columbus. Jolley also has told Evans that she was married and divorced twice and that she has a daughter, a sister and a brother, whom Evans hopes to track down.

“I think I was born to a private detective,” Evans joked.

But most of all, Jolley and Evans enjoy making music together. Wearing her best Sunday hat one recent morning, Jolley soulfully sang the lyrics to When the Saints Go Marching In as Evans played the piano. Drawn by the sweet sound, another woman living at the Highbanks Care Center joined the duo in their impromptu concert of Jolly’s favorite songs, including Amazing Grace and What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

After 45 minutes of singing and dancing, Jolley nodded off in her wheelchair — only to wake up and begin singing and humming again.

“We have such wonderful times,” Jolley told Evans before giving her a kiss goodbye. “I love you."

Jolley is one of about 475 vulnerable people — children, senior citizens and those with mental illnesses and other disabilities — who made up the caseload of Paul S. Kormanik.

Believed to be responsible for more wards than nearly anyone else in the nation, Kormanik was featured in a May 2014 Dispatch series that showed how Ohio’s broken guardianship system failed to protect some of its most-vulnerable residents.

A year after resigning from all of his cases and briefly checking himself into a local hospital for mental-health treatment, Kormanik pleaded guilty in August to four counts of theft from an elderly or disabled person, one count of theft and five counts of tampering with records. He has surrendered his law license and faces a maximum of 23 years in prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 20 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

But what has happened to those in his care?

After a lot of hand-wringing and scrambling, more than 300 of his wards have been placed with permanent guardians. Like Evans, many of the new guardians have worked to get to know their charges so they can live the lives they want and deserve.

“It’s been a daunting, exhausting task,” Groveport lawyer John Mashburn said.

After about 30 years, Mashburn, 66, is one of central Ohio’s longest-serving guardians. Even with about 200 cases of his own, he temporarily took over 328 of Kormanik’s wards until the Franklin County Probate Court could find permanent caretakers.

“We thought it was the right thing to do,” Mashburn said of his team, which includes another lawyer, a paralegal, a social worker and support staff.

About 100 of those charges remain in his care. He hopes to keep as many as 50 and turn the rest over to the county’s new nonprofit guardianship agency.

The brainchild of Probate Judge Robert G. Montgomery, the new agency is expected to begin taking cases in the next few weeks. Its board will focus on helping the county’s hardest-to-serve residents, typically those with a mental illness who don’t live in a nursing home or other group setting and often require a lot of time and attention.

The three-person board of directors is appointed by Montgomery and by members of the county’s Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board and the Board of Developmental Disabilities. There’s also an executive director and social workers.

Known as the Franklin County Guardianship Services Board, the agency hopes to attract volunteers and interns to help care for the wards and raise money to meet their needs, Montgomery said. “Historically, being a guardian was an honor and a privilege. We want it to be that way again, and we know that this new approach is going to make a difference in many lives.”

Other agencies also stepped forward to help Kormanik’s wards.

The Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging’s volunteer guardians looked at 150 files, visited 75 wards and settled on nearly 50 cases they thought they could help, said Julia Nack, director of the program.

That number would have been lower if the program’s volunteer pool hadn’t grown by 30 people in the past year, she said, crediting The Dispatch stories with raising awareness about the need.

The number of Kormanik’s cases has “really inundated us, but thanks to our wonderful volunteers, we’re providing as much nurturing and care as we can,” Nack said. “And it’s paying off with many of the wards really blossoming.”  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
With new guardians, wards gain new hope

Editorial: A prosecutor indicted: Davidson case disappointing and disillusioning

Journal editorial board

The charges against a former Davidson County prosecutor couldn’t be any more serious: that she sent a text message offering $20,000 to get a potential opponent to drop out of a judicial race. In a time when faith in our election system has already been shaken, we should at least be able to trust law-enforcement officials to run crime-free races. But now a former prosecutor faces prosecution.

Wendy Joyce Terry, 43, of Advance was indicted Tuesday on charges of felony buying and selling offices, felony obstructing justice, misdemeanor primary election violation, attempting to obtain property by false pretenses and attempting to violate the campaign contribution limitation, the Journal’s Michael Hewlett reported.

Terry had worked for 10 years as an assistant district attorney in the prosecutorial district that covers Davidson and Davie counties. She was the prime contact for Project Safe Davidson, a collaboration between the district attorney’s office and law-enforcement to crack down on chronic violent offenders and reduce recidivism. Her boss was District Attorney Garry Frank. He’s known as an unflinching crime fighter, no matter who the suspect might be.

In late July, he put Terry, the wife of a Davidson District Court judge, on administrative leave as he requested an SBI investigation of her actions. She resigned Tuesday. The N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts appointed Tom Horner, the district attorney for Alleghany, Ashe, Wilkes and Yadkin counties, to handle the case.

The case turns on the 2016 race for a Davidson Superior Court seat now held by Theodore Royster. Terry wants the seat. So does Lexington attorney Jeffrey Berg Jr., who is married to Judge April Wood of Davidson District Court.

The indictment alleges that Terry sent a July 23 text message to Wood, offering to contribute $20,000 to her campaign if Wood convinced her husband to drop out of the race for Royster’s seat. Terry is limited under state law to giving $5,100 to a candidate’s campaign.

The indictment charges that she also attempted to get Berg to run for a district court seat by offering to pay his filing fee.

What’s stunning about the indictment is that it alleges that a seasoned prosecutor committed a clumsy crime. As in so many other situations, in an age when everyone should know that everything you put in cyberspace can come back to bite you, a text message seems to be at the heart of this case.

We trust that District Attorney Horner will handle this case firmly and fairly.

Terry, as she well knows, is presumed innocent unless proved otherwise in a court of law. But if she is convicted, the judge must treat her just as he would any other defendant, mandating a punishment that is no more or no less than any other defendant would receive.

The sad thing is that this defendant was a prosecutor.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Marian Hollingsworth: Medical Abuse of My Father and Becoming a Patient Advocate

Hosted by Marti Oakley & Debbie Dahmer

 My father, Keith Blair, went into the hospital in July of 2009 for diagnosis of back pain. Without our knowledge or consent, he was given a cocktail of Risperdal, Haldol, Ativan, Tylenol with codeine, and Morphine.

When I asked the doctor about this, he said it was just "hospital delirium," Sent to a nursing home, my father was given more antipsychotic drugs, along with double doses of AmbienCR, the long acting version of the drug. He ended up with the bad side effects of these black box drugs such as heart trouble, severe dehydration and kidney trouble, and sudden diabetes. He also contracted a MRSA eye infection which spread to his lungs, fell 7 times in 12 days and developed a bedsore. (He was only in the nursing home 18 days.) He ended up a second hospital due to heart and kidney problems, where the same nursing home doctor treated him.)

At the second hospital, he was given daily Risperdal, and we were told to prepare for his death. When I went through the records later, I discovered that a cardiologist said he was improving and that he could be released to the nursing home in a few days.

 2. How to get ALL the records.

 3. Your rights in a hospital or nursing home as a patient or family member. Know the codes in your state so you can use them. if needed, if facilities try to violate these rights. 3. Dealing with the health department for complaints. Your rights in a complaint. The complaint in my father's case resulted in a new policy from the health department, AFL 1108. It mandates that nursing homes must verify that patients on antipsychotic drugs being transferred from hospitals have informed consent forms in their records, and if not, that informed consent must be obtained before the drugs can be given. 4. Dealing with the medical board for complaints.

  LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

Appeals court blasts judge’s order to make woman, 80, leave condo

WEST PALM BEACH — More than a year after a Palm Beach County judge ordered Lois Zelman out of a Palm Beach condo she shared with her husband, an appeals court on Wednesday blasted the jurist for falling for “legal hocus pocus” and violating the 80-year-old woman’s rights.

Attorney Jeffrey Fisher, who represents Lois Zelman in the ugly court battle launched by her stepchildren, applauded the ruling by the West Palm Beach-based 4th District Court of Appeal. It means Lois Zelman, not her three adult stepchildren, will get the roughly $10 million her husband, Martin Zelman, promised her when they negotiated a prenuptial agreement before getting married 15 years ago, he said.

Lois and Martin Zelman in February 2014.
(Melanie Bell / Palm Beach Daily News)
Theoretically, it also sets the stage for Lois to be reunited with her husband. But, Fisher said, the ruling may come too late for such a storybook ending.

Having slipped further into dementia since then-Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis kicked Lois out of the couple’s condo, Martin Zelman may no longer recognize his wife, Fisher said.

A reunion could be too traumatic for the 87-year-old former Long Island businessman who made a fortune in real estate. According to a psychologist who examined Martin last year, abrupt changes — like when his wife was forced from their home — compound his confusion.

“As for her life with Martin, I don’t know if it can be repaired,” Fisher said. “When he had his mental faculties, I’m sure she was the person he wanted.”

Now, he said, he just doesn’t know.

But, he said, the ruling is a moral and financial victory for Lois and could help others who marry spouses with adult children from prior marriages who don’t like the prenuptial agreements negotiated by their parents.

Claiming Lois was abusing his father, Robert Zelman last year filed a petition in probate court, asking that Martin be declared incompetent and that guardians be appointed to handle his affairs.

Instead of allowing Lois and Robert to be on equal footing, Lewis ruled that Lois was not a party to the proceedings. That meant her lawyer couldn’t fully represent her views about what was best for her husband before Lewis appointed Robert and his sister, who both live in New York, to be Martin’s guardians.

That, Judge Robert Gross wrote for the three-judge appellate panel, gave Robert “a decided advantage” and resulted in “fundamental error” by Lewis, who lost a re-election bid last August.

Instead of focusing on Martin’s mental abilities, Lewis spent an inordinate amount of time hearing about the financial ramifications of allowing the couple to divorce, Gross also wrote.

Under their prenuptial agreement, if Martin died while he and Lois were still married, Lois would get roughly $10 million. If Martin divorced Lois, she could get nothing. However, Martin had to file the divorce. If it was done by a guardian, Lois would still get the money. Further, under a little-known Florida divorce law, there is a three-year waiting period in cases where one of the spouses has been declared mentally unfit.

In what Gross said appeared to be an effort to get around the prenuptial agreement and the obscure Florida law, Lewis declared Martin partially incompetent. While stripping him of the ability to marry, drive, work or manage property, she said Martin could continue to file lawsuits.

That meant he could file for divorce from Lois. And, days after Lewis signed the order, a divorce petition was filed on Martin’s behalf.

“In the effort to navigate the legal implications of prenuptial agreements and, perhaps, (the waiting-period law), the focus of the hearing veered away from the best interest of the ward,” Gross wrote of Lewis’ ruling.

The appeals court decision, coupled with an earlier decision by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Charles Burton, means the legal battle is all but over for Lois, Fisher said.

After hearing Martin struggle to remember what year it was, the names of his children or who was president, Burton in July ruled the octogenarian wasn’t competent enough to seek a divorce. He sent the case back to probate court for further hearings on Martin’s mental state.

Fisher said he will return to probate court to ask that an independent guardian be appointed to oversee Martin and that all of Lois’ rights to share in her husband’s wealth be restored.

Attorney Peter Sachs, who represents Martin’s children, said he is still reviewing the decision. At its core, itn smply says Lois was denied due process, he said.

“It seems we’re back to square one in the guardianship process,” Sachs said. “It’s really a convoluted situation and it’s unfortunate. Hopefully, we can resolve this without putting people through any more pain and litigation and expense.”

Gross suggested the new judge look at the case with an open mind, uncluttered by Lewis’ decision. “We note that the judgment here was infected by legal hocus pocus, containing findings so unsupported by the record as to be clearly erroneous,” he wrote.

Full Article & Source:
Appeals court blasts judge’s order to make woman, 80, leave condo

Houston Legal 13 Texas Attorneys & Judges Disciplined on September List

Disciplinary Actions — September 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.

(Note – The Public Affairs Counsel for the  Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel reports there was no August disciplinary list)

Houston area discipline:

On July 6, 2015, Calvin C. Braun Jr. [#00783713], 48, of Houston, accepted a two-year active suspension effective July 15, 2015. The 125th District Court of Harris County found that Braun violated Rule 8.04(a)(3) [engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation].

Braun was ordered to pay $1,320 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On June 2, 2015, David A. Chaumette [#00787235], 47, of Houston, received a 33-month partially probated suspension effective August 1, 2015, with the first nine months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in representing Five Oaks Achievement Center, Chaumette neglected the legal matter entrusted to him, failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the legal matter, and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. Chaumette also failed to hold in a trust funds belonging in whole or in part to Five Oaks Achievement Center and Whispering Hills Achievement Center that were in his possession in connection with his representation of those entities and 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. Chaumette violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.14(a), and 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $2,575 in attorneys’ fees and $521.79 in direct expenses.

Chaumette did not appeal.

Rest of Texas

On May 14, 2015, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public admonition to Madolyn C. Johnson, former municipal court judge of Valley Mills, Bosque County. Johnson violated Canons 2A and 3B(2) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.

On April 30, 2015, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public admonition to Etta Mullin, former judge of the County Criminal Court No. 5 in Dallas, Dallas County. Mullin violated Canons 2A and 3B(4) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct and Article V, §1-a(6)A of the Texas Constitution.

On May 11, 2015, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public admonition and order of additional education to Carter Tinsley Schildknecht, judge of the 106th District Court in Lamesa, Dawson County. Schildknecht violated Can-ons 2A, 3B(2), 3B(4), and 3B(6) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. Schildknecht must obtain four hours of instruction with a mentor in addition to her required judicial education for fiscal year 2015.

On June 2, 2015, the Supreme Court of Texas accepted the resignation in lieu of discipline of Amy Louise Monkman [#24034301], 59, of Istanbul, Turkey. At the time of Monkman’s resignation, there was one disciplinary matter pending alleging that Monkman shared immigration legal fees with non-lawyers, failed to properly supervise non-lawyer employees, assisted non-lawyers in the unauthorized practice of law, and failed to hold fees in a trust account until earned.

It is alleged that Monkman vio-lated Rules 1.14(a), 5.03, 5.04(a), and 5.05(b).

On June 4, 2015, Nathan Henry Chu [#24038818], 39, of Laredo, received a nine-month fully probated suspension effective July 1, 2015. The District 12 Grievance Committee found that Chu failed to keep a client reasonably informed, represented opposing parties in the same litigation, represented a person in a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests were materially adverse to the interests of another client, represented a client in a    matter and thereafter represented another person in a matter adverse to the former client when it was the same or a substantially related matter, and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation.

Chu violated Rules 1.03(a), 1.03(b), 1.06(a), 1.06(b), 1.09(a), and 8.04(a)(3) and was ordered to pay $3,885 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On May 14, 2015, Chelsea L. Davis [#24059652], 33, of Princeton, received a judgment of indefinite disability suspension effective immediately. The District Disability Committee found that Davis suffers from a disability that results in her inability to practice law, provide client services, complete contracts of employment, or otherwise carry out her professional responsibilities to clients, courts, the profession, or the public.

On July 10, 2015, Mark Anthony Davis [#24012509], 44, of Victoria, accepted a six-month fully probated suspension effective July 1, 2015.  The District 11 Grievance Committee found that Davis failed to communicate with his client and failed to respond to the grievance.

Davis violated Rules 1.03(a) and 8.04(a)(8) and was ordered to pay $800 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On June 29, 2015, Mark Allen Land [#11860425], 55, of Austin, received a two-year partially probated suspension effective May 1, 2015, with the first three months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 9 Grievance Committee found that on March 15, 2012, the complainant hired Land to defend Alpine Insurance in a lawsuit filed by AT&T Advertising Solutions to collect a debt. Land was served with requests for disclosure. When he did not respond, AT&T’s counsel emailed Land a reminder that the responses were due. Land never responded to the requests for disclosure. Land received AT&T’s summary judgment motion and notice of the summary judgment hearing via certified mail, but the notice was returned. AT&T’s counsel also notified Land via email that the sum-mary judgment motion was set for May 20, 2013. Land responded that the May 20 hearing date was acceptable. Land failed to file a response to the summary judgment motion and failed to attend  the summary judgment hearing. AT&T’s summary judgment motion was granted and a judgment of $52,126 was entered against Land’s client.

Land violated Rules 1.01(b)(1) and 8.04(a)(1). He was ordered to pay $3,113.32 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On May 4, 2015, Daniel Montalvo [#00795538], 45, of Dallas, received a 24-month partially probated suspension effective November 1, 2015, with the first six months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 6 Grievance Committee found that in representing the complainant concerning a probation violation, Montalvo neglected the legal matter entrusted to him by failing to appear at a hearing. Upon termination of representation, Montalvo failed to refund advance payments of fees that had not been earned. Montalvo engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation by providing a check to the complainant that was returned for “not sufficient funds.” Montalvo 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. Montalvo did not in good faith timely assert any grounds for his failure to do so.

Montalvo violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.15(d), 8.04(a)(3), and 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution and $1,903.43 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On May 4, 2015, Daniel Montalvo [#00795538], 45, of Dallas, received a 24-month partially probated suspension effective May 1, 2015, with the first six months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 6 Grievance Committee found that in representing the complainant’s son in a criminal matter, Montalvo neglected the legal matter entrusted to him by performing no substantive legal work and by failing to enter an appearance. Montalvo failed to keep the complainant reasonably informed about the status of the criminal matter. Montalvo failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from the complainant about the criminal matter. Upon termination of representation, Montalvo failed to refund advance payments of fees that had not been earned. He 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. Montalvo did not in good faith timely assert any grounds for his failure to do so. Montalvo violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $7,000 in restitution and $2,323.11 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On June 17, 2015, Patrick Phillip Robertson [#00792804], 45, of Dallas, received a three-year active suspension effective July 1, 2015. An evidentiary panel of the District 6 Grievance Committee found that in representing complainants, Robertson neglected the legal matters entrusted to him and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. Robertson failed to withdraw from rep- resenting complainants when his physical condition materially impaired his fitness to represent complainants. Upon termination of representation, Robertson failed to return papers and property and refund advance payments of fees that had not been earned. Robertson 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. Further, Robertson en-gaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation by suggesting to a complainant that he and the complainant’s previous attorney were jointly working on the complainant’s defense.Robertson violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.15(a)(2), 1.15(d), 8.04(a)(3), and 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $5,500 in attorneys’ fees.

On July 15, 2015, Roberto Maldonado [#12855262], 57, of San Antonio, received a three-year fully pro- bated suspension effective August 1, 2015. The District 10 Grievance Com- mittee found that in an immigration law representation, Maldonado ne-glected a client matter, failed to keep a client reasonably informed, failed to hold client funds separate from his own property, and shared legal fees with a non-lawyer.Maldonado violated Rules 1.01(b)(1),  1.03(a), 1.14(a), and 5.04(a) and was ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution and $1,000 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

Full Article & Source:
13 Texas Attorneys & Judges Disciplined on September List

New five-year plan to tackle elder abuse in Northwest Territories

A new five-year plan to reduce and eradicate abuse of seniors in the Northwest Territories is set to be published.

The NWT Network, an organization working to prevent elder abuse in the territory’s communities, presented a draft of its strategy earlier this week.

The document lists 20 actions to be taken by 2020, including a call for more training and support for communities; the creation of plain-language information for elders on the help available; training for front-line government and police staff; and a centralized elder abuse database.

“Since we’ve started working on this problem, we’ve had more and more examples coming out of the woodwork. Some of them are not very pretty,” said Leon Peterson, president of the NWT Seniors’ Society, which worked with the NWT Network on the strategy.

Research published by the NWT Network in February identified financial abuse – stealing money or pension cheques, or similar – and neglect as the two most common issues facing seniors. Of more than 600 seniors surveyed, one in four said they had personally been abused.

“A lot of people put up with the abuse and say nothing about it,” Peterson told Moose FM. “There are many different examples – they [family members] want cigarettes, they want money, they keep badgering.

“Maybe they’re going to stop bringing the grandkids round to see you. There are many kinds of abuse.

“Elders don’t want to report it, they don’t want to get their families in trouble. It doesn’t work that way.”

This week’s strategy, reviewed in draft form at the annual meeting of the NWT Seniors’ Society in Fort Smith, recommends a focus on four areas: public engagement, education and training, community responses, and policy and legislation.

As a key priority, the NWT Network wants to train more people in communities to be aware of elder abuse and means of tackling it.

“One of the big things is education, and being able to identify it and do something about it,” said Peterson.

“Getting people in the communities where it’s happening working on it, solving the problem. And it’s not an easy problem to solve.”

It’s not clear where the funding will come from to achieve some of the strategy’s objectives regarding more training and community support, but Peterson said the territorial government has a “good working relationship” with the society.

The NWT Network hopes its strategy will build community capacity to deal with abuse of seniors, strengthen policy to protect vulnerable adults and ensure more elders live in safe and secure homes.

Full Article & Source:
New five-year plan to tackle elder abuse in Northwest Territories