Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pop Artist Peter Max allowed to return home with his wife, judge rules in guardianship battle

Pop Artist Peter Max was freed Wednesday after being allegedly held against his will at a secret location for the last month by his son and a court-appointed guardian.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead ordered the 77-year-old be produced in court after an emergency application by his wife, Mary Max, charged that he was being kept in “illegal, unwanted and forced isolation from his wife and longtime friends.”

The jubilant pair shared a tender kiss outside their Upper West Side building when they got home.

Hours earlier, Max, who’s known for his use of psychedelic colors and shapes and has painted everyone from the Beatles to Taylor Swift, was escorted into a Lower Manhattan courtroom by private security, and smiled and waved when he saw his wife.

He first sat with his son Adam in the courtroom, before getting up and sitting with his wife for the remainder of the proceeding. She broke down in sobs with her head on his shoulder as he comforted her.

Max’s guardian, Diane Krausz, told the judge she had to get the artist away from his wife of 18 years because she’s unstable — alleging she once tried to kill herself and at one point threatened to kill her hubby. Krausz said she’d reported the threat to the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Tuesday.

She also said the artist is suffering from a mild form of dementia.

“His life is in danger. That’s all I care about,” Krausz said.

Edmead told her she’d overstepped her bounds by removing Max from his home, and said the illustrator could return to his home with his 48-year-old wife.

The pair have an unusual living arrangement — they live in adjoining apartments, and Krausz told the judge the wife lives with a 25-year-old boyfriend.

She also told the judge she would hold Mary Max’s lawyers “and you” responsible if anything happens to the artist.

“I am disregarding hearsay,” the judge said — but ordered there be no restriction on Max’s cell phone, computers or laptop access, and that he be free to communicate with family, friends and Krausz.

Peter Max declined comment on the court fight after he got home.

“You probably know more than me,” he said.

His wife emerged from the building a short time later, and just laughed when asked about the allegations that she’d threatened to kill her husband.

The battle over Max — physically and, ultimately, over his impressive body of art — has been waged secretly for weeks in Manhattan state Supreme Court and the Appellate Division because guardianship proceedings are confidential by law.

It broke into the open late Tuesday when Mary Max’s lawyer, Carolyn Reinach Wolf, filed a writ of habeus corpus in Supreme Court, saying the “unplanned unexpected and unwanted move from family surroundings” could be “highly dangerous to Peter Max’s physical, emotional and mental health.”   (Continue Reading)

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Pop Artist Peter Max allowed to return home with his wife, judge rules in guardianship battle

Molino Woman Charged With Exploitation Of Elderly Man

A Molino woman has been charged with stealing from an elderly man.

Heather Nicole Gulsby, 27, was charge with felony grand theft, crimes against the elderly and six felony check offenses.

Gulsby was caretaker for a 65-year old man unable to adequately take care of himself, according to an arrest report. Without proper permission, Gulsby allegedly wrote six checks totaling $1,084.72 on the elderly man’s account for her own personal benefit.

According to an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office report, Gulsby wrote checks for her benefit on the victim’s account as follows:
  • Three checks for $200 each cashed at a local bank on different dates.
  • A $290.37 check to Walmart for merchandise.
  • A $144.35 check to Molino Utilities, of which $92.22 was applied to her personal account. The remaining$52.13 was applied to the victim’s account; however, the check was written without his permission, the report states.
  • A $50 check cashed at a local bank.
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Molino Woman Charged With Exploitation Of Elderly Man

PSL woman charged with exploiting elderly

PORT ST. LUCIE - A Port St. Lucie woman with power of attorney for a woman and her recently deceased sister allegedly ran up more than $20,000 in fraudulent charges on their credit cards, authorities said.

Evelyn Millet, 48, who lives in the 7200 block of Pine Lakes Boulevard, was charged with exploitation of the elderly. A judge signed a warrant for her arrest on Tuesday, and she surrendered at the St. Lucie County Jail on Wednesday. She was released on a $15,000 bond.

Millet worked at a senior living facility in Port St. Lucie where the two women lived, and they gave her power of attorney after they moved from the facility, according to a warrant affidavit.

A power of attorney allows someone to handle the finances of another person for that person’s benefit, but Millet used the credit cards for her own benefit, the affidavit said.

The godson of one of the women called the Florida Division of Children and Families after seeing the high card balances, it said, and DCF called police in June.

Millet told police she had permission to use the cards as compensation for her assistance as long as she paid the money back, and said she was working on repayment, it said.

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PSL woman charged with exploiting elderly

Friday, October 16, 2015

Wrenching case of man dying in Austin hospital spurs feud over care

Sam Varghese
At the end of a loved one’s life, the family dynamic can become volatile when members disagree on withdrawing care — especially when the dying person was in the midst of getting a divorce.

That was the situation for 46-year-old Sam Varghese, a Sugar Land dentist, who choked while eating a steak dinner with his parents and adult son in Austin on May 9, a lawyer said. Varghese’s brain was deprived of oxygen, and he was left in a coma at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Doctors determined his condition was terminal and irreversible. They said ongoing care would be futile and recommended removing him from a ventilator Friday evening — when a court’s restraining order was to expire — with the agreement of Sam’s wife and their 19-year-old son.

Sam’s case reflects the wrenching and sometimes public battles that can occur when family members disagree about whether to stop providing life support or other care near life’s end. It also points to problems overwrought families face when a loved one has left no living will, called an Advance Directive in Texas. Sam’s pending divorce adds yet another layer of complication.

Sam’s brother, Sajan, sought to be named guardian and fiercely resisted withdrawing care.

“We need time to nurse him back to life,” Sajan said Friday afternoon. He lives in New York and said he is a medical doctor but is engaged in research, not clinical practice.

Sajan asked Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman to stop Sam’s wife of more than 20 years, Aji Thankachan Varghese, from becoming his brother’s guardian. Sajan argued in a court affidavit that Aji had “an inherent conflict of interest” because of a “contentious divorce proceeding.”

“Aji appears to want life sustaining care withdrawn as soon as possible and at all costs,” Sajan wrote in the affidavit. “She has also mentioned that as a nurse, she doesn’t make much money and that she is a beneficiary of my brother’s life insurance policy.”

Herman named Sam’s son, Jonathan, a University of Texas student, as guardian. Sam also has a 17-year-old daughter with his wife.

Aji’s lawyer strenuously disputed that his client had any desire to quicken Sam’s death or go after his money.

“Aji, I truly believe, was doing her absolute best, divorce or not,” said Gregory Godkin, her Austin lawyer. She’s a registered nurse at UT’s MD Anderson Cancer Center and has been at her husband’s side since he went from dining at the Four Seasons to the hospital two weeks ago, he said.

Godkin, whom Aji allowed to speak on her behalf, said Sajan presented no evidence to prove she was motivated to quicken her husband’s death.

“There hasn’t been a dispute. Aji has followed the doctor’s recommendations from the beginning,” Godkin said. “We wish there was something new that could help.”

Godkin said Aji was prepared to call witnesses who would testify that Sam had said he never wanted to be kept alive on life support. “Unfortunately, there was no Advance Directive,” Godkin said.
“That’s the big lesson to all of us.”

Sajan, who also has been in Austin since his older brother’s hospitalization, believes an experimental stem cell therapy that he said benefited a patient in Miami might also help his brother.

“I want six weeks done so the brain will heal by itself and then go to the stem cell treatment in Miami or some other facility,” said Sajan, adding that he also offered to take over as caregiver.

Godkin said he has seen no evidence of a possible treatment, and asked that if there were one, why wouldn’t the local doctors pursue it?

Sajan’s lawyer, Sandy Bayne of Austin, said she couldn’t speak to the treatment but asked, “Why this kind of rush?”

“I had six or seven letters saying he was a fighter and loved life,” Bayne said. “I had cousins driving in from out of town, showing me text messages in which he said, ‘Now that I am separated from Aji, I am so happy.’”

She said she believes Sam’s son was acting under his mother’s influence.

Jonathan’s lawyer, Wesley Prewitt of Austin, said his client is “very responsible, and he is not taking this lightly.”

“He is aware of all of the family’s thoughts and concerns, and he’s relying on the advice of doctors,” Prewitt said. “He feels he knows what his father wants. Beyond that, it’s just a very personal matter.”
Godkin said he does not believe anyone in the case was acting with ill will. “People think what they are doing is best. That’s why these cases are so contentious. It makes it so difficult because you have all of these raw emotions.”

He also got a wakeup call. Godkin said that by the end of next week, he’ll be filing his own Advance Directive.

Update: Sam Varghese died at 9:10 p.m. Friday at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

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Wrenching case of man dying in Austin hospital spurs feud over care

Elder abuse task force’s report will be done soon

South Dakota’s special task force on elder abuse gathers Oct. 29 to discuss its final report.

Based on the statistics, findings and recommendations that comprise the core of the draft, this promises to be a call to action across South Dakota.

Drawing on real situations in South Dakota and upon proven practices in other states, the report will lay out changes to be made.

Accomplishing the reforms identified in the report will demand a stronger focus on elderly protections from the Legislature, the state’s courts, the state’s attorney general, the governor, local law enforcement, banks, lawyers and care givers.

The take-away is South Dakota has a long way to go to in protecting older citizens.

David Gilbertson, chief justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court, called for the study during his State of the Judiciary speech to the Legislature in January.

An earlier attempt by Gilbertson to put elder abuse on the political agenda went unheeded. This time, Sen. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, took up the issue.

Legislation sponsored by Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, led to establishing the task force.

With the Legislature’s approval came the chief justice’s offer for the Unified Judicial System to fund and lead the work.

In his speech to the Legislature, Gilbertson used the word tsunami to describe the problem. Based on demographic trends in the draft, tsunami wasn’t too strong.

Presuming the final report is generally similar to the draft version, the task force will present a set of recommendations for achieving much stronger protection of elderly people in South Dakota.

Next will be action by the Legislature in the 2016 session that starts Jan. 12.

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Elder abuse task force’s report will be done soon

City-County councilors ask questions about FBI raid involving American Senior Communities

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 17, 2015) -- City-county councillors had a lot of questions for the city-funded corporation that has ties to an FBI raid during a budget meeting Thursday.

The Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County presented its budget to a council committee. Before it even began the presentation, CEO Matthew Gutwein addressed the raid.

"We’ve had a relationship with American Senior Communities for 13 years," Gutwein said.

American Senior Communities' CEO was the target of an FBI raid this week, with documents removed from his Carmel home and southside office.

ASC runs all 78 of the nursing homes owned by HHC as part of a contractual agreement. Gutwein assured councillors that the raid had nothing to do with his company, which also owns Eskenazi Hospital and the Marion County Public Health Department.

"We are assured that Health and Hospital and its employees are not the subject or target of this investigation," Gutwein said.

Councillor Frank Mascari was one of those asking questions. He said that his worry is what the raid could do to taxpayers and patients.

"Nobody knows what really is happening right now," Mascari said.

Gutwein didn't say much about the investigation itself, telling councillors that it's too early to know if it could affect the two companies' relationship. He instead focused on what HHC is doing for the seniors in those homes.

For his part, Mascari said he doesn't think HHC was involved.

"Absolutely not. That ship is run so cleanly, there’s no way that happened, no way. Those folks are the finest people I’ve ever met," Mascari said.

"We are working very closely with the federal authorities to ensure that the investigation is successful," Gutwein said.

The FBI has still not confirmed what it was looking for in the raid or whether a criminal investigation is underway.

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City-County councilors ask questions about FBI raid involving American Senior Communities

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Volunteers needed for little-known guardian program

With the number of Virginia residents in need of a volunteer guardian growing by 85 percent over the past five years, social service departments in the Lynchburg area have had to look for new ways to recruit people about a volunteer program most have never heard of.

“Most people don’t know there is a need within their own community for someone to step in and be that decision-maker,” said Tracey Ballagh, of the Lynchburg Department of Human Services.

When an individual no longer can make informed decisions that keep them safe, courts in Virginia can appoint a guardian to make decisions about that person’s health, diet, residence and social activity. Conservators deal with their finances. Right now, there are more than 300 individuals in Lynchburg and the surrounding counties who have guardians.

“It’s a very big responsibility,” said Becky Neilans, adult service supervisor for Lynchburg Department of Human Services, who said she understands why some may be hesitant to step forward. The appointment is a long-term commitment — clients currently in the program range in age from 18 to 95 — and relationship is one only the courts can sever.

“They could outlive you and that’s a lot of years that you’re going to be the decision-maker for that individual,” Neilans said, adding guardians are unpaid volunteers.

Fran Briley, a public guardian for two individuals in Lynchburg, has cared for as many as three at one time. While it can be heartbreaking at times, she enjoys it.

“The work that is involved is really small compared to the good that is being done,” said Briley, who now helps a man in his 80s and a middle-aged man with a mental disability and cerebral palsy. Like most of those in Virginia’s guardianship system, neither had family willing or able to be their surrogate decision-maker.

Briley’s clients are two of the 70 in Lynchburgwho have court-appointed guardians.

Bedford County has 106 clients under guardianship, while Amherst County has 105 and Campbell County, 37.

“Most don’t have family and that’s how we end up in a bind,” said Robin Zimmerman, adult services supervisor for Bedford County Department of Social Services.  (Continue Reading)

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Volunteers needed for little-known guardian program

Editorial: Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability a Public Health Crisis

The 80–year-old retiree had been swindled. In a videotaped court deposition, he tearfully recounted how he had entrusted a financial advisor whom he had just met to invest his retirement checks. The retiree wasn't cognitively impaired. He didn't have dementia. So what compelled him to hand over his nest egg to a complete stranger who then deposited it into her personal bank account?

Dr. Mark Lachs
Photo credit: A. Kinloch
According to Dr. Mark Lachs, The Irene F. and I. Roy Psaty Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, the man — who was not Dr. Lachs' patient but whose deposition was used to prosecute and convict the financial advisor — likely had age-associated financial vulnerability or AAFV, a newly defined pattern of imprudent financial decision-making that begins at a late age and puts older adults at risk for material losses that could decimate their quality of life. In a new commentary he co-authored for the Oct. 13 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Lachs advocates framing AAFV as a possible clinical syndrome that warrants research, protective public policies and heightened awareness among physicians. Dr. Lachs serves as a paid consultant and medical expert witness on the topic of elder abuse.

"AAFV is a public health crisis for patients and families," Dr. Lachs said, because it can increase seniors' susceptibility to financial exploitation — the most common form of elder abuse and a risk factor for adverse health outcomes like depression and mortality. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that one in 10 Americans ages 60 and older experience some form of elder abuse during the course of a year. Self-reported financial exploitation occurred at a rate of 42.1 per 1,000 people in a 2011 survey of more than 4,000 older New Yorkers and their proxies. "Everyone I speak to has an elderly parent or friend who's had money taken from them."

A lifetime of ill-considered spending does not predict AAFV, he said. Rather, the overlap of aging-related changes in the brain, exploiters' easy access to life savings or other sources of wealth, and the onslaught of marketing schemes and financial products and services targeting older adults contribute to the condition's late onset.

Although mild cognitive impairment is a risk factor, AAFV can occur without any measurable cognitive impairment, dementing illness or other neurodegenerative diagnosis.

"We've all encountered patients who seem to be cognitively normal and have normal neuropsychological testing but continue to make very poor and unsound financial decisions," said Dr. Lachs, a geriatrician who co-directs the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, and heads Weill Cornell Medicine's Center for Aging Research and Clinical Care, as well as geriatrics for the NewYork-Presbyterian Health System.

Social isolation and medical illness are risk factors, since they feed the loneliness and desperation that can predispose older adults to financial exploitation. But Dr. Lachs and his co-author, Dr. S. Duke Han of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, draw an important distinction between AAFV and financial exploitation: The former is a potential condition; the latter is the potential outcome.

Although there is no direct way to measure the prevalence of AAFV, Dr. Lachs found that he could indirectly quantify it by measuring the prevalence of financial exploitation, "keeping in mind that not all people with AAFV are financially exploited." In a recent telephone survey that he conducted with Cornell University in Ithaca, The New York City Department for the Aging and Lifespan of Greater Rochester, 4.7 percent of more than 4,000 New York State adults who represent a cross-section of the state's population reported having experienced some type of financial exploitation since turning 60. This result may actually underestimate the prevalence of AAFV, Dr. Lachs said, since adults with significant cognitive or other impairments did not participate in the survey. Moreover, those who may lack insight into their vulnerability for financial exploitation may be unlikely to self-report, he noted.

Establishing AAFV as a clinical syndrome will require more research to determine who is at risk and why. Research may also support the development of evidence-based tools for screening and intervention. Moreover, giving AAFV a formal clinical designation may advance policies that protect seniors from financial exploitation. In the meantime, physicians' recognition of the condition could help them prevent their older patients from making life-destroying financial decisions.

"Given the public health and policy implications of AAFV," Dr. Lachs said, "a rigorous debate must begin on how to balance protection of older adults with the autonomy afforded to all citizens."

Full Article & Source:
Editorial: Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability a Public Health Crisis

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Broken - The Fallout From Guardianship

AAAPG has produced a documentary "BROKEN--the fallout from Guardianship" featuring numerous first-hand stories of abuse from our members and their families. This full length video tells the stories of how abusive guardians destroy estates, families and lives in graphic detail from cases across America. It explains how the system designed to protect the vulnerable has been twisted into a highly lucrative industry that exploits them instead.

Broken - The Fallout From Guardianship

Petoskey lawyer took trips, fixed his cottage with pilfered funds

Michael Aho Kennedy
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- A disbarred attorney from Petoskey accused of financing lavish vacations and home repairs with an elderly client's money is facing new charges of mail fraud and tax evasion.

Michael Aho Kennedy, 67, was indicted Thursday on federal charges linked to the disappearance of an estimated $1.2 million from a long-time family friend and client, who died in August from Alzheimer's disease.

Kennedy used the money to buy a horse, fix his cottage, pay college tuition bills and to finance family vacations to Madrid, Turkey and Tahiti, the federal indictment alleges. He's also accused of using the woman's money to pay his taxes.

Kennedy already faces up to 20 years in prison on state charges of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult. He was arraigned in a Petoskey courtroom on Monday.

The federal indictment sheds more light on the scope of the alleged financial crimes against Virginia R. Weber, a longtime friend of the Kennedy family who appointed him trustee of her trust account in July, 2006.

At the time, Weber's savings and investments had a value of nearly $1 million, federal court records show.

Kennedy regularly withdrew money from the widowed woman's bank accounts and paid her monthly bills, but also channeled money to a separate business account for his law practice, the government says.

Kennedy mailed Weber five account statements between Nov. 2010 and March, 2012 showing a trust balance that averaged slightly more than $1 million, even though Bank of Northern Michigan statements showed the account was empty, federal documents show.

In addition to mail fraud, Kennedy is charged with understating his adjusted gross income by an average of $292,600 over a three-year period, court records show.

His made an average of about $47,600 over the three-year period, but the undeclared balance "was actually money that he embezzled from the trust,'' the indictment alleges.

The government has launched forfeiture proceedings against Kennedy's home on Hill Crest Drive in Petoskey and is seeking $1.2 million, less whatever proceeds it gets for the house.

The Internal Revenue Service contacted the woman's family in 2012 regarding investments Kennedy had selected for her living trust. Investigators believe the embezzlement dated to 2006 but state charges were limited by the statute of limitations.

Kennedy was disbarred last March. He was arraigned Monday in Emmet County District Court on charges including one count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult of over $100,000 and one count of embezzlement by a trustee of over $100,000, both 20-year felonies. Kennedy's bond was set at $100,000 cash.

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Petoskey lawyer took trips, fixed his cottage with pilfered funds

Pretrial hearings paving way for trial of Augusta woman accused of exploitation of an elderly person

A woman accused of taking advantage of a 96-year-old dementia patient by helping herself to the elderly woman’s bank account is headed to trial next month.

An Oct. 12 trial date in Richmond County Superior Court is set for Patsy Sheppard, 59. She has pleaded not guilty to three counts of exploitation of an elderly person and one count of attempted exploitation of an elderly person.

At a Tuesday afternoon hearing, attorneys sparred over discovery issues and what evidence should be admissible at trial. Sheppard is accused of taking more than $22,000 from the bank accounts of Ophelia Beard last year. Beard died Dec. 23, not long after Sheppard was indicted.

The documented evidence includes 1,300 pages of bank documents. Defense attorney Kim Wilder complained the accusations lodged in the indictment itself are so vague that it’s impossible to know what acts she is supposed to defend Sheppard against.

On behalf of the state, Assistant Attorney General Lyndie Freeman sought discovery from the defense – names and contact information for possible witnesses and copies of any records the defense intends to use.

While the defense has until five days before trial to provide discovery, Freeman protested that a last minute dump of information would leave the state at an unfair disadvantage. Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. assured both attorneys that he would not let either side be ambushed.

Freeman said in addition to bank records and footage of security video from banks, she would have witnesses testify about Beard’s state of mind last year.

One potential problem area might be Freeman’s intention to call a bank employee who could testify that when she became suspicious about Sheppard, she asked Beard who Sheppard was and Beard said she didn’t know.

The hearing in the case will continue next week. The trial is expected to last for more than a week.

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Pretrial hearings paving way for trial of Augusta woman accused of exploitation of an elderly person

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Financial Elder Abuse Costs $3 Billion a Year. Or Is It $36 Billion?

Financial elder abuse—broadly defined as the illegal or improper use of the funds, property, or assets of people 60 and older by family, friends, neighbors, and strangers—costs older people and their families billions of dollars. But how many billions? That's subject to debate.

When Consumer Reports recently reported on elder financial fraud, Lies, Secrets, and Scams: How to Prevent Elder Abuse, we used the number $3 billion. It comes from a study published in 2011 by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, in collaboration with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the Center for Geronotology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

We rounded up from that study's estimate of $2.9 billion annually (see page 2 of the download).

The MetLife study's methodology involved reviewing news articles mentioning elder financial abuse committed by strangers; family, friends, and neighbors; and the business sector, as well as Medicaid and Medicare fraud.

We chose that figure because a number of experts we interviewed thought it was a credible figure.

But they—and an author of the study—admitted to us when we first reported it a couple of years ago that the figure probably represents the tip of the iceberg. The figure is probably far larger than that.

Other, Much Higher Estimates

At the other end of the scale, TrueLink, a company that provides account-monitoring software for elders and their families, has projected that financial elder abuse costs families more than $36 billion a year, 12 times the MetLife estimate. TrueLink arrived at its estimate by surveying family caregivers of older people. TrueLink CEO Kai Stinchcombe says that abuse committed by strangers—the main topic of our article—is more than $29 billion.

The TrueLink study used a broad definition of financial elder abuse. It included exploitation (about $17 billion), in which fraudsters operate openly, claiming victims' consent; examples are quack weight loss or dietary products, work-from-home schemes, hidden shipping and handling or subscriptions, and misleading financial advice. It also included a loss of $12.76 billion from criminal fraud (anonymous con artists and identity thieves), and $6.67 billion from abuse by caregivers: family members, and others exploiting a trusting relationship.

These figures were compelling, especially given that TrueLink consulted experts from the respected Financial Fraud Research Center at the Stanford Center on Longevity. When I spoke with Martha Deevy, director of the center's financial security division, however, she noted that she and her colleagues didn't write the survey. "We gave them input regarding how to frame the questions," she said. "We believe the challenge with the TrueLink numbers was the way they extrapolated and generalized across the population and think that should have been questioned in a peer-reviewed journal."

On the other hand, Deevy noted, the MetLife results may have been too conservative. "I think they leaned on the pieces of evidence they could authentically count," she said. "But people misrepresent how much they lost. A large percentage of victims are not reporting at all."

A problem with both estimates, Deevy says, is that there's no standardized way to define fraud types. She and her colleagues are working on a taxonomy that she hopes will be used by all professionals who deal in the field, including researchers; law enforcement; consumer protection advocates; and adult protective services workers.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Financial Elder Abuse Costs $3 Billion a Year. Or Is It $36 Billion?

Pennsylvania's top prosecutor says justice violated ethics

HARRISBURG, Pa. —A day after being charged with a second perjury count, Pennsylvania's attorney general said Friday she had reported a state Supreme Court justice for possible ethics violations, citing pornographic, racially offensive or otherwise inappropriate emails he received that were recovered from her office's computer servers.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane released one of several letters she sent Wednesday about Justice Michael Eakin to various state ethics agencies in the latest stage of a year-old pornographic email scandal that has spurred a wave of resignations or firings of state officials.

In the letter, Kane wrote that the emails may run afoul of rules that judges must act in a way that promotes public confidence in the judiciary and can't take part in activities that would appear to undermine his independence, integrity and impartiality.

A state courts spokesman said Friday that it had hired a Pittsburgh law firm to look into the matter. Eakin said in a statement issued through the courts that he would cooperate with a judicial ethics investigation, but otherwise declined comment.

The emails allegedly involving Eakin were among a batch the attorney general's office said it submitted to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last fall as the pornographic email scandal began unfolding.

However, a lawyer retained by the court to review the thousands of emails between justices and the state attorney general's office from 2008 through 2012 reported finding no new improprieties at the time.

Kane's release of the letter came one day after she was charged for a second time in an ongoing criminal case against her. Montgomery County prosecutors have charged her with perjury, obstruction and other counts and accused her of leaking secret grand jury material from a 2009 investigation to a newspaper last year and then lying about it.
As she was leaving the courthouse Thursday, Kane made the bombshell allegation that pornographic emails in the scandal involve judges, U.S. attorneys, attorneys general, district attorneys and public defenders. She did not name any other names or release the emails, as she promised to do last week.

Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected as the state's top prosecutor, has tied the pornographic email scandal she uncovered to the criminal case against her. She has portrayed herself as the victim of an old boy's club determined to stop her from disclosing details about the scandal that involved figures in the state's legal and law enforcement communities.
Eakin, a Republican who joined the court in 2002, is one of the five state Supreme Court justices who voted last week to temporarily suspend Kane's law license, based on allegations in her criminal case.
The emails are allegedly linked to Eakin through a Yahoo email address he opened under the name "John Smith." Kane's spokesman said Friday that the attorney general's office submitted more than 1,000 emails involving Eakin's private email address along with complaint letters to the Court of Judicial Discipline, the State Ethics Commission, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court and the state Supreme Court.
Some of the emails were routine, Kane's spokesman said. However, Kane on Thursday described some as racially offensive and misogynistic pornography.
On Friday, the Philadelphia Daily News reported it had obtained copies of some of the emails and described them as pornographic, or as mocking gays, women, blacks or Mexicans. Several were exchanged between Eakin and a top state prosecutor, it reported.

The newspaper did not say how it had obtained the emails.

The letter Kane sent to the Court of Judicial Discipline's president judge said her office reviewed the emails after it fielded a Sept. 11 inquiry from the Daily News about emails from the Yahoo account.

Kane's letter said lawyers are required to inform appropriate authorities if a judge's action raises questions about his or her fitness for office.

This is the second time Eakin's name has come up in the scandal. Last fall, Eakin notified judicial ethics investigators after the Daily News reported that he had received two pornographic emails and one racially offensive email at the Yahoo address in 2010.

Eakin was never publicly punished.

Previous disclosures by Kane in the scandal have resulted in resignations or firings of former state prosecutors and investigators.
A colleague of Eakin's on the Supreme Court, Justice Seamus McCaffery, retired abruptly last October after a newspaper revealed his role in the email exchanges with state prosecutors and agents. (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Pennsylvania's top prosecutor says justice violated ethics

See Also:
Attorney General Kathleen Kane disciplines 61 in pornographic email case

Kane's office begins punishing workers in porn email scandal: report

Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspends Justice Seamus McCaffery

Judicial board to review McCaffery e-mails complaint

Porn Email Claims Could Trigger Discipline For Pa. Justice

Judge Boniello Accepts Appointment on Statewide Committee on Elder Abuse

State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Boniello
The Hon. Ralph A. Boniello, III, NYS Supreme Court Justice, has been appointed to a Statewide Committee on Elder Abuse.

The purpose of the Committee is to develop programs and policies to address the handling of cases involving the elderly. The goal of the Committee is to raise awareness of issues involving the elderly and to provide training on identifying the symptoms of elder abuse.

"Once elder abuse is identified, programs must be in place to immediately investigate and bring it to the attention of the proper authorities,” ", Justice Boniello said. “Authorities must be trained to handle the abuse in a quick and efficient manner. To that end, it is important to have programs in place to identify, investigate and administer issues involving elder abuse.”  

The Committee held its initial meeting on September 24, 2015, via a teleconference. The meeting had been set to take place in New York City, but concerns over scheduling due to a conflict with the Pope's visit limited physical travel.  

Judge Boniello indicated that the initial meeting involved introduction of the various committee members, discussion of each individual’s backgrounds and concerns that each wished to emphasize.   

Earlier this year the New York State Legislature passed a sweeping package of 10 bills to protect vulnerable senior citizens from predatory financial schemes and physical and emotional abuse.  The legislation would create a statewide elder abuse reporting system and increase public awareness of elder mistreatment, facilitate the prosecution of individuals who endanger the welfare of seniors, and help ensure adequate care for the elderly in long-term care facilities.  

“Senior citizens are the fastest growing demographic in the nation today,” NYS State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “Here in New York, it is vital that we do all we can to protect them from neglect and abuse and ensure that they receive the best, most appropriate care.  With these bipartisan measures, we take the next step forward in addressing the concerns of seniors and their families across the state.” 

About 15 percent of the US population is comprised of people 65 years or older. 

By 2050, people age 65 years or older are projected to comprise 20 percent of the United States’ population.  Data from Adult Protective Services agencies indicate a national increase in reports of elder abuse.  However, a New York State study on the prevalence of elder abuse found that for every case known to programs and agencies, an estimated 24 were unreported.  A national study found that approximately 90 percent of elder abusers were family members, most often adult children, spouses, and partners.  This maltreatment takes many forms, ranging from physical and psychological abuse to financial exploitation.  

Full Article & Source:
Judge Boniello Accepts Appointment on Statewide Committee on Elder Abuse

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lawmakers Seek To Shield Seniors From Shady Guardians

Photo credit: Jeff Pachoud
TALLAHASSEE (NSF) – A Southwest Florida lawmaker is renewing a push to better protect elderly Floridians from unscrupulous guardians who take control of seniors’ assets.

The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee this week approved a bill (SB 232), filed by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, that would charge the Department of Elder Affairs with certifying and overseeing professional guardians — and disciplining those who abuse their trust.

Detert told the committee that professional guardians are a growth business in Florida but are lightly regulated.

She cited a series in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which reported in December 2014 that the number of registered professional guardians statewide had grown 1,800 percent in 11 years.

“There are predators,” Detert said. “They have kind of crawled through a crack in the law.”

Private professional guardians come into play, for example, in circumstances where families have disputes between seniors’ children. The guardians can earn $100 an hour to open mail, make appointments and pay bills — even to be present when the children came to visit.

“When you think of the power you are giving to a guardian,” Detert said. “The power to make your medical decisions, to put you on drugs, to spend your money (and) sign your checkbook.”

Private guardians often serve wealthy people, Detert said. The state also has a more heavily regulated system of public guardians who serve incapacitated people who don’t have anybody willing and able to serve as guardians.

Detert’s bill has support from the office of Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Bock, who was represented at the Senate committee meeting by Deputy Clerk Anthony Palmieri.

Since 2011, Palmieri said, the office has investigated more than 800 elder-guardianship cases, identifying “more than $4 million in unsubstantiated disbursements, missing assets and fraud” in Palm Beach County. There have been two arrests.

“Many clerks’ offices throughout the state are auditing and investigating guardianships because of this very important legislation,” Palmieri said.

Also in 2011, Palm Beach County started Florida’s — and possibly the nation’s — first hotline for elder-guardianship fraud.

Bock said in an interview that she’d gotten the idea to review private guardianships after seeing an uptick in their numbers during the economic recession. She had also noted that guardianship laws had been largely unchanged for decades at that point.

“It wasn’t on anyone’s radar screen, even though Florida has the fastest-growing elderly population per capita of any state in the United States,” Bock said.

Last spring, however, Gov. Rick Scott signed a measure by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, requiring advance notice before hearings on the appointment of emergency temporary guardians. It would also allow the mediation of guardianship disputes among family members and require the reporting of incidents of abuse, neglect and exploitation of wards by guardians.

Detert’s new bill will be considered during the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January. A similar bill unanimously cleared the Senate during the 2015 session, but died when the House adjourned three days early. House leaders had objected to the initial $3 million cost of the measure, which Detert got down to less than $1 million.

The analysis of her new bill notes that approximately 456 guardians would be regulated, but it does not show a projected cost.

Detert said she’d recruited House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, to her cause, while Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, will return as the House sponsor.

“I’ve spoken to Chair Corcoran, and he is supportive,” she said. “Rep. Ahern is doing the bill in the House, and we expect a happy conclusion this year.”

Full Article & Source:
Lawmakers Seek To Shield Seniors From Shady Guardians

MERCER: State to tackle abuse of elderly

PIERRE | South Dakota’s special task force on elder abuse gathers Oct. 29 to discuss its final report. Based on the statistics, findings and recommendations that comprise the core of the draft, this promises to be a call to action.

Drawing on real situations in South Dakota and upon proven practices in other states, the report will lay out changes to be made. Accomplishing the reforms identified in the report will demand a stronger focus on elderly protections from the Legislature, the courts, the attorney general, governor, local law enforcement, banks, lawyers and caregivers.

The takeaway is South Dakota has a long way to go to protect older citizens.

David Gilbertson, chief justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court, called for the study during his State of the Judiciary speech to the Legislature in January.

An earlier attempt by Gilbertson to put elder abuse on the political agenda went unheeded.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, led to establishing the task force. With the Legislature’s approval came the chief justice’s offer for the Unified Judicial System to fund and lead the work.

In his speech to the Legislature, Gilbertson used the word tsunami to describe the problem. Based on demographic trends in the draft, tsunami wasn’t too strong.

Presuming the final report is generally similar to the draft version, the task force will present a set of recommendations for achieving much stronger protection of elderly people in South Dakota. Next will be action by the Legislature in the 2016 session that starts Jan. 12.

The task force chairman is another Supreme Court member, Justice Steve Zinter. Six legislators serve on the panel. They are representatives Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City; Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids; Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown; and senators Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge; Bruce Rampelberg, R-Rapid City; and Novstrup.

The governor’s task force appointees are Sara Dahlin Jennings, South Dakota director for AARP; Jennifer Murray, a regional manager for adult services and aging in the state Department of Social Services; and Robert Kean, a lawyer and retired head for South Dakota Advocacy Services.

The chief justice appointed seven people including Justice Zinter. The others are: Dr. Victoria Walker, chief medical and quality officer for The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society; Quentin Riggins, an attorney who chairs the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law section for the State Bar of South Dakota; Tim Neyhart, executive director, South Dakota Advocacy Services; Dr. David Brechtelsbauer, a geriatrician, and faculty member at the USD Sanford School of Medicine; Rick Rylance, regional president for Dacotah Bank; and Kristina Schaefer, a vice president and general counsel for Fishback Financial Corp., where she is director of risk management.

Attorney General Marty Jackley appointed Paul Cremer, an assistant attorney general and the director for the office’s Medicaid fraud control unit.

They are South Dakotans of substance. So promises to be their report.

“It is probably not the final answer but I think it is an impressive start to a most serious issue,” Chief Justice Gilbertson said Friday.

Full Article & Source:
MERCER: State to tackle abuse of elderly

Fargo guardian service closes doors

FARGO – Guardian Fiduciary & Advocacy Services of Fargo, a nonprofit organization that provided guardianship and conservatorship services to vulnerable adults in the Fargo-Moorhead area for 15 years, has closed.

The organization made the announcement via a written statement.

In the statement, the organization's board of directors cited several reasons for the move, including rising operating costs, dramatically increasing insurance and bond requirements and difficulty in finding and keeping staff.

"This is a simple case of current and future expenses exceeding income," the statement said. 

Full Article & Source: 
Fargo guardian service closes doors

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Tonight on T.S. Radio: LaToya Fredericks - 3 Year Battle for Guardianship of Disabled Mother

Hosted By Marti Oakley & Debbie Dahmer

Guest will be: LaToya Fredericks - Daughter who is fighting to gain guardianship of her disabled mother who is currently residing in Milwaukee, WI. against her will.

The "Honorable" Jane V.Carroll ruled base on her OPINION and not the FACTS in favor of the guardian who abused my mother. Although this Judge heard several agency testimonies from WI Department of Aging and Community Care, and Doctor reports of abuse and neglect. She ignore all their investigation and the facts. Judge Jane V. Carroll also made her ruling before the abuser can even be questioned.

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

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Judge ends court-ordered guardianship of Amish girl in chemotherapy fight

A judge formally ended the court-ordered guardianship of an Amish girl who resisted a hospital's attempts to force her to resume chemotherapy, bringing a close to the fight that raised questions about the rights of parents in making medical decisions for their children.

The judge's decision, announced Friday, came more than a year after Sarah Hershberger's guardian gave up her efforts to force the girl into chemotherapy for leukemia. Sarah and her parents went into hiding in the fall of 2013.

Sarah, who is now 12, no longer shows signs of being sick, said Kevin Dunn, a probate judge in Medina County. A visit to her home in August found that Sarah was "active and working daily on the family farm, she appeared healthy and appropriately developed," he wrote.

But Dunn cautioned her parents that she is not fully recovered and warned that they still have a duty to provide her care under Ohio law. "Her parents are not free to act entirely as they may choose," the judge said.

Maurice Thompson, the Hershbergers' attorney, said in a statement that "Sarah's good health bolsters the case against forced health care that we supposedly cannot live without."

The court fight began in the summer of 2013, when Sarah's parents decided to halt treatments because they feared chemotherapy was killing her.

Doctors at Akron Children's Hospital said Sarah's condition was treatable, but they argued she would die within a year if she stopped chemotherapy. The hospital went to court after the family decided to treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins.

Maria Schimer, an attorney who's also a registered nurse, was given the power to make medical decisions for Sarah after an appeals court ruled the beliefs and convictions of the girl's parents couldn't outweigh the rights of the state to protect the child .

RELATED | Judge blocks Akron Children's Hospital's bid to force Ohio Amish girl to have chemo
But Schimer decided to drop the effort because it became impossible to monitor Sarah's health or make any medical decisions for her after she left home and went into hiding.

The family fled their farm in northeast Ohio's Medina County and sought treatment in Mexico before returning home after a few months.

Like most Amish, the Hershbergers shun many facets of modern life and are deeply religious. They have said they stopped chemotherapy not for religious reasons, but because it was making Sarah too sick.
Hospital officials said they were morally and legally obligated to make sure the girl received proper care.

State laws give parents a great deal of freedom when it comes to choosing medical treatment for their children, but not always when the decision could be a matter of life or death.

Full Article & Source:
Judge ends court-ordered guardianship of Amish girl in chemotherapy fight

See Also:

Guardian: Court shouldn't change Ohio Amish ruling

Ohio Amish argue against guardian in chemo case

Ohio Appeals Court Again Sides With Hospital Seeking to Send Amish Girl Back to Chemotherapy

OH Judge Delays Decision on Guardian's Request to End Effort to Forced Chemo for Amish Girl

Amish family fighting forced chemo: Allowing guardian for daughter could affect other parents

Perryville couple arrested for alleged identify theft, exploiting the elderly

KFVS12 News
PERRY COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A Perryville couple has been arrested after allegedly exploiting an elderly person.

Authorities say Terry and Wendy Farless are accused of financial exploitation of the elderly, and identity theft.

Both are in jail on $15,000 cash bond.

According to the probable cause statement, at around 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 9, two people from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Division of Senior Disability Services, reported financial exploitation of an elderly/disabled person to the Perry County Sheriff's Office.

They say the victim had given power of attorney to Wendy Farless on July 16, 2014 without allegedly having seen, heard from or had any contact with her for numerous years.

The department employees said the victim moved to the Perry Oaks Nursing Home around Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, and was discharged on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.

While in the nursing home, they say Farless was advised not to worry about taking care of the victim's financials due to him still being able to take care of them.

However, they say while the victim was in the nursing home, Farless allegedly used credit cards in the victim's name to buy numerous items, which the victim did not benefit from, nor did he give Farless permission to charge to the credit cards.

According to the probable cause statement, on Dec. 30, 2014, Wendy Farless withdrew $10,000 from the victim's financial account, which she allegedly did not have permission from the victim to do.

The court documents say the $10,000 was deposited into the victim's checking account and Farless allegedly used the money to make payments on the credit card accounts she was allegedly charging amounts to.

From Dec. 23, 2014 to Jan. 29, 2015, Wendy and Terry Farless allegedly spent about $10,184.86 at a Cape Girardeau casino.

Court documents say Wendy Farless used credit cards at the casino for 15 different transactions.

Wendy Farless allegedly transferred $8,876.99 using Western Union and $1,210 using Moneygram.

Due to the above transaction being completed online, court documents state that a credit card had to be used to complete the transaction.

Wendy and Terry Farless allegedly completed the transactions using the victim's credit cards, and both allegedly took some of money.

According to subpoenaed information received from Western Union and Moneygram, the majority of the transactions were completed and received by Wendy Farless.

The victim revoked the power of attorney for Wendy Farless on Feb. 6, 2015.

The victim's attorney stated he contacted Wendy Farless by telephone on Feb. 7, 2015 and advised her to bring property back that belonged to the victim. On Feb. 10, Wendy Farless returned the requested property and was officially advised that her power of attorney over the victim had been revoked.

After her power of attorney was revoked, Wendy Farless allegedly continued to use the victim's credit cards, checking account and savings account.

Wendy and Terry Farless allegedly spent about $21,494.77 using the credit cards.

According to the probable cause statement, Wendy Farless allegedly bought numerous different items with the victim's checking account and credit cards.

The victim's wife is also in a nursing home, and according to court documents, has been for some time.

According to the probable cause statement, the victim had completed a transaction for some property he sold and there were two checks from the sale of the property. Both checks were written out to the victim and his wife's joint revocable trust, which Wendy Farless did not have authority over.

Wendy Farless allegedly signed the victim's name twice to both checks. One check was in the amount of $151,425 and the other was for $65,679.51.

The probable cause states that Farless allegedly signed her name to the checks saying she had power of attorney.

The checks were issued on Jan. 28, 2015.

According to court documents, when Wendy Farless presented the checks to be cashed, U.S. Bank and the Bank of Missouri denied the checks due to the checks not being properly endorsed.

After a request, the victim was reissued new checks.

Full Article & Source:
Perryville couple arrested for alleged identify theft, exploiting the elderly