Saturday, October 31, 2015

Learning the Unfamiliar Language of Home Care

Jeffrey Interiano & Gayle Snyder
GIVEN the tens of millions of people in retirement or about to enter it, it’s surprising how few plan for something most of them will eventually need: help doing basic tasks at home. But perhaps it is not so surprising: It’s like learning a difficult new language late in life.

Only about 1 percent of those aged 65 to 74 live in nursing homes, the Census Bureau reports. Most retirees continue to live at home as they age, even though many do not have relatives nearby to assist them as it becomes harder to handle daily activities because of declining health, mobility or cognitive difficulties.

Of those who need the help most, many won’t admit they need it or obtain assistance willingly on their own. They fear loss of independence and becoming a burden to their families. This is an issue I’m facing in my own family and it’s difficult to navigate.

For most older people, it is far preferable to stay at home rather than enter a nursing home. But it isn’t easy to make it work. Just ask Coleen Wagner, who lives in Saratoga, Calif., and has helped several relatives find home care. That includes, most recently, her mother-in-law, who was 85 and had dementia at the time. She has since died.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Learning the Unfamiliar Language of Home Care

Elder abuse

Sadly, many adults who rely on family, friends and others for help suffer at the hands of those entrusted with their care. And too often, they are afraid or unable to reach out for help.

Elder abuse comes in many forms. An older adult might be abused physically, sexually, emotionally or financially. No matter what form it takes, abuse or neglect of an older adult is wrong.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, there are no accurate statistics with regard to how many people are currently suffering from elder abuse and neglect. That’s because so many cases go unreported. Statistics do show that women are more likely to suffer abuse than men, and that the older a senior is, the more likely he or she is to become a victim.

More than half of abuse cases reported in Illinois involve financial exploitation. Active or passive neglect is the second-most common form of elder abuse in the state.

Adult Protective Services, under the authority of the Illinois Adult Protective Services Act, works to protect seniors from all forms of abuse and neglect. Through its efforts, every case of suspected abuse, neglect and financial exploitation is investigated and law enforcement intervenes whenever necessary.

Anyone can report a case of adult abuse, and certain professionals, including medical personnel and Home Helpers caregivers, are required by law to report any suspected case of abuse of neglect.

To report suspected abuse, call 1-866-800-1409. For residents in nursing facilities, call 1-800-252-4343. For residents who live in supportive living facilities, call 1-800-226-0768.

To learn more about the services Home Helpers can provide, visit

Full Article & Source:
Elder abuse

Investigative Journalist Michael Volpe on "Northshore Live" (Cooper's Corner)

Michael Volpe:  Bullied to Death

Friday, October 30, 2015

From the Front Page of the Wall Street Journal: Abuse Plagues System of Legal Guardians for Adults

One day in March 2012, 71-year-old Linda McDowell received a knock at the door of her small Vancouver, Wash., home. Ms. McDowell needed court-appointed help, the visitor told her.

It turned out that Ms. McDowell’s former housemate and companion had pushed for a court petition claiming Ms. McDowell was unable to take care of herself. The petition said Ms. McDowell had recently made an unsafe driving maneuver, had been disruptive in a doctor’s office and, in a recent phone call, had seemed confused over the whereabouts of some personal papers.

Based on the motion, a judge ordered an attorney to act as a temporary guardian with control over Ms. McDowell’s money and medical care. Ms. McDowell was also to pay for these services.

“I was shocked,” says Ms. McDowell, who once worked as a conference manager for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration before a second career in real-estate investing. “I had never met this person, and here she was telling me I basically belonged to her.”

The visit marked the start of a 30-month stretch in Washington’s guardianship system that upended her life and drained much of her $700,000 in assets. People involved in her case still disagree about whether Ms. McDowell ever needed a guardian. But by the time a judge decided that one wasn’t necessary, the value of her assets had dropped by about $470,000, much of which was spent on several guardians and related expenses, court and bank records show.

“My savings are gone,” says Ms. McDowell, now living in a motor home near Sequim, Wash., with her dog, Sam. “They took everything.”

For decades, states have granted courts the power to appoint guardians or conservators for elderly or disabled people unable to tend to their basic needs. Most appointed guardians are family members, but judges can turn to a growing industry of professional, unrelated guardians.

The caretakers’ authority varies by case and jurisdiction, but often they are granted broad authority over a ward’s finances, medical care and living conditions. Unlike a power of attorney, which one person can grant to another and revoke at any time, guardianship is established by a judge and can only be revoked by the court.

Because guardianship systems vary by state and county and record-keeping systems are inconsistent, precise national data is unavailable. But the roughly 1.5 million adult guardianships in the U.S. involve an estimated $273 billion in assets, according to Anthony Palmieri, auditor for the guardianship fraud program in Palm Beach County, Fla.

According to a survey on guardianship conducted last year by the Administrative Conference of the United States, a federal agency, 64% of the 855 judges and staff who responded said their courts had taken action against at least one guardian for misconduct-related issues in the previous three years.

Guardians across the country have faced prosecution for wrongdoing in the past year. In July, Stephen Grisham, a guardian in Minneapolis, was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay restitution of nearly $160,000 after pleading guilty to stealing from his wards. He is “a very good person who made a horrible mistake,” says his attorney, Thomas Plunkett.

The problems are more urgent as aging baby boomers cause the population of seniors nearly to double by 2050, according to Census estimates. In New Jersey, the number of adult guardianships added annually increased 21% from 2009 to 2014, to 2,689 cases.

Guardians properly supervised by courts typically do a good job protecting elderly people from exploitation by acquaintances and others, says Catherine Seal, a guardianship attorney in Colorado Springs, Colo., and president-elect of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. “The worst cases that I see are the ones where there is no guardian,” she says.

In one case Ms. Seal handled several years ago, she says an elderly woman was befriended by a neighbor who persuaded her to buy a condo and include the neighbor’s name on the title. A year later, the neighbor had the woman transfer full ownership to her and moved in to the unit. After Ms. Seal was appointed conservator, she sold the condo and recovered the investment for the elderly woman.

Expenses that arise as a result of a guardianship, including lawyers for both the guardians and wards, typically get paid from the ward’s assets. (In some jurisdictions, there is a public guardian’s office that handles cases for indigent clients.) The financial arrangement, critics say, encourages lawyers and guardians to perpetuate guardianships indefinitely.

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Abuse Plagues System of Legal Guardians for Adults

Sheldon Silver’s corrupt empire falls as cronies exit public life

Sheldon Silver
One minute you’re the king of New York, never mind what Andrew Cuomo thinks, and 10 months later it’s all dust — your lawyers are preparing for a trial that could send you to prison for a very long time, and your friends in high places are falling over like bowling pins.

The announcement that Merryl Tisch will be standing down as chancellor of the state Board of Regents — the most powerful position in New York education — marks an end to whatever lingering influence former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may have had over public affairs in the Empire State.

Similarly, the pending retirement of Court of Appeals Chief Justice (and trial-lawyer partisan) Jonathan Lippman removes Silver’s once extremely influential hand from the state court system.

Both Tisch and Lippman grew up on the Lower East Side with Silver — the one-time master of all that mattered in Albany and clearly a man who both treasured loyalty and rewarded old relationships.

Tisch owed her elevation to the chancellorship to a quirk in the state Constitution that effectively vests control of the Board of Regents in the incumbent speaker — a power Silver exercised with ruthless competence.

Lippman benefited from the outsized influence Silver brought to all politics in New York during a period when lassitude, followed by explosive scandal and then breathtaking bumbling, reduced the state’s executive branch to near impotence.

There is no small irony in the fact that Silver’s alleged abuse of the trial courts — US Attorney Preet Bharara charges that Silver abused his high office to corruptly make it rain for the power-house tort firm Weitz & Luxenberg — led to his own indictment.

Silver is scheduled to go on trial next week on seven charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, money-laundering and extortion connected with what the indictment terms “monetary transactions involving criminal proceeds” of at least $4 million. The former speaker will sit there as witness after witness testifies that Shelly traded legislative favor X for “legal fee” Y, among other humiliations.

But there is no doubt that before it all went south, the empire Sheldon Silver created was very, very good to him.

It extended far beyond Tisch and Lippman, of course. The same constitutional quirk that led to her chancellorship, for example, allowed the speaker to hand-pick state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli after then-incumbent Alan Hevesi left office en route to his own prison term.

But let’s stick with Silver’s LES cronies.

Lippman, who’s leaving the court only because he’s reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, not only was tort-bar friendly. He also championed the sort of uber-liberal policies that Silver’s left-leaning Assembly conference was so appreciative of.

Tisch, who talks as tough a game as anyone on education standards and teacher evaluations, somehow always manages to resolve issues in ways that the state’s fundamentally corrupt teachers unions find unobjectionable.

To be fair, both Lippmann and Tisch have been bright, competent partisans for intellectually defensible points of view. It’s just that those viewpoints aligned with Silver’s interests far too often to be coincidental.

And that — the federal penal code aside — is arguably Silver’s most objectionable offense: He turned an entire branch of government to his personal advantage. So it shouldn’t surprise that he decided to make big bucks on the side — as Bharara alleges.

Whether there is substance to those charges will be resolved beginning next week, in a federal courthouse. Whatever the outcome, though, two things seem beyond dispute.

One is that there most likely will never be another Sheldon Silver — or, rather, another New York legislator who possesses the intelligence, skill, patience and ethical indifference needed to construct an empire of the sort the former speaker ran for more than two decades.

The other — and this is essentially just a sidebar: The departure of Merryl Tisch and Jonathon Lippman from public life is every bit as epoch-ending as Silver’s exit.

Happily for them, no handcuffs will be involved.

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Sheldon Silver’s corrupt empire falls as cronies exit public life

Khloe Kardashian 'has zero control over who can visit Lamar Odom in LA hospital' even though his father Joe has accused the star of blocking him

Lamar Odom's father Joe was livid on Wednesday evening when he was not permitted to see his son, who is at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles as he recovers from an October 13 overdose at a Nevada brothel.

The patriarch ranted to TMZ that Khloe Kardashian is to blame for blocking him at the facility, even though he had flown out from Las Vegas just to see the former NBA great, who needs a new kidney.

But a source has told that the 31-year-old E! star has 'zero control over who can visit Lamar at the LA hospital' and she was not even at the facility when Joe came by. (Continue Reading & watching other video)

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Khloe Kardashian 'has zero control over who can visit Lamar Odom in LA hospital' even though his father Joe has accused the star of blocking him

Florida State University to study elder financial exploitation in The Villages

The Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice in partnership with Merrill Lynch and Seniors vs. Crime, will be conducting research on elder financial exploitation in The Villages.

To kick off their research, the College will be holding Town Hall Meetings on financial fraud at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9 at Eisenhower Recreation Center and at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Savannah Center.

Residents of The Villages are encouraged to attend one of the two Town Hall Meetings to learn about financial fraud occurring in The Villages, how to report financial fraud, and prevention tips from Seniors vs. Crime.

Thomas Blomberg, dean and executive director

Additionally, the Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice will be conducting surveys about residents’ experience with financial fraud. Interested residents will be asked to participate in upcoming focus groups and interviews that the college will be conducting.

The college will use the information collected from surveys, focus groups, and interviews to gain insight into financial exploitation victimization and avoidance. The study’s focus will be on identifying some of the salient risk and protective factors associated with elder financial exploitation.

“We believe that what we know in official statistics is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Thomas Blomberg, dean and executive director of the Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research. “We want to have a better empirically valid description of how extensive this problem is. In order to develop a better identification of risk and prevention tactics we have got to get a better indicator of the incidents and then the characteristics of those who are victims of fraud and those who are not.”

To find out more contact The Village’s Seniors vs. Crime office at (352) 689-4600 Ext. 4606.

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Florida State University to study elder financial exploitation in The Villages

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Former clerk Kim Birge sentenced to six years in federal custody, ordered to make restitution

By Jan Skutch

Former Chatham County Probate Court Chief Clerk Kim Birge on Friday was sentenced to six years in federal prison and ordered to make restitution of more than $751,000 for her admissions to stealing $232,000 from the court.

U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. also ordered Birge, 61, to serve three years supervised release after completion of her custody term but imposed no fine citing her inability to pay.

There is no parole in a federal sentence.

She will have until 2 p.m. on Nov. 20 to report to a federal facility designated for custody.

Birge, standing with attorney Tom Withers, told Moore that she “wanted to ask forgiveness for everybody who has been affected by my wrongdoing.

“I am ashamed and embarrassed.”

But she asked Moore to consider her efforts to beat the twin problems of pain medication and gambling addiction and said, “I never meant to hurt anyone.”

“I promise to you that I will never let anyone down again,” Birge said.

“This is atrocious,” Clarence Bynes Jr., who was one of Birge’s 33 individual victims, told Moore.

“There was no fear here. … This was just greed. Why would anyone do this to young kids. … Ms. Birge should be ashamed.”

He told the judge he lost $217,000 with Probate Court from the sale of his father’s house. He did not learn of the theft until the day he went to claim the money and was told his money was gone.

“I’m sorry. I don’t see no leniency. … Your honor, this is not fair,” Bynes said.

His testimony, one of three victims to address the court, came after Birge’s sister-in-law, Karen Birge Lang, testified the family could not believe her conduct.

“Everyone depended on her,” Lang said. “Obviously she’s been under a lot of stress for a number of years.”

Birge’s father, Robert Helmey, also testified he did not know what had occurred.

“I don’t know. It’s not Kim,” he said. “I ask for a second chance in life for her.”

Birge pleaded guilty on July 31 to stealing $232,000 from the court as part of a scheme in which the government said she stole more than $750,000 over a three-year period.

As part of the plea to the mail fraud count, prosecutors dismissed the remaining counts in the indictment.

A pre-sentencing investigation identified 33 individual victims, two estates and Chatham County Probate Court that suffered loses as the result of her conduct.

Moore said the 36 victims suffered actual loses, adding that none of the funds ever belonged to the court.

The issue then was “who paid what money to whom,” Moore said.

He set the actual restitution in the case at $751,715.95.

‘Life spiraled out of control’

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scarlett Nokes told Moore that despite Birge’s battles with both drugs since 2008 and gambling excesses since 2003, she did not seek help until her crimes were discovered.

The case was in court because Birge victimized people who were trusting her to do her job, Nokes said.

But, Nokes said, the government was standing by its agreement in the negotiated plea to recommend that she be sentenced at the low end of the sentencing guidelines of 63 months.

The recommended sentencing guidelines were 63-78 months, with the final sentence Moore’s alone.

Under the terms of her negotiated plea with the government, Birge pleaded guilty to count three of a five-count indictment, charging her with mail fraud and federal program fraud in the scheme the government said lasted between January 2011 and November 2011.

But under federal sentencing guidelines, probation officers can consider all alleged misconduct — including dismissed counts — in reaching their recommendations to the judge.

During Birge’s appearance in court, the judge said he found it a mystery that the 342 checks she had written to cash, 322 were checks for less than $3,000 and only 20 in excess of that number.

Birge explained that Probate Judge Harris Lewis had told her she did not have to get permission to write checks of $2,900 or less.

When Moore suggested that her conduct suggested she had a reason for the check sums, Birge responded, “I didn’t try to hide anything from anyone. … Much of the time I didn’t know what I was doing.

“I can’t explain why I did what I did and I’m sorry and I just pray for mercy.”

And Birge said that despite the probation report finding only an audit of the court in 2009. “That’s not true. We were audited every year. Every year they come in my office and sat in the record room and audited our records,” Birge said.

Probation officials only found a 2009 audit and one in 2014.

The count to which she pleaded charged that between Sept. 21, 2011, and Oct. 18, 2011, a check for $232,000 payable to the Chatham County Probate Court was among those she used for herself.

In his pre-sentencing memorandum, Withers told Moore his client’s life spun out of control because of painkiller drugs and gambling, leaving her “shamed and a lifetime of good works destroyed.”

“Kim was unable to handle the losses and stressors in her life and instead of seeking help, she turned to drugs and gambling,” Withers said. “She would disappear into a world of addiction, and her life spiraled out of control.

“Ultimately, Kim became addicted to the prescription opioids she was taking for pain management. Kim became seriously addicted to video game gambling in convenience stores both near her work and home.”

Full Article & Source:
Former clerk Kim Birge sentenced to six years in federal custody, ordered to make restitution

See Also:
UPDATE: Ex-Probate clerk Kim Birge to plead guilty in theft case on Friday

Kim Birge pleads not guilty to Probate Court fraud charges 

Former Probate Court clerk Kim Birge indicted in theft of more than $700,000 from the court

Brooklyn Judge Resigning Amid Questions About Payments to Her Clerk

Yvonne Lewis
A Brooklyn judge with nearly 30 years on the bench resigned after being accused of improperly approving payments to her clerk for the clerk’s work as a court-appointed lawyer, officials announced on Thursday.

The judge, Yvonne Lewis of State Supreme Court, had also been charged with improperly presiding over guardianship cases in which her clerk, Kimberly L. Detherage, was also the court-appointed guardian.

“A judge shouldn’t play any role in any fiduciary case at the point that the person she hires is involved,” said Robert H. Tembeckjian, administrator of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which disciplines judges in New York.

Fiduciary cases in State Supreme Court, where judges have the power to assign private lawyers to lucrative posts as guardians for the young, elderly or infirm, have long been a magnet for patronage and the appearance of conflicts of interest — and the subject of periodic reform efforts.

Justice Lewis, 70, was elected to Civil Court in 1987 and has been an elected State Supreme Court justice since 1991. Her current term would have expired at the end of 2016.

She hired Ms. Detherage as her law clerk in 2009, the commission said. In 2013, after an article in The New York Post, the commission began investigating allegations that Justice Lewis had approved payments to Ms. Detherage for work she did as a guardian on cases being heard by other judges.

The commission said it opened a second investigation last year after the inspector general of the state courts alleged that Justice Lewis improperly presided over three cases where Ms. Detherage worked as a guardian and approved a guardianship payment to Ms. Detherage after hiring her as her full-time clerk.

“The moment she hires Detherage, she has to take herself off any matter involving Detherage,” Mr. Tembeckjian said.

The commission declined to reveal the amounts of the payments to Ms. Detherage that Justice Lewis was charged with improperly approving; figures for those payments could not be found on the state court system website.

From 2003 to 2008, before hiring Ms. Detherage, the website shows, Justice Lewis appointed her in at least 26 cases and approved at least $97,000 in fees.

Justice Lewis “denied certain aspects of the complaints and offered explanations as to certain aspects of the complaints,” according to a stipulation signed by her and the commission. The commission said it had not evaluated those denials and explanations because the judge’s resignation, which takes effect on Dec. 31, ended the case.

Justice Lewis’s lawyer, Deborah A. Scalise, said in a statement that if the commission had continued its investigation, “Justice Lewis is confident” that the charges “would be dismissed.”

Mr. Tembeckjian disagreed. “Had the matter proceeded, there would have been formal discipline,” he said.

Ms. Detherage left Justice Lewis’s employ in 2013 and is now in private practice, Mr. Tembeckjian said. She could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ms. Detherage has also been the pastor of St. Mark A.M.E. Church in Queens since 2010, a position that court officials said was full time and could have conflicted with her full-time job as a law clerk.

Correction: October 16, 2015
An earlier version of this article misidentified the job of Kimberly L. Detherage in one reference. As the article correctly notes elsewhere, Ms. Detherage was a law clerk, not a court clerk.

Full Article & Source:
Brooklyn Judge Resigning Amid Questions About Payments to Her Clerk

2 from West Frankfort accused of taking around $100,000 from elderly woman

Jeffrey Connell
WEST FRANKFORT, IL (KFVS) - Two West Frankfort, Illinois residents are accused of exploiting the elderly.

Jeffrey M. Connell, 37, of West Frankfort, was charged with financial exploitation of the elderly.

Police say charges against Anna M. Connell, 81, of West Frankfort may also be forthcoming.

According to police, as of February 2014, an elderly widow living in West Frankfort was allegedly exploited by two acquaintances on multiple occasions.

They say according to the story from the acquaintances, this allegedly exploitation continued until October 2015, when police became involved.

Police say an alleged $100,000 was taken from the woman.

The suspects, Jeffrey and Anna Connell, were located and interviewed.

According to police, they allegedly provided false and misleading information to the victim.

Full Article & Source:
2 from West Frankfort accused of taking around $100,000 from elderly woman

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Lawmakers mull eliminating required legal counsel in some guardianship cases

Ty & Laura Anderson
FARMINGTON — The day after Ty Anderson turned 18, a mental health professional told his mother she could not longer sit in on his appointments because of federal medical privacy laws.

Ty Anderson has been diagnosed with classical autism, his mother says. He is unable to speak and can become combative if he is scared or in an unfamiliar environment.

Within a matter of minutes, Laura Anderson was summoned to the office because the evaluation was floundering. "I was told, 'I guess it would be OK for you to come in.'"

The episode was instructive, said Anderson, who is president of the Autism Council of Utah.

Her son may be an adult according to the calendar, but he is unable to talk to health care providers to make decisions about his care. He does not know how to manage money and he needs assistance with daily living skills such as bathing, food preparation and dressing.

For Anderson "to continue to be his mom," she will need to petition a court to seek guardianship of her son, who is now 19.

The process has begun and thanks to some recent changes in Utah, seeking guardianship isn't an onerous as it once was. Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, which lowered the court filing fee from $360 to $35.

The fee was an impediment for some families so they would not file the petitions. They risked being unable to act on behalf of their adult children with profound disabilities when it came time to making critical medical and financial decisions, Anderson said.

It's not something Anderson said she is willing to leave to chance.

Edwards said her goals in sponsoring the legislation and working with the state Administrative Office of the Courts was to reduce the filing fees and streamline the process of filing guardianship petitions.

"This was sort of how to attack the main problems. It's expensive. It's complex and it's a pain in the neck," she said.

The courts have significantly improved online filing processes, she said. A pool of attorneys who can represent the parties pro bono has been assembled, which should further help families.

While some people also want further changes to state law that would eliminate — in certain circumstances — the requirement that young adults also be represented by legal counsel when a guardianship petition is filed, Edwards said advocates for people with disabilities convinced her that the requirement is needed.

"It really came down to this is what makes America great: Everyone has that right to be represented as an individual," she said.

Kaye Becker, who works as a paraeducator at Davis School District's Vista Education Campus in Farmington, which serves student with a wide array of disabilties, said her household spent nearly $3,500 so she could become her 25-year-old son's guardian.

Becker said she felt strongly that her son have his own legal representation because she wanted to be sure that the process was handled correctly and that his rights were protected. Her son works part-time as a school janitor but he is hearing impaired and has intellectual disabilities.

To avoid conflicts of interest, Becker had her son pay his legal fees.

"Someone has to make sure someone is looking out for Jeremy so no one is taking advantage of him," she said.

As part of obtaining the guardianship, Becker was also able to name a successor to look after her son's medical and financial issues when she is no longer able.  (Continue Reading)

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Lawmakers mull eliminating required legal counsel in some guardianship cases

Ex-Flanders lawyer charged in theft of $75,000

A now-disbarred lawyer who used to practice in Flanders was charged Friday with using the name of a legitimate attorney in a real estate closing and stealing more than $75,000 in funds meant for the seller of the property.

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp on Friday announced that Neil Lawrence Gross, 47, of Livingston, was charged by office Detective Joseph Soulias with theft, identity theft and forgery.  He was released into his own custody, and his initial state Superior Court appearance will be scheduled for a future date.

Gross, a former partner in the Flanders-based firm Ward & Gross, was suspended from practicing law in October of 2012 and ultimately was disbarred on Oct. 21, 2014. According to state Office of Attorney Ethics records, Gross first  was suspended for failing to promptly turn over funds to a client. His disbarment that followed was related to violations of attorney ethics that included lack of diligence, failure to communicate, practicing law while suspended and failure to cooperate with ethics investigations.

In the current case, the Prosecutor's Office received a referral of an alleged theft from the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection in July. Through an investigation by the Prosecutor's Office's Financial Crimes Unit, Gross was found to have used the name of another attorney in a real estate closing that occurred in 2013, while he was suspended.

As part of the closing, Gross allegedly held more than $75,000 in a trust account but failed to disburse the funds to the seller of the property.  He instead diverted the funds to a personal account and in doing so, forged the name of the other attorney, according to the charges and the Prosecutor's Office release.

Gross also has a charge pending in Morris County of passing bad checks in Florham Park in 2014, according to court records. His attorney, Michael Fletcher, was not available Friday for comment.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-Flanders lawyer charged in theft of $75,000

Seniors home brings young and old together

Seniors home brings young and old together

This seniors home is bringing together the very young and the very old, with remarkable benefits for both.

Posted by CBC News: The National on Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Seniors home brings young and old together

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

After state sold all he had, Rockland man hopes for ‘justice’

ROCKLAND, Maine — William Dean said his head has been in a whirl since the state temporarily became his conservator three years ago and sold off one home, destroyed a second, sold off prized possessions and killed his cat.

Dean, 70, spoke publicly for the first time Monday about the series of events that led to him becoming impoverished because of the actions taken by the state while it controlled his finances for several months starting in the second half of 2012.

“My head has been in a whirlwind. It’s hard to express,” Dean said Monday from his second floor Pacific Street apartment in Rockland.

Two lawsuits filed by Dean’s conservator and his sister over the actions of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services rest in the hands of Justice Andrew Horton of the Maine Business and Consumer Court in Portland.

Dean, who has resided in the one bedroom apartment since January, said he enjoys the place because it has a view, narrow as it is, of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse and boats in the harbor.

That view, however, pales in comparison to the one he had from the cottage on Castlewood Lane in Owls Head that his parents bought in July 1953. The cottage was the place of many family gatherings, he recalled Monday.

His father, William Dean Sr., died in 1990, and his mother, Alice Dean, died in January 2012 at the age of 102.

William Dean has suffered from mental health issues throughout his life. Among other things, he has Asperger’s syndrome, which makes it difficult for him to interact socially with other people. After his mother died, Dean experienced a mental health crisis and was admitted to the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor in May 2012.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services filed a motion on Sept. 5, 2012, in probate court seeking to be named his conservator and guardian.

The state argued it needed to become conservator because Dean — who had never lived independently — was not capable of managing his finances, stating in its petition to the probate court that he had misspent more than $200,000 from a family trust, that there were tax liens on properties in Owls Head and Rockland he had inherited, and that he had other unpaid bills.

Dean’s cousin Pamela Vose, who is now Dean’s conservator, said Monday that she told a DHHS official in July 2012 she would consider being the conservator and asked that the state not appoint anyone else until she got back to them. Vose’s husband, however, suffered a heart attack that same month, and she was unable to take on the conservator responsibility until August when she telephoned DHHS to say she was ready.

Without letting Vose know, however, the state filed for conservatorship, contending there was “no suitable private party available and willing to assume such responsibilities.” A probate judge in Penobscot County approved the temporary appointment of DHHS as conservator and guardian on Sept. 6, 2012.

Before the end of the year, the state put the Owls Head cottage and the Rockland family home up for sale. Vose and Dean’s sister, Claire Dean Perry, maintain in their separate lawsuits, however, that the state made no effort to try to work with municipal officials in Owls Head or Rockland to make sure the properties would not be foreclosed on because of nonpayment of taxes. The family also argued in the lawsuits that the state could have sold enough items to cover the taxes.

Instead, in January 2013, the waterfront cottage in Owls Head was sold for $205,000, even though the town had the property — 1 acre with 100 feet of ocean frontage as well as the two-story 1,000-square-foot cottage — assessed for tax purposes at $476,840. The Maine attorney general’s office, which represents DHHS in the lawsuits, argues the Owls Head property was not worth the taxable value because of problems with septic and water systems and because it was located next to a property that was in deplorable condition.

In addition, the sale of the home — considered a second home — resulted in a capital gains tax of $31,000 being incurred by Dean.

According to court records, the state moved up the sale date of the Owls Head property by one day after the family found out about the sale and informed DHHS it would be seeking a court injunction to stop the sale.

The state also tried to sell the Rockland home on Broadway, but a pipe broke during the winter when there was no heat and caused major flooding, which then led to an outbreak of mold throughout the home, making it uninhabitable, the family has pointed out in court filings.

After being discharged in June 2013 from Dorothea Dix, Dean lived for a short while at an assisted living facility in Camden, then an apartment on Broadway in Rockland before moving into the Pacific Street apartment that has one room that serves as the living room, kitchen and dining room and one bedroom and bathroom. The main room is painted in white and light peach colors with a lot of light, which Dean said he likes.

A neighbor in the apartment complex is paid to cook meals for Dean, and someone else is paid to clean the apartment.

Because he still owns the Rockland home, the state considers the property an asset that disqualifies Dean for state assistance, even though his assets have been nearly drained. The home was assessed by the city at $177,200, but Rockland Assessor Dennis Reed said he lowered the assessment to $86,400 after going through the home and seeing the damage from the flooding.

In court papers filed earlier this year by attorney David Jenny, Dean had $654,000 worth of real estate that was free of mortgages in September 2012 but less than a year later, after DHHS took over conservatorship, he was down to $20,000 in assets.

“There is great concern that Billy’s funds will run out soon,” Vose said. “It is likely that he will run out of funds before any resolution is reached because DHHS is well aware of Billy’s lack of resources and they are dragging this out as long as possible hoping that when the funds are gone we will by necessity ‘go away.’” 

His attorney, Jenny, has not taken one penny for his work and has given up his personal life for more than two years in order to help Dean, Vose pointed out. She said the family has given financial and emotional support, but money, or rather lack of money, is always the elephant in the living room.
She said when the proceeds from the sale of cottage are gone, Dean will be dependent on the state or city, “supposing that there are programs still available to help people in his situation.”

Dean said he was aware the state was trying to sell the Owls Head property while he was in the hospital but did not learn about the sale and the low price until after he was discharged from Dorothea Dix.

“I was not very happy about it,” he said.

But what upsets Dean even more was the state’s decision to euthanize his longtime companion, a 10-year-old Himalayan cat named Caterpillar.

“I get very emotional talking about it,” Dean said. “I got her from a shelter. She picked me out.”
The state has argued in court filings that there were no family members willing to care for the cat, but Vose said that was not the case.

After the lawsuits were filed over its handling of the estate, DHHS withdrew as conservator. Vose was appointed conservator in August 2013.

Among the possessions that the state tried to sell but failed in the wake of the family taking legal action were three musical organs. One was destroyed in the flooding at the Broadway home. Another is being stored in Camden.

The third is in Dean’s bedroom apartment.

That is important to Dean because he is a musical savant, friend and attorney David Jenny said.
Dean’s sister said her brother has never had a lesson but is able to play a song if he has heard it once.
After the Monday interview, Dean went to the organ and began playing several jazz numbers.
Family members said he would sing show songs at the age of 2, and his first instrument was an accordion. He would play at family gatherings at the Owls Head cottage, they said.

Dean also is upset the state sold his 2000 Cadillac Eldorado. Dean still can drive but said he has no money to buy another car. The car was sold for $385, even though the book value was as much as $5,600.

Vose said the car was important to Dean because before his mother died he often would drive her to the Owls Head cottage, then stay in the car and watch the ocean. Family members said he does not go for walks in the new neighborhood because he does not like the interaction with other people.

The state has defended its actions and maintained it is immune from liability while acting as the conservator. The lawsuits seek to overturn the sale of the Owls Head home and to return it to Dean. The suits also seek unspecified monetary damages. Jenny represents Vose as Dean’s conservator; attorney Cynthia Dill represents Dean’s sister, Claire Dean Perry

The judge has no timetable for deciding the outcome of the lawsuits.

When asked what he would like to come out of the legal proceedings, Dean had a one-word answer.

“Justice,” he said.
Full Article & Source:
After state sold all he had, Rockland man hopes for ‘justice’

Financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of elder abuse

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Or dinner either. So if you get an invitation in the mail to a wonderful meal where an expert will be discussing an important retirement topic -- such as maximizing your Social Security or estate planning and living trusts -- don't go!

You will find yourself paying for that "free meal" many times over. How do you think they can afford to make such a generous offer? They are expecting a good percentage of the attendees to purchase expensive annuities or other products, or to spend an exorbitant amount on an estate plan.

I'm sorry to paint all these events with the same brush, but I'm not alone in doing so. Last week the major securities regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) listed "free lunch" seminars as one of their greatest concerns when it comes to "elder financial abuse."

But with 10,000 Americans reaching age 65 every day, there is a growing need for advice about how to manage retirement assets and a desperate search for trusted advisors. That creates a wide open opportunity for financial fraud or abuse on the part of slick salespeople who gain the trust of naive seniors.

When it comes to investment issues, FINRA recently created a toll-free helpline to assist seniors with questions about their brokerage accounts, including statements and individual investments. The toll-free number (844-57-HELPS or 844-574-3577) is staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

But the best problem resolution is no substitute for financial abuse prevention. One way to get unbiased advice is to use a fee-only certified financial financial planner, who has no incentive to sell you a specific product or service. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) maintains a planner search tool at its website,

Elder Financial Abuse

It's one thing for a confused senior to make a mistake in trusting the wrong person -- or falling for the "free lunch" deals. But the problem of taking advantage of seniors rises to another level when investment ignorance is supplanted by actual financial elder abuse.

Over the years I've written several columns about the fast-growing problem of elder financial abuse. It happens even to those who have concerned family members. Their adult children are afraid to discuss the issues of estate planning and budgeting and bill payment with their aging parents. As a result, many seniors send their money to online ministries or are victimized by home repair scams or all sorts of other fraudulent activities.

Discuss those issues with your parents over the upcoming holiday season. Elderly parents have the right to take umbrage at the suggestion that they're not taking adequate control of their finances. However, they also should be grateful to have children who care. On the other hand, a growing amount of financial elder abuse actually comes from adult children who rip off their parents' savings. That's illegal. And if you know it is happening in your family, it should be reported to law enforcement or the state department of aging.

What happens to the millions of seniors who have no one but a caregiver looking out for them? Sadly, caregiver fraud is another growing form of elder abuse. An isolated, dependent senior may turn to the caregiver out of need or fear, with no one around to prevent the theft.

Even banks, which should be the front line of prevention because they can see changing patterns of spending and unusual withdrawal, are handcuffed by privacy laws. Somehow they are able to alert you to a potentially fraudulent use of your credit card, but they cannot deny a withdrawal to a senior who comes to the teller window with a caregiver.

FINRA has proposed a rule (FINRA 2160) that would place a temporary hold on disbursement of funds from investment accounts if there is a concern of exploitation.

Financial elder abuse is a growing and devastating problem that will only increase as more seniors are left vulnerable. It's hard to believe, but there is still no national law covering financial elder abuse. Every state, however, has an elder abuse hotline as part of its department of aging. The best place to search for resources is the website of the National Center on Elder Abuse (  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of elder abuse

NewsChannel 3 viewers take action for woman scammed by phony workers

Norfolk, Va. - A heartbreaking story has a happy ending thanks to our viewers! An elderly woman was scammed out of thousands after she hired men to do work on her house.

When Lynn Defino heard how Mae LaShier was scammed out of $4,500, she took action by writing a big check.

Mae was stunned and had tears in her eyes. She said, "I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe this. Oh my God. Thank you so much.”

“I felt heartbroken because that is horrible that people do that to the elderly,” said Defino.

LaShier said she hired three men to take down her old shed, fix her roof and power wash her home. She said they left with the money and didn’t finish the job. She was unable to reach them.

She filed a complaint with the Norfolk Police Department. They said they are investigating the case.

LaShier was devastated and upset she had been scammed.

The response from the NewsChannel 3 viewers was overwhelming when they heard what happened to her.

Dozens of people called, wrote emails, and reached out on the WTKR Facebook Page wondering how they could help.

“It’s really disgusting. You have to be a real low life, piece of scum to do something like this to an elderly lady, and I just knew that if I could, I needed to do something,” said Von Lester, an off-duty firefighter working for Virginia Pressure Washing, INC.

Virginia Pressure Washing took action and got results for Mae on Friday.

Three off-duty firefighters showed up ready to work.

They took down the shed, hauled away the debris and finished the power washing job.

The owner, Tim Nunez said, "This has been the family business for a while, and most of our business is built on trust and it was the right thing to do.”

“I’ve never had anything like this happene to me before. To have such wonderful people like this,” said LaShier.

Mae said being scammed was a learning experience, and she is extremely grateful to all the people who took action and got results for her.

Full Article & Source:
NewsChannel 3 viewers take action for woman scammed by phony workers

Monday, October 26, 2015

Atlantic County caseworker gets five years for bilking elderly clients

William Price was supposed to be helping older people as a caseworker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services.

But on Friday, the Linwood man was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing $125,000 from an elderly couple he met through his job. He now must repay that money.

Price, 57, was part of a scheme to bilk the elderly, allegedly led by attorney Barbara Lieberman and Jan Van Holt, the owner of a business that offered in-home care and legal financial planning for the elderly.

Lieberman, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence, allegedly stole more than $800,000 from the same couple.

Price pleaded guilty in July to second-degree theft by deception, and Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury sentenced him under that agreement.

Price admitted he met the unnamed couple in 2006 through his job with the county. He then befriended them and recruited them as clients for the alleged members of the scheme.

“We’re supposed to respect and care for our elders with the utmost dignity and humanity, but Price callously preyed on this couple, betraying their trust, his duties as a social worker and every standard of decency,” said acting Attorney General John Hoffman. “This prison sentence sends a strong message that this type of abuse of the vulnerable, especially when committed by someone responsible for their care, will be met with harsh punishment.”

Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig said con artists frequently target the elderly.

“What makes this case so appalling is that the man who initially targeted the victims for fraud was a caseworker for Adult Protective Services who used that position to secure the trust of his victims,” Honig said.

“This sentence should serve a strong message to the remaining individuals who were charged along with Price and anyone else who would contemplate similar abuses against the elderly,” said Col. Rick Fuentes, State Police superintendent.

Full Article & Source: 
Atlantic County caseworker gets five years for bilking elderly clients

See Also:
Betrayal of Trust

Seminole man accused of stealing nearly half million from elderly mother's estate

Richard Alan Kess
A Seminole man is accused of stealing almost a half million dollars from his elderly mother while trustee to her estate.

Detectives say Richard Alan Kess, 65, became the sole trustee of 95-year-old Nancy Kess' trust after she was confined to a local assisted living facility in October 2011.

Over the course of two years, detectives say Richard Kess drained his mother's accounts at an alarming pace of approximately $30,000 a month.

Detectives say he spent the money on things like strip clubs, airline tickets, tattoos, and sports bars.

Detectives say they were tipped off by family members who became concerned about the lifestyle Richard Kess was living and were suspicious of the money he appeared to have despite not working.

During the investigation and shortly after Nancy Kess passed away in May 2014, detectives discovered that changes were made to the victim's power of attorney documents.

Detectives estimate that Richard Kess spent a total of $483,682.54 of Nancy Kess' trust fund for himself.

Richard Kess was arrested at his home Thursday and charged with exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult. He was transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident. 

Full Article & Source:
Seminole man accused of stealing nearly half million from elderly mother's estate

A father’s mission to reform reporting on abuse of disabled

— In what Michael Carey is calling a Walking Tall for Justice Tour, he is pushing public officials to reform policies for reporting abuse of disabled individuals.

Carey will spend the next several weeks touring the state and speaking with officials to promote new legislation. He will also visit centers across the state where incidents of abuse to disabled individuals have occurred. 

Carey began his tour at the Justice Center at 161 Delaware Ave. in Delmar on Tuesday, Oct. 13. He will make stops in Rome, Utica, Syracuse, through Western New York, and then travel to Long Island and New York City.

Rather than having reports of abuse reported directly to the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, Carey would have all calls reporting abuse be made to 911. 

Carey hopes the added initial response recording obtained from the call would add another layer of evidence. This would also ensure all reports are investigated by first responders, as Carey fears some cases of abuse have been under-reported and under-investigated.

Calls to the Justice Center are already directed via a voice recording to call 911 in the event of an emergency. The center is considered a law enforcement agency by New York State, because it employs investigators to examine suspect cases. The agency is responsible for several state services for the disabled. It handles cases of guardianship and abuse of disabled individuals, and manages care centers throughout the state.

“Every allegation of abuse or neglect that is reported to the Justice Center is fully investigated,” said Diane Ward, director of communications at the Justice Center. The center has “strict procedures in place to ensure the safety of the population it serves,” and “those stating otherwise are misinformed,” said Ward.

Designated mandatory reporters, like teachers and doctors are required by law to report instances abuse to authorities. As such, the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs receives about 7,000 reports of abuse monthly, according to their public records.  (Continue Reading)

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Gina - Advocate for Patients' Right in Skilled Nursing Facilities

Guest is: Gina - Advocate for patient rights in skilled nursing facility.

Will be discussing SB 1362 -Bill to Amend SS & SB 670 Nursing Home Litigation first half hour of show.

In 2010. Gina's significant other of 21 years passed away from ovarian cancer and Gina wound up homeless and in great medical need. Gina went through several major surgeries then placed in a Skilled Nursing Facility where her life was saved. Gina was moved from one facility to the one she is in now from 2011.

Gina was appointed Vice President of the Residents Council then voted President of the Resident Council and found herself fighting the powers that be for the residents rights. She began studying the medicaid/medicare laws and rights provided for the residential care in these facilities.

Since then Gina have become increasingly aware of how the nursing homes target these elderly patients from the doctor to the judges that abuse the guardianship program for their own gain. Gina's intention is to spend the rest of her life helping those targeted by these guardian programs that allow doctors to claim someone incapacitated, and lawyers that go behind the backs of friends and family and judges that grant for profit guardianship and complete control over others lives without telling them.

2015- June. Gina read Marisa Conover's story regarding her mother and reached out to her. She then hooked me up with TS radio. Marti Oakley and Debbie Dahmer had Gina as one of the Guests on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day -June 15th, 2015 On TS Radio.

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

LISTEN TO THE SHOW LIVE or listen to the archive later

Tears and Terror: The Disturbing Final Years of Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney shrieks in pain. Is he OK? "No, I'm not," he says, choking back tears. It's July 2010, inside The Grill on the Alley in Thousand Oaks, and in the midst of an interview with one of the authors of this piece, the diminutive 89-year-old has been kicked under the table by his eighth wife, Jan, as confirmed by his stepson, Chris Aber, who also is at the table. "She kicked him real hard," says Chris with a laugh. Rooney's offense? Rambling in his answers.

This meeting took place because the interviewer (who, as a then-freelance writer, was gathering material for a book) agreed to requirements set forth by Jan and Chris and conveyed to him over the phone by Kevin Pawley, Rooney's Kentucky-based manager: Bring a check for $200 and slip it to Chris when Rooney wasn't paying attention (ostensibly because financial transactions make him uncomfortable) and treat the three of them to lunch at the restaurant (Jan later ordered dinners to go for each of them).

A flip cam at the end of the table rolls as Jan, theatrically seeking the source of what caused her husband's pain, peers under the table for a moment and then turns to Chris and scolds him for confirming, in part, what the general public only would learn later: In his final years, Rooney was the victim of ongoing elder abuse.

The alleged wrongdoing and how it went on for so long has been a mystery - until now. Five years after that interview, and more than a year after the star's death, an investigation by The Hollywood Reporter (uncovering legal documents, witness testimony and financial records that never before have been publicized) indicates Rooney's life was more abusive than he let on while he was alive. What's more, the trouble persisted until he died in April 2014 in a Studio City rental, with only $18,000 to his name. (Rooney's body rests at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where many legendary movie stars are buried.)

Just weeks after Chris was served with a restraining order on Valentine's Day in 2011 accusing him of financially exploiting Rooney as his business manager, the actor flew to Washington, D.C. Herb Kohl, chairman of the Senate Special Aging Committee, had read press reports that a conservator for Rooney was pursuing elder-abuse charges, and he invited Rooney to testify about what he'd been through. As a transcript of that hearing reveals, Rooney, without naming names, tearfully explained that he'd himself been a victim of the increasingly common crime, stripped "of the ability to make even the most basic decisions about my life," leading to an "unbearable" and "helpless" daily existence. In a process that began after Rooney confided in a Disney executive during filming of 2011's The Muppets, Rooney's attorneys filed court papers in their petition for a conservator (to protect him and recover his assets) that revealed the extent of the control - he wasn't even allowed to buy food or carry identification.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Tears and Terror: The Disturbing Final Years of Mickey Rooney 

See Also:
Objections to Rooney's will dropped; administrator approved 

Mickey Rooney's widow contests late actor's will

Elder Abuse Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Mickey Rooney

Court Hears Mickey Rooney's Allegations of Elder Abuse

Judge Extends Mickey Rooney's Restraining Order

Mickey Rooney Conservatorship

Mickey Rooney Reaches Settlement With One of his Stepsons

Mickey Rooney's Estate Goes to His Caregiver Stepson

Judge immediately suspended and facing removal for scuffle with public defender

Florida Judge John C. Murphy received an unusual order from the Supreme Court of Florida. He was immediately suspended and faces an “order to show cause” why he should not be removed from office. All because the judge lost his cool in court, gave a public defender a tongue lashing, invited the public defender to the hallway stating “I’ll just beat your ass,” and then engaged in a scuffle with the public defender right outside the courtroom.

The judge’s statements in the courtroom were video-taped and it clearly shows the public defender heading to the hallway. While there is no video of the hallway interaction between the judge and the public defender, an altercation can clearly be heard on the video from the courtroom.

There was divergent testimony at the judge’s disciplinary hearing. The public defender testified that once in the hallway the judge grabbed him with one hand and repeatedly punched him with the other. The judge admitted grabbing the public defender but denied ever punching him. A woman in the courtroom testified that as the door to the hallway was closing, she saw the judge grab the public defender and start to swing at him.

The Florida Supreme Court’s order is all the more unusual because of the recommended sanction from the Judicial Qualification Commission which presided over the disciplinary hearing. The Commission recommended a four month suspension without pay and a $50,000 fine. As of late, the Court has been imposing stiffer sanctions in judicial discipline cases. The judge had taken a month-long leave of absence from the bench, sought mental health counseling, issued a public apology and asked the Supreme Court to uphold the commission’s recommendations.

Full Article & Source:
Judge immediately suspended and facing removal for scuffle with public defender