Saturday, November 7, 2015

Keep up on the Commission Studying the Administration of Guardianships in Nevada's Courts

Click this link to listen to the meetings of the Nevada Guardianship Committee, including public testimony by victims

What Do I Do When I Have Only One Original of My Mom's POA and a Company Wants Many?

Q: I have both medical and durable power of attorney (POA) for my mother, who is living in a memory care facility. She has not been declared incompetent, but is obviously not competent anymore. She printed these POAs years ago with an inkjet printer, got them notarized, and gave me one original. The quality is not great. I am trying to sell some timeshares to help save her money and I am told that I need to send an original to the timeshare company and each county it has property in. I only have one original and I really don't want to let it out of my sight. Is there any way to get this document validated in some way and get more of them so I can give them to all these people who want originals? Also, the bank refused to accept my POA because of the poor quality.

A: Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for banks to refuse to honor durable powers of attorney for one reason or another. In terms of the timeshares, I’m surprised that they need more than one original since timeshare ownership is usually not recorded like real estate. I’d push back on this. They may be able to see the original and return it to you after making a copy or they may accept a copy certified to be true by a notary or a lawyer. I’d run all of these possible solutions by them. If they won’t work, you may need to go to court to be appointed guardian or conservator for your mother. For more information on guardianships, go here:

If this doesn’t answer your question, click here.

Article Last Modified: 10/28/2015

Full Article & Source:
What Do I Do When I Have Only One Original of My Mom's POA and a Company Wants Many?

Filling seniors financial prescription

by Brian Kieran - Saanich News

Two grumpy old men meet at their favourite pub …

Felix says to Oscar: “Geez Oscar, you look like a train wreck.”

Oscar: “With good reason Felix. The doc just told me I got that AAFV thing.”

Felix: “D... Oscar, that’s a tough way to go. Look, drinks are on me today.” 

Yes, dear readers, the medical profession has come up with a new designer disease specifically minted for those of us who pace in front of the group mail box on the 27th of every month.

This affliction is called “age-associated financial vulnerability” or AAFV which gives it a medical gravitas that rivals other afflictions that have been branded as acronyms. It also reminds us that our ages and the thickness of our wallets are two of life’s measurements that tend to go in opposite directions.

We all know that financial pressures mount as we age. Well, a report just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the scribblings of the American College of Physicians, states that doctors have been overlooking the medical implications. The report claims that one of the most devastating problems of aging is the decline in a patient’s ability to manage his or her financial affairs.

The authors of the report – wealthy middle-aged doctors no doubt – say it is their hope that by assigning a medical name to this sad state of financial affairs physicians will start thinking about this in all older people. This would place AAFV diagnosis in the same class of social geriatric medicine as the current testing of seniors on their cognitive ability to drive safely.

AAFV is described as “a pattern of risky behavior related to money that places an older adult at substantial risk for a considerable loss of resources that might result in dramatic changes in their quality of life and is inconsistent with choices the person made when they were younger.”

Financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse and it can lead to depression, nursing home placement and increased mortality, the report’s authors say.

Factors that can contribute to financial vulnerability among the elderly include cognitive or emotional decline; impairments in vision, hearing and mobility; serious progressive illness; and social isolation.

Meanwhile, as if to reinforce the grim news above, the credit firm Equifax reports that Canadians 65 and older increased their debt loads by almost five per cent in the second quarter of 2015, a much faster pace than the general population.

The average senior owed about $15,000 at the end of June. That represents debt on top of home mortgages.

“We have been observing that this segment has been increasing debt for a while now,” says Regina Malina, a senior director of insights at Equifax. She suspects a lot of that consumer debt stems from having to help adult children or other family members with their own financial hardships.

Seniors are having trouble paying off that new debt. The credit firm says seniors who are 90 days or more behind on their bills are deemed to be severely delinquent. By that measure, the delinquency rate for seniors rose this year for the first time since 2010. That rate increased by 2.4 per cent during the second quarter. It went down for all other demographic groups.

What’s this all mean for vulnerable, cash-strapped seniors? We better start lobbying the new federal government for increased pensions. And, don’t be surprised if your doctor starts checking your financial pulse. Managing life’s daily challenges in our Golden Years has, officially, become a health risk.

Full Article & Source:
Filling seniors financial prescription

Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability: It's Risky Business, Growing Old

Managing money can be difficult at any age but for older adults, changes in physical condition and life circumstances can lead to changes for the worse in financial behavior, putting their well-being in danger.

Now those changes have been given a name: age-associated financial vulnerability.

The authors define the condition as "a pattern of financial behavior that places an older adult at substantial risk for a considerable loss of resources such that dramatic changes in quality of life would result." To be considered AAFV, this behavior also must be a marked change from the kind of financial decisions a person made in younger years.

"For example, if an older adult gives his or her neighbor $10,000, this many be a sign of AAFV. However, if the older adult has given large sums of money to those in need throughout his or her adult lifetime, then the $10,000 gift in old age may not represent a change in behavior, and thus may not represent AAFV," explains Duke Han, PhD, co-author of the study and associate professor of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center.

Not the same old problem
The authors note that AAFV is a condition different from age-related cognitive impairment, including dementia, which already is recognized as putting older adults at risk of causing themselves financial harm. Since recent studies have indicated that "cognitively intact older adults" may become financially vulnerable, they write, "cognitive impairment is not necessary for AAFV."

Instead, the trouble can lie in the many ordinary changes brought about by aging. "Functional changes such as impaired mobility, vision and hearing loss, and the cost of multiple medications can directly influence vulnerability in older adults," Han says.

Other potential contributing factors may include cognitive changes, such as a lessened ability to discern a person's trustworthiness, and psychosocial problems, including loneliness or depression. In addition, the finance industry has identified older adults as an untapped market, which can lead to them being overwhelmed by the "dizzying array of financial products and services," according to Han and co-author Mark Lachs, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and co-chief of geriatrics and gerontology at Weill Medical College in New York.

"In my discussions with Dr. Lachs about our experiences with the heart-breaking effects of financial vulnerability among our older patients, we decided that naming the problem may be a useful first step to addressing the issue," Han says.

Protecting the vulnerable from the villainous
Han and Lachs believe it's important to understand AAFV as a condition in order to protect older adults who exhibit signs of it, distinct from behavior brought on by cognitive impairment or problems with financial judgement that preceded older age. In particular, AAFV can put a person at risk for financial exploitation: Han notes that financial abuse is one of the most common forms of elder abuse, and is the most frequent form of perpetrator-related elder abuse in Illinois.

"This is a growing problem since we have a large aging population with no ways to determine who is at risk and why," Han warns. "We need more screening, and more interventional programs and strategies to address this issue. We also need to determine what the role and responsibility is of physicians in protecting their patients."

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Source: Rush University Medical Center

Full Article & Source:
Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability: It's Risky Business, Growing Old

Friday, November 6, 2015

District attorney creates new elder abuse unit

The Clark County district attorney's office on Wednesday announced the creation of a new elder abuse unit to prosecute crimes against the aged and vulnerable.

Cases involving physical or mental abuse, neglect, isolation and financial exploitation will now be prosecuted by two specialized deputy district attorneys. Those cases had previously been handled by the office's general prosecutions teams.

"The protection of our seniors from fraud, theft and abuse is the responsibility of all agencies in the criminal justice system," District Attorney Steve Wolfson said in a release. "These crimes target some of our most vulnerable citizens, can be devastating to a family, and have far-reaching impacts on our community as a whole."

According to the news release, 61 cases qualified as elder abuse cases in 2014, and 32 through the first half of 2015.

"We are pleased that District Attorney Wolfson has recognized the need for specially trained prosecutors, who can ensure that those who abuse and exploit our senior population are brought to justice," Sugar Vogel, Executive Director of the Southern Nevada Senior Law Program, said in the release. "All too often, those abused are dependent, in some way, on their abuser. It is important that their call for help will not fall on deaf ears."

Full Article & Source:
District attorney creates new elder abuse unit

Rude Woman Humiliates Worker With Downs Syndrome. The Store Cashier Shocks Her By Doing This

This story comes from a shopper who recently encountered an extremely rude and insensitive woman. The rude woman was annoyed because an employee with down’s syndrome was packing the bags carefully but taking longer than she wanted. She started to humiliate him in front of everyone until the cashier suddenly had enough…

Full Article & Source:
Rude Woman Humiliates Worker With Downs Syndrome. The Store Cashier Shocks Her By Doing This

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Retired chiropractor at center of legal battle dies

James Chism & daughter Susan Lucier
A retired Clinton Township chiropractor whose biological children waged a public battle over his guardianship and health care died this week at 78.

James Chism died Oct. 24. He had owned and operated Chism Chiropractic in Fraser.

His health became a public issue beginning in December 2011 when three of his five adult children accused their father’s wife of 27 years at the time, Karen Chism, not their mother, of orchestrating efforts to accelerate his health problems and blocking their efforts to see him. He was diagnosed with dementia, taking prescription drugs and admitted to a mental hospital, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Mount Clemens, and later to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township after suffering a heart attack.

The children -- Steve Chism, Susan Lucier and Laurie Meagher -- protested publicly by picketing in front of the Mount Clemens facility and protesting on Facebook, creating the page, “Saving the lift of Army vet James F. Chism,” which has 1,526 members. They all resided out of state.

Karen Chism had gained guardianship over him in December 2011, and they accused her of moving assets and selling his practice at a low price.

A judge shortly thereafter stripped her of the guardianship and transferred it to an attorney, who was removed nine months later when the judge determined Chism could function on his own.

Steve Chism said this week that he remains “disgusted” with the state probate system that prevented them from having more involvement with their father.

He said since September 2012 when James Chism’s guardianship was removed, he and his siblings’ contact with their father continued to dissipate due to Karen Chism blocking their efforts. He said they barely had contact with him the past couple of years despite attempts to do so.

He maintains his belief that his father died prematurely.

“I knew he had at least 10 good years left in him,” he said this week.

He said he believes his father suffered from the effects of his treatment in 2011 and ‘12, and was not treated properly in recent years after the guardianship was lifted. He said he believes his father was over-medicated with prescription drugs, which he said is tragically ironic since James Chism kept himself in top-notch shape and believed in natural healing over prescription-drug use.

The obituary didn’t name his natural offspring, only saying he is survived by “five biological children.”

Steve Chism said he would like to see a law passed that mandates that adult children can visit their biological parent even if the parent’s spouse opposes it. A battle between the wife of the late Casey Kasem and his biological child brought national attention to the issue.

But Michele Fuller, a Sterling Heights elder-law attorney, said existing “laws and processes” with the probate court system in Michigan provide avenues for adult children to pursue visitation. She said children can petition a judge for a guardian to allow visitation or can seek to have a guardian replaced by a child or another attorney. If the parent does not have a guardian, the children can petition to be one or have one named.

Fuller, who operates the Michigan Law Center, noted that if there is estrangement between the parent and child, and the parent does not wish to see the children, it can be difficult to gain visitation.

Karen Chism said she looked out for the best interests of her husband and accused her husband’s children of lying, making disparaging remarks and threatening to take the couple’s assets. She said Steve Chism wrongly accused her of trying to murder her husband, and that she was interviewed by a Clinton Township police detective.

During the height of the dispute, Karen Chism in 2012 filed for a personal protection order against the three children, but a Macomb County Circuit Court judge denied it following a hearing in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.

She said it was not her but the children’s comments about her that turned her husband against them.

James Chism’s appointed attorney in 2012, Patricia Patterson-Courie, who advocated for his freedom from guardianship, said this week that when Chism gained independence, “He was upset with the way they (his children) treated his wife.”

“He was adamant, insisting he wanted to be home with his wife.”

Steve Chism said his father was influenced against them by Karen Chism.

Patterson-Courie said she did not wish to take sides in the case. She said she understood the children’s suspicions but didn’t find nefarious intent by Karen Chism.

“He had made such a miracle recovery from a near comatose state,” she said. “The circumstances looked strange. You can see why the children had suspicions and concerns, but none of that could be found.”

She said some of Karen Chism’s actions were part of an attorney’s advice to spend their money on “exempt” items that would allow him to qualify for Medicaid.

She said “mistrust” developed between the children and Karen Chism, partly because the children lived far away. “It’s really a shame there was that much mistrust and division,” she said.

“I’m sorry to see that he passed,” Patterson-Courie said of James Chism. “He was a very engaging, sweet man.”

Full Article & Source:
Retired chiropractor at center of legal battle dies

Superior judge indicted for trying to bribe FBI agent

An Eastern Carolina judge is charged with trying to bribe an FBI agent to collect text messages between two phone numbers in what the judge said was a family matter.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced the charges against Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones II. Jones is the resident superior judge for Wayne County, and is chairman of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.

The judge appeared in federal court in Raleigh for a first court appearance this morning.

It's illegal for law officers to demand text or phone information from a phone company without an approved search warrant in an active case.

Prosecutors say Jones approached the unnamed FBI officer on October 10th and the two met in Goldsboro on Tuesday to exchange $100 for a disk supposedly containing the data.

The three count indictment was made public this morning. The charges against Jones are: promise/payment of bribe to a public official, promise/payment of gratuity to a public official, and attempted corrupt influence of official proceeding.

The indictment says at first the judge and the FBI officer agreed on "a couple cases of beer" for obtaining the texts.

If convicted of all charges, Jones could face up to 37 years in prison.

A state courts spokeswoman says it would be up to the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission to take any disciplinary action against Jones.

Lawyers at the Wayne County Courthouse said that superior court was cancelled today.

The judge, who was first elected in 2008, has heard some high profile cases in the past several years, including presiding over the first appearance of the suspect in the shooting death at Wayne Community College. The defendant was forcibly removed from the courtroom after a profane outburst directed at the judge.

Full Article & Source:
Superior judge indicted for trying to bribe FBI agent

Death of fiancee ends in amazing love story, couple said guardian angel brought them together

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Justin Pounders is 33 years old and, like most young men, wants to find that perfect person.

"When I met Adrianne, I was like, 'Wow, this is who I'm supposed to meet,'" said Pounders.

And apparently -- marry, too.

He remembers clearly bringing a moving van to Adrianne Robert's Clearwater apartment in July of 2012.

His future fiancee planned to move out of the apartment and in with him.

Instead of her warm smile there to greet him, detectives and crime scene tape.

"How could this happen. This isn't real," said Pounders.

Robert, just 29 years old, decided to go out with her roommate one last time.

A man followed her home, assaulted and killed her.

Her killer was caught, but Pounders struggled to move on.

Despondent, he moved to Orlando. But his mother Debbie refused to give up hope, relying on faith and destiny.

"She would pray every night for me to find someone that would make me happy," said Pounders.

Nearly a year ago, those prayers came true. Justin decided to join and move back to Pinellas County.

"I feel so thankful that I did," said Pounders.

A profile immediately caught his eye -- A dark haired beauty, Amy Giberson. The 33-year-old felt exactly the same.

"I feel like the luckiest human being in the world,' said Giberson.

And one reason Pounders first reached out on match? He loved her name.

"I think I had a crush on a girl name Amy back in preschool," said Pounders.

His mother even took a photo of his first love.

And it turns out that connection remained, 30 years later, when these two preschool flames, Amy and Justin met at a restaurant for the first time.

Both are convinced this happy ending was set in motion by their guardian angel, Adrianne.

"Everybody knew that she would not want me to be saddened by myself forever," said Pounders.

Giberson said, "You don't find love, it finds you. It has to do with destiny," she said.

It's a twist of fate three decades in the making, and the couple plan to marry next November.

Full Article & Source:
Death of fiancee ends in amazing love story, couple said guardian angel brought them together

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Maine’s highest court to hear case against York County probate judge

Maine’s highest court will hear arguments Wednesday on whether to discipline an elected York County probate judge who is accused of abusing his office to benefit himself personally and his private legal practice.

Robert M.A. Nadeau
The part-time probate judge, Robert M.A. Nadeau, has already been publicly reprimanded multiple times in the past, including being suspended from his judicial duties for 30 days in 2007 by the same Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

The Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability is now recommending that Nadeau be suspended without pay from his judicial duties for four weeks and pay $4,000 to hire a substitute judge in his absence.

A panel of justices on the Supreme Judicial Court will weigh arguments from the committee’s executive secretary, Cabanne Howard; arguments from Nadeau’s attorney, Stephen Wade; and findings from an active-retired judge, Justice Robert Clifford, who heard testimony in the case against Nadeau.

“A single oral argument will be held, and the parties should be prepared to present their arguments regarding the findings and conclusions of the referee justice (Clifford) as well as the sanctions, if any, to be imposed in this matter during that argument,” Chief Justice Leigh Saufley wrote in a scheduling order in August.

Nadeau, who has a private law practice in Biddeford, is accused of five different violations of the Maine Code of Judicial Conduct stemming from complaints lodged against him by six other attorneys in 2012 and 2013.

Nadeau was first elected as the York County probate judge in 1996 and was re-elected in 2000 and 2004. He was defeated in 2008 after disciplinary actions against him but then elected again in 2012.
Nadeau was suspended from his duties as a judge in 2007 by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court for lying about his opponents in his campaign for re-election in 2004.

He was publicly reprimanded prior to that by the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar in 2006 for violating the Maine Bar Rules in a divorce case from his private practice in which he had a sexual relationship with his client. He was found in violation of bar rules for faxing messages directly to the opposing party in the divorce case rather than the attorneys in the case. Nadeau was married and had children at the time, according to court records.

The first of the five new counts against Nadeau accuses him of creating a website in the name of “York County Probate Judge Robert Nadeau” that links to his for-profit private practice website.
Clifford said in a finding issued in May that Nadeau’s conduct pertaining to the website was a judicial code violation but not an egregious one since Nadeau deleted the link after learning of the complaint.

The second count accuses Nadeau of creating a Facebook page that claimed to be the “official page of the York County Judge of Probate Robert Nadeau” that shows pictures of him in judicial robes, in a business suit with his family and in a military uniform from his time in military service. Clifford also found that to be a judicial code violation, though not egregious since Nadeau took it down after a complaint. Clifford found two clear judicial code violations in the third count against Nadeau, in which he is accused of using his title of judge to inappropriately try to influence a personal civil case that he filed against an ex-girlfriend.

Clifford disagreed with the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability on the fourth and fifth counts against Nadeau and found Nadeau had not committed judicial code violations. Both counts pertain to Nadeau’s civil case against his ex-girlfriend that he filed claiming that she was harassing him by disclosing his confidential medical information.

The fourth count accused Nadeau of trying to force a District Court judge to recuse himself from hearing Nadeau’s harassment claim. The fifth count accused Nadeau of referencing a court document filed in Probate Court during the harassment case that referred to him as “his eminence.”

Nadeau’s attorney, Wade, has argued in written filings that none of the new accusations against Nadeau are violations of the judicial code and that he should not be punished.

Howard argued in writing on behalf of the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability that Nadeau had been warned leading up to his 2006 and 2007 punishments and didn’t heed the past warnings.

“One possibly inadvertent violation might be excusable, but the multiplicity of the violations here demonstrates a pattern of disregard for the code that the court should deal with firmly, since to do otherwise might encourage other judges to behave in a similarly cavalier fashion, as well as play into the public cynicism as to the willingness of the judicial branch to discipline its own,” Howard wrote in a brief to the court in September.

Full Article & Source:
Maine’s highest court to hear case against York County probate judge

Wards Fighting Guardians' Heavy Caseloads

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CN) - In the last five years, the caseloads of public guardians in Alaska have steadily increased to a current total of 83 wards for each guardian. This leaves guardians with the Office of Public Advocacy just one hour and 42 minutes per month to manage each ward's medical care, government benefits, housing, vocational services and any income the ward is eligible to receive.

"Public guardians are some of the hardest working people in this state. But, when you saddle them with twice as much work as humanly manageable, there is one obvious result - thousands of disabled Alaskans suffer. This lawsuit will end it," said Meg Zaletel, a partner with the Anchorage-based Northern Justice Project that represents M.M. in his class action filed Oct. 26 against the state of Alaska, the Office of Public Advocacy and its oversight agency the Department of Administration.

Alaska's guardian caseload is more than double the national standard of 40 set by the National Guardianship Association, a membership organization representing professional guardians from across the United States. Even the Office of Public Advocacy admitted in its 2016 budget request that the office is chronically underfunded and its hard-working guardians are unable to keep up with their increasing caseload.

Under to Alaska statute, a guardian must visit each of their protected persons at least once per quarter to monitor their welfare. There are four office locations: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Palmer and Juneau.
But Alaska is a large state where many wards live more than a short drive from their guardian's office. Some require travel by air or boat.

Plaintiff M.M. is on the autism spectrum. In 2014, a court ordered that all his affairs be managed by a public guardian. The Office of Public Advocacy charges wards a monthly fee for its services, plus an initial case set-up fee upon appointment as guardian.

According to the complaint, M.M.'s public advocate has not submitted the proper paperwork so that his supplemental security income continues and has not had adequate time to insure that critical Medicaid benefits remain in place. As a result, M.M. has been left without funds for groceries and other essentials for basic living including rent for his group home. He now stands on the verge of homelessness.

He has attempted unsuccessfully to contact his guardian by phone. He also tried going in person to his guardian's Anchorage office, where he was told that his guardian was not available to see him. He has also not received the mandated quarterly in-person visits.

It took a friend of M.M.'s, Erin Kirkland - listed on the complaint as his "next friend" - to seek legal help. Kirkland declined to comment and referred Courthouse News to Zalatel, whose firm is representing M.M. pro bono.

"We fully expect that [the Office of Public Advocacy] will want to address our requests," Zalatel said. She explained that the defendants have 40 days from the date the complaint was filed to respond.

M.M. seeks an order requiring caseworkers to visit their wards once per quarter and that they will have no more than 40 wards per guardian as the National Guardianship Association recommends. He also wants a refund of the monthly fees for each quarter that guardians did not visit their wards.

Leslie Ridle, deputy commissioner for the state of Alaska Department of Administration defended the agency in an email to Courthouse News.

"The Office of Public Advocacy does an excellent job providing guardians to vulnerable Alaskans," Ridle said. "We are constantly working to create efficiencies in the division to make sure resources are used to help our clients. We are reviewing the case, and at this time we have no further comment."

In his complaint, M.M. says he recognizes that Alaska's public guardians are working extremely hard under an overwhelming set of circumstances. Zalatel said she hopes her client's lawsuit changes things for the guardians and their wards.

"The intent of this lawsuit is to help," she said. "Ultimately, [plaintiffs and defendants both] want to the best possible care for thousands of disabled Alaskans."

M.M.'s case was filed in the Third Judicial District in Anchorage.

Full Article & Source:
Wards Fighting Guardians' Heavy Caseloads

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"No Place Like Home" Fundraiser Trailer

YouTube:  No Place Like Home Fundraiser Trailer

Click here to support the film "No Place Like Home"

Hung again Jury deadlocks for second time in adult exploitation case

In a replay of a trial nearly two years ago, a Boyle County jury deadlocked again on the question of whether Anne Rush committed a crime by exploiting her elderly grandmother for her own financial gain.

Circuit Judge Darren Peckler was forced to declare another mistrial Friday after jurors deliberated for three hours and came out hung, with nine in favor of acquittal and three voting for conviction. A unanimous verdict is required in criminal cases.

Last week’s five-day trial mirrored the one in February 2014, with the same special prosecutor, Barbara Whaley of the attorney general’s office, and the same defense attorneys, Travis Lock and John Reynolds of Bowling Green, arguing over the same evidence and producing the same result.

Whaley presented stacks of documents showing the financial records of Geraldine Waits, Rush’s grandmother who was diagnosed with early stage dementia in 2007 and whose condition worsened until Rush became her caretaker in 2010.

Rush took advantage of Waits’ deteriorated mental state to drain her bank accounts and take possession of her property, altogether valued at about $200,000, Whaley told jurors in her lengthy closing argument Friday morning.

After gaining power of attorney and placing Waits in a nursing home, Rush cashed in her grandmother’s certificates of deposit and bought a pickup truck, paid care for her horses and deeded herself Waits’ 57-acre farm on Scrubgrass Road, Whaley said, leaving Waits unable to pay for her nursing home care.

Waits died last year, a ward of the state.

“It’s not a robbery, it’s not an assault, it’s not a sexual offense, but it’s no less a crime,” Whaley said of the statute under which Rush was charged, exploitation of an adult more than $300. “It’s a crime what she did to an 86-year-old woman, her own grandmother.”

And, just like in 2014, Rush’s attorneys argued that Waits granted Rush power of attorney over her affairs because her granddaughter had cared for her as her condition worsened. The power of attorney agreement that Waits signed gave Rush the authority to give gifts to herself and others.

In his closing argument, Lock described the case as “a family squabble that ended up in criminal court.” He accused Whaley of using “smoke and mirrors” to manufacture her case against Rush.

“The commonwealth wants you to believe Anne Rush forced her grandmother to give her power of attorney. That’s what granny wanted! Where is the evidence to the contrary? There is none,” Lock argued. “That power of attorney gave Anne Rush the legal authority to do what she did, even if you don’t like what she did.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if Whaley intends to seek a third trial. Peckler set a status hearing on the case for Jan. 5.
Full Article & Source: 
Hung again Jury deadlocks for second time in adult exploitation case

Website: The Committee to Expose Dishonest and Incompetent Judges, Attorneys, and Public Officials

"About Us":
This Watchdawg has dedicated himself (ca. 1988-2010) to exposing the misconduct and/or outright corruption involving Judges, Attorneys and Public Officials in all fifty states and foreign countries if warranted.

I have absolutely no concern about anyone’s political party affiliation and/or his or her stated opinions on legal and/or political questions of the day. Put simply, I am an “equal opportunity exposer.” As ex-Detroit Free Press reporter Alan Abrams said in an article several years ago, “If you’re a dishonest judge or lawyer, the watchdog is your worst nightmare.”


Monday, November 2, 2015

Attorney alleges ‘pattern & practice’ of fraud in Winston-Salem clerk’s office

The attorney suing the Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court Office, an estate guardian, and others over alleged “acts of fraud” involving the loss of over $1.4 million in assets belonging to a now deceased African-American retired nurse, claimed in court papers a year ago that he has evidence that this wasn’t just a one-time occurrence, but rather, “a pattern and practice of fraudulent activity by the Clerk’s Office…,” and that specific guardian.

Even though The Chronicle is focusing on allegations centered at the Forsyth County Clerk’s Office, the allegations of fraud in the quasi-judicial process of determining legal guardians for incapacitated individuals could have statewide implications if they’re being replicated in other counties without investigation.

Reginald D. Alston, the attorney representing the estate of the late Mary Ellen Brannon Thompson (legally known as the “ward”), made the allegation in the lawsuit he filed last week (as exclusively reported by The Chronicle) against the Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court Office, which administers guardianships; and attorney Bryan Thompson (no relation to Mary Thompson), the estate guardian alleged to have had an official in the Forsyth County Clerk’s Office on May 1, 2007, “… sign a guardianship appointment in his favor…. without giving notice to Mary Thompson [while she was living] and her next of kin…” as required by state statute.

Alston also made the allegation in several motions he filed in the case dating back to March 2014.

As the Clerk appointed estate guardian, attorney Thompson was responsible for managing the ward’s over $1.4 million in liquid and real estate assets. But in the Oct. 20 lawsuit, attorney Alston, representing Calvin Brannon – Mary Thompson’s brother and the estate administrator representing next of kin – maintained that attorney Thompson had no legal right to oversee the estate because there was never any evidence of the ward’s incompetence presented (which is required in order for an estate guardian to be appointed by the Clerk in North Carolina), a key element in determining the legal reason for a guardian.

Without that evidence, attorney Thompson should never have been appointed, the lawsuit contends. But in addition, the orders issued by the Clerk’s Office declaring Mary Thompson as incompetent, and attorney Thompson as her legal estate guardian, were never officially filed into the court record via time stamp, as legally required.

“The order is devoid of any stamp-file or other marking necessary to indicate a filing date, and therefore it was not entered,” ruled the N.C. Court of Appeals in a February 4, 2014, decision.

And in addition, as attorney Alston contends in the lawsuit, attorney Thompson’s May 1, 2007, appointment as estate guardian came before the Clerk’s May 3, 2007, Order of Incompetence, which could not stand given that the ward had to be legally determined incompetent first before any guardian could be assigned.

Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court Susan Frye apparently took that February 2014 appellate court ruling to heart. On April 9, 2014, she issued a “Findings of Fact” in the Mary Ellen Thompson case, acknowledging per the appellate decision that “… the orders were not properly entered…,” thus creating “… an inadvertent defect…”

However Frye, who was re-elected to her second-term in November 2014, decided she could deal with that 7-year-old “inadvertent defect” by simply declaring that the orders could be belatedly entered per the legal principle of nunc pro tunc, which is Latin for “now for then,” meaning that if a court makes a mistake in a previous order, it can correct it subsequently.

She ordered all of the orders to be re-entered under their original dates nunc pro tunc, except the order authorizing attorney Thompson to become the ward’s estate guardian. On that one, realizing the conflict of dates, she had that changed from May 1, 2007 to May 3, 2007, to match the original date of the incompetency order.

But the ward’s estate attorney, Reginald Alston, apparently already aware that Clerk Frye would attempt to dodge the appellate court findings, opposed Frye’s coming order in his April 1, 2014, motion to Superior Court, writing, “Counsel objects to the nunc pro tunc filing of the May 3, 2007 Order of Incompetence in this matter as an attempt to legitimize the fraudulent actions of Bryan Thompson and [former assistant Clerk] Theresa Hinshaw, and protects the interests of the Court as opposed to those of Mary Ellen Brannon Thompson.”

Hinshaw is the official in the Clerk’s Office in 2007 who attorney Alston alleges “colluded” with attorney Thompson in the issuing both defective orders in the Mary Thompson case.

Clerk Frye’s order was eventually appealed and subsequently found to be procedurally improper by a Superior Court judge. It was sent back for a hearing in the Clerk’s office.

In that same April 1, 2014, motion by Alston, he stated that, “… counsel has previously raised the issue of fraud and collusion by Clerk Theresa Hinshaw and Bryan Thompson in regards to this special proceeding and estate and other similar cases in Forsyth County.”

Alston further said in his motion that Clerk Frye “refused to accept the documents marked for trial as Exhibit H and consisting of a listing of [over 40] Estate matters in which Bryan Thompson was handling the estate.”

Attorney Alston went on to state that “… as part of my investigation of the alleged fraud, I pulled the Estate files for several individuals whose estates had been handled by Bryan Thompson…” Each case had a special proceeding regarding an estate where Bryan Thompson was appointed, Alston continued, and, “That none of the cases had a filed-stamped order of incompetence nor filed-stamped order appointing anyone guardian of the Estate or Person.”

Alston went on to list four cases by file numbers that he personally reviewed to document his allegation, and then stated a reason he believed the pattern even existed.

“…[C]ounsel believes the failure to file stamp the Orders was utilized as a means to prevent removal of the guardians and facilitate Bryan Thompson … to fraudulently maintain the position of guardian without properly filed Orders authorizing [his] actions.”

In a previous motion before the court dated March 31, 2014, attorney Alston was blunt, stating, “That the issuance of letters to Brian Thompson by [Clerk] Theresa Hinshaw without a properly filed Order of Incompetence was not an error or unique circumstance, but an act of fraud that has been repeated in other special proceedings in Forsyth County and evidences a pattern and practice of fraudulent activity by the Clerk’s Office.”

Months later, in October 2014, Mary Ellen Thompson, who had been in ill health, died. But even though it had been clearly established before her death that Bryan Thompson’s estate guardianship was in controversy, no relief was forthcoming.

“Between May 1, 2007 and October 2, 2014, Bryan Thompson did not return the assets that he took by fraud from Mary Thompson valued at $1, 486, 415.49,” attorney Alston alleges in the estate’s Oct. 20 lawsuit. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from, “… the Clerk’s bond in the amount of all property value that [the ward] lost due to Bryan Thompson’s acts and the regulatory failures of the Clerk of Courts in an amount that exceeds $25,000.”

The lawsuit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages from two insurance companies on the bond issued to protect Mary Thompson’s assets as required by law; and two other attorneys for their alleged roles in what the suit maintains was a case of fraud.

Finally, the suit seeks all of Mary Thompson’s assets returned to the estate, and to hold attorney Bryan Thompson liable.

Defendants had not responded to the Mary Thompson estate lawsuit by press time.

Full Article & Source:
Attorney alleges ‘pattern & practice’ of fraud in Winston-Salem clerk’s office

Suing A Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules

As Dean Cole's dementia worsened, he began wandering at night. He'd even forgotten how to drink water. His wife, Virginia, could no longer manage him at home. So after much agonizing, his family checked him into a Minnesota nursing home.

"Within a little over two weeks he'd lost 20 pounds and went into a coma," says Mark Kosieradzki, who was the Cole family's attorney. Dean Cole was rushed to the hospital, says Kosieradzki, "and what was discovered was that he'd become totally dehydrated. They did get his fluid level up, but he was never, ever able to recover from it and died within the month."

Kosieradzki says that Virginia Cole had signed a stack of papers when her husband was admitted to the nursing home. As is often the case, one of the forms was a binding agreement to go to arbitration if she ever had a claim against the facility. So instead of taking the nursing home to court, her claim for wrongful death was heard by three private arbitrators. They charge for their services.

"The arbitration bill for the judges was $60,750. That was split in half between the two parties," says Kosieradzki.

Virginia Cole won her claim, but after paying the arbitrators, expert witnesses and attorney's fees, she was left with less than $20,000.

The federal government is now considering safeguards that would regulate the way nursing homes present arbitration agreements when residents are admitted.

But more than 50 labor, legal, medical and consumer organizations have told the government that's not enough. They want these pre-dispute arbitration agreements banned entirely. Thirty-four U.S. senators and attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia also have called for banning the agreements.

"No one should be forced to accept denial of justice as a price for the care their loved ones deserve," says Henry Waxman, a former congressman from California. Arbitration agreements keep the neglect and abuse of nursing home residents secret, Waxman says, because the cases aren't tried in open court and resolutions sometimes have gag rules.

"None of the systemic health and safety problems that cause the harm will ever see the light of day," he says.

The proposed federal regulation would require nursing homes to explain these arbitration agreements so that residents or their families understand what they're signing. It would also make sure that agreeing to arbitration is not a requirement for nursing home admission.

The American Health Care Association, which represents most nursing homes, is against this proposed change in the rules. Clifton Porter II, the AHCA's senior vice president for government relations, says that's because "they're prescribing us to do things that we, frankly, already do." Porter acknowledges, however, that practices vary from facility to facility, depending on state law.

Arbitration agreements, he says, are common throughout the health care industry — in hospitals, surgery centers and doctors' offices. "Why aren't rules being promulgated to eliminate arbitration in those settings?" he asks.

In any case, Porter says arbitration is more efficient for both sides than going to court would be.

"It actually allows consumers to get an expedited award," he says. "And you have the benefit of not having to use the courts and go through the entire process."

But that expedited award is about 35 percent lower than if the plaintiff had gone to court. That's one conclusion of a study commissioned by Porter's organization in 2009.

If the federal government does regulate or ban the signing of arbitration agreements for new nursing home residents, Porter says the American Health Care Association will probably fight the move in court.

Full Article & Source:
Suing A Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Louise Hicks - The Need for Mental Health Reform

Award Winning Author, Motivational Speaker and Radio Show Host

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Louise Hicks has called Southern California home since she relocated to Long Beach in 1969. She attended California State University, Long Beach where she obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in Social Work and then went on to work for the County of Los Angeles for 32 years-retiring in 2006.

She launched L. Hicks Consulting Services, LLC in 2009 where she offers workshops, and seminars that help positively impact people on the job. She has touched countless lives with her best-selling book, “A Hill to Climb – A Teenager’s Battle with Cancer, Depression, and Drug Addiction” (published 2009 by Tate Publishing, LLC). The real-life account chronicles her experiences as she helps her 14-year-old son David, battle bone cancer, depression and later a drug addiction that plagues David in his adult life.

Her inspiring story has landed her a guest spot on CNN News and has opened doors for her to speak, inspire, and motivate audiences across the nation through motivational speaking opportunities.

Currently, Louise is promoting an initiative called AIMED 2 PURPOSE™, which is designed to inspire women, at-risk youth, entrepreneurs, and anyone who wants to improve their quality of life. As an extension of the campaign, Louise also launched an internet radio show entitled AIMED 2 PURPOSE®–The Radio Show™ in July 2014. The 1-hour global weekly show features Louise along with her eldest son Kennon Wesley Mason as they discuss a wide range of topics from spirituality, work/life management and healthy living. The show airs Mondays at 5PM Pacific, 7PM Central, and 8PM Eastern on Global Voice Broadcasting. Listeners can call in for questions and comments at (323) 522-5482. Learn more by visiting

For more information about Louise log on To schedule an appearance, speaking engagement, customer service training, or book club review contact Louise Hicks at (562) 310-1495 or email her at

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

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

FBI raids Riverside nursing home

California’s largest nursing home owner is facing a new round of government scrutiny as the FBI served search warrants last week at his Riverside facility, and two more of his former top administrators have been charged criminally by the state attorney general’s office.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller confirmed Saturday that FBI agents executed search warrants “seeking evidence in relation to alleged criminal activity” at a 99-bed facility in Riverside owned by nursing home magnate Shlomo Rechnitz.

Eimiller said she could not comment on the exact nature of the federal probe because the affidavit in support of the warrants is under seal. However, the FBI spokeswoman said it was her understanding that agents took documents, and that “patients were not removed or even disturbed” during Thursday’s raid at the Alta Vista Healthcare & Wellness Centre.

We are not aware of any basis for the (FBI) investigation, but are cooperating fully with authorities.

Sallie Hofmeister, spokeswoman for Shlomo Rechnitz and his facilities
The latest investigations shine the spotlight again on Rechnitz, a 44-year-old Los Angeles entrepreneur whose facilities have been the focus of multiple local, state and federal probes, along with stepped-up scrutiny by health officials.

His stable of nursing homes in California has expanded rapidly in the last decade, giving him control of about 1 in every 14 skilled nursing beds in the state, according to a Bee investigation. With an estimated 80 homes under his control, Rechnitz has widespread influence on the quality of care being delivered in skilled nursing facilities, which serve some of the state’s most vulnerable residents.

The Bee found that homes he owned for all of last year were tagged with nearly triple as many serious deficiencies per 1,000 beds as the statewide average in 2014, according to the latest figures from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sallie Hofmeister, a spokeswoman for Rechnitz and his facilities, said Saturday in an email to The Bee: “We are not aware of any basis for the (FBI) investigation, but are cooperating fully with authorities. We cannot comment on the specifics of the discussions with the authorities, but at this time we have no reason to believe the investigation has anything to do with patient care. Alta Vista is proud of the care and treatment it provides to its patients.”

Besides last week’s FBI raid, several Rechnitz employees are facing their own legal challenges.

The former administrator and former top nurse at one of his Orange County nursing homes were charged criminally in August in connection with the alleged abuse last year of two residents – one of two criminal cases filed by the California attorney general in August against employees at facilities owned by Rechnitz.

Joseph Munoz III and Milagros Victoria Soqueno have been charged with four misdemeanor counts each of inflicting injury on an elder adult and failing to report elder abuse. Munoz had been the administrator of the 80-bed Mesa Verde Post Acute Care Center in Costa Mesa, and Soqueno was the nurse in charge at the time of the 2014 incidents, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Soqueno’s and Munoz’s charges stemmed from the discovery last year by a Department of Public Health inspector that a resident at the facility had been inappropriately touching other patients, and staff knew about it but failed to immediately report the incidents or protect residents from further harm, said AG’s spokeswoman Kristin Ford. After prompting from health officials, the facility eventually filed the mandated abuse reports, she said.

Arraignment is set for Dec. 10 in Orange County, and the case is being handled by the AG’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse.

Hofmeister, spokeswoman for Rechnitz and his facilities, said that “no employees were arrested at Mesa Verde Post Acute Care Center.”

“The facility investigated the allegations and the employees are no longer with Mesa Verde,” she said in Saturday’s email. “The facility has cooperated with authorities and has not been cited for the incident.”

Also in August, Attorney General Kamala Harris announced that her office had filed involuntary manslaughter charges against Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre LLC, a 138-bed facility owned by Rechnitz in suburban Montrose, near Glendale. In that criminal case, the AG’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse brought felony charges against two registered nurses at the facility, accusing them of dependent-adult abuse in connection with the death of a burn victim, who allegedly was neglected. The preliminary hearing in that case is set for Dec 8.

Full Article & Source:
FBI raids Riverside nursing home

See Also:
California’s largest nursing home owner sued 

Unmasked: How California’s largest nursing home chains perform

Fight for Benson trust headed to a mediator

Trial could be averted

Tom Benson’s appeal states Renee Benson did not prove Tom Benson had breached his duties as trustee of the Shirley Benson trust. It also states that the probate court had not given adequate notice that receivership was a possibility. Photo: Associated Press File Photo / FR170136 AP
Photo: Associated Press File Photo 
Tom Benson’s appeal states Renee Benson did not prove Tom Benson had breached his duties as trustee of the Shirley Benson trust. It also states that the probate court had not given adequate notice that receivership was a possibility.

Lawyers for both billionaire Tom Benson and his daughter and grandchildren agreed Monday to seek an agreement through a mediator on future control of a contested trust, estimated at almost $1 billion in value, left by Benson’s first wife, Shirley Benson.

Full Article & Source:
Fight for Benson trust headed to a mediator

See Also:
Lessons Learned From The Tom Benson Competency Battle

In fight over Tom Benson's fortune, Texas judge temporarily freezes assets

Tom Benson's Family Files Suit Against Saints, Pelican's Owner LA/TX