Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hollywood broker cleared in elderly exploitation case

A Hollywood stockbroker convicted of conning a 95-year-old woman into signing over her $10 million estate was exonerated Wednesday by an appeals court.

Cynthia Franke, 54, began serving a seven-year prison term in 2013 following her conviction, but the Fourth District Court of Appeal determined that the jury got it wrong.

"Because the state's evidence was not inconsistent with her theory of innocence, we reverse," the appeals court ruled.

Franke was overcome with emotion during a telephone interview Wednesday, saying only that she feels "better now." She served less than two months in prison before being released on bond pending the outcome of her appeal.

Franke and Mary Teris had been friends for 30 years. Franke had prepared a special needs trust for Teris' two sons in 1996.

In 2008, Teris asked Franke to change her trust, ultimately having a lawyer switch the trustee and beneficiary to Franke. Teris then named a co-trustee so that Franke could avoid a conflict of interest.

But Teris, now 101, allegedly suffered from dementia, and Franke was accused of taking advantage of her condition to enrich herself.

Franke and her husband, Tyrone Javellana, were charged, tried, convicted and sentenced together. But Javellana's conviction was overturned in June. He faced a related accusation involving Teris' sister, but that charge was dropped last month.

"It is a huge relief," Javellana said Wednesday. "It was six years of an unbelievable nightmare that's been lifted off our shoulders."

Franke's friend and colleague, Alicia Brown Beloyan, said Franke was in tears much of the day. "It's not sinking into her mind that this is over after six years," she said.

After the charges were filed, Franke lost her job with the Laidlaw and Company brokerage firm and was stripped of her license as a broker. She has not decided what to do with her career, Javellana said.

"We're not certain what her next step will be, but at least this exoneration clears her name," he said.

Full Article & Source:
Hollywood broker cleared in elderly exploitation case

Tooele banker took $43K from elderly woman's account, police say

TOOELE — A Zions Bank employee has been arrested for allegedly stealing more than than $43,000 from a 90-year-old woman's account over the past year.

Stephanie Huber Bennett, 44, of Tooele, was arrested for investigation of 22 counts of exploitation of an elderly adult and 22 counts of forgery. Investigators believe Bennett, a teller at Zions Bank in Tooele from 2006 up until the time the alleged fraud was discovered, withdrew $43,700 since January from the account of a 90-year-old customer.

The elderly woman, "with the help of a family member, reported that after reviewing the victim’s account, suspicious withdrawals were found," according to a statement from Tooele police, who began investigating on Dec. 9.

"Zions Bank was contacted and assisted with video and other documents showing the transactions were all made by the arrestee. Zions Bank investigators found video showing the arrestee was alone in the lobby when the transactions were made," according to a probable cause statement from Tooele police. "The arrestee stated she has assisted the victim with many financial transactions."

Zions Bank released a statement saying Bennett is no longer an employee as of Dec. 10.

"We are unable to discuss specifics regarding this situation. However, we are working closely with the Tooele City Police Department in (its) investigation," according to the bank's statement.

A relative at Bennett's home Tuesday said they had no comment about the case.

"There's more financial exploitation going on in the community than people really realize," said Debbie Booth of Adult Protective Services. "With a bank employee, it makes it all the more egregious, I think as far as we're concerned, because a bank employee is usually the people that you trust."

Booth said having a conversation with elderly parents about money can be important since exploitation, particularly of older women, is common. Many times the perpetrator is a relative or friend.

"It's a really sensitive topic, but it just takes asking Mom if she's OK or asking her, 'Mom, how are your finances? Are you able to share that information with me?'" she said, adding that banks often offer services that can help family members monitor bank accounts.

"They're not necessarily on the bank account, but they can monitor things," she said.

Tooele police detectives said their investigation is ongoing to determine if there are other victims in the case. Anyone who believes there has been suspicious activity with their financial accounts can contact Toole police at 435-882-8900.

Full Article & Source:
Tooele banker took $43K from elderly woman's account, police say

Elderly financial exploitation arrests made in Joplin

Josh Harrison, 41, of Carthage and William Lovell, 29, of Liberty were arrested by Joplin police. They were taken into custody for not having a business license and property destruction. Harrison is charged with financial exploitation of the elderly. Lovell also has two Newton County warrants.

Officers say they had the woman pay $270 upfront to work on her driveway. They came back a week later and asked for another $150 to finish the project. Both men are being held in the Joplin City Jail.

Police advise people to not pay in advance, and not to pay in full until the project is completed. Also check with the city to see if your contractors are licensed and bonded.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly financial exploitation arrests made in Joplin

Friday, December 18, 2015

Lyon County, administrator to pay $2.1 million for stolen items

Lyon County and former Public Administrator Richard Glover must pay $2.1 million to the heirs of a man whose Wellington home was looted after his death in May 2006, a federal jury ruled Tuesday.

"It's been a really long haul," Las Vegas resident Richard Mathis said after hearing the verdict.

The verdict stemmed from a civil rights lawsuit filed by Mathis and his two brothers, Anthony and James, who accused Glover of illegally seizing and stealing nearly $1 million of heirlooms and other property from the home of their 85-year-old father, Joe, shortly after his death.

Anthony Mathis, who lives in Vermont, and Richard Mathis came to court Tuesday afternoon to hear the jury's verdict. Glover also came to court, but he and his attorneys declined to comment.

Later, as Richard Mathis left the federal courthouse in Las Vegas, juror Kristine Anderson approached him and said, "I hope you guys are able to move on now."

Anderson told the Review-Journal that jurors wanted to hold Lyon County accountable for failing to have written policies to guide its public administrator, and for failing to protect its citizens.

"The family clearly wasn't notified that the property was going to be removed from the home," she said.

The jury's verdict included about $1.6 million in damages against Lyon County and $180,000 in damages against Glover for emotional distress, as well as about $217,00 in damages against both defendants for stolen property. In addition, the jury ordered Glover to pay $100,000 in punitive damages.

"I hope that this'll teach Lyon County not to do this to somebody again, but I don't think it will," Richard Mathis said.

The Mathis brothers had sought a $4.5 million verdict. Their attorneys argued that the stolen property included $800,000 worth of opals.

"It's hard to value property that's missing," Anthony Mathis said.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon presided over the trial, which began Nov. 2.

"At its core, this case is about a Nevada county that was deliberately indifferent to the constitutional rights of its citizens," attorneys for the Mathis brothers wrote in their trial brief. "The evidence in this case shows that Lyon County has elected numerous public administrators that have overtly violated the constitutional rights of Lyon County citizens for more than a decade."

Glover was investigated but never faced criminal charges related to the missing Mathis property.

However, records show he was charged with a crime in connection with the estate of Carl Liberty and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in 2010.

Joe Mathis' six children, including three daughters, were raised in Smith Valley, where the western Nevada town of Wellington is located.

Full Article & Source:
Lyon County, administrator to pay $2.1 million for stolen items

Legal representation urged for adult guardianships in Nevada

A committee tasked with fixing the state's guardianship program wrangled Tuesday with the concept of legal representation and how it might apply to state's guardianship courts.

Several members at a meeting of the Nevada Supreme Court Commission to Study the Administration of Guardianships threw heavy support behind the idea of mandating attorney representation for those facing adult guardianships.

While attorney representation is a right given to anyone facing criminal charges, the infirm and elderly in the state who are facing the loss of many of their constitutional rights that comes with a guardianship are not guaranteed the same right.

"One of the most important things we need to do is make sure the people who are losing their rights have legal counsel," said Sally Ramm, of the state's Aging and Disability services.

Chief Justice James Hardesty, who chairs the commission, said he thinks many of the problems that he has heard from family members who feel that their loved one was taken advantage of could have been solved if the ward was given an attorney from the beginning of the process.

Hardesty had a simple recommendation for the panel.

"(Wards) are entitled to an attorney and I think they should have one appointed," he said.

The biggest hurdle for the panel is finding out the best way to fund such representation, and a subcommittee will discuss the most feasible way to do so.

The concept isn't so foreign to some parts of the state, though.

Judge Frances Doherty, who oversees Washoe County's guardianship cases, said that Northern Nevada county has been providing attorney representation to those under guardianship, often referred to as wards, through the county's senior legal aid program for the past two years.

If the panel fails to provide that representation to the thousands of other wards throughout the state, Doherty said, the commission might have been formed for naught.

"We would fall short so significantly as a commission if we failed to affirm the right of the individual facing guardianship in the adult arena to have their own attorney," Doherty said.

The panel was formed after longstanding problems with the system — which handles thousands of guardianship cases in Clark County each year — were exposed in a series of Las Vegas Review-Journal articles in April. Highlighted cases showed a lack of oversight by the courts that left infirm and incapacitated people vulnerable to financial abuse.

The panel was originally supposed to provide recommendations to the state Legislature by the new year, but the Supreme Court recently extended the commission's length by an additional six months.

Full Article & Source:
Legal representation urged for adult guardianships in Nevada

Family: Video shows veteran's calls for help ignored by nurses

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. ( — Family of a World War II veteran is suing the Atlanta-based nursing home where he died.

They say a hidden camera, installed at Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center, shows the elderly man’s repeated calls for help were ignored.

Tim Demsey says his father, James Dempsey, was nervous about spending the night at the facility, so the family installed a nanny camera facing the man’s bed. Only his family and his father knew the camera existed, according to Dempsey.

The family of the 89-year-old says he was supposed to be at the assisted living facility for a short time. He died at the facility in February 2014.

“We would have just thought it was natural causes and everything was done that should have been done and he passed away in his sleep,” Dempsey told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.

Dempsey says he got the real story when he took the hidden camera home and reviewed the video.

“Shock, dismay, we’ve seen these people everyday,” he said.

On six occasions in the video from the morning he died, Dempsey can be seen pressing the “call/help light button from his bed.”

He can also be seen yelling, “help, help, help,” and appears to be pointing to his heart.

At one point a nurse on the video says, “you gotta stop putting the light on. What do you want now?”

A nurse also tells him, “you’re having anxiety that’s all, you just need to calm down.”

“You would never thought that people would just let a person die,” Dempsey said.

About two hours after the initial call light, the nurses are seen administering CPR for several minutes and then the video shows the paramedics arriving – by then it is too late.

The son filed a lawsuit against the facility, which is owned by one of the largest nursing home operators in the country, Atlanta-based Sava Senior care.

“The biggest problem to me is the attempt to cover it up,” said Michael Prieto, who represents the Dempsey family.

“If they made a mistake then a person of integrity stands up and says I made mistake and you deal with the consequences that certainly hasn’t happened in this case,” Prieto said.

Since Monday, Channel 2 Action News has called the company and their attorneys for comment but have not heard back.

Full Article & Source:
Family: Video shows veteran's calls for help ignored by nurses

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Guardianship Commission to ask for criminal investigations

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - Amid tears and calls for criminal prosecutions, the Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission took substantial action today.

Chief investigator Darcy Spears was there to see the unprecedented steps in fixing a broken system.

When it comes to your civil rights, being put under guardianship is worse than being sent to prison.  Those words from a judge who sits on the commission.

Plus, the state Supreme Court's chief justice called some of what's been going on in our guardianship system just plain crazy.

One of those crazy things is how people can be deemed incompetent by a physician's assistant.  The same physician's assistant whose name appears on case after case handled by private guardian April Parks.

"Later my aunt was examined by a neurologist who determined she was competent," Brenda Ralphs told the commission, through tears.  "My aunt was victimized based on a defective document and incorrect diagnosis by an unqualified person!"

Brenda Ralphs found our Contact 13 investigation online, then flew in from Seattle to share her aunt's story with the guardianship commission.

She told commission members she fought to free her 92-year-old aunt, Barbara Lasco, from an unnecessary guardianship, but succeeded only after Parks and her lawyer drained nearly $20,000 from Lasco's accounts.

"This whole mess was unnecessary and expensive and it was emotionally devastating for my aunt--a proud and competent woman who was reduced to asking for her own money to go to the hairdresser, like a child asking for an allowance!"

After hearing that, Chief Justice Hardesty addressed what we've been asking about for months--what's being done to hold private guardians accountable for exploiting the people they're supposed to protect?

The commission unanimously voted to send a letter to all sheriffs and district attorneys in the state, as well as the Attorney General, asking them to prosecute misconduct and seek restitution for people subject to unjust guardianships.

The commission also voted to establish a bill of rights for people under guardianship and to ensure they have legal counsel.

They will also create a permanent guardianship commission to keep tabs on reform.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship Commission to ask for criminal investigations

N.J. Supreme Court suspends ex-Hasbrouck Heights mayor from law practice after 'unfair' loan deal with elderly client

The state Supreme Court has suspended a former mayor of Hasbrouck Heights from the practice of law after finding that he abused an elderly client, borrowing most of her life savings with an “unfair” loan agreement and repaying only a fraction before she died.

The court imposed a one-year suspension Wednesday on William J. Torre, a Republican who served as the borough's mayor from 1996 to 2004.

The state Office of Attorney Ethics had recommended a three-month suspension. But the Supreme Court called Torre’s conduct “egregious” and increased his penalty to 12 months.

In a 6-0 decision, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner indicated that it was one of the longest suspensions ever imposed on a lawyer who borrowed money from a client, which is generally discouraged in New Jersey.

The court added that Torre’s case should serve as a warning to all lawyers that abusing the elderly carries “serious consequences” such as suspension or disbarment.

“At all times, an attorney's duty of loyalty is to the client, and not the lawyer's personal financial interests,” Rabner wrote.

“A one-year suspension is warranted to protect the public and guard against elder abuse by lawyers, and to help preserve confidence in the bar,” the court said.

In June 2008, Torre borrowed around $89,000, or 70 percent of the woman’s assets. The woman, identified in court papers as M.D., was 86 years old at the time. A longtime friend of Torre and his family, M.D. had given the former mayor power of attorney and relied on him and employees at his private practice to run errands and help manage her affairs.

According to a note Torre prepared and M.D. signed, the $89,000 loan was to be repaid in two months. But nearly a year later, Torre had paid back only $10,000. The Supreme Court said the arrangement also was troubling in other ways: Torre’s loan was not secured or collateralized, and state rules on attorney conduct required him to advise M.D. in writing that she should consult another lawyer prior to signing the loan agreement with him, but there was no evidence that happened, the court found.

M.D. eventually sued Torre to collect her funds. In November 2009, she also filed an ethics complaint against him. She died a month after that.

Rabner wrote that Torre “caused substantial harm to a vulnerable, eighty-six-year-old victim.”
“Rather than be able to enjoy her twilight years in peace, she was forced to file a lawsuit to try to recoup her life savings,” he wrote.

Torre’s attorney, Raymond F. Flood, said: “Bill Torre and myself understand and accept the decision of the Supreme Court, and he intends to repay the money that he borrowed.”

Shortly before her death in 2009, M.D. won a court judgment against Torre for around $90,000. Torre, who has repaid around $44,500 so far, or around half of the loan, told the Supreme Court he intends to pay the rest to M.D.’s estate in increments until December 2017.

Flood added that “Bill Torre has an outstanding reputation in the legal community.” Torre over the years has represented the Sports and Exposition Authority, the City of Hackensack and several Bergen County lawmakers. He has served as chairman of the Anti Drug Council of Hasbrouck Heights, according to a biography on his law firm’s website. Torre did not return a phone message seeking comment Wednesday.

Safeguarding the elderly from abuse has been a priority for Rabner, who created a statewide program in 2013 through which lawyers and other members of the public volunteer to become court-appointed monitors for older residents, assisting them with financial and medical decisions. The chief justice has promoted the program in public remarks and says the need is growing because demographic trends show the state’s population is getting older on average.

State judges appoint more than 2,000 such guardians each year, a number that is expected to rise, Rabner said.

A spokesman for the New Jersey chapter of the AARP, Jeff Abramo, declined to comment on the case but said “more must be done to enact and enforce laws that fully fund adult protective services and make it a criminal offense, with enhanced penalties, to abuse, neglect, or exploit a vulnerable individual.”

Full Article & Source:
N.J. Supreme Court suspends ex-Hasbrouck Heights mayor from law practice after 'unfair' loan deal with elderly client

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

NJ: Should Nursing Homes be Required to Have More Aides? Legislation Says Yes

In a move intended to improve the treatment and safety inside New Jersey's nursing homes, a state Assembly panel Monday approved a bill that would set minimum staffing standards for certified nursing assistants.

The bill targets the professionals on whom residents rely the most to meet their basic needs — from eating, bathing, dressing and administering medications.

Nursing homes would have to require one nursing assistant be on duty for every eight residents on the day shift, for every 10 on the late day shift, and one for every 16 residents on the overnight shift.

The Assembly Human Services Committee voted 4-2 to pass the bill (A4636) despite the objections of nursing home operators, who argued quotas would interfere with daily managerial decisions they make based on the specific medical and emotional needs of residents.

Industry officials said passing a law won't change the fact that assistants or "CNA's" are in short supply in New Jersey and nationally.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1.4 million certified nursing assistants nationwide whose median salary was $25,000 last year, although some made as little as $18,790.

Generally, a nursing aide is required to have 75 hours of training.

Annual turnover in the field is among the highest in any industry - exceeding 100 percent in some years because the work is difficult and pay isn't competitive, according to a 2004 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The report said 1.2 million more nursing assistants would be needed to keep up for the demand for care as the baby boomer population ages.

Full Article and Source:
NJ Assembly Panel Acts to Create Staffing Quota

Contact 13: Judge in guardianship cases recuses herself

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - The judge who was assigned to take over guardianship cases from an embattled hearing master has recused herself from two controversial cases, leaving families with more questions than answers.

Both cases have been the subject of Contact 13 investigations and both involve private guardian April Parks, who is currently under police investigation. Phyllis Moscowitze Crowe lost most of her money and nearly her home while Parks was in control. Elizabeth Indig did lose her house after Parks had failed to pay HOA bills and let it slip into foreclosure.

Judge Cynthia Dianne Steel was presiding over both cases as the families sought restitution. But the judge abruptly backed off, saying she has personal knowledge of the facts in dispute.

The court said Steel's recusal is to ensure the integrity and fairness of the process and to avoid conflicts of interest.

This comes in the midst of a massive overhaul of Clark County's guardianship system, which Contact 13 has exposed as rife with abuse and corruption.

Full Article & Source:
Contact 13: Judge in guardianship cases recuses herself

Perry County coroner avoids prison time in financial-exploitation case

Perry County Coroner Herbert Miller was sentenced to two seven-year sentences with the Missouri Department of Corrections on Friday in Perry County Court in Perryville, Missouri, to be served concurrently but was granted a suspended sentence and received five years of supervised probation.

Miller was convicted Oct. 16 of financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person and theft of $25,000 or more. One of the conditions of Miller's probation is he must repay $80,600 in restitution for the amount of money he stole. If he violates his probation, he is in danger of going to prison.

Miller said he will remain Perry County coroner, the position he has held for 20 years to which he was re-elected in 2012. Missouri statutes require a person holding public office, elected or appointed, who is convicted of an offense to forfeit the office if the office holder is convicted of a felony or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to an offense involving misconduct in office or dishonesty. Those convicted of felonies are ineligible to hold any public office under Missouri's government.

The next election for Perry County coroner is in November.

Miller was given power of attorney by the victim in 2004, when she was 83 years old. She was diagnosed with dementia in 2008 and entered a nursing home.

Between 2011 and 2013, Miller wrote several checks from her account -- 78 to "cash" totaling $51,400 and another seven to Miller Funeral Home totaling $34,000. Miller testified in court the checks made to "cash" were used to buy items for the victim. Miller admitted to accepting gifts but none more than $200, and he added the victim always approved each payment, including those to the funeral home.

When the victim moved into the nursing home, she gave Miller and his wife, Kathleen, a trust that granted them $1,000 when the victim retired from the trust. Miller testified in court he was unaware he received $1,000 from the trust.

Dr. Mark Schabbing testified the victim suffered memory problems since 2000, which he attributed to normal pressure hydrocephalus. By mid-2013, the victim was out of money and $20,000 in arrears at the nursing home where she lived and applying for Medicaid, testified Greg Martin, who investigated the case while with the Department of Health and Human Services. Martin interviewed the victim and said there was no way she could have given a credible statement. The victim died in February 2014 at age 94.

Kathleen Miller also was named as an associate trustee, and she testified her relationship with the victim was close and refuted some of the claims about the victim's memory in court.

On Friday, several people testified on Miller's behalf, but no one testified on behalf of the victim, a Perry County Circuit Court official said.

Full Article & Source:
Perry County coroner avoids prison time in financial-exploitation case

See Also:
Perry County coroner accused of financially exploiting 94-year-old woman

Financial exploitation case against Perry County coroner set for trial

Perry County, MO coroner found guilty of financial exploitation

Suspended lawyer faces new allegations of misconduct from wife

Embattled Las Vegas lawyer Brian Bloomfield, whose law license is suspended in the wake of a felony conviction, is facing new allegations of misconduct from a new source — his estranged wife.

Bloomfield, 40, is facing a five-year suspension over his December 2013 guilty plea to felony and gross misdemeanor charges in a scheme that provided Las Vegas Justice Court with phony certificates of completion on behalf of clients ordered to undergo counseling and perform community service.

He and his wife, Amber Bloomfield, 32, are now locked in bitter divorce and child custody proceedings. Issues she has raised could affect an upcoming decision by the Nevada Supreme Court on his fitness to practice law. The high court has the option of a stiffer penalty, including disbarment.

In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Amber alleges her husband:

-- Lied under oath to the disciplinary panel of the State Bar of Nevada that recommended the suspension following a day of testimony in which Bloomfield expressed remorse. The Bar's chief prosecutor had sought disbarment at the June hearing.

-- Forced her to marry him after he was indicted for forging court documents so she could assert the marital privilege and not have to testify against him. They were married in January 2012, a month after Bloomfield's indictment.

-- Tipped the accountant for lawyer Vicki Greco to a police investigation of the lawyer. Greco was indicted last week on 138 felony and gross misdemeanor charges, including forging court documents and destroying evidence.

Bloomfield's attorney, William Terry, rebutted Amber Bloomfield's claims and said he doesn't think his client lied at the disciplinary hearing.

State Bar Counsel Stan Hunterton declined comment.

In their now-sealed divorce case, the Bloomfields have exchanged a slew of inflammatory allegations as they fight for custody of their three young children. Each accuses the other of mental instability and of displaying personal behavior detrimental to the children.

Amber Bloomfield acknowledged in the interview that she overdosed on prescription drugs in a failed suicide attempt during the criminal investigation of her husband. She said she tried to take her own life because of her husband's repeated infidelity.

Brian Bloomfield told the State Bar disciplinary panel that he has undergone psychological counseling and is on prescription medication for depression and anxiety. At the hearing he portrayed himself as an emotional wreck.

Family Court Judge Linda Marquis, a longtime Terry associate prior to the criminal investigation of Bloomfield, is overseeing the divorce case. She has disclosed her former relationship with Terry in court.

Both Bloomfields were targeted in the Las Vegas police investigation. Amber was charged under her maiden name, McDearmon, and later pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of destroying evidence. Her sentence was for time served — the day she spent in jail following her 2012 arrest.

Brian Bloomfield in his guilty plea admitted that he filed or helped file forged court records in 91 cases that falsely claimed his clients, mostly prostitutes, had completed the counseling or community service. He also admitted having office files destroyed to cover his actions. He is waiting to be sentenced.

At his disciplinary hearing in June, Bloomfield sobbed repeatedly, begging a five-member panel to let him keep his law license.

He denied personally destroying key client files in the courthouse fraud and said he once sat in a closet in his house with a handgun contemplating suicide.

His wife says that's not true.

"It's a lie that he didn't destroy any client files," Amber Bloomfield said. "I went to his office with him. He was pulling papers out and throwing them in a pile. They were files the police didn't know about."

At the hearing, Bloomfield testified that he asked his legal runner at the time, Brandon Snowden, to "get rid" of a stack of documents police left on his desk during a raid on April 27, 2010.

But Snowden, who is a felon, testified before the grand jury that he helped shred client file documents and left the office with three bags of shredded papers.

Instead of throwing the bags in the trash, Snowden gave them to police, leading to more charges against Bloomfield. A police forensic specialist spent 10 weeks reassembling the documents.

Terry said Bloomfield was candid about having documents destroyed and believed none of the papers were relevant to the investigation. But in hindsight, Terry said, his client shouldn't have destroyed anything.

"There was at least a reason to believe that the police, as a result of their investigation, would be interested in additional files, and that's where the problem was," he said.

Bloomfield's testimony about suicidal thoughts?

"Complete lie," Amber said.

Bloomfield hasn't owned a gun since police seized one of his along with a bag of marijuana in the 2010 raid and another was later stolen, she said.

"He's in love with himself," Amber added. "The last thing he would do is take his own life."
Terry said he believes his client.

"I can tell you he was going through depression," Terry said. "He had an immense amount of stress in the newspaper. I wasn't in the closet with him, but I believe he contemplated suicide."

Despite their differences, Amber said, she always wanted to marry Bloomfield, but it didn't happen as she envisioned.

One morning several weeks after Bloomfield's indictment, she explained, he woke her and said he wanted to get married that day.

"He told me that I had to marry him," she said. "He didn't want to take the chance of the police forcing me to testify against him."

With that, they rushed to a downtown wedding chapel.

"To my knowledge no one forced anyone to marry anyone to assert a husband-wife privilege,'' Terry countered. "That wouldn't have protected him. Only communication is privileged, not an act such as destroying files."

Amber said she suspects her husband recently tried to influence the criminal case against Vicki Greco, his friend.

After police interviewed Bloomfield about the forgery allegations surrounding Greco, he went to see Greco's accountant, Amber said.

Bloomfield said he thought the accountant, who also handled the couple's taxes, might be raided by police and wanted to warn her about it, according to his wife.

Greco's indictment describes Bloomfield meeting her in 2010 and 2011 to discuss ways to hide evidence from police.

Terry wouldn't comment on anything to do with the Greco case because the investigation is ongoing.

Amber said her husband also wasn't honest at the disciplinary hearing about his current earnings. He testified that he is paid $9 per hour in a telemarketing call room but did not reveal thousands of dollars in commissions, she said.

Terry said Bloomfield isn't making a lot of money on commissions and has needed financial help from his parents.

According to Amber, her husband and some of his friends who testified at the hearing ruined her reputation by trying to blame his legal and professional troubles on her. She said she was falsely accused of being a drug addict and a "crazy, horrible person."

Terry said he was surprised when testimony about Bloomfield's wife surfaced at the hearing and he did not intend for that to happen.

As for Bloomfield's expression of remorse, Amber said she wasn't impressed.

"It's the biggest (B.S.) ever," she said. "He still refuses to take responsibility for what he did."

Full Article & Source:
Suspended lawyer faces new allegations of misconduct from wife

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Attorneys representing Chris Dunn contest Methodist Hospital’s attempt to seize guardianship

By Texas Right to Life

Houston, Texas– December 10, 2015: Yesterday, the attorneys representing Evelyn Kelly contested Methodist Hospital’s application for custodial guardianship of Evelyn’s adult son, Chris Dunn. Chris is currently fighting for his life in Houston Methodist Hospital.

His mother, Evelyn, is his Medical Power of Attorney and trying to ensure that Chris continues to receive life-sustaining treatments that the hospital is attempting to remove. Methodist has invoked the statutory process found in the Texas Advanced Directives Act (TADA-Chapter 166.046 of the Health & Safety Code), which allows the hospital to override medical directives of a patient and provide only ten days’ notice before involuntarily withdrawing life-sustaining treatment.

Dunn’s only recourse is to find another facility that will offer him an ICU bed – a daunting task on a rushed time frame for anyone, but even more so when the hospital has determined to end your life.

Last week, Chris’s mother was granted a second two-week extension of the 10-day period to find another facility, a task made even more difficult because the hospital will not provide a diagnosis of Chris’s condition. The same day the extension was granted, however, Methodist filed an injunction seeking custodial guardianship of Chris. The hospital is thus attempting to prevent Evelyn from representing her son and defending his right to continue receiving care.

In November when the hospital initially attempted to remove care, Evelyn contacted Texas Right to Life, which has assisted the family in the difficult legal process and provided legal assistance.

Yesterday, the lawyers representing Chris and Evelyn, Trey Trainor and Joe Nixon, contested Methodist Hospital’s attempt to seize guardianship. Trainor and Nixon are the same lawyers who appear in video documentation of Chris communicating his desire to continue receiving treatment and for his mother’s attorneys to fight on his behalf.

In court documents filed today, Trainor and Nixon note this video evidence that Chris is alert and responsive, only intermittently sedated depending on the dosage of medication.

The court documents filed yesterday reveal that Justine Moore, an employee of Methodist Hospital, applied to be Chris’s Permanent Guardian. As Trainor and Nixon note, Chris lived with his mother before his illness and has since indicated that he would prefer her to speak on his behalf before anyone else.

Furthermore, as a former EMT, Chris is well aware of what life-sustaining treatment entails. When asked explicitly if he wants to continue receiving such care, he clearly communicated that he does.

Finally, and most shockingly, Trainor and Nixon point to the inappropriate nature of Moore’s application for guardianship. Moore was the very same employee who revealed to Evelyn the hospital’s desire to remove care. She cannot therefore be an impartial guardian, and there is evidence that she would in fact be acting directly contrary to Chris’s wishes for his own medical care.

Texas Right to Life condemns Houston Methodist Hospital’s legal maneuvering to force their anti-Life quality of life judgments upon Chris. Until now, the hospital has been hiding behind the unethical, unconstitutional, and unprecedented Texas law; however, now that a judge has shown skepticism at the process allowed by law, the hospital is going out of their way to remove the little legal protection Chris still has, his Medical Power of Attorney. This reveals the lengths to which this hospital will go to ensure that the final authority of these Life and death decisions remain in the hands of the physicians and hospital that does not see Chris’s life as worth living.

Editor’s note. This appeared at

Full Article & Source:
Attorneys representing Chris Dunn contest Methodist Hospital’s attempt to seize guardianship

See Also:
Hospital Trying to Seize Guardianship of Disabled Patient From His Family in Order to Kill Him

New Bern man charged with defrauding elderly Craven County couple of $22,000

Police River Bend, Craven County are warning residents to be alert after one elderly couple was defrauded out of more than $20,000.

Police say Rodney Taylor of New Bern stole around $22,000 from an elderly couple in their 80's.

Taylor is charged with felony obtaining property by false pretense, felony exploitation of an adult elder, and failure to work after being paid.

Police say Taylor was hired to do yard work for the couple and was taking thousands of dollars from the couple over the course of the year, and then failing to do the work or over charging the couple by thousands for the work he was doing.

Police say this couple may have not been his only victim.

Police are suggesting family members talk to their elderly loved ones about who is doing work on their homes to make sure this isn't happening to them.

Taylor is being held on a $30,000 secured bond and currently has several other similar pending charges in surrounding areas.

Full Article & Source:
New Bern man charged with defrauding elderly Craven County couple of $22,000

Monday, December 14, 2015

Exclusive: Guardian accused of ‘theft’

A prominent Winston-Salem attorney who routinely serves as an estate guardian and public administrator through the Forsyth Clerk of Superior Court’s office is being accused of committing “… felony theft by fraud …” for taking over $44,000 he allegedly had no legal authority to do so.

As part of its continuing series of articles about allegations of a continuing “pattern and practice” of fraud and mismanagement at the Clerk’s office involving the assets and properties of elderly African-American Forsyth County residents, The Chronicle has secured and reviewed a copy of a motion filed in Forsyth County Superior Court on Nov. 24 in the matter of the estate of Steven W. Epperson.

The motion, filed by Winston-Salem attorney Reginald D. Alston on behalf of Epperson’s siblings, Susan and Kelvin Epperson, seeks a court order to “immediately” remove attorney Bryan C. Thompson “… from acting as guardian of the Estate of Steven W. Epperson and to allow Susan Epperson to resume as Guardian of …” her brother’s estate.

According to the motion, there are no court documents on file proving that attorney Thompson – who has been prominent in many of the cases The Chronicle has reviewed and reported on in recent weeks – was ever legally appointed as estate guardian to Steven Epperson prior to April 2010, and yet there is a witnessed court document showing that Thompson received $44,180.68 on behalf of Epperson as his “guardian” on Nov. 15, 2009.

The motion not only seeks Thompson’s “immediate removal” and Susan Epperson’s reinstatement as guardian of the estate, as indicated before, but also, “… such other and further award as the court deems justified,” meaning damages may be warranted.

Per the motion and accompanying court documents, Steven Epperson was legally determined to be incompetent in July 1982 and his father, John W. Epperson, was then appointed guardian of his person, managing whatever personal areas involving health and well-being.

By February 2004, according to an April 15, 2010 court order, John Epperson had died, so Steven’s sister, Susan, was appointed his guardian of person. A few months later in June 2004, Susan was then also appointed guardian of Steven’s estate, thus allowing her to manage his financial affairs.

Reportedly, Steven had a 1/14th interest in the sale of real estate that his deceased father apparently owned, and was “… due about $44,000.00 in distribution … ”

For reasons the court order does not detail, Susan was “… discharged” as estate guardian on Nov. 2, 2004, and there was no “supporting documentation … found in the court file” confirming it or explaining why, according to the new motion.

In fact, almost five years later, when asst. clerk Paula Todd sent a “Notice of Hearing” to Steven Epperson’s family members regarding their father’s estate on Sept. 16, 2009, she addressed one of the notices to  “Steve Epperson, c/o Susan Epperson, Guardian ….”

If Susan Epperson had indeed been removed as estate guardian almost five years earlier, then how could that happen, the new motion inherently asks. But the alleged fraud goes even deeper.

A “Final Receipt” from the Forsyth Clerk’s office dated Nov. 15, 2009 – just two months later – for  “cash” in the value of $44,180.68 listed as the  “personal representative/trustee” for John W. Epperson’s estate responsible for distributing the funds as  “Bryan C. Thompson.”

And the “undersigned beneficiary” receiving that money was also “Bryan C. Thompson, Guardian of Steven W. Epperson,” the document The Chronicle reviewed showed.

Attorney Thompson listed himself as both the one authorizing the funds as the alleged legal representative of the father’s estate, and the person receiving it as the alleged legal estate guardian for the son, Steven, even though there was no court documentation proving that status.

Thompson’s signature is not on the court receipt from the Clerk’s Office, but a signature next to the typewritten name of witness “Amanda H. Jones” is.

That Clerk’s office receipt was not file stamped, meaning legally, according to previously noted state appellate court opinion, it was invalid and not properly entered into the court record.

It is not until April 15, 2010, court documents show, that attorney Bryan Thompson was allegedly appointed by the assistant clerk Todd as “Successor Guardian of the Estate” for Steven Epperson.

The Epperson siblings’ motion alleges that attorney Thompson “… committed a felony theft by fraud in withdrawing in excess of $44,000 from an estate in which he is acting as fiduciary and without legal authority taking possession of that money, based upon the fraudulent assertion of guardianship of Steve Epperson at least six months prior to his appointment.”

The motion also alleges that assistant clerk Todd did not give the family “… proper notice … prior to issuing an order appointing …” Thompson as estate guardian, and that “failure to notify [the family] … was intentional and an effort to cover up Bryan Thompson’s felony theft.”

Attorney Thompson, through his attorney, has consistently maintained that in his role as estate guardian in various cases, he did nothing wrong, and followed the directives of the Clerk’s office.

At press time Tuesday, no hearing date had been assigned for the motion.

Full Article & Source:
Exclusive: Guardian accused of ‘theft’

Local couple bilked out of $66,000

Krystal Shalanda Daniels
A woman accused of bilking an elderly Bulloch County couple out of thousands of dollars told the victims she expected a windfall from pending lawsuits, but needed loans until her money came, said Bulloch County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jared Akins.

Krystal Shalanda Daniels, 27, of Eagle Village, faces charges of felony theft by deception and abuse/neglect/exploitation of an elderly person, he said. She is held without bond in the Bulloch County Jail pending upcoming court appearances.

“The elderly Bulloch County couple residing on Highway 80 West in Statesboro recently reported the theft of over $66,000 over a two year period,” he said. “Investigator Walter Deal was assigned to the case and learned that the couple knew the suspect … through an individual who had performed work for the (victims).”

Daniels led the couple to believe that she had money coming through “lawsuits, estate settlements, and other means but that she needed to borrow funds until these ‘windfalls’ could come through,” Akins said. ”These lies compounded along with the money involved until the couple reported the theft.”

Deal questioned Daniels and then took her into custody. The case joins an alarming number of incidents where elderly or disabled are targeted, he said.

“This case illustrates a prime means by which scammers operate, taking advantage of the good intentions of innocent citizens. The Bible says ‘but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks,’” he said.

 Every week however, sheriff's investigators “work cases where solid citizens lose money and other valuables to individuals willing to take advantage of their charitable intentions,” he said. “Our elder members in particular are targeted frequently for exploitation. In this Christmas season, we ask that you remain alert to scams involving donations and deals which are too good to be true.”

Akins advised being vigilant when using credit and debit card to shop online and report any strange activity immediately. “If you have an elderly parent or relative who you believe is being exploited, work with other family members and law enforcement to protect their interests.”

Anyone who suspects an elderly or disabled person is being abused or exploited should contact their local law enforcement agency. The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office may be located at (9120 764-8888. Anonymous tips may also be made online at

Full Article & Source:
Local couple bilked out of $66,000

Senate Special Committee on Aging explores generic price spikes

WASHINGTON — The Senate Special Committee on Aging, led by chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, and ranking member Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., on Wednesday hosted the first in a series of hearings the Committee will conduct to investigate recent instances of abrupt and dramatic generic drug price increases. 
The hearing hopes to provide insight into the causes behind price hikes on off-patent drugs and the effect these price increases have on patients’ access to medication, the Senate Special Committee reported. The Committee will also look at how current regulations and public policy may contribute to this issue. 
"Generic price spikes are negatively impacting patients, pharmacists and health care payers alike," stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. "Importantly, the associated slow and low price adjustment on generic medications is wreaking havoc on the ability of small business pharmacies to remain viable and continue to provide critical medications and related care to patients. We commend Congress for conducting this hearing and urge lawmakers to take additional steps for increased transparency and adequate pharmacy reimbursement."
Witnesses called on Wednesday included: 
  • Gerard Anderson, professor, health policy and management, medicine, and international health, Johns Hopkins University;
  • Erin Fox, director, Drug Information Service, University of Utah Health Care and adjunct associate professor, University of Utah College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacotherapy;
  • David Kimberlin, professor and vice chair for Clinical and Translational Research and co-director, division of pediatric infectious diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham; and
  • Mark Merritt, president and CEO, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

Full Article & Source:
Senate Special Committee on Aging explores generic price spikes

Sunday, December 13, 2015

T.S. Radio's Final 2015 Show: Athena Roe from HAR Justice

Hosted by Marti Oakley:   Merry Christmas and hoping everyone has a much better year in 2016! This will be a one hour show. Join me and Athena Roe from HAR Justice this evening as we round out 2015 with our last live Sunday broadcast for this year.

National Association for Probate Reform and Advocacy (NAPRA) is coming right along. Athena has been working hard to get it up and operational. Under the umbrella of NAPRA we are forming a coalition to advance the mission of reform. We will be discussing our preliminary plans for the activity of NAPRA. We will also be talking about what we hope to be doing in the new year.

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

Team10: Nursing home workers fired over mockery video

VISTA – Two employees of a Vista nursing home who reportedly took part in posting a video online mocking an elderly patient have been fired.

The video, which was posted on Snapchat in October, reportedly showed a partially nude patient being mocked by two female employees. A whistleblower provided images from the video to 10News since videos posted to Snapchat disappear within 24 hours.

LifeHOUSE Vista Healthcare Center terminated the employment of the two workers, Tom Allen, an attorney for the nursing home, told 10News in an email Tuesday.

The two employees in question were initially suspended. Allen confirmed that both have since been fired. He also added that the California Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) board revoked the certification of one of the women and suspended the other for 30 days.

The case was being investigated by the California Department of Health and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department as possible elder abuse. There was no word on the status of the investigation, Allen said.

In October, Allen defended LifeHOUSE, saying the actions of a few employees shouldn't reflect on the majority of caregivers who are dedicated and caring individuals. The patient involved in the investigation is still there.

The Federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' online nursing home database shows LifeHOUSE gets a below average overall rating, with 2 stars out of 5. The total number of health deficiencies is listed as 19. The average number of deficiencies in California is 10.5, and the average number in the United States is 6.8.

The facility is the same one that was featured in a Team 10 investigation late last year.

In that instance, the family of a woman who died after being hit by a food cart at the facility filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Following an emotionally trying legal battle for the family, a jury ruled in their favor. The defense appealed the verdict and the case was settled before the appeal concluded.

Full Article & Source:
Team10: Nursing home workers fired over mockery video

Pa. Supreme Court justice charged in email scandal

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin

The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board Tuesday charged Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin with violating the state's rules of judicial conduct and the state Constitution by participating knowingly and routinely in chains of sexually suggestive and vulgar or offensive emails.

In a complaint filed with the Court of Judicial Discipline, the board held Eakin, who has been on the court since 2002, violated rules that instruct judges to avoid off-bench activities that create an appearance of impropriety or call into question a judge's impartiality.

Eakin also violated sections of the Constitution, the report alleges, that require judges to remain in compliance with those rules.

Eakin will now face a hearing before the state's Court of Judicial Discipline. Efforts to reach his attorney, William Costopoulos, were not immediately successful.

Justice J. Michael Eakin's response to judicial conduct charges
Eakin said he welcomes the process.

The current case started in late September, when embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane gave various state agencies about 1,500 emails, including some linked to Eakin, that she believes present violations of rules of judicial conduct and general state ethics codes.

The emails initially turned up in the course of a data-mining process undertaken during Kane's 2013-14 review of her predecessors' handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse investigation.
Eakin had no role in that case.

Rather, his emails - many of who appeared on threads with another Attorney General prosecutor who used to work for Eakin - came under scrutiny after Kane undertook a broader review of pornographic and other inappropriate emails traded back and forth on OAG servers that captured traffic between OAG staffers and Supreme Court justices.

The emails, on a account, include sexually suggestive pictures of nude women, adult humor and a number of gender, racial and ethnic jokes hat have proven offensive to various groups.

Full Article & Source:
Pa. Supreme Court justice charged in email scandal

Trusted Caregiver Arrested for Robbing & Exploiting Elderly Woman

Kara Marie Wilkerson, 36, of 938 Cobblestone Drive in Spring Hill is facing charges of Grand theft and Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult after robbing the elderly woman she was entrusted to care for and protect.

Wilkerson was hired to care for Megan Laird’s mom, Helen Flader. While Laird trusted Wilkerson to care for her Mom and the family dog, Wilkerson allegedly abused that trust and stole approximately $2500 worth of Flader’s jewelry.

According to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Laird reported the theft of approximately seventeen bracelets and one necklace stolen from her residence, located at 7254 Big Bend Drive in Spring Hill. The combined value of the stolen jewelry is approximately $2,500.00. The theft was reported to have occurred between August 17, 2015, and September 6, 2015.

On November 20, 2015, detectives interviewed Wilkerson at her current residence in Spring Hill.

During the interview, Wilkerson denied stealing any jewelry but admitted that the Flader gave her a “vintage” necklace with a “bird goddess” cameo on it.

Laird confirmed with detectives that the necklace belonged to her mother. Flader also told detectives she did not give any of her jewelry to Wilkerson. Laird insists that it was not likely her mother would have given the necklace to Wilkerson, and that Wilkerson was aware of Flader’s diminished mental capacity.

After Wilkerson was arrested yesterday, she again insisted that she did not steal any jewelry and that Flader gave her the “vintage” necklace after she expressed an interest in the necklace. Wilkerson did acknowledge that she was hired to care for Flader as she was not able to care for herself.

Wilkerson is currently free after posting $4000 bond.

In 2005, Wilkerson served two years probation for passing counterfeit bills.

Full Article & Source:
Trusted Caregiver Arrested for Robbing & Exploiting Elderly Woman