Saturday, January 2, 2016

Conservatorship: Legalized Elder Abuse

Across the nation, elders are trapped in abusive guardianships and conservatorships. Victims are imprisoned and isolated from loved ones. In some cases, victims suffer horrific physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. Chemical restraint silences their cries for help.

Conservatorship: Legalized Elder Abuse

Listen to the Cry of a Family Caregiver

by Howard Gleckman:  I recently received a letter from a caregiver in California, expressing her frustration at the lack of support for family members who sacrifice so much to help loved ones. This is a lightly edited version of what she wrote:

I read your story on the difficulties of caring for a family member with dementia and think you really have the problem in focus: Although Alzheimer’s Disease research gets funding, the funding is NOT for the caregiver–save for tip sheets, training programs, support groups, and the advice to care for yourself first. There is no direct support or financial aid to help pay the bills.

For over a dozen years I cared “solo” for my mother who had Alzheimer’s–solo because I was the only family member living with her. She could pay for some hourly help, but even during those hours, I was doing errands and cleaning, and then was back with her all alone after the aide left. For many years, there were no aides or sitters. It was a story I heard often in caregiver support groups: Caregivers feeling abandoned by their families, and sometimes caring for one relative after another.

A member of an online caregiver support group told her deadbeat sister “When did OUR mother become MY mother?”

So why is it we get no outside help? I think it is because we are classified as “informal support.” That means “not paid.” Government dollars may go to research, nurses, aides, doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and senior day care centers. It goes to “formal support” and that means paid. But not to us. So we are in a Catch 22.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

Balloons are a symbol of hope and celebration and our symbol for the coming year.  We look forward to 2016 being the year guardianship/conservatorship abuse victims and their families celebrate new law in their state designed specifically to protect them from wrongful isolation.  Potentially thousands of people who are currently suffering, many simply falling through the cracks, now will see the flickering light at the end of the tunnel growing brighter.

We sadly said goodbye to far too many of our loved ones, guardianship abuse victims, who left us too soon this past year. And we also had to say goodbye to one of our own advocates who passed this fall.  Many will not know the name Mary Anne Wyatt as she was a very private person; but she left footprints on this earth which can never be filled.  Mary Anne was brilliant; she was a chemist by trade and there wasn’t a piece of art she loved better than the periodic table.  She was an avid animal lover extraordinaire, and she received awards for her animal advocacy efforts.  She also was instrumental in saving an island although I cannot remember the details of that remarkable feat.  She was a victim of medical malpractice and she helped author a book on the subject.  Her Mother was a victim of guardianship abuse, dying tragically and too young – a nightmare that haunted Mary Anne until her very last breath. 

I am sure in this life, I would not have crossed paths with Mary Anne had she not lost her Mother to guardianship abuse.   NASGA has been blessed to have Mary Anne as a member and staunch supporter.

When Mary Anne became ill this year, she was so lucky to have a devoted caregiver who made sure Mary Anne’s wishes were followed completely.   Mary Anne had sensed her illness coming and so she trained her caregiver well.  And when the time came, this person whom Mary Anne put all her trust in stepped up to the plate and made sure Mary Anne received the best care possible --  everything as Mary Anne wanted.  We are forever indebted to you, Jessica, for all you did for Mary Anne and the battles you fought to make sure her wishes were followed.

We will miss Mary Anne and never forget her.  

Godspeed Mary Anne!  

Take Care of the Elderly

Steve Miller: Jared Shafer's Lawyer Elyse Tyrell Capitalizing Off Appointment To Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission

Guardianship attorneys Patricia Trent and Elyse Tyrell, who often represent for-hire "guardian" Jared E. Shafer in Family Court disputes against his "wards" and their families, are the Registered Agents for Shafer's political sign company, Signs of Nevada, LLC.

Shafer's office manager/secretary/bookkeeper, Amy Viggiano Deittrick, is listed as his sign company's manager by the Secretary of State, and uses Shafer's guardianship business address on Pecos Road to rent or donate signs to candidates for Clark County Family Court, and District Court judgeships.

The effectiveness of the signs was so evident that soon after Shafer bought the sign company in 2003, the Clark County Family Court bench was filled with judges who used Shafer's signs to get elected, then as pay back made Shafer and his firm their choice when it came to awarding lucrative guardianships over the persons and assets of wealthy retirees, most deemed mentally incompetent by persons without credentials to make such a determination. Based on these court appointments, Shafer and his attorneys made obscene profits by gaining complete power of attorney over their court appointed ward's estates, and converting the assets for their own use (Tyrell charges wards $500 per hour).

Jared Shafer illegally commingles funds from his sign company with funds from his "wards" in his Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc. (PFSN) bank account. Commingling of ward's funds is a violation of NRS 159.073 (III) (IV).

The portable A-frame political signs are allegedly the reason local judges and the District Attorney do not go after Shafer for allegedly bilking the elderly and disabled, and blatantly violating NRS 159.073 (III) (IV), and other Nevada laws.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Wisdom of the Aged

After nearly a year of answering questions, John Sorensen posed one of his own: “Do you know what you want to do when you get old?”

 It was a day of frustration for Mr. Sorensen, whose 92nd birthday was the day after Christmas. He was in the kitchen of his Upper West Side apartment, holding pieces of a mop that he could not put back together. Gout had made his fingers almost useless, and his right arm hung limp from a torn rotator cuff. Just combing his hair that morning was a struggle.

“It makes me mad,” he said, speaking about what his life had come to. “I want to go.”

 But flip the perspective, and it was another day in a long and rich life. Mr. Sorensen, who had made a career as a decorator, was living independently in his own home, amid the furniture and d├ęcor he had carefully chosen himself, and amid memories of the man who had shared his life there. He had music that could still take his breath away, and old movies that never failed to entertain. If his capacities had diminished, they had narrowed to activities that gave him satisfaction. Even in near blindness, he inhabited a mansion of visual memories.

“I’ve had a good life,” he said in the kitchen, retrieving a moment that was more vivid to him than the recent past. “I’ll never forget coming into the living room once and my dad had a canary on his hand. And my mother was looking at him, and I will never forget the smile on her face. It was like a young girl falling in love. I never saw such a smile on my mother. It was only an instant, because as soon as they saw me, it changed. But it was a beautiful memory that’s engraved in my mind.”

Do you know what you want to do when you get old?

Since the start of the year, the photographer Nicole Bengiveno and I have been visiting Mr. Sorensen and five other New Yorkers over the age of 85 — in hospital rooms and at birthday parties, on family vacations and at readings in nightclubs — and through it all, some version of Mr. Sorensen’s question has lingered: What is reasonable to ask of old age? Beyond the assaults of poverty or illness, to what extent can people shape the quality of life in their late years?

In New York City, the population age 85 and up has been growing at five times the rate for the city as a whole, doubling since 1980 to about 150,000. For this often invisible population, the first of its size, what does an older life really look like? And can it be better?

Throughout the year, the six talked unflinchingly about death and loss, but also about love and connection, about accomplishment and meaning. A paradox of old age is that older people have a greater sense of well-being than younger ones — not because they’re unreservedly blissful, but because they accept a mixture of happiness and sadness in their lives, and leverage this mixture when events come their way. They waste less time on anger, stress and worry. As Ping Wong, 90, put it: “When you’re young, the future is so far away, and you don’t know what will happen to you and the world. So when you’re young, you have more worries than the elderly. But I don’t worry now.”

Source:The Wisdom of the Aged

Happy New Year's Eve! Enjoy This Woman's 90th Birthday

90th Birthday for this Woman

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Darcy Spears Special Report: Guardianship Under Fire

Darcy Spears, Chief Investigative Reporter for KTNV ABC 13 Action News, has been reporting  on guardianship abuse in Nevada all year long.  December 28th, she hosted a 30 minute special titled, "Guardianship Under Fire."  She has won multiple Emmys, Edward R. Murrow awards, Genesis awards and Associated Press awards on both a national and local scale for her unparalleled journalism.

Darcy's most recent honors are two 2014 Emmys. One in the Military category for her series on how the VA is failing veterans when it comes to healthcare; and one in the Health/Science category entitled "Prescription for Pain" about how legitimate pain patients are delayed or denied at local pharmacies.

This brings Darcy's Emmy total to 14.

NASGA hopes Darcy's ongoing series on guardianship abuse brings her another Emmy for her fine reporting all year long on this insidious form of elder abuse which has brought so much pain and suffering to many innocent victims and their families. Darcy's fine reporting brought the depth of Nevada's problems to the national spotlight and raised awareness to our cause.   We are deeply grateful for her giving victims and their families a voice and a platform to seek reform.

Thank you, Darcy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Editorial: Agency Fighting Over Guardianship

In response to Sam Sipes’ guest column of Dec. 21, “Pass guardianship bill": Sipes states that he is grateful for Florida state Sen. Nancy Detert’s guardianship bill (SB 232), which is intended to protect the elderly and incapacitated adults, and all that it entails. Most important, it puts the individuals and their families, who are often facing difficult decisions, at the center of the system!

Snipes, the president and CEO of Lutheran Services Florida, goes on to state that LSF strongly supports this bill. He claims that its guardianship program has served individuals who have no family members willing or able to manage affairs and make life decisions.

Sipes also states that it is preferential that family members serve as the guardians and that the agency will find the least restrictive measure to assist individuals with declining capacity to care for themselves. It trains family members to take on this role.

He finishes his column by claiming LSF will continue to work to make Florida’s guardianship system the most compassionate and person-centered system in the USA.

Really? If what he says is true, then why is LSF fighting Julie Ferguson, the more than willing, very capable, devout and loving daughter of Marise London, for guardianship?

~Carol Vengroff

Opinion:  Agency Fighting Over Guardianship

See Also:
Facebook:  Florida Guardianship Laws Talking Points

Facebook:  Keep Marise Home With Family

Sam Snipes: Sen. Detert’s bill a good step to put individuals at ‘center’ of guardianships

Pasadena man whose life-threatening illness spurred challenge to Texas law dies at hospital

A Pasadena man whose critical, life-threatening illness led to a lawsuit challenging a 1999 Texas law that grants hospital ethics committees power to withdraw life-sustaining treatment in hopeless cases died Wednesday at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Chris Dunn, 46, was admitted to the Texas Medical Center hospital in early October after a diagnostic scan at a Pasadena hospital revealed a mass on his pancreas. In mid-November, Dunn's family was apprised that the hospital had done all it could do and that, unless another facility could be found to treat him, life-sustaining care would be discontinued. A legal challenge to the Texas Health and Safety Code led to continuation of such care, which Dunn was receiving at the time of his death.

"One month after Houston Methodist Hospital determined that Chris' life was not worth living and that his condition was not even worth diagnosing and treating, Chris succumbed to his illness," said Melissa Conway, spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, which had advocated for Dunn's continued treatment.

Methodist spokesman George Kovacik Wednesday offered condolences to Dunn's family.

"While we cannot share private health information, Houston Methodist and the Dunn family were awaiting a decision by the court regarding guardianship and who is authorized to make end-of-life medical decisions for Chris," he said. "We understand how difficult it is when a loved one is gravely ill and medical decisions must be made."

Joe Nixon, the Dunn family's attorney, said the hospital sought guardianship over the sick man on Dec. 3, hours before the court was to deliberate on a family petition seeking to stop the hospital from discontinuing care. While no formal injunction was issued, the judge mandated that the hospital continue life-sustaining care while the guardianship issue was resolved, Nixon said.

A provision of the Texas Health and Safety Code, which outlines procedures for advance directives in life-threatening medical situations, calls for a review by ethics or medical committees when an attending physician refuses to honor a patient's advance directive or a health care or treatment decision made by or for the patient. If the committee, in essence, determines requested care is futile, an effort can be made to transfer the patient to another facility. After 10 days, the physician and hospital are not obligated to continuing life-sustaining treatment.

In Dunn's case, the hospital committee was composed of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and a medical ethicist.

In a Dec. 2 video, Nixon asked Dunn, whom he described as "conscious and alert" whether he wanted to continue to live. Dunn nodded slightly and made a gesture indicating prayer.

Court documents indicated Dunn suffered end-stage liver disease, gastric obstruction, pancreatic cancer, respiratory failure and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Full Article & Source:
A Pasadena man whose critical, life-threatening illness led to a lawsuit challenging a 1999 Texas law dies at hospital

See Also: 
Houston Methodist Hospital still seeking to pull plug on patient

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

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Texas Right to Life mourns the passing of Chris Dunn 

Health aide spent $50K on disabled man's credit card, police say

MOUNT HOLLY — A Beverly City woman hired to take care of a disabled man racked up more than $50,000 in debt on the man's credit card, authorities said Tuesday.

According to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, Maryann Eckman, 59, was arrested Monday at the Palmyra home of another client and charged with one count of theft by deception.

Eckman was hired to take care of the disabled man in his Lumberton home, but a family member reported finding large balances totaling $50,068 on multiple credit cards, which had gone unused for "some time," a press release stated.

She remains in custody in lieu of $50,000 bail, she is expected to have a first appearance in Burlington County Superior Court at 3 p.m. Tuesday before Assignment Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder. 

Full Article & Source:
Health aide spent $50K on disabled man's credit card, police say

Elderly, Disabled Facing Neglect Can Get Help — Hotline — 1-800-392-0210

By Josh Mitchell, Missourian Staff Writer

People who suspect abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of the elderly and disabled can make a report to a state hotline.

The state department of health and senior services does a good job investigating those hotline calls in the county, said Franklin County Public Administrator Mary Jo Straatmann.

“They have a difficult job to do,” she said.

Straatmann’s office is appointed by the probate court to help elderly, disabled and mentally ill residents with medical and financial decisions.

“A lot of appointments have come from health and senior services investigations,” Straatmann said, adding, “I think there is enough going on that we will be getting more cases due to those investigations.”

The hotline number is 1-800-392-0210.

There were more than 400 such calls reported in Franklin County last year, according to the department of health and senior services.

‘My Job Is to Be There’

Straatmann’s clients may be young or old and could have issues such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder

“A lot of them can’t communicate anything about their health,” Straatmann said. “They don’t understand what’s going on, and my job is to be there.”

They may not have family to help them or the family may be unwilling or unable to do so. Generally, if someone has one mental illness they are likely to have another one as well, she said.

Straatmann noted that her office does not file or seek out cases. A judge rules that someone is incapacitated and determines who should be appointed to help with the person’s financial and medical affairs.

Neglect can occur when elderly, disabled and mentally ill people are not checked on routinely, she noted.

“They might not be getting adequate food supplies, they might not be getting medical care, they might not be taking their medication or getting them refilled,” Straatmann said.

Some older people have been neglected or unable to take care of themselves and “can be very seriously ill,” she said.

Health and Finances
Two basic roles are performed by the public administrator — guardian and conservator. The office can also be appointed to handle the estates of people who have passed away.

The guardian is involved in health care decisions while the conservator helps with financial matters, such as paying monthly bills and filing tax returns.

The theme across the state is that she and other public administrators will get more cases as the population grows older, Straatmann said.

“We’re keeping people alive longer,” she said, adding that the office is currently working about 100 cases.

As a person’s guardian, Straatmann communicates with the person’s doctors and care providers, consents to treatments and learns about surgeries and medication.

She also helps decide where a person should be placed, such as in a secured or unsecured facility. Clients can also be placed in facilities outside of the county.

Mental Illness

It can be hard for a family to manage a mentally ill person at home when the individual will not take his or her medication, Straatmann noted.

“Missing one dose of medication can change everything,” Straatmann said. “With psychiatric medications you can’t skip a dose.”

They can become disagreeable with family members who are trying to help, Straatmann said.

“They may begin having problems functioning at home,” she said. “They may get in trouble out in the community.”

She does not want to be critical of families, saying it can be very challenging to deal with mental and physical disabilities.

Sometimes it is easier for the public administrator to step in. That way, if the person wants to be upset with someone it can be the public administrator and not the family, Straatmann said.

Full Article & Source: 
Elderly, Disabled Facing Neglect Can Get Help — Hotline — 1-800-392-0210

Monday, December 28, 2015

Lawyer Looted $1 Million From WWII Vet's Living Trust: Cops

The Tinley Park man stole the money over the course of two years, police said.

A Tinley Park man with a legal office in Mokena stole $1 million from the living trust of a World War II veteran, according to a criminal complaint filed in Will County court.

John Pleta, 55, was jailed Tuesday on two counts of felony theft. His bond was set at $750,000.

The Mokena police investigated the case. Pleta’s law practice is located in Mokena, according to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Pleta allegedly stole the money out of the living trust of Isadore Tobianksy. Tobiansky died at at the age of 93 in January 2013. He enlisted in the military in February 1942.

Pleta was charged with driving under the influence in June 2012, despite his alleged attempt to talk the arresting officer out of it by letting him know he is an attorney.

“While escorting John to my squad, he stated, ‘Do you really have to go there? I’m a lawyer, you know,’” an officer said, according to a police report.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer Looted $1 Million From WWII Vet's Living Trust: Cops

Gourmet grocer worker defrauds elderly victim

Pinellas Park, Florida --  Police arrested a retail meat salesman Thursday on charges he defrauded an elderly victim of $3,800 in ATM and retail transactions and another $1,200 in stolen checks from two others victims.

Police say Christopher Miller, 41, allegedly used the victim’s Chase and Sam’s Club cards to conduct more than 20 ATM and retail transactions to Gourmet Grocery, where he worked as a salesman selling meats, totaling $3,845 in the city of Pinellas Park. He also defrauded his employer by using a credit card terminal to obtain funds from two other elderly victims -- $751 from one, $528 from another.

This was a not Miller’s first run-in with the law on elder exploitation. His arrest affidavit stated he has exploited others in and around the Pinellas County area.

Full Article & Source:
Gourmet grocer worker defrauds elderly victim

New program seeks to protect seniors from financial exploitation

More than two dozen incidents have already been investigated by state agencies through the Senior$afe program.

Banks and credit unions in Maine have trained more than 300 tellers to identify and report suspected financial abuse of seniors as part of a state-sponsored program that is becoming a model for the nation.

So far, eight training sessions have been held in Portland and Bangor as part of the Senior$afe program.

The program targets front-line employees of financial institutions and their managers because they are often in the best position to notice warning signs of elder financial abuse, the organizers said.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that one in 10 seniors age 60 and older is a victim of abuse, neglect or exploitation each year. In Maine that number is about 32,242 people annually. In national prevalence studies, financial exploitation was either the most frequently or second-most frequently self-reported form of elder abuse, with 3.5 percent to 5.2 percent of older adults reporting financial exploitation by a family member, according to the Justice Department. A MetLife study in 2011 estimated seniors lose a minimum of $2.9 billion annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation.

The program is a joint initiative launched in early 2014 by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Aging and Disability Services; the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which includes the Maine Office of Securities; the Maine Bankers Association; the Maine Credit Union League, the state’s Legal Services for the Elderly; and all five Area Agencies on Aging.

Since the program began, banks and credit unions have reported nearly 30 suspected cases of abuse to a special hotline set up for the Senior$afe program that have been investigated by the state Office of Securities and other agencies. Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who co-chairs the program, testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging this year to tout the program’s effectiveness. In November, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, co-sponsored a bill that would expand the Senior$afe program nationwide.

PeoplesChoice Credit Union in southern Maine is one of the dozens of financial institutions in the state that have signed on to the program, said Brenda Piecuch, the company’s vice president of compliance.

“Financial elder abuse is probably one of the greatest concerns we have in the financial industry right now,” she said. “They (seniors) are prime targets for abuse, and we’re seeing that right now.”

While Piecuch and others involved in the program declined to give names and descriptions of suspected victims and perpetrators for privacy reasons, they described several observed cases of extortion, coercion and financial scams that have targeted seniors.

In one instance, a prominent municipal employee allegedly had threatened to burn an older woman’s house down unless she changed her will to make him the beneficiary of her estate, Piecuch said. The incident has been referred to the Maine Attorney General’s Office, she said.

In another, a senior was sending money to a man claiming to be an investment adviser living in Maryland. But an Office of Securities investor educator traced the address to a gas station and used a Google Earth picture to convince the senior that the adviser wasn’t legitimate.

The Senior$afe program has identified a number of “red flags” that financial professionals should watch out for. They include:
• A person accompanying a senior shows excessive interest in the senior’s finances or accounts, does not allow the senior to speak for himself or herself, or is reluctant to leave the senior’s side during conversations.
• A senior shows an unusual degree of fear, anxiety, submissiveness or deference toward a person accompanying him or her.
• The sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to a senior’s affairs and possessions.
• Abrupt changes to financial documents, such as power of attorney, account beneficiaries, wills and trusts, property title and deeds.
• Frequent large withdrawals, including daily maximum currency withdrawals from an ATM machine.
• A senior displays unexplained or unusual excitement over a financial windfall or prize check but may be reluctant to discuss the details.
• Noticeable neglect or decline in a senior’s appearance, grooming or hygiene.
• A new caretaker, relative or friend suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of a senior.
In many cases, bank tellers are in a better position than anyone else to spot behavior that could indicate elder financial abuse, said Chris Pinkham, president and CEO of the Maine Bankers Association. The purpose of Senior$afe is to provide those employees with tools and strategies to follow up on those warning signs and alert the proper authorities if necessary.

“There’s all kinds of problems and they vary,” Pinkham said. “Sometimes you need law enforcement. Sometimes you need legal assistance.”  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
New program seeks to protect seniors from financial exploitation

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Police investigate guardian case

A police report has been filed against a prominent Winston-Salem attorney alleging that he committed “fraud” after receiving the “large sum” estate of a ward “… 6 months prior to [the attorney] being appointed guardian.” The Winston-Salem Police Department is now reportedly investigating.

As The Chronicle exclusively reported two weeks ago, attorney Bryan Thompson was accused of “felony theft by fraud …” in a Nov. 24, 2015 motion filed in Forsyth County Superior Court for allegedly taking over $44,000 left to Steven Epperson prior to being appointed Epperson’s estate guardian. The motion primarily sought to have Thompson removed as guardian.

That motion, which was heard in a Dec. 16 hearing in Superior Court, was filed by Winston-Salem attorney Reginald D. Alston on behalf of Epperson’s siblings, Susan and Kelvin Epperson.

They alleged that the money in question came from the estate of their deceased father, John W. Epperson, and was due to be paid to Steven. A “Final Receipt” from the Forsyth Clerk’s office dated Nov. 15, 2009 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, according to the signed and witnessed receipt, was also “Bryan C. Thompson,” who was also listed as “Guardian of Steven W. Epperson.” Thompson signed the document.

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

The Epperson siblings’ motion alleged that attorney Thompson “…  committed a felony theft by fraud in withdrawing in excess of $44,000 from an estate in which he, acting as fiduciary and without legal authority, taking possession of that money based upon the fraudulent assertion of guardianship of Steve Epperson at least 6 months prior to his appointment.

At the Dec. 16 hearing, Thompson’s attorney, Molly Whitlatch of Greensboro, countered that the November 15, 2009 date on the receipt is a “typographical error,” and that Thompson did not take control of the funds until months later, after he was appointed estate guardian.

Whitlatch said that she had documentation to back up her client’s assertion, but attorney Reginald Alston, representing the Epperson siblings, countered that there were two notarized documents confirming Thompson’s receiving the money when stated.

Alston then told the court that the Winston-Salem Police Department had been asked to investigate the matter.

According WSPD “Incident/Investigation Report” #1567012 that The Chronicle has obtained and reviewed, on December 10, 2015, attorney Alston did render an investigative complaint, taken by “Officer J. A. Henry.”

Officer Henry writes in the report that on that date, he met with attorney Alston at the Public Safety Building to get the details.

“He advised that he is an attorney representing a family in reference to what he felt like was fraudulent representation of guardianship in the dispersal of a deceased person’s estate,” Henry wrote, adding that attorney Alston alleged that the Forsyth County Clerk of Court appointed Thompson “… to be guardian of different estates … in violation of current laws that pertain to Estate law.”

Henry continued to outline the crime Alston was alleging, writing that “Mr. Thompson received the estate 6 months prior to being appointed guardian. This is where Mr. Alston alleged that fraud had occurred.”

“Mr. Alston’s next contention was that an incompetent son of the last person mentioned was supposed to receive money from the father. Instead Mr. Thompson became guardian of the son and dispersed his money to different areas associated with the care of the incompetent son,” Officer Henry wrote. “Mr. Alston advised that there were different family members that could have been appointed a guardian but were not.”

The significance of that last allegation was that Thompson “received a large sum for being guardian.”
Officer Henry continued that another officer, “Detective Workman was already looking into this case prior to this report.”

In a Dec. 17, 2015 letter to The Chronicle, Bryan Thompson’s attorney, Molly Whitlatch, wrote, “As I stated in court, Bryan Thompson did not take possession of any funds of Steven Epperson’s prior to the time he was appointed as guardian in April 2010. There is a typographical error on the receipt, but the financial records show that no transfer was made until June of 2010. There was certainly no finding of fact by the court that Bryan Thompson wrongfully obtained any funds, or obtained funds prior to his guardianship appointment.”

What attorney Whitlatch did not say is that the reason why Judge J. Mark Pegram, the Rockingham County Clerk of Superior Court who presided over the Dec. 16 hearing, did not issue a “finding of fact” about the alleged fraud is because that was not the primary matter before him. Nor was another allegation from attorney Alston regarding Thompson’s collection of $9,000 in commission for his work as estate guardian, also referred to in the police report.

Even though, as attorney Alston pressed the case, Judge Pegram offered to allow Bryan Thompson to take the stand and testify in his own defense, also confirming any evidence proving his innocence of the allegations, which never happened.

So the only defense offered was an unproven claim of a typo on the receipt and alleged financial records that were not entered into evidence during the hearing, according to observers.

Judge Pegram only determined that the Eppersons’ motion to have attorney Thompson “immediately” removed as estate guardian for Steven Epperson and replaced by his sister Susan was essentially moot because Thompson had been “… discharged as guardian after a final account that was audited and approved,” according to attorney Whitlatch.

In other words, Thompson was no longer guardian anyway.

All other issues argued before Judge Pegram pertaining to the Epperson case were dismissed.

But the WSPD probe into the complaint filed against attorney Thompson is ongoing, attorney Alston confirmed Monday.

Full Article & Source:
Police investigate guardian case

California's Vexatious Litigant Statute - US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Ronald Pierce and others appeal from the district court's dismissal of their putative class action challenging California's Vexatious Litigant Statute, as it is applied in the context of parental custody disputes.

13-17170 Ronald Pierce v. Tani Cantil-Sakauye