Saturday, February 6, 2016

Layer of oversight added for adult wards

Judge Charles Williams & Dana Yawn
SARASOTA COUNTY - As legislatures across the country tackle reforms of a fragmented system designed to protect vulnerable adults who can no longer make their own decisions, Sarasota County's state court has embarked on its own homegrown improvement project.

This new court monitor program joins a handful of such efforts in the nation. An ambitious commitment to improve oversight and public access, it comes a year after a Herald-Tribune series questioned the legal process that removes some or all of an elder's civil rights.

For the first time, the county's adult wards and their families have a number to call and a designated person to talk to about problems they encounter in the guardianship system. The newly hired monitor will serve as the “eyes and ears” for the court, investigating complaints and concerns.

“The articles that the Sarasota Herald-Tribune brought forth — which were important — pointed out that there are some cases that we do need to pay a little more attention to,” said 12th Judicial Circuit Court Chief Judge Charles Williams. “So the guardianship monitor, in my opinion, is basically not going to do anything other than make certain, as best we can with our limited resources, that not one person slips through the cracks.”

Adult guardianship places elders struggling with frailty or dementia under court protection, and assigns to someone else sweeping powers to make legal, financial and health care decisions for that person. Florida law gives preference to family members, but courts often appoint paid guardians when relatives are in conflict or appear unsuitable. As pointed out in the series, “The Kindness of Strangers: Inside Elder Guardianship in Florida,” once a court rules and the case is closed, wards and their families can find themselves with little recourse.

Brenda K. Uekert, principal research consultant for the National Center for State Courts and an advocate for guardianship reform, has called the monitoring of existing wards' cases “the hottest issue the courts face. Nationally, if I had to grade it, I would give the courts an 'F.'” She said the news of Sarasota County's startup program is “very encouraging.”

“I would say that puts the court in a very good light,” Uekert said. “Most courts don't have the resources to do this, or depend on volunteers. The California Superior Courts have court investigators who are supposed to visit persons under guardianship, though I know the degree to which this happens varies from county to county. But most courts do not have court staff to do so.”

A full-time position
Williams and court administrator Walt Smith asked the Sarasota County Commission to fund the full-time position, and in December hired Dana Yawn, who holds a master's degree in social work and has experience with the court's family division.

Together, Williams and Yawn designed a process that allows for follow-up on some 130 existing wards, as well as 60-day and one-year reviews for new cases.

“This is sort of modeled on what they do in dependency court for children and families,” Williams said. “Usually within a year you'll know whether or not the person's getting better, whether or not everything's running smoothly. We never had a requirement to actually bring a case back into court, so we're going to start doing that.”

At least two other circuits in Florida have guardianship monitors, but the structure of Sarasota County's program appears to be unique.

“Because we've never had a monitor before, we sort of had to figure out on the run how to put this thing together,” Williams said. This required an analysis, he said, of what happens “when a guardianship doesn't go the way it's intended to.

“The most common issue, usually, that we're very concerned about is making certain that it is the least restrictive alternative,” he said, referring to the legal requirement that elders retain as much independence as possible. “Certainly we don't want anyone to have rights taken away from them, or be subjected to a guardian, who didn't need it.”

Clerk of Court Karen Rushing's office will make its financial auditors available to investigate cases flagged by the monitor. And the clerk's existing hotline for people to report waste, fraud and abuse is available for anyone with concerns about a ward's welfare. Calls can be anonymous, Williams said, and can come from the ward, a relative, a neighbor — even a sharp-eyed stranger.

Until now, generally the only way to intervene in an existing guardianship has been the costly step of hiring an attorney to re-open the case.

“What we think is the biggest void is to be able to handle situations that aren't in the regular legal proceedings,” Williams said. “Members of the public really don't know how to deal with that effectively, because we had no real mechanism of doing it, other than going through the legal process, so we wanted to make it consumer-friendly.”

A unique perspective
This is Williams' third rotation through the probate and guardianship section, and he said his personal experience caring for his own parents made him sensitive to what people go through when a loved one has cognitive decline. And he knows that thorny family dynamics can get in the way of legal fact-finding.

“We thought it would be great if we could have someone that can basically be an extension of the court system and go out and take a look at these cases,” he explained. “We're going to be eyes-on. If there's something going on — bedsores, swollen feet or something — she's going to come back and tell me.”

Ira Wiesner, a local elder law pioneer who entered the field in 1989, called the hiring of a monitor “a wonderful enhancement.”

The program, he said, “gives families an opportunity to know that their concerns about the status of a guardianship of a loved one will get attention. Going forward, the annual reviews for new guardianships are going to be very positive. I just don't know how one person is going to be able to handle what I anticipate to be the volume — and we may find that the needs are far greater than what we were led to believe, and need a second one.”

Williams said he is “very, very pleased” with the local attorneys who handle guardianship cases, and he has met with them to outline the new system. If it succeeds, he said, he will ask to expand the monitoring program in Sarasota County and perhaps add one in Manatee.

“It's baby steps, I admit, but it's a start,” he said. “I think by this time next year we'll have a better idea of how effective we are. But really, I think right now if there's anyone who has an issue with a guardianship, and they bring it to our attention, we have the ability to immediately take care of it. And that's important.”

Full Article & Source: 
Layer of oversight added for adult wards

Drugs to treat Alzheimer's Disease will be available within decade, say scientists

A treatment for Alzheimer’s disease will be available within a decade and could ultimately be prescribed like statins to prevent the onset of the illness, experts have predicted.

Speaking ahead of a lecture at the Royal Society, Professor John Hardy, a dementia expert from University College London, said that current drug trials were showing such promise that he believes we are now ‘in an era of great optimism.’
Prof Hardy said it was likely that drugs will be available by 2025 that will radically push back the age at which people develop dementia.

“I think we're on target for therapies by 2025,” he said. “All of us are excited about drug trials that are going on now.

“In the coming year we will know if we are already at the start of a new era of better treatments for slowing or stopping the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I am confident that over the next decade or so we will find more effective ways of preventing or slowing down the dementias. By 2050 such advances should be benefiting at least a million people a year in the UK.”

Last summer the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly announced that early trial results showed that the drug solanezumab could prevent mental decline from Alzheimer’s disease by a third.

It is the first time that a medication has been shown to work on the underlying disease process itself rather than the symptoms by clearing out the sticky amyloid plaques which stop brain cells from communicating with each other.

The drug would be given by infusion, but experts say that there could come a time when people at risk of dementia are screened and given preventative drugs, like statins are used to prevent heart problems.

Dr Simon Ridley, Director of Research at the Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We're not at the stage yet where we have a drug like a statin. The kind of drugs we're talking about at the moment would be very expensive infusions.

“But ultimately you could think of it in those terms. If we have identified people at risk that's a reasonable assumption.”

There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in Britain which is due to rise to one million by 2025 and two million by 2050.

But there is reason for hope because since the 1980s dementia rates have actually fallen by 20 per cent because of life-style improvements, meaning that people do not now get diseases like Alzheimer’s so early.

A recent study by Cambridge University suggested that cholesterol in the body could be driving vascular dementia, so controlling diet could help prevent up to 30 per cent of cases.

“Reduction in the proportion of elderly cases might relate to the fact we are getting better at controlling cholesterol,” added Professor Hardy.

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society added: "The development of treatments that can slow the rate of memory loss in Alzheimer's disease will, without a doubt, mark a turning point in the way dementia is managed, and be life-changing for people with the condition.

"We are now making much needed advancements in our understanding of what goes wrong in the brain when dementia develops and what we should be doing to tackle it.”

Dame Gill Morgan, chair of NHS providers, the trade association for acute, ambulance, community and mental health services, said: “Dementia is in my opinion the cruelest disease. Your family watch you declining. They keep the body but lose the person overtime.

“Our knowledge of dementia is about 20 years ahead of our knowledge of cancer.

“We're at an important time for dementia. This is a time bomb. This is a terrible condition we need to be doing more about this than in the past. Never has the health service and social care system been so fragile as it is today.”

Full Article & Source:
Drugs to treat Alzheimer's Disease will be available within decade, say scientists

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bill to eliminate requirement for prospective wards' legal counsel in guardianship cases put on hold

Kris Fawson
SALT LAKE CITY — A legislative committee voted to hold a bill Wednesday that would eliminate the requirement that young adults with intellectual disabilities be represented by legal counsel when courts consider their parents' guardianship petitions.

The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to hold HB101 to give its sponsor, Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley City, more time to refine the proposal.

As drafted, the legislation would be limited to young adults who have intellectual disabilities, minimal assets and are able appear in court with the petitioner. Judges must be satisfied that counsel is unnecessary, the bill states.

Cox said he sponsored the legislation to assist families who have adopted or raised a child with disabilities from birth and have the young adult's best interests in mind by petitioning courts to become their guardians.

But paying their child's legal fees, on top of their own, is a financial burden for many families, he said. However, Cox acknowledged that some petitioners may not have the child's best interests at heart.

"I’m trying to balance the 98 percent of the time with the 2 percent of the time," he said.

But some committee members expressed concerns that young adults with intellectual disabilities, in particular, need to be represented by counsel.

"The trend in the law going forward is to give and recognize more rights to the person to be protected. In fact, you're going to see, and I predict in this state, the trend will be more toward limited guardianships and limited conservatorships rather than full," said Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, who is an attorney.

Laura Anderson, the mother of a son diagnosed with classical autism, told the committee she has been attempting to complete the guardianship process, which is complex.

"I don't want to pay for an attorney. I feel like I shouldn't have to, but it's part of the process. It's my son's legal right to have an attorney represent him," Anderson said.

"Just because he's disabled doesn't mean he doesn't have the rights each one of us are afforded."

Anderson said the Utah Legislature removed one impediment last year by lowering the court filing fees for guardianship petitions from $360 to $35 under legislation sponsored by Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake.

Andrew Riggle, public policy advocate for the Disability Law Center, cautioned that the proposed legislation could run afoul of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the equal protection clauses of the Utah and U.S. constitutions.

"We believe the right to counsel, especially in proceedings that have the potential of bridging a person's fundamental rights, are exactly where independent representation is most important," he said.

Parents seeking guardianships find the process to be "confusing and complex," Riggle said.

"How likely is it that a proposed ward who isn’t represented is going to be able to navigate through the process on their own?"

Kris Fawson, chairwoman of the Utah Coalition for People with Disabilities, said the coalition has no formal position on the legislation but noted guardianship "is a huge issue for families."

Fawson said she obtained guardianship of a young man with Down syndrome in the 1980s. No health care provider has asked her to present proof of the guardianship since.

Yet, she said she has concerns about eliminating a requirement that wards have legal counsel in guardianship proceedings.

"This is a population that’s been minimized in many, many ways. To have those rights not available to them, I think, is one more way we minimize that population," she said.

Cox said his constituents tell him that a growing number of health care providers are requiring proof of guardianships because of federal medical privacy laws.

"That’s the biggest culprit in most cases," he said.

Snow said HB101, as currently drafted, was intended to create a summary disposition intended to be easier on the petitioner and the potential ward.

However, if judges fear a potential ward's rights are not adequately protected, they may "require full proceedings in order to be safe." That's the opposite of what Rep. Cox was attempting to accomplish, he said.

Riggle said advocates need to do a better job of informing families of no-cost resources available in the community to assist them if the want to seek guardianships.

For instance, the Utah State Bar's Guardianship Signature Program provides to judges a group of attorneys who have volunteered to represent respondents in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings when the individual does not have counsel of his or her own choosing.

The state court system also has online resources for families.

"It's still a problem even with all the things we have," Cox told the committee.

"I appreciate your willingness to help."

Full Article & Source:
Bill to eliminate requirement for prospective wards' legal counsel in guardianship cases put on hold

Manatee Co. judge faces discipline after accepting gifts

Full Article & Source:
Manatee Co. judge faces discipline after accepting gifts

New model act from national organization hopes to end financial exploitation of seniors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee hopes new guidelines from a national organization can help in preventing the financial exploitation of people 65 and older, or people who have an increased risk for diminished capacity or other cognitive impairments.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance's (TDCI) Securities Division hopes the state legislature will pass a new model act from the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).

The “Act to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation” is a set of guidelines that NASAA hopes will “tackle a wide range of challenges confronting senior investors, regulators and securities industry professionals.”

In order for the model act to work in Tennessee, the state legislature will have to adopt the guidelines as law.

The act would help address several points of concern, like requiring records from brokers or advisers to provide records that could show suspected or attempted fraud and gives the brokers or advisers immunity for withholding disbursements if they suspect exploitation may be happening.

If enacted, the model act would only apply to people 65 or older and individuals who qualify for protection under a state adult protective services statute.

Full Article & Source:
New model act from national organization hopes to end financial exploitation of seniors

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Steve Miller: Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin Punishes Quadriplegic for Being Unable to Write an Objection, Then Charges Him $400 in Additional Attorney's Fees

Guardianship victim Jason Hanson has repeatedly asked the court to furnish him an attorney, but Clark County Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin and his appointed Hearing Master Jon Norheim steadfastly refused while Jason's estate continued being looted.

Look what happened when Jason tried to object to paying Dara Goldsmith, the attorney of Jared Shafer, one of his looters. Shafer's other lawyer, Elyse Tyrell who doubled as Jason's "Trustee," refused to assist him. - SM

Steve Miller: JUST IN: Jason Hanson's $80,000 + trust Was Held by Jared E. Shafer. In 2014, only $8,597.00 Remained

On September 14, 2007, Jason's Charles Schwab account held over $80,000. By 2014, it should have accrued an additional $28,000 in interest.

On February 12, 2014, the balance of Jason's Trust was only $8,597.62.

Please note "PO Box 50790 Henderson, NV" on Jason's Trust check is the same as Jared Shafer's PO Box number shown on the business card below. Jason's trustee, attorney Elyse Tyrell, should be forced to explain what happened to the balance from Jason Hanson's Charles Schwab account set up by his grandmother for his life long care and wellbeing. - SM

Daughters of Casey Kasem, Peter Falk, Tackle Elder Visitation

In this photo taken Jan. 19, 2016, Catherine Falk, the daughter of actor Peter Falk, testifies during a hearing at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Falk and others are seeking easier ways for family and friends to visit ailing elders, after she battled his long-time second wife, Shera Falk, in court to win occasional visits with her father, who died in 2011.

The daughters of two late celebrities are seeking easier ways for family and friends to visit ailing elders, and have brought separate legislation to Washington state in memory of their fathers' end-of-life struggles.

Their stories are similar: Kerri Kasem and Catherine Falk were blocked from visiting Casey Kasem and Peter Falk, who had serious illnesses, due to personal disagreements and had to take legal action to see them.

The women are independently working in a swath of states to provide a way for close friends and relatives to visit an ailing or incapacitated elder without filing for guardianship.

Kasem has introduced legislation in 11 other states this year, fought for previously passed legislation in Texas and California, and lobbied for a successful bill in Iowa. Falk has introduced legislation in more than 20 states this year.

Actor Peter Falk starred in the TV series "Columbo." He became incapacitated in 2008 due to dementia, possibly related to Alzheimer's disease. Catherine Falk eventually battled his long-time second wife Shera Falk in court to win occasional visits with her father, who died in 2011 in California.

The two women are taking different approaches in Washington state.

Falk's bill, Senate Bill 6235, says a guardian can't restrict an incapacitated person's right to visit and communicate with anybody. The consent of an incapacitated person is presumed based on their history with people, such as close relatives with positive relationships. The guardian could block visitation if they can show good cause. The bill would also require guardians to notify close relatives and others if the incapacitated person moves to a new home, spends time in the hospital or dies, among other things.

Republican state Sen. Mike Padden, from Spokane Valley is the bill's sponsor.

Kasem's main bill, House Bill 2401, lets a person petition a court for visitation rights. Its primary sponsor is state Rep. Linda Kochmar, R-Federal Way. Another proposal Kasem is behind, House Bill 2402, requires a guardian to tell close relatives and friends if an elder spends significant time in the hospital or has died.

Falk's bill only addresses visitation of incapacitated people because law enforcement and others can settle family disagreements, she said in a phone interview. But Kasem's petition bill includes visitation for everyone. In a phone interview, Kasem said police didn't help her family dispute.

Full Article and Source:
Daughters of Casey Kasem, Peter Falk, Tackle Elder Visitation

Chief judge keeps public waiting on details of guardianship shakeup

Palm Beach County’s chief judge would not say Wednesday whether he would allow longtime probate Judge Martin Colin to continue hearing cases in the division where his wife makes her living as a professional guardian.

Jeffrey Colbath Tuesday released a list of changes in response to a Palm Beach Post investigation about Colin and his wife, Elizabeth Savitt. But none of his five changes says anything about the fate of Colin and his close friend and probate colleague, Circuit Judge David French, who hears most of Savitt’s cases and approves her fees. Colbath would take no media questions Wednesday.

The Post’s series, Guardianship: A Broken Trust, exposed practices by Savitt, including taking fees without prior court approval, double billing and funneling the life savings of incapacitated seniors to relatives accused of taking advantage of them. Her lawyers practiced in front of Colin, a longtime jurist in the Probate & Guardianship Division.

Among the most significant changes is the chief judge’s plan to rotate “personnel” effective Feb. 15 and the recusal of current south county judges from Savitt’s cases. This presumably will include French, a friend of Colin’s and Savitt’s who once planned a Caribbean cruise vacation with the pair.

Colbath also said he will establish a wheel to provide random assignment of professional guardians to cases, provide in-house training for probate judges and court staff and standardize billing practices for guardians and attorneys.

Colbath’s office said on Wednesday that the judge’s rotation will be announced on Feb. 12 but that other details of the overhaul were still being worked out. Circuit spokeswoman Debra Oats said, “It is too early to describe the details related to the implementation.”

Colbath has not spoken to The Post directly about Colin, Savitt or his reforms, instead speaking through Oats or his general counsel.

The Post’s stories revealed how Savitt’s work as a professional guardian created an appearance of impropriety for Judge Colin, according to a former chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court.

Colin didn’t hear his wife’s cases, but her attorneys appeared in front of him for years, relying on him for approval of sometimes lucrative fees. Families told The Post that other judges — Colin’s colleagues — ignored their complaints and concerns about Savitt.

Colin recused himself of 115 cases involving Savitt’s attorneys in the past six months of 2015 after The Post started investigating. In The Post’s series, former Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan questioned how Colbath allowed Colin to remain in the division where his wife makes money for his own household.

Neither Colin’s nor French’s offices would say when — or even if — they were being transferred. The question remains if Colbath is going to allow the judges to remain in the Probate & Guardianship Division. Colin announced Tuesday that he is not seeking re-election.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Chief judge keeps public waiting on details of guardianship shakeup

See Also:
Guardianships: A Broken Trust: Attorney: "Courts Have Allowed This Culture"

Guardianships: A Broken Trust, 115 Recusals in Six Months

Guardianships: A Broken Trust: Judges Socialized, Planned Trips Together

Dothan man charged with exploiting 85-year-old grandmother

Cecial Arvay Satchell II
Dothan police arrested a 27-year-old man on Monday and charged him with the financial exploitation of his 85-year-old grandmother.

Dothan Police Lt. Will Glover confirmed police arrested Cecial Arvay Satchell II, 27, of South Bell Street, and charged him with felony identity theft and felony financial exploitation of the elderly.

Glover said the victim in the offenses was the suspect’s 85-year-old grandmother.

“Mr. Satchell stole the identity of an elderly family member and opened up a credit card and began running up purchases on the credit card without the intention of paying for them,” Glover said.

Glover said the charges came as a result of police receiving an anonymous tip Monday about the offenses.

Court records show police charged Satchell with stealing $1,000 from the victim between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2015.

Satchell was taken to the Houston County Jail and held on bail totaling $45,000.

Satchell’s arrest for felony financial exploitation of the elderly became the fourth such arrest by the Dothan Police Department within the last six weeks.

Full Article & Source: 
Dothan man charged with exploiting 85-year-old grandmother

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Guardianships: A Broken Trust, Chief Judge Shakes Up Guardianship System After Post Series

Chief Justice Jeffrey Colbath
Palm Beach County Chief Judge Jeffrey Colbath announced Tuesday sweeping changes for guardianship of incapacitated seniors. The actions come amid revelations by The Palm Beach Post that the savings of these elderly wards flow into the household of Circuit Judge Martin Colin via his wife’s [Elizabeth Savitt] work as a professional guardian in his division.

Also Tuesday, Colin announced that he won’t be running for re-election.
The chief judge’s reforms come in response to last month’s Post series examining the role of Judge Colin and his wife — former tennis pro Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt — in guardianship cases. Among the changes is requiring all of Colin’s current colleagues in south county to recuse themselves from her cases.

Some of the changes by Colbath were unspecific, leaving more questions than they answered. The announcement does not mention Colin by name, though sources have told The Post that Colin is indeed going to be transferred.

The changes are:
*Rotation of personnel to be effective Feb. 15.
*In-house training for probate judges and court staff.
*The establishment of a guardianship wheel to provide random assignment of professional guardians to cases.
*Standardization of bill practices for guardians and attorneys.
*Recusal of the current south county judges from Savitt’s cases.

Colin, 66, said on Tuesday that he had planned not to run because he would not be able to complete his term before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Steve Miller: Private Guardian Jared Shafer et al Stole Cerebral Palsy Victim's Inheritance Under Color of Law

On Friday, January 22, a dramatic showdown occurred at a meeting of the Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission between 26 year old cerebral palsy victim Jason Hanson and attorney Elyse Tyrell, his court appointed trustee.

Tyrell, who also serves as a Guardianship Commissioner, artlessly takes advantage of her prestigious position by touting it on her law firm's website, this while she participated in or allowed the obvious embezzlement of Jason, one of the "wards" of the court she's been assigned to protect since 2006.

Because Jason is intellectually gifted, and is a beloved client of Opportunity Village, a charity that helps severely disabled people, the courtroom was packed with his supporters. After Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Hardesty called him forward to speak, Jason did not disappoint his admirers when he demanded to know what happened to his missing inheritance that Tyrell had been appointed as Trustee to administer.

After the heated confrontation and a scathing TV news report later that day, Tyrell reluctantly sent Hanson an expired check for $5,520.74 that was back dated from March 27, 2015.

After Tyrell's Federal Express package was opened by a group home employee, Jason reportedly went into shock when he saw the small amount of the enclosed Trent, Tyrell & Associates Trust Account check which comprised the entire balance remaining from his $80,000 Trust set up at Charles Schwab by his grandmother for his support, and the proceeds from the sale of a handicap accessible house owned by his late father that was meant for his son to live in for the rest of his life, but was sold at a deep discount without court authorization.

Based on his reaction to seeing that someone had stolen his entire inheritance, caretakers said they thought Jason was having a heart attack or stroke.

Tyrell provided no explanation for what happened to the over $75,000 plus interest missing from Jason's trust, the whereabouts of the proceeds from the unauthorized sale of Jason's house, and why she just now sent him a check for a fraction of his assets almost a year after it was written.

Tyrell also did not explain why the check was not drawn from Jason's trust account. Was it so no one would know the location of the bank or the account number where his trust was transferred to, or how much interest Jason's trust had accrued?

The televised Hanson/Tyrell confrontation, and her coughing up a tiny check to try to appease him and his supporters, was inspired by what appears to be a well-orchestrated robbery of Jason's inheritance by a cartel of professional trustees and attorneys under the direction of mastermind private guardian Jared E. Shafer. But this time, they may be messing with the wrong man!

It now appears clear that an incestuous group of local guardians, attorneys, and trustees were using Jason Hanson's trust fund as their personal ATM facilitated by the missing required accountings and the lackadaisical or intentional actions of several family court judges, a clear violation of Nevada law. And throughout the pilferage, at least two family court judges approved documents that allowed the theft to occur without caring one bit about the special needs man being harmed. However, Jason's robbery is drawing extensive attention, and has put the spotlight on the type of people who function best in the dark shadows of Sin City's pseudo-elite social circle.

If my sources are correct, this may be the beginning of the end for the heartless exploiters and their Family Court collaborators. All of them may soon be brought to justice by someone they totally underestimated, a "Rambo in a wheelchair."

Full Article and Source:
Private Guardian Jared Shafer et al Stole Cerebral Palsy Victim's Inheritance Under Color of Law

Florida Psych Facility To Close Amidst Patient Abuse Allegations

As private psychiatric hospital chain closes Florida facility, CCHR calls for tougher criminal penalties against those committing patient abuse

By CCHR International
January 18, 2016

Universal Health Services, a company with 21 psychiatric facilities under federal investigation for potential billing fraud, announced the closure of its National Deaf Academy (NDA) Behavioral Health System in Mt. Dora, Florida. NBC News reported the NDA is closing after being “hit with abuse allegations,” with many of these investigated and reported by NBC and other organizations. At least 10 patients at NDA had complained about abuse, three families filed lawsuits and the FBI was also investigating, NBC reported.[1]

The NDA CEO Greg Sizemore said when the remaining 34 patients are discharged from the 120bed residential facility, NDA will be “temporarily closing.” However, Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR), which has investigated NDA and dozens of other UHS behavioral facilities around the country, say the government needs to ensure that the property never reopens as a psychiatric or behavioral center.

NDA is one of five Florida UHS behavioral centers that is under investigation by the Federal Department of Justice and the Office of the Inspector General. In March 2015, UHS’s headquarters in Pennsylvania was also added to the investigation.[2] The other Florida facilities are Central Florida Behavioral Hospital, River Point Behavioral Health, Wekiva Springs Center and University Behavioral Center.

National Deaf Academy whistleblowers Kyle Gilrain and Carol Savage, say they personally saw bruising, black eyes and chokeholds at the facility in 2012, but they felt pressure from the former CEO to cover it up.

NBC reported that two former NDA employees said that they personally saw bruising, black eyes and chokeholds at the facility in 2012, but they felt pressure from the facility to cover it up.

CCHR has filed complaints against NDA based on whistleblower allegations, resulting in the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (ACHA) inspecting and citing the facility for inadequacies in January 2013. In November 2015, CCHR’s chapter in Florida also filed complaints with legislative agencies citing the need for greater oversight of UHS psychiatric facilities: “Patient suicides, restraint deaths, falsifying records” and patients “sexually assaulted are just some of the abuses in UHS behavioral facilities that state authorities or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have investigated,” CCHR Florida president, Diane Stein wrote.

Plagued by Abuse Allegations
On January 13, CBS 13 News reported that UHS had withdrawn plans to build a 102-bed psychiatric facility in Rocklin, California. Local residents objected to the plan and CCHR also filed complaints to local officials questioning how UHS could open a psychiatric center while under Federal investigation.

Media reported on January 11, 2016, that investigators from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health found UHS’s Pembroke Hospital contributed to the death of a woman in her 20s within three days of being admitted to the psychiatric facility in August 2015. While the coroner found the girl died of natural causes, investigators determined that Pembroke Hospital staff violated their own policy when they left the woman alone in her room after finding her unresponsive and calling a ‘code blue’ medical emergency. By the time hospital staff took any action, the patient already “showed obvious signs of death,” according to the state reports.[3]

In 2007, the state had issued a scathing report about patient mistreatment at Pembroke Hospital, following a seven-month investigation into complaints from both staff and patients.[4]

Christine Griffin, the executive director of the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts, called for tougher consequences for hospitals that endanger or mistreat patients.[5] CCHR agrees, saying that the culture of abuse found in UHS behavioral centers requires criminal penalties, funding cuts and closures where the abuse is systemic.
  • In 2013, an employee at the Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility, Florida, was sentenced to jail after being caught on camera slamming a young girl at the facility into a wall.[6]
  • In 2013, Lennox Seepersad, a mental health technician with The Vines Hospital in Florida was charged with felony abuse of a 13-year-old resident he twisted the arm of causing a spiral fracture.[7]
  • In April 2014, Ernest Parker, a former mental health technician at the Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility in Florida was sentenced to 25 years in prison for three counts of sexual misconduct with residents.[8] Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility in Florida closed in 2012 following incidents of staffers being criminally charged with abusing teens.
  • On September 9, 2015, five plaintiffs filed a lawsuit at Cook County Court against Rock River in Illinois, alleging sexual abuse and rape by staff. One alleged staff “intentionally administered psychotropic drugs which they used to keep her in a semi-conscious state so that she could be more easily manipulated and sexually abused.”
“We’re glad that UHS is responsibly closing its NDA facility in Florida. It should recognize that psychiatric treatment is bad business and close its behavioral sector to prevent more patients being put at risk. In lieu of this, tougher fines, funding cuts and criminal penalties should be leveled at any for-profit psychiatric facility that continues to abuse patients,” Jan Eastgate, president of CCHR International said.

Full Article & Source:
Florida Psych Facility To Close Amidst Patient Abuse Allegations

Collins calls for Alzheimer's support, funding after tour of Falmouth center

FALMOUTH — The message from Maine’s senior U.S. senator was clear Tuesday morning: the state and the nation must do more for those with Alzheimer’s disease and the people who care for them.

Speaking at the Lunt Auditorium at 74 Lunt Road, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said while Alzheimer’s is “a devastating disease” for the patient, it is also harmful to family members who become caretakers.

“It’s impossible to talk about Alzheimer’s without talking about about the caregivers,” Collins said.

She said the number of people with Alzheimer’s is “going to explode” as the nation gets older, unless more is done in the field of research and funding.

Collins earlier Tuesday toured the Stewart Adult Day Center, also at 74 Lunt Road. The center, a day facility for individuals with dementia, was opened by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging in October 2014. She applauded the work being done at the center as not only a benefit to those with diseases, but also as a resource for caregivers.

“What a difference it makes to be able to bring your loved ones to a place they can be entertained … and be able to give yourself a much-needed break,” Collins said.

Collins said memory-care centers can help keep dementia patients in their own homes and communities, and provide respite for their caregivers.

“It improves the quality of life for everyone,” she said.

Following her remarks, Collins said facilities like the Stewart Center are vital in Maine, which has the oldest median age in the nation.

“We are disproportionately affected by this disease that strikes our seniors,” Collins said.

Collins said she was amazed by the number of activities the Stewart Center offered. She said these types of facilities offer good ways to prevent people from becoming isolated which, she said, “exacerbates the illness.”

Collins, who chairs the Senate Aging Committee and co-chairs the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, during her remarks spoke about the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, which was passed by the Senate last month. The act, which Collins introduced with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, calls for development of a national strategy to recognize and support more than 40 million family caregivers across the country.

Collins said the next step will be working hard to get RAISE through the House of Representatives, in order to create that national strategy.

“I’m convinced more respite centers are part of the answer,” Collins said.

Collins also spoke about the $2 billion funding increase Congress approved last year for the National Institutes of Health, including a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research. She said that brings total research funding for Alzheimer’s disease to $936 million.

In her remarks, she said this increase was “long overdue,” but also said Alzheimer’s is the most costly disease to pay for.

She said Alzheimer’s is the only disease without an effective means of treatment or cure, and that it would bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid “unless we come up with better means of prevention or cure.”

Because NIH now has the funding, Collins said, it can solicit grant applications it did not have the funding to seek in years past. She said there is a lot of promising research, and the increased funding will allow for more study and investing in potential cures through clinical trials and new pharmaceuticals.

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Collins calls for Alzheimer's support, funding after tour of Falmouth center

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Minnesota Safeguards Spending of Vulnerable Adult's Money

Auditors working in the Minnesota courts have exposed problems ranging from dubious fees to outright thefts by people appointed to safeguard more than $875 million held by dementia patients and other vulnerable adults.

In one Houston County case, the parents of a young man with cerebral palsy used his money to buy a truck for use on the family’s Alpaca ranch, noting that he enjoyed spending time with the animals. The judge ordered them to repay his estate $21,991 and post a bond of $200,000.

In Anoka County, auditors raised concerns about a conservator overseeing her husband’s accounts. They noted $20,000 in new debts, some undocumented loans to their daughter, the sale of their home without court approval, and $35,000 in ATM withdrawals, including many at Grand Casino. That matter is pending judicial review.

Auditors also raised concerns in several cases about professional conservators and their attorneys who charged high fees to handle simple tasks like opening e-mails and answering phone calls. One lawyer, working alongside a conservator in a Hennepin County case, billed $120 to drop a letter at the post office. He’s appealing an order that he repay $9,192 in fees.

“Money brings out the worst in people,” said Judge Jamie Anderson, who has overseen Hennepin County’s conservatorship cases for the past three years.

Judges have appointed conservators to manage the money of more than 5,600 Minnesotans deemed unable to do it themselves. About two-thirds of the conservators are family members of the protected persons. For the rest, typically where families are at odds or have large estates, the courts draw from a few hundred professionals.

Since 2012, auditors working for the Minnesota court system have been scrutinizing how those individuals spend the money entrusted to them, a process that has accelerated since a more robust financial reporting system went online in 2014. Most audits find everything in order. But in 10 to 15 percent of the cases, auditors find problems serious enough to require a judge’s review.

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Minnesota Safeguards Spending of Vulnerable Adult's Money

Financial predators stalk the mentally ill

The “leech,” as he is known to Gloria and Maurice Bowersox, knew just how long he could bleed their daughter dry.

He knew that the kind 33-year-old woman had schizophrenia.

He knew how lonely she was, trying to shape an independent life in the Olathe duplex her parents provided for her.

He could get her to do just about anything he wanted: pawning anything of value, opening store charge accounts in her name that he abused, pilfering the title to her car from her parents’ house so she could borrow money on it for him.

That one got her car repossessed.

For months, against their daughter’s will, they had tried to run him off. Then they finally realized they had the legal leverage to have him evicted.

Ha!, the con man laughed at Maurice Bowersox when the father confronted him. I won’t have to leave for 90 days.

“He knew the drill,” Bowersox said. “He’d been down this road before.”

Nearly three months later, in November, he was gone, finally. But the experience left the Bowersoxes freshly shaken by a pestilence that strikes people with mental illness and their families.

The mentally ill are vulnerable. They are often repeatedly exploited by predators, by strangers, by friends and sometimes even by their guardians or family members.

“A larger problem exists than we know,” said Kiersten Adkins, the executive director of Pathway to Hope in Olathe. “So much of it is hidden.”

She hears hard tales seemingly every week, she said, and not just of mistakes in bad relationships, but of bad decisions with payday loans, casino gambling and lottery tickets.

Such incidents expose the gaps in community support that leave so many people poorly protected and often lead to homelessness.

“Imagine if we weren’t here to help her,” Gloria Bowersox said of her daughter. “She’d be on the street.”

Lack of support

Predators are hard to catch and even harder to prosecute when the victim is a willing — and often collaborating — adult.

Social service agencies and case managers struggle to manage heavy loads while confronted with too few housing and treatment options to keep their clients protected. Guardianships help, as well as payee services that give a third-party agency control of getting bills paid, but they’re imperfect.

“Folks are trying to live in the community, but there are not enough supports to keep them from being taken advantage of,” said Wyandotte County District Judge Kate Lynch, who runs a special court docket for people with mental illness.

“Some will go into (a nursing home for mental illness), but when they come out they will go into an apartment, and we don’t know where they are,” she said. “We don’t know if they’re alive.”

By the time abuse complaints reach the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said Leslie Hale, the director of adult protective services, “things have gotten pretty bad.”

Many abuses go unreported because victims feel shame or they do not see themselves as abused. They may even aid in their exploitation.

“People strive toward independence,” Hale said. “You want the most minimal intervention as possible.”

Case managers can counsel a client and ask courts to help weigh their mental capacity to make decisions, “but if they are just making bad decisions, there’s not a whole lot we can do.”

It also can be difficult to pursue criminal or even civil cases against someone who is exploiting an adult with mental illness.

“It can be hard to sort out,” said Guyla Stidmon, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Kansas City.

“Family members and guardians take advantage of them on occasion,” she said. “Many (of the victims) suffer from paranoia, and there are not many pro bono attorneys around to help them.”

“Imagine being an arresting officer,” said Adkins of Pathway to Hope. “It’s a he-said, she-said thing, and one of them has mental illness. One is not making a lick of sense, and the other is telling a good story.”


The police usually tried hard to help, often sharing the Bowersoxes’ frustration.

Gloria Bowersox remembers the Olathe officer who was left sorting out the scene after one of their daughter’s previous roommates was arrested for crimes unrelated to their daughter.

It became clear why the arrested man had been living there. The officer obviously had seen it before.
“He said, ‘I hate it when people take advantage of people like this.’ 

As someone with schizophrenia, their daughter can become confused by intrusive voices or hallucinations. She can grow incoherent.

Medication will control it at times, but then fail and need adjustments.

She started showing symptoms at 17, was diagnosed at 18 and was at one point a freshman at Kansas State University studying early childhood education when they had to bring her home.

The torment for the parents is that they never know how long her better, more lucid times will last or when the illness will overcome her once more.

There have been times when she participated in a panel of people speaking to students in schools, when she was reflective and able to discuss her symptoms.

She’d been in a good stretch, Gloria Bowersox said, before the latest predator crept in.

“He got her believing that he was her protector and that we were her enemies,” she said.

The daughter willingly gave in to his control. She was constantly without a phone, believing his warnings that electronics were dangerous.

The parents cut off funds to their daughter, regretful for the hardship it might bring her but seeing it as a way to root him out.

“Stop the money,” Maurice Bowersox said, quoting their daughter’s case manager, “and the leech will let go.”

But the leech hung on hard. Their daughter began hocking most anything of value for him. She took out store charge cards in her name.

One day the Bowersoxes came home and found their house had been searched. They would learn that the title to their daughter’s car was gone.

Their daughter took out a loan on her car, and it was soon repossessed.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Financial predators stalk the mentally ill

LETTER: Laws needed to protect elderly

Elder Abuse and Senior Financial Exploitation has grown to an epidemic problem in Arizona. Nearly 14,000 cases of these heinous crimes against the elderly are reported to the Arizona Adult Department of Protective Services every year. The Arizona elder abuse and fraud problems are getting worse.

For five legislative sessions we have been presenting senior protection laws to our Arizona lawmakers without any success. Other states have implemented these laws that we have proposed to better protect their elderly residents. Some of the proposed senior protection laws were:
• Require all caregivers of elderly to have background checks.
• Stop false advertising of phony assisted living facilities.
• Make senior financial exploitation a felony.
• Allow triple damages for the amount of the senior’s losses.
• Reestablish the Silver Haired Legislature.
• Establish toxic mold laws that protects renters.
• Freeze property taxes for the disabled.
• Regulate Elder Care Referral Agencies.
• Establish the elder deathbed law that prevents wrongful transference of wealth.
• Require all financial advisers to report suspected elder financial fraud. 
Arizona was once the foremost retirement destination of the United States. More crimes against the elderly and lax senior protection laws has made Arizona less desirable. More than 1.2 million seniors live in Arizona. They and the new residents 65 years old and older need stronger senior protection laws. Arizona leaders need to make Arizona No. 1 as a retirement destination again.

Please call your state lawmakers and urge them to pass stronger senior protection laws.

Mark and Carol Fairall
Sun City West

Full Article & Source: 
LETTER: Laws needed to protect elderly

Monday, February 1, 2016

Lawmakers in Maine and Other States Consider Bill Inspired by the Late Actor Peter Falk of the Hit Series 'Columbo'

Catherine Falk
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Lawmakers in Maine and other states are considering legislation stemming from a dispute among family members of actor Peter Falk near the end of his life.

The bill, crafted by Falk's daughter, protects family members' rights to visit ailing or incapacitated loved ones. Catherine Falk became an advocate for family members' rights after taking legal action to see her father before his death. Peter Falk, who starred in the hit TV series "Columbo," died in 2011.

Catherine Falk told The Associated Press on Thursday that lawmakers in more than 20 states, including Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island, are considering similar bills.

Representative Archie Verow
"I am doing this to honor my father but most importantly to help protect people across the country who suffer in terrible isolation," she said.
The bill's sponsor, Arthur Verow, D-Brewer, introduced the measure after meeting with Catherine Falk last month at a conference for state lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Verow missed a deadline for submitting bills, but legislative leaders will decide Feb. 25 whether the bill can go forward as an emergency measure.

Under current Maine law, a spouse or the closest family member generally makes decisions for the person if he or she becomes incapacitated. When disputes exist or arise among family members, legal guardians sometimes block some relatives' access to the person, Verow said.

The bill requires a guardian to inform immediate family members of their relative's hospitalization or death. It also allows immediate family members recourse through the court system if they believe they are being unreasonably prevented from seeing the person.

In her written testimony to the Legislative Council, Falk said Peter Falk's guardian would not give her access to him when he was suffering from dementia. She said she spent more than $100,000 in legal costs so she could see him before he died.

Full Article and Source:
Maine Council Considers Bill Inspired by the Late Peter Falk

Arizona: DES Worker Accused of Exploiting a Vulnerable Adult

A DES employee is facing charges after she allegedly helped someone financially exploit a vulnerable adult.

DES Director Timothy Jeffries announced that the Office of Inspector General arrested Marilyn Conlin for her part in the matter.

“Financial exploitation is inexcusable on any level, but when it involves a vulnerable adult it is revolting,” said Director Jeffries. “The fact that this act was allegedly committed by an individual within our agency whose role is to care for the most vulnerable is reprehensible. Any individual who commits such egregious crimes should be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”

Through an investigation, the OIG reportedly found evidence that led to the arrest of Conlin. They located Conlin at a DES office and placed her under arrest.

“The Office of Inspector General will invoke the full force of its authority not only to maintain the integrity of DES programs and services but also to protect the clients we serve,” said Inspector General Juan J. Arcellana. “Crimes committed against the vulnerable of whom DES is responsible to serve will not be tolerated.”

Full Article and Source:
DES Worker Accused of Exploiting a Vulnerable Adult

Rhode Island Judge Denies Accusations of Odd Behavior, Sexual Harrassment

Rhode Island District Court Judge Rafael Ovalles denies that he has violated the code of judicial conduct, after allegations surfaced last year accusing him of odd behavior, such as taking off his pants while on the job and sexual harassment toward women.

In a 13-page denial, penned by his attorneys, former Rhode Island House Speaker Bill Murphy and former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras (who is a relative), Ovalles said he was "outraged" by the suggestion he has the propensity to remove his pants while in chambers. He also denies the host of damning allegations against him documented in a December report released by the Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline, a board that investigates complaints against judges.

The lengthy list of charges against Ovalles includes: sexual harassment/unfair treatment of females; failing to respond quickly to cases involving medical treatment; abusive treatment of court personnel, litigants and the public; failure to maintain professional dignity; odd actions raising concerns over his judicial fitness; obstructing public access to his courtroom; failure to understand basic legal concepts; and impairing litigants' right to fair representation.

Ovalles currently earns $156,800 a year, according to payroll records.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Dr. Karin Huffer - Nationally Recognized Expert Americans With Disabilities Act

Our guest: Dr. Karin Huffer, Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhatten, New York and medical expert on Legal Abuse Syndrome, and Organizating Committee Member of at The National Association for Probate Reform and Advocacy (NAPRA)

Courts cannot see invisible disabilities unless ADAAA is used. Too often opposition cruelly and unlawfully accuses those with qualifying disabilities, i.e .PTSD, TBI, depression, of being “crazy” and lying as part of a ploy. The court does not know UNLESS WE TELL THEM that for access and inclusion the PWD, person with a disability, must invoke rights to privacy, equal access, and safety under the ADAAA federal mandates.

We will be discussing the application of the ADAA and its application to the abuses in the probate system, and how it applies to thise under guardianship.

Dr. Huffers website :

Events that Damage Public Health

o Faulty psychological/custody evals

o Called “crazy” & discredited in court

o Financial and emotional devastation

o Disability exploited not accommodated in court.

o Lies replace fact – leaving you defenseless

Dr Huffer has also authored numerous books which we will be discussing also.

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

Steve Miller: Conspirators Steal Inheritance From 26 Year-Old Cerebral Palsy Victim

Jason Hanson's wheelchair accessible condo sold by Jared Shafer for $47,000 - valued at $147,000.

Shafer stole entire proceeds from sale.

Check for ALL remaining assets issued today.
All but $5,530.74 of the $80,000 trust fund set up by Jason's grandmother was stolen by Shafer, Tyrell, and Fine with full approval of Judge Hoskin and Hearing Master Norheim.

In my opinion, these people are thieves! How dare they rob a man like Jason Hanson, someone who could not defend himself!

If ever there was a clear cut example of RICO (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), this is it.

With the help of two crooked judges, Hoskin and Norheim, mastermind private guardian Jared Shafer and his band of thieves acting as lawyers took total advantage of an innocent young man stricken with quadriplegia.

As the President Emeritus of Opportunity Village, and Chairman Emeritus of Goodwill Industries, I cannot allow such heinous thievery to occur to a person like Jason Hanson.

“The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members.”

For this to occur under the color of law is a disgrace. The above thieves MUST be brought to justice.

~Steve Miller

Steve Miller: If You're Appointed as Someone's Trustee, At Least Know Where They Live!

Date: 1/25/2016 8:07:57 A.M. Pacific Standard Time
Reply To: 
Can you please give me your complete address?  I will then mail your check to you and will send it Certified Mail.
Thank you,
Elyse M. Tyrell, Esq., LL.M, CELA

Attorney Elyse Tyrell has been one of cerebral palsy victim Jason Hanson's Trustees since 2006. She has also been an appointed member of the Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission since 2015. 

Since 2006, Tyrell, attorney Francis Fine, and private guardian Jared E. Shafer have been responsible for the safekeeping of an $80,000 interest bearing Charles Schwab custodial account set up Jason's late grandmother for Jason's well being and support. 

When Jason turned 21 in 2010, the proceeds from his account should have been transferred to him including the interest, but his trustees did not let him know where it was, or that it still exists. In my opinion, it was as if they were waiting for him to pass away so they could keep the money.

Last Friday, Jason testified before the Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission and asked the whereabouts of his trust.  His testimony and Tyrell's response were broadcast on KTNV TV CH. 13 News.
In response to Jason's inquiry at the hearing, Tyrell acting as a Commissioner went on the record and told Jason that she has his funds at her office and will give them to him "after I deduct my legal fees."  However, at the beginning of her statement, she clearly stated she had provided her services pro-bono.

(Fine and Shafer had already taken their fees totaling over $18,000 from Jason's inheritance.)

Following Jason's receipt of this morning's email from Tyrell with her strange inquiry about where he lives, it will be interesting to see how much of his trust she has preserved for him, and the amount of legal fees she deducts.  Incidentally, Jason has lived in the same group home at taxpayer expense since Jared Shafer sold his father's wheelchair equipped condominium in 2009 at far under market value and kept the proceeds for himself - all under the watchful eye of Elyse Tyrell, Jason Hanson's "Trustee."