Saturday, February 20, 2016

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are now Big Business.  As baby boomers begin to need nursing home facilities, profit-focused corporate chains have dominated the market. This increase in residents and emphasis on profits has led to a distressing rise in neglected and abused seniors.  But instead of improving safety, corporate nursing homes are working to limit their accountability and deny residents’ rights.

There are many laws and regulations aimed at protecting seniors. Yet government agencies, non-profit watchdogs and media organizations consistently report that serious problems persist in our nation’s nursing homes.

Between 2000 and 2008, instances of events that cause “immediate jeopardy”- violations likely to result in serious harm or even death - rose 22 percent.  More than 90 percent of all nursing homes were guilty of at least one violation.

With regulatory and legislative bodies unable to cope with a groundswell of neglect and abuse, the civil justice system has stepped into the breach. Attorneys who represent our nation’s seniors and their families play a critical role in uncovering abuse and neglect and serve as an effective force to compel irresponsible nursing homes to fix their conduct.

But many corporate nursing homes attempt to evade accountability by hiding dangerous forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of admission contracts.  These forced arbitration clauses allow corporations to get away with wrongdoing by denying residents and their families access to the civil justice system.

The New York Times recently published an investigative three part series of front page stories exposing the corporate bullying tactic of forced arbitration. The second story, "In Arbitration, a Privatization of the Justice System" tells stories of consumers who lost their right to go to court - including when a nursing home had done them wrong.

Accountability is essential to ensuring nursing homes are safe.  We must stand up for the most vulnerable in society and make sure they are protected.

Dangers Hidden in the Fine Print of Nursing Home Contracts:
  • The decision to place a family member in a nursing home is a difficult and often immediate one for families.  When handed nearly a hundred pages in an admission contract, few families have the time or knowledge to closely read the fine print.  And even fewer have an attorney present. 
  • The corporate nursing home industry is notorious for forcing patients and their families to sign away their rights under binding mandatory arbitration.
  • Forced arbitration is an unfair practice that allows negligent corporations to get away with wrongdoing by denying residents and their families access to the civil justice system.
  • Additionally, forced arbitration allows negligent nursing homes to keep the facts of cases secret. Even if a case raises important public health and safety issues, the public may never find out about the irresponsible actions and the negligence will continue.
Federal Legislation
Representative Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) introduced the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (H.R. 6351) in the 112th Congress to prevent nursing home corporations from using forced arbitration in their admissions contracts.

Forced arbitration clauses prey on families when they are most vulnerable.  We should be protecting the elderly and the defenseless in our society – and not allowing corporations to use loopholes that take advantage of them.  H.R. 6351 would ensure that the decision to arbitrate is made voluntarily and only after a dispute has occurred.

Full Article & Source:
Nursing Homes

Tuolumne Pursuing $1 Million Elder Abuse Grant

Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County district attorney is set to plead a case for major funding to combat a concerning rise in elder abuse.

The board of supervisors gave its unanimous approval Tuesday for District Attorney Laura Krieg to seek a five-year grant opportunity for victim advocacy and outreach to elder abuse victims. Krieg outlines that her grant proposal application is requesting $218,000 a year; $175,000 of which would come through a federal Victims of Crime Act grant. While it will require a local match of approximately $41,000 a year, she states, “We are confident that we can pull savings out of our budget to match that, because that is a drop in the bucket, compared to what we could offer the community with a grant of that size. With fingers crossed, she anticipates that grant award announcements will come within the next eight weeks.

Krieg says her office became aware of several competitive grants available through the California Office of Emergency Services (CAl OES) Criminal Justice/Emergency Management — Victim Services Branch that were announced last December. Deciding to target opportunities for unserved/underserved victim advocacy and outreach, Krieg says, staff pulled statistics of active cases dating back to 2013, and subsequently determined that the county saw a 59 percent rise in elder abuse prosecutions over the past three years.

“We certainly have an aging population in Tuolumne County…so we want to make sure that, rather than just focusing on investigation and prosecution, we have some funds and resources available to do more outreach and education — because we want to make sure that the first thing we are focusing on is prevention,” Krieg explains. She adds, “The figures are shocking but I am confident there is much more out there that we do not know about.”

The silver lining behind the increase in elder abuse cases, according to Krieg, is that local law enforcement and her staff are doing an excellent job following up on reported incidents. What concerns her the most, she shares, is how to effectively put a stop to these crimes. “It is one thing to investigate and successfully prosecute these cases,” as Krieg points out. “It is another thing to get out into the community and try to do community education, especially with our elderly community about how to be aware of some of the abuse that is going on in society — and when we talk about abuse, it is more than physical abuse. A lot of it comes in the area of financial abuse.”

If the county is chosen as a grant recipient, Krieg says, plans are to hire a full-time victim advocate to specialize in elder abuse representation, education, prevention as well as an assistant for casework and filing support. Currently, Krieg’s office has three advocates on staff, one of them a supervisor, which, last year alone, served over 700 crime victims overall.

The grant funding would further enable an Elder Abuse Task Force and more effective collaborations between agencies, such as with human services, to do cross-referrals, investigate cases and conduct preventative outreach as a group, Krieg states. She adds that expanded services would include providing transportation for victims, so they are able to effectively report the crimes and make their court dates; a problem in rural counties, like Tuolumne. Krieg says another major reason why cases locally go unreported is because victims are not mobile.

Full Article & Source:
Tuolumne Pursuing $1 Million Elder Abuse Grant

Disabled musicians create music from brainwaves

   Four members of a Paramusical Ensemble, who are unable to talk or move, are using ground-breaking technology to create music with the power of their minds.

The University of Plymouth and the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability developed technology to read the electrical activity in the brain and used it to create the piece of music.

The disabled musicians wear and EEG cap which reads electrical signals from their brain.

Tim Muffett reports.

Full Article & Source:
Disabled musicians create music from brainwaves

Friday, February 19, 2016

Report: Maggots found in feeding tube at nursing home

Troubles have been reported at a West Shore nursing home since last year, but now there are reports that maggots were found in a patient's feeding tube.
The information comes from

This facility and over 20 other Golden LivingCenters in Pennsylvania have been under fire by the Attorney General's office which filed suit this summer.

This inspection of this center is from October 22 and it indicates very important issues were identified.

The inspection report says maggots were found in a patient's feeding tube, with the nurse reporting "worm like bugs found crawling all around the PEG tube and surrounding tissue."

The report also says feeding tubes were not changed as required, improper pest control was discovered, and improper hydration of patients was found. Those are just a few of the 31 deficiencies reported by inspectors on October 22, according to

Other Golden LivingCenters in the area are receiving a below average rating from that reporting site.
Back in September, the Attorney General's Office filed a suit against the nursing home organization, a suit that includes over 20 of their facilities.

Thursday a spokesperson from the AG's office wrote the following in an email:
Hundreds of complaints that have been made to our office since the announcement of the lawsuit have reaffirmed our position that pervasive issues exist in Golden Living facilities. We believe this is a very critical consumer protection case and we are committed to seeing it through.
The following is a response from a spokesperson for the nursing home organization:

We take the care and quality of life of our patients and residents very seriously. We work closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which inspects our facility regularly and whenever we or someone else raises concerns, to help ensure compliance with the detailed regulations under which we operate. In fact, we self-reported several of the issues you have noted, including the patient who has a feeding tube. This patient wanted to enjoy iced tea on our porch outside on a hot day, and when she was brought back in the building, we saw the insect and not only cleared the feeding tube but also self-reported the incident to the Department of Health. Last Fall, many homes and businesses in our area - including ours - saw drain flies in the kitchen. To address this, we increased our pest control service from once a month to once weekly to properly exterminate them. After an onsite survey visit from the Department of Health on October 22 last year related to these incidents, we submitted a detailed written plan of correction for these incidents. On December 30, the Department of Health came back in the building and certified that we were in compliance. Golden LivingCenter West Shore has been and will continue to focus on providing the highest quality care to our patients and residents, including identifying and correcting problems that may develop despite our best efforts.

Full Article & Source:
Report: Maggots found in feeding tube at nursing home

Fenske, convicted of stealing $25K from her grandmother, learns punishment

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio Nicole Fenske, a Jefferson County woman who was convicted last week of stealing $25,000 from her 93-year-old grandmother, will spend 9 months behind bars.

Investigators say Fenske coerced her grandmother to take money out of the bank.

During her sentencing, she maintained she did not steal the money, and only accompanied her grandmother to the bank.

Her prison sentence begins on Feb. 24.

Full Article & Source:
Fenske, convicted of stealing $25K from her grandmother, learns punishment

Fraudulent IRS calls top list of scams targeting seniors

By Meg Haskell

Of the approximately 2,500 scams reported to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s fraud hotline in 2015, the most prevalent involved harassing telephone calls from fraudsters identifying themselves as agents of the Internal Revenue Service and falsely accusing seniors of owing back taxes and penalties.

These “IRS impersonation scams” top a list of the 10 most common scams reported to the committee last year. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who chairs the bipartisan committee, released the list on Wednesday, along with a free, 40-page resource booklet aimed at educating and protecting seniors and their families.

“Putting a stop to these disturbing scams targeting our nation’s seniors is among my highest priorities as chairman of the Senate Aging Committee,” Collins said in a written statement. “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that seniors and their families become aware of their techniques and take action to protect themselves and their loved ones from these heartless criminals.”

In order of prevalence, the top 10 most common scams reported last year were:

— IRS impersonation scams: Callers harass victims for unpaid taxes and penalties.

— Jamaican lottery/sweepstakes scam: Victims are told they have won a large amount of money and must send a check to process the award.

— Unsolicited and nuisance phone calls: Typically in the form of recorded “robo-calls,” this scam uses computer technology to telemarket fraudulent products and services and gain access to victims’ personal information.

— Computer scams: Scammers gain remote access to seniors’ personal computers by reporting a supposed problem with their security settings or other functions.

— Identity theft: Scammers gain access to victims’ Medicare, Social Security or financial information.

— Grandparent scams: Victims are told a grandchild or other relative is sick or in trouble and needs money immediately.

— Elder financial abuse: Family members, caregivers or trusted others improperly or illegally use elders’ money, property or other assets.

— Government grant scam: Victims are told they have been awarded a “government grant” and must send money to pay the taxes on it.

— Romance scams: Scammers set up fraudulent profiles on dating sites and persuade love-struck victims to send them money.

— Home improvement scams: Fraudulent door-to-door contractors or handyman services pursude homeowners to pay them upfront for work they will never do.

The resource booklet provides detailed information on each of these scams as well as eye-opening, real-life stories of con schemes, several reported by Mainers. It also gives tips for identifying likely scams, encourages seniors to consult with family members before responding to any demand for money and provides instructions for taking action if people suspect they have been targeted.

The booklet can be downloaded and printed from the website of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging or ordered through the mail by calling Collins’ Washington, D.C., office at 202-224-2523 or any of her in-state constituent offices.

Seniors who receive a suspicious phone call, computer contact or door-to-door solicitation, or who suspect they are the victim of fraud or a scam, can file a report at the aging committee hotline at 855-303-9470.

Full Article & Source:
Fraudulent IRS calls top list of scams targeting seniors

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Catherine Falk Guests on "Real Money" Radio With David Holland

David D. Holland, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, hosts a weekday radio show. He has also authored two books in his Confessions of a Financial Planner series.

LISTEN to Catherine Falk on Real Money Radio

See Also:
Catherine Falk Organization
NASGA:  Legislative Actioin

Death by DNR

Death by DNR

See Also:
NASGA Victim Profile:  Willie Jo Mills - TX

Missouri Elder Fraud Law Sets Example For States

Six months after going into effect, Missouri’s new law protecting seniors from financial exploitation hasn’t led to many arrests, but it’s still having a noticeable impact.

“People are telling us that as they’re getting older, they are able to invest with more confidence,” says Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. “Financial professionals are telling us that they have more confidence in their clients’ ability to invest, too, because they’re now empowered to hit the pause button if they think someone is being exploited.”

Enacted in August 2015, the Missouri Senior Savings Protection Act (SSPA) allows broker-dealer representatives to report suspicious financial activity and hold wire transfers for up to 10 business days if they feel like a client is being exploited on the basis of their age or mental status.

Previous to the law, broker-dealers could not report their suspicions because of privacy laws and contract terms. The SSPA shields them from liability when reporting suspected fraud.

The new law applies to adults older than 60 or those between 18 and 59 with a verifiable mental or physical impairment. If a brokerage suspects such a person is the victim of fraud or exploitation, it is authorized, but not required, to first report those suspicions to the state Department of Health and Senior Services or the Missouri Commissioner of Securities. Afterwards, the broker-dealer is permitted to report the suspected fraud to a relative, legal guardian, or power-of-attorney.

Missouri’s statute mirrors previous laws in Washington state and Delaware — together, the three laws served as basis for model state legislation drafted by the North American Securities Administrators Association.

Nationally, broker fraud costs senior citizens $2.6 billion, said securities lawyer Don McBride at St. Louis-based Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale.

“In some ways, broker-dealer reps know their clients better than anyone else, including family members,” McBride said. “They can play a tremendous role in preventing exploitation and fraud.”

St. Louis-based Wells Fargo Advisors, long a proponent of stronger protections against senior exploitation and abuse, advocated for the law.

“We think the immunity provisions are important,” said Ron Long, director of Wells Fargo Advisors’ Elder Client Initiative. “Securities law has us faithfully and promptly executing client orders and transactions, and privacy laws prevent us from raising concerns about dementia and other mental status issues. Now we can be an extra set of eyes for government agencies and prevent some of these scams before the money is moved out of the country.”

Broker-dealers must carefully consider their suspicions before reporting, McBride said.

“Not everything that sounds suspicious is fraudulent or exploitative,” McBride said. “The law protects broker-dealers acting in good faith on behalf of their clients, but never defines what ‘good faith’ is.”

Since broker-dealers are not doctors, they must also carefully vet the mental statuses of their clients.

“When it’s a client that you’ve seen over several years, you can tell when there’s a change and a concern about mental capacity,” Long said. “We can only ask that representatives report what doesn’t feel right, what they’re seeing and what they’re hearing. We can’t ask them to diagnose the client.”

At Wells Fargo Advisors, representatives’ suspicions are first reported to the Elder Client Initiative, which then decides whether to bring the matter to state regulators and client family members.

The law doesn’t cover investment advisors, meaning an advisor reporting suspicious activity or delaying the execution of client requests may be held liable for resulting losses or any other damages.

“My view is that it should and probably will be applied to investment advisors and other financial professionals,” Long said. “It bears noticing that the large firms like Wells Fargo were here first, we were the ones who came together with regulators and social service professionals to advocate for this law. This benefits the clients and the industry at the same time.”

State legislators have proposed similar bills in Nebraska and Indiana.

“Our goal was to create something that the rest of the country could emulate, and that’s what we’ve done,” Kander said.

Full Article & Source:
Missouri Elder Fraud Law Sets Example For States

Elderly patients rarely included in decision to use intensive care

According to a study of 15 emergency departments, patients over age 80 who are admitted to intensive care are often not asked their opinion about admission.

“The relationship between physicians and their patients has changed over the last decades and patients’ empowerment has led to a greater self autonomy in medical decisions,” but apparently not when it comes to moving elderly patients into an intensive care unit, said lead author Dr. Julien Le Guen of Universite Paris Descartes in France.

Legally, no medical decision should be made without the patient’s consent, Le Guen told Reuters Health by email. But based on the results of his team’s study, there seems to be a discrepancy between what doctors say is important, like the patient’s opinion, and what they actually do.

The researchers used data from a previous study of patients over age 80 who came to emergency rooms at 15 hospitals in the Paris region between 2004 and 2006. All had conditions potentially requiring intensive care, and all were conscious and capable of expressing an opinion if asked.

The emergency room physicians filled out a questionnaire on each patient’s status and treatments, the number of available intensive care beds, the physician’s years of experience, and whether or not relatives were consulted.

They also indicated if they sought the opinion of the patient or relatives regarding referral to the intensive care unit (ICU) and if so what their opinions were.

More than 2,000 patients were included in the study and only 270 were asked for their opinion, ranging by medical center from 1 percent of the time to 54 percent of the time.

Patients with a history of dementia were less often asked, and those with more functional autonomy or a relative who had been questioned were more often asked.

Older ER doctors were less likely than younger doctors to ask a patient’s opinion, the researchers reported in the journal Age and Ageing.

“Intensive care techniques in these extreme ages of life raise the question of an artificial prolongation of life and can be perceived by some as therapeutic relentlessness,” Le Guen said.

“Therapeutics used in the ICU are uncomfortable,” he said. And for the oldest old, he added, rates of death in the ICU, in the hospital, and afterward are high, “and survivors frequently face a loss of autonomy in the following months.”

Individual wishes can be hard to predict for the very old, he said.

An elderly person may not want aggressive treatment like intensive care, use of ventilators or feeding tubes, said Dr. Walter E. Limehouse of the Medical University of South Carolina.

When patients arriving in the emergency room lack the ability to make decisions, U.S. emergency physicians are increasingly asking whether they have an advance directive or treatment plan, Limehouse told Reuters Health by email.

“ICU admission policies and process are different between countries,” Le Guen said. “In France, the final decision is always under the intensivist’s responsibility, normally after a global evaluation taking into account patient wishes.”

A history of dementia does not always mean a patient can’t express an opinion, Le Guen said.

“In my opinion, patients suffering from dementia should always be asked, and physicians should always try to receive consent when a medical decision has to be made for these patients, even if a full understanding seems illusory,” he said.

SOURCE: Age and Ageing, online January 11, 2016.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly patients rarely included in decision to use intensive care

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Passages Hospice owner, nursing director plead guilty to $7M health fraud

Seth Gillman 47, was accused of using sick people near the end of their lives as props to line his own pockets. Gillman put patients on hospice care when they didn't need it and over-billed the government for procedures they didn't require.

Federal prosecutors in Chicago say the loss to the taxpayers through Medicare being bilked was more than $7 million.

Gillman, a Lincolnwood resident who founded the Illinois company in 2005, faces up to 10 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney. The scheme ran between August of 2008 and January 2012, investigators found. During that time, Passages received more than $90 million in Medicare payments for hospice services, including more than $20 million billed as general inpatient services.

Gillman was indicted in May 2014 along with three other Passages employees, including former nursing director Carmen Velez, who also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

Velez, 39, admitted to altering patient records to reflect a need for general inpatient care before the records were handed over to an auditor working on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Federal agents questioned patients, family members and nearly three dozen former Passages employees. Several reported the allegedly fraudulent billing and marketing practices to Medicare and law enforcement.

Hospice care is usually arranged for patients with a life-expectancy of six months or less. Hospice is frequently provided in a patient's home, but can be in hospital, nursing home or long-term care facility.

Full Article & Source:
Passages Hospice owner, nursing director plead guilty to $7M health fraud

Witnesses in federal trial of ex-Security Aviation chief tell of $50 million deal

Two explanations of how an Anchorage lawyer spent $52 million in six months from an elderly widow’s trust are beginning to unfold in a federal fraud trial in Anchorage.

Mark Avery, who went bankrupt after his aviation empire crumbled and later was disbarred, faces 17 federal felonies over money he secured in 2005 through his position as one of three trustees of two significant California-based funds -- the May Smith Trust of about $100 million and the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, valued in 2005 at $350 million.

Avery’s defense lawyer, Mike Dieni, told jurors Tuesday in his opening statement that the $52 million spent from the personal trust for May Wong Smith’s care was approved by all three trustees, who wanted to invest in an air charter as a new way to make money. The trust was unusual in that the three trustees were allowed under the trust terms to do business with it, Dieni said.

“He did not lie or cheat to obtain the money,” the defense attorney said.

But assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder told jurors that Avery misused his position and blew through trust money on luxury items including vintage planes, two boats, RVs and houses -- plus paid off his own debts -- that deviated from what the other trustees approved.

“This case is about trust and betrayal of trust,” the prosecutor said.

Avery also bought the air charter Security Aviation two corporate jets and a fleet of Czech-built fighter jets, which Dieni said could have been used for military training.

Jurors also began to get a glimpse of the couple whose great wealth created the trusts. One of the first witnesses was Ruth Collins, who is currently one of the three trustees and whose father and grandfather -- John P. Collins Jr. and Sr. -- were trustees before her. Her grandfather was a close friend of Stanley Smith, she said. The other two original trustees were Avery’s father, Luther, a noted San Francisco tax attorney, and Dale Matheny, an accountant. Those men all have since died. They all benefited richly from the allowed self-dealing, prosecutors said.

Stanley Smith was an Australian who met May Wong in Chongqing, China, after World War II, Ruth Collins told jurors. She was from China, studied economics at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and worked as a translator. Stanley spent World War II behind Japanese lines working for the British Ministry of Information -- putting out psychological propaganda, a brief biography of him that is part of the evidence in the case suggests. They married in 1951, Collins said.

The biography is on the website of Churchie, the nickname for Anglican Church Grammar School for boys in Australia. Smith attended it for a couple of years in the 1920s and became its chief benefactor, Collins said. Smith or the trusts provided money for a library, a prep school, a science center and more, she said.

After the war, he and a friend bought a dying newspaper in Japan, an inside track to becoming foreign traders there. He made most of his money mining iron ore in Malaysia. The couple lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, London and the Bahamas, Collins said. Stanley Smith died in 1968 and May Smith, who never remarried, died in 2006, she said.

May Wong Smith set up the personal trust in 1982 to provide for her care and to go to charity after her death. She later created the separate charitable foundation.

Avery, who inherited his trustee position in 2002 after his father’s death the year before, pushed for approval in May 2005 from Matheny and John Collins Jr. for a loan of up to $50 million using the May Smith Trust as collateral. He got the idea after moving May Smith from her home on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel to the Bahamas and pitched it as a way to provide private jet travel for the trustees. The action came at a hastily set board meeting that was reconvened from one just a couple of weeks earlier.

The meeting minutes, which assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki directed Collins to read to jurors in court Tuesday, provide a one-paragraph outline of a $50 million deal.

Was there a business plan? Skrocki asked Collins. Specifics on expected return on the investment? A contract? A promissory note from Avery?

No, answered Collins, whose term as trustee began after that, in March 2006. Only meeting minutes, she said.

A group that included Doug Gilliland, an established Alaska air charter owner, and J. Michael Farrell, a former Reagan White House lawyer, presented the proposal “for an aircraft scheme which entailed the use of Trust assets as collateral for the acquisition, refurbishment, operation and ultimate sale of aircraft.”

“Trustee Avery should proceed with the correct arrangements,” the minutes say.

But by June 2005, Gilliland -- the experienced backbone of the original plan -- was out and Avery was in charge. On June 7, Avery made the first request to draw down the loan, which worked like a line of credit, according to testimony from Bruce Raabe, a Marin County investment manager. Raabe now has his own firm but at the time was a partner with his father-in-law, John Collins, the trustee. Their firm managed the Smith trusts.

Raabe said the $50 million investment sounded risky and he thought it was a terrible idea. The May Smith Trust to that point had its $100 million in safe U.S. treasuries. Raabe emailed his father-in-law results from a Google search that showed the trustees could charter jet flights and didn’t need to buy their own planes.

But the trustees had decided and Avery soon sought regular transfers of millions.

On Oct. 5, 2005, Avery asked for an additional $2.4 million, adding onto the nearly $50 million already in hand. Raabe said he checked and Matheny told him the extra money was approved. Days later, Avery bought a World War II vintage Corsair fighter, for $2.4 million, prosecutor Schroder told jurors.

But even then he was running out of money, prosecutors said. He secured a $500,000 Wells Fargo line of credit in October 2005, the prosecutor said, but didn’t mention that he was $52 million in debt.

Dieni, the defense lawyer, told jurors that Avery's plan was on the brink of success when the businesses collapsed after FBI raids and bad publicity in February 2006.

The trial resumes Wednesday with Collins continuing to testify. It is expected to take three weeks.

Full Article & Source:
Witnesses in federal trial of ex-Security Aviation chief tell of $50 million deal

Attorney Admits to Stealing Inheritance From Veteran

Grover Gordon is a survivor. He bears the scars of war. But these days, this 82-year-old Korean War veteran is fighting another battle, a battle over a stolen inheritance.

"She had me completely buffaloed," said Gordon. "And since you don't know nothing, you can't say anything."

Gordon is talking about Sydney Kirkland, an Escondido, Calif. attorney hired to take care of Gordon's finances. But she did more than that.

Gordon received more than $280,000 from a trust that was left to him after the death of his good friend, Bobbi Letman.

Kirkland was Letman's attorney, so when the money changed hands, Kirkland added her own name as a co-trustee and beneficiary of the trust.

"He didn't have a family, he needed someone to trust," said Escondido police detective Tom Phelps. "And this person totally took advantage of him."

Within weeks of adding her name to the trust, Sydney Kirkland started taking money out of the inheritance. After just a few months, the $285,729 was down to $10,096. She had taken more than $275,000 without Gordon's knowledge.

"He didn't understand how trusts work," said Detective Phelps. "He feels totally betrayed."

But Grover Gordon noticed something was wrong.

He got a property bill that he thought was paid for by his attorney. That prompted him to hire a second attorney to investigate, and that's when the deception started to unravel.

"I'm telling you, boy, it's a shock, a terrible shock," said Gordon.

The Missouri native quickly found out that his money was gone. Investigators were called in, and eventually Kirkland admitted what she had done.

Det. Phelps said Kirkland had started living the high life, paying off debts, donating to charity and flying to Europe with her antique Packard to drive around France.

She even posted photos of the trip on her Facebook page.

"I did something horrible, I can't imagine how this could have happened," Kirkland told Vista Superior Court Judge Aaron Katz on Monday.

She pleaded guilty to three felony charges including grand theft, embezzlement and financial abuse of an elder and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Kirkland has also been ordered to pay back the money to Gordon that she stole from him.

Full Article & Source:
Attorney Admits to Stealing Inheritance From Veteran

Suspended lawyer accused of lying at state bar hearing

Suspended defense lawyer Brian Bloomfield lied under oath before a state bar panel considering action against him over his forgery guilty plea, a prosecutor charged in court Wednesday.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo also accused Bloomfield of trying to disrupt the forgery investigation of another lawyer, Vicki Greco, who was indicted by a county grand jury in December on 139 felony and gross misdemeanor counts.

Both lawyers were involved in a courthouse scheme to provide clients, mostly prostitutes, with phony certificates of completion for court-ordered counseling and community service to resolve misdemeanor cases, prosecutors have alleged.

DiGiacomo leveled the latest allegations against Bloomfield while seeking prison time for Bloomfield during his sentencing before District Judge Jessie Walsh. The judge wanted time to review the transcript of the bar hearing and reset the sentencing to March 7.

"All lawyers are distrusted because of the actions of Mr. Bloomfield," DiGiacomo said. "He harmed the community."

DiGiacomo's allegations validated claims made by Bloomfield's estranged wife and co-defendant, Amber Bloomfield, in a December Las Vegas Review-Journal story.

His wife, who is locked in a bitter child custody battle with Bloomfield, sat in court Wednesday away from his family. She pleaded guilty and got no prison time because of her cooperation with prosecutors.

DiGiacomo said Bloomfield lied when he told the State Bar of Nevada panel in June that he didn't personally participate in the destruction of files at his office in April 2010.

His words contradicted what he admitted to authorities in November 2013 before he pleaded guilty to felony forgery charges, DiGiacomo argued.

"There is nothing credible about anything he's ever said to us," DiGiacomo told Walsh. "We can't tell when he's telling the truth."

DiGiacomo said Bloomfield even originally lied to authorities about his knowledge of Greco's alleged involvement in the courthouse counseling scheme.

Following an August meeting with police and prosecutors in which they questioned Bloomfield about Greco's role in the scheme, Bloomfield made a clandestine, late-night visit to the home of Greco's accountant and tipped her off to the investigation, DiGiacomo said.

Prosecutors believe the courthouse scheme started with Greco in 2008, DiGiacomo said.

Bloomfield's errant actions since pleading guilty show he doesn't understand the seriousness of the harm he has caused to the justice system, DiGiacomo argued.

Defense lawyer William Terry did not get a chance to respond to DiGiacomo's allegations in court, but he will have an opportunity when the sentencing resumes in March.

Terry declined to comment afterward. He previously has said he did not believe Bloomfield lied at the bar hearing.

Bloomfield, whose license was temporarily suspended after his guilty plea, is waiting to hear whether the Nevada Supreme Court will accept a five-year suspension recommended by the disciplinary panel in the forgery case or impose a tougher punishment.

State bar prosecutors want Bloomfield permanently disbarred.

Full Article & Source:
Suspended lawyer accused of lying at state bar hearing

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Glen Campbell's Ex Fights for Visitation Rights for His Adult Children

While talking about Tanya Tucker's life, it's a challenge not to mention her personal relationships with other celebrities, especially fellow country star Glen Campbell. Tucker and Campbell dated between 1980-1981, following Campbell's divorce from his third wife, Sarah.

Throughout their short relationship, Tucker and Campbell recorded some songs together, including the duet "Dream Lover." Even though the pairing of two country superstars sounds like the perfect match, the relationship was stormy, producing a wealth of gossip and tabloid articles as a result, and they eventually split.

The same year that Campbell and Tucker ended their relationship, Campbell met his now-wife Kim on a blind date and they were married in 1982.

Together, the couple has three children, Cal, Shannon, and Ashley, but Campbell also has five children from his previous marriages.

In 2011, Campbell revealed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and decided to go on a final "Goodbye Tour" with his three youngest children. As his condition worsened over the years, Kim was forced to make the difficult decision to place him in a long-term care facility in Nashville.

However, two of Campbell's older children from his previous marriages, Debby and Travis, took legal action against Kim, with NBC reporting they claimed she had "secluded" them from their father and prevented them from "participating" in his care.

To this date, Tucker remains close with Campbell's older children, even participating in The Walk To End Alzheimer's with his oldest daughter, Debby.

Due to her close relationship with Campbell's five older children, she's upset that they reportedly aren't able to visit their father.

Now, Tucker has decided to take her own form of action to help the case of Campbell's children, telling she plans to go straight to the House of Representatives. "I'm going to be speaking at the House of Representative next week on the problem that has arisen with his wife and his older children,'" she says.

"They can't even go in to see him. I have a real hard problem with that."

According to the way Tucker talks, it sounds like she's working with Campbell's children to pass some sort of legislation that would allow older children from previous marriages to visit a parent when they are ill: "He has eight kids, not just the three that are theirs. They're being locked out of being with their dad, and I've got to join forces with them. We're going to get legislation passed that doesn't discount the older children when there's a different wife involved.''

Even though Tucker and Campbell broke up years ago, Tucker's heart still breaks knowing the condition he's in. "It's just horrible what he's going through," she says.

Full Article and Source:
Glen Campbell's Ex Fights for Visitation Rights for His Adult Children

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NASGA:  Legislative Members

CA Investigation: Frozen bank accounts add to woes of Memphis disabled vets

Bobby Bouie sobbed as he stood before the judge, turning heads as he pleaded his case.

The disabled veteran showed up unannounced this week in Shelby County Probate Judge Kathleen Gomes' courtroom with a hard-luck story: His power was getting cut off, he had no money, and he had no where to turn for help. So he returned to the court that oversees the disability payments he receives from the government — payments that suddenly stopped coming.

"My life's been holy hell,'' he later told a reporter.

Bouie's act of desperation marks the latest in a Department of Veterans Affairs unraveling of the actions of a now-fired fiduciary who ran the financial affairs of as many as 19 Memphis-area veterans. As the investigation grinds into its fourth week, some of those veterans, deemed mentally incompetent or otherwise incapable of handling their own money, are reporting severe financial hardships because their VA accounts, their financial lifelines, have been frozen.

"It was heart wrenching,'' said Memphis lawyer Bruce Kramer, in court that day on an unrelated matter. "Judge Gomes came down from the bench and spoke with him. She was as compassionate as I've ever seen a person be.''

Reached later at his home, Bouie, 53, an Army veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, said he was thankful for the help. Gomes referred Bouie to Memphis Area Legal Services, which confirmed it is helping the VA assist veterans whose disability accounts were frozen in January as part of VA investigation.

Bouie said he's been told not to expect any disability payments until at least March 1. But his fears are much larger; he's worried about several hundred thousand dollars that had been sitting in bank accounts since he won a retroactive disability award from the VA in 2012. Family members say they can't get straight answers about whether the money is safe.

"It's got me so stressed out,'' said the solidly built Bouie.

Answers have been slow in coming since The Commercial Appeal reported last Sunday that federal investigators are reviewing actions by Memphis attorney Keith L. Dobbs, who has acted as a VA guardian or conservator for as many as 19 local veterans. Federal authorities have declined to discuss why they've launched the investigation or discuss any specifics of the case.

However, a Jan. 26 email from Dana M. Farr of the VA's fiduciary hub in Louisville, Ky., informed Probate Court the agency was " currently investigating allegations of misuse and replacing Mr. Keith Dobbs as fiduciary for all of our court-appointed Veterans.'' The email said Dobbs was acting as court-appointed fiduciary for 10 veterans, though he also acted as conservator for some other veterans outside court supervision.

Dobbs' attorney, Michael Scholl, said Friday he can't discuss particulars, but emphasized his client is cooperating with the investigation.

"We're going to help in any way we can to expedite this process so the individuals can get their bills paid,'' he said.

A problem, Scholl said, is accounts have been frozen as the VA brings in new fiduciaries to replace Dobbs. The lawyer said he understands that process should be completed next week.

Meantime, veterans are struggling to make ends meet.

One of those vets, David Meadows, woke up Monday to find a cutoff notice in the mail from Memphis Light, Gas & Water — a bill Dobbs regularly paid from Meadows' disability account.

"This is stressing me out,'' said Meadows, 62, of Millington, who, despite a number of health issues, was prepared to hop in his pickup and drive 20 miles to downtown Memphis to pay his bill.

Then suddenly on Tuesday the bill was paid.

Records obtained by the newspaper show MLGW rejected an automatic $223 payment from Meadows' VA account on Jan. 28. "Reason for Failure: ... Account Frozen,'' a report said.

On Tuesday, the bill was paid — not through Meadows' VA account but by way of Dobbs' personal Discover card.

"He's covering his ass,'' Meadows griped when told of the development.

Bouie, too, had an encounter last week with his former fiduciary, his family said.

"He's not supposed to have any contact with him,'' said Cynthia Rivers, Bouie's cousin, who said Dobbs called the family Thursday offering to assist the veteran financially until his situation settles.

Dobbs' attorney, Scholl, disputed the contention.

"My understanding is he hasn't contacted anybody,'' Scholl said.

Bouie's path to his current dilemma started in 2012 when he was awarded a $656,507 retroactive benefit on his claim of PTSD resulting from a stint in the Army back in 1982. His cousin, Rivers, considered becoming his fiduciary, but when she hesitated the family discovered the VA had appointed Dobbs, a stranger who has practiced law in Tennessee since 2007.

Court records show Dobbs quickly put Bouie's money to use, buying the veteran a $153,000 house on Mud Island, a car and other big-ticket items. An accounting in April showed the estate retained $322,000 in cash and investments.

However, Rivers said a VA representative told her last week only $1,600 remained in the account.

"I said, 'Are you serious? That money is supposed to be there the rest of his life.''

The family has been unable to get anything in writing and the VA did not return a reporter's calls for comment. Scholl declined comment.

Meantime, a brother of disabled veteran Blae Bryce said he received a call from the VA around in mid January informing him it was removing Dobbs as fiduciary.

"He said he was under investigation and he couldn't talk about it,'' said Matt Hall, the veteran's brother, who is now acting as her fiduciary.

Hall, who lives in suburban Dallas where he has relocated his sister, said he often warred with Dobbs over his sister's care.

"I thought he was finding ways to charge for stupid things,'' he said.

Hall said he was unaware of any specific irregularities but said he's eagerly awaiting Dobbs' final accounting.

"He has 30 days to account for everything.''

Full Article & Source:
CA Investigation: Frozen bank accounts add to woes of Memphis disabled vets

Letters: State’s guardianship rules need overhaul

There is another facet of the guardianship muddle: Why professional guardians are necessary at all (“Who’s making sure guardians don’t prey on the vulnerable?”; editorial; Jan. 31). One very important reason: the substantial number of “family” guardians who financially and physically abuse their wards, resulting in the judicial system looking for effective alternatives.

Professional guardians can be that effective alternative. When I had a guardianship practice, I regularly spoke with relatives and friends of wards who were concerned about the predations of the family member appointed as guardian of the ward’s person (e.g., living arrangements, medical care) and property.

Although Florida’s guardianship code has many built-in checks and safeguards, circumvention is not difficult. Comprehensive financial reports are required, but only once a year. Prior court approval for certain transactions is required, but not for all.

There are many opportunities for mischief. Palm Beach County’s court clerk has a guardianship auditing program that annually nabs several million dollars in fraudulent activity by guardians. But what percentage of total misappropriation is caught? How thorough can a system be that requires judicial approval of myriad financial activities of a guardian, but provides funds for too few judges, clerks, auditors and judicial assistants?

Proposed legislation will create another layer of bureaucracy to fit amongst the current local and state layers of guardianship oversight. What about funding for that oversight? (Remember, we also have state and local agencies to protect children, but children continue to suffer and die from abuse.)

What Florida needs is a government that makes protection of our most vulnerable residents a higher priority than tax cuts for business.

Full Article & Source:
Letters: State’s guardianship rules need overhaul

Man charged with bilking elderly woman rejects plea deal

LACONIA – A city man who was scheduled to plead guilty to financially exploiting an elderly woman changed his mind at the 11th hour and is now scheduled to stand trial.

Russell Brown, 61, was indicted in Sept. and charged with using the victim's money for his own profit or advantage in a manner that was not authorized by a durable power of attorney that went into effect in the fall of 2012.

He is accused of taking assets valued at more than $1,500 between Valentine's Day and Halloween in 2014.

On Jan. 11, Defense Attorney Andrew Livernois and Prosecutor Melissa Guldbrandsen had negotiated a settlement that called for Brown to be sentenced to 12 months in jail, six months suspended to be served via administrative home confinement monitored by an electronic bracelet or 12 months house arrest without the bracelet, two years probation and payment of $5,503.72 in restitution.

Brown was suppose to plead guilty and be sentenced on Feb. 8, but decided to reject the plea deal. He remains free on $10,000 personal recognizance bail and is now scheduled to stand trial the week of July 5 or July 11.

The charge is a Class A felony, potentially punishable by a maximum sentence of 7 ½ to 15 years in prison.

Full Article & Source:
Man charged with bilking elderly woman rejects plea deal

Monday, February 15, 2016

Joe Roubicek: The Predatory Bank Tellers

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” ~  Mark Twain

Let’s begin with this Sun Sentinel blurb on Ganesh Viswanathan, a bank teller I arrested for fraud back in 1989.

2 Charged With Forgery
October 12, 1989|Staff reports
FORT LAUDERDALE — A couple were arrested on Wednesday on charges of forging checks worth $14,380 from a bank where the husband was employed, police said.

Arrested on theft and forgery charges were Ganesh Viswanathan and his wife, Patricia, both 24, of the 5600 block of Northeast Second Terrace.

Detective Joseph Roubicek said the couple forged and cashed two checks for themselves from the North Ridge Bank, where Ganesh Viswanathan was a teller. Both of the suspects have been fired from at least two other local banks, police said.


Now here’s what really happened in that case …

A bookkeeper for a Fort Lauderdale business went to the North Ridge Bank on a Friday to do the company payroll. It was routine, or at least that’s what she thought. Weeks later, she was facing arrest for embezzling money from her employer. She appeared to have cashed thousands of dollars in counter checks, along with the regular payroll and the evidence implicating her was overwhelming:
Forged counterchecks where uttered and time stamped in unison with her regular payroll.

She was on video standing at the counter during the transactions.

The bank manager initialed each countercheck, along with the teller’s initials, confirming the transactions by the bookkeeper.

It appeared the bookkeeper had tried to conceal the theft by mixing the counterchecks in with the regular payroll checks, a common method used by dirty bookkeepers.

But she didn’t do it.

Full Article and Source:
The Predatory Bank Tellers
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Cases of elder abuse hard to prosecute

 Local attorneys and social workers are alarmed by a growing number of complaints of elder abuse, neglect and fraud, and frustrated that very few cases are ever prosecuted. But while state law requires that elder abuse be reported, the high level of proof needed for criminal charges is often elusive.

Victims want offenders to be criminally charged and prosecuted, but law enforcement agencies and prosecutors say there often is no evidence. If an abuser has legal documents such as power of attorney, it is especially hard to prove that a victim has been defrauded or stolen from.

Attorney Erika Erickson has worked on almost a dozen cases since June in which senior citizens have fallen victims to fraud, abuse or neglect. None of the cases have made their way to criminal prosecution.

“Nothing ever happens to these people,” she said. “You steal from one, and you move on to the next one. People are sitting ducks here."

Many suspects haven't been arrested and prosecuted because there is no proof, District Attorney Greg Newman said.

“There has been talk and reports, but not one case has been charged or indicted because we haven't had evidence,” he said. “We will continue to review each case with law enforcement, and if we have a case with evidence, we'll prosecute that, but we haven't had that yet.”

Specifically, the court needs “proof beyond reasonable doubt” to charge an individual with criminal charges.

According to state law, “any suspicion of the occurrence of elder abuse must reported.” Types of abuse can include inflicting physical pain, injury or mental anguish; unreasonable confinement; or the willful deprivation by a caretaker or services. Exploitation for profit and neglect also fall under the North Carolina Elder Abuse law.

However, North Carolina has no specific laws regarding prosecution of individuals who abuse elders. Across the country, only a handful of states have laws outlining how to prosecute an individual after the victim has been abused.

Since 2011, the Henderson County Sheriff's Office has seen a 12 percent increase in reported fraud crimes targeting those age 60 and older, who make up 30 percent of the county's population, according to crime statistics from the Sheriff's Office. These crimes include obtaining property by false pretense, credit card fraud, identity theft, wire fraud and other kinds of fraud.

There were 109 cases of fraud in Henderson County in 2015. The Transylvania County Sheriff's Office reported 42 cases of fraud in the same time period. Transylvania County's elderly make up 28.5 percent of the population, according to statistics form 2014, the most recent for the county.

Newman has talked to victims of these crimes and brought the State Bureau of Investigation in more than once to look into elder abuse allegations, but he has yet to prosecute one.

“The truth is, I don't recall indicting anything like this,” he said.

In Transylvania County, of 26 cases reported last year, the victim either knew the offender or was taken advantage of by “cheating someone the old-fashioned way,” said Sheriff David Mahoney.

These cases often include obtaining property by false pretense, or credit card or ATM fraud.

Out of those 26 cases, suspects were arrested in 12. In three cases, the victim did not press charges, five were determined to be unfounded, and six remain under investigation, Mahoney said.

The obstacles 

In most of attorney Erickson's cases, prosecution has been made more difficult because a senior has given power of attorney rights to another individual, oftentimes a family member, friend or caregiver.

Power of attorney grants another individual the power to step in and handle financial, tax or medical decisions and actions on the person's behalf. According to the law, the person must always act in the individual's best interest and may not be compensated for their services. A power of attorney form must be notarized, and there must be two witnesses present.

Erickson has seen cases in which a senior citizen without family in the state befriends a younger person. The victim signs a power of attorney document or perhaps adds the younger person to a will, and that younger individual can then legally obtain the senior citizen's assets.

There are also instances in which a senior's family lives far away, and once family members find out about their parent or grandparent being abused or scammed, it is too late or too difficult to prove that laws were broken.

In one case, Greg Smith was living across the country when his mother in Henderson County became ill. His sister stepped in to take care of their mother, and at the time he thought everything was fine.

After about five months, he said he found out his sister had power of attorney and had been taking his mother's money. He said his mother was not receiving proper care — that her medications were being withheld and she was not receiving necessary surgeries.

Smith flew to North Carolina and spent about 50 days trying to get everything straightened out.

Adult Protective Services officials investigated the case, Smith said, and they concluded that his sister was not fulfilling her legal responsibilities as their mother's caretaker. But when he tried to get criminal charges filed, he was unsuccessful.

In cases where a legal document has been signed, it is incredibly difficult to find evidence that the senior signed it unknowingly or unwillingly, Newman said.

“I can't help them when I see those documents,” he said. “To prove a crime in a case like this is a real, real challenge. While these crimes appear suspicious on the face, it does not mean that I can prove a crime.”

Smith said he had evidence, but was told that law enforcement could not prosecute it as a criminal charge and he could pursue it in civil court.

Law enforcement agencies will still investigate a complaint.

Hendersonville police officers always respond to calls, treating potential victims with compassion and dignity, Chief Herbert Blake said.

“We, the police, charge when the charges are there to be made and (if) we have a willing victim,” he said.

In Transylvania County, the Sheriff's Office is responsible for an investigation, while prosecution is up to the District Attorney's Office, Mahoney said.

“It's like a hand off in a football play,” he said. “We developed the investigation, collected the evidence and the facts. Once we hit that point and established probable cause exists, we charge the appropriate charges and hand it over to the prosecution.”

However, these cases aren't being prosecuted, and many are frustrated, including Attorney Lee Mulligan, who works with Erickson.

"I'm frustrated that our prosecutors won't take this (issue) seriously," Mulligan said. "I just know this is going to be a continuing issue in this community."

 If suspects aren't punished, there are going to be more victims, Erickson said.

 “They need to be caught, and there needs to be a consequence; it doesn't mean that they need to go to jail, but at a minimum there needs to be some service to the victim,” she said.

 Smith is going to pursue his case as a civil matter, but wants cases of this nature to be criminally prosecuted in the future.

“I think that their hands are tied in a way, and nobody wants to pull the trigger to get language changed in legislation,” he said. “It wasn't like I got the stiff arm from anybody. Everybody was great about that, but it's bigger than they are.”

Full Article & Source:
Cases of elder abuse hard to prosecute

How to talk to people with Alzheimer's

Expect to say "I'm sorry" a lot if you decide to try one of the trendier ways to communicate with people who have Alzheimer's.

There was a time when caregivers tried orienting people with dementia to reality. That often feels like the natural thing to do. "No, Mom, I actually did tell you that. Like, five times."

But at Daylesford Crossing, an assisted-living facility in Paoli, workers are more likely to just go with it if a resident has some strange ideas.

Let's say Mom or Grandma is furiously accusing her neighbor of stealing something. Your first impulse may be to defend the neighbor, but that would just make things worse, said Kathleen Douglass, administrator and dementia specialist at Sage Senior Living, which opened Daylesford five months ago.

"I'm sorry that happened to you," is a better answer, she said. Then you can show you've heard the emotion. "You seem really angry. I would be angry too if that happened."

It's time to give up thinking your truth and rationality will change the mind of someone with dementia. "She's never going to be able to process that again," Douglass said. "She's in brain failure."

Teepa Snow, originator of this "positive approach to care," was in Daylesford this month to train about 50 staffers from Sage facilities and some family members in her principles. A Pittsburgh native who moved to North Carolina 45 years ago and who has a Southern accent to show for it, Snow demonstrated how brain damage from dementia affects behavior and offered hands-on tips to help caregivers fill in the gaps.

Her message: The more the person with dementia loses his brain, the more those around him have to use theirs.

Snow's goal is to help caregivers make use of what's still working in the brain and compensate for what isn't. "Instead of focusing on the hole, we need to be looking at the doughnut," she said.

Krista McKay, director of programs and services for the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley chapter, said Snow is among a group of dementia experts who espouse a more person-centered philosophy - look at the person, not the disease. The approach, which the association has endorsed for years, has been slow to take off but is gaining traction.

"I would say that it's taking root in a lot of ways, the care philosophy," she said. "The issue at hand is whether it's being applied."

Older approaches, she said, make it a priority to feed residents three meals a day, dress them appropriately, and take care of their toileting needs. The new one, which requires more staff, places greater emphasis on personal relationships, reminiscence, and activities that draw out what a patient still cares about. "We have to go with that person along their journey as opposed to bringing them back," she said.

Douglass added that the old approach relied more heavily on using medication to address problem behaviors. That's less likely to be necessary when people's needs are being met.

With the aid of pictures that showed how the brain atrophies during dementia, Snow, an occupational therapist, explained why these patients are often frightened or resistant.

Their hearing may be fine, but they can't make sense of the words, so speaking more loudly only startles or annoys them.

Their visual field narrows considerably, especially when they are frightened. A 20-year-old's peripheral vision can detect his moving fingers if he stretches his hands straight out to the side, but someone in the midstage of dementia can see only between two arms thrust straight forward. That means it's easy for someone with dementia to think you're sneaking up on him. If you stand right in front of him, you're blocking his full visual field, which can feel threatening. It's best to greet from a distance and then approach from the side.

Later in the course of the disease, the brain begins using visual messages from only one eye, throwing depth perception way off and increasing the risk of falling.

Because of damage to the frontal lobe, people with dementia often have trouble initiating an action, such as picking up a fork to eat. If you help them start, they may be able to keep going.

Snow said people with dementia lose the ability to use and understand complex speech. Long after that's gone, they may retain their sense of rhythm, the ability to dance and sing, and to make chitchat. These can be paths to happy experiences and they're a lot healthier than a common source of a quick high: sugar.

Dementia patients also still remember swear words and racial slurs - Snow said they're housed in a different part of the brain from complex language - and they use them. Another thing that isn't working is the brain's brake.

A high-energy presenter with a flair for the dramatic, Snow convincingly modeled different neurological deficits. She drew knowing looks from people in the audience who had no trouble thinking of specific residents she resembled. Most often, she was a shuffling, hunched, cantankerous woman who took offense quickly or did inappropriate things like fondling the shiny bald head of one worker and swearing prodigiously.

In one common scenario, she played a woman who pitched a fit when a worker tried to bring a new woman to her table in the cafeteria. Then Snow explained what this queen bee of the table might have been like. Before she got sick, she likely was an introvert who was always in control. Introverts, she said, are territorial.

The worker should have come to her before lunch and said, "I have a huge favor to ask of you." She would describe how this new person needed a place to sit and needed to be with someone skillful. "What do you think?"

At that point, the queen bee likely would volunteer to accept the new resident, but, because of her memory problems, that's not the end of it. Before the meal started, the worker would need to bring the new resident directly to the woman for the first introduction before actually showing her a chair.

Then there's the guy who complains that his table never gets served first. Even though the facility goes out of its way to make sure every table is served first sometimes, the important thing is what he thinks. The facts, which he can't remember or understand, won't sway him.

"I'm so sorry," Snow would tell him. "That's not all right. That shouldn't be happening. I'm so sorry. You're not getting served first, ever?"

Then she said that, unless there are two tables with people who really care about when they're served, it's OK just to serve that guy's table first.

One of her most counterintuitive examples was of a woman who shuffled up to a worker saying, "I need something."

"What do you need?" the worker asked helpfully. First mistake. The woman didn't know and that forced her to admit it. She struggled to find the words to describe what she was looking for.

The worker tried to comfort her. "It's OK," she said soothingly. Second mistake. It wasn't OK. This woman used to be a teacher and it was not OK at all with her that she couldn't find the words to say what she wanted.

Snow started again with Carla Bennett, a resident assistant with long experience in caring for the elderly. Bennett had to try multiple times before she could get past the habit of asking the woman what she needed. Finally, she did what Snow suggested. She repeated what the woman had said.

"You need something." Then, "Tell me more about it."

Snow's character struggled some more, saying, "I need my white and my black that I have first."

"Can you show me what you do with it?" Bennett asked. Finally, she steered the woman toward the coffee.

Bennett, who has been at Daylesford since it opened, said the program gave her a much clearer understanding of how Snow's philosophy works. "It's like she's moving all the old furniture out of your mind," she said.

Janet Haufler of Newtown Square went to the workshop to learn more about interacting with her 84-year-old mother, who moved into Daylesford Crossing after a bad experience at another facility. She said her mother was doing much better now.

"She became more engaged. She's able to speak more. She's able to move more," she said. "She's much happier."

Full Article & Source:
How to talk to people with Alzheimer's

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Scott Kiley & State Sponsored Abduction & Kidnap of His Mother

Scott Kiley joins thew show to discuss the state sanctioned kidnapping of his mother, forcing her into a guardianship which Scott describes as "state sanctioned abduction, kidnapping, hostage-taking".

"Professional fiduciary James Moore was called in by the hospital, conducting an "interview" with my mother while she was massively drugged after hip surgery. It was Moore who "diagnosed" my mother with dementia."

Moore keeps my mother heavily drugged and confined to her bed. My mom is in grave danger now of prescription drug toxic poisoning and early premature death. I need to undo that to prevent permanent conservatorship by Moore on March 17th and literally SAVE HER LIFE!

Mercy Hospital in Sacramento seems to have a pattern, practice, custom of medical malpractice, medical misdiagnosis of calling physically infirm sane people who are elderly,"insane", so that in conjunction with state, county officials, money can be made by lawyers, judges and professional fiduciaries, to steal people's lives, monies, bankrupting them, destroying families and making them homeless in so doing."

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

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

Steve Miller: Disgraced Ex-Family Court Judge Helps Steal Inheritance From Cerebral Palsy Victim

Francis-Ann Fine
LAS VEGAS - In 1998, Clark County Family Court Judge Francis-Ann Fine "was (found) guilty of 'willful misconduct' for holding improper meetings on court cases and engaging in nepotism," according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Fine was stripped of her judgeship and removed from the bench for life.

Nine years later, Fine stood in Clark County Family Court before one of her former cronies asking that she be allowed to take control of over $80,000 held in a Charles Schwab trust account for then-17 year old cerebral palsy victim Jason Hanson. The judge dutifully signed her order, and Jason's $80,000 was never seen again.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Atlantic County Woman Pleads Guilty in Scheme in Which Millions of Dollars Were Stolen From Elderly Clients of Senior Care Company

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a woman pleaded guilty today to participating in a scheme with her sister and a lawyer to steal millions of dollars from elderly clients of an in-home senior care company in Atlantic County. The company was owned by the sister.

Sondra Steen, 60, of Linwood, pleaded guilty today to first-degree money laundering before Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury Jr. in Atlantic County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Steen be sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including 4 ½ years of parole ineligibility. She will be jointly and severally liable for full restitution in an amount to be determined. Judge DeLury scheduled sentencing for Steen for March 4.

Steen was charged in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice. Deputy Attorney General Yvonne G. Maher is prosecuting the defendants and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau. Detective Richard Wheeler led the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Financial Crimes Unit.

Steen was indicted on March 16, 2015 along with her sister Jan Van Holt, 59, of Linwood, owner of A Better Choice, a company that offered elderly clients in-home care and legal financial planning; Susan Hamlett, 56, of Egg Harbor Township, who worked as an aide for company clients; and William Price, 57, of Linwood, who has since pleaded guilty to taking part in the scheme and stealing $125,000 from an elderly couple he met as a caseworker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services. Van Holt and Steen were charged with conspiring with Barbara Lieberman, 63, of Northfield, a lawyer who specialized in elder law, to steal over $2.7 million from 12 elderly clients from January 2003 through December 2012. Lieberman pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced on March 25, 2015 to 10 years in prison, including 3 ½ years of parole ineligibility. Lieberman forfeited $3 million in assets as well as her law license. The charges against Van Holt and Hamlett are pending.

In pleading guilty, Steen admitted that she assisted her sister and Lieberman in carrying out the scheme to steal from clients of A Better Choice and Lieberman.

Van Holt worked as a case worker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services from 2002 through December 2007, when she was terminated. Five of the 12 alleged victims targeted by Van Holt, Steen and Lieberman were recruited as clients after they came into contact with Van Holt through her official public position as a case worker.

It is alleged that Van Holt generally was the one to identify potential clients, approaching them to offer the services of A Better Choice and Lieberman. The defendants allegedly targeted elderly clients with substantial assets who typically did not have any immediate family, offering them non-medical care and services, including household chores, errands, driving clients to appointments, scheduling, budgeting, paying bills, balancing checkbooks, and other tasks. They did not provide healthcare services.

Once a target accepted Van Holt’s offer of services, Steen usually would be put in place as the victim’s primary caregiver. Lieberman would then be brought in to do legal work, preparing powers of attorney and wills for the clients. Lieberman was a leading specialist in elder law in Atlantic County who gave seminars to senior citizens on end of life affairs, wills and living wills.

The defendants allegedly took control of the finances of their victims by forging a power of attorney or obtaining one on false pretenses. The defendants then added their names to the victims’ bank accounts or transferred the victims’ funds into new accounts they controlled. Thereafter, the defendants allegedly stole from the accounts to pay their own expenses, including, for Van Holt and Steen – who lived together – veterinary bills for their pets, pool supplies, two Mercedes cars owned by Van Holt, and lease payments on a Florida condo.

A portion of the money was used to fund the victim’s expenses to keep the victim unaware of the thefts. In some cases, money from one victim would be transferred to another victim to pay expenses and cover up the thefts. If the victim owned stocks or bonds, they were cashed out and the funds were deposited into the account allegedly controlled by the defendants. When Lieberman prepared wills for the victims, she typically named herself or Van Holt as executor of the estate and named Steen as a beneficiary, or named other beneficiaries who had little or no ties to the victim and never actually received anything from the estate. The defendants allegedly relied on fraud, manipulation or forgery in the execution of the wills. In this manner, they allegedly continued to steal from the victims’ estates after they died.

The investigation began after the New Jersey Office of the Public Guardian referred a case involving one of the victims to the State Police. In addition to the first-degree conspiracy and money laundering charges against Van Holt, she is charged along with Hamlett with second-degree counts of conspiracy, money laundering and theft. The charges are merely accusations and the remaining defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Deputy Attorney General Derek Miller is handling the state’s forfeiture action. Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the New Jersey Office of the Public Guardian for its referral.

Atlantic County Woman Pleads Guilty in Scheme in Which Millions of Dollars Were Stolen From Elderly Clients of Senior Care Company