Saturday, March 12, 2016

Minnesota Conservator Leaves Trail of Complaints

A Long Lake man appointed by Minnesota courts to oversee the lives and estates of vulnerable adults is resigning from nearly five dozen cases in the wake of complaints about mismanagement and a violent attack on him by one of his clients.

Clarence Coffindaffer has been appointed in 91 vulnerable adult cases, 57 of which remain open, despite a series of criticisms from court auditors and objections to his supervision from some wards and their family members. One of his attorneys, Charles Singer, confirmed that Coffindaffer plans to quit the business as soon as possible.

“This process will take several months as there are several attorneys involved and it is not an easy task to find professionals who will take some of these cases,” Singer said.

Coffindaffer’s pending resignations likely mean added expenses for his clients and a Sisyphean task for the court as it struggles to find acceptable replacements to supervise its wards. The disruption hits Twin Cities probate courts still grappling with the 2014 collapse of another professional guardian and conservator firm known as Alternate Decision Makers Inc. (ADMI), whose founder admitted to pilfering the wards’ accounts.

Coffindaffer inherited a number of ADMI’s former clients, taking control of their finances despite his own background of financial difficulties. His 2005 personal bankruptcy petition in West Virginia was not publicly disclosed in some court records, despite a state law requiring it.

Hennepin District Judge Jamie L. Anderson wrote Coffindaffer in September demanding an explanation for late annual account filings, missing and incomplete support documentation and missing Social Security payments caused by his management failures. In January, she fined Coffindaffer $100 for failing to file required documents in one case and for failing to appear at a December court hearing. This month, she ordered him to appear before her on March 28 for failing to submit several required filings and skipping a February hearing in another case.

Auditors have raised concerns about Coffindaffer routing expense “reimbursements” for his clients through a company he founded called Valtara LLC. The company’s registration lapsed in 2009 and he only renewed it this month, after a reporter’s inquiry.

Some wards and their loved ones say they can’t be rid of Coffindaffer soon enough.

Coffindaffer became a professional guardian and conservator in 2007, two years after filing for bankruptcy. His new profession followed a career as a librarian, college administrator and professor of information technology.

Prospective conservators and guardians have been required to disclose prior bankruptcy filings since August 2013. Court filings since then state that Coffindaffer never filed for bankruptcy, or they remain silent on the issue, or they state that he filed for bankruptcy “more than 20 years earlier” and that the case number was “unknown.”

The Star Tribune obtained his bankruptcy filings online. His debts at the time included $82,000 in unsecured claims to banks and credit card companies. Coffindaffer said in the filing that he was receiving $3,660 a month in disability payments. Singer said the nature of the disability is confidential information.

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Minnesota Conservator Leaves Trail of Complaints

Guilty verdicts handed down on 11 of 17 charges in $52 million federal fraud case

After three days of deliberations, a federal jury on Monday decided that former Alaska prosecutor Mark Avery cheated his way into a wealthy, elderly widow’s trust fund in 2005, then spent wildly on vintage planes and expensive boats. The jury handed down verdicts of guilty on 11 of 17 felony counts in U.S. District Court.

But jurors found him not guilty of one count, and hung on five others.

Jurors began deliberating the $52 million fraud case Thursday morning and announced their decision Monday afternoon in a federal courtroom in Anchorage.

Avery, 56, was tried on five counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of money laundering and single counts of bank fraud and making a false statement to a bank.

Under their decision, jurors found that the fraud of the May Smith Trust added up to $31 million.

They found him not guilty on the fourth of five requests for wire transfers, which amounted to $6 million. They couldn’t decide whether Avery deceived his two fellow trustees from the very start, when he emailed a financial manager for the first $15 million drawn on a loan backed by the trust.

They also hung up on whether the initial spending amounted to money laundering, including Avery’s purchase of two RVs and his payoffs of a second mortgage, loans for three SUVs and other debt. They also couldn’t decide on another money laundering charge related to Avery making a $304,000 interest payment from, as prosecutors said, the trust-backed loan.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline, who presided over a trial spanning 15 days from the start of jury selection, earlier said he was considering entering his own order of not guilty on two counts related to a separate $500,000 Wells Fargo line of credit. While jurors convicted Avery of those two charges, the judge could still rule in the defendant's favor on them.

Avery declined to comment after the verdicts were read and didn’t react in the courtroom. His attorney, Mike Dieni, also declined to comment.

Over 11 days of testimony, jurors were shown some 200 exhibits. They heard from 20 government witnesses and five from the defense, including Avery himself, who testified over one full day and parts of two others, more than any other witness.

“These guilty verdicts are clear indicators that they totally discounted his explanation and his story,” said assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki, the lead prosecutor on the case.

It’s too soon for the prosecution to say whether it intends to retry Avery on the five counts on which jurors couldn’t reach a decision.

But, Skrocki said: “This is a $30 million conviction, so it’s probably unlikely we will retry him on those charges.”

Avery was one of three trustees for the $100 million May Smith Trust, set up to provide for the care of May Wong Smith, as well as the $350 million charitable trust in the name of May and her late husband, Stanley Smith, who made a fortune in mining after World War II.  (Continue Reading)

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Guilty verdicts handed down on 11 of 17 charges in $52 million federal fraud case

Emeritus at Santa Rosa nursing home to pay $1 million in settlement

Eleanor Buckingham
A high-end Santa Rosa nursing home has agreed to pay $1 million to settle a wrongful death and elder abuse lawsuit alleging it allowed a patient to die from complications of a bedsore, attorneys said Tuesday.

Emeritus at Santa Rosa, since renamed Brookdale Fountaingrove, agreed to the payout in the 2013 death of Eleanor Buckingham, 87.

Her family alleged nursing staff erred in treating a pressure ulcer that developed on her back, withholding proper care until it became infected.

She died of sepsis after being taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, said attorneys Jeremy Fietz and Sandy Horowitz.

They said the case shows even the most expensive nursing facilities make mistakes. Emeritus charged patients about $100,000 a year to stay in the Fountaingrove Parkway facility, the attorneys said.
“I think it’s really important that people watch very carefully, no matter what nursing home their loved one gets into,” Fietz said.

Sue Becker, nursing home administrator and executive director, did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment. She was named in the suit, filed in Sonoma County Superior Court, along with Jennifer Abramson, the former director of nursing. A spokeswoman for the Tennessee-based company, Shawna Zody, did not comment.

Brookdale bought Emeritus Corporation in 2014 for a reported $1.4 billion in stock. The company owns at least three other facilities in Sonoma County.

The company released a statement Tuesday saying it has made unspecified changes since the merger, and highlighting that the lawsuit concerned events that predated the merger.

“While there were defenses to the allegations, we ultimately decided to resolve this case to put our focus on what matters most, the health and well-being of our residents,” said the statement from spokeswoman Shawna Zody.

A Bay Area watchdog said the $1 million settlement is significant since damages for simple negligence are capped at $250,000 under state law.

“A million dollars is a statement,” said Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. “It says, we did something wrong.”

She said her group receives frequent complaints about corporate-owned nursing homes, including those operated by Seattle-based Emeritus and Brookdale.

“They are large, for-profit chains trying to provide healthcare,” she said. “I’m not sure they are capable of doing it.”

Buckingham, a San Francisco native who served as a civilian airplane spotter during World War II, moved to Santa Rosa with her late husband, Warren, in the 1950s. She raised two children and eventually became a pilot herself, joining the Ninety-Nines, an international organization for female fliers.

After suffering a bout of cellulitis about four years ago, she was admitted to Emeritus in November 2012 for rehabilitation with plans to return to live with her daughter in Windsor, her attorneys said.

Emeritus staff noticed the bed sore on her back at admission but did not take immediate action to treat it, the lawyers said. Instead, they allowed the wound to double in size and held her at the facility until Jan. 15 — the last day covered by Medicare, Fietz and Horowitz said.

At that point, Emeritus downgraded her treatment from skilled nursing to assisted living, the lawyers said.  (Continue Reading)

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Emeritus at Santa Rosa nursing home to pay $1 million in settlement

Woodbury Man Sentenced for Stealing Funds Intended for Oxford and Charities

Peter M. Clark, 58, of Woodbury, was sentenced to 45 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for stealing more than $1.8 million from the estate of an Oxford woman who died in 2010, federal authorities announced in a prepared statement Wednesday evening.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Miriam S. Strong of Oxford died on July 2, 2010. At the time of her death, Strong had a will, which left money, property and other items to a list of individuals, the Town of Oxford, the State of Connecticut and several religious and other charitable entities.

The will also called for the creation of a scholarship fund for college-bound students from Oxford.

Clark drafted the will as Strong’s attorney and served as a witness to Strong’s execution of the will.

The will named Clark and another individual as co-executors. The investigation revealed that, during the course of the administration of the will, Clark took more than $1.8 million from Strong’s estate for his own use, federal officials said.

Clark will be ordered to make restitution to the Connecticut Client Security Fund, which has reimbursed Miriam Strong’s estate.

Clark was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on May 21, 2015. On October 19, 2015, he pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.

Clark, who is released on a $500,000 bond, was ordered to report to prison on Feb. 24.

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Woodbury Man Sentenced for Stealing Funds Intended for Oxford and Charities

Friday, March 11, 2016

Scott signs elder guardianship bill; but for some, it's too late

Lori Smith and her mother, Bunny Garst
By Barbara Peters Smith

With Gov. Rick Scott's signing of a landmark guardianship reform bill on Thursday, adult wards of the state and their families will for the first time have a number they can call for official intervention, without having to go through an attorney, when problems arise.

The bill, authored by Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice, is intended for Floridians trying to challenge the complex legal system that strips citizens of their rights after they are deemed incapable of making their own decisions. It establishes a new Office of Public and Professional Guardians, which will monitor the people paid to handle those wards' affairs, and review allegations that this sweeping trust is being violated.

Detert has said the law “will be the model for the other states,” and was inspired by the anguish of family members who have told their stories in Tallahassee to press for systemwide reform. She called the bill her “absolute top priority” for this year's session, her last as she leaves the Legislature to run for the Sarasota County Commission.

“I would be frankly devastated to leave the Senate without having finished that job,” she said after Scott signed the bill.

Detert had tried to get the measure through the Legislature last year, but it failed, in part because of Scott's concerns. This year, the governor was on board.

“We couldn't have done it without him, because we tried doing it without him and it didn't work,” Detert said. “The governor himself heard from lots of people in his travels, because Naples is one of the target areas for unscrupulous folks preying upon elderly wealthy old ladies. He heard it first hand. He was very supportive. I never doubted that he'd sign it. I'm thrilled that he did. He said he would come to our community and do a ceremonial signing, which will be great.”

For many of the families profiled in the Herald-Tribune's ongoing coverage of this topic, the new standards and scrutiny amount to a welcome change that will come too late for them personally. This month Bunny Garst of Bradenton saw her husband lose his last remaining right — to choose where he lives — after his family's costly legal struggle of more than three years with his professional guardian.

She wonders whether his case might have unfolded differently, if she could have had early access to what Detert has called a “complaint department.”

“We have to have somewhere to turn,” said Garst, who retained a series of attorneys in an effort to reverse her husband's assignment to a paid guardian — and fight that guardian's actions to sell off her husband's property. “The frustration is that all this is going on and you're totally helpless.”

In September 2011, Garst called Florida's Adult Protective Services and asked for an investigation of her husband's living situation. She was concerned, she said, that Claflin Garst Jr., a former Manatee County judge, had rapidly advancing dementia and was being unduly influenced by an employee. When she and the employee both petitioned to be named guardian, the judge appointed a professional instead.

The only right Claflin Garst retained in these proceedings was the freedom to choose his residence, and for years he remained at home with paid caregivers on his buffalo ranch — where friends and family contend that it was difficult to visit him. In February his guardian asked the court to remove that right and allow placement in a facility that offers memory care.

“Due to the deteriorating condition of the ward,” the petition states, “the aides are not able to provide the level of service required to maintain him in a safe nurturing environment.”

“That ranch means everything in the world to him,” said Bunny Garst, who was visibly upset after this petition was granted on March 1.

The guardian did not respond to a request for comment, and Claflin Garst's court-appointed attorney declined to comment.

Along with his order, 12th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Charles E. Williams called for a status conference in 90 days to assess the ward's condition, and “strongly encouraged” his guardian and family to consider using a new, voluntary Eldercare Coordinating program to resolve their ongoing differences. But Bunny Garst said her attorney advised her that such a step at this stage would be “too little, too late.”

The number of professional guardians in Florida has grown from 23 in 2003 to nearly 500 today, and is expected to climb as the baby boom generation ages.

In a December 2014 series, “The Kindness of Strangers,” and followup stories, the Herald-Tribune chronicled the struggles of wards and their families with an underfunded legal system that draws on the life savings of wealthier wards to support the “pro bono” work of attorneys and guardians for indigent wards. The project also found that wards' rights under the statute were routinely disregarded, and that the practice of placing elders under “temporary emergency guardianship” typically led to permanent guardianship before anyone could contest the process.

Sam Sugar, an Aventura physician who founded an organization called Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship, said recent reforms to the system have been limited in scope, and more profound change is needed.

He worried that Detert's bill, while establishing state oversight, still leaves the burden of proof on wards and their families. And it does not allow for criminal prosecution of wrongdoing by guardians.

“The bill does nothing, absolutely nothing, to address grievances for active guardianships,” he added, “or those that have been closed by virtue of the death of the ward. The guardianship racket is so complicated and well-entrenched ... it may take something far stronger than this type of bill to adequately address it.”


• Encourage courts to consider appointing guardian advocates as an alternative to full guardianship.

• Place the Florida Secretary of Elder Affairs in charge of a new Office of Public and Professional Guardians.

• Fund the office with six full-time staff positions in the first year, and a recurring budget of almost $700,000.

• Direct that office to establish standards for guardians by Oct. 1.

• Generate procedures for monitoring guardians and looking into allegations against them.

• Create a way to discipline guardians who fail to meet professional standards.

• Establish a training program for guardians.

• Spell out grounds for discipline or penalties.

• Establish a matching grant program to fund local public guardianships for indigent wards.

For more information on adult guardianship in Florida, go to

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Scott signs elder guardianship bill; but for some, it's too late

Time Share Company Accused of Elder Abuse

VENTURA, Calif. (CN) - An 81-year-old man claims in court that Diamond Resorts International, a timeshare club, defrauded him of $50,000 and keeps trying to get more.

 Louis Wolff claims Diamond Resorts International Club and six affiliates used high-pressure sales tactics to open credit cards in his name, run up bills on them "before plaintiff even realized the cards existed," and charge him more than $50,000 for "membership 'services' in DRI entities."

 Wolff sued Diamond Resorts on March 8 in Superior Court. He claims the abusive sales pitches, on the phone and in person, could last for four to five hours. And despite the $50,000 Diamond Resorts already took from him, he says, it continued to harass him for upgrades to his membership.

 "He's just a senior, with sort of the normal cognitive challenges that comes from being a senior," Wolff's attorney Eric Ridley told Courthouse News.

 "You get to an age where you become more susceptible, more trusting and maybe a little less discerning. It's not uncommon thing."

 Ridley said his client is typical of many people his age, and susceptible to high-pressure sales, which can be overwhelming.

 Diamond International sends buses to seniors' communities to take them to Nevada, Ridley said. And once they get a name, there will be a nonstop barrage of phone calls. That's what happened to him, Wolff says in the lawsuit.

 Diamond International says on its website that it has a different approach to selling its timeshares. It sells points, which can be used to stay in one a company resorts. Some members complain that the points seem to go down in value or disappear if they are not used quickly enough, or can't be redeemed for anything of value.

 New York Times economics specialist Gretchen Morgenson devoted a long Jan. 22 article to Diamond Resorts, under the headline: "The Timeshare Hard Sell Comes Roaring Back."

 One Diamond timeshare owner told Morgenson: "Diamond is much more ambitious, aggressive and downright nasty in their sales presentations compared to Marriott and Westin. Diamond just has an amazing reputation of being tough on people."

 A 77-year-old California woman told Morgenson that after a 5-hour hard sell, which left her "shaking," but which she withstood, Diamond gave her a voided receipt for a $4,840 charge on her credit card: "The representatives had been so certain that she would agree to the offer that they had charged her card for the down payment - even though she had not given approval," the Times reported.

 Diamond CEO David Palmer told Morgenson he had "belligerently zero tolerance" for any of his sales representatives who "goes off script."

 Diamond reported $845 million in revenue last year, according to the Times article, which cites two other lawsuits similar to Wolff's, one in Florida and one in California.

 "I'm glad we have these consumer protection laws in California that protect seniors," Ridley said.

 Wolff seeks restitution, rescission of contract, and punitive damages for elder abuse, unfair business practices and fraud.

 Diamond International Resorts could not be reached for comment after business hours Wednesday.

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Time Share Company Accused of Elder Abuse

Sens. Collins, McCaskill Lead Aging Committee Effort to Seek Release of Imprisoned Seniors Abroad - Mar 09,2016 - Sens. Collins, McCaskill Lead Aging Committee Effort to Seek Release of Imprisoned Seniors Abroad

Bipartisan Letter from 9 Committee Members Asks for State Department Assistance for Seniors, Including a Maine Victim, Unwittingly Entangled in Drug Smuggling Scam

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, were joined by seven other Committee members in urging Secretary of State John Kerry to work with foreign governments to reexamine cases involving at least 30 American seniors, including J. Bryon Martin, a retired pastor from Maine, who have been imprisoned as a result of a drug smuggling scam unveiled by the Committee and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month.

According to federal law enforcement officials, who spoke about this scam for the first time publicly at the Aging Committee’s Feb. 10th hearing, at least 145 victims, the majority of whom are seniors, have been arrested by foreign governments for unknowingly carrying illegal narcotics after being deceived by scammers. The criminals cover the cost of international travel for their victim and create a complicated itinerary that requires the senior to travel to at least one other country and pick up a package or suitcase en route. Unbeknownst to the senior, these packages have drugs carefully hidden inside.

“We recognize that Americans traveling outside of the United States must respect and follow the laws of other countries, just as we expect citizens of other countries to obey our laws while on U.S. soil.
But ICE’s investigation has revealed that these senior Americans are likely victims of international criminal enterprises who are being further victimized by their imprisonment,” the Senators wrote in the letter, which was also signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), David Perdue (R-GA), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Andy Martin, the son of retired Maine pastor J. Byron Martin, testified at the hearing about how his father was deceived by this scam. Mr. Martin met a scammer in an online chatroom and engaged in a 5-year romance scheme in which the scammer feigned love for Mr. Martin in exchange for monthly financial assistance. As Mr. Martin attempted to terminate the relationship, the scammer reminded Mr. Martin of his previous promise to travel to South America and conduct a real estate deal on her behalf. She asked him to bring her the real estate documents, and he agreed to do so. While on a layover in Spain, authorities discovered that the packages contained nearly 2 kilograms of cocaine and arrested Mr. Martin. Although Mr. Martin believed the packages simply contained documents and was unaware that they contained an illegal substance, he was sentenced to six years and one day in prison for drug smuggling.

“[W]e ask that you or the American Ambassador to Spain raise Mr. Martin’s case directly with the Spanish government, and that similar steps be taken on behalf of the other American victims with (Continue Reading)

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Sens. Collins, McCaskill Lead Aging Committee Effort to Seek Release of Imprisoned Seniors Abroad

Thursday, March 10, 2016

America Tonight: Nursing Home Trust

Advocate Debbie Dahmer's family is interviewed regarding Debbie's Dad George Dahmer (aka Pro Wrestler Chief White Owl) Wrongful Death Case in which a nursing home was found guilty on all charges November 2012.

 The nursing home appealed and lost three times on punitive damages.

 Unbelievably, a Florida statue then mandated Debbie's Mother to pay 50% of the punitive damages award to help "improve the quality of care in nursing homes."

 America Tonite exposes what's really going, gazebos, fish ponds....

America Tonight:  Nursing Home Trust

NY State Comptroller Audits Department of Health - Enforcement of Nursing Home Violations Needed

Laurie Kash of Last Stop Advocacy Project of Rochester talks about her mother’s experience at a nursing home during the NY State Comptroller’s Press Conference on Nursing Home Reform in Albany, on February 22, 2016.

The NY State Comptroller’s Office released a 28-page audit which concludes that the State Health Department should improve enforcement of nursing home violations, fines are delayed for up to six years, and nursing homes are cited repeatedly for problems with limited consequences. “The state Department of Health (DOH) needs to fix problems and delays with how it is assessing fines to nursing homes after violations are found, according to an audit released today [Monday, February 22, 2016] by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.”

Click here to read NYS Comptroller’s Press Release and Audit

Here is an excerpt from Laurie Kash’s speech at the comptroller’s press conference. (On mobile, watch video here:

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NY State Comptroller Audits Department of Health - Enforcement of Nursing Home Violations Needed

Woman stole $400,000, a Mercedes convertible from elderly men in NYC: DA

Mary Evans faces charges that include second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheming to defraud and first-degree endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

“Companionship came at a high price for the elderly victims in this case,” Vance said in a statement. “The defendant is accused of systematically preying on men three decades older than her and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings from them, which she allegedly used go on shopping sprees at Victoria’s Secret and Macy’s."

“And it didn’t stop with cash," Vance added. Evans is "also accused of tricking one victim into buying her a Mercedes convertible."

Authorities allege Evans met her victims in public places and pretended to know them. She later convinced the men to loan her money, claiming to need it for schooling, and pretending to have been the victim of abuse, prosecutors said.

From her first victim, a 77-year-old retired MTA employee, she took $130,000 and a Mercedes convertible.

From her second, an 81-year-old man who had worked as a musical director at a church, she stole $53,000.

She obtained a marriage license with the third — who was a 73-year-old retired college professor suffering from dementia — prosecutors allege. When she tried to take out $225,000 from the professor’s retirement fund, authorities were alerted to her alleged misdeeds.

Anyone who may have been the victim of this type of fraud or knows someone who may have been, should call the Manhattan DA office’s Elder Abuse Hotline at 212-335-9007.

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Woman stole $400,000, a Mercedes convertible from elderly men in NYC: DA

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Conservator Appeal Dies When Client Does, Neb. Justices Say

Law360, New York (March 6, 2016, 4:42 PM ET) -- An attorney has no standing to continue to represent a client a conservatorship case after the client’s death, the Nebraska Supreme Court said in a decision Friday.

In an analysis of a family dispute arising over the appointment of conservator order of an elderly mother, the court said that even if a legal right is not abated by the death of a protected party, state abatement laws require a suspension of an action or proceeding until an appropriate representative is substituted by a court.

Any appeal after the person’s death “could be continued only by someone statutorily authorized to represent [the deceased’s] interests,” the court said. “Because [the deceased's] attorney has not shown any interest in the litigation or authorization to continue her appeal, he lacks standing to seek any relief on her behalf.”

In the case under review, the daughter of Genevieve Franke sought conservatorship after her mother agreed to sell her farmland to her son at a below-market price, according to the order.

Franke also appealed the court’s previous appointment of a permanent conservator, and the son also appealed. But before the parties filed briefs, Genevieve Franke’s attorney filed a notice that Franke had died, the court said.

In response to a call from the Court of Appeals for the parties to show why the appeals should not be dismissed as moot, Franke’s daughter, Laurie Berggren, argued her appeal was not moot because a conservator has continuing duties for the estate even after a protected person dies, according to the order. Moreover, the children still had an interest in a decision on her competency and the appropriateness of the county conservator order, Berggren said.

The son, John Franke, also sought an order that his appeal to overturn the permanent conservator order was abated, though not mooted, by her death. The high court overruled those motions without prejudice and granted John Franke’s petition to bypass the Court of Appeals.

Genevieve Franke’s longtime attorney argued that Genevieve’s appeal be dismissed, while also petitioning the Supreme Court to vacate the county court’s conservatorship order, according to the order.

In his pleading, the attorney argued that some courts have decided that when people adjudicated as mentally incompetent die during an appeal, the abatement of the appeal requires a lower court’s orders to be vacated, the court said.

The high court noted that state law anticipates the substitution of a legal representative or successor in interest when a party dies. But without some express court authorization for the lawyer to take that role, the deceased’s attorney has no standing to carry on a pending appeal.

“Although an attorney of a deceased client may have a duty to protect the client’s interests by alerting a legal representative of his or her pending claim, absent a contractual agreement to the contrary, an attorney’s representation of a client generally ends upon the death of that client,” the court said in dismissing the Genevieve Franke appeal.

The court concluded that John Franke had standing to appeal the conservator order, although his standing should be limited to challenging the finding that Genevieve Franke needed a conservator at all.

“That issue is abated by Genevieve’s death. But Genevieve’s death abates only John’s appeal. It does not abate the cause of action or affect the validity of the county court’s orders appointing a conservator,” the court said, with issues of competency mooted by her death.

Jordan W. Adam of Fraser Stryker PC represents the appellant. Berggren is represented by Susan M. Koenig of Mayer Burns Koenig & Janulewicz. John Franke is represented by Robert Mooney of Gross & Welch PC.

The case is In re Conservatorship of Genevieve Franke, deceased. Laurie Berggren, appellee, v. Genevieve Franke, deceased, appellant, and John Franke, appellee, case number S-14-959 in the Nebraska Supreme Court.

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Conservator Appeal Dies When Client Does, Neb. Justices Say

Eakin case shows need for reforms

Even attempts to discipline wayward appellate judges in Pennsylvania have run head-on into the fundamental underlying ethical problem inherent in electing, rather than appointing, them.

Suspended Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin faces a March 29 trial before the state Court of Judicial Discipline for his role in the pornographic email scandal that has roiled state government.

Last year, Robert Graci, chief counsel for the Judicial Conduct Board, stepped down from the Eakin case after it was revealed that he had been a lawyer and spokesman for Justice Eakin’s 2011 retention campaign.

Last week, Justice Eakin’s lawyer, William Costopoulos, raised another troubling matter involving judicial campaigns.

Judicial Discipline Judge Carmella Mullen had not disclosed publicly or to the parties in the case that she and her husband had been paid about $14,500 for their work on former Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery’s appellate judicial campaigns, for Superior Court in 2003 and Supreme Court in 2007.

Mr. McCaffery, who was forced from the high court bench in October 2014 for his own role in the email scandal, basically ratted out Justice Eakin. He asked Justice Eakin to intervene with then-Chief Justice Ronald Castille or face the revelation of his own role in the fiasco. Justice Eakin declined and Mr. McCaffery departed.

That Judge Mullen had a financial relationship with Mr. McCaffery certainly is of interest to the parties in the case. The issue isn’t whether that relationship would cloud her judgment in the Eakin case, but how the lack of transparency magnifies the perception of potential impropriety — all the more so in a high-profile ethical inquiry such as Justice Eakin’s

Former Justice Joan Orie Melvin was forced from the bench after being convicted in 2013 of theft of services and other crimes for misusing publicly paid judicial staff and other resources in the service of judicial campaigns.

These cases demonstrate that political tentacles have reached deeply into the appellate judicial mechanism, which operates best when free of such entanglements. Legislators should make that happen by approving a pending constitutional amendment to switch from election to appointment of appellate judges.  (Continue Reading

Full Article & Source:
Eakin case shows need for reforms

RI woman charged with financial exploitation of elderly woman

A Rock Island woman was arrested Friday after police say she took more than $5,000 from an elderly woman between 2014 and 2016.

Kim Kathleen Smith, 50, is charged with unlawful financial exploitation of an elderly person, a Class 1 felony punishable by four to 15 years in prison.

Smith was arrested at 1:26 p.m. Friday in the 3400 block of 12th Street. Bond on the warrant was set at $50,000.

A criminal complaint filed in Rock Island County Circuit Court states that between Dec. 4, 2014, and Jan. 6, 2016, Smith “while standing in a position of trust and confidence” over a woman older than 80 knowingly and by deception obtained control of her property, namely money and a watch, with a value of more than $5,000.

As a part of her bond conditions, Smith was ordered to stay away from the woman and her family.

Full Article & Source:
RI woman charged with financial exploitation of elderly woman

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Court-Appointed Overseers of Elderly Decide Where Their Wards Live, Who Can Visit, and for How Long

Mary Whitten worries each day about her uncle, former advertising executive Harvey Whitten.

The elder Whitten, a Korean War medic, suffered a stroke in 2010 and was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Because of his condition, some in Whitten’s family moved to petition the court to appoint a guardian.

That decision has haunted Mary Whitten.

When Whitten, a Montgomery County resident, read a column about elder guardianship abuse, she was pleased that Pennsylvania cases were finally being thrust into the national spotlight.

The article, written by former Court TV reporter and nationally syndicated columnist Diane Dimond, highlighted what the journalist called a shameful racket in America.

Families and loved ones are often shut out while the health of the elder quickly diminishes, according to Dimond.

“My uncle is a victim. His guardian changed his doctors and medication behind the backs of his family and approved of his being administered 5 milligrams of Haldol daily, a chemical restraint,” Whitten said.

“My uncle’s guardian emailed last September and said my uncle couldn't eat anymore without a feeding tube,” Whitten said. “We went to visit and he was trying to eat his sheets because he had been starved for two days.”

Harvey Whitten suffers from allergies to clothes detergents, and as a result, not only was he starving, but he had blisters on his skin from the detergents, his niece said.

“My cousin asked if there was some way that my uncle could be fed, since he was trying to eat the sheets. So, (the guardian) decided to give him ‘comfort food.’ If the family didn't say anything, he would have been starved to death,” Whitten said.

Full Article and Source:
Court-Appointed Overseers of Elderly Decide Where Their Wards Live, Who Can Visit, and for How Long

See Also:
NASGA Victims Profile:  Harvey Whitten

Atlantic County Woman Sentenced to Prison for Aiding in Theft of Millions of Dollars From Elderly Clients of Senior Care Company

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a woman was sentenced to prison today for 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.

Sondra Steen, 60, of Linwood, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including 4 ½ years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury Jr. in Atlantic County. She pleaded guilty on Feb. 8 to first-degree money laundering. Steen is jointly and severally liable for full restitution in an amount to be determined.

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. Price was sentenced in October to five years in state prison.

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 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.

“Steen used the stolen life savings of elderly clients to pay for her own luxuries, such as pet care, pool supplies and a vacation condo,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Her predatory and conscienceless behavior has earned her a lengthy prison sentence.”

“Steen and her co-defendants coldly exploited the infirmity of their elderly clients, betraying their trust and siphoning away assets that took a lifetime to accumulate,” said Director Elie Honig. “This case is especially egregious because of the sums involved and because the victims represent some of the most vulnerable members of our society. We’ll continue to make prosecuting elder fraud a priority.”

“The business Steen helped run, ‘A Better Choice,’ was meant to help the elderly with in-home care and finances, but ironically she made a series of despicable choices by choosing to steal the life savings and assets of clients for her own indulgences,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This substantial sentence is the result of the great work of State Police detectives and our partners at the Attorney General's Office.”

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.

Source:  Press Release

Belfast lawyer gets 30 months in prison for bilking elderly clients

BELFAST, Maine — A Belfast lawyer was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison for stealing nearly $500,000 from two elderly clients.

In one case, William L. Dawson Jr. placed an 85-year-old Belfast resident in a nursing home for four years while he looted her bank accounts, according to court records.

Dawson pleaded guilty Friday in Waldo County Superior Court to two counts of felony theft and three counts of failing to pay state income taxes. Justice Robert Murray sentenced Dawson to five years in prison with all but 2½ years suspended to be followed by three years of probation.

The theft was uncovered in March 2013 when a teller at Key Bank noticed Dawson was writing large checks to himself on at least a weekly basis from the account of Veronica Pendleton. She alerted her supervisor, and a review of the account was undertaken, as well as that of another customer, 97-year-old Doris Schmidt. In that case, Dawson also was writing large checks on her account, according to Assistant Maine Attorney General Leanne Robbin.

Murray ordered Dawson to pay restitution of $385,000 to Pendleton’s estate and $98,000 to Schmidt’s estate. Both women have since died.

The prosecutor said that after an investigation began, Dawson submitted bills he said explained the checks. But Robbin said the reasons Dawson gave for the billing were “breathtaking.” Even though his office was just a one-minute drive from Pendleton’s home, Dawson would bill her $250 per hour for six to seven hours to go check on the house, pick up her mail and take care of her bills while she was in the nursing home.

A probate court in 2013 removed Dawson’s power over their finances.

Attorney Susan Thiem, who represents the Pendleton estate, said Friday that Dawson had put Pendleton in the nursing home for a temporary medical condition but kept her there for four years until his theft of her money was uncovered. Thiem read a letter from Anne Cilley, who was a friend of Pendleton, in which she said that after the theft was uncovered, Pendleton was able to return home for three months before she died.

Pendleton had told Cilley she felt like she had been incarcerated for four years and missed seeing the birds and squirrels in her yard, according to Cilley’s letter.

Schmidt suffered from dementia and was in the same nursing home as Pendleton. Dawson had given himself power of attorney over Schmidt’s finances without going to probate court, according to the prosecutor.

Sarah McPartland-Good, the director of planned giving for the University of Maine Foundation, said both women previously had given to the foundation. Pendleton donated money for scholarships for forestry and related programs while Schmidt gave to the senior college at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast. She said the theft deprived at least one student each year from receiving at least a year’s worth of tuition in scholarship.

Dawson spoke to Murray before the sentence was imposed. He said overseeing the properties and finances of the two women was a heavy burden and he wished he had done a better job. He said he checked on their homes on a daily basis because he had a prior client whose pipes burst while she was in a nursing home and significantly damaged the home. Dawson said he did not want a repeat of that incident.

Murray also ordered Dawson to repay $36,000 in back state incomes taxes for 2011, 2012 and 2013 from the unreported income he received from the victims’ accounts.

Dawson has agreed to sell his house with the proceeds of the sale — minus taxes he owes and his attorney’s fees — to go toward repaying some of the money owed. Dawson filed for bankruptcy last month, which Thiem said will make it more complicated to recover money.

The judge agreed to allow Dawson to report to jail at noon Saturday so the lawyer could complete his tax returns.

Dawson has practiced law in Maine since 1989.

Back in 2011, Dawson was reprimanded by the bar overseers after three separate clients filed complaints alleging he had not done his work in a timely or competent fashion.

Full Article & Source:
Belfast lawyer gets 30 months in prison for bilking elderly clients

Woman gets 8 years in prison for bilking elderly

DENVER — A woman who was convicted of swindling at-risk seniors through a kitchen remodeling business she ran with her husband has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

The Denver Post reports ( ) 58-year-old Susan Hinojosa was sentenced Friday on charges of theft and check fraud.

Prosecutors say she and her husband, who ran Kitchens 4 Less and Kitchens 2 Go in Adams County, took money for remodeling jobs and then did little or no work. The deposits the couple collected were mixed with other funds and used for personal purposes.

The charges involve 27 victims who lost more than $140,000 between April 2012 and November 2013. The couple filed for bankruptcy in November 2013.

Herman Hinojosa is scheduled to enter a plea in his case on March 28.

Full Article & Source:
Woman gets 8 years in prison for bilking elderly

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lawyer’s license suspended amid misappropriation claims

Veteran Bobby Bouie Sr.
By Marc Perrusquia of The Commercial Appeal

A Memphis lawyer suspected of mishandling disabled veterans' money has been temporarily suspended from the practice of law.

The disciplinary arm of the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered Keith L. Dobbs to suspend his law practice and reveal the location and bank account number of all trust accounts he controls.

Dobbs is a fiduciary appointed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to manage the finances of as many as 19 Memphis-area veterans in recent years.

"Based upon the Petition and the supporting Affidavits, the Court finds that Keith Lamonte Dobbs, Respondent, has misappropriated funds and poses a threat of substantial harm to the public,'' the state's high court said in an order Monday.

The order did not list any dollar amounts, but referenced an affidavit by Andrew John LoCascio, chief financial officer at BankTennessee.

Attempts to reach Dobbs and his attorney, Michael Scholl, were unsuccessful Thursday.

The suspension follows an investigation last month by The Commercial Appeal that found that several veterans represented by Dobbs faced financial hardships as their bank accounts were suddenly frozen. One, Bobby Bouie, 53, an Army veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, said his disability payments had been cut off, confronting him with an inability to pay his bills.

An email obtained by the newspaper shows the VA moved to replace Dobbs in January from all its cases amid "allegations of misuse.''

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer’s license suspended amid misappropriation claims

See Also:
NASGA Profile:  Norman Hughes

Fallen HPD officer's children fight for rights to his estate

HOUSTON - The head of the Houston Police Officers Union is raising new concerns about how the estate of a slain policemen is being administered.

HPOU President Ray Hunt said he is not sure the best interests of the fallen officer's children are being protected.

Officer Richard Martin was killed when a car fleeing police struck him during a chase last May. His 11-year-old son and 22-year-old daughter were his only heirs. The bulk of the estate consists of a small house in the 3500 block of Windmoor in Katy valued at $85,000, and its contents.

Two weeks ago, Hunt said boxes of items were removed from the house by family members who have no claim on the estate, with the approval of the court administrator appointed to protect the children's interest, former State Rep. Robert Talton.

“Those kids deserve every single thing that their dad has left them.” Hunt said.

A neighbor snapped photos of a man and woman taking boxes out of Martin's house on Jan. 13.

Among the items taken, according to the children's mother, was the flag that covered Officer Martin's casket at his funeral.

Hunt said the children’s' estranged aunt, Karen Taliaferro, and her husband, were allowed to remove property from the house by Talton.

It's not the first time that's happened. In December, Martin's daughter told Channel 2 News that Talton ordered her to move out of the house, and at that time, allowed Taliaferro to remove household items.

Denise Ward, an attorney representing Martin's son Tyler, told Channel Two News in December that Taliaferro shouldn't have been allowed on the property.

“She has no standing. She has no pecuniary (and) no monetary interest in this estate.” Ward said.

Ward declined to comment about the second incident Monday because she said the judge in the case, Judge Rory Olsen, filed a complaint against her with the State Bar after the story aired on Channel 2 in December.

“It's unfortunate. For some reason the sister and brother-in-law of the deceased officer have more rights than the children of the officer.” Hunt said.

Hunt said the family has been given no explanation of what was taken from the house or where the items are now. He blames Robert Talton for allowing the property to be removed.

Mr. Talton refused comment when reached by phone Monday, saying, “Anything I have to say, I'll say in court.”

We tried contacting Judge Olsen. Political consultant Allen Blakemore returned our call to inquire what questions we had for the judge, but so far Judge Olsen has not commented.

Full Article, Video & Source:
Fallen HPD officer's children fight for rights to his estate

I-Team: Killings just the beginning of problems at Houston nursing home

HOUSTON – The crime was a shocking as it was brutal.

Two nursing home residents were bludgeoned to death inside their room at Lexington Place Nursing Home in Houston.

Guillermo Correa, the victims’ roommate was charged with beating the men, Primitivo Lopez and Antonio Acosta, to death with a wheelchair armrest.

“He told them that this guy, he’s crazy, he can kill people. He’s going to kill everybody one of these days,” recalled Acosta’s daughter, Irma Chavez.

Chavez says her family repeatedly requested a room change because her father, a stroke survivor, feared Correa.

But, Chavez says, those concerns fell on deaf ears.

“My father didn’t deserve this,” said Chavez through her tears.

A state inspection after the murders found serious problems at the nursing home. That included four issues that inspectors said placed residents in immediate jeopardy of harm or death.

After the murders, Lexington Place changed its name to Brookhollow Heights Transitional Care Center. While the name changed, state records show that the owners stayed the same.

Records obtained by the KHOU 11 News I-Team show the problems continued.

In January, 2015, inspectors found that a severely mentally impaired man was put in a room with a convicted violent sexual predator who was part of the state’s civil commitment program.

Investigators say the predator struck again, sexually abusing that roommate.

Inspectors again cited the nursing home for placing residents in immediate jeopardy.

Then, in March 2015, inspectors cited another immediate jeopardy situation. That time it was for failing to write and use policies that forbid mistreatment, neglect and abuse or residents.

In August, Brookhollow Heights was cited for failing to thoroughly investigate and report to the state that a resident was found on the floor bloody, foaming at the mouth and unable to explain what happened.

Amanda Fredriksen, associate state director of AARP Texas believes residents of the nursing home deserve better.

She says Texas has a lax history of enforcement against nursing homes and needs to do better to protect residents.

“The state has the authority now to step in, they just need to do it,” Fredriksen told the I-Team.

Brookhollow Heights is now on a federal list of nursing homes with a pattern of persistent, serious problems.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
I-Team: Killings just the beginning of problems at Houston nursing home

Sunday, March 6, 2016

America Tonight: Guardianship Fears

"America Tonight" reports on two amazing and horrifying guardianship abuse cases in Nevada, featuring Julie Belshe and Elizabeth Indig - each telling a chilling account of what happened to her parent(s) during an abusive and unlawful guardianship / conservatorship and under the control of then guardian, April Parks.

Guardianship Fears

Head of DES talks about employee firing after woman found in deporable conditions at Mesa home

MESA, AZ - The former DES worker, now at the center of an investigation into horrible elder neglect in Mesa,  had a series of work-related problems, newly released documents show.

Director Tim Jeffries from the Arizona Department of Economic Security says his agency has been busy, rooting out liars, bullies and bad actors.

New documents show, former employee Carol Brown, had a questionable work ethic at best.

"Did we fire them? No. They fired themselves. You don't perform, you fire yourself," said Jeffries.

Jeffries spoke in general of the more than 250 DES workers that have been left go since he took over in March 2015.

He couldn't get into specifics of Brown's personnel background, but ABC15 filed a public information request and found stunning details.

Brown was a long time employee, with the agency for 25 years.

The records request revealed 14 pages of documented reprimands related to Brown's work.

The problems date back several years, and included problems such as "interviews with clients lasting almost four hours."

One documented case showed Brown was falling asleep on the job.

Documents show Brown would tell clients to come back when it was getting close to the end of her work day.

Paperwork showed she even yelled "my husband satisfies me" within earshot of her colleagues and bosses at work.

She even told one client "that she was probably going to be fired."

Complaints from the public poured in, highlighting rude and hostile behavior.

The final straw came during an ABC15 investigation surrounding deplorable conditions inside Brown's Mesa home where her mother-in-law lived in filth and in her own waste, according to deputies

Brown was "no longer welcomed" as an employee less than 24 hours after the story aired on Friday.

Jeffries sent the story to all 7,500 employees at DES and says work under his leadership is a privilege, not an entitlement.

ABC15 tried, repeatedly, to contact Brown at her home and her listed phone numbers, but there were no responses.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's office says they are still investigating the neglect at Brown's home.

No arrests have been made or charges filed.

Full Article & Source:
Head of DES talks about employee firing after woman found in deporable conditions at Mesa home

Elder abuse: Caretaker nearly kills man

An elderly Arvada man hired a caretaker from jail, who proceeded to swindle him for $20,000 dollars and almost killed him, by pushing him down the stairs of his home and stomping on his head.

In November, Jana Bergman was sentenced to 208 years in prison for attacking 88-year-old Jack Woods.

While Woods’ story is horrific, it’s not unusual or rare.


In late 2013, Woods posted an ad in the paper looking for someone to help around the house.

“I needed a housekeeper and a cook, a companion that I could talk to and not be lonely, because this house is awful big to live in by myself,” Woods said.

Jana Bergman (Photo: Denver Police) According to court records, 32-year-old Bergman responded from jail. She wrote and called Woods. Telling him he was handsome, she didn’t care about their age difference and that she was a “care provider in every sense of the title.”

After a number of calls and jail house letters, Woods bailed Bergman out of jail and she came to live in his Arvada home in early 2014.

Bergman had a long criminal history with multiple felonies, including fraud, drugs and forgery. But despite that, Woods wanted to help. (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Elder abuse: Caretaker nearly kills man

Maggots, urine, and infections: ABC27 investigates more problems at Golden Living nursing homes

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – ABC27 is investigating more problems at Golden Living nursing homes in central Pennsylvania.

Over the summer, ABC27 reported a lawsuit Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed against several facilities, including ones in Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Now, more recent inspections conducted after the lawsuit was filed show continuing sanitary issues.

Inspection reports from the Department of Health show a long list of violations at the West Shore facility on Poplar Church Road in Camp Hill.

The reports detail live maggots found in a resident’s feeding tube. According to the inspection, a nurse’s aide noticed a maggot rolling down the resident’s stomach. The resident reportedly said, “Maybe this is why my stomach has been burning.”

Someone then lifted the gauze around the feeding tube and saw more than 10 “moving objects” crawling out of the feeding tube site. The report says they were gray, white in color, and approximately a half-inch long. The inspection goes on to say that when the site was cleaned, “the worms came to the surface.”

The resident went to the hospital. The medical report indicated the feeling tube looked “old,” “neglected,” and “should have been replaced” a long time ago.

There was also evidence of “severe neglect of wound care and proper cleaning.”

Health inspections also show strong odors of urine in the hallway, up to 60 insects found in the kitchen area, residents staying in gowns soiled with their own bodily fluids, a “feces-like brown substance” on shower stall floors, a failure to complete neurological checks and follow physicians’ orders, and incorrect medication prescriptions.

They go on to list more violations, saying menus were not meeting the nutritional needs of residents, the facility “did not store, prepare, distribute and serve food under sanitary conditions,” and “failed to establish and maintain an effective infection control program.”

At the Blue Ridge Mountain facility in Harrisburg, reports show a “failure to ensure residents’ rooms were clean and comfortable,” along with dirty and sticky floors.

Golden Living Communications Director Michelle Metzger sent ABC27 a statement, saying:

“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 Oct. 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:
Maggots, urine, and infections: ABC27 investigates more problems at Golden Living nursing homes