Saturday, July 23, 2016

"Falk's Law" to Strengthen Requirements for Guardians

New obligations have been added to the responsibilities of people appointed in New York as the legal guardians of others due to their incapacitation.

Guardians will now be required to notify people designated in an "order of appointment" of the incapacitated person's transfer to a medical facility, their deaths, their funeral arrangements and their final resting places or the intended disposition of their remains, under a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The sponsors of the legislation, A3461/S5154, dubbed it "Peter Falk's Law" and said it was designed to prevent situations such as those experienced by relatives of the late "Columbo" actor.

A daughter of Falk's from his first marriage contacted Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, complaining that she and her siblings were unfairly blocked by Falk's second wife from visiting their terminally ill father and were not told about his medical condition in the years leading to his 2011 death.

Magnarelli and state Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, subsequently introduced the bill, which Cuomo signed Thursday.

Falk had a graduate degree from Syracuse University.

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, said it makes sense that guardians be obligated to provide the information.

"This new law will be an additional, albeit important, step in the process to insure all family members are involved in the guardianship process," he said.

The measure takes effect immediately.

Falk's Law To Strengthen Requirements for Guardians

Last Unicorn Author Peter S. Beagle Mentally Competent Says Lawyer Hired to Prove Otherwise

The lawyer who was hired to prove The Last Unicorn author mentally unfit has resigned, declaring the suit brought against him by his children to be without merit. This is the latest ripple in a seemingly ongoing saga involving Beagle, his erstwhile manager Connor Cochran, Beagle’s children, his longtime girlfriend Peggy Carlisle, and an increasingly upset and angry fanbase that has been going on for most of the century.

A bit of background is in order: in 2001, Peter S. Beagle was going through a very bad patch: debt, divorce, and a dearth of royalties. Cochran promised to revive interest in Beagle’s works and monetize them. To do so, he started a boutique publishing house specifically for Beagle’s works. Merchandising deals came in the process of time, though exactly where the money went is somewhat in doubt.

Peter S. Beagle
The whole thing came to a head in 2013 when Cochran took Beagle on a tour of cinemas, showing a restored version of Rankin-Bass’s 1982 Last Unicorn animated film. Mr. Beagle, who later described the tour as a “death march”, spent his time doing meet-and-greets, Q&A sessions, and signing merchandise. Lots of merchandise. This reporter was there when the tour came to the Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City, MO, and remembers multiple tables of merch on display, and a line that snaked around itself both before and long after the movie.

It was during the tour that things really began to get serious. Mr. Beagle said he was more-or-less run non-stop, on a schedule that no one in his 70s should have to contemplate. Cochran, on the other hand, said that he gave Beagle adequate rest. People began to notice a real friction between the two, as well as between Cochran and Carlisle. Disturbing eyewitness accounts cropped up, including this rather infamous account of a volunteer “roustabout” at one of the tour stops. Allegations of financial irregularities, of merchandise paid for bot not received, began to crop up as well.

Things came to a head in November 2015 when Beagle filed a suit against Cochran alleging elder abuse, fraud, defamation, and a variety of other issues. Cochran filed a countersuit, claiming that Beagle’s allegations were invalid due to his supposedly deteriorating mental condition.

Full Article and Source:
Last Unicorn Author Peter S. Beagle Mentally Competent Says Lawyer Hired to Prove Otherwise

See Also:
Fans Against Fraud

The Last Unicorn Author Locks Legal Horns With His Manager

The Sad Strange Legal Battles of Last Unicorn Author Peter S. Beagle

The Truth About Connor Cochran and Working on The Last Unicorn Tour

Support Peter S. Beagle

Couple Ripped Off Elderly Relative For $6K, Husband Bought Motorcycle, Speedway Tix and Rented U-Haul: Cops

Lisa Blazek and Kenneth Blazek
JOLIET, IL — A Romeoville couple ripped off an elderly relative for nearly $6,500 and the husband used the money to buy a motorcycle, tickets to Chicagoland Speedway and to rent a U-Haul, according to a criminal indictment filed in Will County court.

Lisa Blazek, 44, and Kenneth Blazek, 45, were both arrested and booked into the Will County jail Thursday night.

Kenneth Blazek was charged with a continuing financial crimes enterprise, the financial exploitation of the elderly and theft. Lisa Blazek was charged only with the financial exploitation of the elderly and theft.

The Blazeks drained away their elderly relative’s money for six months in 2014, the indictment said. She was 81 at the time of the alleged crimes and has an address listed in Joliet.

The Joliet police investigated the Blazeks and brought the case against them.

Kenneth Blazek bought a $5,500 motorcycle from a dealer in Joliet, the indictment said, as well as splurging on speedway tickets and the U-Haul.

The charges were filed Thursday morning. The Blazeks were in custody shortly before 8:30 p.m.

The Blazeks’ bond was previously set at $50,000 each.

Full Article & Source:
Couple Ripped Off Elderly Relative For $6K, Husband Bought Motorcycle, Speedway Tix and Rented U-Haul: Cops

Insurance agent charged with cheating more elderly clients

DECATUR – James P. Smith, who was arrested and released on bond last month for allegedly stealing more than $57,000 from a senior couple, is back in jail on charges of stealing $99,000 from two more unrelated victims.

A fifth alleged victim was meeting with officials on Friday, which could lead to more charges against the Mount Zion man, who will turn 60 on Saturday.

A sixth possible victim called the Macon County State's Attorney's Office on Friday, to discuss another case.

Smith is being held in jail on $200,000 bond, requiring $20,000 cash bail to be released.

The Macon County State's Attorney's office is applying a seldom used statute in an attempt to freeze Smith's assets and gain restitution for the victims.

Smith was arrested June 23, for allegedly stealing $57,875 from an 86-year-old man and his wife, while serving as power of attorney for the husband from December 2013 to October 2015. He allegedly wrote checks from the victims' accounts in that case, which he used to make mortgage payments, pay an attorney's fee, give money to a relative and withdraw cash.

He was released from jail the following day, after posting $5,000 cash bail.

In that case, six felony counts were filed against Smith: two counts each of aggravated identity theft, theft over $10,000 and financial exploitation of the elderly. His arraignment in that case is scheduled for July 26.

After a Herald & Review account of this arrest was published, two other victims came forward, women 80 and 87 years old, claiming they were also victimized by Smith. They were both clients of Smith's, who worked as a life insurance agent out of a Forsyth office.

On Wednesday, Smith was arrested in those cases. He was charged with four felony counts in the case of the 80-year-old victim, from whom he allegedly stole $31,974.00; and two felony counts for allegedly stealing $58,049 from the 87-year-old woman.

Smith is due in court July 22 to present his attorney for all his cases.

Prosecutors moved forward Friday in their efforts to gain restitution from Smith for his victims.

Smith was served in jail with “written demands for return of property,” court documents which were signed by the victims and notarized.

Each document states that either Smith pays the entire amount that he stole from that victim within 60 days, or he will be liable to pay three times that sum.

As an example, in the case of the 87-year-old woman, to whom he owes $58,049. Smith would have to pay her $174,147 after Sept. 13 if a judge rules at a hearing in her favor.

Assistant State's Attorney Nichole Kroncke said the state statute her office is applying to gain restitution has not been previously used in the county, and she does not know if it has been used elsewhere.

“We want to use every tool available to us in financial crimes to the elderly,” Kroncke said.

Even if Smith is acquitted at a trial, he could still be liable to pay the restitution if a judge rules against him on that issue. The standard for finding him liable for restitution is a preponderance of evidence, a lower standard than the standard necessary to convict him of the crimes, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Petitions were filed Friday in circuit court, asking a judge to freeze Smith's assets, which include his house, 26 acres of rural Decatur farmland, a 2004 Dodge pickup truck and a John Deere tractor.

Full Article & Source:
Insurance agent charged with cheating more elderly clients

Friday, July 22, 2016

Press Release: Governor Cuomo Signs "Peter Falk's Law" Legislation Establishing End of Life Notification Requirements

For Immediate Release: 7/21/2016
State of New York | Executive Chamber
Andrew M. Cuomo | Governor

"Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed "Peter Falk's Law," legislation that requires guidelines for end of life notices and visitation rights regarding incapacitated individuals subject of legal guardianship proceedings.

The bill (A.3461-C/S.5154-C), requires the court order appointing a guardian to oversee the care of an incapacitated person to identify all individuals who are entitled to notice of a person's death, funeral and burial arrangements.

"Losing a loved one is always hard, but not being given the chance to say goodbye is perhaps even harder," Governor Cuomo said. "This measure will help ensure an individual's friends and family will have an opportunity to express their love and pay their respects at this critical and trying time."

In some circumstances under the current law, legally-appointed guardians have failed to notify family members or close friends of the individual when they become sick, are admitted to the hospital, or pass away. By requiring the identification and notification of other family and friends, this law will help ensure legal guardians will no longer be able to improperly isolate an incapacitated person at the end of their lives.

Senator John A. DeFrancisco said, "I am very pleased that Governor Cuomo has signed my bill to become Peter Falk's law. For every wrong, there should be a remedy. This law will help to protect the sick and dying from isolation from their family, while ensuring that next of kin are informed of the person's condition and ultimately notified of the person’s death, funeral and burial arrangements."

Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli said, "I want to thank the Governor for signing this important bill into law. The bill is named in honor of the legendary actor, Peter Falk. Peter Falk was a native of New York and a graduate of Syracuse University. This law will protect the rights of adult children and relatives when a person is placed under the care of a guardian. It will protect their right to be notified of the person’s passing and if they have been admitted to the hospital. It also allows the appointing court to identify those entitled to visitation in the guardianship order. The issue was brought to my attention by Catherine Falk, Peter’s daughter. When her father became ill, she was prevented from visiting him and was not notified of major changes in his condition. This inspired her to become an advocate for other families facing the improper isolation of a relative by a guardian. I want to thank Catherine for her tireless advocacy in getting this important bill passed."

"Peter Falk's Law" was sparked by the end-of-life treatment of the late actor and "Columbo" star Peter Falk. Mr. Falk's daughter had alleged the actor's second wife obtained conservatorship of him and blocked all contact with other family members at the end of his life." New York Press Release.

See Also:

Families tread carefully through maze of guardianship

In the United States, all adults are considered legally capable of making decisions regarding their personal and financial affairs unless a court of law determines otherwise.”

— National Association for Court Management, "Adult Guardianship Guide"

Bill Lee
This story is about the otherwise.

Bill Lee, a World War II veteran, “worked like a donkey” his entire life. By the time he collapsed alone in his Roanoke County house in 2014, Lee owned $5 million worth of rental homes; vacant lots crammed with cars, trucks and construction equipment; and warehouses stuffed with a lifetime of deal making.

Now at 86, Lee is forbidden by law to step onto any of his properties, including the home he lived in for nearly 50 years, unless his family permits him to do so. Lee signed a legal document several years ago expressing his desire for his family to manage his affairs. Now he thinks they are mismanaging his holdings.

A judge disagrees. And as doctors testified during two days of hearings and through a stack of depositions in two court files, Lee’s brain can no longer process indisputable evidence that runs counter to his beliefs.

Lee dismisses that medical verdict and is appealing the judicial one. He clings to one fact he’s certain is true: This is no way to treat an old man.

Last year, guardians, whether family members or public agencies, directed the lives of 10,356 Virginians. The number of people requiring guardians has increased with each passing year and has risen nearly 50 percent since 2011.

Lee has wealth, though he’s spent more than $100,000 of it on lawyers this year alone, and he has family willing to care for him, though he doesn’t want them to.

Just the opposite can be found a half-hour drive from Lee’s room at the Virginia Veterans Care Center. A handful of elderly patients make their home at Catawba Hospital because they have no place to go, and no money or family to look after their welfare. They need what Lee has but doesn’t want: someone authorized to make decisions for them.

Like Lee, they are no longer capable of managing their own lives. But unlike Lee, they’re paupers, and no one they know is willing to help. So they wait at a psychiatric hospital, long after they are ready for discharge. They’ll stay there until someone dies and frees up a slot in the state’s public guardianship program.

State policymakers say this is no way to treat old people.

Virginia lawmakers agreed in February to spend up to $500,000 to figure out what types of services are needed in the Roanoke and New River valleys so elderly people with dementia and other mental illnesses can live in homes or other community settings rather than at a state psychiatric hospital.

Though the study is due in November, the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has yet to hire a consultant.

“One of the big issues is for folks who can’t make decisions on their own,” said Catawba CEO Walton Mitchell in an interview earlier this year. “There are not enough guardians to go around.”

What is a guardian?
Whether your net worth is counted in a series of skimpy zeroes or seven fat digits, when a brain illness robs you of your capacity to care for yourself and your affairs — even if you think you still can — a judge may decide who’s the guardian of your health and who’s the conservator of your money.

The same person can fill both roles, especially if an estate is simple.

Guardians and conservators aren’t reserved solely for the elderly. Parents file petitions when their children with intellectual or developmental disabilities become adults so that they can continue to communicate with doctors and teachers and to protect their children’s income from swindlers and debtors. Other families seek limited control of loved ones with relapsing serious mental illnesses so they can more easily compel prompt medical intervention.

Before someone is stripped of his right to be the boss of himself, a guardian ad litem looks at how well he or she functions and recommends to a judge how much authority should be placed in another person’s control.

“When someone is demonstrating any level of cognitive impairment, memory loss, whether it’s actually dementia or a brain injury or mental illness, especially within the context of guardianship actions, we are having to balance the needs and rights of the individuals, but we’re really trying to assess what are their abilities and what abilities are compromised,” said Roanoke attorney Rhona Levine, who is president-elect of the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

“The important issue here is that it’s not all or nothing,” she said. “Very often, especially in the frail elderly, it’s going to be complete.”

At times, the Adult Protective Services Division of the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services will recommend that people need guardians, mostly because they no longer can safely care for themselves. Last year, the agency substantiated 10,109 reports of negligence, abuse or exploitation; more than half were due to self-neglect.

Professionals who work with the elderly say that, ideally, people would have the foresight when they’re well to execute legal documents expressing how they wish to be treated if stricken with a brain illness, and their families would harmoniously respect those wishes.

Public guardians
Sometimes no family or friends are willing to serve as guardians, and the person who needs help lacks financial resources.

Nearly 20 years ago, Virginia created a public guardian program to serve this need, which continues to grow. Last year, lawmakers added $500,000 to the budget to care for 100 more people, and for the first time the program reached into every corner of Virginia. The program can serve 706 clients; another 884 people were on a waiting list.

When the program began, Family Service of Roanoke Valley was named to run one of three pilot projects.

“It was a brand new concept back in 1997 that an agency would be a guardian rather than a person,” said Cathy Thompson, who oversees Family Service’s guardianship program. She and her staff serve as guardians for 70 people, placing them in group homes, assisted living facilities or nursing homes, and then coordinating health care and services.

“Most of our clients back then were elderly and in nursing homes. That’s not the case today. We have a lot of younger individuals, and they are not necessarily in nursing homes,” she said. The public guardians play a vital role in moving people of all ages out of the state’s training centers in order to comply with a Justice Department order.

“With all guardian clients, we include them as much as possible in making decisions, whether we show them pictures or have a conversation they will forget in 30 minutes, or misconstrue,” she said. They also try to establish a “values history” to figure out what the client was like before he needed a guardian. This is important when it comes to making decisions for someone else.

Thompson said they seek to substitute their judgment so that it mirrors choices the person would have made, rather than to opt for what they might think is in the person’s best interest.

“We strive for the substitute judgment because that’s including the person in as much as possible,” Thompson said. “They’ve not been awarded a guardian for a happy reason. It’s because they’ve been abandoned or mistreated or had a mental illness or kind of walked off the job. So we always have to be mindful of not assuming what the circumstances were because we truly don’t know.”

For tough decisions, especially those involving end of life, Thompson turns to a team of physicians, attorneys and ethicists.

“I’ve never had anybody we had become guardian over who has an advanced directive,” she said. “To do all that, you have to be mentally stable and competent.”

And, she is always on the lookout for a family member or friend to step into the role.

“Family members in the beginning might be fearful of accepting a guardian role because they think they’ll be financially responsible,” she said. They won’t be. Sometimes someone will step forward, she said. “We also have had families say we don’t want anything to do with this person.” (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Families tread carefully through maze of guardianship

Warner hits out at lawyer who pursued Led Zepp song-theft case as it seeks legal costs

Warner/Chappell has asked the courts to force the trust that pursued the Led Zeppelin song theft lawsuit to pay the publisher’s legal costs, arguing that the plaintiffs were guilty of “gross misconduct” in the way they handled the case.
As much previously reported, Led Zeppelin were accused of ripping off a song by the late Randy California, aka Randy Wolfe, of the band Spirit for their hit ‘Stairway To Heaven’. It was the trust that benefits from Wolfe’s estate that pursued the litigation, the musician himself having been somewhat ambivalent about the similarities between the two songs during his lifetime.

After a lively court case that saw all three surviving members of Led Zeppelin take to the stand, a jury decided that the core compositions of ‘Stairway’ and the Spirit song ‘Taurus’ were not sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement.

Warner was a co-defendant on the action alongside the band’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and it is now seeking to reclaim the $613,000 in legal fees it ran up defending itself against the infringement lawsuit. In a legal filing making that claim last week, the major is very disparaging about the man who instigated the song-theft lawsuit, the Wolfe Trust’s Michael Skidmore, and even more his choice of lead attorney, Francis Malofiy.

The music firm reckons that it should have its legal costs covered because, it claims, Skidmore and Malofiy were guilty of “extensive and ongoing litigation misconduct”, which pro-longed the case and added to the cost of fighting the action.

According to Courthouse News, amongst various claims made against the plaintiffs, Warner says Malofiy initially filed his complaint in the wrong court, pursuing the action in Pennsylvania instead of LA, and that Skidmore and Malofiy subsequently filed thousands of documents “that no reasonable person could believe would be admissible” and renumbered exhibits “causing confusion throughout the trial”.

Warner then alleges that, during the court hearing itself, Malofiy misled jurors by claiming an audio interview with Led Zepp’s John Paul Jones dated from 1972, just after ‘Stairway’ had been written, when in fact it had been recorded 20 years later. It also alleges that a photo shown to the jury was “altered to omit two people and create the false impression that Robert Plant was speaking with [former Spirit bass player] Mark Andes”.

As previously reported, since the Led Zepp case reached its conclusion, Malofiy has been suspended from practicing law in Pennsylvania for three months in relation to his conduct during another copyright infringement lawsuit, a fact also raised in Warner’s court filing last week. Concluding, the mini-major says that the plaintiffs should pay its legal costs to “encourage and reward the litigation of a meritorious defence”.

Full Article & Source:
Warner hits out at lawyer who pursued Led Zepp song-theft case as it seeks legal costs

Few Young Doctors Are Training To Care For U.S. Elderly

At Edgewood Summit retirement community in Charleston, W.Va., 93-year-old Mary Mullens is waxing eloquent about her geriatrician, Dr. Todd Goldberg.

"He's sure got a lot to do," she says, "and does it so well."

West Virginia has the third oldest population in the nation, right behind Maine and Florida. But Goldberg is one of only 36 geriatricians in the state.

"With the growing elderly population across America and West Virginia, obviously we need healthcare providers," says Goldberg.

That includes geriatricians — physicians who specialize in the treatment of adults age 65 and older — as well as nurses, physical therapists, and psychologists who know how to care for this population.

"The current workforce is inadequately trained and inadequately prepared to deal with what's been called the silver tsunami — a tidal wave of elderly people — increasing in the population in West Virginia, across America, and across the world really," Goldberg says.
The deficit of properly trained physicians is expected to get worse. By 2030, one in five Americans will be eligible for Medicare, the government health insurance for those 65 and older.

Goldberg also teaches at the Charleston division of West Virginia University, and runs one of the state's four geriatric fellowship programs for medical residents. Geriatric fellowships are required for any physician wanting to enter the field.

For the past three years, no physicians have entered the fellowship program at WVU-Charleston. In fact, no students have enrolled in any of the four geriatric fellowship programs in West Virginia in the past three years.

"This is not just our local program, or in West Virginia," says Goldberg. "This is a national problem."
The United States has 130 geriatric fellowship programs, with 383 positions. In 2016, only 192 of them were filled. With that kind of competition, Goldberg laments, why would a resident apply to a West Virginia School, when they could get into a program like Yale or Harvard?

Adding to the problem, the average medical student graduates with $183,000 in debt, and every year of added education pushes that debt higher.

Dr. Shirley Neitch, head of the geriatrics department at Marshall University Medical School in Huntington, W.Va., says students express interest in geriatrics almost every year. But, "they fear their debt," she says, "and they think that they need to get into something without the fellowship year where they can start getting paid for their work."

This trend troubles many people, including Todd Plumley, whose mother Gladys has dementia, and lives in West Virginia.

"It's kind of scary that [older patients] don't have the care that they really need to help them through these times, and help them prolong their life and give them a better life," Plumley says.

There are no geriatricians in the family's hometown of Hamlin, so Plumley drives his mother almost 45 minutes to another town, Huntington, to see one. He says seeing this specialist has helped stabilize his mother's symptoms.

"Right now, if we didn't have the knowledge and resource," he says, "I believe my mother would have progressed a lot further along, quicker."

Plumley is in his 50s. He worries that if he needs the care of a geriatrician as he gets older, driving even 45 minutes may not be an option.

This story is part of NPR's reporting partnership with West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Kaiser Health News.

Full Article & Source:
Few Young Doctors Are Training To Care For U.S. Elderly

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Marriage Annulment in Guardianship Case Heads to Florida Supreme Court

Glenda Martinez Smith has already made an important impact on adult guardianship of incapacitated seniors in the state of Florida.

The court appeal she won in March 2015 told judges in six Florida counties they could no longer ignore pre-need directives by seniors about who they want as their health care surrogate and pre-need guardian if they become incapacitated.

But Martinez Smith is not done yet.

She is heading to the Florida Supreme Court and aims once again to overturn Circuit Judge David French, who made the unusual move to annul her 2011 marriage to J. Alan Smith at the behest of a court-appointed professional guardian and the guardian’s attorney.

The 4th District Court of Appeal on June 29 certified “a question of great public importance:” to the state’s highest court on whether incapacitated individuals can retain one of the most sacred of American rights.

“It involves the fundamental right of a ward to marry,” said Jennifer Carroll, the Palm Beach Gardens attorney who represents Martinez Smith. “When and under what circumstances does a ward have to get the court’s approval before exercising his fundamental right to marry?”

Jennifer Caroll
An annulment can be a cash cow for a guardian and the attorney who represents him or her. The Post reported in its series Guardianship: A Broken Trust how annulment proceedings initiated by a guardian can drain the estate of the senior and cost loved ones tens of thousands of dollars in court fees fighting it.

A marriage annulment in guardianship can affect benefits for the surviving partner after the incapacitated senior dies and cause great emotional pain for the couple. Martinez Smith contends that the annulment was designed so that the guardian and his attorney could drain as much money from her husband’s accounts, as possible.

Martinez Smith, who was financially secure long before she met Smith, said she spent upwards of $150,000 form her own money fighting the guardianship and reversing decisions made by Palm Beach Circuit judges. Her husband, she said, was left personally bankrupt as the guardian liquidated life insurance policies.

She got no relief from the judges. Circuit Judge Martin Colin threw her out of the courtroom. He also insulted her looks. The 4th DCA on April 3, 2013 granted her petition to disqualify Colin.

The court concluded “that the judge’s acts of ejecting petitioner from the courtroom, later striking her testimony on the basis of a perceived insult to him, and his comment that petitioner’s entire demeanor, including that ‘her face, her voice, her sound, may be unpleasant to everyone else,’ save the ward, would lead any reasonably prudent person to fear that she would not receive a fair hearing before the judge.”

Martinez Smith didn’t know at the time that Colin’s wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt, worked as a professional guardian. Colin announced his retirement after The Post’s Broken Trust series reported on the judge’s conflict of interest and the litany of complaints orbiting his wife’s guardianships. Colin was transferred out of the guardianship division then announced his retirement.

Full Article and Source:
Marriage Annulment in Guardianship Case Heads to Florida Supreme Court

See Also:
NASGA:  J. Alan Smith, FL

Warrant issued for Nevada guardian who left behind dozens under her care

A Clark County Family Court judge issued a bench warrant for a former private professional guardian last week, according to court records.

April Parks, who moved from Nevada in April and left behind dozens of wards under her care, failed to appear in court in a guardianship hearing on June 21 and again on July 14, according to the warrant.

Guardianship court Judge Cynthia Dianne Steel issued the warrant Friday following the second missed appearance.

Parks had long been one of the most active guardians in Southern Nevada. Working out of her Boulder City office, she often acted as the surrogate decision maker for 50 to 100 wards at any given time. But recently, local attorneys and advocates started questioning Parks’ practices, saying she often over-billed her wards.
A ward is someone deemed by a medical professional to be too incompetent or infirm to handle his or her affairs.

Parks started having herself removed as guardian in several cases last November, and by April, she had closed her business down and moved to Pennsylvania.

Shortly after moving, she filed for bankruptcy. The move all but halted the efforts of local attorneys and guardianship advocates from regaining the wards’ money they claim Parks should not have received.

Full Article & Source:
Warrant issued for Nevada guardian who left behind dozens under her care

Social Media Abuse Of Nursing Home Residents Often Goes Unchecked

Editor's note: This story contains language that some may find offensive.

When a certified nursing assistant in Hubbard, Iowa, shared a photo online in March of a nursing home resident with his pants around his ankles, his legs and hand covered in feces, the most surprising aspect of state health officials' investigation was this: It wasn't against the law.

The Iowa law designed to protect dependent adults from abuse was last updated in 2008, before many social media apps existed. It bars "sexual exploitation of a dependent adult by a caretaker," which would have applied if the photo showed the resident's genitals. It didn't.

The nurse assistant was fired from Hubbard Care Center after a co-worker reported her to supervisors, but the state was unable to discipline her at all. She remains eligible to work in any nursing home in the state. Government documents did not name her.

"This was something no one expected," says David Werning, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, of the case. The nurse assistant had used Snapchat to send the photo of the resident, who has dementia, to six colleagues, along with the caption "shit galore," according to government reports.

"What we have is a very disgusting and humiliating situation," Werning says. "But it does not meet the definition of sexual exploitation, and I think that was a surprise to everybody."

Now Iowa officials are working to update the law to address changing technology, he says, "so we won't be caught off-guard again."

The Iowa incident is just one illustration of how regulators and law enforcement officials nationwide are struggling to respond when employees at long-term care facilities violate the privacy of residents by posting photos on social media websites.

In a story published last year, ProPublica identified nearly three dozen of these cases, the majority involving Snapchat, a social media service in which photos appear for a few seconds and then disappear. We've discovered nine more instances since then, including one in which a youth volunteer at a Colorado nursing home shared a selfie on Snapchat that showed a 108-year-old resident urinating. (You can read details of each incident here.)

Following ProPublica's earlier coverage, Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters to social media companies and federal agencies asking what they are doing to stop the abuse. He's taken Snapchat, in particular, to task because he says its online tool for reporting suspected abuse requires the affected person to file a complaint — a near impossibility for elderly people with dementia.

"When an individual tries to report a safety concern on behalf of someone else, say, an elderly nursing home resident, the tool produces the message: 'We are unable to take action based on third-party reports,' " Grassley wrote to Snapchat on June 28. "An elderly nursing home resident victim is unlikely to have his or her own Snapchat account or have the knowledge or ability necessary to report abusive snaps on his or her own behalf."

Snapchat's website gives people several avenues to file complaints. But the pathway to report elder abuse isn't straightforward, particularly for those unfamiliar with the app, which is popular among teenagers.

In replies to Grassley, Facebook and Snapchat have said they are doing what they can to deal with abusive pictures and videos that violate their terms of service.

"Although we cannot prevent physical abuse from occurring — whether in a nursing home or schoolyard — Snapchat is fiercely committed to terminating the accounts of Snapchatters who we believe have engaged in abusive behavior," Snapchat's general counsel Chris Handman wrote to the senator.

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, says it removes images depicting sexual violence and generally prohibits nudity. Anyone can report abusive content, the company says.

Grassley's pressure also has regulators re-examining their handling of these cases. In a letter to the senator, Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik wrote that while the Justice Department has gone after nursing homes for poor care, "we have not yet brought any cases involving allegations of nursing home employees misusing social media or electronic devices to record elder residents in compromising positions. We wholeheartedly agree that such conduct is deeply troubling and unacceptable." The Justice Department said it would share the concern with its Elder Justice Task Forces "to ensure that they are especially attuned to allegations of such conduct."

Some state and local prosecutors have been more aggressive in pursuing such cases under laws that prohibit elder abuse, sexual exploitation and indecency. In Colorado, for example, the volunteer who took a selfie with the 108-year-old resident who was urinating has been charged in juvenile court with invasion of privacy.

The Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could take action in such cases as part of enforcing the federal patient privacy law known as HIPAA. But that agency has not penalized any long-term care facility for photos posted online and has yet to release any social media guidance for nursing homes. An official tells ProPublica that guidelines are in the works.

The nursing home industry isn't waiting. Last month, the industry's trade group issued its own suggestions for dealing with such situations, encouraging training and swift responses by these facilities when allegations are brought to light. The group also is holding training events around the country. Dianne De La Mare, vice president of legal affairs at the American Health Care Association, says nursing home companies are "all struggling with this."

"We don't want this stuff to happen anymore. To the greatest degree we can stop it, we want to," she says.

The trade group notes that most instances of abuse have been reported by other staff members — a sign that most workers are diligent and do not tolerate such actions — but that some homes also hire outside companies to monitor social media.

While many facilities ban the use or possession of cellphones by employees when in resident areas, De La Mare says, they've also found such rules impractical to enforce

"A lot of the younger people — your phone is like your wallet," she says. "You would never be without your phone ... It's really difficult for [nursing home officials] to say, 'We understand you're a single mom; you need to keep track of your kids, but that stays in your purse.' It's a challenge, I have to tell you that."

As the Iowa case demonstrates, even nursing homes eager to respond to incidents responsibly face obstacles.

When it learned of the photo of its resident covered in feces, Hubbard Care Center contacted its local sheriff's office. The law enforcement officials did not create a report or press charges; instead they encouraged the nursing home to contact health regulators, says Hardin County Deputy Sheriff Jeffrey Brenneman. The state investigated and initially fined the facility $8,500, which it reduced to $1,000 on appeal. Officials determined there was no evidence the facility knew or should have known that the assistant "might engage in such outrageous actions."

And state officials learned that the law wasn't written with these situations in mind.

Kendall Watkins, a lawyer for the nursing home, calls the incident an "isolated act" to which the facility responded quickly and appropriately.

The nursing home has already updated its policy to define "exploitation" of residents to include "transmission, display, taking of electronic images of the dependent adult by a caretaker in a private or compromised situation (i.e. using the bathroom, changing clothes, personal cares) for a purpose not related to treatment or diagnosis or as part of an ongoing investigation."

Grassley says the incident in his home state troubled him. "It speaks to the lowest instincts of humankind that you never expect people to do," he says. "If you're a worker there, if you were really concerned about the patient, why wouldn't you start immediately cleaning people up?"

Has your medical privacy been compromised? Help ProPublica investigate by filling out a short questionnaire. You can also read other stories in our Policing Patient Privacy series.

Full Article & Source:
Social Media Abuse Of Nursing Home Residents Often Goes Unchecked

East Helena man accused of stealing $400,000 in elderly exploitation case

An East Helena man is accused of stealing more than $400,000 from an 81-year-old woman. Authorities say the he used the funds on gambling and fast food.

Ernest Norman Hughes, 53, faces felony charges of exploitation of an older person and theft by common scheme. Police allege the scamming started in 2003 and continued until recently.

Authorities were alerted to the situation as the woman was getting evicted for not paying fees at her nursing home. Court documents say Hughes, who met the woman when she hired him to work around her former home and later became friends with her, has power of attorney and controlled her finances.

An adult protective services worker learned the woman had about $434,000 in her account when Hughes took over her finances in 2003, according to documents. She also received about $1,600 a month. The woman ran out of money to pay for her housing and care in December.

Last month, police received bank records showing Hughes allegedly wrote a significant number of checks for cash and to casinos. Court documents note the 81-year-old was in a wheelchair and rarely left her residence. Hughes is also accused of using the woman's checks to eat fast food and give money to his relatives.

Authorities said although some of the checks were written for goods and services for the woman, "there is no accounting for the disappearance of more than $400,000."

Following the investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for Hughes on Friday. He made his initial appearance on the charges Tuesday.

Full Article & Source:
East Helena man accused of stealing $400,000 in elderly exploitation case

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Arrest Warrant Issued for Former Nevada Guardian April Parks

A private, for-profit guardian who Contact 13 exposed as an exploiter is now a wanted woman with a judge issuing a warrant for her arrest.

April Parks was appointed by the court to protect hundreds of our most vulnerable seniors with control over their lives, their homes and their money. Now the same court that granted her absolute power has issued a bench warrant for her arrest.

We interviewed Parks last year and challenged her with her own records after several families complained, saying she took advantage of their loved ones. She admitted to accounting errors, double-billing and overcharging elderly clients.

What we uncovered led to search warrants and a still ongoing law enforcement investigation. But in the midst of all that, court records show Parks moved to Pennsylvania, filed for bankruptcy and left many of her cases in limbo.

She was ordered to appear in court on June 21 to show why she should not be held in contempt for failing to follow state law in guardianship cases. But she failed to show up for that hearing and several others this summer.

Family Court Judge Cynthia Dianne Steel issued the warrant last week. It was filed Tuesday and bail is set at $5,000.

Full Article, Video and Source:
Contact 13:  Arrest Warrant Issued for Private Guardian

READ the arrest warrant issued against April Parks

Judge Rules Administrative Court System Illegal After 81 Years

new-logo25The following Federal Court ruling opens Pandora’s Box per lower court authority / conflicts of interest to rule on or be involved in broad judicial court matters involving you.

In effect it helps protect “you” from being run through the mill by local “administrative” courts. Their “authority” to do so is brought into question if not nullified by the following Federal Court ruling.

The Battle for individual protection under the law from the abuses of local government “Administrative” courts begins.. Please share with those that would have an interest in these matters.”

Sent FYI from,
Walter Burien –

Armstrong Economics
Well it has been a long time coming, but all along there have been discussions behind closed doors (never in public) that the Administrative Law Courts established with the New Deal were totally unfounded and unconstitutional. With the anniversary of Magna Carta and the right to a jury trial coming up on June 15 after 800 years, the era of Roosevelt’s big government is quietly unraveling.

A federal judge’s ruling against the Securities and Exchange Commission for using its own Administrative Law judges in an insider trading case is perhaps the beginning of the end of an alternative system of justice that took root in the New Deal. Constitutionally, the socialists tore everything about the idea of a Democracy apart. It was more than taxing one party to the cheers of another in denial of equal protection. It was about creating administrative agencies (1) delegating them to create rules with the force of law as if passed by Congress sanctioned by the people; (2) the creation of administrative courts that defeated the Tripartite government structure usurping all power into the hand of the executive branch, as if this were a dictatorship run by the great hoard of unelected officials.

Not discussed in the coverage of this story is that the Administrative Law Courts are a fiefdom, to put it mildly. They have long been corrupt and traditionally rule in favor of their agencies, making it very costly for anyone to even try to defend themselves. If someone were to attempt this feat, first they have to wear the costs of an Administration proceeding and appeal to an Article III court judge, then they must appeal to the Court of Appeals, and finally plea to the Supreme Court. The cost of such adventures is well into the millions, and good luck on actually getting justice.

Furthermore, Administrative Law Courts cannot sentence you to prison, but they can fine you into bankruptcy. So the lack of a criminal prosecution meant the judges did not have to be lawyers. They could be anyone’s brother-in-law looking for a job where he just rules in favor of the agency not to be bothered with law. Unless the victim has a pile of money, there is no real chance that he or she can afford to defend themselves. This is why the agencies cut deals with the big houses and prosecute the small upstarts who lack the funds to defend themselves.

In a 45-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May in Atlanta issued an injunction halting Administrative Law proceedings against Charles Hill, a businessman who the SEC accused of reaping an illegal $744,000 profit trading in Radian Systems stock. This is typical. The legal fees involved will exceed the amount of money he is alleged to have made, the typical result is to just pay the fine and they go away, it is cheaper.

The judge ruled that the SEC agency violated the Appointments Clause of the Constitution by subjecting Hill to proceedings before an Administrative Law judge, who isn’t directly accountable to the president, officials in charge of the SEC, or the courts under Article III. The ruling is 81 years overdue. The entire structure of administrative agencies blackmailing people has been outrageous. Then you take the banks who just entered a plea of  CRIMINALLY  guilty to manipulating markets. They are now formally FELONS who engaged in violating SEC rules and thus under the SEC rules, they are no longer eligible for a banking license. The banks are “too big to jail” and the SEC has waived their own rules, of course, to exempt the banks. So they can engage in fraud and manipulation, get caught, pay billions in fines, and the SEC exempts them from losing their licenses. This is how corrupt the administrative agencies really are.

This new decision calling the Administrative Law Courts what they really are is reminiscent of the notorious extrajudicial proceedings of the Star Chamber operated by King James I. The court of Chancery set up outside of the King’s Bench, so there were no trials by jury. It had the same purpose, to circumvent the law. This is where our Fifth Amendment privilege came into being. That came about following the trial of John Lilburne (1615-1657) for handing out a pamphlet the government did not like.

The Miranda v Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966) decision of the Supreme Court came only after decades of abuse by American police against citizens, not unlike what we are watching today.

The Miranda decision is hated by police, prosecutors, right-wing judges, politicians, and citizens.

The decision is based upon the history of the right not to be coerced that began with the famous trial of John Lilburn before the English court of the Star Chamber in 1637 where he stood tall and objected to the King’s torture. Lilburn’s crime was handing out pamphlets against the king. John Lilburne (1615–1657) was a leader in the Leveller Movement of the 1640s and was a prolific pamphleteer who defended religious and individual liberty of the people. He was imprisoned many times for his views and was active in the army of the New Parliament rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In October 1649, he was arrested and tried for High Treason for printing and circulating books and pamphlets critical of the government but was acquitted of all charges by a jury of his peers.

Full Article & Source:
Judge Rules Administrative Court System Illegal After 81 Years

What is the Key to Happiness? Ask a Senior

When I was young, I thought being happy meant having “things.” As a young adult, obtaining a good job, buying a nice house and driving a neat car were a part of my plan to happiness. The older I got the more I found out that things cannot make you happy. Still I struggled with bitterness in hard times and a whiney spirit. So what is the secret to being happy? The answer came to me through the mouths of wisdom.

As a journalist I’ve had the opportunity to interview hundreds of seniors. A running theme emerged as I listened to their life stories. Some had endured many hardships and nearly all had worked very hard most of their lives. Some had lost children, struggled through lean times or had serious illnesses. They were not bitter about having to go through these rough times or work their fingers to the bone. Instead, they were so very thankful — for each season of life and all of the hardships. They had endured. They had thrived. They were happy.

It seems easy to be happy when everything is going right, but these seniors remember the “hard years” as some of the best years of their lives. They remember the laughter — the good times.

What Do They All Have in Common?

  1. A positive attitude
  2. They found lessons in even the hardest of times
  3. A strong love of family and friends
  4. They found joy in simple pleasures
  5. A strong faith
  6. The willingness to work through it all
I also found that their gratitude and thankful attitudes were contagious! 

One of the hardest times in my life was when my own daddy had surgery for cancer of the bladder. The doctors didn’t seem to give him much hope for surviving for even a year. I couldn’t accept that. I just couldn’t lose my daddy. I was worried and asked him how he was feeling about it all.

“Angel,” he said while lying in his hospital bed. “I’ve had a wonderful life. I have a wonderful family. God has been so good to me. I couldn’t be more thankful for you and your momma and the grandkids. I’d like to live longer but if God calls me home, I’m ready to go.”

That was 13 years ago and daddy is still with us. He has seen ten great-grandchildren born and still works at the barbershop one day a week. He and momma both are thankful for each and every day.
I’m still a work in progress. I whine a lot less and do my best to find joy and peace in this world of chaos. I can say that I do find so many reasons to be thankful and it does make me a much happier person. So count your blessings. It is the secret to happiness.

Full Article & Source:
What is the Key to Happiness? Ask a Senior

Elder Abuse Task Force gets surprise visit

KENNEBUNK — The Elder Abuse Task Force meets each month to network and discuss upcoming events. In May, they met at the Kennebunk Police Department and were given a grand surprise that they were not expecting. Members of “Atria Sings” chorus were invited behind the scenes to joyfully liven the meeting with a 10-song performance.

Atria Sings Chorus plans to surprise other agencies as a sort of civic engagement to give back to their community. They have performed at Wells Elementary School for the students and faculty, for the employees of Atria, and even health care professionals at Wells Emergency Care at York Hospital.

Full Article & Source:
Elder Abuse Task Force gets surprise visit

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hired caregiver accused of punching, kicking autistic patient

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis woman has been charged with attacking a man who has autism for whom she was hired to care.

Police arrested Keosha Crawford, 27, Friday morning.

According to court records, witnesses said Crawford, who was employed by Advanced Care Associates, repeatedly punched the man who cannot care for himself.

This allegedly happened back in May. Witnesses said they saw the woman hit the man several times in the chest and back, then throw him on the ground and kick him in his stomach and chest. They said they also saw Crawford forced the man's shirt up and punch him in his nipples.

The victim was taken to Methodist Germantown Hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

Crawford has been charged with  multiple counts of adult abuse and assault.  She has been released from jail on a bond of $5,000.

Full Article & Source:
Hired caregiver accused of punching, kicking autistic patient

N.J. Nursing Home Case Brings New Protections In Contract Services

EMERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A local man has a word of warning for anyone preparing to sign any documents admitting a loved one into a nursing home or assisted care facility.

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported exclusively Monday, the man did not realize he had signed away an important right for his sister. But a New Jersey court sided with him, and the decision could set a precedent for anyone signing a contract.

When Mary Kleine fell at Emeritus at Emerson assisted living years ago, doctors told her brother it appeared to be a considerable amount of time had passed before she was found.

“They found her in her own blood and feces, and she was totally dehydrated,” said Kleine’s brother, Frank McMahon.

The fall put the then-85-year-old in the hospital. From there, she went to CareOne at the Valley, where McMahon said she got worse.

“She contracted C. diff. She contracted a number of sores,” McMahon said.

When McMahon decided to sue both facilities for personal injury, he discovered that during the rush to get her to CareOne, he quickly initialed a page of documentation without guidance – signing away Kleine’s right to a jury trial and pushing any claim they might have to arbitration. There would be no jury and no judge.

“It requires a hearing that would be conducted in secret. It is not open to the public. The results are never published,” said Kleine’s attorney, Thomas S. Howard. “You also have to pay the arbitrator.”

But last month, a New Jersey appeals court ruled that Kleine and her attorney could take CareOne to trial. The New Jersey Appellate Division found that CareOne’s arbitration clause was unenforceable, and “other aspects of the clause suggest it may be unconscionable.”

The court found CareOne’s clause to be a one-way street.

“They could remove the case from arbitration at their decision… it was only the resident that was bound by the arbitration clause,” said attorney Craig Hubert.

Hubert is not involved in the cases, but he represents victims of nursing home neglect and has read the opinion.

Both Hubert and Kleine’s attorney agree the decision sets a precedent.

“What the decision means is that the courts must look into how this admission agreement with an arbitration clause came to be signed, and whether the person who was signing it was given all the information that a reasonable person – somebody like Frank – needed to know in order to realize what rights he was giving up, and that he was given the opportunity to say no,” Howard said.

Jon Dolan runs the nonprofit Healthcare Association of New Jersey, representing nursing homes and assisted care facilities.

The group suggests a best practice model for the right arbitration agreement “includes a separate statement in the packet that clearly says what the rights and obligations are.”

Kleine is now 91 and confined to a wheelchair.

“She has lost five years of her normal lifestyle,” McMahon said.

The bottom like, McMahon said, is to “make sure you know what you’re signing. That’s difficult, because you’re in a stressful situation. Your relative is going into some sort of medical facility, and you get a lot of these papers.

“I had no idea of the magnitude of that one sentence,” he continued.

McMahon took Kleine out of CareOne and placed her elsewhere. CareOne did not respond to calls for comment.

Kleine has a trial date set for July 18.

As for the court’s decision and the wider scope of it, the ruling could apply beyond nursing homes to other industries.

Hubert explained it to CBS2’s Gainer as there now being a map for trial courts, so that for people looking to have arbitration clauses thrown out, courts will now have to look certain factors.

Those factors include whether there was a meeting of the minds when the contract was entered, pressures of the moment the contract was signed, the sophistication level of the parties, and whether the person signing the document understands everything.

Full Article & Source:
N.J. Nursing Home Case Brings New Protections In Contract Services

Local elder abuse council honored by state

The Pulaski County Elder Abuse Council is among three community groups which recently received awards from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) to help their efforts to stop elder abuse.

CHFS presented Judi Candido, vice chair of the local council, with a $500 Public Awareness Initiative Award for their outreach projects over the past year at a June conference focusing on elder abuse prevention.

“It was truly an honor for the Pulaski County Elder Abuse Council to be recognized by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services as one of the three award-winning council across the state,” chairman Brian Jaggers stated.

In its nomination materials, the Council called itself “small but mighty.” Covering only this county (most councils are regional), the group hosted its second annual Elder Abuse Conference in June,  which attracted about 100 people and featured speakers on law enforcement, the legal system, hospice care, health care and the state’s adult safety program. Jaggers said smaller events are planned in the next few monts to assist other agencies and provide additional educational opportunities.

Members have helped the community work toward a HeartSafe designation by visiting schools, businesses and health care/sports facilities to promote heart health and elder abuse prevention. Once achieved, this designation marks the community having achieved certain criteria for responding to cardiac events.

They also sponsored the Pumpkins on Main decorating project last October — raising more than $250, the proceeds of which were donated to God’s Food Pantry to provide nutritional supplements for elders in need. Over the holidays, the council sponsored 12 needy elderly people with clothes and food from its Elderly Angel Tree project.

“Our goal is to make a positive difference in the community,” Jaggers stated. “We work with other agencies such as God’s Food Pantry and Operation Unite. The council consists of members from each of the Pulaski County health care facilities, several home health care agencies, members of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and support from Kentucky State Police, Pulaski County Sheriff, Somerset Police, Burnside Police, as well as local attorneys and private citizens.  Members and supporters of the council participate routinely to promote a focused awareness and provide education related to scams, abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.”

The council is part of the state’s network of 24 Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse (LCCEAs) covering 93 counties. Councils involve local law enforcement, county officials, advocates, nursing homes, businesses, social service agencies and individuals. CHFS provides administrative support to the network.

Also honored by the state for their initiatives were the the Kentucky River Council Against the Maltreatment of Elders (Breathitt, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe counties) and  the Northern Kentucky Elder Maltreatment Alliance (Boone, Campbell, Gallatin, Kenton, Owen and Pendleton counties).

“Elder abuse and neglect has risen to such a level of concern that these councils have become crucial resources for local education and prevention,” CHFS Deputy Secretary Judge Timothy Feeley said. “Through their resourcefulness and collaborations, their projects are teaching respect for elders and saving lives. I commend their community efforts over the past year.”

Kentucky received more than 30,000 calls to report abuse, neglect and exploitation of people 60 and older for the state fiscal year 2015. The toll-free reporting hotline is 1-877-KYSAFE1 (597-2331).
Learn more about the councils and recognizing the signs of elder abuse online at

The Pulaski County Elder Abuse Council meets the first Wednesday of each month at the Somerset Housing Authority Office, 400 Hail Knob Road.

For more information, contact Chairman, Brian Jaggers at 606-677-0891 or Vice Chair, Judi Candido at 606-677-4086 or contact us through our Facebook page:

Full Article & Source:
Local elder abuse council honored by state

Monday, July 18, 2016

In Attempt to Solve Old Dilemmas, Guardianship Creates New Problems in Texas

Jim Bithas and Rosamond Bradley
The Observer has published a thoughtful examination of what it means to be a legal guardian in Texas. When all other efforts have been exhausted, guardianship is used to protect people from neglect or abuse. But the situation all too often leads to neglect and abuse—and results in the removal of legal rights. Due to an aging populace and scattered families, guardianships are increasingly common in the Lone Star State.

And the stark and troubling fact is, there is often little to no accountability for guardian behavior. In Texas, all a person needs to be put in charge of a stranger’s life is the completion a brief class, followed by a 100-question test. One guardian had 53 cases in nine counties. She allegedly never visited the people in her care, refusing to even answer their phone calls. She even regularly pocketed $20 from her wards’ $60 monthly allowance.

“This system may have been appropriate in 1845 or 1865 or even 1910,” says Terry Hammond, an El Paso attorney. “But it’s entirely inappropriate for the 21st century.”

Full Article & Source:
In Attempt to Solve Old Dilemmas, Guardianship Creates New Problems in Texas

Grassley introduces legislation to combat senior fraud

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has introduced comprehensive legislation to combat financial fraud against seniors. The bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (S. 3270) expands education, prevention and prosecution tools to reduce crimes against seniors.

The bill would increase training for federal investigators and prosecutors and equips each judicial district with at least one prosecutor having expertise with elder abuse cases, and establish an elder justice coordinator within the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, among other provisions. An estimated 6 million Americans over the age of 60 fall victim to abuse or exploitation each year, and many of those crimes go unreported. Financial crimes targeting seniors robs them of at least $2.9 billion annually.

Full Article & Source:
Grassley introduces legislation to combat senior fraud

“Accused of hitting the resident in the head with her fist during the struggle”

Two former nursing home workers facing felony charges of elder abuse are accused of holding a 93-year-old patient down while another nurse’s aide punched her.

Authorities said that the women were trying to force the Glen Haven Health and Rehabilitation resident to take her medication.

Monica Danielle Adams, 33, and Marilyn Annese Marshall, 48, are both charged with Violation of the Adult Protective Services Act. Their arrests on July 7 follow the arrest of co-defendant Anita Watford in 2015. Watford, 49, is accused of hitting the resident in the head with her fist during the struggle, said Alabama Attorney General’s Office communications director Mike Lewis.

All three women were employed as nursing assistants at Glen Haven in Northport. They no longer work at the facility, administrator Adam Madison said Thursday.

A Tuscaloosa County grand jury indicted Watford in 2014. Another grand jury that met in September issued indictments to charge Adams and Marshall.

Watford has pleaded not guilty. She told nursing home administrators that the woman forced her hand to hit her head, the AG’s office said last year, but witnesses contradicted that account.

Adams and Marshall were released from jail on $10,000 bonds.

The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated the case.

Full Article & Source:
“Accused of hitting the resident in the head with her fist during the struggle”