Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Brownstone and the Bitter Fight to Inherit It

Bill Cornwell and Tom Doyle lived in a brownstone in the West Village for over five decades. They were artists, neighborhood fixtures and committed partners. Their enduring love never seemed to them to need codification — not to mention that for most of their relationship, gay marriage was illegal.

Mr. Cornwell died two years ago at age 88. Now, his will, in which he bequeathed the small apartment building to Mr. Doyle, is in dispute, leaving his partner with no clear claim to his home of 55 years. The property, on Horatio Street, is an extremely valuable asset, and several of Mr. Cornwell’s nieces and nephews have claimed it as their inheritance, rejecting the notion that their uncle wanted it to go to Mr. Doyle. They put the building up for sale, and it is now under contract — for over $7 million.

“I’m not so concerned about the money, I’m more concerned about a roof over my head for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have to be in a nursing home,” Mr. Doyle, 85, said, as he sat outside the cluttered one-bedroom apartment he shared with Mr. Cornwell. “As long as I am here, I have all the familiar surroundings. It’s almost as if Bill is still here.”

The dispute has now shifted to court.

Mr. Cornwell set down his final wishes about a decade ago. All his possessions, including the three-story, four-unit building of which he was the sole titleholder, should go to his longtime partner, the will stipulated. But the document’s signing was witnessed by only one person, not two, as required in New York State, making it legally invalid. Mr. Doyle attributed the error to a simple oversight, perhaps because of both men’s advanced age.

Without a valid will, the law requires that all of Mr. Cornwell’s assets go to his next of kin, two nieces and two nephews. Carole DeMaio, one of the nieces, said her uncle never took the necessary steps to make sure everything went to Mr. Doyle, including not marrying him, because he did not want to.

“He had 50 years to put Tom’s name on any of these papers,” Ms. DeMaio said. “The will was never a valid will.” Ms. DeMaio suggested that perhaps the two men were just “friends” or “great companions.”

Full Article and Source:
A Brownstone and the Bitter Fight to Inherit it

Former Illinois Police Officer Charged With Exploitation of a Disabled Person

Former la Grange police officer has been charged in connection with exploitation of a disabled person.

Steven C. Kneifel, 47, pleaded not guilty Oct. 17 to the charges of official misconduct, financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability, forgery and theft, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

The state's attorney filed criminal charges against Kneifel following an investigation by the Illinois State Police. Kneifel is accused of committing official misconduct, along with the criminal charges filed, according to a statement from the village of La Grange.

The complaint shows the charges stemmed from a grand jury that met from about April 1, 2013 through March 1, 2015, and allege that Kneifel was in a position of trust or confidence with the victim and had a legal or fiduciary relationship with the victim.

The complaint states that Kneifel made or altered checks that drew on the victim's bank accounts on a series of occasions, at various times and in various amounts that ranged from $100 to $13,000, from April 5, 2013 through Oct. 11, 2015. The complaint alleges that Kneifel withdrew a total of $65,836 from the victim's accounts at three different banks.

The complaint also states that as a sworn police officer he "knowingly committed an act which he knew that he was forbidden by law to perform."

Friday, October 28, 2016

Woman sentenced to prison for scheme to steal millions from elderly

TRENTON — An Egg Harbor Township woman involved in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from senior citizens was sentenced Friday to three years in state prison, according to the state Attorney General's office.

Susan Hamlett, 57, of Egg Harbor Township, was an employee at A Better Choice, a senior care company in Atlantic County that offers life care, legal planning and financial planning for its clients.

Hamlett is one of five people involved in the case that have pleaded guilty to charges.

Between 2003 and 2012, former A Better Choice owner Jan Van Holt, 60, and her sister Sondra Steen, 61, both of Linwood, stole more than $2.7 million from 12 clients.

Hamlett, Van Holt and Steen were arrested with former county social worker William Price, 58, of Linwood, and attorney Barbara Lieberman, 64, of Northfield, after an investigation was conducted by New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice.

Senior citizens were targeted if they had assets but no immediate family. Services like household chores, errands, driving, scheduling, budgeting and paying bills was handled by the service. Money taken from the bank accounts of victims was used by Van Holt and Steen for their own bills, pool supplies, Mercedes cars and lease payments for a condo in Florida.

The Camden County resident was a driver for the Moorestown School District.
"By stealing the life savings of elderly clients who had no family to look out for them, these defendants placed themselves among the lowest of con artists," said Attorney General Christopher Porrino, in a statement. "The victims are gone, but we've persisted in our quest for justice for them, securing prison terms for all of the perpetrators."

Hamlett pleaded guilty in August to second-degree conspiracy for helping to steal more than $100,000 from an elderly woman. The guilty plea came just before Hamlett was supposed to go to trial.

Lieberman pleaded guilty to first-degree money laundering on Nov. 3, 2014 and was sentenced on March 25, 2015 to 10 years in state prison. She forfeited $3 million in assets and lost her law license in the process.

Van Holt pleaded guilty on April 12, 2016 to first-degree money laundering and faces a possible sentence of 12 years in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled on Oct. 28.

Steen pleaded guilty to first-degree money laundering and was sentenced on March 4 to 10 years in prison.

Price pleaded guilty to second-degree theft for stealing $125,000 from a couple he met while working as a caseworker for Atlantic County Adult Protective Services and was sentenced on Oct. 23, 2015, to five years in prison.

Full Article & Source:
Woman sentenced to prison for scheme to steal millions from elderly

2 N.J. adult day care facilities pay $650K to settle Medicaid fraud claims

TRENTON — Two adult day care facilities will pay a combined $650,000 to settle allegations of Medicaid fraud and shoddy record-keeping, state authorities said Tuesday.

Broadway Adult Day Care in Fair Lawn and Bayonne Adult Medical Day Care will each pay $325,000 through the agreement with the Medicaid Fraud Division at the state Comptroller's Office. Neither has admitted any wrongdoing.

In both cases, investigators from the Comptroller's Office say they found the facilities failed to keep adequate records over a five-year period to prove that services billed to Medicaid had actually been performed.

According to the complaints, the Broadway facility couldn't prove it had performed services including blood glucose monitoring for needy patients, and Bayonne had no records showing its monitoring program was being performed according to physician orders.

State Comptroller Philip James Degnan said in a statement such bookkeeping is "essential, as it documents the services that were provided and paid for" and is required under state law.

Degnan's office said anyone who suspects Medicaid fraud can report the abuse by phone at 1-888-937-2835 or by submitting a complaint form at

Full Article & Source:
2 N.J. adult day care facilities pay $650K to settle Medicaid fraud claims

Antidepressant Use Linked to Dementia

The authors of a study published in Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders found that elderly individuals using antidepressants were at significantly higher risk for dementia when compared with both depressed and not depressed nonusers. The study, which is one of the few long-term studies focusing on associations between antidepressants and dementia, followed a large group of participants for up to 18 years.

Antidepressants, including selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI), are commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. Despite studies that have suggested these could have neuroprotective effects and that they can improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s dementia, these results are not consistent. Studies conducted with different populations have also found conflicting results with some finding that older antidepressants were associated with a reduced rate of dementia and others have found antidepressant use associated with cognitive impairment. Further, as the authors, led by Dr. Chenkun Wang, point out, elderly individuals are often underrepresented in clinical trials, therefore little is known about this antidepressant use in this population, particularly those with unimpaired cognitive functioning.

Over a span of two years (i.e. 1991-1993) 3,688 patients from a private care practice were enrolled in the study and included in the analysis – all of whom were 60 years of age or older. The researchers used medical history information from inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room records. Among the data retrieved were diagnoses of depression and dementia. Data regarding their antidepressant medication prescription and dispersal was also retrieved from their electronic medical record. Patients were divided into 5 groups:
  • Prescribed only SSRIs
  • Prescribed only non-SSRIs anti-depressants
  • Prescribed mixed anti-depressants (non-SSRIs & SSRIs)
  • Participants diagnosed with depression but not prescribed antidepressants (nonusers with depression)
  • Participants diagnosed who were not diagnosed with depression nor received antidepressants (nonusers without depression)
Results revealed that participants who were on SSRIs or non-SSRI antidepressants had a higher risk of dementia than the individuals diagnosed with depression who were not prescribed antidepressants. In addition, those who were on either type of antidepressant were at a higher risk of dementia than nonusers without depression.

Despite the limitations of the study, which include prescribing bias (e.g. doctors prescribing SSRIs to adults with cognitive impairments) and lack of depression and dementia severity measures, this is not the only study to yield these associations. A recent article on Medscape reporting on SSRIs and sleep disruption found that these antidepressants could cause significant sleep problems in the elderly, which could contribute to neurodegeneration leading to dementia. The authors of the study, which was presented at the Institute of Psychiatric Services: The Mental Health Services 2016 Conference, warn against ignoring sleep issues and side-effects of SSRIs and reiterate the importance of psychotherapy and holistic alternatives for elderly populations.

Full Article & Source:
Antidepressant Use Linked to Dementia

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Supreme Court chief justice tackles guardianship amid complaints

by John Pacenti
The complaints emanate from all over the state and, really, the nation: Seniors and others found incapacitated by the courts too often are treated like piggy banks by professional guardians who put their fees above the needs of the ward or concerns of loved ones.

Florida Chief Justice Jorge Labarga on Monday announced members of a task force that will focus on the growing concern about guardianships in Florida’s courts.

The announcement comes as the state tries to establish for the first time a regulatory authority over professional guardians.

He said few decisions are more challenging to a judge than removing a person’s rights because they are no longer capable of making decisions independently.

The Palm Beach Post, Labarga’s hometown newspaper, has reported extensively on guardianship, particularly how one judge and his wife benefited from it in the series, Guardianships: A Broken Trust. The stories resulted in reforms in Palm Beach County courts. Circuit Judge Martin Colin announced his retirement after the stories.
Lidya Abramovici is the former legislative liaison for Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship and says the group has lobbied Labarga for months to get involved as complaints mount from families who see their loved ones and their life savings ransacked by unethical professional guardians.

“The time has come for the Florida Supreme Court to become aware of what is happening in Florida with the injustice to the elderly and the financial abuse,” she said.

Cases to increase
In a news release, Labarga, who lives in Welllington, said he created what he calls the “work group” because guardianship caseloads are increasing in number and complexity.

“As Florida grows and ages, we can expect more and more cases dealing with guardianship issues to come into our courts,” Labarga said.

Individuals found incapacitated by the court are appointed a guardian. If a family member is not available, often a professional guardian steps in with complete control of the senior’s finances, medical decisions and housing.

In Florida and across the nation, many professional guardians have been found to act in their own interests and not those of the incapacitated ward. Families of seniors have found themselves unable to battle professional guardians, who often employ legions of attorneys who are paid out of the savings of the senior.

Balance needed
Highlands County Circuit Judge Olin Shinholser will serve as chairman. He said there is too often conflict between the needs and desires of the ward — often a senior battling dementia — and the guardian, caregivers and even the family.

“Comments and complaints from various stakeholders are indicative that we need to take a closer look at whether the rules and procedures in place accomplish the balance needed,” he said.

State legislators passed laws in the last two legislative sessions to increase the state’s regulation and oversight of guardians.

“This is an appropriate time to re-evaluate our system and determine if the courts are doing everything possible to meet the needs of everyone involved,” Labarga said. “It’s imperative we stay proactive in this area and provide real solutions to emerging issues.”

The work group will tackle a number of guardianship issues, including restoration of capacity for the senior or person put in a guardianship. Costs — which usually mean fees for the guardian and at least one lawyer — will also be addressed.

An interim report is due to the court by October 2017 and a final report is due to the court by September 2018.

“Further evaluating guardianship practices supports the branch’s goal of ensuring that court procedures and operations are easily understandable and user-friendly and supports our mission to protect rights and liberties of all,” Shinholser said.

Supreme Court chief justice tackles guardianship amid complaints

See Also:
Read the myPalmBeachPost articles from the beginning

Prosecutors oppose release of indicted Arkansas ex-judge

Federal prosecutors oppose the release of a former Arkansas judge until his trial on charges of giving lighter sentences to defendants in exchange for nude photos and sexual acts.

The motion filed Friday says former Cross County District Judge Joseph Boeckmann has tried to bribe or threaten witnesses against him by using third parties, showing he "has both the ability and the willingness" to try to tamper with witnesses without personally contacting them.

Boeckmann's attorney had asked that he be allowed to live with relatives until his November trial.

The 70-year-old Boeckmann resigned in May and has pleaded not guilty to fraud, bribery, witness tampering and other charges.

A U.S. magistrate judge on Wednesday denied bond, but said he will consider allowing Boeckmann to stay with a family member far from Cross County.

Full Article & Source:
Prosecutors oppose release of indicted Arkansas ex-judge

14 Things People Affected by Traumatic Brain Injury Wish Others Understood

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States,contributing to about 30 percent of all injury deaths, according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. People who survive a TBI can face a wide range of side effects, ranging from ones that may last a few days to lifelong disabilities.

The Mighty worked with the Traumatic Brain Injury Support Facebook page to ask people affected by TBI what they wish others understood about their conditions.

This is what they had to say:

1. “People need to learn to not judge you because of it. It makes it more difficult for us to keep moving on in the right direction.” — Erin Fox

2. “I am still capable of doing lots of things. I have worked really, really hard to overcome my injury and although I now suffer from epilepsy and use a seizure alert dog, I am still the smart, capable, funny uncommonly kind person I’ve always been. Stop telling me I can’t and start helping me reach my next goal.” — Kat Mac Kenzie

TBI1 copy

3. “Remembering things is difficult. I’m not being lazy by only working a few hours a day or needing days off during a busy time — I just need more rest to function than you do… Changes take time for me to adjust to. What works for one person doesn’t always work for me.” — Sara Hill

TBI2 copy

4. “I want nothing more than to be ‘better’ and not be judged like I’m a deadbeat for not being what I once was.” — Elizabeth Keene Alton

5. “The ‘new’ version of myself has very different needs than the old me. I need more rest. I need more time to form thoughts into words. I need more time to complete seemingly simple tasks. And I need my loved ones to realize and be patient with the fact that my emotions are so much harder to manage than they used to be. I still love my partner and my kids, maybe even more than ever, but I also need more solitude than I’ve ever needed before. I need compassion and cooperation. I need love and comfort. I miss the old me so so much… Raising awareness about this issue will be the first thing on my plate, once I can manage to claw my way back to some normalcy… For now, I need my sense of humor more than ever. Because it’s laugh and learn or cry and die, baby. And crying hurts the head.” — Kendra Partida

TBI3 copy

6. “My injury may be invisible, but my life has been turned upside down. I will never be the same again.” — Christina Chalgren

TBI4 copy

7. “Never assume a person who has difficulty communicating has nothing to say. They may have plenty to say. They just say things a little differently. Never assume their brain doesn’t work, because it does. It just may work a little differently than ours.” — Stacy Sekinger  
(Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
14 Things People Affected by Traumatic Brain Injury Wish Others Understood

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Probate office cleared in jury probe

The Elmore County Probate Office was recently cleared by the grand jury of conduct alleged in a report on the office issued by the state’s Examiner of Public Accounts.

The report, originally filed on June 10, 2016, asserts three “charges” with respect to the office. The first is against the office manager at the Millbrook satellite office in the amount of $523.99. The charge asserts: “On April 23, 2013, cash and checks totaling $10,317.59 were collected at the Millbrook Satellite Office, but were not deposited. The failure to deposit the moneys collected was not discovered until June 2013. Subsequently, replacement checks from taxpayers and a surety company totaling $9,793.60 were received and deposited. The remaining $523.99 was not deposited into the official bank account.”

The second charge asserts that during the period of examination by the Examiner (Oct 1, 2010 to September 30, 2015) numerous clerical errors were made by probate office staff which resulted in failure to collect title fees in an amount sufficient to cover title fees which were drafted by the Alabama Department of Revenue resulted in a shortage in the bank account of $705.

The third charge asserts a similar allegation to charge two and claims the account was short $875 after ADOR withdrawal of funds.

In its report to Circuit Judge John Bush, the grand jury stated:

“The grand jury has specifically reviewed the ‘Report on the Office of Judge of Probate, Elmore County, Alabama, October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2015.’ We note particularly the three charges made by the Examiner of Public Accounts on pages 74-75. One of the charges is in the amount of $523.99 and is against Christina Womble, the Office Manager of the Millbrook Tag Office, and is based on a missing bank deposit for which she was not responsible. The other two charges are for $705.00 and $875.00 against Probate Judge Jimmy Stubbs and Probate Judge John E. Enslen respectively, for clerical errors made by tag department clerks covering a period of five years. We find that none of these allegations involve criminal activity on the part of any of the three persons specified. There are no indictable offenses involved in these matters. We further find that none of the three persons acted negligently or unreasonably under the circumstances. It is our recommendation that no further action be taken.”

Full Article & Source:
Probate office cleared in jury probe

Woman charged with exploitation of elder

A Floyd County woman was in jail Thursday without bond after being accused of taking financial resources from an elderly Rome resident.

According to Floyd County Jail reports:

Sheryl Lynn Norris, 38, of 1536 Watkins Gin Road, Silver Creek, used the victim’s financial resources to pay off her own water bill and make a number of other purchases without the permission of the victim.

She was charged with felony exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, elder persons and residents.

Full Article & Source:
Woman charged with exploitation of elder

Battling Brain Disease: The New Frontier In Treating Alzheimer's Patients

Sometimes when John Chiappetta’s mother makes her much-loved lasagna, she remembers every detail of every step. Other times, if Chiappetta isn’t there to prevent her, she boils the water down to the pot’s metal. Such is the unpredictable nature of the Alzheimer’s disease that she’s battling.

For five years, Chiappetta has been his mother’s full-time caregiver, while working full-time as a senior program manager at Hyatt Hotels and fulfilling his duties as a single father to three boys.

Taking care of his mom is an endurance-testing responsibility. It requires ingenuity, determination and fortitude.

Magnetic resonance imaging

“I’ve had to do a lot of adjusting, and you need a whole lot of patience,” said Chiappetta, who lives in Chicago. “You become a driver [for her], medical advocate and translator. You actually need to become her memory.”

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and the number is expected to triple in another 35 years. By far the most common brain disorder, Alzheimer’s has long eluded researchers’ attempts at finding its cause. Efforts to develop long-term treatment protocols have fared no better. Most pharma organizations are attacking the disease in either of two ways: pursuing possible triggers or seeking treatments to help subdue symptoms.

Integrating Approaches

But Lundbeck, a global pharmaceutical company with North American headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois, is taking a two-pronged approach — testing medications to minimize symptoms and examining the causes. Its efforts to combat Alzheimer’s are part of the company’s larger mission to target malfunctions of the central nervous system and the underlying mechanisms of brain disorders.

In addition to Alzheimer’s, Lundbeck’s research and development investigates and offers treatments for Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, depression and epilepsy.

“Ultimately we’d like to eliminate Alzheimer’s, but until then we’re hoping to change the course of the illness and slow it down,” said Peter Anastasiou, president of Lundbeck North America.

Lundbeck currently has five drugs in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s. Three of them are considered disease-modifying, which potentially could alter the progression of the illness. Two others address the symptoms: one lessens the impact of cognitive deficits; the other calms the agitation that typically occurs in people with Alzheimer’s.

Of the five compounds, the three potentially disease-altering medications are in the very early stages of clinical trials and are not yet named. They are still being studied for safety before they can be tested for their effectiveness.

One is a vaccine that would teach the body to rid the brain of beta amolyid, the chunks of protein that clump together and are believed to block cell-to-cell signals, leading to the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s. Many researchers believe beta amolyid holds the key to curing the disease.

The second is a drug that Lundbeck hopes will stop the production of beta amolyid altogether. The third is aimed at reducing the accumulation of tau tangles, characterized by protein clusters that are believed to interfere with the cell transport system. This interference prevents nutrients and other necessary supplies from traveling through and nourishing cells, eventually causing the cells to die.

“It’s so important to find out what causes this disease,” Chiappetta said.

Buying Time

Until a cure can be found, two Lundbeck medications might improve the quality of life for patients struggling with Alzheimer’s deficiencies. Idalopirdine boosts the activity of neurotransmitters, potentially improving cognitive function. Early studies have shown some positive effects. Phase III clinical trials are underway.

The other compound, Rexulti (brexpiprazole)‎, is already on the market, but for a different indication. It is FDA-approved to help patients with schizophrenia and depression. Lundbeck is investigating whether the drug effectively reduces agitation in Alzheimer’s patients, a prominent behavior associated with the disease and a leading cause of nursing home care.

Watching someone battle with Alzheimer’s can be heart-wrenching, according to Chiappetta. There are times when he sees his mother fight with herself to find the right words. “Certain days are good and certain days are horrible,” he said. “You just see her language eroding and the frustration. You just have to keep her engaged as much as possible.”

Full Article & Source:
Battling Brain Disease: The New Frontier In Treating Alzheimer's Patients

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Guardian in controversial case tells court she has conflict of interest

Erie, Pennsylvania VA Medical Center
by Michael Volpe

ERIE, Pa., October 22, 2016 — The guardian involved in the controversial guardianship of a former Army Ranger has acknowledged a conflict of interest and wants off the case.

Laura Eaton has been the guardian for Martin Patterson- 37 and a former Army Ranger since 2013, but that is about to end.

“Conflicts of interest have arisen which prevent Laura Eaton from continuing as guardian,” according to a filing by her attorney, Mary Alfieri Richmond. “In addition, Mr. Patterson assets (sic) that he is not incapacitated.”

The filing continues:

“A Guardianship review hearing is necessary for the appointment of a Successor Plenary Guardian of the Person and estate of Martin Jack Patterson and/or modification of the guardianship.”

The filing is in lieu of court date on November 28, 2016, which will not only hear arguments for Eaton’s removal from the case, but also whether or not Patterson should remain in guardianship.

Alfieri Richmond told CDN that “any interested party” involved in the guardianship could bring forward a review hearing.

The conflicts were not spelled out in the filing but Alfieri Richardson also stated there were numerous conflicts in the case, namely that Eaton and Patterson don’t see eye to eye and Patterson recently moving away being just two of them.

Patterson’s controversial guardianship was first exclusively reported by CDN in August 2016.

Though still in his thirties and with several evaluations finding him competent, Patterson’s mother, Gail Patterson an employee at the Erie Pennsylvania VA Medical Center, insisted on moving forward to have Patterson, who suffered a life-threatening injury in 2003 but then subsequently returned to active duty, declared incapacitated. Gail Patterson’s position was backed up by Eaton, who was initially appointed Patterson’s VA Fiduciary.

A VA Fiduciary “was established to protect Veterans and other beneficiaries who, due to injury, disease, or due to age, are unable to manage their financial affairs,” according to its website.

Patterson was placed into temporary guardianship in 2013 without a full hearing The guardianship was made permanent after that. Patterson has alleged that since being placed into guardianship in 2013 roughly $100,000 of his savings has been misspent.

Full Article & Source:
Guardian in controversial case tells court she has conflict of interest

Woman jailed for exploitation of elderly person

A Tunnel Hill woman remained in the Whitfield County jail Thursday afternoon on a $7,500 bond after being charged with exploitation of an elderly person.

Wendy Lynn White, 36, of 1318 Shadow Ridge Drive, was arrested Wednesday after a two-month investigation into allegations she used her 79-year-old neighbor's debit card to rack up "hundreds" of dollars in charges and purchases.

"There were several charges on her account along with online shopping, Wal-Mart gift cards, iTunes purchases as well as some cash back on purchases," said Whitfield County Sheriff's Office Detective Jeff Wells. "The elderly lady's niece alerted us of the charges, and we found out she had given her card to her neighbor to make purchases for her at The Dollar Store and grocery store, but she had not authorized any other purchases."

Wells said while elderly people in most cases know to be cautious with their cards and money, it is often someone who is trusted who takes advantage of the situation.

"Unfortunately, it is becoming more common," Wells said. "Banks are getting more involved with charges and notifying us as well, so these kinds of crimes are starting to grow. They are just being recognized more. Nine times out of 10, it will be a family member or friend -- someone they are close to."

Full Article & Source:
Woman jailed for exploitation of elderly person

Monday, October 24, 2016

Guardianship Abuse is the Subject of a Second Political Ad: "Nevada's Guardianship System - Ripe for Abuse"


See Also:
NASGA:  Marcy E. Dudeck, NV/CA victim

New Ad Shows How Catherine Cortez Masto Ignored Pleas for Help From Family Taken Advantage of by Nevada's Guardianship Program

Koch Ads Return to Nevada With Spot Against Cortez Masto

Koch Group Drops New Ad in Nevada Senate Race

Lawyer cuffed, jailed for estate thefts

Thad Jelinske
Waukesha — A Milwaukee corporate lawyer who regulators say had multiple conflicts of interest while representing a former client's estate was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail as a condition to 18 months of probation.

Thad Jelinske, 56, of Wauwatosa was led away in handcuffs after Circuit Judge Michael Aprahamian rejected the prosecutor's recommendation of a $3,000 fine as part of a plea bargain in the case.
"You're the attorney. You're supposed to be trusting and honest in everything you do," the judge said. "When you break that trust, the whole system suffers."

Jelinske was charged in September with three misdemeanor counts of theft in a business setting. He pleaded no contest to each charge Wednesday before sentencing.

District Attorney Sue Opper said the case was unusual in that it came to her office after years of litigation in probate court, and without any police investigation. She said the three misdemeanors were the most efficient charges her office could file without extensive further review of the voluminous record.

Opper said she felt $1,000 fine on each count was fair and appropriate given the collateral consequences to Jelinske — the loss of his position, money paid back to the estate by him and his firm, the likely loss of his law license and the serious damage to his reputation.

Jelinske apologized in court but offered no explanation for his conduct other than bad judgment.

His attorney, Michael Fitzgerald, said Jelinske did do some positive things for the estate but was in over his head.

But Aprahamian, a former litigator at Foley & Lardner, read from the probate judge's order that found Jelinske and his firm engaged in bad faith and deliberate misrepresentation to a "shocking" level.

The judge said if an employee for Sears or Kwik Trip had embezzled like Jelinske they'd likely go to jail, and it would send the wrong message if lawyers avoided such punishment just because they might also lose their license for the behavior.

Aprahamian also denied Jelinske's request to surrender to jail at a later date. "Sometimes it's important to stand up and be taken into custody," he said, and Jelinske was handcuffed and led off in his gray suit.

Shortly after he was charged criminally, Jelinske was also hit with an ethics complaint from the Office of Lawyer Regulation that lays out in far greater detail what the complaint calls his major mishandling of an estate left by a former client. It seeks an 18-month suspension of his law license.

Jelinske, a partner at a Milwaukee business law firm Mawicke & Goisman, had little if any experience in probate matters when he became the personal representative to the estate of Robert S. McCloud, who died in 2011. Park Bank, the estate's main creditor, became a party to the probate of the estate after the bank's lawyer felt Jelinske was not forthcoming about the estate's assets.

The bank's lawsuit was later combined with the probate matter and a trial was held in 2014. Circuit Judge Michael Bohren, who presided, rejected Jelinske's contention that he and the law firm made honest mistakes in billing the estate thousands of dollars and claiming a "success fee" of $42,000 for selling McCloud's residence.

More than $100,000 in fees have been returned to the estate, and no outstanding restitution was ordered as part of the sentence in the criminal case.

Bohren also ordered Jelinske to pay Park Bank's costs and fees, which it claims amount to $250,000. That amount has been negotiated to a confidential settlement, lawyers said Wednesday.

The criminal complaint charged that Jelinske cashed a $573.61 insurance check intended for the estate and kept the money without recording a receipt and wrote himself a check for $834.65 from an estate-related account, both in 2011. A third count charged that in 2012 Jelinske deposited a $1,565.52 payment on a life insurance policy for his former client directly into Jelinske's own account and failed to include the payment in a 2013 inventory of the estate filed with a Waukesha County court.

The OLR complaint says he also spent estate funds on suits, Allen Edmonds shoes and to pay off his wife's American Express card bill, and lied during a probate court trial in 2014 and submitted false sworn court records.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer cuffed, jailed for estate thefts

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Assisted-suicide law prompts insurance company to deny coverage to terminally ill California woman

The Washington Times reported that the California Assisted-suicide law prompted an insurance company to deny coverage to a terminally ill California woman.

Bradford Richardson, from the Washington Times reported that Stephanie Packer, a wife and mother of four who was diagnosed with a terminal form of scleroderma, said that her insurance company initially indicated it would pay for her to switch to a different chemotherapy drug based on the recommendation of her doctors but shortly after the California assisted suicide law went into effect, her insurance company denied her treatment.

Richardson reported Packer as saying:
“And when the law was passed, it was a week later I received a letter in the mail saying they were going to deny coverage for the chemotherapy that we were asking for,” 
She said she called her insurance company to find out why her coverage had been denied. On the call, she also asked whether suicide pills were covered under her plan. 
“And she says, ‘Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication,’”Mrs. Packer said.
Stephanie Packer believes that legalizing assisted suicide creates an incentive for insurance companies to deny terminally ill people coverage. Packer stated:
“As soon as this law was passed — and you see it everywhere, when these laws are passed — patients fighting for a longer life end up getting denied treatment, because this will always be the cheapest option,” 
The attitude also changed in her support group:
After the right-to-die movement began garnering national attention, Mrs. Packer said she noticed a change in tone at her support groups for terminally ill patients. While the meetings were formerly positive and encouraging, she said the specter of suicide now hangs above them like a dark cloud. 
“And people, once they became depressed, it became negative, and it started consuming people,” she said in the video. “And then they said, ‘You know what? I wish I could just end it.’ “
Stephanie Parker is not the first person to be denied chemotherapy but offered assisted suicide. Several years ago Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup, in Oregon, were denied medical treatment but offered assisted suicide.

Full Article & Source:
Assisted-suicide law prompts insurance company to deny coverage to terminally ill California woman

Learn More About Physician Assisted Suicide on "Family Talk"

Note:  CA, WA, OR and VT have passed Assisted Suicide legislation.  MT and NM are close.  

Former Ethics Board Chair Being Sued For (INCREDIBLY) Unethical Elder Abuse

In my 2012 documentary film, Last Will and Embezzlement, Hollywood icon (the late) Mickey Rooney, who had been the victim of elder financial exploitation, warns the audience, “If it can happen to Mickey Rooney, it can happen to anyone.” Today, in Massachusetts, a 28-count elder abuse / elder exploitation lawsuit is pending against an astounding 66 defendants — including 15 attorneys — one of whom, I was appalled to learn, is John O. Mirick (Mirick, O’Connell, DeMallie & Lougee), the former Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers (what others would refer to as the Legal Ethics Board).

This landmark lawsuit, filed by Attorneys Coreen Goodwin and James Bailey Brislin, alleges a shocking, even ghoulish RICO scheme to actually imprison an elderly couple in a nursing home for the final, horrific year of their lives, steal their money and property during that year, conceal their wills from the rightful executors, then thoroughly plunder their estates after their deaths, just six days apart.
Sound improbable? Maybe even fictitious? It’s not. In fact, it’s a lot more common than you might imagine. Since I released my film, I have become privy to stories of avarice and thievery, murder and depravity, that would curl your hair and turn your stomach. This is one such tale, and over the coming weeks and months, I will be sharing with you the chronicles of one woman (Sarah, the victims’ daughter) who chose to earn a law degree, not only to obtain post-mortem justice for her parents, but to dedicate the rest of her life to saving others from suffering the same fate.
This is not just your average David and Goliath story – this is David simultaneously battling more than sixty Goliaths, including some of Boston’s largest and most prestigious law firms, two real estate agencies, two health care conglomerates, a nursing home, a funeral home, a surety bond company, five nurses, a social worker, a doctor, and a fire department captain – all of whom, in one way or another, were (allegedly) complicit in the conspiracy to hasten the end of the Oultons’ lives (the Oultons being the elderly couple in question), and then unlawfully pillaging their entire estate.

In November of 2011, Carol Oulton was admitted to Marlborough Hills Nursing Home to recover from a broken leg, but was overdosed (allegedly) by staff within 24 hours of her arrival, whereupon she was rushed to UMass Memorial Hospital, in a coma. Sarah, who was caring for her dad, Donald, who suffered from dementia, decided that if her mom recovered, she (Sarah) wanted to find her mom a better place to recuperate.

However, the suit alleges, the Oultons’ other three children conspired with Marlborough Hills and their attorneys to force Donald into that facility, as well, and then blocked both Donald and Carol from ever having contact, in any manner, with Sarah or any of their friends. On top of that, they separated the couple – forced them to live apart.

So that was it – they had no way out, no-one to lean on, and no way to get help. That was how this loving couple, married more than fifty years, spent the final year of their lives: alone, isolated, being victimized in every way possible, separated from everything and everyone they had ever known or loved, until their deaths, one year later. (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
Former Ethics Board Chair Being Sued For (INCREDIBLY) Unethical Elder Abuse

New Ultrasound Technique Could Wake Coma Patients

A new study out of UCLA has shown promise with ultrasound techniques that use sonic stimulation to excite the neurons in the brain’s central core for processing information, known as the thalamus. The procedure, known as low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation, has potential as a therapy to help coma patients awake from comas and recover from serious brain trauma.

The researchers created a device about the size of a tea cup saucer that can create a small sphere of acoustic energy targetting different regions of the brain to stimulate brain tissue. In their latest study, the device was used to help a 25-year-old patient recover from a traumatic brain injury. Researchers say that the technique could eventually be transitioned into a portable device like a helmet to provide a cost effective treatment that could be used to “wake up” patients into a more conscious state.

Before the ultrasound treatment, the 25 year-old patient had shown minimal signs of consciousness and could only perform the smallest movements when asked. After one day of treatment with the new ultrasound technique his responses showed significant improvement, and after three days of treatment the patient had gained full consciousness and language comprehension. Eventually he was able to communicate through head nods and even make a fist bump gesture to one of his doctors.

Detecting and treating traumatic brain injuries have become an area of increasing focus as emerging technologies pave the way for less invasive diagnostic and therapeutic tools. Over the summer researchers from the University of Aberdeen developed software that can be used with ultrasound equipment to provide accurate brain scans for patients who suffered traumatic brain injuries. A few weeks earlier, researchers from MIT announced a new algorithm that uses speech to diagnose mild traumatic brain injuries. The technology aims to use vocal biomarkers like elongated syllables and vowel sounds to detect possible brain injuries.

However, these emerging new diagnostic methods are only half the battle as researchers continue to explore new and innovative therapeutic solutions that can actually treat traumatic brain injury. This new technique aims to be the first to explore the use of ultrasound techniques to target and treat specific areas of the brain that have experienced trauma non-invasively—specifically the thalamus, an area of the brain that usually experiences significant impairment following a coma or serious brain injury.

Given that there aren’t many recognized treatment options for patients in a coma or vegetative state, UCLA researchers remain hopeful that this new technique could have a significant impact on patients who are left with few other alternatives. The ultrasound device only emits a small amount of energy, so the technology is extremely safe for human trials, and also provides a non-invasive approach to therapy.

Following their most recent results with the 25 year-old patient, UCLA researchers plan to begin testing the procedure on more individuals this fall at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles. The group hopes to learn more about the effects of the device, and fine tune its ability to target specific areas of the brain once they’re able to gather more data from additional patient responses. 

Full Article & Source:
New Ultrasound Technique Could Wake Coma Patients