Saturday, February 11, 2017

Nursing Home Patients With Alzheimer's Drugged to Death

Despite strict government warnings and national initiatives cracking down on administering antipsychotic drugs to older people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, dangerous abuses persist. The practice is particularly pernicious when it occurs in nursing homes, behind closed doors, where the most vulnerable residents are rarely informed or allowed to give meaningful consent before being drugged.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy, a nonprofit law organization, recently issued an alert after analyzing the continued overuse of antipsychotics in nursing homes. It found that in 2016, more than 270,000 nursing home residents are still being liberally drugged with them even though the overwhelming majority of them have not been diagnosed with any type of psychosis. The Center decried it as elder abuse and “a national scandal.”

Nursing home residents are medicated in alarming degrees with alarming doses of anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, antipsychotics, sedatives, and hypnotics—all belonging to the family of “psychoactive” drugs, also called anti-psychotics, psychotropics, or psychotherapeutics. Whatever their label, they work on the brain in various ways to change a person’s mood, behavior, or personality. Most of them also decrease the level of consciousness, acting as a type of “chemical restraint.”

While there are justifiable and therapeutic uses for these drugs, particularly for individuals with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, they’re frequently misused and abused in nursing homes, where a majority of the residents are prescribed one or more of them, usually to calm those who are agitated or combative—and considered problematic patients.

But the powerful drugs, acting alone and in interaction with other drugs, have a long list of common side effects—including tremors, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, immobility, delirium, kidney and heart failure, and violent behavior. Another common effect, oversedation, often greatly increases the risks of falls and fractures. And in some people, those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, psychoactive drugs can even cause death.

Ignoring the Warnings
The risk is so real that in 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings to prescribers and distributors and then imprinted the drugs with one of its rare black box warnings.

It states:
*Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with conventional or atypical antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death.
*Antipsychotic drugs are not approved for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis.

Furthermore, there is no approved drug for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis. Healthcare professionals should consider other management options.

Perversely, however, the use of such drugs in care facilities actually increased after the FDA’s dire warning.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Residents With Alzheimer's Drugged to Death

6 Alzheimer's Sensory Activities Reduce Anxiety Without Medication

It’s difficult to stand by and watch your older adult with Alzheimer’s or dementia live with anxiety, agitation, or anger. A good way to calm and soothe without using medication is to use sensory therapy. Sensory therapy is an effective method for reducing anxiety, calming nerves, and providing comfort. Seniors use simple touch-based activities to occupy their hands and minds in safe, soothing ways. We found 6 simple, fun, and inexpensive sensory activities that your older adult will love.

1. DIY aquarium sensory bag BabyFirstTV created a video for their Facebook page showing how to create a quick and easy sensory bag with an aquarium theme. It’s a sealed plastic bag with water beads and ocean animals inside You can easily replace the ocean animals with items that are appealing to your senior, like flowers, sports equipment, or fun characters. Or, check out these additional sensory bag examples for more ideas.
2. Scented sensory cards Smells are a powerful way to trigger memories and emotions. A Little Learning for Two shows us how to create simple scented cards with a winter theme. These are universally comforting scents, but you could also substitute other smells that your senior would associate with positive feelings.
3. Homemade non-toxic finger paint These non-toxic, homemade finger paints are a fun way for your senior to express themselves through art. To keep the mess to a minimum, tape a giant piece of butcher paper to the table and let them paint on that.

Full Article and Source:
6 Alzheimer's Sensory Activities Reduce Anxiety Without Medication

Recommended Website: Probate Sharks

Our mission is to expose and remedy corruption in the Probate Court of Cook County, Illinois.

We assist, educate and enlighten families of the dead, the dying, the disabled and the aged to better understand their rights in order to protect themselves from the excesses of the Probate Court of Cook County. is dedicated to networking the human element of people to people. We join together in reforming the corrupt Cook County Probate Court system.

Probate Sharks

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ohio clinic falsely diagnosed more than 50 patients with Alzheimer's disease, lawsuits say

Shawn Blazsek
A now-defunct medical clinic in Ohio falsely diagnosed more than 50 patients with Alzheimer's disease — leading to months of needless treatments and at least one suicide, a series of lawsuits allege.

Suits filed in Lucas County courts say the Toledo Clinic Cognitive Center employed a director, Sherry-Ann Jenkins, who did not hold any state licenses but still treated and diagnosed patients. She allegedly used the name and license of her husband — Dr. Oliver Jenkins — to authorize tests and treatments, and to bill her unwitting patients.

The suits also say the Toledo Clinic, which ran the cognitive center, “aided and abetted” Jenkins’ quack practice despite knowing she lacked credentials.

“Sherry-Ann Jenkins lacked the training, education, licensing, and credentials,” a complaint filed Jan. 30 says.

“The Toledo Clinic, through its various doctors, employees, and executives, knew Sherry-Ann Jenkins was not trained, educated, licensed, or credentialed to diagnose and treat dementing diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.”

One of the patients, Shawn Blazsek, said Jenkins’ diagnosis led him to start preparing his wife and son for his imminent death — and he also readied a stash of sleeping pills to take for his suicide when his memory faded.

“I was preparing her to be a single mom,” Blazsek, 33, told the Associated Press about his wife Jennifer.

“Here I am, thinking I'm going to be a widow at 43. What am I going to do?” Jennifer said.

“Who's going to teach my boys how to shave? Who's going to play ball with them?”

It took nine months before Blazsek realized his diagnosis came from someone who should have never treated him. Further tests revealed Blazsek never had the disease.

Not everyone was so lucky in the end.

Patient Gary Taynor, a retired train dispatcher and U.S. Air Force vet, was devastated to learn from Jenkins that he had stage three Alzheimer's disease. Unable to live with the illness, he shot and killed himself in January 2016, leaving behind a wife, children and grandchildren.

According to the complaint, Taynor did not have the disease, and no one at the Toledo Clinic gave him reason to doubt the diagnosis.

Several plaintiffs in the suit say they contemplated or prepared for suicide after meeting with Jenkins.

The Toledo Clinic hired Jenkins in 2014, opened its cognitive center the next year and appointed her as its director.

She holds a doctorate degree in physiological science, but no medical licenses of any kind. But she still allegedly presented herself as a licensed physician and psychologist, and the Toledo Clinic allegedly promoted her false claims about her credentials.

The complaint says Jenkins diagnosed dozens of patients, and touted her “holistic” and “all-natural” treatments, including prescriptions for coconut oil.

Neurologists at the Toledo Clinic complained to the Board of Directors about Jenkins’ “incompetence, malfeasance, and misfeasance,” but the board still advised them to approve her treatments, court papers say.

The cognitive center mailed out letters in February 2016 abruptly announcing its closure, with no stated reason. Even then, the center never informed its patients about Jenkins’ lies or advised them to get another examination, the complaint says. But the center still doled out refunds to some patients, again without explanation.

The lawsuits asks for at least $1 million in compensation for each plaintiff.

The Toledo Clinic did not immediately return a request for comment. No criminal charges have been announced against Jenkins or her husband, who are both listed as defendants and also did not immediately return calls.

Full Article & Source:
Ohio clinic falsely diagnosed more than 50 patients with Alzheimer's disease, lawsuits say

Judge Repeatedly Dogged By Ethics Questions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An FBI investigation involving General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland isn't the first ethics controversy he has faced.

As the judge who started the General Sessions Drug Court, Casey Moreland has earned high praise for his work with addicts.

But, more than once, he's also found himself at the center of controversy, beginning in 2006 with a ticket-fixing scandal uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

At the time, we asked the judge,"If a police officer comes to you and says 'Judge, this ticket was given to a friend of mine," would you dismiss it?"

 "Have I dismissed it? Yes," Moreland admitted.

Among the tickets that he dismissed was one for then House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh.

Moreland said he decided to dismiss all the tickets on the docket with Naifeh that day because he just happened to be in a good mood.

We noted, "Sounds like what you're saying... instead of the justice system, it's the lottery system."

"That day, it probably was," the judge acknowledged.

Then, in 2009, Moreland received a private reprimand from the board that oversees Tennessee judges after our investigation caught him using court employees to work around his house.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates confronted Moreland with the information that one employee was at his house without taking leave from his court job.

 "He was on city time. He did not take that day off," we noted.

"Well, he should have," the judge answered.

We replied, "But you're the one supervising whether he does or not."

Moreland nodded, "I understand."

Five years later, Moreland was publicly reprimanded after he intervened in a domestic violence case at the request of his attorney friend Bryan Lewis.

In that case, he arranged to have Lewis's client, developer David Chase, released from jail -- despite a state law requiring a 12-hour hold.

Still, Moreland refused to admit any wrongdoing.

"I would never intentionally hurt anybody or do something that would hurt someone like that, especially, especially a woman."

The Nashville Scene reports that an anonymous ethics complaint has been filed against Judge Moreland and others over these latest allegations.

Because that complaint wasn't sent to us -- and because those complaints are not public -- we cannot independently confirm that information.

Still, Judge Moreland insisted to the Scene that he has not done anything improper.

Full Article & Source:
Judge Repeatedly Dogged By Ethics Questions

See Also:
Casey Moreland to take leave from bench

Judge dismissed tickets, fines for female friend

Metro General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland resigns as presiding judge

Ethics Complaint Levels Charges Against Two Judges, Lewis

Investigation underway into inmate/deputy relationship in judge’s court

FBI Investigates Nashville Judge's Relationships

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking questions about an embattled Davidson County judge, NewsChannel 5 has learned.

Their focus is on allegations of improper relationships and official actions involving longtime General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland.

FBI agents began conducting interviews after allegations emerged from a Metro police investigation into the death of Leigh Terry, a 34-year-old Nashville woman who friends say struggled with depression and alcohol.

Her body was found inside an apartment in the Stahlman Building across from the Metro Courthouse.
Police ruled her death a suicide.

Terry's death came just days after a trip to the Alabama coast with Moreland and defense attorney Bryan Lewis -- a pair whose relationship and vacations have raised ethical questions in the past.

Accompanying the two on this trip were Terry and two other women who, according to court records, had all been defendants assigned to Moreland's court at some point in the past.

According to the police investigative file, Lewis admitted paying for Terry's apartment in the Stahlman, as well as loaning her the gun she eventually used to kill herself.

He later admitted the relationship with Terry was more than just an attorney-client relationship.
"It would be classified a friend and a friend with benefits. Had I had sex with her on occasions? Yes," Lewis told a Metro detective in a tape-recorded interview.

Lewis said he first met Terry when he represented her on a 2013 DUI.

A former boyfriend, Roy Matlock, told police that Terry told him right after they met about a troubling encounter with Moreland.

"When I met her she basically gave me like all her dirty laundry," Matlock told police.

"She told me right then that she had sex with Casey Moreland in the chambers - and that's what kept her out of jail. And she said I feel nasty."

Police reports show another former boyfriend, Brian Pesterfield, also insisted Terry had told him "she got out of a DUI by sleeping with Judge Moreland."

In fact, court records show the 2013 DUI was originally assigned to Moreland.

But the final order, reducing that case to reckless driving and sentencing her to five days in jail, was signed by another judge.

Jail records show Terry never showed up to serve her sentence.

Still, court documents show that Moreland later terminated Terry's probation, effectively ending the case.

Also on the trip was Natalie Amos, who admits she was in a relationship with Judge Moreland.
She was reluctant to tell police who was on the trip.

"I know you don't want to mention somebody, but I just need to know who we are talking about," a Metro detective said to Amos in a recorded interview.

"Casey Moreland," Amos replied.

According to the police file, Terry had told Roy Matlock that "when Natalie Amos told her she owed high court fees, she would call Judge Moreland and have them waived."

Numerous witnesses said Terry began acting erratically during the trip, even threatening to expose Moreland and Lewis.

"She said, 'Ok, I hope you're ready.' And she's like 'I will ruin you.' She said 'I know things.' She's like 'you both know what I'm talking about,'" Amos told police.

Pesterfield recounted how "on the trip she yelled at Bryan Lewis and Casey Moreland that she was going to tell the media about the trips and the mistresses, how she slept with Casey Moreland to get out of a DUI."

Bryan Lewis's reaction to her threats:

"I took that as an idle threat from her, something that was made in the heat of the moment and, you know, that she wouldn't follow through with," Lewis told police.

And Moreland told police he also felt Terry "would calm down and come to her senses" once she got home.

A former boyfriend flew down to the Alabama coast and brought her back to Nashville.

Just days later, the troubled young woman took her own life.

Again, multiple sources say FBI agents have begun conducting interviews in conjunction with these allegations.

We don't know whether this is just a preliminary investigation -- or a full-fledged public corruption case.

Moreland's attorney Worrick Robinson said they will cooperate with any investigation and he looks forward to telling Moreland's side.

Full Article & Source:
FBI Investigates Nashville Judge's Relationships

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Steve Miller: Senator Schumer Asked To Reconsider His Appointment To Senate Special Committee On Aging

LAS VEGAS - Nevada families of elderly persons who were exploited by unscrupulous court appointed private guardians are sending emails to United States Senator Charles Schumer asking him to reconsider his appointment of newly elected Nevada U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Most of the emails contain complaints stating that Sen. Cortez-Masto, as Nevada Attorney General ignored numerous requests from wards of Nevada Family Courts or their family members asking the A.G. for assistance in ending exploitative guardianships.

"Based on Senator Cortez-Masto’s long history of not protecting seniors while acting as former Nevada Attorney General, I thought I should provide you with information pertaining to Senator Cortez-Masto’s previous record with respect to protecting the rights of senior citizens who reside in her state," declared the family of an exploited senior citizen.

Another email states; "Senator Cortez-Masto is not an appropriate person to serve on this committee due to her track record of protecting the people who are now under investigation for exploiting senior citizens and disabled persons who were under court appointed guardianships. The victim families who suffered this experience believe that Senator Cortez-Masto allowed abuse of the judicial process to run out of control on her watch."

Family members of persons under Nevada court appointed guardianship have long complained that guardian abuse causes billions of dollars in government waste because court appointed exploiters take the elderly’s life savings and then reduce their "wards" to receiving government aid during their final years when many persons under guardianship have adequate savings or assets to cover their housing and medical costs.

"The removed funds went into the pockets of guardians, their attorneys and other enablers who profited at the expense of an entire nation," stated Charles Pascal whose mother in law Marcy Dudeck allegedly lost $1.4 million dollars while she was under the guardianship of Nevada court appointed private guardian Jared E. Shafer.

Many families say they wrote to A.G. Cortez-Masto's office in Carson City seeking help to save their loved ones from financial, mental, emotional, and physical abuse suffered under the guardianship of Shafer, April Parks, Patience Bristol, and other professional and public guardians in Nevada.

Shafer and Parks are currently under investigation by state and federal law enforcement agencies. Bristol was recently released from the Nevada State Prison after being convicted of elder exploitation while she was employed by Shafer.

One letter to then-Nevada A.G. Cortez-Masto pleaded for help to free 90 year old World War Two hero Guadalupe Olvera from an abusive, financially exploitative, and unnecessary Shafer guardianship. The letter was answered by Cortez-Masto's office with a generic form letter referring Olvera's daughter to agencies she'd already reached out to without success.

Mr. Olvera's plea became the basis of a political TV ad aired throughout Nevada in opposition to Cortez-Masto's candidacy for U.S. Senate. It was later discovered that Jared Shafer was a close friend of Cortez-Masto's late father Manny Cortez who as a County Commissioner in 1976 appointed Shafer to his first job as the Clark County Public Guardian.

At the end of one email to Sen. Schumer, the author stated; "If Senator Cortez-Masto did not protect seniors while serving as Nevada’s Attorney General, she will not be able to serve as a productive member of the Special Committee On Aging. I respectfully request that Senator Cortez-Masto be removed from this committee."

The writer then refers Sen. Schumer to the following list of documents:

If you wish to comment on the appointment of Sen. Cortez-Masto to the Committee on Aging, Sen. Schumer's email address is:

~Steve Miller

Email Letter to Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt

From: Becky Olvera Schultz [mailto:]
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2017 12:16 PM
Subject: Lack of Professional Guardianship Prosecutions

Attorney General Adam Laxalt,

I’ve always been one of your strongest advocates. After the 2014 election, your office accomplished more than any agency in Nevada in dealing with guardian abuse.

Unfortunately, your progress has stalled. We have received reports regarding the cases your office is currently prosecuting in Northern Nevada. The prosecutions are against family members, not professional or public guardians, who have taken advantage of seniors. These prosecutions do not include any of the notorious guardians in Clark County. It appears there is a hunt for easy targets in Northern Nevada for family members who are using small amounts of their elder’s funds. If we compare these cases to the financial exploitation now occurring in Clark County, NV, by guardians including Jared E. Shafer, April Parks, Denise Comastro, their attorneys and family court judges, the conclusion appears to be the system will not tackle this problem.

This is an excellent start but these cases send a message reinforcing the professional guardian’s point of view which states only the “families” are causing this problem. The message has up to this point changed the focus from the problem guardians we are attempting to bring to justice back toward the families. Professional guardians have been using this message as a shield, which allows them to plunder estates. Professional guardian/former public guardian, Jared E. Shafer, made a statement illustrating this point at one of the guardian commission meetings in Las Vegas.

Your office has failed to go after professional guardians including Jared E. Shafer and April Parks. It appears the cases which have been presented as of this date are in the category of low hanging fruit. The perpetrators appear to be of the garden variety types who simply do not have the tools to fight back.

Charles Pascal, who had the unfortunate experience of having his mother-in-law, Marcy DuDeck, kidnapped through orders given by Jared E. Shafer, has relayed the nature of many conversations he had with this guardian. According to Pascal, Shafer told him that he along with other guardians bribed judges and attorneys and guaranteed that nothing would ever be done because there were large amounts of money involved. Pascal has told many of us that Shafer taunted him into filing complaints because he wanted to show Pascal that nothing would ever be done. And, after all these years of Pascal, myself and others filing complaints with every available agency, nothing has been done. Pascal has been giving this information to victims since 2010 and it appears what Shafer told him is sadly the ugly truth.

The Las Vegas Voice in their current February 2017 issue wrote a harsh article concerning the performance of your office along with that of District Attorney, Steve Wolfson. Many of your strongest supporters are beginning to believe the crack down on guardian abuse is turning into a dog and pony show. I’m having a very difficult time convincing victims this is not true and I am quickly losing faith. Sadly, I have to now agree with this article in that only the “low hanging fruit” is being picked and for what Shafer and Parks would consider “pocket change”.

The specific lack of inaction by your office concerns in particular, guardian April Parks. Judge Allf in Clark County family court recently ruled that Parks indeed took money under wrongful pretenses from Elizabeth Indig, a first from a judge from that Kangaroo Court. Unfortunately, your office along with D.A. Wolfson failed to follow through on the family court ruling.

Another victim, Kristina Berger, is suing Shafer and the trial is this April. She was the victim who had money stolen from her by Shafer’s employee, Patience Bristol, who was convicted. Bristol worked for Shafer and used his office, computer, phone, email, business cards and was under his supervision. The IRS would define Bristol as an employee, but Shafer has yet to suffer repercussions in this matter. Bristol will be released this November unless she is given parole this June 4th.

In the North’s case, we have an unqualified doctor and her employee being sued for submitting false documents to the court declaring both Norths to be incompetent when in fact both were competent. This doctor worked with April Parks to gain control of this couple. Since your office is infatuated with low hanging fruit, this is a ripe plum ready for the picking.

Inquiring minds want to know why April Parks has not been charged with a single crime when you have the North’s case and the Indig case with evidence of exploitation. It’s been over a year since April Park’s home, office and storage was raided, yet she remains a free woman out of state. Why has Shafer been allowed to crawl away into his home, close up his guardian office and live as a free man off my father’s money along with the huge sums of money he has bragged about taking from hundreds of victims since 1979?

We were told that indictments would occur by the election in November 2016, in particular the Jason Hanson case. Unfortunately nothing happened. Then we were told something would take place by the end of 2016. The year ended with no cases being filed. The North’s daughter, Julie Belshe, spoke with D.A. Wolfson recently and now the story is “the end of 2017”. Unfortunately, Mr. Shafer’s words about nothing being done, grows louder in our minds. This delay could go on indefinitely. Yet, a few non-professional family guardians are being prosecuted for “pocket change” for taking advantage of one person while Shafer and Parks exploited hundreds of victims to the tune of millions or possibly more?

Our patience is growing very thin waiting to see justice for all this professional guardian exploitation that has racked in millions, if not billions in the last nearly 30 years. This is money that is pumped into the Nevada economy so we all wonder if the real agenda is for officials to make sure this cash flow is not interrupted.

I will continue to support your office, however this task is becoming increasingly more difficult as each week goes by.

Becky Olvera Schultz
Daughter of Shafer victim, Guadalupe Olvera
Becky and Lupe
Marcy and Charlie

See Also:
NASGA: Lupe Olvera
NASGA: Marcy E. Dudeck

Steve Miller: Update on Patience Bristol

In an update to my earlier E-Brief, convicted elder exploiter Patience Bristol, a former employee of private guardian Jared E. Shafer, is still serving out her three to eight year prison term.

According to a source at the Casa Grande Transitional Housing facility in Las Vegas, the Nevada Parole Board refused to shorten her sentence, and if she is denied a requested early release on June 4, she will continue to serve out her time until November when her three minimum years of incarceration are scheduled to be completed.

The source states that she has a job during the day, but must spend each night at the transitional housing facility located at 3955 West Russell Road in Las Vegas. The correctional system reportedly takes half of her income for room and board. The source says that the half way house has people who check on Bristol during the day when she is at her workplace to make sure she's not doing anything she shouldn't.

In 2014, while employed at Shafer's Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc. (PFSN), she was convicted of stealing money from the elderly or disabled people she was tasked with caring for.

During her PFSN employment as a guardian, she stole at least $200,000 in money and property from four vulnerable people Shafer assigned her to care for. As part of her plea agreement, Bristol agreed to pay over $160,000 in restitution payments to her victims.

Jared Shafer
Jared Shafer was never charged with a crime though he is currently under state and federal investigation.

His business office once located on Pecos Road in Las Vegas has reportedly been closed for the past several months. Clark County Family Court judges who have been accused of colluding with Shafer by appointing him wealthy wards of the court are now reportedly appointing another private guardian, Denise Comastro, the bulk of persons purportedly deemed in need of guardianship.

Comastro has been accused of being a Shafer crony. ~ Steve Miller

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bill targets ‘license to steal’ from elderly, disabled adults

Dan Goerke, State Rep. Chuck Efstration & Vernon Keenan
The director of the GBI says a legal maneuver is being used as a “license to steal” from vulnerable Georgians, and he’s looking for passage of a bill in the state Legislature to change that.

“We want to stop the elderly and disabled adults having their assets stolen by family members and others who get that power of attorney,” Vernon Keenan said at the state Capitol on Tuesday. “When … they steal all the assets and they’re confronted by law enforcement, they pull out that power of attorney and wave it around like it’s their defense.”

A power of attorney is a document that someone signs to grant a trusted friend, family member or other agent to act on their behalf. Many people sign one for medical reasons, such as an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.

Keenan was speaking at a news conference on House Bill 221. If it passes, Keenan said, his office would train law enforcement and prosecutors to go after such fraud under the new law. State Rep. Chuck Efstration, author of the bill, filed a similar bill last year.

“I think an important aspect of the testimony we’ve heard is that there’s not a specific mention in the elder abuse statute for these types of crimes, and the danger is that law enforcement responding to reports of these offenses are in a position, or an argument is made, that this is a civil matter, (that) this isn’t a criminal matter,” Efstration said.

He said his bill makes it clear that abusing a power of attorney is a crime that should be investigated and prosecuted.

He also said the measure will make it clear that the agent — the person who has the power — must act in the best interest of the person who has signed over those powers.

Efstration said his bill would bring Georgia’s law into line with 21 other states that have enacted uniform power-of-attorney laws.

“That will provide for a form that users of this power of attorney can easily find in the law and utilize,” the Dacula Republican said.

Full Article & Source:
Bill targets ‘license to steal’ from elderly, disabled adults

Ex-deputy accused of exploiting elderly woman facing more charges

A former Sarasota County sheriff's deputy accused of exploiting and then trying to kill an elderly woman is facing more charges after he allegedly faked an email that got her committed for evaluation.

Frankie Eugene Bybee, 46, was charged Monday evening with fraud - impersonation: using/possessing ID of another person without consent and access to a computer/electronic device without authority.

During the investigation of Bybee's actions, detectives found an email containing suicidal implications was delivered to the 79-year-old victim’s primary care doctor from the victim’s email address as if it came from her, on Dec. 28. When medical staff received the email, they alerted law enforcement, who responded to the victim’s home and initiated an involuntary commitment for evaluation.

The victim later told detectives she never authored the email, and upon forensic analysis, detectives learned that the email originated from an IP address assigned to Bybee’s residence in Manatee County.

Detectives determined that Bybee wrote the email which ultimately led to the victim’s wrongful involuntary commitment to a treatment facility.

Bybee is already facing multiple charges including attempted murder, exploitation of the elderly, forgery, petty theft, two counts of grand theft, burglary of an occupied dwelling and battery on a victim 65 years or older.

He is accused of taking thousands of dollars from the victim, stealing her dog and trying to kill her by filling her house with carbon monoxide.

He is being held at the Sarasota County jail.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-deputy accused of exploiting elderly woman facing more charges

Senators Submit Senior Financial Protection Bill

A bill reintroduced in the Senate aims to make it easier for financial companies to report suspected financial exploitation of senior citizens.

Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., introduced the Senior Safe Act of 2017 to combat fraud such as lottery scams, IRS impersonation and exploitation by caretakers, according to a press release from Collins’s office.

The legislation is aimed at protecting financial institutions from legal liability tied to privacy laws when reporting suspected financial abuse of seniors, as long as the firms adequately train their employees, according to the press release.

The bill is based on a Maine program involving cooperation between financial institutions, legal organizations and regulators aimed at educating financial services employees to prevent the potential financial abuse of seniors, according to the press release. That program trained “hundreds” of financial services employees and resulted in more seniors getting help, Jaye Martin, director of Maine’s Legal Services for the Elderly, said at a Senate Aging Committee hearing last year, according to Collins’s press release.

Collins and McCaskill first introduced their bill in October 2015, around the time Finra and the North American Securities Administrators Association introduced similar measures. This summer, the House of Representatives approved the Senior Safe Act. And Finra requested the SEC’s approval in October for a proposal to require financial institutions to make reasonable efforts in finding the contact information for a trusted person on each account. Finra’s proposal would also let firms put temporary holds on suspicious disbursements and alert the trusted person on those accounts.

Full Article & Source:
Senators Submit Senior Financial Protection Bill

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Casey Moreland to take leave from bench

Judge Casey Moreland
A Nashville judge facing allegations that an improper relationship influenced a case in his courtroom will be off the bench for a period of time, court officials said Friday.

Judge Casey Moreland, one of Nashville’s 11 General Sessions judges handling mostly misdemeanor cases, is on leave for medical reasons, according to General Sessions Court Administrator Warner Hassell.

"I know Judge Moreland may be out for a little bit for medical reasons," he said. "And how long that may be I don't know. But his docket will be covered by a qualified judge."

Hassell said the General Sessions judges, who each earn $170,000 annually, held a special meeting Friday and unanimously selected Judge Gale Robinson to replace Moreland as presiding judge. 

Robinson, who called the meeting, did not return a call Friday.

Moreland had served as presiding judge since last fall, and has been a judge since 1998. The presiding judge earns the same as other judges but takes on administrative duties such as setting schedules.

Earlier this week, Moreland's health was a concern. About 9 a.m. Thursday, a court staffer and a police officer went to his home to conduct a welfare check, police spokeswoman Kris Mumford said. She said the officer talked to the judge and left.

The allegations of misconduct against Moreland are documented in a Metro Nashville Police Department investigation of a woman’s suicide, and were the subject of several stories in the Nashville Scene and on WSMV Channel 4 news.

The Tennessean has been working for weeks to verify the allegations in the reports.

Nashville resident Leigh Terry, 34, committed suicide in May. Before she died, Terry told two friends she had sex with Moreland, according to a police report based on interviews with the friends. She told one friend she had sex with the judge to get out of a driving under the influence charge, the report said. The interviews documented in the police report are not done under oath.

Terry had at least one DUI and implied consent violation — meaning she refused to take a breath or blood test — case assigned to Moreland, but the trial in the case was handled by another Nashville judge, court records show.

The case happened in 2013, years before Terry, Moreland, lawyer Bryan Lewis and others went on a tumultuous trip to Alabama together.

In late April 2016, Lewis flew Terry and others in his private plane to the beach. Moreland met them there. On the trip and at dinner, Terry was picking fights with people, Lewis told police, so he booked her a hotel room and gave her money for a flight home. A week later, police reports say, the woman killed herself in her apartment with a gun Lewis had given her.

In interviews with police investigating Terry’s death, Lewis admitted he and Terry had been in a sexual relationship and he paid for the downtown apartment where the woman lived.

Moreland told the Nashville Scene he had met Terry a few times and recused himself from her DUI case. In comments to the Scene, the judge denied having a sexual relationship with Terry and said his stamp on case dispositions was merely an administrative measure.

But a judicial conduct expert consulted by The Tennessean for this story said the recusal raises questions.

“If he’s just saying he ran into the woman once or twice, I’m not sure why he recused himself,” said David Cook, a Memphis lawyer and former member of the state judicial oversight body now known as the Board of Judicial Conduct.

Terry was represented by Lewis in the DUI case. Cook said the judge’s relationship with Lewis, as well as Terry, could violate rules for judges in Tennessee.

Moreland did not respond to text messages, phone calls or an email seeking comment this week. Lewis said he could not comment for this story.

Lewis and the longtime General Sessions judge have a history, one that has led to controversy before.

Later this month, Lewis will go before the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which disciplines lawyers, for a hearing on a complaint that involves Moreland.

A complaint was filed because of a call Lewis made to Moreland, which led to a prominent developer getting out of jail early after his arrest on domestic violence charges. The developer, David Chase, was charged with assaulting his former girlfriend a second time, after he was released. Those charges were later dropped in a controversial deal made by District Attorney General Glenn Funk.

Lewis’ disciplinary hearing is set to begin Feb. 13, after which members of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility will decide what if any penalties he should face.

Full Article & Source:
Casey Moreland to take leave from bench

Judge dismissed tickets, fines for female friend

WSMV Channel 4

Court documents indicate that Davidson County General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland appears to have helped a woman he knew avoid paying traffic fines and court fees.

Text messages provided by the woman, Natalie Amos, corroborate what the Channel 4 I-Team found in the court papers. The messages also indicate Moreland and Amos “sexted” each other and met privately at her apartment.

Court records show that Moreland arranged to have $1,200 in court fines wiped from Amos’ debt, without following the normal procedures.

Moreland declared Amos indigent, unable to pay, even though she was working and willing to work out payments.

"I just really thought I was going to get an extension, and it just went away," Amos told the I-Team.

Amos said she had met Moreland at a downtown restaurant. The introduction was made by her friend Leigh Terry – the same woman whose suicide in May 2016 was investigated by Metro police. Terry had been on a trip with Judge Moreland and attorney Bryan Lewis in the days before her death.

The court's computer shows Amos' fines were waived July 14, 2015. That same day, Amos received a text she said was from the judge.

"Your fees; fines and court cost are taken care of! You now officially owe me !! Haha,” the text read.

Amos said there was no quid-pro-quo and that no sexual favors were exchanged for taking care of the fines and court costs, but she said their relationship later became sexual.

"But you became lovers, eventually?" I-Team reporter Nancy Amons asked.

"Eventually we did, yes, about a year later,” Amos said.

Three months after the court fines disappeared, on Nov. 24, 2015, Amos texted Moreland about problems she was having getting her license back. She owed money to the Tennessee Department of Safety over traffic tickets.

Moreland texted her, "I may can help in Davidson County.” He then reminded her to send a picture, which she did.

The two exchanged suggestive comments; Moreland texting, "So you want me to give you a little attention?" He also mentioned a "mid-day quick and dirty tuck," a reference to an earlier conversation concerning her tucking him in.

The I-Team tracked what happened to two of Amos’ traffic tickets mentioned in the text conversation.

Documents at the Traffic Clerk's office show that on Nov. 4, 2016, Moreland wrote two letters, one for each ticket, directing the clerk to “pull the ticket” and place the citations on a traffic docket coming up in four days. He directed the clerk not to subpoena the officer. When the cases went to court, one ticket was retired, with no fines due; the second ticket shows that the fine was paid, which surprised Amos.

Amos texted the judge the following week following up about the tickets, telling Moreland, “Thanks so much for your help... much appreciated!”

Moreland texted back, "They are gone !! Hahaha."

Amos texted back, "I know that crazy!"

Moreland’s text then proposed they meet the next day at her apartment.

“What you doing tomorrow between 3:30 and 5:30???" Amos texted.

"Just be horny and naked !!", Moreland’s text said.

The next texts are sexually explicit.

On Nov. 16, the next day, Moreland texted that he was on the way to her apartment and asks for specific instructions about how to get in.

"Want me to come around the back !" Moreland’s text said.

The I-Team has been asking Judge Moreland for an interview concerning his texts with Amos. So far, he has declined.

Click the links to read parts one and two of this investigation.

Full Article & Source:
Judge dismissed tickets, fines for female friend

Senior Living Center closing leaves elderly with no place to go

SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane senior living center is being forced to shut down. The owner is no longer able to afford to keep it running and many of the senior citizens who live  there are now left without a place to go.

May 1 is the last day the doors will be open is at South Hill Senior Living in the Cooper George building.

72-year-old James Kelty has been staying at South Hill Senior Living for the past five years. He came here after his best friend passed away.

“His children talked me into assisted living because I'm so forgetful and I forget that I'm cooking I may burn the house down,” Kelty said.

Kelty said the low cost apartment building feels like home;a place where friends feel more like family.

But, Executive Director Leane Austin says the owner can not afford to keep the building open since Medicaid payments and reimbursements are so low.

“Medicaid reimbursement rates have been flat for about 10 years, so they have not kept up with inflation and cost of care,” said Austin.

Of the 67 seniors living at the center, 63 are on Medicaid.

"So because of that, we have not been able to stay open,' Austin said.

Leaving seniors, like Kelty, with no place to go.

“Devastated. I expected to die here and I have no idea where I'm going. The fear level is very high for all of us. The thing that bothers me the most is I've formed friendships,” Kelty said.

“I just feel like geez whiz I thought I was going to stay here you know. We are family and close. It's hard  to know everyone’s  going different places. We ill miss everybody. Whatever God plans, I can go along with that,” said 76-year-old Marilyn Gray.

The staff is worried about where they will work next. Austin says local senior centers have offered to take in some residents and give staff jobs, but nothing is 100% certain yet.

“As far as myself, I'm not sure what I'm going to do.We all need to stand up. We all need to support our seniors,” Austin said.

Full Article & Source:
Senior Living Center closing leaves elderly with no place to go

Monday, February 6, 2017

Metro General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland resigns as presiding judge

WSMV Channel 4

Metro General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland has resigned his position as presiding judge.

Moreland will remain a judge, but is stepping aside from other administrative functions, such as setting dockets and budgets for the general sessions judges.

Friday morning, Judge Gale Robinson was elected to fill the position of presiding judge for the remainder of Moreland’s one-year term. Robinson said Moreland resigned as presiding judge for medical reasons.

The announcement comes after three days of Channel 4 I-Team stories about Moreland, including allegations that surfaced during a police investigation into a woman’s suicide in 2016. The woman had recently returned from a trip that included Moreland and attorney Bryan Lewis.

Metro police interviewed several witnesses who said the woman who committed suicide had threatened to expose what she said she knew about Moreland and Lewis.

Moreland and Lewis have declined to comment.

The I-Team also discovered that Moreland appears to have acted on behalf of another woman on the trip to dismiss her tickets and fines. The woman shared text messages she says came from Moreland that are graphic.

The newest developments air tonight on Channel 4 News at 6:00 as the I-Team's investigation continues.

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Metro General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland resigns as presiding judge

Ethics Complaint Levels Charges Against Two Judges, Lewis

DA Glenn Funk also named in filing to Board of Professional Review and Board of Judicial Conduct
Lewis & Moreland vacationing in Costa Rica in 2013

Following a Scene story on Tuesday, a complaint was filed today with both the Board of Professional Responsibility and the Board of Judicial Conduct against attorney Bryan Lewis and Judge Casey Moreland alleging “violations of the rules governing attorneys and judges.” These boards regulate the conduct of attorneys and judges, respectively.

The filing was made anonymously “due to concerns regarding retaliation.” A copy of the complaint was simultaneously sent to both the Scene and WSMV-Channel 4 from an anonymous email account. Attempts to reach the person who filed the complaint were unsuccessful.

The Scene story, which detailed the suicide of Leigh Terry following a trip to Alabama with Moreland, Lewis and others, included allegations, contained in a Metro police report, that Moreland had sex with Terry, who is a client of Lewis', in exchange for the dismissal of her DUI charges. When asked if he had ever had sex with Terry, Moreland told the Scene, “I fully reject and deny any personal relationship with Leigh Terry whatsoever.”

Lewis would later describe his relationship with Terry as a “friend with benefits,” and he paid for an apartment for her.

Additionally, the complaint filed with the two boards alleges misconduct about Judge Michael Binkley, a circuit court judge in Williamson County, and Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk. According to the complaint, Binkley was arrested “during a prostitution sting on Dickerson Road in 2010.” According to the complaint, the charges against Binkley “were dismissed and expunged by Judge Casey Moreland on the very same day in a highly unusual manner, both in timing and procedure. Since that time, Attorney Lewis has boasted to a number of individuals that Judge Binkley ‘owes’ Attorney Lewis and Judge Moreland for ‘fixing’ the prostitution charges against Judge Binkley.” The Scene could not independently verify the truth of the allegations contained in the complaint filed with the two boards.

The Scene left messages with Binkley’s office requesting a response. WSMV reached Binkley, who responded with “no comment.” Funk's office declined to comment on the complaint.

Lewis is already scheduled for a three-day hearing before the Board of Professional Responsibility, beginning Feb. 13, on charges that he improperly sought and received Moreland's assistance in gaining the early release of developer David Chase from a mandatory 12-hour hold. Chase had been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. The original complaint against Lewis, which led to this hearing, charges that he attempted to influence a judge by improper means, had an ex parte contact with the judge, and assisted the judge in the violation of the code of judicial conduct. That complaint also notes that Moreland was publicly reprimanded for his actions in releasing Chase before the mandatory 12-hour hold.

Ironically, Chase is suing ex-girlfriend Lauren Bull and others for defamation in a case which is pending in Binkley’s Williamson County courtroom.

Full Article & Source:
Ethics Complaint Levels Charges Against Two Judges, Lewis

See Also:
Questions Surround Trip Taken by Judge, Lawyers, Women 

Judge, attorney face questions about woman's suicide

Tennessee State Senator Wants Judicial Discipline Panel to Investigate Nashville Judges

Investigation underway into inmate/deputy relationship in judge’s court

WSMV Channel 4

A Davidson County Sheriff’s Department investigation into a former deputy and inmate in Judge Casey Moreland’s court is raising questions about how much the judge knew about their relationship.

Moreland confirmed to the Channel 4 I-Team by phone that he saw some sort of sexual photograph of the two but did not contact police or the sheriff’s department.

A relationship between an inmate and a deputy is prohibited by the sheriff’s department, and if such a relationship is proven to have been sexual, it can lead to criminal charges.

Federal law reads that an inmate cannot consent to a sexual relationship with an authority figure, such as a deputy.

The inmate, Desiree Moss, is the first to admit that her relationship with Lucas Frawley raises eyebrows.

“We understand that our relationship is weird. We understand that it came out weird. But it is what it is," Moss said.

While Moss was in and out of Moreland’s court on drug charges, Frawley was the deputy who was specifically assigned to escort inmates in that courtroom.

"He (Frawley) took me to jail three or four times,” Moss said.

Moss was last in the Davidson County Jail on Nov. 21.

On Jan. 9, Frawley resigned from the sheriff’s office. Two weeks later, Frawley posted on social media that he and Moss were engaged.

At some point, a picture was posted online of the two reading, “Free and clear, and it feels so good.”

“Don’t you see that it looks a little questionable?” asked chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley.

“I understand that it looks questionable,” Frawley said.

The I-Team also showed them what we had obtained: Facebook and text messages that Frawley and Moss admit they sent to two different people.

Moss wrote, “All that matters is that he is out and didn’t get charged.”

Frawley texted, “It’s all good. Got swept under the rug.”

"You say, ‘It's all good, got swept under the rug,’” Finley said.

"So that was my attempt with playing with the people who run that site,” Frawley answered.

The site Frawley is referring to is a blog criticizing the sheriff’s department.

The intention of the Facebook message and the text, both Frawley and Moss said, was to see if they would show up on the blog.

“Why send out that misinformation?” Finley asked.

"I thought it was pretty amusing,” Frawley said.

Frawley quickly learned that people in the courthouse weren’t amused.

Frawley said Judge Moreland was told about the rumors of their relationship.

"He (Moreland) basically came to me and told me about the rumors. And that was the extent of the conversation," Frawley said.

The sheriff’s department confirms they started their investigation into the relationship based on a tip by someone else, and a Metro Police Department spokeswoman said they have no investigation into Frawley.

Despite repeated requests by the I-Team, including one in court, Moreland had denied to answer our questions on camera.

But Moreland did tell the I-Team that he wasn’t just told about the rumors, but was shown a sexual photograph of Moss and Frawley.

Moreland said he told Frawley to resign, and when asked why he didn’t go to police, Moreland said he assumed Frawley would tell the sheriff’s department.

"The judge told you that you needed to resign. Is that true?” Finley asked Frawley.

"No,” Frawley said. “Casey Moreland is a good guy. I don't want to speak out against him. I would never. He's a great individual.”

And Frawley and Moss said there was nothing for Moreland to report. They said they had no relationship while they were in his court.

"Not while I was in custody. Not while I was in drug court,” Moss said.

Moss and Frawley did confirm they had a sexual fling before she was arrested and that they got engaged two weeks after he resigned, but claim that they have no romantic relationship in between.

"Doesn't that seem to be questionable timing?" Finley asked.

"You can call it strange all you want. But that's what it is," Frawley said.

The I-Team checked to see if a judge is required to report even an indication of a crime in his court, and all the state statute reads is that a judge must report a fellow attorney or judge if some kind of misconduct has occurred.

But the law also reads, “A judge shall require court staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge’s direction and control to act in a manner consistent with the judge’s obligations.”

Metro police confirm they did run a welfare check on the judge Thursday.

Eyewitnesses in court tell Channel 4 that Judge Casey Moreland was in his chambers early but rushed out, accompanied by a court officer.

His absence follows a series of Channel 4 I-Team investigations that began airing Tuesday. Click here to read more.

At around 9 a.m. Thursday, a Metro police spokeswoman confirmed that police received a call from someone concerned about Moreland’s welfare and they went to his home and found him fine.

Judge Gail Robinson confirms Moreland called him Wednesday to ask him to fill in for him Thursday.

It is unclear why the Judge was in his chambers early on a day that he asked a judge to fill in from him.

Full Article & Source:
Investigation underway into inmate/deputy relationship in judge’s court

Sunday, February 5, 2017

5 elderly siblings living together again at same nursing center

More than seven decades after growing up together, the five surviving siblings of their family's 11 children are living together again under one extended roof.

They all are residents of the same nursing facility in Peabody, Massachusetts.

“We all have different health problems and medical appointments now, but we do always check on one another,” said Mary Cena, 92, who was the first of her siblings to get married and leave the family home, back in 1946.

Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center for Living
From left, siblings Carmen Wesala, 98, Lawrence Mallia, 90, Mary Cena, 92, Georgia Southwick, 93, and Lucy O'Brien, 85, all live at the same Massachusetts care center.
“We were very good to one another growing up and that still rings very true today. That’s how we were able to all be together again.”

Cena, a widow, moved into the Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center for Living in 2013 to be closer to her 98-year-old sister, Carmen Wesala, who had moved into the facility the previous year. Sister Georgia Southwick, 93, arrived two years later, followed by another sister, Lucy O’Brien, 85. Finally, last November, the group was joined by their 90-year-old brother, Larry Mallia.

“We are all just so happy to be together again. I just wish my other brothers and sisters could have experienced this with us,” Cena said.

Courtesy of Janice Regis
Mary Cena with her sister, Georgia Southwick.
Among the five siblings at Brudnick, four worked in a local grocery store the family owned until 1978. But all 11 children were very close and everyone grew up either living in Peabody, Massachusetts, or in nearby towns, always making time to get together for picnics and other events with their burgeoning families.

“The 11 of us always got along. There was a lot of love in our family and you can see so much proof of that today,” Cena said.

Before moving to the center, the siblings would get together for a weekly bridge card game. They also enjoyed putting on yard sales during the summer.

These days, with five of them again under the same roof, it's easier for their combined families to spend holidays together.

“It’s wonderful, because I go up and I can easily check in on all of them at once,” said Janice Regis, Southwick’s daughter. “If there’s ever a rare chance that I end up going away somewhere, it’s so reassuring to know they have each other. They still enjoy each other’s company, for sure.”

Courtesy of Janice Regis
Carmen and her late husband, along with her sisters Georgia, Mary, and Lucy, with their late brother, Sam, at a niece's wedding.
Wanda Carratu, the nurse who manages resident care at the facility, said four of the five siblings have dinner every night because they’re in the same annex. But those four always visit the other sibling — or vice versa — nearly every day.

“There are a lot of times when they’re together just sitting around the table talking to each other, or with visiting family members,” she said. “They all look after each other. And they know when someone may not be feeling well that day, or whatever may be happening. They sense that.”

Betsy Mullen, chief operating officer for Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, which owns the Brudnick Center, said she’s never seen such a circumstance in more than 35 years in the business.

“I’ve had sisters together. I’ve had brothers, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters. This is so unusual,” she said. “I’ve never seen the likes of it.”

Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center for Living
"We were very good to one another growing up and that still rings very true today," Mary Cena said of her siblings. Cena encouraged anyone hearing about her family’s story to appreciate their loved ones, especially if they have siblings.

“I can’t understand how brothers and sisters can go through life without speaking to each other. Each of us has to accept the others’ differences because it makes us who we are," she said.

“When you’re old and you think of the best time of your life, you think of those times when you were surrounded by family and friends. Those were the best times of my life. I couldn’t ask for anything better in the end.”

Full Article & Source:
5 elderly siblings living together again at same nursing center

Attorney handles local cases of elder abuse

Rebekah Garcia is a Legal Aid of North Carolina attorney who handles local elder abuse cases.

WILMINGTON -- A lot of grandparents are receiving distress calls from grandchildren who need money to get out of a scrape with the law. Those calls are a scam.

Monetary scams are just one of the many ways the elderly are taken advantage of. Today’s seniors are also subject to other forms of financial exploitation, physical and emotional abuse, and neglect.

Fortunately, through a grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission, Legal Aid of North Carolina now offers legal assistance to area’s elderly, those 60 or older, who are being abused.

“Elder abuse is more prevalent than we think,” said Rebekah Garcia, the Legal Aid of North Carolina attorney who handles local elder abuse cases.

Nationally, 1 in 44 cases of financial and physical elder abuse go unreported, Garcia said; and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that seniors lose between $2.9 billion and $3.65 billion each year due to fraud.

Given the national statistics, it’s not surprising that most of the cases that Garcia handles deal with financial abuse. They can range from scams such as the grandparent scam mentioned above to a landlord adding fees to a senior’s rent.

Often the problem stems from an individual who has power of attorney withholding the senior’s money or using it improperly, Garcia reports.

Though Garcia does get physical and emotional senior abuse cases, they are fewer in number and more difficult to solve, she says. Seniors may be reluctant to report physical or emotional abuse because they are afraid to lose the support of their caregiver. Also, seniors may not realize they are victims of abuse.

“Elder abuse is not always a punch,” Garcia says. “It can be neglect, emotionally belittling a senior, or the slow siphoning of a senior’s money.”

To ensure seniors can identify abuse, Garcia has joined forces with the Cape Fear Elder Abuse Network to inform seniors of the different types of abuse, their rights as victims, and where they can get help.

Fortunately, that help is only a phone call away. Abused seniors can call the state's Senior Legal Helpline, 910-763-6207 or 877-579-7562, where a screener will either refer them to a more appropriate agency for their issue or to a helpline attorney.

Often, the helpline attorney can solve the problem. For example, many seniors want to know their rights so they can negotiate with the offending party themselves. Or, seniors want to learn how stop harassment or prevent someone from having accessing to their money. Then they follow up on their own.

For cases that require an attorney to become personally involved, the senior is referred to the local office. For Cape Fear seniors, that’s Garcia.

Though Garcia tries to settle senior abuse cases outside of court, some go into litigation. Also, if it’s clear a senior is being physically abused, she will file protective orders.

Because most seniors live on a fixed income and qualify for Social Security or disability benefits, they usually qualify for free Legal Aid services, Garcia said.

Full Article & Source:
Attorney handles local cases of elder abuse

Autism Documentary To Premiere On A&E

Roger Ross Williams’ feature-length documentary “Life, Animated,” will have its television premiere at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on the A&E Network.

“We are thrilled,” Williams announced on the film’s Facebook page. “What a wonderful way to start 2017!”

The documentary about a boy with autism who finds a way to communicate through Disney characters has been short-listed for this year’s Academy Award nominations. Williams won an Oscar for his 2010 short documentary “Music By Prudence.”

Williams premiered “Life, Animated” at the Sundance Film Festival where he won the directing award for a documentary. Williams also had his first full-length documentary “God Loves Uganda” shortlisted for a 2013 Oscar but it didn’t make the final five nominations.

“Life, Animated” is one of 15 films chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 145 submitted in the documentary feature category to advance in voting for the 89th Academy Awards. The Academy’s Documentary Branch members will select the five nominees from among the 15 titles. Nominations will be announced on Jan. 24.

Williams was inspired to shoot his new film after reading “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind about his son. The book tells the story of Owen, who stopped speaking at age 3 and was diagnosed with autism. Owen eventually reconnected with the world though his love of Disney animated films. The film, which combines live footage and animation, opened in July after making the rounds of film festival where it racked up 11 awards and 12 nominations.

Williams says he knew Ron Suskind for 15 years, from when they both worked on the television show “Nightline” and met Owen as a child. When he read the book published in 2014, Williams and his producer Julie Goldman immediately optioned the documentary rights.

In the New York Times best-selling book, Suskind, who lives in Massachusetts, tells how Owen was a seemingly normal toddler who suddenly went silent and for years couldn’t connect or communicate his thoughts or feelings. Over the years, Owen repeatedly watched classic Disney animated films such as “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King” and his parents discovered that they could communicate with him using Disney dialogue and song.

In “Life, Animated,” Williams weaves classic Disney clips with scenes from Owen’s life to explore how his identification with Disney characters such as Simba, Jafar and Ariel gave him a way to understand his feelings and to interpret reality.

Williams says what connects this film with his past films is that all are about outsiders. “Music By Prudence, tells the story of a musician with a disability who formed a successful Afro-fusion band called Liyana in Zimbabwe. In “God Loves Uganda,” he explores connections between evangelical missionaries and discrimination against homosexuals in Uganda.

“I’m definitely drawn to stories about outsiders,” he says. “Feeling like that myself as a gay black man, I often seek to give a voice to those in the world who don’t have one.”

The 89th Oscars will be televised live Feb. 26 on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Full Article & Source:
Autism Documentary To Premiere On A&E