Saturday, April 1, 2017

Guardianship abuse defendant faces judge

Published on Mar 29, 2017
According to prosecutors, Mark Simmons acted as private, professional guardian April Parks' right-hand man.


CONTACT 13: Guardianship abuse defendant faces judge

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - The No. 2 defendant in the state's largest-ever case of elderly exploitation is now behind bars in Las Vegas.
According to prosecutors, Mark Simmons acted as private, professional guardian April Parks' right-hand man.
A former employee describes Simmons as the "Air Traffic Controller" in Parks's guardianship office that was allegedly run as a criminal syndicate. Parks is charged with more than 200 felony counts while Simmons faces more than 100 counts including racketeering and perjury. 

The man who pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars when he supposed to protect the elderly told a judge Wednesday he couldn't afford an attorney.  
According to court documents, Parks and Simmons told people Simmons was qualified to evaluate the elderly to determine if they suffered from dementia or Alzheimer's. But investigators say he was not a qualified social worker or medical professional.  
Despite that, they found several cases where the so-called mental evaluation by Simmons "was used as the sole evidence, or as supporting evidence, to the court for determination if an elderly person needed guardianship." 
Court records also show evidence of Simmons hand-calculating how many hours of service to bill a client to "zero out her last remaining dollars."
Simmons will be arraigned next week after the Public Defender's Office considers whether to appoint him an attorney.
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Wrongful death suits filed against Eureka nursing homes

Editor’s note: This article contains graphic descriptions that some readers may find disturbing.

A Eureka law firm has filed two wrongful death complaints against two Eureka nursing homes alleging that neglect and a lack of nursing staff led to the deaths of two patients in 2016.

Janssen Malloy LLP attorney W. Timothy Needham is representing the families of the two deceased patients Ralph Sorensen and Randy Kruger. He said both men died after developing severe pressure ulcers that became infected while they were patients at the Eureka and Seaview rehabilitation and wellness centers.

“Although our investigation is not yet complete, it appears to us from our investigation to date that these facilities are being consciously understaffed,” Needham said.

Needham said pressure ulcers are entirely avoidable and can form when patients are not moved regularly by nursing stuff. Wheelchair- or bed-bound patients can have circulation cut at pressure points if they are not moved, causing underlying tissue to become damaged and form an ulcer.

The two nursing homes as well as their owning company Brius Healthcare Services, their administrative company Rockport Healthcare Services and Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz have been named as defendants in the complaints. Attempts to contact Rockport and Brius as well as their representing attorney James Yee were not returned Wednesday.

The lawsuits come after Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center was fined $160,000 by the state last month for patient care and staffing violations in 2016, which are currently being appealed by the nursing home.

The latest lawsuit filed March 10 alleges that the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center failed to check on Kruger’s skin.

According to the complaint, Kruger was admitted to the nursing home in July 2015 after being treated for a neurological condition at hospitals in Eureka and San Francisco two months earlier.

Needham states in his complaint that the nursing home became aware that Kruger had developed ulcers on his tailbone in August 2016. By November, the ulcer had dramatically worsened.

“You have to realize what (the facilities) have literally done is they’ve allowed this person to rot to the point that they’ve got a hole in their back so large you can put your fist in it all the way to their backbone,” Needham said Wednesday.

Complaining of chest pain, fever and pain to his tailbone, Kruger was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka where he died of bone infection and pneumonia on Nov. 9, 2016. He was 64.

About eight months earlier, the 76-year-old Sorensen died at the same hospital from an infected ulcer on his tailbone, according to the complaint.

Sorensen was admitted to Seaview Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Humboldt Hill in November 2015 after being treated for an aortic valve replacement, according to the complaint. He did not have an ulcer when he was admitted, the complaint states, but was known to be at risk for ulcer formation in his resident care plan.

In December 2015, a nursing assistant noticed a pressure ulcer on Sorensen’s right buttock, “but neither Mr. Sorensen’s family nor his physician was told about the ulcer,” the complaint states.

Another nurse noticed the ulcer three days later but did not document the wound or inform Sorensen’s family or physician, the complaint alleges. Sorensen then began running a fever of up to 102 degrees and was found to have an abscess on his hip bone, which was later determined to be the ulcer at St. Joseph Hospital.

The complaint alleges that Seaview did not have the required nursing staff under state law to ensure Sorensen received the care identified in his care plan.

“During his stay at Seaview, Ralph Sorensen never once received a shower or a bath,” the complaint alleges. “Nor was his weight monitored regularly, his nutrition intake was not recorded, and regular assessments of Ralph Sorensen’s skin were not made as required of his care plan.”

Needham said the California Department of Public Health issued two state enforcement actions against Seaview in August 2016 for failing to report Sorensen’s health status changes and failing to provide treatment for or prevent a pressure sore from forming. The facility was fined $40,000 for these violations, but the nursing home has appealed the fines, according to the department website.

According to the Medicare nursing home comparison website, Seaview nursing staff provide an average of 18 minutes of time per resident each day compared to the state average of one hour and 57 minutes. Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center has one hour and 29 minutes of nursing care time per patient per day.

This does not include certified nursing assistant time that patients receive, which is two hours or more at the two facilities, according to the Medicare website.

Brius is based in Los Angeles and has acquired more than 80 nursing homes throughout the state since 2006. The company acquired five nursing homes in Humboldt County — Eureka, Seaview, Fortuna, Granada and Pacific rehabilitation and wellness centers — from Skilled Healthcare Group in 2011.

Needham said these staffing issues are not isolated incidents, but are pervasive to Brius Healthcare Services’ nursing homes.

Last year, the Department of Public Health denied Brius Healthcare’s applications to acquire five nursing homes because of the company’s history of health care violations. Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris issued an emergency motion to block Brius from acquiring 19 nursing homes in 2014, referring to the company as a “serial violator” of state health care laws.

Brius Healthcare sought to close three of its Humboldt County nursing homes last year due to nursing staff recruitment issues. The closure would have resulted in more than 100 patients having to be transferred out of the county, prompting an outcry from local officials and the community. Brius announced last year that it would only be closing Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Eureka, which occurred in January.

Full Article & Source:
Wrongful death suits filed against Eureka nursing homes

Friday, March 31, 2017

Judge Casey Moreland arrested on federal charges, in custody

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Davidson County Judge Casey Moreland was arrested and formally charged Tuesday morning by federal authorities in an ongoing investigation into his conduct.

While cuffed at the arms and legs, Moreland appeared in front of a federal magistrate for an arraignment on charges of obstruction of criminal investigations, tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant and retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant in Nashville.

During his initial appearance, the Davidson County judge replied “Yes, sir” when asked if he understood the obstruction of justice charges against him and the potential penalties.

Moreland, whose hands and feet were both cuffed Tuesday, will remain in federal custody at a Grayson County, Kentucky, jail pending another hearing on Friday.

News 2 spoke with his attorney, Peter Strianse, late Tuesday afternoon who said, “He is obviously in a bit of a state of shock. You know he certainly did not expect to be awoken by the FBI at 6 o’clock this morning with a search warrant. So I think he is still reeling a bit from all of that.”

He added, “He is like any person. He did not expect to be here today. He certainly understood that he was under investigation, but he thought that investigation would be like a lot of investigations – they would look at it and look at it and made a determination if they have enough to charge somebody.
This was really an abrupt way to start the day.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating Moreland and others on January 25 after allegations they violated federal anti-corruption statutes by soliciting, accepting and extorting things of value including sexual favors, from people he had close relationships with in return for performing official acts that benefited those people and their associates.

Moreland reportedly became aware of the investigation in early February when FBI agents attempted to interview him.

Federal documents also allege that earlier this month, Moreland took steps to “obstruct and interfere with the federal investigation” by attempting to pay a woman to recant her prior statements about him.  (Click to Continue)

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Judge Casey Moreland arrested on federal charges, in custody

Hidden camera captures nursing aides allegedly abusing grandmother

SHARON, Mass. - A hidden camera captured a 93-year-old great-grandmother being tossed around and her hair pulled in a Sharon nursing home and rehab last week.

The video, set up by her family in her room at Wingate at Sharon, shows two women toss the elderly resident into her wheelchair. The resident, whose family, has identified her only as Dorothy, then struggles to maintain her balance.
“Get the hell away from me,” Dorothy says. “You think you’re pretty smart,” as one aide shows Dorothy her fist. Seconds later, the other aide grabs her hair from behind and yanks her head around.

The video from March 5 begins with Dorothy, who has dementia, swearing at and exchanging swipes with the pair. She threatens to break one certified nursing assistant (CNA)’s nose and says she will call police. Her granddaughter Kristen says Dorothy was defending herself.

“She can’t really hurt you. She’s 98 pounds. They were picking her up and whipping her around,” Kristen said. “It’s awful. We haven’t even slept nights with the images in our head of what was taken place, and we weren’t there to help her.”

Sharon police investigating the case filed a court summons for Domingas Teixeira, 61, and Leonide Jean Paul Bien-Aime, 49, both of Brockton, on charges of assault and battery on a person over 60.

Teixeira denied physically assaulting Dorothy but declined to comment further without an attorney.

FOX25 tried to reach Bien-Aime at home but could not make contact with her.

Wingate confirmed to FOX25 both aides had been fired. The company sent the following statement to FOX25.

“Upon hearing this deeply upsetting news, we moved swiftly to terminate the two employees involved, conduct a full investigation and work with the authorities.  We have brought in a counselor to support the resident and family and are re-educating all of our staff on appropriate and compassionate patient care. We are confident that this is an isolated incident, because we know our dedicated staff members who work hard every day to ensure the safety and dignity of the residents for whom they care. Nonetheless, it is heartbreaking.”

A spokesperson for Wingate also provided a letter that was sent to residents’ families, informing them of the incident, promising it was isolated and pledging, “nothing is more important to us than the safety and dignity of our residents.”

Dorothy, sick with pneumonia and a urinary tract infection, has been transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital. There, Kristen said, she is happier. She will never return to Wingate, the family said.

“I’m disgusted. I’m sickened by it. She’s defenseless,” Kristen said. “We trusted this place to take care  of her, and this is what was taking place in their facility.”

In an effort to protect her own grandparent and others, Kristen has been sending letters to lawmakers urging them to reconsider an electronic monitoring bill that was never passed but was proposed more than 15 years ago to allow residents of nursing homes to keep a camera rolling in their room.

If you suspect elder abuse, report it to the Elder Abuse Hotline: 800.922.2275 (Voice/TTY) in Massachusetts or (603) 271-7014 in New Hampshire. 

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Hidden camera captures nursing aides allegedly abusing grandmother

Shoals woman charged with exploitation of elderly family member

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FLORENCE, Ala. - A woman faces more than 100 felonies in Florence for taking advantage of a family member. Investigators say the charges range from credit card fraud to selling the victim's car.

Investigators call financial exploitation of the elderly a disturbing crime, and one they are seeing an increased number of cases in. The latest case in Florence had been going on for months before being discovered.

Jennifer Hipps, 38, is the latest to be arrested.  Florence Police say they have worked countless hours tracking down financial records in the case.

"At this time we are able to prove approximately $15,000 based on credit card statements, but there is potentially more," said Florence Police Detective Justin Wright.

Detective Wright says Hipps was entrusted to take care of an elderly family member.

"She had extended credit cards; she had renewed credit cards that had since been closed. She opened various credit cards and loans in her name," said Wright. "A few weeks ago she was arrested, she had sold her car and forged the bill of sale as well."

Wright says Hipps left the family member almost penniless.  He says prosecutors take this type of crime very seriously.

"Fortunately the state has taken a stand on financial crimes and also physical crimes against the elderly," said Wright.  "We have drafted new laws for financial exploitation and also physical abuse. And the state will aggressively pursue any of the crimes against the elderly."

In all, Hipps faces 136 felony charges related to the financial exploitation of her elderly family member.  She remains in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bail totaling $143,000.  Investigators say more charges could be filed against Hipps as the investigation continues.

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Shoals woman charged with exploitation of elderly family member

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Judge Casey Moreland Faces Federal Criminal Charges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Davidson County General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland was arrested Tuesday morning by FBI agents, accused of attempting to obstruct a federal investigation.

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court accuses the 59-year-old Moreland of attempting to bribe a witness in an on-going FBI investigation into his conduct and suggesting that drugs be planted on that witness in an attempt to discredit her.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said the allegations amount to "egregious abuses of power by a judge sitting in Nashville."

"Such an abuse of power," Smith added, "undermines the credibility of and destroys the public's trust in the court system and strikes at the very essence of our judicial branch of government."

The FBI investigation began January 25.

Moreland's conduct had been the focus of a NewsChannel 5 investigation after a police review of a young woman's suicide exposed his illicit affair with one young woman and allegations that he had intervened in a criminal case involving another woman who later committed suicide

Thousands of text messages obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates reveal Moreland intervened in the traffic stop last June  involving his mistress, Natalie Amos. He also interceded in a criminal case involving Amos to help her get out of fines that had been imposed against her.

Amos appears to have been the target of the bribery attempt, as well as the scheme to plant drugs in her vehicle.

The Metro Police investigation into the suicide last May of the second woman, Leigh Terry, brought up several disturbing allegations. One is that Moreland had sex with a woman in his chambers in exchange for favorable treatment in her DUI case.

"She told me right then that she had sex with Casey Moreland in the chambers and that's what kept her out of jail," Terry's friend, Roy Matlock, said during an interview with Metro Police.

Prosecutors say the plan to ask that Moreland be held without bond.

Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Megan Barry released the following statement:

"Nashville deserves to have absolute trust in our judiciary, and Casey Moreland, based upon the allegations in the federal complaint, seems to have clearly violated that trust. Like all Americans, Judge Moreland deserves the chance to defend himself in court. However, resigning his position now would seem to be in the best interest of the Nashvillians who depend upon the integrity of our General Sessions Court judges to rule in a fair and unbiased manner.”

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Judge Casey Moreland Faces Federal Criminal Charges

Probate Court Considers Added Protections To Curb Theft By Court-Appointed Guardians

The state's top Probate Court administrator said Monday that new reforms are needed to protect the elderly and mentally ill from abuse.

Probate Court Administrator Paul J. Knierim and lawmakers said more needs to be done to prevent fraud and deception by corrupt court-appointed conservators. At a press conference and hearing Monday they spoke in support of a reform bill moving through the legislature.

"We need to root out as many of those bad apples ... as we can," said Rep. Steven Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, vice-chair of the legislature's judiciary committee.

Conservators appointed by state probate courts are handling financial matters for an estimated 20,000 elderly, disabled and mentally ill Connecticut residents with assets of more than $350 million, probate officials said Monday.

Preventing abuse by these court-appointed conservators — some of whom have stolen tens of thousands of dollars from the elderly and mentally ill people they swore to protect — is the goal of the probate reform bill.

"There is no more important responsibility ... than the duties of a conservator," Knierim said Monday.

He said that the vast majority of Connecticut conservators are honest and dedicated to providing their charges with everything from housing, to medical care and nutrition, in addition to handling financial matters.

Proposed reforms include random state audits of conservator accounts and tougher ethical standards.

Knierim said in the past five years, the probate system has seen a 58 percent increase in the number of mental health cases requiring conservators.

This isn't the first effort to reform the probate system. Knierim said legislation was passed in 2007 to give probate judges authority to order audits of questionable conservator accounts.

The new legislation has been triggered in part by recent high-profile cases of conservators stealing money from the people they were appointed to help.

Last August, a 67-year-old disabled man from Wethersfield named John Fritz received a $10,000 settlement of a lawsuit against a court-appointed conservator. Michael Schless, a retired lawyer from Newington now living in Florida, pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny for stealing money from Fritz. Schless, 78, received a 10-year-suspended sentence and had to surrender his law license.

Fritz, whose family began noticing in 2012 that his finances were being drained away, has recovered $60,000 of the money taken by Schless. The judge in the case said when sentencing Schless that the scandal showed "the court system is not perfect and this is a dishonorable day for the court system."

At Monday's hearing, one harsh critic of Connecticut's probate courts testified against the proposed reform. Jeryl Gray, who claims her mother has been financially abused by the conservator system, argued that a failure to enforce existing laws has led to "extreme atrocities" against people like her mother. Gray said passing a new "sham bill" wouldn't change a corrupt system.

If passed by the General Assembly, the new legislation would take effect Jan. 1, 2018. Knierim said the 15-20 random audits each year are expected to cost $30,000.

The Democratic co-chairs of the legislature's judiciary committee, Rep. William Tong of Stamford and Sen. Paul Doyle of Wethersfield, both spoke in support of reform.

"The risk of abuse is too high," Tong said, "and we must take steps to make sure that conservators … are held to the highest ethical and fiduciary standards."

Doyle said the closing in recent years of institutions caring for the mentally ill has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of people with mental health issues needing the help of conservators.

Full Article & Source:
Probate Court Considers Added Protections To Curb Theft By Court-Appointed Guardians

Elderly residents often target of financial exploitation

While people often dream of retirement and enjoying their golden years, many elderly citizens are living the nightmare of being a victim of financial and exploitation crimes.

These crimes can involve the illegal or improper use of a senior citizen’s funds, property or assets, as well as fraud or identity theft perpetrated against older adults. However , the number of times financial crimes against the elderly occur is hard to establish because it is a crime that tends to go unreported.

“In the first two months of 2017, we had approximately six cases regarding exploitation of the elderly lead to arrests,” Dothan Police Lt. Will Glover said . “Additional cases were investigated, but no arrests were made. Over the years, we’ve had several cases involve family members taking advantage of elderly family members, or caregivers taking advantage of the one they are suppose to be taking care of. We also have cases where it was just someone that was hired to do a job for an elderly resident and , in the end, the individual was charged an extremely higher amount then originally agreed. This is a crime that , over the years, we will continue to see increase.”

According to Glover, it is a good idea to have multiple individuals listed on accounts. By listing more than one individual on the account, the account records are accessible to more than person, m eaning additional eyes are overseeing accounts.

“One major piece of advice I can give family members who have a parent or sibling being looked after by a friend or family member is always make a point to stop and visit your family member,” Glover said. “If you are familiar with your family member’s habits, make a point to check on them. If that family member looks unclean , file a complaint. If you notice past due notices lying around and this is something out of the ordinary, check your family member’s financial records. If that family member does not have the necessary items needed for personal hygiene, food or needed medications, file a complaint. To file a complaint, call your local Department of Human Resources. Once a complaint is filed, someone will be sent over to check on the welfare of the family member. If wrong doing seems to play a factor, the police department is notified, and we start an investigation.”

Some cases have been reported of financial fraud involving a chosen financial power of attorney.

“There is a lot of power in being named financial power of attorney,” said Alabama Department of Human Resources Adult Protective Services worker Summers Hall. “It is very important to make sure the individual who serves as a power of attorney is someone who can be trusted. It is always a good idea to establish an oversight. Individuals may want to include a statement of your power of attorney fiduciary duty in your legal document and require your agent to sign the document which acknowledges his or her acceptance of the fiduciary duty. It also never hurts to require your power of attorney to send regular accounting to additional trusted family members for looking over. Most importantly, remember, you can change your mind regarding who you selected to serve as your power of attorney.”

Bell also reminds family members to discuss with the dangers of having cash lying around in their home.

“Cash puts the elderly in danger,” Bell said. “The elderly need to be very careful who they let in their home. They also need to be very careful who they entrust their debit or credit cards to. Giving a debit card to someone gives them complete access to your bank account. Releasing credit card information also allows someone to write down the information off the card allowing them to purchase items online, not to mention purchasing items for themselves while they are supposed to be purchasing items for who they are looking after. That is what we are seeing an increase in.”

Bell also stated many financial crimes and exploitation of the elderly cases go unreported due to embarrassment.

“In some cases, we have seen older males not want to report a case of being a victim,” Bell said.

“They are embarrassed, and they should not be. However, they look at it as all the years they worked hard and here comes someone they believed they could trust and they fall victim to this crime. They should not be embarrassed. They should report it. The more reports that are made against this crime, the better off our elderly will be.”

According to Houston County Probate Judge Patrick Davenport, financial and exploitation crimes are increasing everywhere.

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Elderly residents often target of financial exploitation

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Feds: Moreland tried to pay woman $6,100 to recant allegations against him

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It was General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland who entered a courtroom in handcuffs on Tuesday, the chains binding his ankles clanking on the tile floor of Nashville’s federal courthouse.

"Do you understand what you're charged with and the possible punishment?" federal Magistrate Judge Joe Brown asked him.

"Yes sir," 59-year-old Moreland replied, seated in a button-down shirt and khakis next to his lawyer, Peter Strianse of Nashville. Asked for comment as he was leaving the courtroom, Moreland did not respond.

An FBI investigation of Moreland came to a head Tuesday, when federal officials announced the judge had been charged. That prompted Mayor Megan Barry to suggest the judge should resign, and Metro Council members took an initial step to call for his departure.

Moreland stands accused by the FBI of trying to bribe a woman to recant allegations against him by offering her $6,100, and conspiring with a confidential source to plant drugs on her in an apparent attempt to smear her credibility.

"The allegations set forth in the indictment set forth egregious abuses of power by a judge sitting here in Nashville," acting U.S. Attorney for Middle Tennessee Jack Smith announced in a Tuesday morning news conference.

Court documents say Moreland was charged with attempting to obstruct justice through bribery, witness tampering and retaliating against a witness. The charges carry an up to 20-year prison sentence.

Strianse argued in court Tuesday that federal law did not allow for the government to hold Moreland in custody, as Assistant U.S. Attorney Cecil VanDevender asked. Brown said Moreland would remain in custody at least until a hearing set for Friday afternoon.

“He’s obviously in a bit of a state of shock,” Strianse said of Moreland. “He certainly didn’t expect to be awoken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation this morning at 6 a.m. with a search warrant. They went to his sister’s home where he’s been living.”

The FBI investigation into Moreland, a judge since 1998, related to allegations that he helped people he knew in exchange for benefits including sexual favors, travel and lodging. Among the allegations documented in police reports and accounts were that he intervened in a traffic stop for a woman he had a personal relationship with and waived jail time for his future son-in-law.

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Feds: Moreland tried to pay woman $6,100 to recant allegations against him

Former Charleston lawyer indicted on embezzlement charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A once prominent lawyer in Charleston has been indicted on embezzlement charges.

According to Kanawha County Prosecutor Rob Schulenberg, Richard Michael Martin is facing 21 counts of embezzlement.

Martin worked at Michael Martin and Associates Law in Charleston. His law license was annulled in January 2015.

Schulenberg says there are potentially several hundred victims in this case.

An investigation was done by the West Virginia Insurance Commission and West Virginia State Police.

Martin's trial is scheduled for July.

Full Article & Source:
Former Charleston lawyer indicted on embezzlement charges

Befriending the needy in our community

In its “Summary of Public Policy Positions,” the League of Women Voters states the importance of providing essential support services for all. At the March Lunch With the League presentation, we learned about an extraordinary program right here in Montgomery County that clearly supports this goal. It is known as the Montgomery Adult Guardianship Services program and is an innovative volunteer limited guardian initiative designed to address the critical health care, social service and legal representation needs of the growing population of ill and at-risk incapacitated adults in the county.

The program recruits, trains and supervises volunteers to serve as limited guardians appointed by the Montgomery County Superior Court. MAGS volunteers undergo criminal history and social service background checks and personal interviews, provide references and complete an initial 30-hour training program. They are sworn-in by the court as officers and, as MAGS volunteers, serve as the guardian of the person.

MAGS is the first organized effort addressing the guardianship needs of this group of at-risk adults in the county. It is designed to safeguard the health care, social service and legal representation needs of this segment of our community by using trained volunteers to serve as court appointed limited guardians.

The role of the volunteer limited guardian is to investigate and assess the incapacitated person’s life situation, including locating relatives when possible, facilitate health care, social service and legal representation decision-making, plan for appropriate post-release placement and services and provides the court with recommendations for long-term planning for the individual.

These patients are people who frequently have been socially isolated much of their lives. They might include many frail elders in nursing homes and hospitals who often have multiple chronic conditions and are unable to make immediate decisions when problems becomes exacerbated or acute. They might also include those who never had capacity, including persons with mental retardation or developmental disabilities.

As a volunteer guardian/advocate, one is able to contribute significantly to their client’s needs under his or her court appointment as a limited guardian. Among other things, they are able to investigate and gather all requisite information regarding the health, welfare and financial circumstances of the incapacitated person. They can authorize the provision of health, social welfare and residential placement services as needed by the incapacitated person as well as advocate for the rights of the incapacitated person as a patient and facilitate legal representation when appropriate.

In order to qualify for help, one must be older than age of 18 and determined by a physician to be incapacitated and incapable of representing his/her own best interests or managing his/her own personal affairs. They can have no willing, able or suitable relative to serve as a guardian and are in need of the appointment of a limited guardian by the Montgomery County Superior Court.

The results of the volunteer’s work can literally be life-saving. The program’s significance is attested to by the fact that it is financially supported, in part, by the Indiana State Supreme Court. The training of volunteers is serious, as it should be. At the same time, the rewards of volunteer participation more than make up for the training schedule. It’s a rare opportunity to make a truly significant contribution to the lives of others who are truly alone and in need of help.

In order to get more information, contact Sharon White, program coordinator, Montgomery Adult Guardianship Services, 201 E. Jefferson St., Suite 202, Crawfordsville 47933. Phone 765-586-1396. You can also discover all Wabash Center has to offer by going to

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Befriending the needy in our community 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

7News Investigation Exposes Sex Offenders in Nursing Homes Across Massachusetts

BOSTON (WHDH) - They’ve attacked before, and could do so again. So why aren’t your loved ones told when a sex offender moves into their nursing home?

7NEWS uncovered convicted rapists and child abusers living in our state’s nursing homes and a system that keeps them secret.

Their convictions range from gross lewdness to aggravated rape to child rape. One of them has racked up a total of 24 sexual convictions. And all of them are living nearly invisibly among vulnerable senior citizens.

“The people in that nursing home that have a registered sex offender within their community don’t know it,” said David Hoey, a Massachusetts attorney who handles headline-grabbing elder abuse cases.

7NEWS took the addresses of nursing and rest homes in Massachusetts and compared them to the addresses for sex offenders on our state’s registry. Two Level 2 and 10 Level 3 sex offenders – the most dangerous kind – came up matches.

“Twelve is a lot. I think it’s more,” Hoey said.

“I found out accidentally when I wanted to join the neighborhood watch,” said Penny Shaw, a longtime Massachusetts nursing home resident and advocate for other residents. One registered sex offender lives in Shaw’s nursing home.

“Nobody but me in the building knows,” said Shaw.

Staff has assured her that he’s in poor health and far from a threat.

“In my building, I had no fear. I had 100 percent confidence in my facility’s ability to manage it,” said Shaw.

But worst fears have been realized before.

“The mental harm is the harm that can’t be erased or fixed,” said Hoey.

More than a decade ago, Hoey sued both a nursing home in Norwood and John Enos, a Level 3 sex offender who had lived there.

“His sex offense crimes were to children. So the nursing home did not believe that he would act out on elderly people,” said Hoey. Yet Enos was arrested for raping his 90-year-old roommate.

“He (the roommate) was a World War Two vet. There’s a level of honor there that can’t be replaced,” said Hoey.

Prosecutors dropped the case after Enos died the next year, and the civil case was later settled. Hoey insisted many other cases never begin.

“There are a number of families, because of that mental harm, who just will not come forward,” Hoey said.

“So you think there are other cases like this out there over the past decade, and we just don’t know about them?” a 7NEWS reporter asked Hoey.

“I know for a fact there are,” said Hoey. “The families realize that the litigation is not going to help them erase the mental harm.”

The year after Enos was arrested, Massachusetts banned Level 3 sex offenders from living in nursing homes. But the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that law unconstitutional when one offender challenged it. Since then, offenders have moved in, while other residents are left in the dark.

“There’s no way they would know. And sometimes the nursing homes themselves don’t know because there’s no requirement for them to ask that question,” said Pam Nadash, an associate professor in the Department of Gerontology at UMass Boston who has studied the issue. In addition, even if a nursing home knows of an offender living in its facility, management is not required to tell anyone.

“There’s a really strong argument that you have a right to know,” said Nadash, while also cautioning against overreaction. “These people are really sick and frail. They’re not necessarily going to be up to doing anything harmful.”

“The real issue is not notification. The real issue is whether the management knows what they’re doing and takes someone who is not a risk,” Shaw said. “The onus still falls on the building to protect people.”

Tara Gregorio, president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, which represents many nursing homes, provided the following statement to 7NEWS:

“While there are no specific regulatory requirements or restrictions relative to sex offenders living in nursing facilities, our facilities screen every application carefully, and work diligently to ensure the safety of every patient. Along with quality of care, patient safety is a top priority. The Massachusetts Senior Care Association and its members continue to welcome any guidance from the state Department of Public Health that balances resident safety and privacy.”

Still, Hoey insisted nursing homes can do more.

“If you have a sex offender registered, living in your nursing home, you post it. Residents have a right to know,” said Hoey.

Federal law does require nursing homes to identify any residents who may abuse others and come up with a plan to prevent it, without specifically addressing sex offenders. In Massachusetts, background checks are required for nursing home staff, but not residents.

Full Article & Source:
7News Investigation Exposes Sex Offenders in Nursing Homes Across Massachusetts

'Ruthie's Law' unveiled to protect nursing home residents

Nursing Home Press Conference
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz deliberated on whether to show before-and-after photos of Ruth Murray as part of his press conference for a new measures to protect nursing home residents. In the end, he decided he could show the "before" photo -- taken one day before she was attacked -- but not the "after."

"Truthfully, they're too shocking to show in public," Poloncarz said.

Murray's family was initially kept in the dark about the attack and later told she suffered "minor cuts, lacerations and bruises."

The attack proved fatal.

Now, Poloncarz is pushing for a county law to require nursing homes to inform a designated loved one or guardian within an hour when a nursing home resident suffers an injury requiring hospital treatment. The proposed local law would also give the county's commissioner of senior services the ability to subpoena and review nursing home injury reports to ensure compliance.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz displays "before" image of 
nursing home victim Ruth Murray, right, and her daughter, taken
the day before Murray was beaten by a fellow resident.

The law would also give the senior services commissioner data on the frequency of altercations between patients, or between patients and staff, that result in injury. Data regarding serious injuries or deaths would also have to be provided.

The county executive called his family notification measure "Ruthie's Law" in memory of Ruth Murray, a nursing home resident who was killed last year. It will be submitted to the Erie County Legislature next week.

"No one should ever be deceived about a loved one's condition," Poloncarz said.

An 84-year-old man last August fatally injured Murray, an 82-year-old fellow nursing home resident, in a brutal beating after she wandered into his room in the dementia unit. Both were residents of Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1175 Delaware Ave. near West Ferry Street, in Buffalo.  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
'Ruthie's Law' unveiled to protect nursing home residents

Home health care worker charged with exploitation of adult

Click to Watch Video
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A home health care provider is off the job after she was charged with exploitation of an adult, forgery, theft, identity theft and a computer offense.

According to court documents, Christine Bethann Maples of Tazewell City used an 87-year-old woman's bank card to pamper herself.

The victim reportedly suffered a stroke and had difficulty completing daily activities. Maples was brought in to assist the victim in daily activities during the month of February.

The Knoxville Police Department was alerted of financial exploitation when the victim's son contacted them.

Court documents revealed Maples used the woman's card approximately 15 different times. She allegedly made purchases at Victoria's Secret, Pilot, Nail Design, Hobby Lobby and other Knoxville stores.

Local 8 News reached out to the detective working this case. He said there are at least four people who have been victimized by Maples.

Local 8 News Reporter Dave Detling tracked another victim down. She claimed Maples stole two envelopes from her purse containing $2,000.

At the time, Maples was working as a home health care provider through Home Instead Senior Care.

In a statement, businesses owner Amy Hull said:

"Prior to placing a caregiver in a client’s home, we conduct rigorous third-party background checks, as well as personal and professional reference checks. These were all completed in this instance, and we did not find any history of inappropriate behavior. Upon learning of these allegations, the employee was suspended immediately and has since been fired. We have cooperated fully with the authorities and will to continue to do so throughout this investigation.”

Full Article & Source:
Home health care worker charged with exploitation of adult

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lawmakers consider making financial abuse by caregivers a felony

When our kupuna are duped out of their savings by their own caregivers, it’s called financial abuse.

The question is, should that be seen as a separate, heinous crime?

According to a study by the National Adult Protective Services Association, 90 percent of the abusers are family members or someone known to the victim. But the penalties for caregivers who abuse them could be getting tougher.

State lawmakers are looking over HB432 that defines a caregiver as any person who has temporary or permanent care, custody or supervision or who has legal duty to care for the health of an elder.

Lawmakers are still considering the total amount of money taken before the crime is considered a felony.

Financial abuse against the elderly can include misusing ATM cards, stealing checks or overcharging for in-home care provider services.

AARP Hawaii state director Barbara Kim Stanton says elder abuse from caregivers can have lasting impacts on the victims. “You are talking about a group who are pretty much as vulnerable as you can get,” she said. “They are dependent on their caregivers and the fact that it hasn’t stopped or even slowed down at all shows you have to put an appropriate penalty in order to make the behavior change.”

According to statistics from the Hawaii Department of Human Services, there were 214 documented cases of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation last year.

One of the bill’s sponsors, State Rep. Dee Morikawa, says financial abuse should be made a felony “because there has to be a substantial penalty to deter this from happening. Because when you do exploit the elderly, you actually leave them in a place in their life where they have nothing. They become depressed and it’s almost making them very, very ill.”

The Honolulu Police Department has expressed its support for the bill, saying it “provides an additional mechanism to protect the elderly.”

Through written testimony– The Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney suggested a threshold of $50,000 to classify the offense as nothing less than a Class A felony.

Advocate for the elderly Jamie Rodrigues, however, is critical of the bill and says lawmakers should focus on programs that help the victims instead.

“It’s a non-violent crime,” Rodrigues said. “Our judiciary system is already inundated, our prison systems are already overfull of prisoners, and if we could, implement a system of consequences that would be better for the abused adult.”

The local AARP has two free events scheduled for next month on various islands to educate people about preventing older Americans from becoming victims of financial scams: A fraud watch network “shred-a-thon” to help dispose of documents on Saturday, April 22, and a “scam jam” to fight cyber threats and identity fraud on Thursday, April 27.

For more information:

Click here for the “shred-a-thon”

Click here for the “scam jam”

Or you can call the AARP Hawaii office at 545-6024.

Full Article & Source:
Lawmakers consider making financial abuse by caregivers a felony

Senate lawmakers introduce bill clarifying who can discipline sitting judges after N.C. Supreme Court ruling

Senate lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday clarifying that the Judicial Standards Commission has the sole power to discipline judges and justices of the court — not the North Carolina State Bar.

Senate Bill 250 states that sitting judges cannot be disciplined by the State Bar for conduct occurring while in office.
“The Council shall have the jurisdiction, authority, and procedure for discipline of any conduct that occurred prior to the judge’s election or appointment to office.”
The bill appears to stem from a recent North Carolina Supreme Court ruling reversing the State Bar’s disciplinary proceedings involving a Dare County superior court judge. The court ruled that only it or the Judicial Standards Commission may impose discipline for sitting judges.

Jerry Tillett was reprimanded by the Judicial Standards Commission in 2013 for violating principles of personal conduct after he launched his own investigation into the Kill Devil Hills Police Department, the town’s district attorney and other officials.

His feud with officials occurred after his son was detained by police in 2010. You can read more about it here.

Two years after Tillett was reprimanded, the State Bar initiated its own disciplinary proceedings, which could have ultimately resulted in the suspension of the judge’s license to practice law (which would have forced him to leave the bench).

Tillett asked the Supreme Court to step in. The Criminal Law Blog, from the UNC School of Government, sums up the high court’s response well with commentary about what the ruling means.
It held that “while a judge remains in office, only this Court or the [Judicial Standards Commission] may impose discipline for his or her conduct as a judge.” The lead opinion notes that the Judicial Standards Commission was created in the early 1970s based on the understanding that the State Bar’s disciplinary procedures did not apply to judges. There was, therefore, a lack of an appropriate formals means to discipline judges short of removal, and the Judicial Standards Commission was “intended to fill that void” and to be the exclusive means of disciplining judges while in office for conduct that occurs during their judicial service.
Chief Justice [Mark] Martin’s concurring opinion supports “the wisdom of the overall scheme that the General Assembly has prescribed.” The Chief Justice argues that precluding the State Bar from disciplining sitting judges “preserves judicial independence” and avoids putting judges at the mercy of the lawyers who appear before them.

Full Article & Source:
Senate lawmakers introduce bill clarifying who can discipline sitting judges after N.C. Supreme Court ruling

Caretaker accused of embezzling thousands from elderly Ann Arbor woman

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Local police agencies are reporting a rise in scams involving senior citizens, and most of the scammers are those who were supposed to care for them.

One of those incidents involves an 89-year-old Ann Arbor woman who fell victim to her greedy caretaker.

According to police, Cheryl Elaine Smith of Lakeland is accused of stealing over $100,000 from the victim.

Smith was helping the victim with in-home care at the time of the embezzlement.

During this period, Smith allegedly opened bank accounts in the victim’s name, including credit cards that Smith would use for her own personal purchases.

The family of the victim took notice when the bank accounts showed significant and unexplained withdrawals.

This is not the first time Smith has been in trouble involving an elderly person and stolen funds.

In 2015, Smith's family petitioned the Livingston County Court for the removal of her name on her mother’s estate after allegations of her taking Florida trips and putting her own name on her mother’s property and pocketing $100,000 from her mother’s account.

Smith has been charged with embezzlement of a vulnerable adult between $50,000 and $100,000, and larceny of more than $20,000.

She is expected back in court next week.

Full Article & Source:
Caretaker accused of embezzling thousands from elderly Ann Arbor woman

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Steve Miller: Confidential Testimony of Clark County Family Court "Hearing Master" Jon Norheim

In February 2017, during testimony before the Clark County Grand Jury in the April Parks/Noel Simpson case, appointed Clark County Family Court "Hearing Master" Jon Norheim was accused of committing perjury by misrepresenting his legal responsibilities as a jurist under Nevada Revised Statutes.

As a Hearing Master, Norheim was accused of ignoring NRS hundreds of times in guardianship rulings he rendered that illegally passed benefits to select private guardians and their attorneys.

In May 2015, Norheim and Charles Hoskin, the elected Family Court Judge who appointed him, were permanently barred from hearing further guardianship cases based on numerous complaints of judicial misconduct, but by that time, the damage was done.

Hearing Masters are not elected and serve at the pleasure of an elected judge. Jon Norheim is a former mob attorney who in the early 2000's represented the Crazy Horse Too.

Read the full confidential testimony:

Bill would require monitoring of court-appointed guardians

Lou Russo
NEW FAIRFIELD — The grit and the grace that animate Lou Russo’s face belies the desperate place the World War II veteran was in a few seasons ago at the hands of a court-appointed conservator.

“I will never forget it, because I was treated like a bag of dirt in the street,” the 98-year-old bachelor says of the 17 months he spent against his will in a nursing home while his conservator drained his bank account, scrapped his construction trucks and rented out his house. “Sometimes I dream about it at night and think, ‘What the hell happened to me?’”

Russo’s story ended with a hero’s welcome home because two young friends stepped in to fight for him, bringing the conservator’s misconduct to the attention of the press, police and politicians. But there’s a sentiment among those who know his story that Russo never should have been mistreated.
Lawmakers in Hartford concur.

State politicians and the probate court itself are pushing for legislation to encourage more effective guardianship of the elderly and incapacitated. The legislation would create formal standards for conservators and provide for random audits to prevent exploitation.

“We are joining a nationwide effort to strengthen oversight in conservatorships,” said Paul Knierim, Connecticut’s probate court administrator. “We are working with groups nationwide to improve preventative measures so that conservators get the support they need to act with the utmost integrity.”

Although Russo’s mistreatment is not thought to be typical of the thousands of cases across Connecticut, in which people incapable of managing their own affairs are appointed guardians by probate court, cases like his are clearly part of the push in Hartford for reform.

“This is about Lou Russo, no doubt,” said state Sen. Michael McLachlan, a co-author of the bill and a vice chair of the state legislature’s joint Judiciary Committee, which is reviewing it. “Unfortunately there are other cases similar to Lou’s, but he is the local face of this problem.”

The legislation’s intent is intended to support thousands of family members appointed by the court to manage the health and finances of loved ones incapacitated by age or mental affliction, but also to discourage misconduct by auditing conservators’ accounts for fraud.

“Anything that increases oversight is always welcome,” said Dan Gaita, a former Marine who at one point was the only person advocating for Russo’s rights. “There are still unresolved issues with Lou’s case, but we are trying to let him enjoy his life.”

The legislation comes at the same time that the probate court is rolling out a statewide training program to help conservators navigate increasingly complex systems of health care, property management and public assistance programs.

“The world is getting more complicated, and we have heard a consistent drumbeat from conservators and judges telling us a formal training program is warranted,” Knierim said. “No single person can reasonably be expected to master all this stuff.”

The accountability legislation also comes at a time when the population is aging in Connecticut and across the country,

Nationwide, the number of people 65 and older is expected to jump from the current 46 million to 88 million by 2050, according to federal Government Accounting Office. In Connecticut, the AARP estimates that 600,000 people are 50 or older.

“The bill ... would put Connecticut at the forefront in effective court monitoring,” said Claudio Gualtieri, advocacy director of the AARP Connecticut in testimony during a public hearing on the legislation last week. “These improvements will help protect older adults and give support to family caregivers.”

The aging trend is complicated by the prevalence of mental afflictions, the legislation’s supporters said.

For example, 75,000 people in Connecticut have Alzheimer’s disease, and thousands more have other forms of dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association says.

“Due to the progressive nature of the disease, and its profound impact on the victim’s ability to make even the most basic decisions regarding their health care and other financial matters, many people with dementia end up being conserved,” said Ian MacDonald, public policy director for the Connecticut chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association in testimony.

Lou’s law
Those who know Russo’s story might immediately think of his quick wit or his gracious spirit, which was on display during a recent Veterans Day celebration, when volunteers built a stage in the back yard of his New Fairfield home to hold all the VIPs who came to honor him with speeches and plaques.

It might be hard for those who know him now to remember how brokenhearted and powerless the combat veteran was in 2013, when he was admitted against his will at a Danbury nursing home while his court-appointed conservator disposed of everything he owned.

A social worker had reported the partly collapsed roof and poor general condition of Russo’s home, and Probate Court Judge Martin Landgrebe ruled that Russo needed a conservator.

Had Russo had able-bodied family members nearby, the judge might have appointed one of them to manage Russo’s return to health and oversee home repairs. As it was, Russo was single and alone, so the judge appointed a businessman named Mark Broadmeyer to manage his affairs.

Instead, Broadmeyer sold Russo’s possessions and rented his home to another family.

After persistent objections by Gaita, Landgrebe eventually reviewed the conservator’s records and ordered Broadmeyer to repay Russo $34,000. But at that point, Russo’s nursing home bill had accumulated to $100,000.

When the nursing home offered to settle with Russo for a mere $10,000, Russo’s response was “That’s how much they should pay me.”

In the end, the nursing home dropped all claims, saying Russo had suffered enough.

Today, Russo is living in the home he built himself under the conservatorship of Joseph Schirmer of Danbury, one of the leading volunteers in Lou’s life, who not only accompanied him to court with Gaita, but helped organize the corps of volunteers who remodeled Russo’s home.

Schirmer said he was pleased about news of the legislation in Hartford.

“We know how bad the system is,” Schirmer said. “People have to be held accountable.”

Knierim said the legislation was not drafted in response to any one case but agreed that egregious cases of abuse such as Russo’s were alarming.

“Most definitely this legislation is a recognition that seniors and individuals with disabilities can be vulnerable to neglect, abuse and financial exploitation, and that is a very high priority for us in the probate court system,” he said. “We try to learn from every case that doesn’t go the way it should.”

McLachlan said there was no opposition to the legislation.

The next step is for the Judiciary Committee to vote on the legislation, and determine whether it can be voted on in the Senate and the House of Representatives, he said.

“The sad thing about this is Lou had to serve as an example of why we need this legislation,” McLachlan said.

Full Article & Source:
Bill would require monitoring of court-appointed guardians

2 States, 2 Levels of Punishment in Attorney Discipline Case

An attorney who was disbarred in New Jersey for misappropriating client funds has received a lighter sanction—three years' suspension—in New York, where he is also licensed to practice, for the same incident of misconduct.

At the heart of the disciplinary case against Feng Li, who was licensed to practice in both states in 2004, is a disagreement between him and a group of clients over legal fees that has touched off litigation in state and federal courts on both sides of the Hudson River.

In 2005, Li was retained by a group of clients who were bilked in an investment scheme who had been fighting for 15 years in Queens Supreme Court to recover damages for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, according to a decision by a panel of the Brooklyn-based Appellate Division, Second Department, which was handed down on Wednesday.

But while the case was being litigated in New York, Li presented to his clients a retainer agreement—which he downloaded from the internet—that was intended for use in New Jersey.

New York law entitles attorneys to collect one-third of any settlement as attorney fees, while Li used a sliding-scale fee structure in which he received a smaller percentage for each $500,000 recovered.

In New Jersey, the structure Li used is mandatory in personal injury matters but not fraud cases, said Paul DePetris, a solo attorney in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

In 2008, Li won a total of $4 million for his clients in two disbursements. While meeting with the clients to discuss how the funds would be divvied up, a disagreement ensued over Li's contingency fee.

Li argued that his fee should be determined by New York rules, which would entitle him to about $1.1 million. His clients wanted to follow the agreement, which entitled Li to about $325,000.

The parties never reached an agreement on the fee, and Li gave his clients $2.8 million and transferred the rest of the money to trust funds set up for the benefit of his children.

Willard Shih of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in Woodbridge, New Jersey, who now represents Li's former clients, sent letters to Li telling him not to spend the money, according to a 2014 decision by a federal judge in New Jersey. But Li used the funds to pay off debts held by creditors in China.
Shih declined to comment for this article.

The clients sued Li in New Jersey Superior Court in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and Judge Travis Francis ordered Li to account for the money he obtained from the judgment. After a failed attempt to get a New York judge in Westchester County to enjoin the suit, in January 2010, Li filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

During the bankruptcy proceedings, disciplinary proceedings against Li were commenced in both states.

The New Jersey Supreme Court's Disciplinary Review Board voted 4-3 to disbar Li, with the majority finding that Li knowingly misappropriated the funds.  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source: 
2 States, 2 Levels of Punishment in Attorney Discipline Case

David Cassidy Says He’s ‘Touched’ by Support After Revealing Dementia Battle

After David Cassidy revealed to PEOPLE in February that he is battling dementia, the star says he’s been moved by the outpouring of support he’s received.

The 66-year-old actor and singer, best known for his role as Keith Partridge on the 1970s series The Partridge Family, tells PEOPLE: “I was particularly touched by the lovely personal notes from Harry Connick Jr. and Katie Couric, who are two of my favorite people.”

He said that he also heard from his Partridge costar Danny Bonaduce, who he says “reached out privately and publicly to offer kind words, encouragement and support.

Added Cassidy, “He’s always been like my little brother.”

Cassidy added he has also received some “wonderful recommendations” and outreach from various medical facilities, doctors and the Alzheimer’s Association.

The singer, who has plans to record a studio album, performed his final concert on March 4 and says the past weeks have “been an amazing time filled with ups and downs.”

He wrote on his website on March 8: “I have my good days and very occasionally a bad day.”

Full Article & Source:
David Cassidy Says He’s ‘Touched’ by Support After Revealing Dementia Battle