Saturday, May 20, 2017

Six civil cases filed against Harbor Hospice of Beaumont

Jefferson County published records show six lawsuits were made in the past against a Harbor Hospice office location in Beaumont.

Several of the lawsuits were filed over the past eight years.

Lawyer Chris Portner represented three clients in a lawsuit against the Harbor Hospice location off Major Drive.

Two lawsuits from 2012 and 2014 involved fraud allegations from business partners of Dr. Qamar Arfeen. However, Portner said both of the cases were dismissed because the plaintiffs did not file their claims on time.

Portner also represented another client in 2011 who had a business dispute with Dr. Arfeen but the case has been settled. 12news could not confirm the terms of that settlement at this time.

Two other cases from 2009 and 2012 involved allegations of patient neglect but the status of those lawsuits remain unclear.

Another case was filed in 2016 but 12news could not determine details surrounding the case.

Federal agents are still not giving information on why Harbor Hospice officers were raided Thursday morning.

However, patients are still getting treated inside the offices as usual.

A source inside the Diagnostic Group Lung Center which is owned by Dr. Arfeen said employees have been told their jobs are safe and that no facilities would be shut down.

The source also confirmed that Dr. Arfeen did not address his employees but sent an email.

12news tried talking to Dr. Arfeen as he was leaving the Lung Center but he did not want to leave a comment.

Full Article & Source:
Six civil cases filed against Harbor Hospice of Beaumont

Big changes for guardianship in Nevada

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Many of us remember the actor Peter Falk as the bumbling detective “Columbo” or as the grandfather-story teller in "Princess Bride."

In New York state, prosecutors know him as a son who pushed for the arrest and conviction of a man who befriended his wealthy mother, isolated her and bilked Madeline Falk out of a million dollars.

“He did public service announcements for financial exploitation. He felt very passionately about it,” says Catherine Falk.

But what you may not know is Falk had two daughters who found out about their father's death through news media accounts.

Catherine Falk says she fought her stepmother in court for months to gain access to her father, who by the time she got to see him suffered from dementia.

“You know the burden should not be placed on the person--the family that's wanting to see visitation. The burden to isolate should really be put on the power of attorney to justify why are you isolating this person from all of these people,” says Falk.

If you think such things are impossible in this day and age, think again.

Current laws in Nevada allow a court appointed guardian--be it relative, a private company, or public guardian--to make all decisions for the person who is declared incapacitated, sometimes with very abusive results.

“A private professional guardian who had moved that elderly person, and was charging unbelievable fees. One day it appeared as if they billed 25 hours in one day.....yeah.” testified Barbara Buckley with Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

Her agency has investigated and represented “Protected Persons” for more than a year now.

Buckley told Assembly Judiciary Committee members she supports both Senate Bills 433 and 360 because they paint clear-cut lines with what rights a "protected person" has, as well as directs the guardian to what they can and cannot do, and what needs to be reported to the court that oversees the process.

"The Bill of Rights" which she authored, if passed, would make Nevada only the third state in the nation with such a system in place.

“So this to me is one of the best bills in the country,” said Catherine Falk about SB 360 which contains the Bill of Rights as well as criminal penalties for guardians convicted of elder abuse or exploitation.

Guardians and facilities that violate the bill of rights can face civil litigation. But both Senate Bill 433 and 360 must make their way to the governor's desk first.

Assembly Judiciary took no action on these two bills May 15, 2017.

But as one lawmaker said last week, this session could be the year of marijuana, as well as changes to guardianship.

Full Article & Source:
Big changes for guardianship in Nevada

Why Many People Abandon Friends and Family With Dementia and Shouldn't

Several years ago, a close family member was diagnosed with breast cancer. The diagnosis was shocking, but the response was heartening. The oncologist analyzed the tissue sample down to its very receptors and provided a crystal-clear roadmap for treatment. An experienced and compassionate lay “navigator” was assigned to help guide my loved one through treatment. Friends and family rallied, making regular visits, cooking meals, holding hands, wiping tears, and, with time, becoming fierce advocates for disease awareness and research.

This response to breast cancer is part of an entire movement of support that has been embraced on all levels of society and has even engaged NFL players to bling themselves out in pink for one weekend of football every fall. It’s a model of how we should respond to any disease: wide-eyed with interest and support and dedicated to caring and curing.

Sadly, the picture couldn’t be more different for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Symptoms are insidious and easy to miss or ignore in early stages, and the diagnosis is never as certain as with many cancers since we do not routinely collect a sample of brain tissue to analyze. There is a dire shortage of specialists trained to manage dementia and even fewer in the pipeline. There are almost never volunteer “navigators” to support people through the many years of this disease. Precious few people, sports figures and celebrities have become advocates for promoting Alzheimer’s awareness and research.

All these deficits exist despite the fact that most people have a loved one or close friend with Alzheimer’s disease.

This disease affects and estimated 5.5 million Americans and its numbers are growing rapidly according to the 2017 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures put out by the Alzheimer’s Association. It is the fifth leading cause of death after the age of 65, and reported deaths have increased by nearly 90% in the past five years. Currently, it is the most expensive disease to our economy, and yet the U.S. spends only a tenth of the research dollars for Alzheimer’s disease that are spent for heart disease and cancer combined.

Full Article and Source:
Why Many People Abandon Friends and Family With Dementia and Shouldn't

The Italian village with more centenarians than anywhere else in the world

The small Italian village of Acciaroli has the highest number of centenarians in the world but what is their secret to long-life and happiness? ITV Health Editor Rachel Younger finds out as she reports for On Assignment.

Retirement in this Italian village looks very different to in the UK Credit: On Assignment/ ITV

Growing old in 21st century Britain is no picnic. Social care is on its knees, the waiting time for hip replacements is rising by the day and loneliness amongst the elderly is in danger of becoming an epidemic.

Among my parents' generation of sprightly septuagenarians no one seems to fancy hanging around long enough to get that once prized telegram from the Queen. "Shoot me at 85!" they shout, when I tell them I'm off to Italy to meet a bunch of centenarians.


For this couple the small village of Acciaroli, close to Naples, is the perfect place to grow old Credit: On Assignment/ITV

The small village of Acciaroli, close to Naples, has a higher percentage of people hitting 100 than anywhere else in the world. My mission is to find out why.

Blame the red wine and long lunches if you like, but scientifically speaking, I can't say I came home much the wiser. Yes, there is some evidence pointing to genetics, diet, even the local strain of rosemary but frankly the samples aren't big enough, the research not yet fully tested.

What we did discover was a corner of Italy where people have all the time in the world.

No one rushed us through our interviews, everyone offered us a drink, most wanted to invite us back to the family home or local restaurant for a three-course meal. Bowls of pasta that in one cafe were made from scratch by 95-year-old Maria because she likes to keep her hand in. Because she reckons keeping busy - but not too busy - keeps her young.


95-year-old Maria says making pasta from scratch keeps her busy and helps keep her young Credit: On Assignment/ ITV

I did hear the term "office hours" once, but only because that's how 94-year-old Beppe likes to describe the daily appointment he keeps with his friends to play cards at the local cafe.

It's not that the former fisherman doesn't care about his health. Beppe gave up smoking in his eighties to try to outlive his brother. But he's got better things to do than sit around dwelling on it.


Fishing, playing cards, and meeting up with friends help pensioners in Acciaroli keep busy Credit: On Assignment/ ITV

Seriously, this sun-drenched peninsula is no utopia. Mafia style shootings aren’t unknown and there isn't much state sponsored care of the elderly.

Instead families and neighbours look out for each other, everyone's in and out of each other's houses, people never move from here and no one seems to be alone for more than a few minutes. It's life affirming and frankly envy-inducing to witness.

We meet a couple of farmers not far off a century themselves who like to share a drink before dinner. "To life!" they bellow, toasting each other with toothless grins, hamming it up for our cameras. "It's a wonderful life, if you know how to live it!"

I'd like to grow old here, enjoying the sunshine, the food and wine, and the company of my friends.
And if I had to guess, I'd say that might just be the secret behind their longevity.

Full Article & Source:
The Italian village with more centenarians than anywhere else in the world

Friday, May 19, 2017

Assembly hears testimony on reforming Nevada guardianship system

Barbara Buckley
CARSON CITY — The Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday heard two bills aimed at reforming Nevada’s guardianship system.

Senate Bill 360 puts tougher penalties in place for guardians who abuse and neglect elderly and vulnerable wards in their care. The bill allows prison sentences of up to 20 years for such cases. The current maximum is six years in prison.

Senate Bill 433 puts a mechanism in place to ensure a protected person can communicate with family and friends. Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty told lawmakers that the state’s guardianship commission had found protected people were often restricted in that regard.

“It starts with the presumption that guardians will not restrict someone from communication,” he said.

Barbara Buckley, executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, told lawmakers that checks and balances are needed. She shared a story about a woman under the care of a guardian who was put into a group home, isolated from family, as her belongings were sold.

“The guardian acted like God, destroying this person’s life,” she said.

The Assembly panel also heard testimony that included support from Catherine Falk, the daughter of actor Peter Falk.

She told the committee of a lengthy legal battle to see her father, who was suffering from dementia, after her stepmother wouldn’t allow visits. Falk died in 2011 and was buried without his two daughters being notified; they found out through media reports. She now advocates for guardianship laws through the Catherine Falk Organization.

“We feel if a guardian is restricting visits unfairly or without real reason other than personal animosity towards the family or simply for convenience, the court should know about it by requiring real proof that isolation is necessary,” Falk said.

The committee did not act Monday on the bills, which have both passed the Senate unanimously.
Contact Ben Botkin at or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

Protections for wards

Rights for those under guardians in the “Wards’ Bill of Rights” of Senate Bill 360:

■ Notice of all guardianship proceedings.
■ A copy of documents in guardianship proceedings.
■ A family member, interested party or medical provider can speak on behalf of a ward.
■ Participate in developing a plan for your care and managing assets and personal property.
■ Remain as independent as possible.
■ Be treated fairly by guardian.

Full Article & Source:
Assembly hears testimony on reforming Nevada guardianship system

See Also:
Guardian oversight bill headed for vote in Nevada Assembly

Newark law firm partners indicted in theft of $140,000

Richard Roberts
A Grand Jury has indicted two suspended attorneys, partners in a former Newark law firm, in connection with allegedly stealing more than $140,000 from clients, according to Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.

Richard M. Roberts, 79, of Bloomfield, and Gerald M. Saluti Jr., 49, of Howell, on Wednesday were charged with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree theft by failure to make required disposition of property received; third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution, and third-degree perjury.

Roberts, as a prosecutor in the 1970s, obtained an indictment against Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas, according to the Associated Press. Roberts was portrayed by Russell Crowe in the 2007 film about the case, “American Gangster."

From October 2012 to August 2013, Roberts and Saluti allegedly conspired to steal more than $140,000 from four clients whose funds had been placed in the firm’s attorney trust account.
Gerald Saluti Jr

The funds allegedly included settlement awards owed to the clients and monies the lawyers were obligated to hold in escrow or use to make payments on behalf of the clients.

In addition to allegedly misappropriating funds to pay the firm’s expenses, Roberts and Saluti allegedly used funds to pay their personal expenses, including car payments, credit card bills and entertainment expenses. Roberts used $20,000 in stolen funds to make alimony payments, authorities alleged.

The hindering and perjury charges relate to allegations that Roberts and Saluti falsely told law enforcement and testified under oath that the practice administrator for their firm, Gabriel Iannacone, was solely responsible for the misappropriation of certain client funds from the attorney trust account.

It was alleged that, in fact, Roberts and Saluti conspired with Iannacone in those improper withdrawals and payments.

Ianncone pleaded guilty on Jan. 23 to third-degree conspiracy to commit theft by failure to make required disposition of property received. His sentencing is pending.

The Division of Criminal Justice’s investigation was ongoing, and additional charges may be filed against Roberts and Saluti, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Both attorneys are suspended from the practice of law in New Jersey. Roberts was suspended in November 2015, and Saluti in February 2014.

In August 2013, the men dissolved Roberts & Saluti LLC, which did business as the Saluti Law Group.

Mercer County Superior Court Judge Timothy P. Lydon presided over the indictment and assigned the case to Morris County, where Roberts and Saluti will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.

Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

In April, Roberts pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of failing to pay payroll taxes and one count of failing to pay personal income taxes. Sentencing in that case is scheduled for Aug. 1.

Full Article & Source:
Newark law firm partners indicted in theft of $140,000

AARP, Legislative Aging Leaders, Advocates Commit to Pursue Anti-Elder Financial Abuse Legislation

AARP NY State Director Beth Finkel
ALBANY, N.Y. – Leaders of aging policy in the New York State Legislature stood with AARP and other aging advocates today and pledged to work toward passing bi-partisan legislation to combat elder financial exploitation before the end of the 2017 state legislative session.

Legislative Aging Committee Chairs Senator Sue Serino and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator David Valesky – a former Aging Chair – joined AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association and 100 AARP volunteers from across New York at the Legislative Office Building to announce their commitment to work together on a comprehensive bill that can be enacted this year. New York StateWide Senior Action Council, LiveOn NY and Lifespan of Greater Rochester also indicated their commitment to the effort.

Elder financial exploitation is a growing problem; the number of reported cases of financial exploitation increased by more than 35% between 2010 and 2014, according to a study last year by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). Over one third of victims showed signs of dementia. The New York StateWide Senior Action Council, LiveOn NY and Lifespan of Greater Rochester also indicated their commitment to the effort.

Financial exploitation of older adults is the most common form of elder abuse, and the OCFS’s Bureau of Adult Services estimates that elder financial exploitation in New York costs $1.5 billion a year.

With 100 AARP members from across New York at the Capitol today to lobby lawmakers on elder financial exploitation and other issues, AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association’s New York State Coalition and the Statewide Senior Action Council announced their support, at minimum, for increased efforts to train professionals to improve detection of dementia and to help financial institutions stop fraudulent transactions and report them to authorities.

“As our population ages, elder financial exploitation is on the rise. It’s time to stop this shameful crime and protect older New Yorkers and the assets they’ve worked a lifetime to secure,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “We’re pleased that Senators Serino and Valesky and Assemblywoman Lupardo are joining with AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association and Statewide Senior Action Council today to pledge to work toward a bi-partisan agreement this legislative session. We need a multi-disciplinary approach with everyone at the table: law enforcement, consumer groups, patient advocates and the financial industry. Older New Yorkers’ livelihoods are at stake. There’s no time to waste.”

“Taking advantage of a vulnerable older New Yorker–a New Yorker who has spent a lifetime building their savings–is a particularly abhorrent crime,” said Senate Aging Committee Chair Sue Serino.

“Combatting elder abuse and financial exploitation has been my priority since being named Aging Chair and I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our seniors have the resources they need to remain free from harm and safe from abuse. Once again, I urge my colleagues in the Legislature to step up for seniors and do right by them by passing legislation that will play a direct role in ensuring their health and safety.”

“We are seeing increasing incidences of elder abuse, and we must do all we can to stop this disturbing trend,” said Senator David Valesky. “The legislation that I sponsor would establish new protections for our elderly citizens and give law enforcement officials an additional tool to pursue and prosecute those who would take advantage of and harm adults who are unable to protect themselves.”

“Elder abuse can take many forms, but the financial exploitation of seniors is rapidly becoming one of the most prevalent forms,” said Assembly Aging Committee Chair Donna Lupardo. “Last year, New York State Office of Children and Family Services report on Financial Exploitation reported a 35% percent increase in cases of senior financial exploitation from 2010 to 2014, and there are an even greater number of cases which go unreported. While proposals have been around for many years, it’s time the Assembly and Senate come together and find common ground on the issue. I’m committed to working with my colleagues to pass legislation before end of session.”

“The Alzheimer’s Association, New York State Coalition is pleased that AARP, and so many of our partner organizations, are working together with the legislature to strengthen protections from financial exploitation for our seniors in New York with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairment,” said Jane B. Ginsburg, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association, New York State Coalition.

“There are 390,000 New Yorkers with Alzheimer’s. We must do everything we can to safeguard them from being taking advantage of. Establishing training guidelines with stakeholders for bank employees is the first step in this important process.”

“We need an innovative approach by creating an interdisciplinary program that will work to stop senior fraud through prevention, education, and services,” said Maria Alvarez, Executive Director of New York StateWide Senior Action Council. “In this age of automation and constant changes in the way that government and merchants conduct business, scams and frauds have taken on a larger life.

Whether it is the tax scam, identity theft, medical ID thefts, deed thefts as well as outright robbery, at StateWide, we find that when we partner with as many government and community agencies as possible, we are more successful in getting optimal results. Reports on the cost of financial elder abuse to New York seniors come to a whopping $1.5 billion each year. As the number of retirees grow in this state at exponential rates, it is important to address their needs and adapt the infrastructure that is serving what will soon be fully 25% of our New York’s population.”

“LiveOn NY has long advocated for meaningful legislation to address the issue of financial exploitation,” said Allison Nickerson, Executive Director of LiveOn NY. “Given the enormity of this problem, at a cost of at least $1.5 billion annually to New York state and individual older New Yorkers, and its devastating impact on older adults, we applaud the Assembly, Senate and Governor for focusing on this issue. We are proud to work together with a strong coalition of aging advocates to ask the legislature for changes that would provide a seamless reporting and disclosure process between banks, APS and law enforcement, which will stop the bleeding of older New Yorkers’ financial resources.”

“Lifespan is thrilled to partner with a group of statewide agencies to bring attention to the serious issue of elder financial exploitation,” said Ann Marie Cook, President/CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester. “We know that financial exploitation is the most prevalent form of elder abuse and costs victims and the state billions of dollars. We are working together to ask the legislature for changes so that banks can hold a suspicious transaction for further investigation, report suspected abuse to the right authorities and provide immunity to banks for reporting. Our ultimate goal is to help older adults in New York State live fulfilling lives free of abuse and exploitation.”

The advocacy groups have voiced support for various bills aimed at fighting senior financial exploitation, including S1093/ A6099 (Valesky, Serino/Lupardo) and A6395 (Lupardo). Today, the legislative sponsors joined the advocacy groups to announce their support for negotiating a comprehensive bill before the legislative session ends next month.

Governor Andrew Cuomo included anti-elder financial exploitation provisions in his state budget proposal this year but none made it into the final budget enacted last month.

Full Article & Source:
AARP, Legislative Aging Leaders, Advocates Commit to Pursue Anti-Elder Financial Abuse Legislation

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Panel takes first step to undo secrecy

The rules guiding adult guardianship cases provide for too much secrecy and not enough notice of court hearings to families of the incapacitated adults, members of the New Mexico Adult Guardianship Study Commission heard last week.

Marjory and Leroy Martinez
In its second meeting, the commission, appointed by the New Mexico Supreme Court to study the state’s system of adult guardianships, listened to dozens more stories from families outraged by the “racket” of the court oversight process for their elderly or infirm family members.

While the first two meetings have focused on bringing all 16 commission members up to speed on the often complicated guardianship process, Commission Chairwoman Wendy York, a retired state district judge, said the panel is starting to home in on recommendations to improve the system.

“We are hearing common themes, so it gives us the beginning of a road map,” York said after the all-day meeting. “We are hearing about notice of court hearings, involvement of family members, and what is the appropriate line to draw between complete access to information and privacy.”

The themes are arising out of public comment from families affected by the guardianship system, which is the legal process that oversees the lives and finances of incapacitated adults when family members can’t do it – often because they cannot agree on a course of action. The court appoints third-party nonrelatives and corporate professionals to determine how the incapacitated adult, often times elderly, will live and how his or her money will be spent.

But the process is secret, which is a protection for the vulnerable adult’s information but also, critics say, a protection for unscrupulous people looking to get rich off a family’s estate.

One lawyer offering public comment Friday said the secrecy of the process raises “due process concerns.”

Brian Vogler told the commission that his client needed to get some information from his guardian, but the guardian declined to provide that information.

“(It) seems there needs to be a window in to see how the court is proceeding,” Vogler told the commission. “It’s hard to balance everyone’s needs.”

After the meeting, he said his inability to see how judges behave or have behaved prevented him from accessing the nuances of the situation. He said he wanted to speak to the commission to provide a perspective that the secrecy “doesn’t just impact families.”

The commission on Friday took a step toward making certain guardianship case dockets are available on the state court system’s public website, where they are scheduled to appear later this month under an ongoing court effort to streamline case files.

Commissioners voted to have York send a letter to the court asking that the records access changes be made a priority if the implementation doesn’t happen as planned on May 23.

Until now, despite assurances from court officials that the documents were public, they have not been available on the website,

York said Friday that was mostly a clerical issue. She said members of the public said some court clerks were unaware that certain information in guardianship cases was public under states law.

But other changes to address the secrecy shrouding the process aren’t clear.

“Talking about the problems in the system is easier, but suggestions are more difficult,” York told the crowd, a group of about 30 people, most of whom had experiences with guardianship in their family.

The commission is studying whether reforms are needed in the laws, rules or court practices that up to now have mostly been playing out in closed-door District Court guardianship/conservatorship hearings, which by law are sequestered to protect the privacy of the incapacitated person. An interim report of possible recommendations is due to the Supreme Court by Oct. 1.

Leroy and Marjory Martinez told the panel that when her mother was put under court-ordered guardianship about seven years ago, she was shuffled between numerous nursing homes without informing family members.

“When she went to the emergency room, we weren’t told she was there for six hours,” the Martinezes told the panel.

And when they tried to question how the woman’s finances were being handled, “we were told, ‘don’t worry about it. She has enough money,’ ” Leroy Martinez said.

“But why did she need three wheelchairs, and an extra big bed one day which they had to get rid of the next, for a smaller bed? Why did she need the suite that cost so much more?”

Full Article & Source:
Panel takes first step to undo secrecy

Justices Probe Use of Precedent in Judicial Discipline

Attorneys representing two Philadelphia judges removed from the bench last year may have wanted to argue about the unfairness of the disciplinary process or the sanctions their clients received, but the state Supreme Court was only interested in hearing about the role that prior precedent may play in the Court of Judicial Discipline's deliberative process.

On Tuesday the justices heard argument in the disciplinary cases against former Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Angeles Roca and former Municipal Court Judge Dawn Segal, who were removed from the bench last year.

The justices, who had specifically granted the appeals on the issue of what role stare decisis should play for the CJD, asked about what the process should be for determining sanctions, whether the disciplinary body should have to outline its reasoning and what role the Supreme Court can play in hearing appeals. Any arguments that Roca and Segal were not afforded due process or that their sentences went beyond the bounds of fairness were quickly rejected by the court.

When attorney Samuel Stretton, who represented Roca and argued first before the Supreme Court, said he did not think removal was warranted for Roca since she had only sought a rule returnable in a case involving her son, Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor put an end to that argument, saying Roca's son received a ruling that nobody else would have. Stretton is a regular contributor to Pennsylvania Law Weekly, an affiliate of The Legal.

"Her son received something a similarly situated citizen would not have," Saylor said.

During attorney Stuart Haimowitz's time arguing, Haimowitz, who is representing Segal, said his client had not been given adequate due process since the sanction varied so vastly from the conduct at issue.

However, Saylor again put an end to that argument, saying "of course she did," and that Haimowitz was making "a serious allegation."

Saylor dismissed Haimowitz from the lectern after the exchange following only a few minutes of argument, saying, in part, that Haimowitz's arguments were repeating some of the issues Stretton had previously raised.

When it came to the question regarding stare decisis, Stretton contended that the court needed to consider precedent when making its decisions on sanctions. According to Stretton, the court did not do any proportionality analysis when considering Roca's sanctions, but simply decided that corruption requires removal.

"I'm suggesting that the court had no studied review of the case law of the past 24 to 25 years of that court and the Supreme Court treating that kind of case different from removal," Stretton said. "What happened here was a sea change."

Justice Debra Todd said Stretton was asking for a "robotic" approach where the court would simply have to follow a check list, but Stretton replied that he did not believe the court needed to be so strictly bound by stare decisis, but simply that it needed to review and distinguish the case law when making a ruling.

Robert Graci, chief counsel for the Judicial Conduct Board, argued in reply that the CJD did what it needed to do in terms of reviewing the precedent, and that a finding by the justices that the court was bound by stare decisis would not change the decision to remove Roca and Segal.

Graci said he was not surprised by the decision to remove Segal and Roca given the Supreme Court's 2014 decision in In re Magisterial District Judge Bruno, which, he said, found that corruption had no place on the bench.

"I think that the times have changed," Graci said.  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
Justices Probe Use of Precedent in Judicial Discipline

Woman charged with abuse, neglect after elderly man found in 'deplorable' conditions

Mariah Funderburk
Police say an elderly Geneva County man is being evaluated at a local hospital after being found bedridden and his niece has been charged with financial exploitation of the elderly as well as abuse and neglect.

Mariah Funderburk, 23, of Kinston, remains in the Geneva County Jail with bail set at $70,000.

According to authorities, the man had been the subject of numerous welfare checks and most recently was found in extremely poor living conditions.

“Before the victim’s wife passed away, she was his caregiver,” said Geneva County Sheriff Tony Helms. “Following her death, the niece took over as his caregiver due to the fact that his health had declined. We had received calls in the past and I would have deputies go and perform a welfare check on the victim, and the victim stated he was fine and everything was okay. Calls continued and I would continue to send deputies as well as representatives from the department of human resources.

"Over time his power had been turned off, bills were never paid and more complaints from the community were brought to my attention. He was not fine. The victim actually receives a pretty good amount of money and it would all be gone in 10 days or so," Helms added.

Helms said the man was most recently found suffering from bed sores and lying in his own waste with medical equipment attached that had been unattended.

“This man was found in deplorable conditions," Helms said.

Helms is currently reaching out to family members to locate a caregiver for the man.

“The ones I have contacted are not able to physically care for him. If we can’t find a family member, the victim will be placed in a nursing home. The good news, at this point, is the victim is recovering and getting the care he needs in the hospital.”

Full Article & Source:
Woman charged with abuse, neglect after elderly man found in 'deplorable' conditions

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Shocking Update on April Parks: Man Finds 27 Human Ashes in Henderson Storage Unit

When Billy Smith bought a Henderson storage unit at auction for a couple hundred dollars, he said he had no idea what he was getting into.

"I've been doing this business off and on as a hobby for the last 20 years," Smith said. "This is the most bizarre thing I've ever found in a unit. I've found lots of crazy things over the years, but nothing like this."

The find: 27 urns, all filled with human ashes.

"I discovered an urn, I thought 'Oh my God, this is somebody's loved one,'" Smith said after going through the small unit at Life Storage near Wagon Wheel and Interstate 515. "Then I found a tub full of remains, and then a second tub full of remains. I was just shocked to see almost 30 sets of remains."

Some of those remains were a few years old, others from the early 2000s. Many of them contained the corresponding paperwork.

"Somebody had the gall to store a family member in a storage unit like that," Smith said.

That somebody, according to Valley funeral home directors, was April Parks, who rented the storage unit before it went up for auction. For decades, she worked as a court-appointed guardian, making legal and financial decisions for senior citizens. But as of May 16, she was behind bars at the Clark County Detention Center, facing hundreds of charges of theft, perjury, and exploitation of her elderly clients.

The charges came after a years-long investigation by the Nevada Attorney General's Office, Metro Police and the Clark County District Attorney's office.

Court documents explained the 270 charges against her and her company. The indictment mentions dozens of victims, including names that were on urns found inside the storage unit.

"Horrendous things, just horrendous things were done to her wards," Elizabeth Indig said. Indig's mother was one of Parks' wards.

Full Article and Source:
Man Finds 27 Urns Filled With Human Ashes in Henderson Storage Unit

Steve Miller: Isolate, Medicate, Steal the Estate

Three Secrets Behind The Ongoing Stories Of Guardianship Fraud In Nevada And The Political Corruption That Enables The Scams To Continue Unabated

When INSIDE VEGAS stories get stuck in Nevada's judicial or political mud and progress seems at a stand still, I sometimes reveal a few behind the scenes secrets to try to jump start long needed action. This is one of those times.

In the ad nauseam story of local private guardian Jared E. Shafer, and the Clark County Family Court judges who enable him, many readers keep asking the same questions; "Why haven't these guys been prosecuted by the Clark County DA, Nevada AG, or US DOJ for (allegedly) exploiting wealthy court appointed elderly and disabled wards? And where's the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission when we need them to go after the judges?" The following information may help answer these questions, but don't expect to be satisfied.

SECRET #1, Shafer's private files:
In October 2013, sixty pounds of original documents reportedly disappeared from the office of Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc. (PFSN) on Pecos Road in Henderson. Without my prior knowledge, the documents packed in large cardboard banker's boxes mysteriously appeared on the public sidewalk in front of my house. When I first saw the unsealed boxes sitting there, I looked inside. They contained what I as an investigative commentator considered to be a treasure trove of potentially incriminating evidence about Jared Shafer whom I had been writing about since 1999. Included was an extensive file about what appeared to be an exploitative guardianship of multi-millionaire heiress Leann Peccole Goorjian. I never met Ms. Goorjian though I knew her late father Bill, and several of her closest friends, so I was very intrigued.

The documents and their source (whom I later confirmed) are protected under NRS 49.275, the Nevada Reporter's Shield Law.

I have waited until now to reveal the document's existence based on whether my having shared portions of them with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Abuse and Neglect Detail, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, and federal law enforcement authorities would hopefully inspire comprehensive investigations into what I believe is wide spread criminal guardianship fraud perpetrated against wealthy Southern Nevada retirees and disabled people. So far, the criminal investigations that have occurred were only local and yielded prosecutions of lower level operatives (low hanging fruit), while those who many believe are the masterminds - including several judges - have been allowed to remain unscathed.

The boxes placed on the public sidewalk contained hundreds of what appeared to me to be highly incriminating documents from Shafer's office including canceled checks, handwritten notes, and bank statements pertaining to the court ordered guardianships of a number of hapless, but wealthy, Las Vegas residents including the files of Leanne Peccole Goorjain who died in 2008 at age 51 while under the guardianship of Jared Shafer. After her death, his private records reflect a total of $432,043.00 Shafer paid to himself in "fees" starting with his first self-payment of $294,543.00 on August 4, 2009, eighteen months after Leann passed away,along with two payments of $12,500.00 each, one on March 28, 2013, and another on April 19, 2013, again for "fees." This does not include tens of thousands of dollars Shafer paid over a five year period to his personal attorneys including $4,230 to Elyse Tyrell, accountants, business partners, and other cronies for their "services" to the deceased woman. Here are just two examples of confidential documents from Shafer's office

Based on my knowledge of the Peccole family's good name and Leann's esteemed relatives who included a Clark County Commissioner and Sheriff, Nevada State Senator, and a billion dollar family owned land development company, and after the documents revealed that the majority of her personal holdings including a two million dollar hillside home somehow became the property of Jared Shafer, with full documentation in hand, I confidently authored the November 18, 2013, INSIDE VEGAS column "Grave Robbery Under Color Of Law."

SECRET #2, It's all legal if a judge approves:
Several months after my column appeared on, I received an unsolicited email from CBS Sixty Minutes Senior Producer Bob Anderson.
He said he wanted to speak with me in confidence regarding my Leann Peccole Goorjian column.

The day following our brief phone conversation, Anderson flew to Las Vegas where we met for lunch. He asked me to promise not to talk about our meeting until after an initial Sixty Minutes segment on guardianship fraud had aired.

At the Macaroni Grill on West Sahara, Anderson grilled me about the Peccole case and specifically about her guardian Jared Shafer. Off the record I revealed that I had copies of confidential files from Shafer's office regarding the Peccole case and a number of others, and agreed to share copies of any pertinent documents with him and associate producer Aaron Weisz. Several weeks later, a CBS crew arrived in Las Vegas from New York. Their arrival did not escape local notice. I received a call from George Knapp, a reporter at the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas asking if I knew why Sixty Minutes was snooping around town asking about Jared Shafer. I said I had no comment.

Anderson and I secretly met several more times during the spring and summer of 2014 where he told me of his progress. He said he had obtained an in-prison interview with Patience Bristol, Shafer's assistant who had been convicted of elder exploitation, and was planning a possible "ambush" interview with Shafer at his Pecos Rd. office, a tactic Sixty Minutes is famous for. I was very excited to be a part of exposing what I considered immoral and illegal behavior, and eagerly awaited the planned October 2014 airing of Anderson's first-in-a-series Sixty Minutes story.

In September 2014, I received a call from Anderson. He sounded very despondent. I was told that the CBS News attorneys in New York thoroughly vetted his story and advised that no Nevada laws had been broken in any of the examples he planned to cite on Sixty Minutes. That in each case Anderson investigated, a Clark County Family Court Judge had signed off on Shafer's actions. ...

SECRET #3, "Shafer Laws," and those who passed or enforce them:
At this point you must be asking how this can take place in a civilized society?

Full Article and Source:
Isolate, Medicate, Steal the Estate

Suspended judge back on job

A Clarksville judge who was on suspension after a drunken-driving arrest in January was reinstated to the bench Thursday by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Circuit Judge William Pearson was admonished by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission last month, after he pleaded guilty April 17 to misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and reckless driving charges.

Because the case was resolved, the commission petitioned the high court to reinstate Pearson.

The commission said in its admonishment letter to Pearson that the 5th Judicial Circuit judge was working to avoid repeating his behavior and had agreed to refrain from hearing DWI cases through the end of the year.

Pearson also submitted a statement to the commission, apologizing and expressing "shame and regret" for the incident.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported that Pearson drove through a sobriety checkpoint on Jan. 20, and police chased him into a parking lot.

The judge received a six-month suspended sentence, and was ordered to pay fines, fees and court costs.

The justices did not issue a written opinion Thursday explaining their order.

However, Justice Rhonda Wood said she would have prohibited Pearson from hearing criminal cases while serving his suspended sentence. Justice Shawn Womack said he would not have reinstated Pearson.

Full Article & Source:
Suspended judge back on job

Law enforcement getting more and more reports of financial exploitation of the elderly

A guilty plea put a woman in jail for financial exploitation of the elderly. Opal Tillman deceived, used her influence and intimidated a Mountain Brook couple she was hired to take care of, but instead took thousands of dollars. ABC 33/40 is working for you to help keep this from happening to someone you love.

People like Tillman are preying on our elderly population all over. An Aalabama law lets law enforcement take a report from anyone who calls concerned any person 60 years or older is being taken advatange of financially. Investigators must look out for one thing: a relationship between an accused thief and money's owner.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Detective, Patricia Alexander, spends a lot of time tracking people who write bad checks, steal credit cards or use funny money. She's starting to spend more time going through case folders on people who exploitthe elderly financially.

"It's a whole generation of people who have been raised differently, lived in a time you opened your doors to people or when you answered your phone to cold calls," Det. Alexander.

Linda Ramsey knows it's not a new crime, but might be surpised it's one criminals are choosing more often.

"If they lived to be old, would they want those people to do them that way," asked Ramsey.

Detective Alexander believes most examples are not being reported.

"Most victims don't necessarily know they are being exploited and the suspect is a family member," added Det. Alexander.

A law, on the books since 2014, allows the prosecution of anyone who takes money from the elderly.

"We are talking about a long and drawn out process where this caregiver, family member or organization entrenches themselves into the elderly person's life," added Det. Alexander.

Regina Bradberry doesn't want a long and drawn out process arresting the theives.

"I just think law enforcement should just go ahead, step in there and put them under the jail. It's just not right," said Bradberry.

The 2014 law also helps protect the people who report someone accused of financially exploiting people 60 years and older. The person accused can not hold liable the person who reported them even if an investigation reveals no wrong-doing.

Full Article & Source:
Law enforcement getting more and more reports of financial exploitation of the elderly

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Army Ranger vet Martin Patterson’s guadianship nightmare ends

ERIE, Pennsylvania, May 10, 2017 – A former Army Ranger, subjected in his thirties to a guardianship procedure that effectively rendered him a slave to his parents, is now free. Martin Patterson, 37, was officially released from his guardianship after a forensic examination conducted by Dr. Joseph A. Buzogany found he was not incapacitated. Dr. Buzogany bluntly concluded:

“It is the opinion of this examiner to reasonable degree of medical certainty that Mr. Patterson no longer meets requisite criteria for incapacitated persons.”

Patterson was placed into guardianship at the behest of his parents, aided by the Veterans Administration (VA) Fiduciary Hub in Indianapolis, Indiana; and by Laura Eaton, who was made his guardian, along with MECA, the non-profit she also ran.

CDN has tracked Patterson’s story since the summer of 2016, and has found a series of problems with his guardianship. Patterson was initially placed into temporary guardianship after a hearing in which he wasn’t allowed to speak; approximately $75,000 of his money has since been misspent; and Eaton, his parents and the court all subsequently ignored a VA examination which found Patterson to be of sound mind.

While in guardianship, Martin Patterson was also ordered to work regularly, without pay, on his parents’ farm.

Although it was the VA Fiduciary Hub in Indianapolis that handled Patterson’s case because Patterson is a veteran (serving an Army Ranger from 1998-2006); and although their own examination of Patterson found him of sound mine, the VA Fiduciary Hub the office ultimately refused to step in when its findings were ignored.

Lisa Goebel, public affairs officer for the VA Fiduciary Hub in Indianapolis, declined to comment. But previously, she had told this CDN reporter:

“Mr. Patterson was rated competent to handle his VA finances in January 2014. The issue of competency for the VA fiduciary program and the issue of state court guardianship are separate and distinct. The Department of Veterans Affairs is not involved in, nor is a party to, the state guardianship issue you referenced.”

 Dr. Buzogany’s examination found there may have been even more problems with Patterson’s guardianship. According to that examination, the court determined Patterson was incapacitated before an initial examination was complete:

“An incapacity petition occurred in 2013. The hearing occurred December 19, 2013. This followed an independent evaluation by Ted Urban Ed.D who evaluated Mr. Patterson on November 20 and November 25, 2013. Of note, the copy of the actual report provided by Dr. Urban’s office is dated May 28, 2014 with an addendum July 15, 2014. This is an inconsistency that was not able to be resolved at that time of this report.”

The chambers of Judge Stephanie Domitrovich, who was the presiding judge during this period, declined to comment. Judge Domitrovich has since been removed from the case. She was replaced by Judge Elizabeth Kelly, who handled the latest hearing. Judge Domitrovich had already been disciplined for her behavior in another case.

Emails sent by this reporter to Patterson’s parents, Roger and Gail, were left unreturned. An email to Laura Eaton’s attorney, Mary Alfieri Richmond was also left unreturned.

Shortly after CDN’s investigation of this case commenced, Eaton asked to be removed from the case, citing an unnamed conflict of interest.

Kristen Patterson, Martin Patterson’s wife, told this CDN reporter she recently learned Eaton has been removed from MECA, the non-profit she ran. MECA, which specializes in handling guardianship cases for veterans, had been handling Patterson’s guardianship until her removal.

Martin Patterson issued the following statement:

“I am very pleased with the court’s decision today. This has been a long, hard fought battle to regain my freedom after years of oppression at the hands of my parents. My mother’s only concerns were the management of my finances and fear that the court’s decision would come back on them. Not to mention the desperate attempts to smear my reputation to sway the judge’s opinion. My brother even went as far as to question the authenticity of the battery of neuropsychological testing performed by a licensed Neuropsychologist and a licensed Forensic Psychiatrist.

“Testing that was quite in depth and included a full review of all medical records in my case to arrive at the decision in the seven page report. A decision that validates what I have been stating all along. There were no concerns voiced for my wellbeing or quality of life. No concerns or remorse for the damage they have done to me over the years. Judge Elizabeth Kelly had an opportunity to review the medical evidence in my case and her decision to release me from guardianship was consistent with the final report. There is a long road ahead to rebuild the life that was taken from me, but for the first time since my injury, I am free to walk the path I choose. Thank you to all who supported me in this fight.”

 Full Article & Source:
Stunning reversal in former Army Ranger’s guardianship case

Army Ranger vet Martin Patterson’s guadianship nightmare ends

Guardian in Controversial Case Tells Court She Has Conflict of Interest

Mysterious Signature Adds Confusion tin Patterson Guardianship Case

Former Army Ranger Claims Forced Guardianship

Tonight on T.S. Radio:  Martin Patterson - Military Veterans Are Caught in This Trap

NASGA:  Veterans in Peril

Lawyer tells judicial discipline panel Judge Gary Kreep should be removed from bench for misconduct

San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep
San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep should be removed from the bench for committing numerous acts of misconduct and his “lack of candor” during a hearing on the charges in February, a lawyer for the state’s judicial discipline agency said.

Mark Lizarraga, trial counsel for the California Commission on Judicial Performance, said in legal brief filed Monday that Kreep should also lose his seat because he has not acknowledged he violated judicial ethics rules on many of the 29 acts of misconduct that a three-judge panel said he committed.

The argument that Kreep should be removed from the bench — the most severe penalty that the commission can levy — marks the most serious blow against the one-time conservative legal activist who won an upset election to the bench in 2012 but whose early months as a judge were rocky.

James Murphy, Kreep’s lawyer in the discipline case, said removal was too harsh of a penalty because the judge is not corrupt or dishonest, his conduct has improved from his first year on the bench, and he is liked and respected by lawyers who appear before him.

Murphy said Kreep has acknowledged some of his conduct when he first became a judge was “inappropriate” and that a lesser penalty is warranted so Kreep could remain on the bench. He is up for re-election next year.

Removing a judge from the California bench is a rare event. Only 11 judges have been removed since 1995, according to commission statistics. The most recent was in 2016 when Valeriano Saucedo, a Tulare County judge, was removed after 14 years on the bench for having an improper relationship with a court clerk and then lying about it.

The charges against Kreep filed last year focus mostly on his conduct while on the bench, though some also cover campaign finance violations from his 2012 race.

He was accused of making a series of remarks from the bench that included comments about the physical attractiveness of women lawyers who appeared in his court, using nicknames like “Bun Head” and “Dimples” for lawyers, and speaking Spanish to Hispanics in his courtroom instead of English. All judicial proceedings are supposed to be conducted in English.

In all, Kreep faced 32 separate allegations of misconduct. Most happened during his 2012 campaign and the first year he was on the bench.

At the week-long hearing in February before a panel of judges, Kreep alternately took responsibility for some but not all of the comments, and said he did not mean to be offensive. Murphy also contended the judge was the target of a harassment campaign by senior leadership of the San Diego bench who were embarrassed that Kreep had won the seat.

Before becoming a judge, Kreep had a long legal career that included work on a number of conservative legal causes, including the discredited "birther" fight that erroneously questioned if former President Barack Obama was a U.S. citizen.

In a 90-page report issued in April, the judicial panel found Kreep committed misconduct on 29 of the 32 accusations against him. The most serious finding of “willful misconduct” centered on his comments after learning he would be sent to Traffic Court after the San Diego City Attorney’s Office said its lawyers would boycott taking cases to his misdemeanor courtroom.

That move, known as a “blanket challenge,” came in September 2013. Senior lawyers had complained about how Kreep treated some deputy city attorneys and how he handled some misdemeanor cases.

After learning of the challenge and his transfer, Kreep talked about it with some deputy public defenders and said one of them could be targeted too. Those comments about a challenge are inappropriate for a judge to make and violate judicial ethics, the judges said.

They also concluded that Kreep’s testimony at the hearing that he spoke with the defense lawyers as a courtesy to let them know he would not be hearing cases that day was “not credible.”

Lizarraga said that was just one instance where the judicial panel concluded that Kreep’s version of events “lacked candor or credibility.” For that reason, as well as the sheer number of misconduct findings, Kreep should be removed he said.

Neither Kreep, who works in the downtown San Diego Superior Court, nor his lawyer Murphy responded Tuesday to requests to comment on the latest filing.

The matter will now go before the 11-member Commission on Judicial Performance, which will decide what discipline — if any — Kreep will get. The commission can chose a range of options from issuing an advisory letter, private admonishment, public admonishment, censure or removal from the bench.

The commission also will hold a hearing of its own and can hear from both sides, then make a determination to adopt the findings and conclusions from the judicial panel that heard the case in February. A date for the commission’s hearing has not yet been set.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer tells judicial discipline panel Judge Gary Kreep should be removed from bench for misconduct

Woman admits to stealing from elderly patient

An Augusta woman who stole nearly $2,000 from an elderly personal care home patient pleaded guilty Thursday.

Tradona T. Allen, 31, pleaded in Richmond County Superior Court to exploitation or intimidation of elderly persons, identity fraud, financial transaction card theft, and financial transaction card fraud.

Chief Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. sentenced Allen to 10 years on probation under the First Offender Act, ordered her to pay $1,725.21 in restitution, and pay a $1,500 fine or perform an equivalent amount of community service.

As special conditions of probation, Brown ordered Allen to neither work in any personal care home setting nor work with an elderly person. Assistant District Attorney Justin Mullis told the judge that he was recommending probation because Allen had no prior criminal history.

Defense attorney Jesse Owen sought a short probation term for Allen, telling the judge she always intended to repay the victim, described in the indictment as a man over the age of 65.

Mullis said another employee of the Golden Living Community personal care home on Lee Street discovered bank payments that the victim couldn’t have made because he was in the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center from Nov. 20 to Dec. 31, 2016 when purchases were made.

There were at least 18 charges, such as $606 to Verizon and $200 to Amazon, Mullis said.

Allen worked at the home and was friendly with the victim. After the theft was discovered Allen was fired.

Exploitation or intimidation of elderly persons is a felony offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Full Article & Source:
Woman admits to stealing from elderly patient

Monday, May 15, 2017

Savitt under investigation by new state guardianship office

Elizabeth Savitt & attorney
 Elizabeth Savitt, the former judge’s wife and professional guardian who has been the subject of numerous complaints from families of incapacitated seniors, is being investigated by the state’s new Office of Public & Professional Guardianship.

The office is the state’s new watchdog for guardians that was established after lawmakers heard about abuses of incapacitated seniors and their finances by court-appointed professionals.

The office confirmed on Thursday it has received at least one legally sufficient complaint against Savitt and that it has been forwarded to the Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller for investigation.

Savitt’s actions have gotten the attention of at least one lawmaker.

“I’m horrified by the fact that she is currently a guardian, that there are wards or families that have to depend on her or she can have the power to manage the affairs of the ward after everything that has come to light,” said state Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Delray Beach. “After all the facts come out, if there is enough evidence, I will call for the state attorney to make this a criminal investigation.”

If wrongdoing is found, the clerk will forward a report to the state guardianship office and an administrative procedure will begin, giving Savitt a chance to respond. The office will then determine what discipline — if any — is appropriate. Savitt could be stripped of her state registration — a requirement to serve as a guardian in Palm Beach County.
Savitt has taken tens of thousands of dollars in fees prior to judicial approval as a guardian or personal representative, The Palm Beach Post has previously reported. The act of getting a “retainer” is strictly prohibited under new state rules. It is also prohibited by new rules in Palm Beach County handed down by the chief judge this past fall in the wake of The Post’s series, Guardianships: A Broken Trust, investigating Savitt and her husband, former Circuit Judge Martin Colin.

Another repeated complaint about Savitt is she uses savings from incapacitated seniors for relatives of the ward who had previously been accused of financially — and even physically — taking advantage of the seniors. Families also say she pits relatives against each other in order to generate litigation, which increases fees for herself and her attorneys. Those fees also come from the life savings of the incapacitated senior in guardianship.

Savitt — a tennis instructor before becoming a guardian — has claimed she is being unfairly targeted by disgruntled members of families of those in her guardianships. She has pointed out she has never been removed from a guardianship case by a judge — though she has resigned from cases as criticism mounted.

Savitt did not respond to e-mail or a voicemail asking her for comment on the new investigation.

The state investigation into Savitt remains confidential and the clerk’s office could not comment. It is unknown whether the investigation emanates from one or multiple complaints.

Lawmaker concerned
Slosberg said she met with the Department of Elder Affairs to determine whether the new law adopted by the Legislature this past year could be used retroactively against Savitt and other guardians accused of abuse. The agency says that though it can’t hold professional guardians to laws just adopted, it can use them to mete out discipline for violations of long-standing guardianship statutes.

She said state representatives have a duty to protect people who cannot protect themselves. “Incapacitated seniors needed the state’s help to prevent guardian abuse and we passed legislation last year. It is outrageous as we sit here today that not one guardian has been disciplined,” she said.

Simmonds case
At least one complaint against Savitt to the new guardianship office came from Daniel Schmidt, the former Boca Raton resident who took care of Carla Simmonds, a stroke victim, while she was in a Savitt guardianship.

Savitt resigned from the Simmonds guardianship after Schmidt successfully fought her efforts to get access to the stroke victim’s $640,000 trust, which wasn’t part of the guardianship, and a $46,000 retirement account. Schmidt is still fighting attorney fees.

Schmidt said he hopes the complaint to the state will “have Elizabeth Savitt eradicated from guardianship and that criminal charges will be filed against her, her husband and her lawyers.” He said his lawyer spent several hours with the clerk’s investigators.

After The Post’s initial investigation published in January 2016, complaints continued to surface about Savitt in her guardianship cases, including accusations by the former attorneys for senior Frances Berkowitz that $400,000 is missing from the guardianship about the same time she paid off a $308,000 foreclosure judgment. There is an open investigation by the clerk’s office into this case.

Savitt said she filed an inventory in the Berkowitz case, showing only $18,000 in the senior’s accounts. Her attorney said that the guardian had provided the clerk’s office documentation that she paid off the foreclosure judgment from personal accounts.

Savitt’s husband, former Circuit Judge Martin Colin, retired this past year after the series spelled out his conflict of interest because of his wife’s work as a guardian and how her attorneys appeared before him in other cases. Savitt did not appear before her husband, but many of her cases were in front of a family friend, Circuit Judge David French.

Before she became a professional guardian, Colin and Savitt’s finances were marked with foreclosures, liens, and unpaid debts.
“We are talking about the most vulnerable citizens in our state and for these guardians like Savitt, it’s all about money, money, money,” Schmidt said. “I don’t know how this could be allowed to go on for so long.”

Full Article & Source:
Savitt under investigation by new state guardianship office

See Also:
Judge’s wife facing more complaints about guardianship fees

Attorney for judge’s wife tried to change new rules for guardians

New task force aims to protect seniors from financial abuse and exploitation

Senior citizens are vulnerable to abuse, not only of their physical selves but also of their life's savings. This morning in Amherst, partners in a newly formed task force announced their mission to provide elderly individuals with assistance in cases of financial abuse and exploitation.

The model is called an Enhanced Multi-Disciplinary Team. It will bring public and private agencies together to provide senior citizens with the resources and assistance to investigate suspected financial exploitation, recover assets and, if it's deemed appropriate, prosecute those responsible.

Kathy Kanaley, a social worker with the Center for Elder Law & Justice, makes opening 
remarks inside the Amherst Center for Senior Services, where it was announced that a 
new task force is being formed in Erie County to address elderly financial abuse and 
exploitation. Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO
Numerous public and private partners will participate in the task force, including the Erie County District Attorney's Office.

"It provides our senior citizens with a mechanism to come forward if they believe they've been a victim of financial abuse, if they've been robbed, if they've been embezzled from. Whatever the case may be," said District Attorney John Flynn.

Getting seniors to come forward is a significant challenge. Lifespan of Greater Rochester, which is providing funds to acquire an accountant and geriatric psychiatrist for Erie County's task force, conducted a recent in partnership with Cornell University and reported alarming numbers about elderly abuse cases.

"Two hundred and sixty thousand adults in New York State will be abused this year," said Ann Marie Cook, CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester. "Only one in 24 cases will ever get reported to any authority. The most prevalent form of abuse is financial exploitation."

The vast majority of perpetrators, advocates say, are family members. The reasons may range from needing money for drug purchases to a sense of entitlement. Karen Nicolson, CEO of the Center for Elder Law & Justice, spoke of the complicated emotions many seniors face when exploited by relatives.

Another challenge is overcoming those who will challenge whether the elderly victim should be taken seriously when they complain. Among the tricks exploiters will use is trying to convince authorities that their elderly relative lacks credibility because of a mental or physical condition.

"The perpetrators of these crimes are very savvy," Nicolson said. "They will actually use that to their advantage."

Full Article & Source:
New task force aims to protect seniors from financial abuse and exploitation

Woman Arrested Again in Exploitation Case

Woman Arrested Again in Exploitation Case

DUNBARTON, NH — A local woman arrested recently for allegedly financially exploiting an elderly, disabled, or impaired adult, has been arrested again, this time, for felony witness tampering.

Giselle Lemieux, 48, a homeless woman with no fixed address who is currently incarcerated, was arrested on May 10, 2017, on the charge. According to Dunbarton Police, Lemieux – who is being held on $4,000 cash bail at the Merrimack County House of Corrections – is previously facing “numerous charges” connected to the original case.

The charges include financial exploitation of an elderly, disabled or impaired adult, bail jumping, criminal mischief and five counts of default or breach of bail conditions, according to Sgt. Chris Remillard of the Dunbarton Police Department.

While she was previously out on bail, police allege, “Lemieux contacted the victim, stayed at the victim’s home and violated other conditions of her release,” Remillard stated. During the course of the continued investigation, police reportedly learned that Lemieux allegedly called the victim from jail on March 9, after initially being arrested. A warrant was issued for the new charge this week.

Lemieux was processed at county and refused bail. She’s expected to be arraigned later today.

Full Article & Source:
Woman Arrested Again in Exploitation Case