Saturday, July 1, 2017

111 people have killed themselves under California’s new right-to-die law

The mother of Brittany Maynard
Tom House was about as robust and independent as anyone could hope to be as an octogenarian. A former Marine, private pilot and insurance broker, he was still chopping wood and going on miles-long jogs at his retirement home in Sonoma, Calif., long after his 80th birthday, relatives told the Sacramento Bee.

But last year, congenital heart disease and colon cancer took a toll on his body. Given just months to live, the 94-year-old decided to end his life on his own terms.

On a Monday last August, he spent the morning sharing memories with family and friends, according to NBC Bay Area. Then, with a doctor’s prescription, he drank a fatal dose of barbiturates from his favorite coffee mug and chased it with a martini. Less than an hour later, he was dead.

“He did it his way,” his daughter-in-law Esther House told NBC, choking back tears. “He went out his way. He really did.”

House was one of 111 people in California who took their own lives in the first six months of the state’s new right-to-die law, which allows terminally ill adults to request life-ending drugs from their doctors, according to a state health department report released Tuesday. The report offers the first snapshot of Californians who sought to end their lives under the legislation.

California enacted the End of Life Option Act on June 9 of last year amid heated debate over the ethics of permitting physicians to give lethal medications to patients suffering from malignant cancers and other terminal diseases. It is the fifth state in the country to enact right-to-die legislation, which was first adopted by Oregon in 1997.

Between the day California’s law took effect and Dec. 31, 2016, more than 250 people started what the law calls the “end-of-life option process,” making two verbal requests for aid-in-dying drugs, according to the report by the California Department of Public Health. Of those people, 191 received prescriptions written by 173 different physicians.

Health officials said 111 people ingested the drugs, killing themselves. Another 21 died of natural causes before taking the medication. It’s not clear what happened to the remaining 59 people who received prescriptions, the report said.

Those who ingested aid-in-dying drugs were mostly white, college-educated seniors who were receiving hospice or palliative care, according to the report. A little more than half were women.

Sixty-five people were suffering from malignant cancers, while 20 had neuromuscular disorders such as Parkinson’s or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Smaller numbers had heart or lung diseases, or other unspecified maladies.

There were six Asians, three blacks and three Hispanics, who ingested aid-in-dying drugs. The remaining 102 patients were white. Nearly all of them had insurance, most through Medicare or California’s Medi-Cal program. The median age was 73. Nearly three-quarters of patients had received at least some college education, according to the report.

The report’s findings mirror some statistics from Oregon, where the majority of patients last year were older than 65 and had terminal cancer. Although California is more racially diverse than Oregon, the vast majority of patients who took their own lives there last year were white, according to Oregon’s 2016 report on the state’s Death With Dignity Act.

California’s law was passed last year in a special session of the state assembly after a campaign driven by stories of terminally ill patients who were unable to access aid-in-dying drugs in the state. One such patient was Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old with stage 4 brain cancer who moved to Oregon in 2014 to end her life.

Compassion and Choices, a leading right-to-die advocacy group, said California’s findings were good news for the law’s supporters.

“The state’s data show that even during the early months of the law’s implementation, the law was working well and terminally ill Californians were able to take comfort in knowing that they had this option to peacefully end intolerable suffering,” Matt Whitaker, the group’s California director, said in a statement Tuesday.

Critics of the law argue it is unethical for physicians to hasten death in anyone, and warn that it is virtually impossible to tell if drugs were prescribed to a depressed or unwilling patient. The Life Legal Defense Foundation, American Academy of Medical Ethics and a group of doctors have sued in federal court to overturn the law, arguing it violates Californians’ civil rights by stripping terminally ill patients of certain legal protections and treating them differently than other patients.

“It’s really tragic that doctors are now thinking that the best they can do for a patient is to give them a handful of barbiturates and leave them to their own devices,” Alexandra Snyder, an attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

John Minor, a retired psychologist from Manhattan Beach, Calif., was among those who killed themselves under the new law. He was an avid cyclist, runner and hiker until he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease, in his late 70s, as NPR reported earlier this month.

As Minor’s body deteriorated to the point where he struggled to eat or speak, he asked for aid-in-dying drugs. But his doctors refused.

“I started cold-calling — like, just different hospitals and different departments within different hospitals,” Jackie Minor, his daughter, told NPR.

Finally, the family found him a health plan that would write him a prescription. Last September, at the age of 80, he drank a cup of apple juice mixed with a fatal dose of the pills and died quietly, surrounded by his relatives.

“John did what was right for him,” his wife, Sherry Minor, told the Los Angeles Times. “He died peacefully, rather than in agony, and he was in control. He didn’t feel afraid or helpless.”

Full Article & Source:
111 people have killed themselves under California’s new right-to-die law

What to Do When Siblings Can't Agree on a Parent's Care Needs

Siblings! For some lucky families, having a bunch of adult siblings gather around and plan how to take care of Mom and Dad as their parents' health begins to fail is a great comfort. For some families, siblings who never got along as kids and have had little to do with each other as adults being thrown together to make touchy decisions is disastrous.

For most families, the journey through the mine of elder care decisions falls somewhere between the two extremes. Elder care has a way of sneaking up on people. Generally, if there is an adult child living in the same town as the aging parents, it is this child who becomes, at the first sign of need, the default caregiver. That usually makes sense. You live in town. Your folks need some help with their Medicare forms, so you stop over. They need help with the yard, so you start taking time away from your family to help out. Then its grocery shopping and then, well, you're on your way to taking on a second job.

Ideally, before things get to this stage, you've had conversations with your parents about how they want their needs met during their later years. They've made out the papers naming a Power of Attorney for Health Care (a health directive indicating who will make health decisions if they can't and detailing their preferences for treatment) and a Power of Attorney for financial affairs. A will should be part of this, as well as other personal papers. Ideally, as well, all siblings are aware of these papers, what they contain and all are in agreement. Ideally – taking care of the elders becomes a family affair. However, life is seldom ideal.

Even in seemingly harmonious families, the person who slowly became a default caregiver can start to feel resentful. The out-of-town siblings can conveniently slide into denial. They aren't around to see how much help is needed. They see Mom and Dad occasionally, talk to them on the phone, and all seems well. The fact that you, the in-town sibling, are the reason everything is going so smoothly doesn't really register with them.

This is a red flag for you. It's time to stop and consider how you are, as a family, going to handle the spiraling needs of aging parents. Most experts would suggest a family meeting. I agree. You, the hands-on caregiver, would explain all you do and give your siblings a chance to help.

You'd find each other's strengths and weaknesses and work with those. You'd regularly check in with each other and update the whole family as needed. I would suggest this, because it is ideal, and many families can do this with a little work. If this works for your family, congratulations and you can quit reading here.

Those of you who read questions and answers in the family and relationships support group will see the cold hard facts. You will see that, for many, the chances of a civil family meeting where you hash out the needs of your elders and agree who does what are, well, nil. You will see caregivers stressing over siblings accusing them of spending too much of their parents money to care for their parents. You will read the pleas for help from the one sibling who has quit his or her job to care full time for an ailing parent being either ignored by siblings, or worse, being accused of predatory intentions because they are "running the show."

Option 1: Geriatric Care Manager

When these ugly scenes pop up, there's usually no way to go but through a third party. It's nice if you can agree on hiring a geriatric care manager, if you can find one in your area. This person would do the managing, get the help set up, and offer a cool head to work out problems, since the manager is not emotionally involved and doesn't carry family baggage.

Geriatric care managers are not available in every part of the country, and there is no over-reaching licensing, so you will want to do your homework. But sometimes, these people can make siblings see the light. They can help the ones in denial realize that the one doing hands-on care is "really working."

Option 2: Counseling

Family counseling is also a good route, if siblings are willing to work on sibling relationships for the sake of their parents. Talking through the issue with an objective third party, who can guide the conversation and keep it civil, can help families work through the challenges associated with caring for an elderly parent. It helps everyone involved to better understand the other family member's views, frustrations and challenges, and can sometimes offer a fresh perspective.

Option 3: Elder Care Mediation

Unfortunately, many family relationships are beyond that point. This is where elder care mediators come in. These people are trained to mediate family disputes. Likely you can find one through your local court system or in the phone book.

Two online places to search for elder care mediation services are Eldercare Mediators at and the Association for Conflict Resolution at

This is certainly worth trying before going to court over guardianship rights, which some families end up doing. It would be lovely if people didn't bring their baggage from childhood into adulthood, but we all do to some extent. If people could at least put sibling rivalry, greed and other undesirable behaviors aside for the sake of their elders, that would also be lovely.

But sharing the care of elderly parents doesn't always bring out the best in people. Add to that hopes of inheriting something from the estate, and it gets worse. This is when third party help is often a good option. For, if the hands-on caregiver doesn't get help somewhere, the damage done can reach far beyond the elders. Resentments nurtured at this time can poison family relationships for generations. If you are the default family caregiver, ask siblings for help early on. Let them know they are wanted (drop the martyr act).

If they have been given a chance and they refuse, try an agency designed to solve family issues. It could be one of the best investments you've ever made.

Full Article & Source:
What to Do When Siblings Can't Agree on a Parent's Care Needs

Mother, son arrested for stealing $200,000 from elderly relative

Ansonia police arrested a mother and son for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from an elderly relative’s investment accounts.

Kristina Ukanowicz
Kristina, 62, and Joseph Ukanowicz, 29, of 195 Canal Street in Shelton are mother and son. They were both arrested on warrants following a two year investigation conducted by Detective Stephen Adcox into the theft of “tens of thousands of dollars” from Kristina’s mother while she was power of attorney over her mother’s finances.

According to police, the theft took place over a three-year period while the victim was in her eighties.

The victim’s bank and investment accounts went from having combined balances of over $200,000 to having a negative balance of over $1,000 during the time Kristina was power of attorney.

Through his investigation, Det. Adcox showed a pattern of spending and withdrawals that increased “disproportionately” from the time period before Kristina took over as power of attorney to her time as power of attorney.
Joseph Ukanowicz

Det. Adcox’s investigation also identified Joseph as being involved in the theft.

During interviews with both Kristina and Joseph, each admitted to a role in the theft but blamed each other for the majority of the theft.

On June 16, Joseph was arrested by warrant for first degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first degree larceny.

10 days later, Kristina was arrested by warrant for first degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first degree larceny.

Joseph appeared in court on June 19, was held on $50,000 bond and is currently incarcerated at the Bridgeport Correctional Center.

Kristina was held on a $35,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned in court today, June 27.

Full Article & Source:
Mother, son arrested for stealing $200,000 from elderly relative

Friday, June 30, 2017

Former wards, victims of attorney, awarded total of $200,000

Paul S. Kormanik
Financial relief is finally coming for some of the victims of a former Columbus attorney who stole money from his court-appointed wards.

More than $200,000 is being awarded collectively to 35 former wards of Paul S. Kormanik, who was the subject of a five-part Dispatch investigative series that prompted changes in the state’s guardianship system. If dispersed evenly, each former ward would receive a touch over $5,700.

The money will be paid out of the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection, which was established in 1985 to protect clients from potentially exploitative practices of attorneys. All active attorneys pay into the fund through various fees associated with the profession. Previously, two claims brought forward by Kormanik wards were reimbursed a total of $28,057.11 by the board.

“These situations can chip away at the public’s faith in the fiduciary responsibilities that wards entrust to their guardians, some of whom are attorneys,” said Janet Green Marbley, administrator of the fund. “It’s important for the public to understand that the fund can help rebuild that trust by reimbursing wards affected by the dishonest conduct of an attorney.”

The Columbus Bar Association brought 15 charges of misconduct against Kormanik, who forfeited his law license. Over the years he amassed about 400 probate court-appointed wards.

In court proceedings, Kormanik pleaded guilty to four counts of theft from an elderly or disabled person, one count of theft and five counts of tampering with records.

Kormanik was found dead in 2015 of apparent suicide. He was set to appear in court later that day to face contempt of court charges after failing to pay back one of his wards.

The Dispatch series invoked sweeping changes in the state’s guardianship system. The “Unguarded” series caused probate judges who award guardianship, state legislators and the Ohio Supreme Court to enact reforms.

Additionally, Attorney General Mike DeWine issued guidelines in a handbook that is required to be available to every guardian in Ohio.

A guardian is appointed by a probate court to manage care for the affairs of a minor or incompetent adult. Being designated a guardian or ward is “one of the most restrictive protective services available under Ohio law,” according to DeWine’s handbook.

Full Article & Source:
Former wards, victims of attorney, awarded total of $200,000

See Also:
Lawyer charged with stealing from wards, bilking burial fund

Jay Evensen: What is the solution for an incapacitated politician?

Gary Ott
The heart-wrenching case of Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott could be worse. He could be a judge.

A few years ago, at a federal court in New York, attorneys were astounded when an 84-year-old judge asked someone to explain the concept of email.

As quoted in Pro Publica, he said to no one in particular in the courtroom, “It pops up in a machine in some administrative office, and is somebody there with a duty to take it around and give it to whoever it’s named to?”

Email may be a difficult concept for many older people, but this particular judge had at one time competently presided over cases involving an investment banker and the information contained in a single email. Now he acted as if he had never heard of such a thing.

But was he suddenly incompetent, or merely having a bad day? And if we make it too easy to remove someone who is losing it, do we provide another tool in the never-ending blood sport that is politics?

I’ve encountered politicians who are nutty enough when competent that it would be hard to tell the difference.

That said, the anecdotal evidence surrounding Ott is becoming overwhelming. So are the suggestions his close aides are covering for him, and perhaps even taking advantage of him financially.

But we have to be careful not to make the cure for this problem worse than the problem itself.

Judges make life-or-death decisions. County recorders preside.

Sure, their offices record real estate transactions, liens, leases, mortgage transactions and subdivision plats, but the recorder has a competent staff to do all that. Ott presides, and if things are working well, you hardly need to be conscious to preside (insert a joke about your boss here).

We elect recorders because all those duties I just mentioned have to be a step removed from political influences. An appointed recorder might be pressured by a politically connected boss to fudge a record. An independently elected one gets to answer all by himself for what gets recorded.

Which is a problem, of course, if he can’t answer simple questions posed by a Deseret News reporter.

Utah law can’t help here. It contains no provision for removing someone who is incapacitated.

On the one hand, this is an indication of how rare such problems are. If the state has gone 121 years without having to confront such a challenge, do we really need to over-react to one highly publicized, agonizing example?

But on the other hand, who doesn’t know someone with dementia?

The Alzheimer’s Association reports someone acquires that degenerative brain disease every 66 seconds in this country, and Alzheimer’s is just one of several diseases that affect memory and cognitive skills. And while deaths from heart disease are down 14 percent since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s are up 89 percent.

The tricky intersection between competency and dementia seems destined to become more crowded and difficult to maneuver in the future.

So what is the remedy?

State lawmakers tried to find one during the 2017 session. Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, sponsored a bill that would have allowed someone to be removed from office for mental incapacity through a petition signed by a percentage of voters, a unanimous vote from a “local legislative body” and a ruling in a state district court.

The bill never advanced. At a hearing, it was opposed by advocates for the disabled, as well as the Utah Association of Counties.

The problem is, people might use such a process either to destroy the reputation of a politician or to remove that person for political reasons. Determining competency is no simple thing. It’s hard enough when it plays out within the private confines of a family.

Which is where Ott’s case ultimately belongs. His brother and sister have begun court proceedings to obtain guardianship. That may be the most logical and humane end game.

Meanwhile, we may be indeed grateful Ott isn’t a judge, or a governor or mayor.

That doesn’t mean such a thing won’t happen some day. It does mean we should take the time to craft a safe remedy.

Full Article & Source:
Jay Evensen: What is the solution for an incapacitated politician?

See Also:
Sister, brother file for legal guardianship of embattled county recorder

Workers charged in Boardman nursing home death

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) –Prosecutors in Boardman say three nursing home workers made a mistake with drugs and a patient died because of it.

The death at the center of the case happened in 2015 at Greenbriar Healthcare Center in Boardman.

It took the Ohio Attorney General’s Office the next two years to put together its case, and now investigators are charging those that they say are responsible.

Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Michael McBride said the Greenbriar patient died after the employees gave him the wrong drug and then tried to treat his overdose on their own.

“We believe, and actually the coroner’s report indicates, it actually caused the death of this gentleman,” McBride said.

Johonna Hull, 28, of East Liverpool, was arrested and charged with abuse of a patient and tampering with medical records.

Brenda Lamancusa is also charged with patient abuse. Another person, who hasn’t yet been arrested, also faces charges.

The victim’s identity is being protected under privacy laws.

Complaints from nursing home deaths are investigated by the Attorney General’s Office. McBride said this case involved extensive medical review.

In November of 2015, just after the death, Greenbriar Health Care was placed on a Medicaid “worst of the worst” watch list.

The state noted several problems with prescription protocols and other issues.

The facility improved enough to be taken off that watch list in February of this year.

McBride said this is the only criminal abuse case that he has handled from the nursing home over the past several years.

Editor’s note: This story is corrected to show that Hull is 28 years old, according to court records and the Licensing Bureau. A police report listed Hull’s age and birthdate, indicating she was 18.

Full Article & Source:
Workers charged in Boardman nursing home death

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Terri Schiavo’s Brother on Protecting the Medically Vulnerable

Published on Jun 23, 2017
With the rise of assisted suicide, the spotlight is on the need to protect the medically vulnerable. Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo, joins us as we look back on her life and discuss how we can care for our loved ones.

 Terri Schiavo’s Brother on Protecting the Medically Vulnerable

N.H. becomes first state to give grandparents preference in guardianship cases

Gov. Chris Sununu
As the opioid crisis continues to devastate New Hampshire, grandparents will soon have an easier time getting guardianship of grandchildren whose parents are abusing drugs.

At a ceremony in the State House on Tuesday, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed House Bill 629 into law. The change will take effect in 2018 and make New Hampshire the first state in the country to give preference to grandparents in guardianship cases related to substance abuse, lawmakers said.

Republican Rep. Mariellen MacKay filed the bill after hearing from grandparents that they weren’t getting a voice in the court process.

“That’s their child and their grandchild; who would know better?” asked MacKay of Nashua.

The state’s child protection division has recently seen a spike in abuse and neglect reports related to substance abuse. Nearly 470 babies were born exposed to drugs last year, slightly lower than the 2015 number, but still far above the 367 cases in 2014, according to the Division for Children, Youth and Families. Nearly 500 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, and experts say many were in their parenting years and may have left behind children.

Treatment providers say parents with drug addiction are sometimes reluctant to seek treatment out of fear the state will take away their children. MacKay hopes the bill helps address that issue by ensuring the child can remain in the family, but under the grandparents’ care.

“If you are the adult with the substance abuse issue, you want to be free to take care of yourself and not have to worry, ‘Am I going to lose the right to my child?’ ” she said.

It’s not clear exactly how many grandparents in the state are raising their grandchildren, but estimates put the number at around 10,000.

Denis and Rosemary Nugent of Antrim became guardians for their grandson after their son was incarcerated when his drug and alcohol use got “out of hand.” Though they didn’t have trouble in court, they said they support the bill to make it easier in the future for families like theirs.

“These children are like the forgotten victims of the opioid crisis,” Denis Nugent said. The couple’s grandson, also named Denis, stood at Sununu’s right side as the first-term governor signed the bill.

Later, the boy proudly showed his grandparents a blue pen commemorating the occasion.

In addition to the bill related to guardianship, Sununu signed into law a study committee to look at grandfamilies in the state. The group, including legislators, child protection workers and advocates, will seek to gather data on the number of New Hampshire grandfamilies, barriers they face and actions that could improve their situations. A report is due in November.

Full Article & Source:
N.H. becomes first state to give grandparents preference in guardianship cases

Many elderly are ashamed to speak of abuse

Abuse is a word that most people do not like to talk about. Abuse happens all over the world, which is scary in itself. It has been reported that thousands of adult Oklahomans suffer Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation by family members and other caregivers each year. Many of the victims are elderly, and possibly frail and vulnerable. They are unable to help themselves and depend on others to meet their basic needs.

Many older people are too ashamed to speak of abuse of any kind. This is why most abuse occurs without being reported. The abuse may occur in their own home, in relatives’ homes, and even in a long term care facility that is responsible for their care.

Abuse does not happen in every long term care facility. Many long term care facilities provide quality care, but even one allegation of abuse is one too many. Visiting our elderly in the long term care facilities is very important. By visiting we can be the eyes and ears that they need to help stop abuse.

Become an Ombudsman Volunteer, you can help make sure that the elderly in the long term care facilities are being treated with respect and dignity they deserve. To learn more about Elderly Abuse, the Ombudsman Program or to become an Ombudsman Volunteer, contact Tiffany Wingfield or Rebekah Williams at SODA Area Agency on Aging at 580-920-1388 or Senior Info. Line 1-800-211-2116 or write to them at P.O. Box 709 Durant, OK. 74702. Ombudsman Supervisors are available to speak to your group or organization upon request. Flexible training schedules are available.

Full Article & Source:
Many elderly are ashamed to speak of abuse

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sister, brother file for legal guardianship of embattled county recorder

SALT LAKE CITY — Family members of embattled Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott are seeking legal permission to make decisions for him, according to court documents that a judge acted on Monday.

An attorney for his brother, Marty Ott, and his sister, Kathy Ott Chamberlain, filed a petition for the "appointment of guardian and conservator of incapacitated adult" in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court on Friday.

Judge Mark Kouris on Monday signed an order at the family's request, as well as temporary orders related to guardianship and financial decision-making.

But Ott's office aide, who many have identified as Ott's girlfriend, said Monday that she is the county recorder's would-be guardian and financial manager.

Few details were available about the judge's decision. The documents remain sealed, and Chamberlain referred comment to her attorney Mary Corporon.

Corporon, who is also Gary Ott's ex-wife, declined to comment about the case.

"At this point, we don't have anything that ought to be public," Corporon said. "These kinds of cases are private for a reason. They're extremely sensitive."

The document also names Kristine Ott Williams as a petitioner.

Gary Ott has been the target of public scrutiny for a year and a half as questions about his health have surfaced following a series of Deseret News stories. Colleagues say his visits to the office have been much more sporadic in recent months, raising additional concerns about his well-being. Earlier this month he made a series of incoherent statements in a 45-minute interview with the Deseret News.

Karmen Sanone — the aide who describes herself as Ott's "longtime friend" who has also been identified as his girlfriend and fiancee — said Monday that she and Ott were dumbfounded by the family's court filings. Sanone said Ott's family has not been involved in his life for years, and said she believes the court filings are financially motivated.

Sanone said for the first time that she is identified in Ott's living will — which she estimates was created three or four years ago — as his would-be guardian and financial manager if the need arises. The pair was on their way back from a restaurant, Sanone said Monday night, and Ott declined when she asked if he wanted to talk to a reporter.

"I'm just very concerned. Gary's with me. He's shocked. We just finished dinner," she said.

The pair's relationship is part of Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill's monthslong investigation into Ott's situation, as well as allegations that Ott lives outside of Salt Lake County and allegations that Sanone and Ott's chief deputy, Julie Dole, are taking advantage of Ott's situation. Both women have denied those allegations.

"There is no nepotism," Sanone said Monday evening.

Marty Ott could not be reached for comment Monday. Earlier this month, however, he expressed concerns about his brother’s finances. A “notice of default” obtained by Ott’s own Salt Lake County Recorder’s Office indicated that Gary Ott hadn’t been paying his home equity loan for almost a year.

He said the "question of the hour" was where his brother's paycheck been going over the past 11 months. "That's a big question," Marty Ott said, adding that the default notice "absolutely" amplified his concerns for his brother.

Gary Ott earns nearly $190,000 annually in salary and benefits.

Sanone blamed an account number for the lack of payments. She said the loan default matter was a surprise to Ott and would be quickly sorted out.

Marty Ott said he and other family members have been troubled by his brother's situation and they planned to advocate for the man's best interests.

"All of our focus and energy is being directed to one thing: Gary's well-being," Marty Ott said on June 14.

Gill on Monday praised Gary Ott's "lifetime of devoted service" to the county, saying the situation is a tragic one.

"I share the same concerns about Gary and his health and I'm happy to see some family members are stepping up," Gill said, saying he wants the best for Ott.

Issues surrounding Ott have led to a series of recent closed sessions by the Salt Lake County Council, which last week announced plans to use its power of the purse strings to take action against the recorder's office. A discussion of the budget for the recorder's office was set for Tuesday but has been postponed.

That comes after at least two closed meetings with the district attorney to discuss a "personnel matter," according to the council's agenda.

Bound by closed meetings rules, council members have been tight-lipped about the details of those discussions, but the meetings came after Mayor Ben McAdams called for Ott's resignation following the Deseret News' ongoing investigation into Ott's well-being.

Earlier this month, Sanone said Ott, 66, is considering retirement before the end of his current term, which ends in 2020.

Full Article & Source:
Sister, brother file for legal guardianship of embattled county recorder

Archangels of Justice Podcast With Salvatore E. Rastrelli and Ira B. Robins

Archangels of Justice is a podcast that follows two experienced private investigators, as they look into different cases involving misclassified murders, law enforcement corruption, and the wrongfully imprisoned. 

Each series will take the listener on a journey through these complex cases and give the families point of view along with law enforcement and crime scene experts. Investigators, Salvatore E. Rastrelli and Ira B. Robins review actual cases to identify the problems within the justice system and determine the cures. 

They seek to reverse the breakdown in public trust, alleviate the hostility on both sides, and reduce the number of senseless deaths. Both are former police officers and private investigators with more than 88 years combined investigative experience. It’s been easy for law enforcement to misclassify crimes like murders as suicides or robberies as thefts because of inept police work, to reduce their crime statistics, or to tip the scales to wrongfully convict someone they decide is guilty, or to protect one of their friends. 

They cover-up their own criminal conduct involving wrongful death and brutality by hiding facts and lying. Rastrelli and Robins have the courage to assist those who have had their civil rights trampled by corrupt police and prosecutors. 

They review cases submitted by victim’s families, find the ineptitude or misconduct, and reveal methods to alleviate the problems in order to effect change. 

Each series, will take the viewer on journey, as they will see both sides of the issue and the facts will be presented in way that ultimately the viewer has to decide what they believe. 

Our hope is that this will lead to a serious public conversation about the training and responsibilities of our Law Enforcement. The Archangels of Justice are will lead this conversation to make sure Law Enforcement and Courts answer for their mistakes.

View the podcast on ITunes

Two charged with taking financial advantage of elderly people

Louise McLendon
Two people have been arrested and charged with taking financial advantage of elderly people.

On June 21, investigators with the Dothan Police Department arrested and charged Stephen Fredrick Beck III, 36, of Dothan, with financial exploitation of the elderly and identity theft.

According to Dothan Police Lt. Will Glover, Beck had taken advantage of a family member with health issues, which benefited Beck with an automobile. He also used the same family member’s name to obtain automobile insurance on the vehicle. However, once the victim realized what had occurred, she contacted the Dothan Police Department.

Investigators also arrested and charged Louise McLendon, 66, of Dothan, with financial exploitation of the elderly. McLendon was the caregiver for a 76 year-old victim.

According to Glover, family members of the victim noticed a decrease in the victim’s checking account. Glover said the suspect had written several checks totaling $7,000, and forged the victim’s signature.

Both cases are still being investigated by the Dothan Police Department. Anyone with any additional information can call the Dothan Police Department at 334-615-3000.

A person convicted of taking at least $2,500 in cash or property through exploitation of an elderly person is guilty of a Class B felony, punishable by between 2 and 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000.

Full Article & Source:
Two charged with taking financial advantage of elderly people

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dennis Crawford Imprisoned For Financial Exploitation Of Ward

DATE/TIME: 11/20/15 @ 1100 hours LOCATION: Derby, VT VIOLATION: Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult, Grand Larceny, Abuse Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult, False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer ACCUSED: Dennis Crawford AGE:46 CITY, STATE OF RESIDENCE: Orleans, VT VICTIM: Theodore Ackley AGE:86 CITY, STATE OF RESIDENCE: Derby, VT SUMMARY OF INCIDENT: In August 2015 the Vermont State Police became involved with a case involving a vulnerable adult and a family member who was taking advantage of him. On 11/20/15 after several months of investigation a search warrant was executed at the residence of Crawford with the help of Border Patrol K-9 Unit, VSP Computer Crimes and local BCI personnel to look for further evidence of the above crime. Crawford was arrested for the above violations and taken before the Judge. Crawford was released on conditions.

Dennis Crawford Imprisoned For Financial Exploitation Of Ward


The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Dennis Crawford, 48, who now lives in St. Johnsbury and formerly lived in Newport and Orleans, was sentenced today in United States District Court in Rutland to 18 months of imprisonment following his guilty plea to a charge of wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Geoffrey Crawford also ordered that Crawford serve three years of supervised release following completion of his prison term and pay restitution of more than $77,000. The court ordered Crawford to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Aug. 1 to begin serving his sentence.

Full Article & Source:
Dennis Crawford Imprisoned For Financial Exploitation Of Ward

Law license of former York County probate judge suspended for 2 years

Former York County Probate Court Judge Robert Nadeau.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has suspended the law license of former York County Probate Judge Robert Nadeau for two years for multiple violations of the state’s code of judicial conduct.

The court’s 34-page decision, handed down Tuesday, is the latest setback for Nadeau. He was suspended 30 days last summer while he was still on the bench, then lost his bid for re-election in November.

Nadeau has been operating a law practice in Biddeford, but will not be allowed to practice in Maine for two years beginning Aug. 1. He also must pay a $5,000 fine.

“This is now the fourth time that Judge Nadeau has appeared before us for ethical violations and the third time for conduct that occurred while serving in a judicial capacity,” the court’s ruling states. “Here, his actions were often carried out in an intemperate and vindictive fashion against former colleagues of his law practice and their associates. Attorneys’ reputations were harmed, and litigants before him were pressured to support his efforts to increase court resources and his compensation.”

Despite the ruling, Nadeau defended his record in a statement Tuesday night.

“I am proud to have made a positive difference in the lives of nearly 20,000 children, adult incapacitated persons, and their parents, grandparents, adult children and others during my 16 years of service for York County and its probate court,” Nadeau said in an email. “This is so, despite the probate court’s woeful lack of adequate support and exercise of substantial interference by its county commissioners and despite the unfortunately high degree of politicization of Maine’s elected private judges by those commissioners, their uninformed manager and probate register, the York County bar, and others who oppose an elected judiciary.”

Nadeau was first elected as probate judge in York County in 1996. He served three four-year terms before losing re-election in 2008. However, he won back his seat in 2012.

The most recent allegations against him were detailed in a report filed Jan. 16, 2016, by the state’s Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability, which governs members of the bar.

Full Article & Source:
Law license of former York County probate judge suspended for 2 years

Woman charged after police say she wiped out mother's bank accounts

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A woman is being charged after police say she neglected and exploited her elderly mother.

Amanda Reavis, 36, is charged with abuse or neglect of an incapacitated adult and financial exploitation of an elderly person.

According to a criminal complaint, Reavis' mother was admitted to the hospital in August 2016 with a low body mass index and cognitive abilities in decline.

Dunbar Police say Reavis has had power of attorney of her mother since January of 2015 to oversee her mother's health, well-being and her financial affairs.

Reavis took control of two of her mother's bank accounts, one of which had $58,000 in it. By March 2016, police say that account was down to just $85.

Police say from September 2015 to September 2016, Reavis was also receiving monthly social security deposits for her mother, each totaling $1,724.

According to the criminal complaint, Reavis left her mother in less than desirable conditions which included bed sores, soiled clothing and being placed in a bedroom with little to no interaction.

Reavis was turned into Adult Protection Services for neglect.

Full Article & Source:
Woman charged after police say she wiped out mother's bank accounts

Monday, June 26, 2017

Former Guardian Jailed After Missing Report Deadline

Laura Cooper
The former guardian of a Jefferson County widow is being held without bail until she accounts for hundreds of thousands of dollars advocates say is missing.

According to court documents, 43-year-old Laura Cooper of Clinton, Arkansas appeared in a Tallahassee courtroom on Tuesday to plead for more time to produce a guardianship report.

But Leon Circuit Judge Robert Long ordered Cooper held without bond until she produces a report the court first demanded May 24th.

Advocates for Delores Caracci contend more than $400,000 in cash, real estate, and vehicles is missing from her estate.

Full Article & Source:
Former Guardian Jailed After Missing Report Deadline

Governor Bill Haslam signs bills to protect elderly citizens from exploitation, abuse

(WJHL) – Gov. Bill Haslam signed two bills into law on Wednesday, both meant to better protect the elderly in Tennessee.

One of the laws aims to do more to stop people from financially exploiting senior citizens.

Co-sponsor Sen. Rusty Crowe said banks were previously afraid to report the crime due to liability concerns, so lawmakers made a change to give those banks better protection and direction.

In addition to financial exploitation, the law also increases penalties for people who abuse or exploit the elderly or vulnerable adults.

State senators credit our 2013 Community Watchdog investigation as the reason for their continued focus on elder abuse.

That investigation prompted harsher penalties and the creation of a state elderly and vulnerable abuse task force.

Full Article & Source:
Governor Bill Haslam signs bills to protect elderly citizens from exploitation, abuse

Antipsychotics Found to Harm Hospice Patients With Delirium

A February 16, 2017 article in Neurology Today takes aim at the harmful misuse use of antipsychotic drugs to treat symptoms of delirium for patients receiving hospice care.

The article, "Antipsychotics Found Ineffective for Patients with Delirium in Palliative Care", is centered on a recent study in which Haldol and Risperdal were found to worsen delirium and increase mortality when given to hospice patients. Patients given a placebo fared better. The authors conclusion: “Antipsychotic drugs should not be added to manage specific symptoms of delirium that are known to be associated with distress in patients receiving palliative care who have mild to moderately severe delirium.” Non-pharmacological approaches were recommended.

Antipsychotics Found to Harm Hospice Patients With Delirium

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Maine's probate courts may get long-delayed overhaul

AUGUSTA — Fifty years ago, the voters of Maine approved a constitutional amendment that repealed their historic right to elect probate judges in each county.

But the referendum didn’t actually set a date for when that would happen. It was supposed to take place when the Legislature worked out how to create a new probate court system with full-time judges.

Since they never have, the system that’s been around since 1855 remains in place, a relic that puts a little extra income in the pocket of 16 part-time lawyers who serve as county judges, each in charge of probate cases within a single county.

It’s possible that lawmakers may get around to making the long-promised change before too much longer. Bills that would get the ball rolling are creeping ever closer to final passage.

They would create a commission that would offer a plan for the new court system next year and install judges who would devote all of their attention to probate cases.

To be fair, it’s not as if legislators never tried. They’ve eyed all sorts of possibilities in the past half-century that would do the job. They just haven’t actually endorsed any of them.

“Study after study has suggested we change the system. Let's finally give it the attention it deserves,” Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said.

While Maine dithered, the rest of New England, which once had the same kind of independent probate courts overseen by part-time judges who often practice law on the side, has pulled off the makeover.

“Maine remains an outlier, with no benefits to its citizens from maintaining such position. Each year that passes makes the need for comprehensive reform more urgent,” said Deirdre Smith, a faculty member of the University of Maine School of Law and the director of its legal aid clinic.

Probate courts, which don’t have juries, deal with estates, adoptions, name changes, guardianship issues and proceedings aimed at protecting minors. Much of what they do is out of the public’s eye and successful judges are often at least as adept at dealing with clashing personalities as they are at interpreting arcane legal points.

The proposal, which both the House and Senate have endorsed, would create a 15-member commission “to create a plan for a more efficient and effective probate court system” that “will ensure, timely, convenient and meaningful access to justice.”

Katz said Maine’s regular judiciary works fine.

“I don't think we can say the same thing about the probate court system,” he told colleagues. “It doesn't look good on paper and, although it usually works well, that is not always the case.”

“To me, the heart of the problem is twofold: First, we elect probate judges who serve only part time, and secondly, we allow them to appear as private attorneys in Maine courts and probate courts outside of their own county,” Katz said.

He also said that if the state designed a system from scratch, it would never have elections for judges. “It is a system absolutely ripe for abuse,” Katz said, with inevitable complications for both winners and losers in contested races.

Besides, he said, “The idea of a partisan probate judge makes little sense in the 21st century. What is the Republican position on how to handle a contested guardianship? I have no idea.”

Katz also called it “a lousy system” to allow probate judges to practice law on the side “and even appear in probate courts in other counties as a private attorney, arguing cases in front of their fellow judges.”

It’s not hard to come up with scenarios where conflicts of interest may abound as judges, who are also private attorneys, vie with one another in one court while sitting in judgment of each other in a different venue, Katz said.

Leo Delicata, an attorney with Legal Services for the Elderly, said that because each court is independent from the other probate courts, Mainers “are not likely to receive the same experience of justice in each of these courts.”

That, he said, “is not acceptable in a society where the rule of law defines who we are as a people.”

He said the system needs uniformity and full-time professionals steeped in the relevant law and following the same procedures as other probate judges statewide. In the end, Delicata said, it “comes down to the idea that being a judge is more than just a job.”

One of the few critics of the proposal is Louis Sigel of Gardiner, who said Katz “is not trying to fix the Maine probate court system, he is attempting to destroy it.”

Sigel said that if probate judges can’t work part-time as lawyers, only wealthy people will be able to afford the job. The bill, he said, would “totally impoverish most probate judges” since they could only rely on their salaries.

Kathleen Ayers, a second-generation register of probate for Kennebec County, said probate courts are part of county government, which sets their budgets and salaries — something the state’s overhaul would likely change. The bill includes a provision to figure out how to ensure proper pay for the judges.

Ayers said the Maine Association of Registers of Probate isn’t opposed to change but wants a say in what’s done.

She said the existing system is about more than simply litigation. Much of the work involves answering questions from people who are trying to figure out what to do with a child whose parent is sent to jail or how to deal with an estate for somebody who died without significant assets.

She said probate judges want to improve the system and make it better. The question, though, is whether there’s enough money for the overhaul Katz envisions.

“Luckily, that is a question you folks must answer,” Ayers told lawmakers.

Full Article & Source:
Maine's probate courts may get long-delayed overhaul

Film Producer Seeking Assisted Suicide Stories

The producers of The Euthanasia Deception documentary ( are working on a new film dealing with the effects of assisted suicide in America. 

Assisted suicide is currently legal in the States of Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, and the District of Columbia. 

If you or a loved one have felt coerced, experienced abuse, or come back from the brink of death by assisted death, we would like to hear from you. 

Email us a brief description with contact information at

Full Article & Source:
Film Producer Seeking Assisted Suicide Stories

FED: Man Schemed Elderly With Reverse Mortgages

(CHICAGO) — A Chicago businessman has been arraigned on federal fraud charges for his alleged role in a scheme to bilk elderly homeowners out of millions of dollars.

Federal prosecutors say Mark Steven Diamond, a mortgage loan originator with offices in Chicago and Calumet City, engaged in a home repair and loan fraud scheme that targeted elderly homeowners and lenders. According to the indictment, Diamond fraudulently caused lenders to make reverse-mortgage loans to homeowners who either did not sign up for the loans or did so unwittingly after Diamond intentionally misrepresented the terms. They say Diamond fraudulently pocketed the loan checks by causing title company representatives, including a co-schemer, to provide the checks to Diamond rather than the homeowners. The indictment seeks forfeiture of $7 million from Diamond.

Diamond, 60, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment this week to seven counts of wire fraud.

According to the indictment, Diamond targeted his victims, who ranged in age from 62 to 97, based on the equity in their homes and their relative lack of financial sophistication. If a victim’s relative questioned Diamond on the need for a reverse mortgage, prosecutors say Diamond would schedule a time to visit the victim’s home when he knew the relative would not be there.

Also charged in the indictment is Cynthia Wallace, 47, of Chicago. Prosecutors say Wallace solicited homeowners to have home repairs performed by Diamond, knowing that Diamond would not actually perform the work. They say Wallace also posed as a representative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fraudulently obtain money from victims.

Wallace has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of falsely pretending to be an employee of the United States.

Full Article & Source:
FED: Man Schemed Elderly With Reverse Mortgages