Saturday, October 21, 2017

Deaths, injuries and nude photos - a list of 36 serious Pa. nursing home violations

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Deaths, injuries and nude photos - a list of 36 serious Pa. nursing home violations

Judicial discipline panel recommends removal of chief judge

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Maryland panel that oversees judges’ conduct has recommended that Baltimore’s chief judge be removed from his position and not be permitted to serve as a judge in the state.

The Baltimore Sun reports the Commission on Judicial Disabilities unanimously voted that 69-year-old Chief Judge Alfred Nance committed “sanctionable conduct” and referred their recommendation to the Court of Appeals, which has the final say.

Nance was accused of having “persistently disrespectful” interactions with a public defender. The panel found that his tone of voice and body language were insensitive and inflammatory. Charges stemming from two other cases were dismissed for a “lack of proof.”

This is at least the third time the commission has publicly moved to discipline Nance.

Nance’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

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Judicial discipline panel recommends removal of chief judge

Gary Ott dies after Alzheimer’s battle; former top aide blames his family

After years spent suffering from a progressive neurodegenerative disease, mostly hidden from public view, former longtime Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott died Thursday morning in hospice care in St. George.

He was 66.

Ott’s death followed a four-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. The details of his diagnosis were first made public last week in a court battle between Ott’s siblings and his former fiancee and assistant, Karmen Sanone.

A judge has yet to rule on who would become Ott’s guardian and conservator, which includes the power to preside over Ott’s estate. It’s not clear how his death will affect the court case. Third District Judge Bruce Lubeck said he planned to rule within days or weeks.

Martin Ott, Gary Ott’s brother, said his family spent several days at his side after being told Ott’s death was near. They were with him when he died, Martin Ott said.

“Believe me, the man was suffering. Every breath,” Martin Ott said.

Hours before his death, Sanone visited Ott’s facility and attempted to see him. The family and facility called St. George police and reported she was trespassing, according to a report read to The Tribune by Capt. Mike Giles.

“Family that were present as well as the facility had requested that she leave,” Giles said. “Our officers provided a trespass notice that if she returned charges could be filed or an arrest could be made.”

Attorneys in the case said they didn’t know what would happen moving forward with Ott’s estate, including a Salt Lake City home and banking and retirement accounts, along with immediate arrangements, such as services and interment.

Ott had been living with Sanone at her Weber County farm for years while maintaining legal residency in Salt Lake County.

The two acted like husband and wife, describing themselves as such to various doctors in recent years. They had exchanged rings and were once engaged, but never married.

After struggles with his speech, Ott saw a doctor in 2013 who said he believed the symptoms may indicate a form of dementia. Subsequent visits with neurologists confirmed Ott likely had Alzheimer’s. As of last week, Ott had advanced Alzheimer’s disease, attorneys said.

The diagnosis came two years after friends and former employees say they began seeing possible signs of the disease.

His decline would perplex friends, family and employees for years as they knew something was wrong with Ott but were powerless to remove him from office or otherwise intervene in his life.

His employees, meanwhile, attributed various symptoms emerging in public to a severe case of shingles and the medication he took for years to treat it. Two of his staffers, Sanone and former Chief Deputy Recorder Julie Dole, had access to his email account.

They said they never wrote anything purporting to be from Ott without his actually knowing and signing off on the correspondence. Sanone said she was writing his emails because a debilitating hand injury left him unable to write for himself. In one email, Sanone fretted over how to make an email appear as though it was coming from the elected recorder.

In another, sent May 5, 2016, between her public and private email addresses, Sanone sent a document called “Gary Ott Trust Outline,” a record obtained by The Tribune this week shows. The outline sought to give Sanone control over Ott’s trust.

“I want the trust designed such that all assets will remain in my control until such time as I become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make my own decisions,” the outline said. “At this time, the co-trustee will assume control of the trust and my assets.

“Karmen Sanone is to be named as Co-trustee.”

It’s not clear whether the outline, which sought to give Sanone control over all of Ott’s stocks and investments, powers of attorney, farm equipment and other assets, was ever signed.

In January 2015, the same day Ott was sworn into his final years in office, he purportedly signed an advance health care directive, a document nominating Sanone as his medical guardian should he need one in the future. Dole, who filled out much of the document, was also the legal witness.

He then walked into the county clerk’s office and stumbled over the oath of office, including repeating his own name.

After months of news reports that began to shed light on the apparent struggles of the county recorder, Ott’s family, living in southern Utah, asked the 3rd District Court to give them the power to make his medical and financial decisions.

After Sanone found out the siblings were going to court, she visited one of Ott’s financial planners and became the death beneficiary on one of his retirement accounts, according to court testimony.

Dole and Sanone have been accused of knowingly propping Ott up in the office for years while he suffered from his terminal condition, even going back to his 2014 re-election.

During that time, police were contacted about Ott at least three times, including one winter night in Tooele last year, when Ott ran out of gas and was wandering disoriented. Police, who described him as incoherent, took him to the emergency room.

His friends and family described a sense of relief on Thursday as Ott’s suffering came to an end, about 4 a.m. in hospice. Caretakers warned the family days ago that Ott was near death, and they spent several days with him.

“We’re religious people. We think that there’s a hereafter,” Martin Ott said. “Gary was crossing the line and would be joining with loved ones from long ago.”

In a written response, Dole said she was “deeply saddened” by the news. She said she learned of Ott’s condition in court last week and called accusations that she knew of his condition long ago “absurd.” She also blamed Ott’s siblings for his death.

“I believe from all reports that Gary met an untimely death due to his siblings‘ decisions, which I do not believe took any consideration of what Gary wanted, nor his quality of life,” Dole said. “He should have been allowed to spend his last days with his last days with his pets and life partner on the farm, not locked in a confined space.”

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s office has talked about an investigation related to the recorder’s office but has released no details of the matter.

Martin Ott said the family wants justice.

His friends and family described a sense of relief on Thursday as Ott’s suffering came to an end, about 4 a.m. in hospice. Caretakers warned the family days ago that Ott was near death, and they spent several days with him.

“We’re religious people. We think that there’s a hereafter,” Martin Ott said. “Gary was crossing the line and would be joining with loved ones from long ago.”

In a written response, Dole said she was “deeply saddened” by the news. She said she learned of Ott’s condition in court last week and called accusations that she knew of his condition long ago “absurd.” She also blamed Ott’s siblings for his death.

“I believe from all reports that Gary met an untimely death due to his siblings‘ decisions, which I do not believe took any consideration of what Gary wanted, nor his quality of life,” Dole said. “He should have been allowed to spend his last days with his pets and life partner on the farm, not locked in a confined space.”

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s office has talked about an investigation related to the recorder’s office but has released no details of the matter.

Martin Ott said the family wants justice.

“All of us, in the family, are very interested not in revenge here, there’s no [point] there. It’s a place for the cynical,” he said. “What we are interested in is justice. We’re hopeful that the folks that perpetrated what appear to us to be criminal acts are brought to justice.”

Full Article & Source:
Gary Ott dies after Alzheimer’s battle; former top aide blames his family

See Also:
Testimony: Gary Ott had dementia long before 2014 campaign

Friday, October 20, 2017

Reedsburg man accused of assaulting disabled woman at Dungarvin facility

Joel Nesler
A Reedsburg man is accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a long-term care center in the town of Pacific.

Joel Nesler, 29, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree sexual assault on Oct. 17. Columbia County authorities received a report the day before alleging that at a Dungarvin care facility for people with disabilities, where Nesler was a care worker, he had assaulted a female client.

Nesler is being held in Columbia County Jail awaiting official charges from the district attorney’s office.

“Dungarvin has provided services to individuals with disabilities across the country for the past 40 years,” State Director Julie Josephitis said of the St. Paul-based organization. “We take seriously the safety of the people we support. All staff are subject to pre-employment background checks in accordance to regulations.”

Citing privacy concerns Josephitis declined to comment on any details regarding Nesler’s hiring, length of time with the company or specific nature of care provided at the facility.

Prior legal issues for the organization in Wisconsin, according to online court records, have been limited to financial disputes and one civil case against a former employee. The lawsuit, which was dismissed in December 2013, was filed by Dungarvin against former employee John Herrera, who the company claimed breached his contract regarding invasion of privacy by contacting authorities and media about a man housed in Baraboo, who was a violent, mentally ill convict who allegedly attacked at least 10 employees.

Full Article & Source: 
Reedsburg man accused of assaulting disabled woman at Dungarvin facility

Freed From Guardianship A Kentucky First: Suzie Wins Her Rights in Court Using SDM

Suzanne Heck wanted her rights back… and in the process the 22-year-old from Lexington became a pioneer and role model for those like her in Kentucky.

Shortly after Heck, who is diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability, reached adulthood, a Kentucky court took away her right to decide where she lived, what she did with her money and what happened to her body.

At the age of 18, she became a ward of the state.

So in March of 2017, Heck (her friends call her Suzie) and her support team contacted Kentucky Protection & Advocacy and requested its help with restoring her rights through Supported Decision-Making.

SDM is a way people can make their own decisions and stay in charge of their lives while receiving any help they need to do so. Supported Decision-Making is just a fancy way of describing how we all make choices.

Currently in Kentucky, there are over 4,500 adults in the state guardianship system, which is underfunded and severely overburdened.

Many adults like Heck can make decisions for themselves with the support of a team. Heck’s team consists of friends and paid caregivers through Kentucky’s intellectual and developmental disability Medicaid waiver called Supports for Community Living.

She attends day services at an Adult Day Training facility in Lexington, lives in a home with two housemates and staff who assist her with daily living, as needed.

When Camille Collins, an Advocate with Kentucky Protection & Advocacy, became involved in Heck’s case, Suzie’s supporters had already begun functioning as a SDM team.

Team member Stacy Seale, a licensed psychological associate at Employment Solutions, submitted a psychological report with a petition to modify or terminate guardianship in Fayette County District Court.

In this report, Seale emphasized all of Heck’s abilities and that she works with her team when making medical, personal and financial decisions.

“Ms. Heck does a wonderful job of seeking out her team and asking for their input on her current life decisions,” Seale said.

Seale concluded that Heck, working with her SDM team, would no longer need a legal guardian.
In April, Heck attended a hearing to modify or terminate her guardianship order. Her state guardian attended and agreed with Heck’s request.

Because the county attorney was not comfortable with the restoration, Collins requested that an attorney be appointed for Heck and that the hearing be postponed. The judge agreed.

Moria Mulligan, Heck’s appointed attorney, worked with Collins and Heck’s SDM team to learn how individuals with disabilities can use teams to support them in their ability to make decisions for themselves.

Heck also created a “Dream Board,” which consists of photos of her SDM team members on one side and illustrations that represent her hopes and dreams on the other.

Her goals are no different from anyone else’s – vacations, employment, and more time with family and friends.

As a ward of the state, most if not all of her goals and dreams would have to be approved by a guardian, forcing Heck to defend her goals.

That would mean meetings and hours of discussion. That was one of her motives for terminating guardianship.

On July 24, 2017 – two days before her birthday – the judge, with the agreement of the county attorney who better understood Heck’s situation, fully restored Heck’s rights. She is now able to make personal, medical and financial decisions.

Heck is a sort of Jackie Robinson for restored rights. She is the first person on record in Kentucky to have her rights fully restored by the courts with Supported Decision-Making as an alternative to guardianship.

Heck was so elated when the judge ruled in her favor, she nearly floated out of the courtroom.

“I was really nervous at first but when the judge ruled, I almost ran out because I was so excited. I was blown away,” she said.

Heck admits that the full impact of the ruling has yet to sink in, but she already has benefitted. Recently, she went with a friend and her friend’s caregiver to the Hamburg YMCA.

“As far as I can remember, that’s the first time I went out without a caregiver,” Heck said.

What else will she do with her freedom? “I want to buy a copy of the movie, ‘The Last Mimzy,’” she said.

Sounds simple enough. Not so if she were still a ward of the state. A request for cash would go though her guardian and then on to the state and could take a few weeks to process.

“Now, if she wants $50 to go to Kentucky Kingdom, for example, she can get the money the same day. She has total control of her money now,” Collins said.

“I’m excited for her. Research shows that people who are empowered with their rights live happier and healthier lives.”

Heck is bursting with plans for the future. In 2018, a visit Dollywood, and Disney World a year later.

She wants to be a social worker or a police officer or go to college. “How do I start applying for jobs?” she asks.

Chastity Ross, a former chairperson of the CCDD Council, is her case worker and can help with job searches or refer her to the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

In the meantime, Heck is heady with all the wild possibilities. “It’s awesome that I could go wherever I want and live wherever I want.”

Actually, her wishes are much more grounded – She longs for a family setting through the Family Home Provider program.

“I want to live with a family but why is it taking so long?”

Not to worry, said Collins. “I think you will find a family provider soon because you’re such an awesome person,” Collins said.

A big grin creases Heck’s face. There is much to be happy about now for Suzie Heck, a free woman with big dreams for the future.

The National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making can help you find information on Supported Decision-Making and other alternatives to guardianship, access Supported Decision-Making agreements and other legal forms, connect you with people and organizations that may be able to help you, and answer your questions. Info: www. SupportedDecisionMaking.Org.

Full Article & Source:
Freed From Guardianship A Kentucky First: Suzie Wins Her Rights in Court Using SDM

Lansing lawyer who was removed from cases pleads the Fifth during hearing

Catherine Jacobs
LANSING -- A Lansing lawyer who has been removed from several cases by judges in two counties asserted her Fifth Amendment rights repeatedly Tuesday when questioned about the circumstances surrounding the finances of a man for whom she was power of attorney and from whom she stands to inherit a reported $1.5 million.

Catherine Jacobs, a lawyer with Loomis Law Firm, refused to answer questions from lawyer Douglas A. Mielock during a hearing in Ingham County Probate Court regarding the conservatorship of Paul Hansen.

At the end of the hearing, Judge Richard Garcia appointed attorney Pat Gallagher as conservator for Hansen’s finances and revoked Jacobs’ power of attorney.

“There is some question in my mind regarding the gentleman’s capacity to issue that power of attorney,” Garcia told Jacobs’ lawyer, Philip Dwyer. “More importantly, I don’t believe your client is suitable to be a conservator.”

The hearing is the latest in a volley of motions, petitions and denials tied to Jacobs’ removal from several guardianship and conservator cases over the summer.

Between June and August, Garcia removed Jacobs from her roles as guardian and conservator in several cases and requested an investigation into Jacobs by the Attorney Grievance Commission.

The removals followed court hearings in which Garcia discovered that Jacobs had signed off on a major surgery even though her guardianship for that patient had lapsed; that she had an undisclosed agreement with Sparrow Hospital in which she was paid to petition for the guardianship of certain patients; and that Jacobs’ granddaughter and her granddaughter’s boyfriend were living in the home of a woman with memory impairments for whom Jacobs is guardian and conservator.

In August, Jacobs filed the first of at least four motions to disqualify Garcia from her cases, largely because of the judge's request to the Attorney Grievance Commission.

Garcia has denied Jacobs' requests each time, including one she filed in Hansen’s case.

On Tuesday in Clinton County, Probate Judge Lisa Sullivan weighed in on one of the cases in which Garcia denied Jacobs’ motion for disqualification. Sullivan, who was asked by the State Court Administrative Office to review the case, supported Garcia’s denial of the motion. Sullivan indicated she expects to hear similar motions in other cases.

Mielock attended the Hansen hearing Tuesday as a representative of Crisann Breed, the daughter of Ester Breed, one of three people named in Hansen’s will. Ester Breed, a cousin to Hansen, died Oct. 12.

According to an Ingham County Sheriff’s Office report, Jacobs and her daughter, Mona Darling, were longtime friends of Hansen and, at some point, Darling became Hansen’s power of attorney.

In 2015, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office began investigating withdrawals Darling had made from some of Hansen’s accounts and Jacobs, who is listed as a recipient in Hansen’s will, took over as his power of attorney.

Darling was arraigned April 17 on a charge of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, $20,000 or more, and bound over to circuit court in May. She is awaiting trial.

Mielock asked Jacobs in court Tuesday whether she’d ever acted as Hansen’s lawyer; whether she was a beneficiary of any of Hansen’s financial accounts or life insurance; whether she ever borrowed money from Hansen; whether she believed a conservator for Hansen would be responsible for recovering funds from her daughter, Mona Darling; whether she believed Darling took any assets from Hansen; and the extent of her involvement in at least two power of attorney documents drafted in regards to Hansen.

Jacobs responded to each question by asserting her Fifth Amendment right not to testify to avoid self-incrimination.

Jacobs declined to comment following the court hearing.

Probate court investigates Hansen relationship

Earlier in the hearing, Ingham County Probate Court Investigator Sarah Broschay told Garcia she met with Hansen at his Holt assisted living facility Monday, and she recommended Pat Gallagher be appointed Hansen’s conservator.

Broschay said Hansen is being held in a mental deficiency ward. Medical reports from 2014, included in the court record, indicate he has dementia.

“Mr. Hansen would engage in the conversation, but would often need to be reminded of my purpose for being there,” Broschay said in a report filed in probate court Tuesday. “Mr. Hansen seemed to know who Ms. Jacobs was, but did need to be reminded that she was his power of attorney.”

In her report, Broschay also voiced concerns about Jacobs’ oversight of Hansen’s assets because of Darling’s embezzlement charge and the belief that Jacobs limited Hansen’s access to family members over the past several years.

Jacobs stands to inherit about $1.5 million from Hansen's will, Broschay wrote in her report. Hansen’s will was drawn up by a U.S. Army major in 1992, according to documents contained in a police report related to Darling’s criminal case.

The police report also includes the February 2015 document naming Jacobs power of attorney. The document includes a section nominating and appointing Jacobs as guardian and/or conservator if the court orders one be appointed.

In the document, Mieke V. Weissert is named as Jacobs’ successor as power of attorney, guardian and conservator. Weissert is a lawyer at Loomis Law Firm, according to information on the firm’s website.

In court Tuesday, Dwyer said Jacobs had priority to become Hansen’s conservator since she was his power of attorney, but Garcia wasn’t in favor of the idea.

Full Article & Source:
Lansing lawyer who was removed from cases pleads the Fifth during hearing

See Also:
Judge requests investigation of Lansing lawyer, removes her from cases

Cop Rescues 92-Year-Old Man Turned Away at Bank Because His ID Had Expired

A Los Angeles County policeman went far beyond the call of duty while responding to a report of an elderly man having a fit inside a bank.

Montebello Police Department Officer Robert Josett was answering a public disturbance call when he was faced with a 92-year-old man who was upset because tellers wouldn’t give him his money.

The senior citizen’s California identification card had expired, and Bank of America’s policy requires that a valid government-issued ID be shown when making withdrawals.

So Josett comforted the white-haired gentleman by gently suggesting they take a ride over to the Department of Motor Vehicles and get him a brand new card.

And so they did.

With a little encouragement from the cop, DMV workers quickly renewed the man’s identification. And Josett brought him back to the bank, where he was able to get his hands on his money, just before closing time.

The department posted a photo of the officer leading the man, who leaned on a cane, into the DMV office.

The image has been viewed more than 257,000 times, and shared more than 39,000 times. It has also garnered more than 19,000 comments.

“Heart touching and I love that the officer was able to get him in and out of the DMV so quickly!" Sharon Watkins wrote. "That is medal worthy."

“With everything that is going on in our nation, this shall bring a smile to us all,” Mia Flores posted.

Full Article & Source:
Cop Rescues 92-Year-Old Man Turned Away at Bank Because His ID Had Expired

Thursday, October 19, 2017

WXYZ appealing order from Metro Detroit judge in First Amendment battle

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) - It’s the story several lawyers did not want you to see: The 7 Investigators are looking into allegations of problems in the probate guardianship system.
Last week, a judge stepped in and issued a restraining order, preventing Channel 7 from showing any pictures or videos of two of the people at the center of the story, Janet and Milan Kapp.

On Tuesday that judge said he’s standing by that decision.  So now WXYZ is heading to the Court of Appeals.

Mila Kapusta and several other local families asked the 7 Investigators to make their stories public.  Those who asked us to investigate say they’ve lost control of their loved ones to court-appointed guardians.

Many of these cases end up in probate court because of family disputes, and the Kapp family fight prompted these two sisters to try to stop the 7 Investigators from using pictures of their parents in our investigation.

Just hours before the story was supposed to air last Thursday, Lorrie and Sandy Kapp got a judge to issue a Temporary Restraining Order, preventing us from showing you old family pictures that had been provided to us by their other sister, Mila.

Tuesday during a show cause hearing, Judge Daniel A. O’Brien continued that restraining order, saying his job was to protect Mr. and Mrs. Kapp, who are now in their 90s.

“I am granting the injunction against Channel 7 and they are restrained.  It is in fact a prior restraint I gotta admit, but they are not to use any photos or video of Milan and Janet Kapp in any broadcast,” said Judge O’Brien.

WXYZ’s attorney Jim Stewart argued that Judge O’Brien’s initial restraining order was unconstitutional.

“A court cannot order someone not to publish something.  It’s called a prior restraint of speech and it’s been held to be presumptively unconstitutional,” said Stewart.

Legal experts say “prior restraint” is typically only used in cases where there is a threat to national security.

Clearly there is no such threat in this story, and this is now about much more than just pictures.

“You can’t have the government telling somebody what they can and can’t say when they’re covering a newsworthy event,” said Stewart.

Because WXYZ cannot allow Judge O’Brien’s order to set a precedent for other government officials limiting our news coverage – as protected by the First Amendment – we are appealing his order.

Full Article & Source:
WXYZ appealing order from Metro Detroit judge in First Amendment battle

Contra Costa County judge accused again of misconduct

A veteran Contra Costa County judge with an extensive record of discipline was accused by the state Commission on Judicial Performance on Tuesday of further misconduct in two criminal cases.But a lawyer for Superior Court Judge Bruce Mills accused the commission of a conflict of interest because the defendant Mills sentenced in one of the cases has publicly accused the commission of covering up judicial misconduct. The defendant, Joseph Sweeney, who heads an organization called Court Reform LLC, has been among the most prominent voices in a campaign that has led the state auditor to begin a probe of the commission’s operations.

“I think it’s outrageous that the commission, with a clear conflict of interest, would bring charges against Judge Mills rather than referring the matter ... to an independent body,” said the attorney, James A. Murphy. “If a judge did what the Commission on Judicial Performance did, the judge would be subject to discipline.”The commission’s executive director, Victoria Henley, declined to comment.

Mills, 62, a former prosecutor,was appointed to the bench by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1995 and has been elected by county voters to a succession of six-year terms, most recently in 2014.

The commission privately reprimanded him in 2001 for ignoring a defendant’s request for a lawyer and trying to coerce the defendant to plead guilty. It publicly reprimanded him again in 2006 for making “discourteous” and “demeaning” comments to people appearing in his court. Mills was reprimanded again in 2013 for contacting a juvenile court judge who was hearing a case against Mills’ son.

In one of the new allegations, the commission said Mills sentenced Sweeney, who had been found in contempt of court by another judge in a family law case, to 25 days in jail in August 2016 but told him and his lawyer he could get the sentence cut in half for good behavior. But Mills imposed the sentence without half-time credits, told the sheriff’s office not to reduce Sweeney’s term, and relented only when Sweeney’s lawyer contacted him nine days later, the commission said.

In the second case, the commission said, while a jury in Mills’ court was deliberating drunken-driving charges in March 2016, the judge met privately with the prosecutor, talked about his own experience prosecuting such cases, and mentioned data that might be used to help the prosecution.

The jury deadlocked, but Mills did not remove himself from the case until the district attorney’s office disclosed the private conversation, the commission said.

Murphy, the judge’s lawyer, said the charges of misconduct in both cases were unfounded.

“Bruce Mills has had a bull’s-eye on his back with the Commission on Judicial Performance,” Murphy said. “They’ve been after him for years and years for petty things.”

Full Article & Source:
Contra Costa County judge accused again of misconduct

How the state steals seniors' rights and calls it 'compassion'

We like to think that America is a nation of rights, of equal treatment under the law, a nation that respects the dignity of every individual citizen, regardless of race, color, or creed. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights enshrined these attitudes into law, and we venerate them and tell ourselves that ours is a noble and compassionate country.

Yet there are certain classes of people who effectively have no rights. They are deemed, by virtue of who they are, not to warrant the same autonomy the rest of us enjoy. Some of these are children, whose age disqualifies them from exercising the same rights as adults. I’ve written extensively about the plight of those diagnosed mentally ill and how they are subject to the most horrific abuses with little or no recourse. A third class of persons, forced to live at the mercy of the state, consists of the nation’s elderly.

The New Yorker recently ran an exposé on the practice of legal guardianship, and the findings are shocking. Most people are probably aware that it is possible to commit elderly dementia patients with doctors’ recommendations and court orders, but few understand how broad these powers actually are.

A holdover from British law that regards the state as the “parent” of its citizens provides a legal route to rob individuals of their rights, with little trace of anything resembling due process. Court-appointed guardians can force the elderly to leave their homes, relocate to assisted-living facilities, and relinquish control of their assets without ever notifying them or their next of kin. The imposition of guardianship is sudden and confusing, leaving the victims little chance to obtain adequate legal representation to defend their rights.

Once the guardians get their hands on their wards’ finances, they can exploit those resources for their own gain and charge family members hefty fees just for visiting or calling their elderly relatives. The process is not unlike that of a kidnapper extracting ransom money from desperate families.

There is no medical legitimacy to guardianship, as the wards need not have been diagnosed with dementia or any other brain disease that would render them incapable of acting autonomously.

Instead, the decision to rob people of their rights rests solely on a judgment call made by the courts, where the situation is decidedly one-sided. When a professional used to manipulating the legal system goes up against a scared retiree who has never set foot in court before, it’s no surprise which one usually comes out on top.

The ostensible purpose of the state is to protect the vulnerable from those who would abuse them. In this case, however, as in so many others, the exact opposite is true. Men and women are being stripped of their autonomy for no reason other than their age and their inability to defend themselves, and their assets being handed over to opportunistic predators — all aided and abetted by the courts under the ironic guise of compassion.

People don’t stop being people when they get older. The Constitution doesn’t suddenly stop applying to them. We need to stop pretending that efforts to control and manipulate the population are motivated by anything other than malice, cruelty, and greed. You simply can’t help people by turning them into wards of the state.

Full Article & Source:
How the state steals seniors' rights and calls it 'compassion'

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ayudando allegedly stole client’s $117,000, housed him in leaky trailer

Justin Bowers - (Colleen Heild/Albuquerque Journal)
LAS VEGAS, N.M. – For Justin Bowers, home is a travel trailer that attracts flies and leaks when it rains. Even so, it’s a step up from where his court-appointed guardian previously had him living – in a 17-man boarding home that charged $800-a-month rent.

It’s not what Bowers, who is from Albuquerque, wants. It’s not what his father, who worked 30 years for the U.S. Post Office, wanted for his son.

Bowers, 34, who has been under state-approved guardianship since 2012, inherited $117,000 when his father died in 2014 – enough money for a better life and, perhaps, more independence.

But in the hands of the now-defunct Ayudando Guardians Inc., Bowers said his trust funds have vanished.

“I just want my money back,” he said last week. “I need that money to get out of this place.”

Bowers, described as mentally disabled but highly functioning, is considered an incapacitated person under state law. Since Chief District Judge Nan Nash of Albuquerque appointed Ayudando as his guardian, Bowers has been placed at two different boarding homes in Las Vegas. According to Bowers’ mother, Ayudando officials said there was nowhere in Albuquerque to house him.

His current residence is a hail-damaged trailer – for which he pays $700 a month. It is part of a boarding home complex outside the city limits of Las Vegas.

Bowers gets one hot meal a day plus a grocery allotment – which this month consisted of oatmeal, a bag of sugar and 24 frozen waffles. He relies on a space heater to keep warm. Bowers was happy the man living in the back of trailer moved out some months back.

Initially, Ayudando paid Bowers’ living expenses from his Social Security benefits. His guardianship services were paid for by the state Office of Guardianship, because he was deemed indigent.

But after receiving his father’s life insurance proceeds in 2014, Bowers couldn’t understand why he was still living in a meager boarding home. Why Ayudando told him “no” when he pleaded for money for food and clothes. Why he could never get a straight answer as to how much insurance money he had left.

Now he thinks he knows. Ayudando president Susan Harris and chief financial officer Sharon Moore, according to a federal indictment issued in July, are alleged to have siphoned at least $4 million from client accounts to support a lavish lifestyle for themselves and their families. That’s in addition to their six-figure annual salaries.

The 13-year-old company, one of the state’s largest guardianship agencies, had about 1,400 clients statewide, 176 of whom were under court-appointed guardianships or conservatorships authorized by the state District Court in Albuquerque. Ayudando catered to military veterans and vulnerable disabled clients in need of someone to manage their affairs or their finances.

Before the U.S. Marshals office closed Ayudando offices in Albuquerque in late August, Bowers said he spoke with a company bookkeeper. All he had left was $500 in Social Security benefits.

“When we found out that all his money’s gone, it was like, ‘What?’ ” said his mother, Dawna Gomez, of Albuquerque. “… He always used to tell them, ‘You guys act like it’s your own money.’ ”

A $117,000 inheritance

Judge Nash, who appointed Ayudando as Bowers’ guardian, is expected to approve a new guardian for him on Monday.

It’s unclear when Bowers’ inheritance vanished.

The U.S. Marshals office hasn’t responded to Journal questions. Court records in guardianship cases are sealed by law.

But the public court docket sheet, listing the filings in the case, shows Nash received regular annual reports from Ayudando, as required by state law.

No actual bank statements or bond were required from the company.

Bowers said he never received copies of Ayudando’s reports to the court but now wonders whether false financial information was provided. He recalls that, sometime back, Sharon Moore told him he had about $87,000 remaining in his trust.

Moore’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment last week.

In 2013, the docket sheet shows, Nash was asked to remove Ayudando as Bowers’ guardian. Two years later, a motion was filed to review the guardianship. But Ayudando remained Bowers’ court-appointed guardian.

Under the judicial code of conduct rules, Nash isn’t permitted to talk about pending cases. Bowers’ guardian ad litem, Elizabeth Honce, would not comment for this story.

But Bower’s mother recalled that Ayudando initially drew up documents to put the $117,000 inheritance in a trust so that if Bowers died, all remaining proceeds would revert to Ayudando.

“The judge found that unacceptable,” Gomez recalled, and new trust documents were created.

Another issue arose after her son got a part-time night job cleaning the Las Vegas offices of the New Mexico State Police earlier this year.

His paychecks went to Ayudando, which gave him only $50 a month, Bowers told the Journal.

Bowers said he informed Nash he wasn’t getting his entire $260 monthly paycheck, and the practice stopped.

His paychecks and $998 Social Security benefits pay for his $700-a-month rent on the trailer, gasoline, car insurance and cellphone.

Gomez recalled that during a June 21 hearing, Nash said she was considering appointing a conservator to manage Bowers’ funds.

At the time, an Albuquerque trust company, Desert State Life Management, had made headlines after state financial regulators discovered $4 million in missing client funds.

Ayudando’s Sharon Moore was in court that day as Bowers’ guardian.

“The judge told her, ‘I want somebody to look over your shoulder,’ ” Gomez recalled last week. But no conservator was appointed at that time, the docket sheet shows.

After the hearing, Gomez recalled, Moore came up “and put her arm around me, even though we never got along. She said, ‘You don’t have to worry about Justin’s money. It’s safe.’ ”

This is the travel trailer, part of a private boarding home complex in
Las Vegas, N.M., where the now-defunct Ayudando Guardians placed
Justin Bowers. (Colleen Heild/Albuquerque Journal)

A month later, Moore and Harris were arrested on a 28-count federal indictment that charges them with conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering. They pleaded not guilty and were released from federal custody pending trial by putting up their Tanoan Country Club-area homes as security.

“I’m upset and frustrated,” Bowers said. “They (allegedly) ripped people off, and Sharon is out there living free in her expensive house. She ain’t living in no dump.”

Enhanced oversight?

Since the federal indictment, state District Court in Albuquerque is now requiring bonds from conservators managing $30,000 or more. The New Mexico Supreme Court is considering recommendations to enhance oversight, including requiring bank statements of conservators.

But no lawyer has come forward to try to recoup funds on behalf of Ayudando’s former clients. Some say there is little left to recover, because client funds were allegedly spent mostly on entertainment and vacations rather than on assets, such as property.

In the case of Desert State, in which no criminal charges have been filed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a petition for forfeiture of a Texas cattle ranch, an Angel Fire vacation home and a Downtown Albuquerque office building owned by former CEO Paul Donisthorpe. Several attorneys representing former clients have filed lawsuits against Desert State seeking to recover their missing money.

So far, in the Ayudando case, only Harris’ 2018 recreational vehicle has been seized by the federal government.

In federal court, a judge can order restitution to victims after a criminal case ends. No trial date has been set for Harris and Moore.

‘A better life’

Halbert Bowers died at the age of 62, after retiring from the U.S. Postal Service in Albuquerque in 2011.

Justin was his only child.

“He was a dad who was very much involved with his son’s development and activities,” stated his obituary notice from the Young Funeral Home, in Yemassee, S.C.

Ayudando didn’t permit Justin to attend the funeral in South Carolina, he told the Journal.

Gomez said her son has a knack for remembering numbers, dates and names, and attended special education programs.

Until 2012, he lived with his mother, who remarried in 1995 after she and Bowers’ father divorced.

Gomez said she petitioned the court to place her son into a guardianship after “he got out of control.”

Police arrested him several times on charges that included trespassing and harassment. The cases were dismissed after he was found to be “incompetent” to stand trial. A police crisis intervention officer suggested a guardianship.

Since Bowers was placed under a guardianship, court records show he has had no subsequent arrests.

Gomez said her son had “anger issues” but is now stable and administers his own medication. He drives to work in a 2001 Lincoln Town Car that Ayudando allowed him to purchase for $5,000.

Bowers found the car himself online. But, under Nash’s order, he can’t drive outside of Las Vegas.

When he isn’t working, he says, he watches television in the trailer and on Sundays attends church.

More than anything, Bowers wants to move into his own apartment.

“I just want to get my own place and to keep working where I’m at,” Bowers said. Maybe he can find another part-time job in the morning, such as delivering newspapers or working as a dishwasher, he told the Journal. He hopes his luck will change.

“They said I was supposed to have a better life,” he said.”But how am I supposed to have a better life if they stole my money?”

Full Article & Source:
Ayudando allegedly stole client’s $117,000, housed him in leaky trailer

Ex-lawyer in Charleroi admits defrauding elderly woman, used money to run Mon Valley newspaper

Keith Allen Bassi, a former lawyer, admitted Monday morning that he stole half a million dollars from an elderly lady with dementia and used some of it to run the newspaper, the Mon Valley Independent.

Mr. Bassi, 61, of Charleroi, pleaded guilty in federal court to mail fraud counts in ripping off a woman identified as "N.J.L," who is 85 and living in a Mt. Lebanon care home.

Prosecutors said he pilfered about $505,000 from her accounts and put the money in his own accounts, including that of the paper he co-owns.

"It's certainly despicable," said the woman's 75-year-old cousin, who is seeking to become her legal guardian and watched the proceedings before U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab.

He asked that he and she not be named publicly until guardianship is granted.

Mr. Bassi was charged Sept. 25 after an investigation by the FBI and U.S. postal inspectors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Melucci said he gained power of attorney over her estate, which could be worth some $3 million, in 2006. The woman, a former Pittsburgh public schools principal, was diagnosed with dementia in 2012.

It was then that Mr. Bassi began maneuvering to transfer money out of her accounts and into his.

Mr. Melucci said he misappropriated the funds between 2013 and 2016.

As part of the scheme, he used her money to a $55,000 annual premium on a life insurance policy between 2013 and 2015, then asked for a "surrender request" for the policy in 2016 and deposited the amount, about $163,000, into his personal account.

Mr. Bassi also deposited $110,000 of N.J.L.'s money into the publishing company account at CFS Bank.

Mr. Melucci said federal agents, who learned of the fraud by monitoring suspicious banking transactions, confronted Mr. Bassi in May. He admitted to the crime and said he did it because of "financial issues."

Mr. Bassi's law license has been suspended. He remains free on bond pending sentencing March 14.

He said nothing in court except to answer Judge Schwab's questions about his guilt. The exact amount of money he stole is in some dispute and will be worked out before the sentencing.

"Mr. Bassi has agreed to pay full restitution," said his lawyer, Stephen Stallings.

He declined further comment as he left the courthouse with his client.

The victim's cousin, a former teacher and attorney, contacted the U.S. attorney's office and Judge Schwab after reading about the fraud in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week.

In a letter to them, he said he suspects Mr. Bassi may have stolen more than the $505,000 for which he was charged. He said he and other family members had received a letter from Mr. Bassi after N.J.L. had moved to the nursing home in 2015 indicating that he was auctioning off the personal property that she had kept at the family farm in Washington County.

The cousin said no one has seen those proceeds.

Among her collections, he said, was China worth some $100,000, figurines valued at $2,000 each and family memorabilia. The house, which was sold in 2012, dates to the 1780s.

"I'd just like to know what the hell happened to the other stuff," her cousin said. 

Full Article & Source:
Ex-lawyer in Charleroi admits defrauding elderly woman, used money to run Mon Valley newspaper

Son fleeces elderly parents: Mom left in nursing home, dad at funeral home

Ryan Powers
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Janet and William Powers bought a house in the Florida city where their son was living so that when they could no longer live independently, they could move into a mother-in-law suite at the home. There, they could live out their final years — cared for and surrounded by family.

The couple signed a durable power of attorney giving their son, Ryan Todd Powers, access to their finances. When Ryan sold their home in Alva, Fla., the $72,000 was supposed to be used for remodeling the Lehigh Acres, Fla., home and for his parents' income and care.

Documents filed with the Lee County (Fla.) Circuit Court tell a different story. According to the records, the younger Powers spent the money and his mother's Social Security to buy pizza, rent movies and pay for his cellphone. He left his parents in nursing homes refusing to pay the bills. And when William Powers died, the son wouldn’t pay the funeral home. William Powers' body went unclaimed for 90 days. Finally, Lee County picked up the remains and Powers was cremated at taxpayer expense.

In September, a jury found Ryan Powers, 41, guilty on four counts of first-degree exploitation involving an elderly person. He faces up to 60 years in prison. On Monday, two years to the day that he opened a fraudulent checking account in his mother's name and began his scheme to defraud, Powers was sentenced to 20 years in state prison.

Power of attorney

Ryan was Janet and William's only living child. Janet thought William coddled him too much. She questioned the wisdom of buying a home for Ryan, his wife, Brandy, and their children to live in, she told Earl Rutland, a law enforcement investigator in the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. But she went along with her husband's plan.

The couple, both in their early 70s, paid an attorney to draft a Durable Power of Attorney giving Ryan control over their financial and legal affairs. Two months later, Ryan redirected Janet Powers' $808 monthly benefit checks from the couple's joint checking account to the one in his and his mother's names. Over the next 10 months, Ryan used a debit card 136 times to tap the account for cash and to pay for purchases at places such as convenience stores and a pawn shop.

In early 2016, William Powers told Ryan to sell the couple's trailer in Alva and use the proceeds to remodel the Lehigh house, still in the elder Powers' names, so they could move out of the nursing homes and live together.

William was in a nursing home in North Fort Myers, Fla., more than 100 miles away from his wife, who had been moved to a nursing home in St. Petersburg. It was the nearest one that agreed to take a patient on Medicaid, the government program that pays for health care for people who have little or no money.

In order to qualify Janet for Medicaid, the nursing home needed financial information. Ryan wouldn't supply it but did give the nursing home bank statements that appeared fraudulent, prompting a call to the state Department of Children and Families Adult Protective Services.

To catch a thief

Janet Powers told the Department of Children and Families investigator she believed her son was stealing her money.

Ryan told another investigator he only used the bank account to pay his mother's bills. He had sold the trailer, he said, for $60,000 and it had a mortgage of $50,000 and he had to pay taxes on the sale.

The investigation by Rutland, the agent with the Attorney General's office, showed the home sold for $72,000. Most of the money, minus $6,000 in cash given to Ryan, was deposited into William and Janet's bank account. The buyers paid the trailer park fees and taxes.

Wells Fargo's anti-fraud program wouldn't let Ryan access the money until the buyers' check cleared. Four days later, he withdrew $50,000 from his parents' joint account, putting the money on a cashiers check. He went back to the bank several times, cashing the check, getting cash, and then getting another cashier's check for the difference.

William Powers told Rutland he didn't know what happened to the money from the sale of the trailer.

He wanted to be with his wife. He wanted to revoke his son's power of attorney.

A week later, on July 5, 2016, William Powers died. The nursing home had been paid for July and because William had died on the fifth, Ryan was looking for the refund. He needed it to pay the funeral expenses, he told the business manager at the nursing home. The manager, "did not believe he would do so," Rutland wrote in his affidavit. "She tried to persuade him to let her pay the funeral home, but he refused."

Ryan picked up the $3,722.50 refund check from the nursing home and cashed it at a check cashing store. The funeral home was never paid and the county cremated William Powers.

In late November 2016, Ryan filed a handwritten quit claim deed to take ownership of the Lehigh Acres house, which was in his parents' names. His mother didn't sign the deed and his father was dead. Ryan Powers signed for both as the power of attorney.

The younger Powers was arrested in December and charged with exploitation of the elderly. He was released the next day, but in January was arrested again for grand theft for continuing to use the power of attorney to sell his parents' truck.

During the trial, Ryan testified he was acting at the behest of his father. His dad had told him not to pay his mother's nursing home bills, to sell the Alva home and to transfer ownership of the Lehigh Acre house, he said.

The jury didn't buy it. And on Sept. 1, after a four-day trial, Ryan Todd Powers was convicted of four counts of exploitation of the elderly.

Common crime

Financial exploitation of the elderly is not unusual. That the perpetrator of the crime was a relative isn't either. What makes this case unusual is that the victim came forward and law enforcement pursued it.

"Those are the two highest hurdles to get over," said David Kessler, a certified fraud investigator who trains law enforcement to investigate crimes against the elderly. "Tracking the money and dealing with the perpetrator," is the easy part, he said. The difficulty comes in getting victims to implicate their loved ones and getting law enforcement to recognize this as a crime and not a civil or "family matter."

The crimes leave the victims not only destitute but traumatized. "It goes far deeper than monetary value, the (perpetrator) has raped those people emotionally. He's stolen their dignity."

"The only good thing about (the Powers) story," Kessler said, "is the elderly gentleman wasn't alive to realize his son didn't care about him even in death."

Powers' mother did not speak at Monday'shearing. Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Royal read the statement Janet Powers wrote.

"You dumped us both in separate nursing homes, so we could not even see each other and spend our last days together," Janet Powers' statement read. "You abandoned us like last week's trash."

As Royal read, Powers began to quietly cry. With his hands handcuffed and chained to a shackle around his waist, he used a tissue to wipe the tears from his eyes.

Powers had taken their cellphones so she and her husband, whom she called "Rusty," couldn't even talk to each other, Janet Powers wrote in her victim statement.  She didn't have money to buy clothes and wore hand-me-downs from people in the nursing home who had passed away.

"I find some comfort that we will be serving time together," the statement read. "You in your prison and I in mine."

Full Article & Source:
Son fleeces elderly parents: Mom left in nursing home, dad at funeral home

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Steve Miller: INSIDE VEGAS

Jared E. Shafer
LAS VEGAS - His name sends chills up and down the spines of hundreds of exploited senior citizens, disabled people, and their families.  I'm often asked why private professional guardian, Jared E. Shafer, is still at large after his criminal activities have been exposed time and again on local and national media, and he's been the subject of over four years of criminal investigation by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Abuse and Neglect Detail.

The New Yorker Magazine, ABC affiliate KTNV TV Channel 13 News, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal have all done stories on Shafer's exploits. "How the Elderly Lose Their Rights."  "Fraud and embezzlement alleged in guardianship lawsuit." "Clark County's private guardians may protect, or just steal and abuse," are just some of the damning headlines about Shafer, but he remains unscathed.  Why?  I believe I have an answer.

In 1979, then Clark County Commission chairman, Manny Cortez, was approached by his
Catherine Cortez Masto & Manny Cortez
longtime friend, Jared Shafer, who was out of work.  Shafer had resigned as president of Rom-Amer Pharmaceuticals, LTD, a publically traded company that had its anti-aging product banned by the FDA, a dangerous cure all product called Gerovital H3 that was peddled to senior citizens and caused several deaths.  The SEC on March 25, 1977 announced "TRADING SUSPENDED IN ROM-AMER PHARMACEUTICALS, LTD."

Shafer and Cortez' friendship went back a long way, all the way to the 1964 birth of Cortez' daughter, Catherine, who was honored by having Jared Shafer named as her godfather.  But years later, in his time of need, Commissioner Cortez found the perfect job for his unemployed pal based on Shafer's quasi-experience with senior citizens. Cortez appointed Shafer as Clark County's third Public Administrator and Public Guardian (the first two were removed for corruption.)

During his tenure as an appointed public official, Shafer drew the ire of the Los Angeles Times who accused him of alegedly ripping off his elderly or disabled "wards" of the court.  However, the bad press did not affect his continuance as a trusted county employee, and I can't confrim that Cortez was aware of any problems with Shafer's performance.  Shafer held those positions until his retirement in early 2003 when he formed his private guardian service, Professional Fudiciary Service of Nevada, Inc. (PFSN), but then the complaints really started pouring in!  Exploited wards and their families filed complaints with then Clark County District Attorney, David Roger, and with then Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (yes, Jared Shafer's goddaughter), but nothing happened. (Catherine Cortez Masto was elected United States Senator for Nevada in 2017.)

I can personally attest that then-AG Cortez Masto ignored several complaints against Shafer because I was one of many who filed one.  In the meantime, dozens of complaints were also brought to the attention of the Abuse and Neglect detectives at the LVMPD, but as reported in the recent edition of The New Yorker Magazine, they were also ignored.

According to investigative journalist Rachel Aviv in the October 9, 2017 edition of The New Yorker; "Williams took records from Shafer’s and other guardians’ cases to the Las Vegas police department several times. She tried to explain, she said, that 'this is a racketeering operation that is fee-based. There’s no brown paper bag handed off in an alley. The payoff is the right to bill the estate.' The department repeatedly told her that it was a civil issue, and refused to take a report. In 2006, she submitted a typed statement, listing twenty-three statutes that she thought had been violated, but an officer wrote in the top right corner, 'NOT A POLICE MATTER.' Adam Woodrum, an estate lawyer in Las Vegas, told me that he’s worked with several wards and their families who have brought their complaints to the police. 'They can’t even get their foot in the door,' he said."

Since attorney Woodrum's comments, a hearing was held by the Clark County Commission to take complaints of guardianship fraud. At the
April 21, 2015 hearing, LVMPD Lt. James Weiskopf told the County Commission how certain for-hire guardians rob the estates of wards of the court:

Lt. Weiskopf's testimony inspired the Nevada Supreme Court in September 2015 to form the
Supreme Court Guardianship Commission. At their first hearing, Commissioners inquired as to the police department's response to guardian fraud complaints. The public rallied and told the Commission that such complaints had fallen on deaf ears. LVMPD suddenly became actively involved in guardianship fraud investigations following the Commission's inquiry and the public's comment. With the Commission's encouragement, the LVMPD Abuse and Neglect Detail was energized, and have so far allegedly ignored all complaints dealing with the actions of Jared E. Shafer, and have only gone after the "low hanging fruit," or lesser known private guardians.

Current Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson has several times proclaimed that his office is ready and willing to "enthusiastically" prosecute crimes perpetuated by local private guardians - including Jared Shafer - though Wolfson has not mentioned Shafer by name.   However, LVMPD's Abuse and Neglect Detail have so far failed to file any required "Requests for Prosecution" of Shafer with the DA, and continue at a snail's pace with their purported investigation as the exploitation of elderly and disabled Clark County residents continues unabated.  Meanwhile, based on protocol, federal law enforcement is held at bay while local authorities conduct their ad nauseam 'investigation" without requesting federal intervention or assistance.

It's as if someone is running interference for Shafer

For the past four years the same detectives in Abuse and Neglect have discouraged similar complaintants if it involved Shafer's name. Most recently, exploited Shafer ward Jason Hanson, described his encounter with Det. Angie Christensen of Metro's Abuse and Neglect Detail who reportedly told Hanson, "... there was no evidence that Shafer did anything underhanded and was just doing his job like he was supposed to,"  after Hanson, a 28 year old cerebral palsy victim, told her that Shafer sold a 1,200 sq. ft. ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliant condominium that was left to him by his late father in a gated community for $47,000. The condo was appraised at $170,000.00, but Hanson told Det. Christensen he received a total of only $5,530.74 from the under-market-value sale after waiting over nine years for payment. Nonetheless, Det. Christensen reportedly balked at Hanson's request for help.

As a point of clearification, I am not casting dispersions on the brave officers of the LVMPD. However, I believe it is important to present the information contained in this column if it will help bring justice to those who have been, or are currently, the subject of guardianship abuse.

According to Jason Hanson, Det. Christensen also accused Steve Miller and Becky Olvera Schultz (daughter of guardianship fraud victim Guadalupe Olvera) of ..."not having the complete story and only using parts to help with their own crusades against Shafer."

"The officer said Steve Miller didn't know how to read court documents or was intentionally misreading them to twist my story around," stated Hanson.

"She didn't seem to think Shafer was an upstanding citizen but she seemed to think Miller and Olvera Schultz had some personal grudge against him. She said that Steve and Shafer had once been friends and they had a falling out and since then Steve has wanted to take Shafer down," stated Hanson.  (Shafer and Miller attended the same high school at the same time, but were never friends.)  

Det. Christensen was also assigned to investigate the exploitation of the late Guadalupe Olvera, but allegedly disparaged Mr. Olvera's daughter, Becky Olvera Schultz, in her discussion with Hanson.

In addition to the above mentioned cases, there are many others who have reported that Metro Abuse and Neglect have ignored their complaints against Jared Shafer. 

     Marcy DuDeck and son-in-law Charles Pascal

California resident Charles Pascal told INSIDE VEGAS that on August 5, 2009 he spoke with Detective Colin Haynes of Las Vegas Metro PD to report the kidnapping of Pascal's mother in-law, Marcy DuDeck.
Pascal continued, “I tried to tell him that Shafer had bragged to me about the kidnapping, which was carried out by Lance Dudeck (Pascal's brother in law) against an existing Nevada court order. Det. Haynes said the following:  'As a department, Metro doesn’t get involved in guardianship issues.  They are considered to be a family matter.  We (the police) will not be taking a report about your mother in-law’s situation because Ms. Patience Bristol has already informed us your mother in-law is doing fine.  Mr. Shafer had our office check on her condition and she is in good health,"'

"On August 4, 2009, two days before an August 6, Los Angeles evidentiary hearing involving our petition to remove Jared Shafer as guardian was to take place, Marcy DuDeck was kidnapped by her son, Lance DuDeck, from Sunrise Senior Assisted Living in Playa Vista, CA," stated Pascal.  "Her kidnapping was in direct violation of a May 1, 2007 NV court order stating Mrs. Dudeck would remain in California for the rest of her life.  The evidentiary hearing was to deal with facts of Shafer’s negligence, which involved Shafer not paying IRS taxes for the DuDeck estate, refusal to pay HOA association fees, and removing funds from the DuDeck trust without a court order.

During the morning of August 5, 2009, after learning of the taking of Mrs. DuDeck, I (Charles Pascal) contacted Las Vegas Metro Police to file a report that a kidnapping of Marcy DuDeck, in direct violation of a Nevada court order, had taken place.

The officer I spoke with on that morning around 11 a.m.  identified himself as Officer Collin Haynes.  Officer Haynes was very abrupt.  Officer Haynes stated it was the policy of Las Vegas Metro not to take reports concerning guardianship cases because Las Vegas Metro considered guardianships to be strictly a family matter.  Officer Haynes said if I had a dispute with the guardian, Mr. Shafer, I should contact Clark County Family Court.

I tried to explain to Officer Haynes that a court order existed stating Mrs. DuDeck was to remain in California for the rest of her life had been violated by the kidnapping. I also pointed out Marcy’s kidnapping occurred as a direct attempt to block an August 6, 2009 evidentiary hearing.  Haynes didn’t want to listen and wished me a good day.

At approximately 2 PM on August 5, 2009, I visited the West Los Angeles Metro Police to try to get them to investigate the kidnapping of Marcy DuDeck.  I spoke with Officer Charles Phillips.  Officer Phillips listened to everything I had to say.  Officer Phillips asked me to wait outside.  I waited for about 45 minutes.  Officer Phillips returned and told me he had spoken with officer Haynes, who informed him Mrs. DuDeck was in good health and the Las Vegas Metro Police considered the matter to be closed.

On August 6, 2009, California Judge Riva Goetz said no evidentiary hearing could take place because Mrs. DuDeck wasn’t available.  The objective was achieved.  On August 11, 2009, Mr. Shafer called me and bragged that he ordered Lance DuDeck to take Mrs. DuDeck because he considered the California courts to be a bunch of crap, in his words.
The key inconsistency I remember is the fact the police refused to take a report from me, but they completed a welfare check on Mrs. DuDeck.  Someone was covering their butts. Marcy died six months later and her weight had dropped from 134 pounds in Los Angeles to 122 pounds at the time of her death," states Pascal.

Pascal then stated, "I received the same reaction from Officer Charles Phillips from West Los Angeles PD who told me he had called Las Vegas Metro and spoke with Officer Haynes.

Next I went to the Nevada Attorney General Cortez Masto.  I never talked with her.  Someone in her office whose last name I remember as Brown told me that the Nevada Attorney General wouldn’t take my report.  In fact this Ms. Brown said Mr. Shafer was highly regarded in the state. 

In 2011, I went to the Nevada state legislature. My contact person who never wanted his name mentioned was Brooks Holcomb. He served one term as Assemblymen.  Becky (Olvera Schultz) had many conversations with him.  Brooks claimed Shafer took $100,000.00 from his mother’s estate while acting as the Administrator.

At the May 2011 meeting, I spoke with the State Senator representing Henderson, Nevada at the time and Attorney Sally Ramm.  Both ladies told me nothing could be done about Shafer and (Clark County Guardianship Hearing Master) Norheim because they were deep in the system. 

Finally I went to the FBI in Los Angeles, who refused to take a report.

California Attorney General Brown, who is now our governor, would not take a report either.

What Rachael Aviv of The New Yorker missed is many families went to the authorities who wouldn’t take a report.  All cases resulted in the statutes of limitation running out.  So as a result, the issue dies not because the guardians were in the right, but because the authorities played deaf and dumb and stalled the case to death,” concluded Pascal.
       Becky Olvera Schultz and father Guadalupe Olvera
Becky Olvera Schultz, whose WW2 veteran father was a victim of Shafer's guardianship, wrote this to INSIDE VEGAS:
“The New Yorker missed a huge point of the problem; they reported it from the wrong angle. Guardian corruption is also about massive fraud and waste committed against the tax payers. Seniors who could have taken care of themselves see their wealth being stripped away through guardian fraud and corruption which forces them on the public dole, causing these seniors end up on Medicaid and Medical.
I believe certain people have been high jacking proper coverage of this issue. Certain key officials in NV have brought this problem into the public focus; Attorney General Laxalt, Governor Sandoval and Senator Becky Harris, but the New Yorker did not mention them.
I believe some people in Clark County, NV, have been obstructing the prosecution of the key perpetrators who have exploited hundreds of the elderly like my father and the system. These people, including former AG of NV, Catherine Cortez Masto (currently US Senator Masto), have blocked the prosecution of professional guardian Jared Shafer and his attorneys, while going after the much smaller fish like Patience Bristol and April Parks. Mr. Shafer has been exploiting seniors and the system since 1979 when he was a public guardian, but not much damaging info on him was mentioned in the New Yorker article, especially anything about his no contest plea for selling securities without a license in a Utah Federal Court. Him paying 20 grand to settle was enough to prevent him from operating as a fiduciary/guardian, but that type of financial wrong doing didn’t seem to bother any authorities.
I personally believe our case was deliberately stripped down in the article. Aviv had informed me and others that the article was to focus on the architect of the guardianship system, Mr. Shafer, and my father's case, but instead it focused on others who did not even own a home to lose and lost a fraction of what many others and my father lost. Nearly half a million was bled from my father's estate during the guardianship proceedings, mainly legal fees going to attorneys for Mr. Shafer. I eventually had to save my father by getting him out of the state, the first to do so. See
In court my father protested needing a guardian and was mocked while the judge blew off his pleas,; the treatment of veterans is especially horrific in this system. Absolutely no respect has been given for those that risked their lives to protect all of our rights. My family has been dealing with this problem for 8 years.

Between 10/16/13 and 10/22/13, I sent 13 emails to Metro’s Colin Haynes, many with attached documents.  I received no call back and no response via email, only “read receipts” verifying he received the emails. I had called Metro previously on 10/16/13 and spoke with Haynes on the phone. He told me to send him information and documents and he gave me his email address. I never heard from him again. Earlier this year I filed a complaint against him for not responding and not sending my information to the Abuse and Neglect unit over 3 years ago; no one got back to me about the complaint either. Later, Sgt. Krumme and Det. Christensen kept harping on how the statute of limitations might have run out, but I told them I originally spoke with Haynes and sent him the same documents 3 years ago that I sent to them so it wasn’t my fault no one acted upon the problem within the time line. It is my belief that the reasons for the statute of limitations running out in most guardianship cases is because of LVMPD refusal to act upon the information they were sent, until it was conveniently too late.  

(Officer Haynes called me in November 2013 to inquire about documents I have that could be useful to his case.  Therefore, I can attest to Ms. Olvera Schultz' timeline.)
Between 5/4/15 and 5/6/15, I sent 13 emails to the AG’s investigator Jaclyn O’Malley’s supervisor, Tony Kotlarz. Then I sent 8 more emails to Jaclyn O’Malley (some copied to Kotlarz) between 5/8/13 and 5/13/15. After a few conversations with them, I never heard back from either one of them. Some time ago, Kotlarz retired and O’Malley set-up office within Metro to work with their detectives.

Between 2015 and 2017, I’ve spoken with the following Metro officers: Detective Brian Santa Rosa, Detective Phil DePalma, Detective Angie Christensen, Sargent Jerome Milton and Sargent Troyce Krumme.

Det. Christensen has been allegedly investigating my father’s case for nearly 2 years. In early August 2017, I received a call from Dr. Einhorn. He was the first qualified professional in CA to interview my father and determined him to be competent. Einhorn wanted to tell me that Det. Christensen had called him and said she might be getting a subpoena for my father’s records. But I’ve never heard back from Einhorn or Metro so I don’t think anything happened. On Aug. 16, 2017, I sent Christensen an email asking her how she even knew about Einhorn because I did not give her his name. I copied the email to Sgt. Krumme and neither one of them responded to me. Christensen had previously told me she would not take 'copies' of any of the doctor's competency reports. I asked, why not? She said 'Because copies can be altered', as if she thought I was going to alter the docs. The issue is Einhorn would have only given her copies too, not the originals.

During all my conservations with Krumme and Christensen, they gave me the impression that they were interviewing all the exploiters and believing the stories they were being told. Apparently Shafer or one of his cronies told them I had no relationship with my parents, which was totally untrue. This really upset me that these officers gave me the impression they were taking the bad guys seriously! These two also spoke about Jason Hanson as if he was mentally deficient, which I found very offensive.

Since October of 2016 I have received a few emails from Krumme and Christensen. The last email I got from Krumme was 7/26/17. He copied it to Christensen and Roger Price, who must be a superior of his. The theme of the email was that they did not want me to discuss Jason’s case with them.  Apparently LVMPD Abuse and Neclect Detail wasn't interested in anyone with information that could help Jason."

                                                                 Jason Hanson

In June 2017,  Jason Hanson asked me (Steve Miller) to be present during his interview with LVMPD Sgt. Jerome Milton and Officer Cynthia Sauchak of the Abuse and Neglect Detail. During the hour long interview, Hanson poured out his heart about how his entire inheritance was stolen from him, giving concise details and often mentioning Jared Shafer as the primary exploiter. At the conclusion of the interview, Officer Sauchak told Jason and I that she "...did not believe any laws had been broken."  This shocking statement inspired me to tell The New Yorker: "Only federal intervention is going to give us peace of mind. 

These are not isolated events. They are just the tip of the iceberg.

Since the publication of the national magazine article, I am happy to say that I have been contacted by a Federal Investigator. Meanwhile, Hanson's exploitation lawsuit is quickly making its way through the Nevada State court system


Full Article & Source:
Inside Vegas