Saturday, November 4, 2017

Woman fights court system for right to make own decisions

WSMV News 4

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Reba Sherrill may be in a wheelchair, but she's ready for a fight.

"I'm not going to let them just get away with this," she said.

Sherrill is fighting for the right to make her own decisions – something her daughters don't take for granted anymore.

“My mom's not a criminal, and yet they're treating her like a criminal," said Brenna Outlaw, Sherrill’s daughter.

The struggle began when Sherrill went to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in August. She was having complications from a car accident that happened in December 2016.

"When I went on Tuesday night, they kept me. And that was the beginning of the nightmare,” Sherrill said.

Sherrill went to Vanderbilt for a physical problem, but Vanderbilt's lawyers filed papers in Davidson County Probate Court saying Sherrill had a "borderline personality disorder.” Vanderbilt asked a judge to appoint someone to take control of her affairs. They said no family members were willing to do it.

Judge Randy Kennedy approved Vanderbilt's request the same day without consulting Sherrill or her family.

"Aug. 23, they went to court and asked the judge to appoint someone to make my decisions. They didn't tell me this hearing was taking place. It happened, and the next day, I was notified that it had taken place," Sherrill said.

"And it didn't matter. It didn't matter that they didn't notify family. That they had family willing to step in," said her daughter, Emily Outlaw.

The judge appointed a Nashville attorney, Cathryn Armistead, to serve as what's called a fiduciary. That gave Armistead power over where Sherrill would live; what doctors she would see – and it gave Armistead control over Sherrill’s financial affairs.

"They took all the money out of my bank account. Didn't even warn me. They didn't even tell me they were going to do it. They redirected all my personal mail to the attorney who was serving as the fiduciary," Sherrill said.

Sherrill was trying to rebuild her house in Hendersonville. It had been damaged in a fire. She couldn’t go forward because she couldn't pay the contractors.

Armistead moved Sherrill to a nursing home. Her family said she was given mind-altering anti-psychotic drugs even though her own family doctor wrote a letter saying those medications could cause a life-threatening adverse reaction.

"It didn't matter that she had a neurologist who said she's allergic to it, shouldn't take it, they were just shooting her up with it anyway," Emily Outlaw said.

Vanderbilt's attorney Anthony Bills filed papers with the court saying doctors determined that Sherrill was paranoid and delusional.

Sherrill said she believes it was because she told them she was highly sensitive to pesticides and herbicides.

"They said that because I eat only organic food that I was paranoid and psychotic," she said.

Sherrill’s daughter Brenna Outlaw found the idea laughable.

“I eat organic food; there’s a lot of people who eat organic food. There are millions of people who only eat organic food,” she said.

Vanderbilt’s attorney filed more papers, asking the court to give Armistead broader powers. They asked that Armistead be named Sherrill’s conservator permanently.

That would give Armistead the right to make end-of-life decisions, control all her medical care, decide where she lives, and sell her property.

"Basically when you go through this situation it's like you've already died. They take everything. They liquidate," Sherrill said.

A hearing was set for Oct. 11. Two days before that hearing, Judge Kennedy signed an order giving Armistead control over the settlement that Sherrill received after the December car accident.

The settlement totals more than $1 million – money that would then become available to pay all the fees that are racked up in conservatorship cases.

Hourly fees are charged by the lawyer the judge appointed to represent Sherrill. Armistead, an attorney, is also allowed to bill by the hour for work done on Sherrill’s behalf.

It's up to the judge to approve the bills; the family has no say.

"I'm kind of scared of how much they're going to end up charging her," Emily Outlaw said.

On Oct. 11, News 4 attended the hearing as the family fought the proposed conservatorship. Lawyers spent hours in negotiations behind closed doors.

In the end, both sides agreed that Sherrill's brother could be her conservator. Armistead is out of the picture.

"I like that if somebody is going to be over me, it's him," said Sherrill, referring to her brother.

There's something that Sherrill's family has never understood. Why did Vanderbilt's lawyers keep fighting to establish a conservatorship, even long after Sherrill had been discharged as their patient?

The News 4 I-Team’s Nancy Amons asked Vanderbilt’s attorney Anthony Bills as court finished for the day. He declined to answer questions.

"Again, Miss Amons, I'm sorry, I'm not at liberty to speak outside the courtroom about this case. Thank you." Bills said.

Sherrill and her family are at a loss to understand Vanderbilt’s continuing interest in their former patient.

"My attorney asked them that question, and they never really gave us an answer,” Sherrill said.
A Vanderbilt spokesperson emailed the I-Team a statement:

“The 2 million-plus patients we treat each year represent a variety of life experiences and social circumstances. We support the use of conservatorships for some patients to ensure there is an appropriate legal process in place for decisions associated with patient care,” said John Howser, chief communications officer with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Vanderbilt did not comment on why they pursued the conservatorship for some six weeks after Sherrill was no longer an inpatient.

The Sherrill family wants the laws changed. They want more protection for people like themselves – protection from a system they feel is un-American.

"This could happened to anybody," Brenna Outlaw said.

"They claim these are put into place to help the individual, to protect them, but all I see is it's abuse," Sherrill said.

Armistead did not return phone calls and emails sent to her office.

This isn't the first conservatorship case the I-Team’s Nancy Amons has investigated in Judge Kennedy's court.

Songwriter Danny Tate fought to get out from under a conservatorship under Judge Kennedy. His home was auctioned, and was purchased by the attorney to whom he owed legal bills.

Amons also profiled the stories of two other women, Jewell Tinnon and Ginger Franklin. Both of them lost their homes and all their possessions after the court put them in conservatorships. They have since died.

Full Article & Source:
Woman fights court system for right to make own decisions

Lawyer Wants Richard Dabate To Pay Back $70,000 To Slain Wife's Estate

In the 16 months between Connie Dabate’s murder and her husband’s arrest, Richard Dabate emptied his wife’s bank accounts, cashed in multiple retirement accounts and was on the verge of selling a home the couple owned in Vernon.

The sale of that home on Talcott Road for $149,000 was supposed to close on April 21, 2017, a week after Richard Dabate was charged with murder. But an attorney for Connie Dabate’s estate asked a probate judge to halt the sale and Judge O. James Purnell III ordered a freeze on any of Connie Dabate’s assets, including that home, the day before it was supposed to close.

The couple also owned a home in Ellington, where Connie Dabate was killed.

Records show that while the sale of the Vernon house was halted Richard Dabate took hundreds of thousands of dollars out of his wife’s 401(k) accounts of which he was the beneficiary — at least one a Fidelity account worth nearly $100,000. He also took $70,292 from bank accounts in Connie Dabate’s name.

Connie Dabate’s estate was the subject of a hearing Tuesday before Purnell, who scheduled it to get more information on why the estate was down to only $6.42.

Richard Dabate started within weeks of his wife’s death by writing a letter to Protective Life Insurance trying to get them to pay him Connie Dabate’s $495,000 life insurance policy. She had taken out the policy in 2003, before the couple had any children, and named Richard as the sole beneficiary.

“I’ve included what I hope is all the correct information to process my wife’s claim,” Dabate wrote.

“I’m trying to process this as fast as possible for expenses purposes. Please let me know if you need anything else from me.”

The insurance company denied his claim after state police detectives informed them he was a suspect in his wife’s murder. The company has since filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to take control of the money and determine who it should eventually be distributed to.

A new inventory was filed by Dabate’s probate attorney Tuesday showing Connie Dabate’s estate was worth about $86,000.

Richard Dabate, as executor of the estate, paid about $17,000 in funeral expenses and state and local taxes from his wife’s estate, records show. He then withdrew another $70,000 for himself before he was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder in April of 2017.

That left the estate with $6.42. It is unclear what Dabate did with the $70,000. Lawyer John G. Tunila said he plans to file a motion asking Purnell to order Richard Dabate to pay back the $70,000 to the estate. Tunila represents Connie Dabate’s sister, who is now executor.

“We want the money restored to the estate because [the estate] doesn’t have enough left to pay its bills,” Tunila said.

Purnell accepted the new accounting of Connie Dabate’s assets and said he’d take up the motion to pay back the estate when it was formally filed.

Purnell removed Richard Dabate as executor of his wife's will in May after Dabate was charged with murder in Connie Dabate's death. He appointed Connie’s sister as executor, froze the estate and ordered a full inventory.

Connie Dabate, 39 at the time of her death, left all of her assets to her husband. The will was finalized before either of her two boys, now ages 9 and 6, were born and was never updated. Richard Dabate is free on $1 million bail.

When Purnell removed Dabate, he ordered him to produce a full accounting of his wife's estate within two months but he hadn’t done so until Tuesday.

In his initial report to the court Dabate didn't submit any information about why, in January 2016, he withdrew more than $90,000 from a Fidelity investment account that belonged to his wife, as outlined in his arrest warrant affidavit.

Tunila said the Fidelity account was one of “multiple” 401(k)s that Connie Dabate had that Richard Dabate withdrew from following her murder. He declined to say how much money was in those accounts.

The house at 7 Birchview Rd. in Ellington has been appraised at about $392,000, according to assessor's records.

Connie Dabate was found shot in the back of the head in the basement of the couple's Ellington home. Richard Dabate told state police that his wife was killed by a masked intruder who shot her in the couple's basement after chasing her. He told police he fought with the man in the second-floor bedroom before he was subdued by the intruder.

Richard Dabate was found by police sprawled out in the kitchen of the couple's large, colonial-style home. One of his arms and a leg were secured to a folding chair with a zip tie, and he had superficial knife wounds. Dabate told police he escaped by knocking a blow torch into the intruder's face with his free hand.

Dabate eventually told state police in a six-hour interview that he had a pregnant girlfriend and that his wife was going to help "co-parent" the baby. He later acknowledged that the pregnancy wasn't planned.

He promised his girlfriend that he was getting a divorce, according to the arrest affidavit. The baby was born in February of last year.

State police obtained cellphone records for the couple, computer records from Richard Dabate's laptop, Facebook records for both of them and the girlfriend, text messages and Fitbit records for Connie Dabate.

Connie Dabate's Fitbit showed her last movements were at 10:05 the morning she died, nearly an hour after Richard Dabate told police she had been killed. Facebook records showed Connie Dabate posted three videos at 9:46 a.m., and the alarm system records showed movements throughout the house that didn't match Richard Dabate's description of the attack, the warrant showed.

Connie Dabate also had a $475,000 life insurance policy that Richard Dabate tried to claim five days after the murder, only to be rebuked by the insurance company. The insurance policy isn't required to be listed as an asset of her estate.

Purnell said that the case will proceed through probate court but that a final distribution of assets will not be approved until Dabate's criminal case is resolved. Purnell said any sales of property or other assets will be held by a court-appointed fiduciary, and all assets of Connie Dabate will be frozen.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer Wants Richard Dabate To Pay Back $70,000 To Slain Wife's Estate

Friday, November 3, 2017

How A Roof Inspection Led To An Emergency Guardianship

NEWPORT, RI — Louise Mancini died in North Carolina last August at her sister's house. She had lived some 60 years in Newport but spent the last seven weeks of her life back home. Her sister, Faye Weller, made the trip to Newport to collect her after hearing some people had tried to take advantage of her. In June, according to court papers, Mancini, in a nursing home, on hospice, had been taken out of a Newport nursing home and 'induced' to sign away her property for a price as much as $200,000 below market value. An emergency guardianship stopped the sale.

The Purchase & Sale agreement, which Mancini signed, had been recorded in the Newport City Clerk's office on June 21, six days after it was signed by Sean Napolitano, acting as manager for NicNap Partners LLC. (He is not listed as one of the NicNap partners in the Rhode Island Secretary of State's Corporation Database. Andrew F. Nicoletta, of Middletown, is listed as the contact on the annual report filed Oct. 18. Under the manager's name, the entry is "None." Real estate investments are listed as the purpose of the business.)

On June 22, a day after the Purchase & Sale was recorded, Attorney William Harvey, who had been taking care of Mrs. Mancini's finances, went to court, applied for an emergency guardianship and was appointed her temporary guardian. Harvey told the Probate Court the reason for the emergency guardianship was this: she "was taken from nursing home by 86 year old boyfriend and induced into entering into purchase and sale agreement for less than market value."

The Probate Court ultimately obtained a "mutual release," cancelling out the Purchase and Sale agreement for the 86-year-old Mancini's property.

Napolitano did not respond to e-mail asking for comment. But court records and land evidence records show NicNap had offered Mancini $375,000 total for her two properties: the house at 12 Spring Street and the adjoining lot identified as 0 (zero) Moffitt.

How much below market value was the offer?

On Aug. 25, on or around the day she died, Probate Court Judge Gregory Fater authorized the 'fiduciaries' to sell her property "by private contract for an amount" not less than $563,000. A bond was fixed at $1.2 million. No surety was required. Per Land Evidence records, the two lots are still in her estate. But a zoning certificate was recorded on Oct. 10 from Guy Weston to Attorney Peter Regan, of Sayer Regan & Thayer. (If Regan's name sounds familiar, he is also the Middletown solicitor.)

Weston's certificate states Moffitt Place is a legal non-conforming lot, and it is buildable, meaning new structures could be built there, provided they met zoning criteria.

So, how did NicNap Partners manage to record a Purchase & Sale agreement for Mancini's two lots -- and for a price so far below their $563,000 minimum market value?

According to the guardianship papers, it all started when Mancini's lawyer, William Harvey II, contacted A-1 Roofing and Napolitano to inspect the roof at 12 Spring St.

Harvey also did not respond to the Patch's request for comment. His initial e-mail to Napolitano is not part of the court record, but this exchange followed on April 11 and 12, 2017.

"Sure," Napolitano e-mailed on April 11. "I'll inspect roof for her. What is the address? Is she looking to possibly sell? Just thought I'd ask."

The rest of the e-mail refers to a conversation unrelated to Louise Mancini and apparently about a rental Harvey was trying to arrange with Napolitano. It reads,"Yeah, Sean is a great guy. And Lastly, I'm thinking around July 1st is when that space would be available." It was signed "Sean."
Harvey wrote this message back.

"Sean, it's 12 Spring St. It will be on the market if she will ever kick the bucket. She's 86 and was on hospice. Now she's off and looks like she's ready to drop in on a half pipe."

The rest of his e-mail goes back to a question about the rental.

"What would you be looking for on the rent?"

Although Harvey's message was sent to Napolitano, it did not stay private. Per court records, someone apparently showed it to Mancini. She wrote it down verbatim.

On June 20, she had signed court papers agreeing to Harvey's appointment as her temporary guardian for limited purposes, including her real estate dealings, but seven days later, she sent the judge a handwritten letter.

"Honorable Gregory Fater," she wrote. "I do not want William Harvey as my guardian: I am not crazy at all. And I am able to take care of myself? (sic.) I feed myself and dress myself and I use my walker and my wheelchair to move myself around. I can walk (with) a walker. I do want my personal papers and checkbook returned to me immediately."

She signed the letter with her full name and address. Then she added this explanation.

"Here is what Mr. Harvey wrote about me: 12 Spring St. It will be on the market if she will ever kick the bucket. She's 86. Was on hospice. Now she's off and looks like she's ready to drop in on a half pipe.

"What would you for on the rent?

Plus no sale at all."

The next day she sent Fater a similar letter.

"Honorable Gregory Fater, I do not want William Harvey as my guardian: I am not crazy at all. And I am able to take care of myself? (sic.) I feed myself and dress myself and I use my walker and my wheelchair to move myself around. And I do want my personal papers and checkbook returned to me immediately." She signed the letter Mrs. Louise S. Mancini.

Two days earlier, on June 26, physician Robert O. Cicchelli evaluated her and concluded she had some mild impairment in cognition mostly due to past strokes. She was able to make good decisions about her healthcare and about social relationships but needed a "substitute decision-maker for protection in the matter of her financial decisions." Two of her prescribed drugs, gabapentin and Lorazepam" could tire her out enough to slow down her thinking and impair her business decision-making, he indicated. Otherwise, her mental outlook was good.

"I feel that she has no anxiety or depression," he wrote.

Fater appointed Attorney Craig Sampson, of Nicholson & Sampson as guardian ad litem to evaluate her. He went to visit her and talked with the nursing home staff and her friends. On July 11, Sampson concluded "a guardian is needed with respect to finances, residence and real estate transactions."

Earlier on July 6, he signaled any falling out between Mancini and Harvey had been patched up.

"She indicated that she did not believe she needed a guardian except as it relates to her real property," he wrote. "Louise informed me that she gets a little confused when it comes to her finances and would like Mr. William Harvey to continue to take care of her finances."

To be continued

Full Article & Source:
How A Roof Inspection Led To An Emergency Guardianship

Des Moines lawyer faces disbarment over theft

Sandra Suarez-Quilty
A Des Moines lawyer, lobbyist and former school board candidate who has acknowledged stealing money from clients and committing numerous other ethical violations should be barred from practicing law, the Grievance Commission of the Iowa Supreme Court says.

In responding to a complaint from the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board, the commission is recommending that the court revoke the law license of 44-year-old Sandra Suarez-Quilty.

According to the commission, Suarez-Quilty lied to a judge about her representation of a client; practiced law after her license was suspended in the wake of a second-offense conviction for drunken driving; used a client’s trust fund to pay for expenses unrelated to the client’s case; was arrested a fourth time for drunken driving while the charges tied to her third such arrest were still pending in the courts; and charged $5,000 to a client’s credit card for no legitimate reason.

The five-member commission noted that in Iowa, the conversion of client funds to one’s personal use is enough to support revocation of a law license, making it unnecessary for the panel to consider the other alleged ethical violations. Suarez-Quilty converted money from two of her clients to her own use, the commission stated.

“She admits to having committed theft,” the panel wrote in its recommendation. “The $5,000 charge on the credit card is very serious” and Suarez-Quilty ”admitted to having committed a felony with regard to those funds.”

Suarez-Quilty said this week that while she doesn't dispute the commission's findings, she is appealing the recommendation for a license revocation.

“There is no question that in the course of my disease of alcoholism I made bad decisions,” Suarez-Quilty said. “And I am desperately sorry for that. I am a sober woman today and living in recovery.”

Suarez-Quilty has practiced law in Iowa for 19 years and runs the Suarez Law Firm on Court Avenue in Des Moines, where she specializes in immigration cases and family law.

In 2012, she sought appointment to fill the term of a resigned Des Moines school board member, but was arrested a few days before the finalists for the position were chosen. According to police records, she came home intoxicated and fought with the man with whom she shared a residence at the time.
She allegedly punched him in the face, leaving his eye swollen shut. She was subsequently convicted of domestic-abuse assault causing bodily injury.

At various times, Suarez-Quilty worked as a staff attorney for Planned Parenthood and as a lobbyist for Orchard Place, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Iowa chapter of the American Cancer Society.

In 2010, she received a private admonition for an alleged assault on a state trooper after a drunken-driving arrest. In 2013, she was publicly reprimanded as a result of her domestic-abuse assault conviction, and in 2015 she was publicly reprimanded for a variety of ethical violations.

Full Article & Source:
Des Moines lawyer faces disbarment over theft

Elderly parents' estate drained after three sons sell farm, 'gift' family home

Three adult sons who siphoned more than $1.6 million from their elderly parents have been refused guardianship over their estate.

The State Administrative Tribunal found the couple were victims of "questionable transactions" and appointed the Public Trustee as administrator.

In March, one of the sons had helped his father, 87, sell the couple's farm in Wyening, but later transferred the $1.6 million to his own account and then split the proceeds with his brothers.

He also took a personal commission of $50,000, and transferred a further $244,000, of which he later returned $200,000.

The sons also sought to have their parents' Mullaloo home gifted to themselves, even though the tribunal had found their mother, 81, "lacked the legal capacity required" to agree to it.

The sons did not make the solicitor involved aware that their mother had an independent guardian, or that there were ongoing proceedings.

Two of the sons used their parents' funds to pay their own legal fees, and the parents also covered the cost of renovations and repairs to the Mullaloo home, even though ownership had been transferred.

The tribunal also referred to "very large cash withdrawals" from ATMs, and noted the couple had given one son $3,000 for rent and groceries.

Granddaughter steps in to demand independent guardian

It was during April that the "questionable transactions" occurred, amidst a climate of family acrimony.

A granddaughter of the couple had sought an independent administrator for her grandmother on April 10, fearing she was at risk.

She said her grandmother was suffering from dementia, had lost weight, missed family events and medical appointments, and had her landline disconnected while family members' numbers were blocked on her mobile.

Two days later, a confrontation erupted between her, and her father and his nephew, which resulted in police charging the nephew with assault.

The granddaughter had her grandparents admitted to hospital on April 13, and she shared her concerns with a family doctor.

The same day, the $1.6 million proceeds from the sale of the farm was transferred out of her grandparents joint account.

Then on April 19, one son asked the tribunal for he and his brother to be appointed as guardian and administrator for their parents, arguing his father was "vulnerable to financial exploitation by his grandchildren" and was being held "against his will in hospital".

On April 20, the elderly couple were discharged from hospital against medical advice after one of the sons went there under a false name.

The gifting of the Mullaloo home occurred in May.

The tribunal said it did not accept the claims that the sons were making about the grandchildren.

It ordered that the Public Trustee lodge a caveat over the Mullaloo residence, and consider an injunction preventing the sons from dealing with the funds associated with the farm.

It ordered investigations be undertaken regarding other amounts.

The tribunal ruled an administrator be appointed for the grandfather and grandmother, and the Public Advocate appointed with his limited guardianship for the grandmother.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly parents' estate drained after three sons sell farm, 'gift' family home

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hospital Uses Guardianships to Remove Medicare & Medicaid Patients

I am not a lawyer and I readily admit my understanding of the law is limited. However one does not need a law degree or legal education to know the following case is an abhorrent perversion of law and justice.

The case of Anastasia Adams proves that having power of attorney and an advance directive will not protect you if a major hospital like Inova Fairfax in Northern Virginia sues for guardianship and hands you over to their designated guardians. Even having a court appointed guardian will not protect you from guardianship if Inova thinks your child needs Electro-Shock therapy and you disagree with them; as Francisca Zegarra-Rodriguez found out. Francisca was appointed as her son's guardian by Loudon County Circuit Court judge the Honorable Jeanette A. Irby on December 14, 2015. When Francisca disagreed with Inova's treatment decision Inova simply took her to court and had a Fairfax County Circuit judge set aside her guardianship order and took her son forcing him to have ECT. They returned custody of Francisca's son to her six months later.

Inova in both of these cases -- and in 35 others and counting, 19 just since February 2017 -- had Fairfax County judges appoint the same two co-guardians and co-conservators, using the same two guardian ad litem's, and the same external law firm Blankingship & Keith; who allegedly according to public records always state it is an emergency and there are no known power of attorney's even when they allegedly know they exist.

Anastasia's sister Yolanda Bell had been her power of attorney for 15 years when Inova sued for guardianship. In their petition for guardianship Inova and their attorney's did not allege there was abuse, neglect, or exploitation (nor did the circuit court judge find abuse, neglect, or exploitation). All Inova alleged was Yolanda "refused to consent to discharge" and therefore was not acting in the best interests of her sister. So on February 15, 2017, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Stephen C. Shannon issued an order appointing Inova's two designated guardians as co-guardians and co-conservators of Anastasia's person, property, and estate. Like Francisca Yolanda had simply disagreed with Inova. Yolanda disagreed with Inova wanting to discharge her Anastasia with a large pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart) and a 12" blood clot, so she appealed Inova's decision to Medicare. Medicare agreed with Yolanda that Anastasia was still too ill to be discharged but Inova had already taken custody of Anastasia.

Since the guardianship order Anastasia's health has been run into the ground by Inova's designated guardians. Allegedly the facility where she was first placed severely broke her right hip and the guardians would not have it set or fixed leaving it grossly deformed. Allegedly the next facility where she was placed broke Anastasia's right ankle and again the guardians would not have it set or fixed. What is allegedly happening to this woman and dozens of others by Inova in this writer opinion is both morally wrong and criminal.

According to public records there are at present approximately 38 people whom Inova Healthcare Services has sued for guardianship, allegedly either to enforce treatment decisions or effect discharge from one of there hospitals. All of these individuals are on Medicare or Medicaid and it appears that when Inova thinks they will not be paid they simply call in Laurie Kirkland from B&K and she files an emergency petition for guardianship. Amazingly at least 35 of the 38 guardianships all have two attorneys from Dingman and Labowitz, PC as co-guardians and co-conservators -- principal Kenneth E. Labowitz, Esq and partner Anne M. Heishman, Esq -- and either Saben N. Johnston, Esq or Gary Jetter, Esq as court appointed guardian ad litems. At first glance this might appear to be a coincidence but upon closer inspection one realizes the same one or two names are shown in appointing the guardian ad litems, with the predominant name being the Honorable Daniel Ortiz.

According to official court transcript in the Anastasia Adams hearing, guardians Heishman and Labowitz have up to 120 at a time. Conservatively, this means if each ward receives $1200 a month in social security benefits the guardians are receiving $144,000 a month and $1,728,000 a year since they have had all funds diverted to bank accounts they control. Meanwhile their wards, as evidenced by Anastasia's situation, are relegated to languish in substandard and poorly run nursing homes isolated from their families, clergy, and loved ones. In fact Anastasia was placed in a room with no TV or radio and left to just stare at the walls 24 hours a day.

Family members dealing with what has been labeled "predatory" guardianships have attempted to obtain legal help but lawyers in Northern Virginia will not help the victim's party because Inova is a major employer and contributes to many political campaigns. Add to this the fact that Kenneth Labowitz started a political action committee (PAC) in the '90s that got Senator Jim Moran (D) elected and served as the president of Legal Services of Northern Virginia; it becomes clearer why families are unable to get any help to fight the Inova guardianship machine and extract their loved ones from their clutches.

Both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have just passed SB178 Robert Matava Elder Abuse Prosecution Act of 2017 and it is waiting for President Trump to sign it into law. The Bill promises some potential protections (and hopefully prosecutions) for those families and individuals who find themselves trap in the agonizing torment of a guardianship like those above.

Full Article & Source:
Hospital Uses Guardianships to Remove Medicare & Medicaid Patients

Federal funding cuts could be 'devastating blow' to elder abuse prevention

Edward Rice told multiple doctors within a week in June he felt like he was being abused, but nothing was done to separate him from his alleged abuser. Edward Rice was dead a month later. Lacy Atkins / The Tennessean

Reductions in federal funding could be “a devastating blow” to state agencies around the country that depend on federal money to investigate hundreds of thousands of cases of alleged abuse of the elderly, abuse prevention advocates say.

Every state has agencies that depend, at least to some extent, on federal social services block grants to support investigating allegations, which can range from financial exploitation to physical abuse and neglect.

Advocates say there's only growing attention to the issue, and it deserves more resources, not less.

"It’s this kind of insidious problem we have to think about," said Paul Greenwood, the district attorney in San Diego County, Calif., and leading advocate for elder abuse prevention and prosecution who delivered a keynote speech on the topic recently to the state districts attorney conference in Knoxville.

The House passed a budget resolution that included a requirement to reduce spending, largely a recommendation from the House Budget Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin.

Ultimately, the forced spending reductions — including to the social services block grants — were removed by the Senate. But they could come up again as Congress prepares to debate a tax reform plan from the Trump administration and how to pay for it.

"Elimination of these funds would mean the elimination and/or reduction of many" of the services provided by adult protective agencies, said Julie Schoen, deputy director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, at the Keck School of Medicine in Alhambra, Calif.

"If funding is discontinued or cut, I cannot imagine what will happen."

In Tennessee, nearly half of the state’s nearly $8.6 million budget for Adult Protective Services comes from that federal grant program. In the last five years alone, the state has received 55,000 reports of alleged exploitation, abuse or neglect.

More than 34,000 of those have warranted a state investigation, an average of about 18 per day. That average is consistent with NCEA figures of about 20 per day, Schoen said.
"Elder abuse is on the rise, and awareness of this issue is also growing," she said.

Tennessee Adult Protective Services officials declined to say what moves could be made if funding is reduced, calling it speculative.

State prosecutors and lawmakers in recent years have created task forces and passed legislation to enhance the crimes committed against the state’s elderly, which are handled by 90 APS investigators statewide, less than one per county.

This past year, that effort was championed by state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who has been nominated to a federal judgeship by President Donald Trump.

The legislation was generated in part by a committee established by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2014 and led by Norris. That committee focused on vulnerable adults and has developed legislation to increase criminal penalties for elder abuse.

Lisa Zavogiannis, the district attorney in Tennessee's 31st Judicial District, chairs the elder abuse subcommittee within the state's districts attorney conference.

Zavogiannis said the committee has only reached "the tip of the iceberg" on the issue.

"For so many years it was ignored," she said.

Full Article & Source:
Federal funding cuts could be 'devastating blow' to elder abuse prevention

Nursing Home Staffing 2017 Q2

Sufficient staffing is one of the most important indicators of a nursing home’s quality and safety. Due to questions about the accuracy of the self-reported staffing data published in facility listings on Nursing Home Compare, the 2010 Affordable Care Act requires facilities to electronically submit direct care staffing information (including agency and contract staff) based on payroll and other auditable data. Though this requirement came into law in 2010, it was not implemented in the federal rules for nursing homes until August 2015. The first mandatory reporting period began July 2016.

The first publication of these data (to the general public) began fall of 2017.

To make this information more accessible, LTCCC has compiled these data into easy-to-use files for each state, as well as a single national file. These files include the following information:

 Name of State
 Name of Nursing Home
 MDS Census (number of residents in the facility)
 RN Hours
 LPN Hours
 CNA Hours
 Total Direct Care Staff Time
 Average Staffing Hours Per Resident Per Day
 Average RN Hours Per Resident Per Day

Note: Resident census and staffing hours are the averages for the quarter (three month period). See the Notes tab in each file for more information about the data.  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
Nursing Home Staffing 2017 Q2

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Call Collett update: Family stuck in conservatorship for nearly a year

A Lowcountry family is furious because their bank account was drained, and they were told they had to ask permission to spend their money.

When the courts take control of your finances it's called a conservatorship.   They are usually established for the protection of an incapacitated person's finances.

The Bennett family contests court intervention isn't necessary, but they've been stuck in the system for nearly a year.

New reports from court appointed doctors show Benjamin Bennett is not incapacitated.

"This thing has me going crazy," Bennett told News 2's Rebecca Collett during a follow up interview with the family.

To see the original story, click here. 

His daughter, Melissa, called News 2 after her father's now former doctor recommended the conservatorship for protection.  Mr. Bennett recently came into a large inheritance. According to the original doctor's report, Bennett showed signs of dementia and had voiced concerns about having so much money in the bank

"Since this thing has been going on, I just ain't how I used to be," Mr. Bennett explained, trying to keep his frustration calm.

Last November, the courts called for an emergency hearing, citing concerns Mr. Bennett was unable to handle his money.  The court drained his bank account of roughly $500,000 and appointed Family Services to oversee the family finances.  The court appointed health experts examined Mr. Bennett.  They also interviewed the family. According to the new mental health records released to News 2 by the family, both exams found Mr. Bennett is not incapacitated; should be able to handle his own financial affairs; and showed normal signs of aging. They also found the family to be supportive.

The family believes the court should not have taken control until after the capacity tests.  The initial recommendation came during a time when Mr. Bennett was experiencing an infection that caused confusion.

At this point, Mr. Bennett is so frustrated with the court control over his money, he didn't finish one of the tests. It's possible the courts and attorneys won't accept the findings until he finishes.  The reports contained notes citing concerns for Bennett's future as he aged, though the family was noted as being helpful to Benjamin and his wife.

Melissa says the tests on her 80-year-old father are taking their toll on Mr. Bennett's health. Health records show he's losing weight.

"What he has lost is more than the money now," she explained. Melissa said he's been depressed and unable to participate in his normal activities.

Mr. Bennett's wife of 60 years, Ida, is his court appointed guardian, but even she can't freely access their money.  The water company notified her this month the bills aren't getting paid.

The court appointed conservator, Family Services, said they weren't aware of the water bill because it was in Ida's name.

To hear from Family Services, click here. 

The Bennetts need permission to access any of their money for everything from dentures to AC repairs.

Mrs. Bennett said the couple had plans to take a cruise and enjoy their retirement, but their situation has made that impossible.

A hearing was planned for October 23, but it was pushed back.  In court records Mr. Bennett's attorney cited concerns about the tests.  Though the family agreed to the delay, they are frustrated that after nearly a year, they still don't have resolution.

The longer the family is under the conservatorship, the more it costs them in fees for attorneys, doctors, and Family Services.

To read about the fees, click here.

The family expects to meet with their court appointed attorneys next week, but Mr. Bennett is losing hope he will ever have control over his life again.

"If I can't handle this, the good master will handle them," he said.

Getting out of a conservatorship is a long shot. Fewer than one percent of cases are dissolved by the court each year in Charleston County. The typical case that is dissolved is an accident case where the person is in intensive care then regains capacity.  That means 99% of cases are dissolved only after a ward dies.

News 2 was originally granted access to the court files related to Mr. Bennett's case, but following our initial report, a court appointed attorney for Mr. Bennett objected to our access to the files.  Bennett's wife, who is also his legal guardian, approved our access to the file, but we were still denied access to the court records.

Full Article & Source:
Call Collett update: Family stuck in conservatorship for nearly a year

Latest guardianship court hearing sequestered

A guardianship court hearing for Holocaust survivor Peter Grotte-Higley was held in secret on Tuesday, three weeks after the judge in the case postponed the matter saying she wanted to research the issue of whether two Journal reporters could attend.

State District Judge Denise Barela-Shepherd at an Oct. 2 hearing instructed the attorneys in the case to research the “legal authorities either in support or against” opening the hearing. At the time, the judge looked at the Journal reporters in the courtroom and instructed the attorneys in the case to notify the reporters about a new hearing date.

But no such notification occurred.

Grotte-Higley, a former client of Ayudando Guardians Inc., has had questions about his finances and his pension benefits since Ayudando’s two top executives were charged in a 28-count federal indictment in July. Federal officials say more than $4 million in client funds has been embezzled in recent years, and Ayudando had more than 1,000 clients.

After Ayudando was closed in late August by the U.S. Marshals Service, Grotte-Higley’s guardianship was transferred to Decades Inc.

Under state law, guardianship hearings are normally sequestered, except when the alleged incapacitated person seeks to have the proceedings open.

On Oct. 2, just minutes before his guardianship hearing was to begin, Grotte-Higley invited the reporters to attend. “Definitely, why not?” he said.

Barela-Shepherd, upon learning that Journal reporters were in the courtroom, halted the proceedings, saying she didn’t have enough information about whether the hearing could be opened.

“I’m not opposed to unsequestering it, but by statute I don’t know that I can,” said the judge. Barela-Shepherd added that she was considering whether to permit one or both reporters into the next hearing in the case.

The judge didn’t return a Journal phone call Tuesday. A district court spokesperson said Tuesday she could verify the hearing occurred, but because of confidentiality laws she could not respond as to why the reporters weren’t notified.

Ellen Leitzer, the court-appointed guardian ad litem for Grotte-Higley, referred questions about the hearing to Barela-Shepherd. Mary Ann Green, an attorney in the case, didn’t return a Journal phone call.

A message left for Grotte-Higley at Albuquerque Grande, his new residence, was not returned on Tuesday.

There was no way to find out what “legal authorities” were provided to the judge on the issue of opening up Grotte-Higley’s hearing.

Filings in his case, and in all guardian or conservator cases in New Mexico, are confidential under the law.

The Journal profiled Grotte-Higley in a story last summer when he voiced his frustrations about his living conditions in a private boarding home and not having a way to reach the U.S. Marshals office to ask about his case. He was barred from leaving with Journal reporters to go to Ayudando’s offices for an answer.

Full Article & Source:
Latest guardianship court hearing sequestered

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





PLEASE NOTE: The following highlighted quoted text is only a portion of the full report/survey submitted by DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES. The full report/survey can be found here.



Based on observation, interview and record review, the facility failed to ensure 5 of 6 residents (Resident #1, #3,#4, #17 and #18) with pressure ulcers received necessary treatment and services, consistent with professional standards of practice, to promote healing, prevent infection and prevent new ulcers from developing. The facility failed to:

Perform skin assessments every shift per Resident #1’s care plan dated 2/19/17 and to identify Resident #1 suspected deep tissue injury (SDTI)

Accurately assess Resident #3 for pressure injuries. The assessments indicated he was a moderate risk for pressure injuries after he already had one. Resident #3 was assessed with [REDACTED].

Accurately assess Resident #4 for pressure injuries. The assessments indicated he was at moderate risk for pressure injuries after he already had one. Resident #4 was assessed with [REDACTED].

Accurately assess Resident ##17 for pressure injuries. The assessments indicated she was at risk for pressure injuries after she already had one.

Accurately assess Resident #18 for pressure injuries. The assessments indicated he was at risk for pressure injuries after he already had one.

This failure resulted in an identification of an Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) on 4/6/17. While the IJ was lowered on 4/11/17 the facility remained out of compliance at a level of actual harm with a scope identified as a pattern because they had not had time to monitor for effectiveness.

This deficient practice placed 13 residents at risk of not receiving wound care treatments, skin assessments or interventions and put them at risk of life threatening complications.

During an interview on 4/6/17 at 1:58 p.m. the Treatment Nurse said she had been the treatment nurse off and on for several years. She said this time she had been the treatment nurse for over a year. She said she got pulled treatments to do other jobs because of staffing issues. She said her Corporate Office had said she was not to be pulled. She said last week she had to go to wound care Monday and Friday and then Wednesday she was pulled to work the floor which gave her 2 days to do treatments and skin assessments. She said this week (4/3/17 – 4/7/17) she was pulled to the floor on 4/3 to be the medication nurse and 4/04/17 she had to transport a resident to wound care. She said she had talked to the DON about sending one resident with just two aides to wound care. She said she physically counted the number of wounds in the building when she did the skin report and was very aware of the number of residents with pressure injuries. She said the numbers seem up there. She said the aides were usually very good about reporting changes to her. The Treatment Nurse said she tried to do skin assessments on one hall a day.

During an interview on 4/06/17 at 2:55 p.m. the Administrator said she was not informed of Resident #1’s pressure injury until the next day. She said unstageable was the most explanation she got. The Administrator was informed that no full body assessment was completed until after 9 a.m. the day after the unstageable was discovered on Resident #1. The Administrator acknowledged the system had broken down. She said it appeared the problem started with the Hospice aides and not telling any of the staff. She said once the Treatment Nurse was notified she should have done a full assessment. The Administrator said the facility CNA’s provided incontinent care and as needed bed baths. She said they provided care like repositioning and putting on the heel protectors that everyone kicks off. She said as they were repositioning Resident #1 she would think they would see the unstageable pressure injury.

Personal Note from NHAA – Advocates: NHAA shares with all the families of loved ones who are confined to nursing homes the pain and anguish of putting them in the care of someone else. We expect our loved ones to be treated with dignity and honor in the homes we place them. We cannot emphasize enough to family members of nursing home residents; frequent visits are essential to our loved ones’ well-being and safety. This nursing home and many others across the country are cited for abuse and neglect.

You can make a difference. If you have a loved one living in this nursing home or any other nursing home where you suspect any form of abuse or neglect, contact us immediately.

We have helped many already and we can help you and your loved one as well by filing a state complaint, hiring a specialized nursing home attorney or helping you find a more suitable location for your loved one.

Contact us through our CONTACT FORM located on our website here below or on the sidebar or call our toll free hot line number: 1-800-645-5262.

You can make a difference even if your loved one has already passed away.

Full Article & Source:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Guardianship comments sought

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Public comment is being taken on the initial recommendations from a state Supreme Court-appointed committee that is studying adult guardianship reform in New Mexico.

The Supreme Court has already approved one of the commission’s recommendations to establish a guardianship and conservatorship rules and forms committee. The court announced this week that it will accept applications through Nov. 10 from attorneys, judges, and nonattorneys who have experience with the New Mexico guardianship system.

The commission’s proposed reforms can be found at the Supreme Court website,

Public comments can be submitted can be submitted electronically at; click on “what’s new.” For comments in writing by mail, email, or fax:

Joey D. Moya, Clerk
New Mexico Supreme Court
P.O. Box 848
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-0848
505 827 4837 (fax)

Comments must be received by the clerk’s office on or before Nov. 8 to be considered by the commission, which is continuing to study other possible reforms for a final report to the Supreme Court expected by the end of the year.

“As the report demonstrates, meaningful reform of the guardianship system will not be easy or inexpensive and cannot be achieved by a single branch of government acting alone. Rather, true change will require the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary to work together in their respective roles to enact the laws, allocate the resources, and implement the changes that are necessary to improve the guardianship system,” the commission report states.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship comments sought

Guardianship a topic at IVCIL seminar

The Illinois Valley Center for Independent and the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois will present the free workshop “Guardianship, Alternatives, ABLE Accounts and Special Needs Trusts" from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in the conference room at the IVCIL, 18 Gunia Drive, La Salle.

The program will be presented by attorney Michael F. Gulo, of Streator, who will discuss guardianship, power of attorney, ABLE accounts, special needs trusts for adults older than 18 and future planning for children with disabilities.

For more information contact Marla Michalak, from IVCIL, at 815-224-3126, ext. 223, Reasonable accommodations will be offered upon request by registration date of Thursday, Nov. 9.

The IVCIL is a nonprofit and nonresidential service and advocacy agency that assists people with disabilities. The IVCIL serves the counties of La Salle, Bureau, Marshall, Putnam and Stark. The IVCIL is a United Way member agency, with funding provided in whole or in part by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship a topic at IVCIL seminar

Nevada adopts new guardian Bill of Rights: Plan to be protected

"As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can't remember the other two." – 20th Century British Comedian Sir Norman Wisdom.

Even though you can't choose what your mind and memory will be capable of as you age, you can decide now to prepare for the possibility of needing a guardian to protect you. But what protection do you have if your guardian fails you?

A guardian is appointed by a court to protect a person (also known as a "ward" or "protected person") who is unable to manage their affairs. Generally there is no supervision of a guardian except for the annual accounting filed with the court. Unfortunately, courts are not easily able to detect a guardian's bad behavior when everything appears to be in order and no person steps forward to object. Nevada's courts just do not have the resources to provide the oversight needed.

As a result of recent publicity of exploitation and abuse, the Nevada Legislature enacted legislation earlier this year vastly overhauling guardianship statutes. Senate Bill 229 (SB 229) establishes that guardians be nominated through a legal document called a Designation of Guardian. A Designation of Guardian must be signed by the person making the nomination and also signed by two disinterested witnesses before a notary. SB 229 provides the standard text of a Designation of Guardian in the statute which is publicly available.

Senate Bill 360 (SB 360) enacted the Wards' Bill of Rights proclaiming that each Ward has the right to an attorney, the right to notice, the right to privacy, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Now here's the key point – beyond these fundamental rights, SB 360 gives you the right to name any given person as your "Advocate" to appear and raise issues on your behalf. Your Advocate has the ability to provide the oversight and scrutiny that the court cannot. The more accountable guardians are, the less likely they are to fall short of their duties.

With this right to have an "Advocate" act on your behalf, you are able to name this person now in your Designation of Guardian and include language giving him or her right to oversee and supervise. Below are a few suggested provisions to consider including in your Designation of Guardian to assist your named Advocate in preventing exploitation:

State a list of individuals that you would prefer not serve as your guardian;

State that your Advocate has the right to supervise the guardian, including the right to make reasonable demands for copies of financial records, receipts, and proof of expenditures;

State that your guardianship estate is responsible for the costs of compliance with the Advocate's requests;

State that your Advocate shall have the right to meet with you regularly;

State that the Advocate has the right to petition the Court for removal of the guardian upon evidence of a breach of duties owed; and

State your desire that the Court honor your requests to empower your named Advocate by incorporating these provisions into any order appointing a guardian.

Additionally, for greater protection, consider including the following as part of your estate plan:

An inventory of your assets; 

A HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) that names those persons nominated as your guardian and Advocate so that your Advocate and the other nominated persons may oversee your medical treatment; and

A provision in your trust and/or general durable financial power of attorney empowering your Advocate with the right to oversee your trustee and/or attorney-in-fact.

It easy to believe that the person nominated as guardian will act only in your own best interests. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. Because exploitation and abuse can be subtle and hidden, the goal should be to reduce the risks by embracing your right to empower an Advocate.

Cassandra Jones and Michael Millward are the attorneys of Heritage Law Group, P.C. Both are residents of Gardnerville, focusing their law practice on estate planning, business planning, and probate. They can be reached at 782-0040 or

Full Article & Source:
Nevada adopts new guardian Bill of Rights: Plan to be protected

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tonight on T. S. Radio with Marti Oakley: Abolishing Probate #5: Congress's Failure to Act—A Tort

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm ES

A Constitutional Tort is needed to hold Congress's both Federal and State, for Failure to Act to protect the public from the targeting of the elderly, the ensuing kidnapping, imprisonment and isolation, and the theft of estates. The failure of Congress on the Federal level to re-organize the courts, to abolish the probate system, and to secure the Constitutional natural rights and liberties of the people is unforgivable.

Our legislative branches have the Constitutional authority to abolish the probate system, yet they have failed to act to protect the people.

Inferior Courts Clause Art 111 Sect. 2 Clause 1

Section 1.

The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

Congress has unconstitutionally ceded its power and authority to make laws pertaining to predatory guardianships, to the DOJ. This is a clear violation of the Separation of Powers doctrine.

Check your state Constitution also for the authority to organize the courts at the state level.

Contact us at:

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

Lawmaker: Guardian system ‘turned ugly’

What’s wrong with this picture?

• Federal authorities allege that the now-defunct Ayudando Guardians Inc. was “permeated’ with criminal activity and stole millions of dollars from client accounts, yet the Albuquerque-based guardianship company survived a state compliance review just last year.

• Ayudando Guardians filed financial audits with the state Attorney General’s Office revealing that company employees “borrowed” money from client funds. But the state Office of Guardianship, which awarded Ayudando more than $6 million in contracts since 2010, says it never saw those audits.

• More than 900 incapaciated low-income people receive guardianship services through the state Office of Guardianship, but the agency gets only “two or three” grievances a year about problem guardians, according to John Block III, executive director of the agency that oversees the guardianship office.

Block was on the hot seat this week, testifying before a state legislative panel considering next year’s budget request by the state-funded guardianship office, which provides more than $4 million a year in corporate guardianship services for vulnerable, indigent New Mexicans.

“It’s very concerning what’s happening this past year,” said Sen. James White, R-Albuquerque, a Legislative Finance Committee member who lamented how the guardianship system in New Mexico has “turned ugly.”

“… A lot of the companies are abusing the system, taking advantage of the system that was set up … Unfortunately, they feel if the government can’t keep a finger on their pulse, they can get away with it.”

As to Block’s comment about “two or three” complaints a year, White said he’s just one of more than 100 state legislators, “and I have had more than two grievances (about guardianships) by constituents of mine. I would have to believe there’s a lot more grievances out there than two.”

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, added, “I’ve had some very serious complaints brought to me about a company that does guardianships.” She asked if she could refer the complaints to Block, who on Thursday said he would look into them.

Several people in recent months have contacted the Journal to complain that their loved one is being neglected by state-paid guardians, and, in one case, a ward had to wade through Dumpsters to get a pair of shoes and has waited months to see a dentist after a front tooth fell out.

The family members say they are afraid to go public with their complaints for fear their loved one will be retaliated against.

‘More resources’

As the provider of such services for low-income clients, Block’s agency has become a lightening rod for criticism.

White on Thursday pressed Block for answers as to the oversight of Ayudando and other companies. He asked Block whether he knows “if there’s another one (guardianship company) out there that needs to be identified right now? Other than throwing money at it or more people at it, what can be done?”

“We do need more resources,” Block said. He said his agency is seeking an increase of about $70,500 next year to add a third compliance officer.

Should guardians be licensed? White asked.

“That’s an excellent idea,” Block said, “to tighten up some of the controls out there.” Most often, family members are appointed as guardians or conservators of their incapacitated loved ones to make decisions about their living arrangements or finances. But if families can’t or won’t assume those duties, corporate guardians and conservators are appointed by state district judges in New Mexico.

Risk advisory

On Sept. 21, the office of State Auditor Tim Keller issued an emergency risk advisory for the Office of Guardianship, urging Gov. Susana Martinez and the legislature to devote more resources to the agency and ensure policies and procedures are in place for adequate oversight of 20 corporate guardianship companies.

The alternative is to transfer the guardianship function to another agency, Keller’s advisory stated.

Block testified that his six-employee agency, which has a $5.1 million yearly budget, has been busy transferring about 166 clients of Ayduando’s to other guardianship firms.

Federal authorities began their investigation of Ayudando in June 2016 after several employees alleged their bosses were stealing money from client accounts. A 28-count federal indictment in July focused mostly on missing federal benefits from clients. Two top Ayudando executives allegedly spent more than $4 million in clients’ savings and other funds to support lavish lifestyles for themselves and their families.

Asked by White what his agency was doing to recoup missing client funds, Block said a claim has been filed on a $1.5 million liability insurance policy required by Ayudando’s state contract. But Block said the insurance company involved has said that “until such time as they’re convicted, we will not pay.”

“Why weren’t you all able to identify this problem?” White asked at one point during the budget hearing.

Block responded that the majority of Ayudando clients affected were “private pay,” and not receiving guardianship services through the state.

However, the Journal earlier this month interviewed one former client on a state-funded guardianship who contends that his $100,000 inheritance that Ayudando managed is now missing.

Block said that, of the 20 state guardianship contractors, only two underwent a compliance review by the Office of Guardianship in the past year. Ayudando was one of the two, and the review occurred before the federal indictment. On Friday, Block said he didn’t immediately know whether his agency found problems during the review that required corrective action from Ayudando.

Such reviews check non-financial issues, such as whether the company is keeping adequate records and making the required monthly visits to the incapaciated person.

Block told the legislative panel he didn’t have a copy of Ayudando’s yearly audits. Such audits of nonprofits are required to be filed with the AG’s office and are posted online.

“Unless we had authority and resources we could not go in there and do our own audit,” he added.

Full Article & Source:
Lawmaker: Guardian system ‘turned ugly’

Columbus businessman allegedly steals $200k+ from elderly woman, GA News Weather & Sports

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A well-known Columbus businessman made an appearance in recorders court Thursday accused of taking money from the elderly through his home health care business.

The business owner allegedly took hundreds of thousands of dollars from an elderly Columbus woman and detectives say dozens of others could be impacted.

A 79-year old Columbus woman is accusing William Jason Robertson of taking over $200,000 from her over a two year period for home health care services.

The problem police say is that Robertson has never been licensed to operate a home health care business.

Sergeant Windy Thornton with the Columbus Police Department says that's considered theft.

Robertson's business is known as First Choice Home Healthcare.

Robertson makes frequent appearances around town about his experience being one of more than 200 orphans brought to Columbus from Saigon in the mid 70's.

He also has a book on Amazon about his experience.

Although Robertson was booked into the Muscogee County Jail and is being charged, some licensed nurses and sitters employed by Robertson like Tina Abroquah say they fully support him.

"I’m for him will always be 100 percent for him," Abroquah said. "There's a lot of people that's in this business just to get the money but he's in the business with his heart. You can see it and you can feel it when you meet him. He's not what they're trying to portray him to be he's not that."

At least three of Robertson’s employees were in court. All saying they provided around the clock care for the elderly woman.

Although the workers are certified and licensed to care for the elderly, Columbus Detectives Wendy Thornton and Christy Truitt say they must operate under a licensed business.

The elderly woman's niece says she said she found Robertson’s company online and thought his business was legitimate.

Robertson is pleading not guilty to three counts of theft by deception and one count of exploitation of the elderly.

He also received a $50,000 bond and is not allowed to do any business within the home healthcare industry.

His case is being bound over to superior court.

As for the elderly woman, she's now staying at local nursing home in Columbus.

Columbus police say she's not the only victim, and Detective Thornton says there are well over 50 other victims.

Full Article & Source:
Columbus businessman allegedly steals $200k+ from elderly woman

Florida woman accused of scam against Boulder County elderly woman facing 16 felony charges

Marina Scotti
A Florida woman accused of ripping off thousands of dollars from an elderly Boulder County woman through a magazine subscription scheme is facing 16 felony charges.

An arrest warrant sworn out against 48-year-old Marina Thelma Scotti sought a single felony theft from an at-risk adult charge.

However, online court records indicate that the Boulder County District Attorney's Office actually expanded the charges to 16, including felony theft, 11 counts of class 3 felony at-risk criminal exploitation and four counts of class 5 felony at-risk criminal exploitation.

The most serious charges, class 3 felonies, each carry a presumptive sentence of four to 12 years in prison.

A Boulder County Sheriff's Office investigation alleges Scotti and another woman — who has not been charged — accepted more than $25,000 in checks from the alleged victim for magazine subscriptions that were never mailed out.

The alleged victim, an 89-year-old woman who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, told a friend that Scotti and the other woman threatened the victim with arrest if she didn't continue paying money.

Scotti remained in custody on Thursday on a $20,000 bond. She is due in court at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 16.

Full Article & Source:
Florida woman accused of scam against Boulder County elderly woman facing 16 felony charges

Sunday, October 29, 2017

AL Katz Outrage

To imagine that a Holocaust hero of 89 years old, Al Katz, would be forced to live in a deplorable nursing home four minutes from his house with his daughter waiting and wanting to care for him round the clock is unimaginable.  To imagine that the Survivor of seven years of slave labor inflicted by the Nazis and a final death march to Dachau would have nothing left of his sizable estate for his adored great-grandchildren to inherit is likewise unimaginable.  And then to picture that the Holocaust Survivor's daughter would still be settling his estate, worth less than nothing monetarily, with its debts far exceeding its minimal assets, more than seven years after he passed away, with a death threat hanging over her head, is horrifying … and true in the nether world of involuntary professional guardianship.

Over seven years since Al Katz passed on to Heaven, as a Ward of the State of Florida, the repercussions of his disastrous guardianship are unending; and his daughter, Dr. Beverly Newman, who cared for him 24 hours per day during the final months and years of his life, has been habitually mocked in Indianapolis courts for her life-threatening disabilities that restrict virtually all daily activities, especially travel, which risks her life through unrestricted contacts with unseen toxic exposures - pesticides, air fresheners, smoke residues, fumes from vehicles, perfumes, dry cleaning fluids, cleaning agents, and aerosols, to cite a few of the thousands of products to which Beverly, and those like her, are chemically sensitive or allergic.  For Beverly Newman, toxic exposures can kill … easily and quickly … via anaphylaxis, cardiac arrest, or pulmonary distress.

Today, millions of persons in all stages and statuses of life, especially our military troops, have asthma, severe allergies, and/or chemical sensitivities that pose lethal outcomes.  These disabilities, known as Environmental Illnesses, from which Dr. Newman has suffered for well over 30 years, have been denied and ridiculed in the courts of Indianapolis, when Attorney Steven A. Johnson of Merrillville, Indiana, declared in open court on March 4, 2016, before dozens of persons, that:

[Dr.] Newman says she's allergic to everything.  That she has chemical sensitivities ….  Well, let’s talk about then her chemical sensitivities …. She said she’s allergic to about everything.  What was she doing in Meijer?  You know what they sell in Meijer?  You know?  We sell everything.  Who’s, who’s – who goes to a Meijer …. Who is it that’s allergic to everything that goes into a Meijer store.  She’s not allergic to everything.

In September 2017, on appeal for Steven Johnson's public ridicule of Dr. Newman, the Indiana Supreme Court found nothing odious or improper about the scathing derision by Steven A. Johnson representing Meijer stores.

In the same month, September 2017, Indiana's Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush issued an order that reinstated Judge James Joven, who had been removed, pursuant to law, from the Al Katz probate case but was still issuing orders in the case for two weeks after his removal.  One of Judge Joven's orders is essentially a death sentence for Dr. Beverly Newman, requiring her to travel 1200 miles from her home in Florida to the probate court in Indianapolis, against expert medical opinions warning the court of lethal or devastating, irreparable medical consequences to Beverly upon such travel:  

Due to Beverly Newman’s medical disabilities, that are known to be life-threatening and incurable, it is my professional medical opinion … that the toxic exposures present in public places where she would be forced to be in order to travel from Florida to Indiana are likely to jeopardize her health and constitute unacceptable risks to her well-being ….

Environmental illness can cause permanent damage to multiple organ systems and/or death.  Therefore, it is my considered professional opinion that Beverly Newman, a disabled person, should not travel from Florida to Indiana or any other long distances and that Beverly Newman should be granted the full protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush's reinstatement order retroactively erased from the court's record that Judge James Joven had been illegally issuing orders in Al Katz's case for weeks when the judge had no legal jurisdiction in the case.

In the probate court, Indianapolis estate Attorney Robert W. York, a long-time colleague of Judge Joven, has successfully convinced the judge that all of Beverly's proofs of disabilities, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, should be stricken from the court's record or ignored, including:

1.  expert medical opinion from a federal government physician confirming Beverly Newman's Environmental Illness disabilities

2.   expert medical opinion from a Board Certified physician confirming Dr. Newman's life-threatening disabilities and consequent inability to travel

3.a letter to the court from a nurse and eyewitness to Beverly's disabilities over the course of 20 years

4.a lengthy detailed eyewitness affidavit confirming personal observations of Beverly's disabilities over the course of more than 30 years

5.the official pesticide advance notification registry list of the State of Florida requiring notification to Beverly Newman, pursuant to law, prior to pesticide applications in her area.

Despite all of the objective and expert evidence filed in the probate court, which evidence has all been stricken or ignored upon motions by Robert W. York, York insists that "It remains the Newmans' burden of proof as to any claimed disability of Beverly."

Likewise, Robert W. York, who had previously fired Beverly Newman's husband for refusing to contain reports of serious child abuse known to have occurred, has relentlessly argued that Beverly Newman's health conditions do not require any accommodations under ADA law and that she must travel to Indianapolis on October 25, 2017, for a probate court hearing;  although Robert W. York's motions to the court resulted in the removal of Dr. Newman as a party to her Father's case as of September 11, 2015, and prohibited her from making filings for the past two years.  Once again, the probate court has lost its jurisdiction over Dr. Newman, a Florida resident since 2009, but it continues to issue orders to her and prohibits her from filing responses in the court. 

Disability bigotry … plain and simple … is diffuse in Indiana courts, where the disabled are disbelieved, discredited, and distanced from equal access to the courts, so much so that even deaf persons were denied interpreters at court hearings until a recent federal court ruling against the courts in the State of Indiana made disability accommodations for the deaf mandatory.  Nonetheless, the courts of Indiana are still recalcitrantly ruling against the disabled.
This is my plea for my life ….  Beverly Newman, Ed.D.
This is my plea for the lives of millions of Americans, including our military troops, who suffer from Environmental Illnesses that are progressive, incurable, and life-threatening reactions to unseen toxins. 

This is my plea to you to support us in our battles against disability bigotry in the courts of Indianapolis, Indiana. Stand with us proudly, please. 

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End Disability Bigotry

AL Katz Outrage