Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sumner Redstone is ordered to have court-appointed guardian because of a speech impediment, weeks before ex-girlfriend takes him to court for cutting her out of his trust

  • Sumner Redstone, 95, is the majority vote holder at CBS and Viacom
  • In 2015, he removed his ex-girlfriend from his trust after throwing her out of his Beverly Hills mansion
  • The woman, Manuela Herzer, sued Redstone, claiming he was mentally incapacitated at the time he amended his trust
  • Redstone countersued, demanding Herzer give back $75million in gifts
  • Redstone's grandson, Tyler Korff, asked the court to appoint an independent guardian
  • The judge agreed, saying Redstone wasn't mentally incapacitated but did suffer from a severe speech impediment
Sumner Redstone, the controlling shareholder of CBS and Viacom, has been ordered placed under court-appointed guardianship because of his difficulty speaking. He is seen above in 2014 (left) alongside actress Megan Fox (right) in Los Angeles

Sumner Redstone, the controlling shareholder of CBS and Viacom, has been ordered placed under court-appointed guardianship because of his difficulty speaking.

The 95-year-old media mogul will be under the supervision of a guardian ‘ad litem’ - a legal term that means an individual who acts on behalf of another, usually a child or an incapacitated adult, in a lawsuit.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan said he was appointing the guardian because Redstone has extreme difficulty speaking, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Samuel Ingham, III has reportedly been offered the guardianship, according to Deadline

In 2008, Ingham was appointed the guardian of Britney Spears after the pop star had a very public mental health breakdown believed to have been caused by substance abuse.

Redstone’s mental capacity is not at issue, the judge said.

Redstone is the majority owner of a trust, National Amusements Inc, which holds almost 80 per cent of voting stakes in CBS and Viacom.

The court’s decision on Monday will have no effect on Redstone’s control of the trust, which will remain valid until he either dies or is incapacitated.

If and when Redstone is deemed incapacitated, the trust would then be overseen by seven trustees, including his daughter, Shari Redstone, and his grandson, Tyler Korff.

It was Korff who filed the legal motion asking the court to appoint an independent attorney as guardian ad litem.

Redstone had communicated to the court that he supports ‘the Court's appointment of an independent guardian ad litem to represent my interests in this proceeding,’ according to Hollywood Reporter.

‘The judge appointed, with Sumner’s not opposing, a guardian ad litem solely based on Sumner’s physical disability in the form of Sumner’s speech impairment,’ Robert Klieger, Redstone’s lawyer, said.

‘He made no finding, and specifically did not find, that there’s any mental incapacity.

‘This does not trigger the trust. It has no implications whatsoever for National Amusements, CBS or Viacom.’

The family asked for the appointment of a guardian ad litem in the midst of a battle between Redstone and his former girlfriend, Manuela Herzer.

In 2015, Redstone amended his trust by removing Herzer as one of his heirs.

That same year, Redstone kicked Herzer out of his Beverly Hills mansion and removed her as his health-care agent.

Herzer subsequently sued, claiming that Redstone’s mental abilities were diminished, which would thus invalidate the amended trust.

Redstone’s lawyers have resisted attempts to have their client give a deposition due to his frail health.

Herzer’s attorney is seizing on that rationale, claiming that Redstone is incapable of understanding what is taking place in his name.

‘Tyler Korff’s motion for a guardian ad litem got the intended consequences - avoiding an exam by an independent geriatric psychiatrist,’ Herzer’s lawyer, Ronald Richards. said.

‘They knew if a [guardian ad litem] was appointed, then whether Mr. Redstone has capacity would be less important in the judge’s mind.’

‘The public and Ms. Herzer have been once again deprived of getting to the truth.’ 

Full Article & Source:
Sumner Redstone is ordered to have court-appointed guardian because of a speech impediment, weeks before ex-girlfriend takes him to court for cutting her out of his trust

Alaska man allegedly formed sham collection agency to steal from elderly woman

A man from Sterling, Alaska, has been indicted by a Minnehaha County grand jury on one count of attempted aggravated grand theft by deception.
Kent Lee Tompkins, 49, was arrested for allegedly forming a sham collection agency in an attempt to steal more than $700,000 from an elderly person. It is also alleged that the defendant was successful in stealing $40,000.

Attempted aggravated grand theft by deception is a class 2 felony, punishable upon conviction by up to 12½ years in prison and a $25,000 fine. He was also indicted on two counts of grand theft by deception, a class 4 felony, punishable upon conviction by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

The case is being investigated by the Office of Attorney General Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation, the Consumer Protection Division and the Attorney General's Office.

Full Article & Source:
Alaska man allegedly formed sham collection agency to steal from elderly woman

Nursing home employee arrested, suspected of elderly abuse

On December 28th 2018, Senior Trooper J.A. Tupper arrested Adam Wheeler on three counts of Abuse and Neglect of Incapacitated Adults causing bodily injury, one count of Abuse and Neglect of Incapacitated Adults causing serious bodily injury, and four counts of crimes against the elderly.
WELCH — An employee of Golden Harvest Nursing Home, located in Welch Community Hospital, was arrested by West Virginia State Police in connection to abuse and neglect.

Senior Trooper Jarod Tupper arrested CNA Adam Wheeler on Dec. 28 on, "Three counts of Abuse and Neglect of Incapacitated Adults causing bodily injury, one count of Abuse and Neglect of Incapacitated Adults causing serious bodily injury, and four counts of crimes against the elderly," according to Tupper.

After receiving a report on Wheeler's suspension regarding suspected physical abuse, Tupper opened an investigation.

The investigation is still ongoing at this time.

The victims range from ages 52 to 92. 

Full Article & Source: 
Nursing home employee arrested, suspected of elderly abuse

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Minnesota lawmakers, families of abuse victims renew push for elder care reform

Licensing of assisted-living facilities will be a priority of consumer groups.

Just weeks before the Legislature convenes, lawmakers and consumer groups are already gearing up for a major push to reform state laws aimed at protecting seniors from abuse and neglect.

On Thursday, Sen. Karin Housley, the chairwoman of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee, renewed her call for strengthening protections for the roughly 85,000 Minnesotans who live in senior care facilities across the state.

“The mission that I plan on pursuing in this [legislative] session is: No senior in Minnesota will be left behind,” said Housley, a Republican from St. Marys Point, at a news event.

As Housley was outlining her proposal, leaders of a group representing families of abuse victims were busy working the hallways of the State Capitol, pushing their own package of changes to the state’s system for regulating senior homes. Their efforts are being supported by AARP Minnesota, the state’s largest senior advocacy group, which this week launched an online petition urging leaders in both houses of the Legislature to make elder care reform a top priority.

“The politics have changed, and legislators have gotten the message that elder abuse is a major concern of their constituents,” said Kristine Sundberg, president of Elder Voice Family Advocates, a volunteer group seeking better care for seniors. “We will not accept half measures in 2019.”

Last spring, a broad-based effort to reform Minnesota’s system for protecting seniors collapsed amid partisan divisions and stiff opposition from the senior care industry. Yet the coming session is already shaping up to be different. Unlike a year ago, there appears to be bipartisan support for several key reforms. Foremost among them is a proposal to establish a licensing framework for the state’s fast-growing but lightly regulated assisted-living industry.

The campaign to change Minnesota’s laws protecting seniors began in earnest after the Star Tribune published a special report in November 2017 chronicling breakdowns in the state’s handling of elder abuse investigations and the lack of oversight of the state’s roughly 1,200 assisted-living facilities. Minnesota is the only state in the nation that does not license such facilities, which makes it difficult for regulators to create and enforce minimum standards of care, according to a state working group.
As it stands, the licensing of assisted-living facilities appears to have bipartisan support, with the leaders of long-term care committees in both houses of the Legislature supporting the measure.

Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL-Duluth, the incoming chair of the House Subcommittee on Aging and Long-Term Care, said licensing would enable the state to establish basic standards for staffing and training, as well as rules around discharging residents and criteria for dementia care. “If we don’t have licensure, there is no accountability,” she said. Schultz said she expects elder care legislation to pass early in the session.

Patti Cullen, the head of the senior care industry’s largest trade group, Care Providers of Minnesota, said her group also supports licensure for assisted living and has been participating in a state work group to develop a framework.

Beyond licensing, a coalition of senior organizations — including AARP Minnesota, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Elder Voice Family Advocates — is renewing its push for stronger consumer safeguards and an expansion of resident rights.

Their legislative agenda for 2019 is ambitious. It includes changes to state law that would grant victims’ families access to abuse investigation reports, protections against arbitrary evictions and retaliation, and a “private right of action” for lawsuits when seniors are abused. These groups are also looking to enshrine in state law the right of people to place cameras in senior facilities to monitor their loved ones.

“There is more interest from all parties in getting something done,” said Mary Jo George, associate state director of advocacy at AARP Minnesota.

Full Article & Source:
Minnesota lawmakers, families of abuse victims renew push for elder care reform

Adam Lopez arraigned on Class One felony for financial exploitation

There are new developments in the case against former District 186 School Board Vice president and businessman Adam Lopez.

Lopez was arraigned on a Class One felony for financially exploiting a person with disabilities Thursday.

The court also gave attorney-client privilege to some documents that were seized when he was arrested.

He's accused of mishandling more than half a million dollars of those who trusted him.

Lopez's trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 7, 2019.

Full Article & Source:
Adam Lopez arraigned on Class One felony for financial exploitation

Man convicted of bilking elderly woman of $300,000

Gary Edward "Duke" Haynes
MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – A so-called “financial planner” has been convicted of 14 felonies related to the theft of more than $300,000 from an elderly widow who said she was left practically destitute.

A Muskegon County jury convicted Gary Edward “Duke” Haynes, 58, of nine counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, four counts of filing a false tax return and one count of conducting a criminal enterprise.

Haynes has addresses in Spring Lake and Comstock Park, according to state documents.
The charges were brought by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Haynes met the victim in 2006 at a financial planning seminar he led and served as her agent for 10 years, according to Schuette’s office.

Schuette alleged that Haynes had taken the woman’s money from her account and transferred it to bank accounts belonging to his two companies: Senior Planning Resource and Future by Design. He had told the woman some of the money would be invested in annuities in her name, but it never was, according to Schuette’s office.

He took more than $300,000 over four years, documents show.

Haynes was tried this week in the courtroom of Muskegon County Circuit Judge Annette Smedley. The jury returned its guilty verdict on Thursday, Dec. 20. Sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 1.

The woman, who was 85 at the time she met Haynes, paid a fee to attend Haynes’ 2006 financial planning seminar. She asked him to help her pay her bills because she was not comfortable with computerized billing, according to Schuette’s office. She gave him access to her computer, financial accounts and passwords, according to the attorney general’s office.

Eventually, she became suspicious he was stealing from her and alerted her nephew who contacted authorities.

During testimony at Haynes’ preliminary examination, the woman said she moved to the Fruitport area from Arizona in 2005. Aside from a cleaning lady who also took her on errands, the woman said she didn’t have local friends or family who she saw regularly.

“I talked to (Haynes) about handling my affairs because I had no one and I didn’t know anyone here,” she testified.

She said Haynes would come to her home and use her computer to pay her bills. Some months, he never showed up, her bills were late and she had to pay late fees, she said.

The woman testified that her savings were wiped out and she was living only on Social Security checks that weren’t enough to pay all her bills. She said she was paying just enough to “satisfy” her creditors.

Under questioning from Haynes’ attorney, the woman said she never gave Haynes permission to make a loan to him or put her money in a “house flipping company” or any of his other businesses or bank accounts. She also didn’t agree to be a business partner of his or otherwise finance his activities, she testified.

She had never made any sort of arrangement to pay Haynes for his services, the woman said.

According to a state document, Haynes allegedly was successful in “coercing” the woman to liquidate a $107,735 annuity and place the funds in a bank account he controlled. He then invested the funds in a “risky and illiquid ‘house flipping’ venture,” according to the notice of intent to revoke Haynes’ investment adviser representative registration.

Haynes’ registration was revoked by the state, and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs fined him $10,000 in April.

Full Article & Source:
Man convicted of bilking elderly woman of $300,000

Friday, December 28, 2018

New Ohio law targets elder fraud as cases on the rise: Here’s how it works

A new state law is aimed at reducing how often older Ohioans are defrauded and increasing financial penalties for those who exploit the elderly.

The bill, recently signed into law by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, increases financial penalties for theft from an elderly person, defined in state law as someone older than 65. It mandates someone convicted of defrauding an elderly person to pay full restitution, plus a fine of up to $50,000. The fine will go to county agencies tasked with investigating elder abuse.

More than 3,630 cases of elder exploitation were reported across Ohio in fiscal year 2018, according to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services data. That includes 277 cases in Montgomery County, 191 in Butler County and 79 in Clark County.

The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Steve Wilson, R-Maineville, who is a retired CEO of LCNB National Bank.

“Day after day we saw our seniors being ripped off,” Wilson said of his years working at the bank. “It is really an epidemic of people going after our most frail and fragile citizens. They can convince them they won the lottery and they haven’t bought a ticket.”

The new law also adds certain financial workers to the list of people mandated to tell authorities if they have reasonable cause to believe an adult has been abused, neglected or exploited.

And it requires the Ohio Attorney General to distribute at lease six public awareness publications every year informing the public of warning signs that exploitation might be occurring, how to report suspected elder fraud, and resources available to prevent or remedy elder fraud or financial exploitation.

Bank employees notice when a regular customer who comes in once a week to make a modest withdrawal suddenly takes out massive sums of money, Wilson said. Often the withdrawals follow suspicious information the senior received from a family member or friend.

The new law gives those financial workers requires them to notify authorities if they fear fraud is occurring. It also gives those workers information about resources for victims.

Nationwide seniors lose about $2.9 billion a year to fraud, Wilson said, with only 44 out of every 1,000 cases being reported to authorities.

The law is designed to pay for itself, he said. The hope is that more cases will be reported, and the increased investigations will be paid for with the stiffer financial penalties.

“We’re not going to stop elder fraud, but we are absolutely going to put a dent in it with this bill,” Wilson said.

Many types of elderly fraud exist. One common scheme involves fraudsters calling seniors and pretending to be relatives in need of emergency financial assistance. Home repair scams also often target the elderly.

Earlier this year, an area man was charged with targeting seniors in a scheme that falsely claimed ownership of their homes with fake property deeds. He then tried to sell the properties to unsuspecting buyers, prosecutors allege.

Elder abuse, neglect and exploitation is on the rise across Ohio, according to a survey Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association Executive Director Joel Potts cited in support of Wilson’s bill last year.

Potts said his agency surveyed JFS offices across the state and 84 percent of respondents reported an increase in elder abuse cases in the prior two years. More than half reported an increase in just the prior six months.

Dustin Holfinger, vice president of state government relations for the Ohio Bankers League, also spoke in support of the bill. He said the elderly are vulnerable to fraud because of factors such as isolation, cognitive decline, physical disability and health issues.

“Elder financial exploitation … has emerged as one of the most prevalent forms of fraud in our state,” he said. “Despite its growing prominence, however, only a small fraction of incidents are detected and reported.”

Full Article & Source:
New Ohio law targets elder fraud as cases on the rise: Here’s how it works

West Michigan man found guilty for stealing $300,000 from elderly client

A West Michigan man was formally found guilty by a jury for stealing more than $300,000 from an elderly client through his company, Senior Planning Resource and Future By Design.

57-year-old Gary "Duke" Haynes of Comstock Park was found guilty of 14 felonies Thursday, Dec. 20 in front of judge Annette Smedley in the 14th Circuit Court in Muskegon. The charges were brought forward by Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette's Elder Financial Crimes Unit in May 2018.

According to Schuette's office, Haynes met the widowed 85-year-old in 2006 and quickly became her financial adviser. The woman gave Haynes her account passwords and other financial information, which he used to "benefit himself and his companies," influencing her financial decisions and taking her money for personal gain. Schuette's office explained in a release that the victim gave Haynes permission to invest some of her money, which he then took for personal gain.

“This man preyed on a vulnerable senior citizen for nothing more than personal gain and cases like these are the exact reason I created the Elder Financial Crimes Unit,” Schuette said in a statement. “I want to thank the Muskegon County’s Prosecutors Office for their commitment to stopping those who would prey on our seniors when they are the most vulnerable to theft and financial exploitation. I also want to thank the Department of Treasury for their assistance on this case.”

Haynes will now face a sentencing on Feb. 8, 2018 for the following charges:
  • One felony count on conducting a criminal enterprise, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or $100,000
  • One felony count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult of $100,00 or more, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or $50,000
  • Eight felony counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult of $1,000 to $20,000, which is punishable up to five years in prison and/or $10,000
  • Four felony counts of falsely returned taxes, which is punishable up to five years in prison and/or $5,000

Full Article & Source:
West Michigan man found guilty for stealing $300,000 from elderly client

Pennock woman to be sentenced for financial exploitation of vulnerable relative

WILLMAR — A Pennock woman accused of financially exploiting a relative with dementia has entered an Alford plea to the crime and will be sentenced next month.

Melissa Gay Bengtson, 52, faced three felony counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Under the terms of an agreement filed Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court, she will enter an Alford plea to one of the charges, while the remaining two counts will be dismissed.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit to committing a criminal act but acknowledges that he or she would in all likelihood be convicted if the evidence is presented at trial.

Bengtson, also known as Melissa Gay Zwart, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 31. The plea agreement calls for a stay of imposition, under which she may be eligible to have the felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor if she complies with all terms of the sentence. The agreement also calls for her to pay $19,000 in restitution.

Charges were filed earlier this year after it came to light that Bengtson had failed to pay the bills on behalf of a relative who was in a nursing home in Willmar with dementia. According to the criminal complaint, the nursing home bill was $33,000 in arrears.

A review of financial records showed that the individual's bank balance had dwindled to just a few hundred dollars. Numerous cash withdrawals also were discovered.

An emergency guardian appointed in February 2017 reported to investigators that Bengtson, who until then had held power of attorney and was the designated health care agent for the relative who is the alleged victim, was "intimidating and difficult to work with."

Bengtson allegedly had to be evicted from a farm home owned by the relative, where Bengtson had been living. A house in Pennock owned by the relative was allegedly emptied of its contents. Bengtson also reportedly had been using the individual's vehicle for her personal use.

Full Article & Source:
Pennock woman to be sentenced for financial exploitation of vulnerable relative

Thursday, December 27, 2018

NH judge in Nathan Carman case rebukes attorneys, accuses them of trying to take advantage of him

Nathan Carman has been accused by family members of killing his millionaire grandfather and possibly his mother.
In a stinging 37-page ruling Friday, a New Hampshire probate judge refused to sanction Nathan Carman for revealing confidential records and instead accused lawyers for his three aunts of trying to take advantage of the fact he is representing himself in a legal fight over Carman’s access to a $7 million inheritance.

Judge David K. King’s ruling followed a hearing last month where the lawyers — Dan Small and William Satterly — sought to have Carman sanctioned for revealing Windsor police department documents in a separate case in a Rhode Island federal court. King made it clear that he believes there is a pattern of the attorneys “attempting to take advantage” of the fact that Carmen is representing himself in court.

Carman’s three aunts — Valerie Santilli, Elaine Chakalos and Charlene Gallagher — have filed a so-called “slayer” petition in New Hampshire to keep Carman from inheriting $7 million in light of his grandfather’s death in 2013 and his mother’s presumed death while on a fishing trip with Nathan Carman. The case is scheduled to go to trial in January.

Both Carman and his mother, Linda Carman, were on a fishing trip in 2016 when their boat sank. Carman was rescued from a raft eight days later and Linda Carman is presumed dead.

Carman was identified in a search warrant as a suspect in the 2013 shooting death of his father, John Chakalos. Carman has not been charged in his grandfather’s death and has denied killing him.

In Friday’s ruling, King wrote that “there have been a number of pleadings filed by petitioner’s counsels that are without merit such that one may question whether counsels are attempting to take advantage of Mr. Carman’s pro se status and lack of legal training.”

King held a three-hour hearing last month about concerns that Carman’s attorney in a Rhode Island boat insurance case had revealed parts of the nearly 22,000-page investigative report by Windsor police into the slaying of Chakalos, who was shot in his Windsor home in 2013. Police sought an arrest warrant for Nathan Carman. It was not approved.

In court documents filed in Rhode Island, federal court attorney David Anderson seeks to interview a woman referred to as “Mistress Y” about the weekend of Dec. 13-14, 2013 that she spent with John Chakalos at the Mohegan Sun. In an interview after the murder, the woman told Windsor police he gave her $3,500 for breast enhancement. She denied having sex with him. She told police that she did have a conversation with Chakalos on Dec. 19, 2013, that lasted about 20 minutes and was “sexual in nature.” She said they made plans during that phone call to go to New York City together over Christmas.

The timing of that phone call is a key issue for Carman’s defense. He has said that he left his grandfather’s house just as he started talking to the mistress and that Chakalos paused the conversation with her to say goodbye to Carman.

Also at last month’s hearing Carman sought sanctions against Small and Satterly for filing some of his medical and education records publicly instead of under seal and for using some of those medical records against him in yet another case pending in the West Hartford, Conn., probate court where Nathan Carman is trying to get a judge to remove Valerie Santilli as trustee of a trust in Nathan’s name so that he can get $150,000 to hire an attorney in the New Hampshire case.

King said the attempt to file Carman’s medical records without a seal is just the latest in a series of “uncivilized, bordering on unethical conduct.”

Full Article & Source: 
NH judge in Nathan Carman case rebukes attorneys, accuses them of trying to take advantage of him

Neglected: Could review teams prevent deaths of elderly patients by Florida nursing homes?

Teams of professionals reviewing the deaths of the elderly when abuse or neglect is suspected would help protect Florida's seniors in nursing homes, advocates argue.

“I think in every major urban area, it’s absolutely essential that they have an elder death review team in place,” said Paul Greenwood, a former prosecutor in San Diego who headed one of the nation’s largest elder crimes units. He now educates police officers and prosecutors nationwide on pursuing such cases.

Greenwood and others argue such review teams would help reduce the practices identified by a USA TODAY NETWORK - FLORIDA investigation into the state's nursing homes. In 54 deaths where neglect and mistreatment were identified by another state agency from 2013 through 2017, Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration rarely took action and in some cases didn't investigate the deaths, the Network investigation found.

The Network’s series on nursing homes also showed how AHCA rarely takes serious actions against poor-performing nursing homes, and how it has allowed dozens of nursing homes to limp along for years, providing substandard care, and abusing, neglecting and even killing patients with little consequence.

When a child dies in Florida and there’s even a hint of possible abuse or neglect, a team of professionals tries to find out if and how the death could have been prevented.

It’s been that way for nearly 20 years, after the Florida Legislature established the Child Abuse Death Review Committee in 1999, with the goal of reducing child deaths in the state. Ten years later the state established domestic violence death review teams in response to an increase in domestic violence-related homicides in Florida.

Paul Greenwood
(Photo: San Diego County District Attorney's Office)
But there is no comparable review when an elderly or vulnerable adult dies in Florida, even under suspicious circumstances.

Proposed legislation to establish elder death review teams has failed to pass the Legislature the last two years.
Review teams, Greenwood said, could help determine if nursing home patients’ deaths were preventable or if there are lessons to learn that could prevent another patient’s death.

San Diego County established a death review team more than 15 years ago. The team included, among others, prosecutors, police, a medical examiner, health care administrators and adult protective services investigators.

Lessons learned

Greenwood reviewed several of the cases included in the Network’s investigation and said each would have benefited from a follow-up review. He called the 2017 death of York Spratling at Consulate Health Care of Jacksonville “the classic case that needs to be submitted to an elder death review team.”

York Spratling(Photo: Family photo)
Spratling, 84, died after surgery to remove dead tissue from his rotting genitals, which became infected when he wasn’t regularly bathed at the nursing home. The nursing home’s staff didn’t alert a doctor about the wounds or severe infection for five days, a review by Florida's Department of Children and Families found.

Spratling’s death was due to inadequate supervision and medical neglect, according to the review by DCF,which investigates elder abuse and neglect. However, AHCA took no action against the nursing home, and no criminal charges were filed in the death.

“This is where we would say, 'No. 1, was this death preventable?' And I think the answer is, 'Yes,' ” Greenwood said. “ ‘No. 2, what lessons can we learn from it?’ And one of the lessons we can learn just from looking at this case is the lack of exchange of information between relevant authorities.”

Preventing death

The same year Florida created its committee to review child deaths, the U.S. Department of Justice recommended the development of death review teams for the elderly. But unlike child death review teams, which are in every state, only 13 states have established elder death review teams, according to The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention in Washington, D.C.

Florida is not among them.

Bill Benson, senior policy adviser at the National Adult Protective Services Association in Washington, said one reason the nation hasn’t embraced elder death review teams is because children’s deaths are typically considered unusual. An elderly person's death, however, is usually not considered peculiar.

“What’s unusual about that?” Benson said. “And that becomes a way to cover up an awful lot of deaths that probably shouldn’t have happened.”

Bill Benson, national policy adviser
 for the National Adult Protective
 Services Association. 
(Photo: Contributed)
The goal of a death review team is not to place blame or force court action, although that can happen if it turns out the death was due to neglect or abuse, Benson said.

The primary reason for review teams is to learn from deaths and discern ways they could have been prevented. That could lead to policy changes, new regulations or updated procedures, Benson said.

“It’s a dual purpose, prevention and then correcting the behavior that took place,” he said.

The Women's Center of Jacksonville is in the planning stages of an elder fatality review team pilot project examining the closed criminal cases involving elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.

The goal would be to see if "a change in policy or procedures may be needed," said Community Education Director Eleen Rodden. "To see if there is something in the system that needs tweaking."

The team would not look at a nursing home case, however, where there was no criminal prosecution, even if there was a finding of neglect by Florida's Department of Children and Families, Rodden said. And the program is limited to Duval, Nassau and Baker counties. Rodden said she knew of nothing similar in other counties in Florida.

Working together

Death review teams improve investigations by bringing together people from a number of disciplines, said Teri Covington, director of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.

The teams identify systems that are failing or can be improved, and they can identify risk factors in unnatural deaths that can lead to prevention efforts. It’s also possible a team could review a death and discover a perpetrator who intentionally caused it, Covington said.

The death review teams also provide data that can make the public aware of the problem. Because elder deaths are rarely reviewed and often assumed to be due to old age or a chronic condition, “you let people get away with murder,” she said.

Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville
(Photo: Carroll Gambrell)
State Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, has pushed legislation to established elder death review teams in Florida’s 20 judicial circuits. Her efforts have failed over the last two legislative sessions, but she plans to file the proposal again.

Gibson said her goal for the statewide effort is to impact public policy, and to determine if state resources exist to prevent unnecessary elder deaths.

“As a policymaker, we’re not looking for fault,” Gibson said. “We’re looking for improvement in the quality of life in an elder, period.

“If something happened that negatively impacted the life of that elder, and there are things policywise we can do to prevent that moving forward, we have an obligation to do that.”

Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, who has pushed unsuccessfully a companion bill in the state House, said her interest in the legislation stems from a personal experience.

Years ago, a friend’s father suddenly began to deteriorate at a Florida nursing home. He stopped eating and stopped speaking, and the nursing staff didn’t really seem to notice, she said.

“It wasn’t until his autopsy that they found that he had actually swallowed his dentures,” Watson said. “Why did the nursing staff miss his dentures? Why did they not even try to discover what was the issue?”
Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens
(Photo: State of Florida)

Under Gibson’s proposal, the review team's records on cases would not be public and would not be turned over for civil or criminal cases, although those same documents could be available from other sources. And although the team's work would be confidential and focused on recommendations for policy changes, nothing would prevent state agencies from acting on information gleaned from individual cases.

The cases must be closed either by the DCF or law enforcement before coming to the team for review, she said.

The idea of death review teams at times is opposed because of concerns over cost, even though most teams are volunteer efforts and require funding only for organizational and administrative costs, Benson, the Washington-based policy adviser,said.

Opposition to death review teams also comes from health care providers, nursing home owners, assisted living facilities and others in the health care industry, he said.

“I think there’s a lot of entrenched interests for whom it’s in their interest that we don’t dig too deep,” Benson said. “And that’s what elder death review teams do. They dig deep.”

Full Article & Source:
Neglected: Could review teams prevent deaths of elderly patients by Florida nursing homes?

Guardianship in Pennsylvania

When an adult of any age is deemed incapacitated by a court, a professional or family guardian may be appointed who is responsible for making certain decisions on their behalf. The nature of these decisions can include financial, medical and personal matters the incapacitated person has been determined unable to make for themself.

Pennsylvania’s Guardianship Tracking System (GTS) is a new web-based system for guardians, court staff, Orphans’ Court clerks and judges to file, manage, track and submit reports. The system integrates statewide guardian information, thereby helping to protect Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens while streamlining and improving the guardianship filing process.

(Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship in Pennsylvania

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Start Seeing Seniors

Many seniors today are isolated, lonely, and forgotten by their communities. Help us change that by sharing their inspiring life stories.

YouTube: Start Seeing Seniors

Elderly and Loneliness

This is a short documentary that explores the lives of two very different elderly ladies.

Although they lead different lives, both women have one thing in common, they have both lost their husbands.

 84 year old Margaret moved to a residential home in Swansea after her husband's passing almost two years ago. Whereas 80 year old Molly has lived alone in her house for the last 19 years after her husband unexpectedly died. In this documentary, both women talk about what their lives have been like since the day that changed everything.

YouTube: Elderly and Loneliness

The Loneliness Project: Man Spends a Week Alone to Draw Attention to Lonleiness of the Elderly

Could you go a week without seeing anyone? T his is a reality many elders live every day.

YouTube: The Loneliness Project

Monday, December 24, 2018

Students Living in Nursing Homes - a Solution to our Ageing Populations?

An innovative retirement home in The Netherlands has opened its doors to students who live on site and help elderly residents in return for free lodgings while they carry out their studies.

In today’s society both young and old increasingly find themselves living in a bubble of like-minded and similar-aged peers. This is especially true of university students who leave home at 18 to live with people of the same age – who have quite often had similar life experiences.

Given this, the report that a Dutch nursing home has established a programme providing free rent to university students in exchange for 30 hours a month of their time “acting as neighbours” with their aged residents is unusual.

The programme has seen students in their early twenties sharing lives with residents in their eighties and nineties. As part of their volunteer agreement, the students also spend time teaching residents new skills – like how to email, use social media, Skype, and even graffiti art.


CBS News: Students Connect With Seniors Through Letters in Cursive

Our series, A More Perfect Union, highlights how the things Americans have in common far outweigh our differences. In this installment, we look at the power of the written word. Common core standards no longer require students to learn cursive, but supporters of long-hand writing refuse to let it die. Omar Villafranca visited a school in Dallas to see how loops and tails are connecting people in a digital world.

Students Connect With Seniors Through Letters in Cursive

Sunday, December 23, 2018

“Old Coots” Set Up Table At Farmer’s Market to Give Free Life Advice

A group of retired friends from Salt Lake City, Utah used to meet every Saturday at a friend’s deli, where they’d drink coffee and shoot the breeze. It was a nice way to spend retirement… until they all outlived their respective material. Realizing they’d already heard all of each others’ stories and knew everything interesting about each other already, deli owner Tony Caputo decided to get a card table and rent a tent at the farmer’s market across the street so the group could give out free advice to strangers instead of listening to each other.

Caputo wasn’t kidding. He and his friends set up the “Old Coots Giving Advice” tent, complete with an official banner and the slogan, “It’s probably bad advice, but it’s free.” It was all pretty much a joke at first. A way for the group to liven up their Saturdays. But then something funny happened: people started showing up, and with some serious questions.

And the Old Coots — comprised of Gus Wheeler, Lou Borgenicht, Carol Sisco, Chris Vanocur, Tony Caputo and John Lesnan — give them real, thoughtful answers.

From The Washington Post:
“Where can I find someone to love?”
“Why does my cat pee on everything in the house?”
“Have I put in enough time at my new job to take a one-week vacation?”
Quickly, they realized how much people need a sounding board. They took the responsibility seriously.
“People ask us, ‘Are you guys qualified to do this?’ and of course, we have to say no,” said Caputo, 69. “But neither was Ann Landers. Hopefully, we won’t mess people up too much.”
Each Saturday since the summer, the “Old Coots” have taken on the issues of about 30 to 40 people who come by seeking their advice. It’s a way for a person to get an outside opinion from somebody who has nothing to gain, he said.
“It started as a joke, but it’s become a phenomenon,” Caputo said. “Somebody told us the other day that we’re the most popular attraction at the market. We always listen carefully and don’t give gratuitous advice.”
This is my new plan for retirement. Set up a table at a farmer’s market for me and my friends (but replace the coffee with a cooler full of beers) and tell younger people how to handle stuff. I promise my advice will be twice as bad!

“You can’t find love? Put out more.”

“Trouble with your boss? Find out his or her computer password and play porno on their work computer. The weird stuff. The stuff that no one wants to explain.”

“Class too hard? Fake having ADD so you get put in a remedial course but still get to be given credit like you were in the hard one.”

“Bully problems? Here’s my switchblade bring it back next week.”

Full Article & Source:
“Old Coots” Set Up Table At Farmer’s Market to Give Free Life Advice

Augusta woman accused of elderly exploitation denied bond

An Augusta woman accused of fleeing the state after learning she had been indicted on a charge of exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult was denied bond Thursday.

Serena A. Joyner, 41, was initially only charged with a misdemeanor offense following the death of a 61-year-old stroke victim Sept. 7. The Richmond County grand jury returned an indictment Nov. 6. When members of the Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly went to arrest her the next day she was gone, Assistant District Attorney Amanda Pennington said during Joyner’s bond hearing Thursday.

Joyner was arrested Nov. 9 in eastern Ohio.

She had been hired to take care of the 61-year-old stroke victim. The day she died, Joyner used the woman’s debit card to make withdrawals and pay her own bills, Pennington said. She told investigators that the woman owed her $500 which she attempted to withdraw from the bank, but her own log showed the woman had been giving Joyner advances, Pennington said.

The investigation also revealed Joyner pawned several items that belonged to the victim, and had possession of the woman’s safes, Pennington said. A search of Joyner’s phone revealed texts between Joyner and her husband about breaking into safes, searching the woman’s home, and stealing the victim’s prescription pain medication, Pennington said.

Defense attorney Thomas McCants asked Judge Michael N. Annis to set a reasonable bond for Joyner who had no prior criminal record. McCants provided a letter from her husband’s employer showing he was working a job in West Virginia, just over the state line with Ohio. Joyner and their children were staying with him there since the start of November, McCants said.

Joyner’s attorney pointed out that an Augusta man indicted the same day as her who was charged with trafficking an elderly or disabled adult was granted a $140,000 bond. Joyner’s continued incarceration would cause her family financial hardship because her husband is in danger of losing his union job, McCants said.

Annis denied bond, saying he believed Joyner posed a significant danger of fleeing.

Full Article & Source:
Augusta woman accused of elderly exploitation denied bond

Nursing Home Barred from Seeking Outstanding Bill Payment from Surviving Spouse

A creditor must seek payment of unpaid bills from a deceased spouse’s estate before attempting to collect payment from the surviving spouse, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that a southwest Ohio nursing home was required to file a claim with the estate of Robert Bell before it could pursue payment for his care from his widow, under Ohio’s “necessaries statute.”

Writing for the Court majority, Justice Judith L. French explained the necessaries statute, R.C. 3103.03, directs a spouse to care for the other if the spouse is unable to do so. Because the nursing home did not attempt to find out if Robert Bell, through his estate, was able to pay the bill, it could not pursue Cora Sue Bell for payment.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Terrence O’Donnell, Sharon L. Kennedy, and Mary DeGenaro joined Justice French’s opinion.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Patrick DeWine wrote that the plain language of the necessaries statute does not require that a creditor first pursue payment from the spouse’s estate. 

Justice Patrick F. Fischer also dissented without a written opinion.

Click to View
Spouse Dies, Bill Arrives
In January 2014, Robert Bell entered into an admission agreement with Embassy Healthcare (doing business as Carlisle Manor Healthcare) that stated he was “responsible for all amounts due and owing the facility” for his stay at Carlisle Manor in Warren County. Cora Bell signed as the “responsible party.” However, nothing in the agreement made her “in any way personally liable for payment for services rendered” by the nursing home, the agreement stated

Robert Bell died in 2014. On Nov. 25, 2014, six months and three days after his death, Embassy sent a notice that it was seeking $1,678 from his estate. Included in the notice to Cora Bell was that she was not personally liable for the account. As of Nov. 22, no estate had been opened for Robert Bell, and Embassy did not seek to have an estate administrator appointed within six months of his death for the purpose of presenting a claim for unpaid services.

In June 2015, Embassy filed a complaint in Franklin Municipal Court in Warren County against Cora Bell seeking payment for her husband’s unpaid expenses, invoking the necessaries statute.

Bell asked the court for summary judgment, arguing that Embassy could not prove her husband was unable to pay the bill and that the nursing home failed to file a claim within the six-month statute of limitations in Ohio’s estate claims law, R.C. 2117.06. The magistrate hearing the case ruled in Bell’s favor, finding that Embassy failed to offer any evidence that Robert Bell or his estate could not pay for the services.

A Warren County Common Pleas Court judge also sided with Bell, but for different reasons than the magistrate. The trial court found Embassy failed to present the claim to Robert Bell’s estate within the six-month deadline.

Embassy appealed the decision to the Twelfth District Court of Appeals. A divided Twelfth District reversed the decision, finding that a claim can be pursued against a spouse independently from making a claim against the estate. Bell appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.

Court Examines Statutes
Justice French explained the Court had to examine the interplay between the estate claim and the necessaries statute. The opinion noted the necessaries law developed over time and has its origins in the common law necessaries doctrine. That doctrine required a husband to be liable for any necessaries, such as food, clothing, shelter, or medical services that was provided to his wife. It stemmed from the need to provide essential items and services to neglected wives.

The latest version of Ohio’s statute extended the responsibility to both spouses and requires “each married person” to support themselves, and if a married person is unable to do so, the spouse must assist in the support “as far as the spouse is able,” the opinion noted.

The majority opinion stated that Robert Bell retained primary responsibility for his unpaid bill and that Embassy must seek to collect payment from his income and assets. R.C. 3103.03(A) states that a married person is responsible for supporting oneself and only “if” the spouse is unable, must the other spouse assist in support.

“The nondebtor spouse becomes liable only if the debtor spouse does not have the assets to pay for his or her necessaries,” the opinion stated. “A creditor must therefore first seek satisfaction of its claim from the assets of the spouse who incurred the debt.”

The Court majority noted the agreement with Embassy and Bell’s husband stated he was responsible for the debt and as the responsible party she was not personally liable. The Court concluded that Embassy was required to first seek payment from the estate before pursuing Bell.

Wife Can Be Pursued if No Estate Assets
Embassy could prevail under the necessaries statute if it can show that Bell’s husband’s estate was not able to pay the bill, the opinion stated. The Court disagreed with Embassy’s argument that it could independently seek payment from both the estate and the spouse to cover the outstanding bill.

The opinion stated that the estate law requires all creditors, including claims arising out of contract, must be presented under the terms in R.C. 2117.06. The Court found Embassy’s claims arose from its contract with Robert Bell and his obligations became the obligations of his estate when he died.

The Court noted Embassy wrote to Bell informing her that it would seek payment from the estate. However, Embassy never sought to open an estate. The opinion indicated that if no estate has been opened, the creditor is required to seek the appointment of an estate administrator so that a claim can be filed within the six-month deadline. Embassy did not do that, the opinion stated.

“Because Embassy sat on its rights, its claims arising from Robert’s obligations under the admission agreement is forever barred ‘as to all parties’ including Cora,” the Court concluded.

The Court reversed the Twelfth District’s decision and affirmed the trial court decision in favor of Cora Bell.

Dissent Says Necessaries Can Be Pursued
In his dissent, Justice DeWine maintained the majority created a “broad new rule” subjecting those seeking payment for necessaries to estate-law requirements. He wrote the necessaries statute contains no such requirements.

Justice DeWine explained that under the necessaries statute, Embassy had to prove Robert Bell was unable to pay and that one way to show this would be by making a claim against his estate and finding there were insufficient funds to pay the bill. But, he wrote, the inability to pay could be shown in other ways. For example, the creditor might be able to compile records that establish the person died without assets and there would be no payment by filing a claim against the estate.

The dissent noted it would be a “vain act” for a service provider to wait for an estate to be opened to a file a claim when the provider knows the person has no assets and also knows the surviving spouse is capable of paying. The dissent cautioned that the majority ruling would subject other creditor actions to the requirements of R.C. 2117.06, not only those that arise under the necessaries statute. The dissent would affirm the Twelfth District’s opinion.

2017-1031. Embassy Healthcare v. Bell, Slip Opinion No. 2018-Ohio-4912.

Video camera icon View oral argument video of this case.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

Full Article & Source:
Nursing Home Barred from Seeking Outstanding Bill Payment from Surviving Spouse

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Massachusetts Seeks to Disbar and Silence Attorney Fighting to Expose Corruption in Senior Medical Kidnappings

Marvin Siegel and “Daddy’s girl” Lisa Belanger, before guardians took them away from each other. Photo provided by family.

Commentary by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News

Attorneys and guardians have plundered the estate of Marvin Siegel, a retired attorney from Boxford, Massachusetts. At the same time they have gone through the courts to isolate him from his children and essentially imprison him in his own home.

His youngest daughter Lisa Belanger followed in his footsteps in becoming an attorney, inspired by her father’s principles of fighting for what is right. She says:
He taught me to not be silent when wrongs are being done to others.
She and her sister Devora Kaiser were shocked to see the strong arm of the state in keeping them away from their beloved father when he was captured from his family in 2011.

See their original story:

Massachusetts Senior Citizen and Attorney Medically Kidnapped – Estate Plundered – Represents National Epidemic

Marvin Siegel’s daughters had no idea how deeply the corruption in the guardianship issue runs, but they have had a front row seat to see the conflicts of interests, sweetheart deals, drugging of senior citizens, and raping of their estates that are standard fare in some probate courts, such as the one their family has had the misfortune of being subjected to.

According to the Boston Broadside:
In March of 2015, Marvin’s daughter, Attorney Lisa Siegel Belanger, filed an extensive federal civil action in which she claims that Atty.
Kazarosian is part of a long-embedded insidious enterprise of corrupt lawyers and judges using the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court system to exploit elders—and any person of any age for that matter who happen to be vulnerably labeled as “incapacitated.”
Lisa’s extensive, detailed complaint and accompanying exhibits can be viewed by the public free of charge at
In our last update on their story in July 2018, we reported that attorney Marsha Kazarosian retaliated against Lisa Belanger and her efforts to free her father by filing with the Bar Association to have her disbarred.


Massachusetts Attorney Exposing Medical Kidnapping Threatened with Being Disbarred

Marsha Kazarosian is an appointee of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and she currently sits on the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers – the very group that has the power to ultimately decide the fate of Lisa Belanger’s law career.

Photo Source: The Boston Broadside.
The latest developments seem to paint a picture of the deck stacked against the attorney who is simply fighting with all she has for the God-given human right to have a relationship with her father, without government interference.

According to a recent order from the Board of Bar Overseers, the Board has ruled that Belanger will not be allowed to “introduce any exhibits at the [upcoming] hearing,” nor will she be able to have witnesses testify on her behalf.

The hearing was supposed to take place December 4-6, but it has been continued to early January.

Meanwhile, Lisa and her sister were notified on Monday, December 10, that their father has been hospitalized. He has pneumonia, but Lisa Belanger is forbidden to see her father by Marsha Kazarosian and the new court-appointed guardian for Marvin Siegel, Brian Bixby, who was recommended by Kazarosian.

The Boston Broadside reports these latest developments, up to Mr. Siegel’s hospitalization:

Gov. Baker’s Appointee, Atty. Marsha Kazarosian, Moves in for the Kill ‘to Protect her $$$ Source’

Boston Broadside Dec 2018
The Boston Broadside takes on Attorney Marsha Kazarosian and Elder Abuse.

Full Article & Source:
Massachusetts Seeks to Disbar and Silence Attorney Fighting to Expose Corruption in Senior Medical Kidnappings