Saturday, January 27, 2018

U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Susan Collins Praise Signage of Bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act

Bipartisan law to establish a national strategy to support family caregivers is endorsed by over 60 aging and disability organizations



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are applauding yesterday’s signage of the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act into law. This bipartisan law establishes a national strategy to support family caregivers across the country.

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and sustain a national strategy to recognize and support the more than 40 million family caregivers in the United States. The bipartisan law is endorsed by over 60 aging and disability organizations, including the AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Arc.

“When we work together across party lines we can get things done. This bipartisan effort is especially personal to me as I was raised by my maternal grandparents and later served as my grandmother’s primary caretaker as she grew older. I know the challenges that family caregivers face. I’ve listened to family caregivers across Wisconsin. This reform will provide much-needed support for family caregivers and help ensure that our older adults and loved ones with disabilities receive the highest quality care in their own homes,” said Senator Baldwin. “Every day, family caregivers do right by their loved ones, and I am proud to say we are doing right by them with the RAISE Family Caregivers Act being signed into law to formally recognize and support family caregivers across this country.”

“Family caregivers play an essential role in our communities by dedicating time and attention and making countless personal and financial sacrifices to care for their loved ones,” said Senator Collins.  “I am delighted that our bipartisan legislation to develop a coordinated strategic plan to leverage our resources, promote best practices, and expand services and training available to caregivers has been signed into law.  Family caregivers across America will now receive the much-needed recognition they deserve as well as the resources and training needed to better balance the full-time job of caregiving along with everything else that life brings.”

“Signing the RAISE Family Caregivers Act into law is an important step in supporting the nation’s 40 million family caregivers who take care of loved ones, many of them elderly, often with very little support or resources available to them,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “With the rapid growth of our aging population, it’s reasonable to say that many of us will end up either being a caregiver, or needing one. As a result, the potential benefits of this legislation are both critical and wide reaching.”

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act (S. 1028) was supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of cosponsors including Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Angus King (I-ME).

Important Facts on Family Caregivers:
  • 40 million family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated $470 billion in uncompensated long-term care in 2013.
  • Many caregivers are putting their own health at risk since caregivers experience high levels of stress and have a greater incidence of chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and depression.
  • Every day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, and as many as 90 percent of them have one or more chronic health conditions.
  • Americans 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the aging population. This population is most at risk for multiple and interacting health problems that can lead to disability and the need for round-the-clock care.
Learn more about the RAISE Family Caregivers Act here.

Full Article & Source:
U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Susan Collins Praise Signage of Bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act

Ex-lawyer who stole from elderly clients to fund lavish lifestyle sentenced to 4 1/2 years

Robert Beck
A former lawyer who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients to fund a high-end lifestyle was sentenced Tuesday to 4½ years in prison by a judge who said the man had violated a sacred trust.

Robert Beck, 50, had handled estate work for clients, including some who were elderly and had dementia, DuPage County prosecutors said.

“You had a sacred trust to the most vulnerable clients a lawyer can have,” Judge Liam Brennan told Beck before handing down the sentence.

Beck pleaded guilty in September to a single count of theft, admitting that he stole almost $700,000 from one deceased client. Prosecutors alleged that his total thefts from other clients may have reached $1 million. Beck improperly shuffled around as much as $1.2 million of clients’ money in an ongoing attempt to evade discovery, prosecutors said.

By the time he was apprehended in 2014, Beck was spending about $29,000 a month for household expenses, which included boat payments, prosecutors said when Beck pleaded guilty.

Beck, of Mount Prospect, was identified as a Wheaton attorney at the time he was charged. He faced four to 15 years in prison, and the judge said Tuesday he would have imposed a longer sentence if supporters of Beck had not agreed to pay restitution on his behalf.

Brennan also said the attorney had led an otherwise exemplary life and had no criminal history. Assistant State’s Attorney Diane Michalak asked for a 10-year sentence. Beck could be eligible for parole in a little more than two years.

The judge also said he believed that Beck was truly remorseful. Beck tearfully apologized before his sentence was imposed and said he was trying to be accountable for the chaos his actions had caused his family and clients.

“I do realize I’ve harmed my profession,” said Beck, who was disbarred in 2016.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-lawyer who stole from elderly clients to fund lavish lifestyle sentenced to 4 1/2 years

The Artist Duo Transforming the Elderly into Natural Wonders

Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

This is the story of an art project that began with three words, typed into Google: grannies, Norway, photographer.

It was 2011, and the Finnish artist Riitta Ikonen was dreaming up a new proposal related to Nordic folk tales. While studying at school in Brighton, England, Ikonen had developed a friendship with a Norwegian student who had a particularly animated relationship with the natural world. “I would go and visit her in Norway, and she would talk to the rocks and the mountains,” says Ikonen, who speaks in a melodic accent. “I thought, hold on a minute, I’m from Finland, so I obviously appreciate my lakes and bogs and mountains. But I don’t really talk to my mushrooms and blueberries. So what’s happening here?”

Imagining that this intimacy had roots in Nordic lore, and that the country’s elderly population would be closest to those traditions, Ikonen began to conceive of a project involving Norwegian senior citizens. She would need a collaborator to take photos, so she dropped the appropriate search terms into her browser, and discovered the work of Karoline Hjorth, a photographer whose book of portraits, Mormormonologene (2011), is a celebration of Norwegian grandmothers.

Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

The meeting between Ikonen and Hjorth that followed would evolve into a seven-year (and ongoing) collaboration known as “Eyes as Big as Plates,” featuring excursions to several different countries—including Greenland, Japan, and the U.S., with hopes of future travel to Africa and South America—and a roster of local grannies and grandpas, whom the pair have artfully transformed into mythical gods and organic creatures. The resulting works are gorgeous, richly imaginative photographs, recently published in a book of the same name; a selection from the series is currently on display at the Chimney, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The duo’s photos from a Korean edition of the project, conducted in partnership with the upcoming Winter Olympics, are also on view in Seoul, South Korea.

The 60 or so portraits range from the folkloric to the whimsical, poetic, and fantastical. In one image, we see Salme, a friend of Ikonen’s late grandmother. The artist duo pictured her wearing a baroque headdress composed of decadent puffs of small white flora. Ikonen and Hjorth consider their subjects collaborators, and in their book, each of them receives a short text to accompany their image. In this case, we are informed that “Salme is placid yet tough, just like the cottongrass growing in the many bogs around her.”

Agnes, who according to the book is the oldest Norwegian woman to have ever completed a parachute jump (twice, in fact, at the age of 85 and then again, at 90), is pictured standing on a stark black rock face at the edge of the sea; she wears an armature on her head made of sinuous, tendril-like twigs, dramatically swept to one side. “She’s personifying the North Wind,” says Ikonen.

Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

Astrid, an enthusiastic bridge player from Norway, is reimagined as the “semi-menacing forest maiden” Huldra, from Nordic folk tales, who is distinguished by her long locks of hair. Ikonen and Hjorth accomplished her transformation into the seductive creature by giving her a thick mane composed of giant arms of rhubarb taken from Astrid’s arboretum. (She was eager to get rid of the bushels of rhubarb; during the shoot Ikonen offered them to passing joggers, who gratefully ran off with the jumbo fronds.)

The project is not limited to women; the book and exhibition also feature portraits of elderly men, like Velkkari, who is shown sporting proud blooms of cow parsley from his chest, and Mr. Maruyama, an ikebana flower arranger from Japan who wears a halo of fukinoto, an edible spring vegetable that grows in abundance near his home in Sanjō, in the Niigata Prefecture.

For Ikonen and Hjorth, recruiting their collaborator-performers can take a certain amount of moxie, and sometimes even requires a covert reconnaissance mission of sorts. “We might be in Paris, and you might be at an opera soiree evening and there might be an old lady dancing, the last person on the dance floor,” says Ikonen. “And you just think: Who is this fascinating person I have to meet? You approach them and ask them, ‘Who are you and what are you doing tomorrow?’” Ikonen isn’t speaking hypothetically. A similarly auspicious encounter with an opera singer named Marie-Ange led to a shoot the following day, in which she is pictured at the edge of a lake, wearing a theatrical bustle made of weeping willow branches.

Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

The name of the project—taken from a folk tale about a dog that lives beneath a bridge and has eyes as big as plates—is something of an emblem of the curiosity that guides these interactions. “We ask them, ‘What has happened in your life and how do you make sense of your surroundings?’ ” says Ikonen. “We enter with open eyes. They dictate what happens in the shoot. It’s kind of like an adventure club.”

Often, subjects are photographed in places that hold special significance for them—at a favorite rock or beach. Other times, Ikonen and Hjorth pick the place for its natural beauty or mystical quality.

Asked whether the photographs are more about the humans or the environment, Ikonen pauses to consider. “I think they might be, interestingly, about how there might not be a difference between the two,” she says. “It’s very nice when after the shoot you ask, ‘How do you feel?’ Sometimes the answer is just: heavy or wet or cold. But occasionally it is: ‘I’ve never looked at my surroundings like this. I really feel part of where I am right now.’”

The duo shoots with an analog camera, which means the process can be slow and physically challenging. It often entails something of a bonding experience with the elements. “The person might be sitting in a bog, dressed as a bog, for three or four hours,” says Ikonen. “It’s quite rare that we would go to a bog or field and spend that amount of time being quiet and focusing just on being.”

Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

Indeed, even when their faces are semi-hidden (or entirely obscured by a sprouting costume of moss or branches), the elderly subjects convey a certain stillness, peace of mind, or vulnerability.

Edda, for instance, is pictured amid steaming Icelandic hot springs that bubble up between two tectonic plates. She is dressed like an ethereal oracle in an aerodynamic cloak of hay. There’s a national myth about a breed of hot spring birds that dive into the bubbles, Ikonen says. According to folklore, they represent souls of the dead. And during her shoot, Edda described having seen relatives at these hot springs that were not quite from this world.

Ikonen acknowledges that the photographs suggest a poetic allusion to the afterlife, of a return to nature. “Maybe it’s the fantasy of being in nature, some fleeting moment in the idealistic brain of the human where you could be one with nature,” she says. Yet at its heart, the project is one that’s profoundly life-affirming, both in its portrayal of the elderly and of our environment.

Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

In a 2015 photo from the series, Jakob, a fisherman from the southwest coast of Greenland, is pictured wrapped head to toe in ice, lying on his side and embedded among a bank of snow-capped stones as though ready to drift out to sea. Jakob has spent his whole life surrounded by and observing the conditions of ice. But in recent years he has witnessed it melting at greater speed, tides rising higher, and reindeer migrating in larger numbers.

“We are not the masters of the weather,” Jakob reflected during his portrait session. “You have to live life to the max because of the conditions in our land—this is life, so we enjoy it.”

Full Article & Source:
The Artist Duo Transforming the Elderly into Natural Wonders

Friday, January 26, 2018

New Mexico lawmakers weigh reforms of guardianship system

A measure aimed at overhauling New Mexico’s guardianship laws cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were in resounding agreement that a system meant to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable residents was in need of serious improvement.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill, while acknowledging that the issue was complex and the legislation would still need more work before it could be considered by the rest of the chamber.

The committee also voiced concerns about funding for what some have described as a major paradigm shift.

“We are bringing this bill because the New Mexico guardianship and conservatorship system is very broken. It is a tragedy,” said Jack Burton, a Santa Fe-based attorney who worked on the legislation.

The system was thrust into the spotlight following a series of investigative articles published last year by the Albuquerque Journal that raised questions about the lack of oversight and transparency.

The New Mexico Supreme Court followed up with the creation of a commission that was charged with studying the system. That panel has since made numerous recommendations, some of which have been incorporated into the bill.

The push for change also has been bolstered by recent federal criminal cases in which executives from two nonprofit firms that handled guardianship and conservatorship duties in New Mexico allegedly embezzled millions of dollars of client funds.

“We’ve been hearing horror stories for so long. … This is a real step forward for individual rights,” said Sen. Jeff Steinborn, a Las Cruces Democrat.

Those placed under guardianship or conservatorships are typically elderly, those with dementia or Alzheimer’s or others who need help with their decision-making or finances. Under the current system, guardianship proceedings are secret and families have complained about being barred from visiting or communicating with their loved ones once a professional guardian is appointed.

The measure would require guardianship proceedings to be open to the public and that more notification be given to family members when a legal guardian is appointed and if guardians fail to carry out their duties. It also spells out the powers and duties of guardians and conservators and sets limitations.

State District Judge Shannon Bacon was among top judicial officials from around the state who attended Thursday’s committee meeting in Santa Fe. She said the issue is important for New Mexicans and also for the court system.

While the judges voiced support for the changes, they also cautioned lawmakers to consider the fiscal implications. For example, they said the requirement for attorneys to be appointed in certain circumstances has the potential to create another budgetary crisis for the courts.

There would also be administrative costs associated with transitioning to a new system. Bacon estimated that some 24,000 cases would need to be reviewed to determine which are still active.

Bacon said the courts could use $1 million in one-time funding that is currently earmarked in the proposed state budget to establish the infrastructure that will be needed to eventually implement the changes.

“I feel we have a responsibility to fund it,” said Sen. Liz Stefanics, D-Cerrillos. “We have been treating our disabled quite badly and we need some reforms.”

Citing numerous complexities, some in the audience urged lawmakers to take more time on the issue.

Full Article & Source:
New Mexico lawmakers weigh reforms of guardianship system

State government responds to complaints of elder abuse, neglect

- At a Senate hearing Wednesday, the head of the State Health Department apologized for a failure to protect vulnerable adults in nursing homes and assisted living centers. Now, officials are trying to get to the bottom of the neglect.

Since December, eight people from the Human Services Department have been working with Department of Health investigators to get through the back log. But, victim advocates and even lawmakers are still exasperated that elder abuse continues.

The heat from state senators has only intensified as families continue to tell stories of elder abuse and neglect.

"In my case, my father's body laid in his room for seven days without the facility doing a wellness check,” said Kristine Sunberg with Elder Voices Family Advocates.
As of Jan. 1, senators were told the state has a backlog to 826 pending abuse and neglect cases. Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said the goal is to complete them by the end of the year, if not sooner.

“We know that as we get our arms around and get new information on the backlog and more specificity, we believe this date will be pushed up significantly," Piper said.

While the health department takes heat for poor oversight, Governor Dayton blamed providers.

"First and foremost, they are the ones to blame for these egregious abuses," he said Wednesday.

The governor's own task force on elder abuse intends to give him four recommendations on Friday: strengthen the rights of vulnerable adults in state statutes, enhance civil and criminal penalties, create more consumer protections and increase the licensing requirements for elder care providers.

“We believe in increasing the fines in a residential setting in cases of egregious injuries and death," said Mary Jo George with AARP.

All of this comes after the department of health was accused of not doing enough.

"If we he failed even a single vulnerable adult in this state, we owe them an apology, and I apologize," said Dan Pollock, acting MDH Commissioner.    
However, Senator Karin Housley questions whether too much damage has already been done.

"It was nice to hear an apology. Is it too late for some of those families? I think for some of them, yeah," she said.
The governor’s goal is to drive new legislation for the session that begins Feb. 20.

Full Article & Source:
State government responds to complaints of elder abuse, neglect

Pensacola man convicted of spending more than $20K of blind, elderly victim's money

John Louis Wages
A Pensacola man faces up to 30 years in state prison after a jury convicted him of exploiting a blind, elderly victim.

An Escambia County jury on Tuesday convicted John Louis Wages, 45, of illegal use of criminal identification information against a victim over 60 years of age and exploitation of the elderly, according to a release from Attorney General Pam Bondi's office.

The case was investigated by the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the State Attorney's Office after an anonymous report to the Florida Department of Children and Families Elder Abuse hotline.

The person who called the hotline said Wages was using an elderly victim's money and credit card without consent while the victim was in Wages' care.

The victim was deemed legally blind and suffered from hearing loss and was moved into Wages' home for assistance with daily activities and finances, according to the Attorney General's office release.

More than $20,000 had been misappropriated from a joint account Wages opened with the victim shortly after moving the victim into his home.

Wages bought his children more than $1,000 worth of Christmas presents with a Target gift card issued in the victim's name without consent, the release states.

Wages now faces up to 30 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Escambia County court Feb. 15.

Full Article & Source:
Pensacola man convicted of spending more than $20K of blind, elderly victim's money

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Government Watchdog Warns Of Group Home Dangers

Injuries, serious medical conditions and even deaths of those with developmental disabilities living in group homes often are not looked into and go unreported, federal investigators say.

An audit of three states found that officials routinely failed to follow up on incidents ranging from head lacerations to loss of life in violation of federal and state policy. The issues are believed to be systemic affecting people with developmental disabilities residing in group homes across the country.

That’s according to a joint report issued Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Administration on Community Living and Office for Civil Rights, which is recommending policy changes.

The report stems from a 2013 request by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who was alarmed by newspaper reports of widespread abuse and neglect of group home residents in his state. After the inspector general’s office found serious problems in its review of Connecticut, the office conducted similar audits of Massachusetts and Maine.

In each state, investigators identified emergency room visits from group home residents, then determined if the incidents were reported to the state and, if so, what action the state took.

The inspector general’s office found that group homes often failed to report incidents to state officials. But even when states knew, up to 99 percent went unreported to law enforcement or other authorities for investigation.

“Each state was somewhat unique, but what was similar across the states was that there were gaps in policies and procedures so that when an incident occurred, they could make sure that it was identified, investigated, corrected and reported,” said Megan Tinker, senior advisor for legal review at the Office of Inspector General and an author of the report.

Aside from the three states that were audited, investigators said that recent media reports from 49 states citing health and safety problems in group homes suggest the issues are pervasive. The Office of Inspector General has additional audits underway or planned in another six states, Tinker said.

Citing the “magnitude of the danger for beneficiaries,” the Office of Inspector General worked with the Administration for Community Living and the HHS Office for Civil Rights and other federal entities to develop recommendations for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and states to address the holes in existing policies and procedures.

The report released this week is a culmination of that work and includes model practices for states to develop better oversight. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should take steps to help states address problems by forming a “SWAT” team and taking action when problems are identified in order to ensure the safety of group home residents, the recommendations indicate.

“CMS is working directly with the three states specifically examined by the OIG, and is working with department partners to distribute tools, information and any other necessary assistance to all states to ensure that quality care is being provided to all Medicaid beneficiaries,” the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement to Disability Scoop. “The suggestions found in this report are being carefully examined for further action by the agency.”

Despite the problems identified, Tinker said many group homes are great places.

“If people are looking at a group home for their loved ones, we think it’s important to spend time at the group home and to ask questions and make sure it has the right policies and procedures in place,” she said. “What do they do if something goes wrong?”

Full Article & Source:
Government Watchdog Warns Of Group Home Dangers

A Broken System: A Court’s Eye View

Across the nation, the dysfunction within the family law system flourishes and continues in a manner where rules are ignored, laws are manipulated and egos go unchecked.


Similar to watching a magician perform a trick on stage that has the initial impact of leaving most viewers in disbelief—the episodes that play out within the confines of family law can many times operate under the same principle—distract and deceive.

The Hand is Quicker than the Eye

Unless a person has had the misfortune of being in the predicament on more than one occasion – everything they encounter and see playing out before them is often for the first time. This tends to create a problem in an area of law that has very little oversight at its disposal – and the oversight that does exist in many cases often suffers from having an appearance of impropriety when one scrutinizes the membership and affiliations of such entities.

Using the analogy of a magician performing an act on stage and understanding how they did it – well, good luck in trying to get them to explain it to the bewildered audience since most magicians have a self-imposed rule to never reveal secrets. In applying this to the stage where family court ordeals transpire, whether it is one performer or several working in concert to produce desired outcomes – they often share one other fact that the spotlight doesn’t always focus on – the other individuals working around the stage with them day in and day out. These individuals are often in the best position to observe the inner workings of the court – holding different titles but commonly known as clerks, custody evaluators, reporters, security officers, interpreters and court attorneys.

View From Within

Many of them have spent a better part of their careers working within the infrastructure of the court system — all with a front row seat in observing various aspects of the behaviors and patterns playing out in the court.

Robin Dorantes, a retired Senior Clerk, worked for the State of New York, in the Family Court located in the Bronx. Commenting on her assignment there, she expressed the following:
During the course of my assignment at Bronx Family Court, (aside from the conditions that could occur from people requiring its services) I found the enormous egos and ironically lack of judgment of many judges, support magistrates, (at that time referred to as hearing examiners) and referees truly disturbing. As it is and simply by virtue of one having been appointed the title of judge [could] certainly provide a person with his or her own feelings of entitlement as well as insecurities, neurosis or any such variety of human frailties, not to mention one most unattractive condition commonly referred to as a ‘God Complex’. Of course and in all fairness, there were always those judicial employees who did as best as they could—given the limited resources available to them. There were times when a judge’s behavior would be so incredibly inappropriate as to provide fuel for non-judicial employees’ conversation amongst one another—as well as court officers, clerks, assistants and sundry other office workers. I’ve known officers to actually walk out of a court part in total dismay and disgust due to a judge’s untoward behavior. There was one such incident I recall where a hearing examiner, notorious for his uncontrolled outbursts actually ‘went off on’ a case before his bench, kicking over a trash can and had his officer remove the people from his courtroom! He had them return after lunch, a typical procedure if a case ran up to the court’s lunch hour; this exhausting procedure placed many a petitioner or respondent in a most inconvenient position as many of them had jobs and not being aware of the court’s machinations, could conceivably be there for the balance of the day, not to mention the copious number of adjournments imposed due to any number of reasons."

Rules Meant To Be Broken

Emily Gallup was a family court services mediator in California for four years where she was responsible for making formal written recommendations regarding child custody when mediation between parents did not succeed. She recounts experiences regarding ex parte communications that would often transpire saying,
I met with parents daily to try to facilitate mediated agreements. When this was not possible, I recommended what I thought would be the best custody arrangement. In the vast majority of cases, the judge ordered what the mediator recommended. I met with the family court judge daily, as well. Our judge did not understand/accept the concept of ‘ex parte communication,’ so I had to attend morning staff meetings where the mediators and judge discussed the day’s cases privately. I was also asked to have this type of ex parte communication with the judge in her chambers if she had a question about how mediation went, or what I’d recommended in my report."

In demonstrating how such conversations would transpire, these excerpts from her book illustrates this type of communication:

Bad Behavior and Key Insights

Melissa Isaak, an attorney who practices Family Law in Alabama, commented on several concerns in regards to the Family Court system, touching on a broad range of issues listed out below she offers an insight into some key areas.

Ex Parte Communications

“The ex parte communications are rampant. When the ex parte communication is brought to the issues.’ There are certain judges who are notorious for ex parte communications and it is expected when their financial contributors or friends are opposite a case. While everyone knows that it is not allowed, it is widely practiced.”

Due Diligence

“Due diligence is woefully inadequate. In my experience and after thousands of cases, there is one Judge who consistently and consciously rules on custody decisions and applies what is truly best for children: shared parenting. Other Judges listen to evidence of how a Mother let a child eat ice cream at 10:00 p.m., or how a father put his daughter to sleep without brushing her teeth, or that a father let his 10-year-old daughter watch a PG-13 movie. Rather than focusing on how to craft an arrangement which would guarantee both (fit) parents having the opportunity to raise their children, the Courts entertain menial complaints that have little to do with parental fitness to the tune of billions of dollars a year.”

Judicial Impartiality

“It is common knowledge that certain lawyers carry certain favor with certain Judges. Without a doubt this a huge problem. With few exception, parents should be most concerned with who their Judge is and the track record of that Judge. If a parent’s case is assigned to a Judge who will not, under any circumstance, grant both parents equal rights to a child, both parents should be ready for the fight of their lives because they will be pitted against one another in a ‘winner takes all’ courtroom. If the parents have lawyers, they likely will have little interaction with court staff. If they have lawyers, they should be prepared to get the ‘what the Judge is likely to do’ speech. Few lawyers will challenge a system that they themselves know to be unfair. Every member of the bar should be concerned with fairness and impartiality. Regardless of the area of the law, this is the trademark of justice and the only way that our society will have any sense of trust in our profession and in the Courts.”


Across the nation the dysfunction within the family law system flourishes and continues in a manner where rules are ignored, laws are manipulated and egos go unchecked.

Parents and children are routinely put into circumstances far from anyone’s best interests but at the behest of power and profits. Until more individuals in the position to observe the true nature of these practices and proceedings have the type of recourse and oversight that is beyond reproach, protecting those willing to speak out on the misconduct and unethical behaviors, nothing will likely change.

Full Article & Source:
A Broken System: A Court’s Eye View

Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation-Forestview, Wareham, MA


Every month from January 2017 to September 2017, Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation-Forestview received a 1-star out of 5 from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), the worst overall staffing rating possible for a nursing home. (Click here to see the CMS Five Star Rating). In fact, Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation-Forestview had 39 straight months (July 2014 to September 2017) with this lowest possible 1-Star staffing rating for overall staffing.

In addition, Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation-Forestview had 41 straight months (May 2015 to September 2017) with this worst possible 1-Star rating for Health Inspections and had 24 straight months (October 2015 to September 2017) with this lowest possible 1-Star rating for Quality Measures.

 Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation-Forestview received federal fines of over $25,000 due to violations of federal law.  On June 14, 2016, it was fined $17,550. Then, on April 27, 2017, it was fined again for $7,543. Click here to review these fines.

Understaffing has been linked to health and safety violations and has been determined to cause patient injury and dignity violations according to numerous scientific studies.  (Click here to read some of these studies).

 The Institute of Medicine and the American Nurses Association have concluded that each nursing home resident needs a minimum of 2.8 hours of CNA care per day for safety and basic services.  But Kindred-Forestview averaged only 1.74 hours of CNA care per resident per day from January 1, 2017 to June 30, 2017, based on its daily payroll staffing records.

These low staffing levels significantly reduced Kindred-Forestview’s labor costs.  According to its most recently published Medicare Cost Report, Kindred-Forestview generated annual gross revenues of $26,292,167.

Personal Note from NHA–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.

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Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation-Forestview, Wareham, MA

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Elder-Abuse Laws Seen in Half of States

About half of the states could end the year with laws on the books empowering and enlisting financial advisors in the fight against elder financial abuse, InvestmentNews reports.

Ten states already have laws based on a model from the North American Securities Administrators Association, and about 10 more should join that list in 2018. That’s according to NASAA president Joseph Borg, who spoke in New York Thursday.

NASAA’s model rule requires advisors to report suspected abuse to authorities. It also gives them the legal ability to stop disbursements from seniors’ accounts and shields them from liability, InvestmentNews notes.

States may not have to bother with their own laws if Congress passes its own NASAA model-based law. Such a bill is in the pipeline in Congress.

Elder financial abuse is a huge problem, affecting upwards of $36 billion a year, as Advisor Center has noted. The costs, financial and otherwise, fall on families, the economy and society as a whole, Philadelphia Fed chief Patrick Harker said in a recent speech.

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Elder-Abuse Laws Seen in Half of States

Cloud of suspicion hangs over Probate Judge Rusu

Given our long-standing support for Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Robert N. Rusu, we find ourselves on the horns of a dilemma.

A complaint has been filed with the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct against the judge alleging he failed to recuse himself from at least 200 cases in which he previously had served as an attorney.

State Disciplinary Counsel Scott J. Drexel of the Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed the complaint and is asking the board to find Rusu in violation of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct and the Code of Judicial Conduct.

To be clear, Rusu, who has been on the bench since 2014, is not facing criminal charges, nor is he accused of using his public position for personal gain. Neither has he been charged with doing favors for friends.

At most, the complaint filed by Drexel amounts to poor judgment.

Rusu insists he has done nothing wrong and that the complaint against him is based on an incorrect reading of the codes of conduct.

Nonetheless, there’s a cloud of suspicion hanging over him that has given us pause.

What he is accused of doing does not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, but given the long history of misbehavior by public officials in the Mahoning Valley, we are not prepared to shrug off the allegations against the probate judge.

Indeed, we have invested a considerable amount of time researching Rule 2.11 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. We received guidance from a lawyer who has long served as our editorial legal adviser.

He concluded that Rusu’s involvement as the judge in cases he handled as a probate lawyer did not violate the judicial codes because there was nothing controversial about them.

Rusu also insisted that he did not benefit financially from the disposition of those cases. He pointed out that when he became probate judge, he cut his ties with the law firm in which he was a partner by selling his interest in the firm.


The probate court is unique in that the judge largely administers the distribution of an estate’s assets and there rarely are litigants who contest such distribution.

Similarly, if a judge is asked to approve a fiduciary’s fees, and nobody challenges the propriety of those fees, presenting an invoice to the judge for his approval isn’t an adversarial matter.

Rusu has hired a prominent law firm out of Cincinnati and intends to challenge the disciplinary counsel’s reading of the codes of conduct during the hearing before the board of professional conduct.

We would urge all parties to move as expeditiously as possible to schedule the hearing because the longer the matter remains unresolved, the more the judge’s reputation will suffer.

The appearance of impropriety could be as egregious as an actual impropriety if an allegation of wrongdoing remains unresolved.

At this point, we must acknowledge that our immediate reaction to the filing of the complaint by the disciplinary counsel was to call for Judge Rusu’s resignation. But after a great deal of research and deliberation, we have concluded that such a call is unjustified.

A cursory reading of the allegations suggested that the judge had thrown caution to the wind by being involved in the cases that he had handled as a lawyer, and had benefited financially.

But we hit the pause button after taking a close look at the relevant codes and talking to our lawyer.

Rusu’s predecessor, former Probate Judge Mark Belinky, was investigated for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records, bribery, money laundering, theft and theft in office.

Belinky resigned in 2014, and Gov. John R. Kasich appointed Rusu, a well-known, seasoned probate lawyer, to replace him.

Rusu won the general election that year, and since then has received high marks from lawyers who practice in the court.

We supported his appointment and endorsed him in the general election.

He has given us no reason to regret that decision.

But now, with the cloud of suspicion hanging over his head, we urge a quick resolution of the matter.

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Scammer gets 4 years in prison for bilking more than $20,000 from elderly Eagle County woman

Nena Kerny Kochuga
A Virginia Beach, Va. woman pleaded guilty in Eagle County to theft($20,000-$100,000) and was sentenced to four years in prison.

The District Attorney's office said Nena Kerny Kochuga, 63, used a telemarketing scheme to get more than $20,000 from an elderly Eagle County woman.

Officials said another scammer contacted the victim telling her she had won a $9,000,000 prize from a so-called Jamaican lottery.

The scammer told the victim she needed to pay the taxes and fees up front to collect the prize.

The victim was eventually directed to send numerous cashier's checks and money orders to Kochuga over several months in 2016.

The victim's husband found out about the scam and called law enforcement.

Eagle County Sheriff's investigators issued a warrant for Kochuga's arrest and worked with Virginia Beach Police to bring her to Colorado.

District Attorney Bruce Brown said, "This is a low and most despicable crime. Taking advantage of an elderly person with limited income is intolerable."

"Distance is not a bar to prosecution, and we will hunt you down," added Brown.

Kochuga was also sentenced to pay restitution of more than $20,000 to the victim, three years mandatory parole, $1,992.90 in transport fees to the Eagle County Sheriff's Office, and court costs.

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Scammer gets 4 years in prison for bilking more than $20,000 from elderly Eagle County woman

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tonight on Marti Oakley's T. S. Radio: Exposing Medical Predators with Carly Walden

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

Guest: Marsha Joiner

Tonight’s story is a tragic story of a family who lost their mother at the hands of medical predators.

Marsha Joiner shares with us how safe she felt to have her mother in the care of a hospice after her mother was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. Her mother’s doctor stated that the family could contact hospice for assistance for her mother’s care because she did  qualify for the criteria; the family felt secure with this decision because Marsha’s father had been the hospice chaplain for 15 years at that same hospice location.

That was a decision they lived to regret.

Please take this time to listen to Marsha!s story as she gives her mother a voice and a huge wake up call to this society about the Hidden realities of what is occurring in some hospices today.

LISTEN live or listen to the archive later

Note:  Carly is not an attorney and cannot and does not give legal advice. All information on this broadcast is fully documented.

"Edith+Eddie" Wins Oscar Nomination!

See Also:
NASGA website: Documentaries

Daughter found guilty of invading privacy of her Kennett Square millionaire father

WEST CHESTER >>The former owner of an art gallery in Kennett Square has been found guilty of illegally intruding into a conference between her aging father, a court-appointed attorney and psychologist trying to determine his competency by secretly videotaping it with a webcam.

The Common Pleads jury hearing the case against Megan Brooke O’Conner deliberated about three hours on Wednesday before returning to Judge Ann Marie Wheatcraft’s courtroom with guilty verdicts on charges of interception of communication, a violation of the state Wiretap Act, and criminal use of communications facility.

Both are third-degree felonies, and could be punishable by a prison term. Wheatcraft ordered a pre-sentence investigation into O’Connor’s background before setting a sentencing date later this year.

The prosecutors in the case, Assistant District Attorneys Vincent Cocco and Daniel Hollander, told the jury of seven women and five men who heard the two-day trial, that O’Connor had been upset that she was being excluded from the conference with her father, a millionaire who had been bankrolling what Cocco called “a lavish and extravagant lifestyle.”

The conference had been set up as part of a guardianship proceeding brought by O’Connor’s half-sister to determine whether O’Connor had been abusing her father’s finances.

“She had a lot to lose depending on the outcome” of that case, Cocco told the panel in his opening statement. “She had a lot at stake. She wanted to be in that room.”

O’Connor was found guilty of setting up a web camera in the room in her father’s garage apartment at their North Union Street home in January 2015 and watching and listening to the meeting between her father, David Umbs, guardianship attorney Nancy Pine, and psychologist Kenneth Carroll. The meeting was to have been confidential, but O’Connor “believes the rules don’t apply to her,” Cocco said.

In her defense, attorney Steve Jarmon said that O’Connor should not be found guilty of the offenses because the meeting was ultimately not a confidential matter. What was discussed between Ulms and the others was eventually part of the record in the guardianship hearing. Those involved had no “reasonable expectation” that it would remain private, as the law requires, he argued.

“She listened in, we concede that,” Jarmon said. “But does that make her guilty?”

Much of the two-day proceeding, which featured testimony from Ulms, Pine, and Carroll, as well as O’Connor’s ex-husband, Patrick O’Connor, concerned not the facts surrounding the wiretap violations, but the dispute over O’Connor’s handling of her father’s money and the objections by her half-sister Mary Ulms.

The two sides of the family are estranged, and O’Connor was given power of attorney over her father’s finances. With it, she took expensive trips, bought jewelry and other items, and ended up buying the Longwood Art Gallery, which closed last year. Mary Ulms brought suit against her, and Judge John Hall ended up appointing Pine as his guardian to oversee his finances.

David Ulms testified briefly, and told Jarmon that O’Connor had his permission to use his money as she saw fit. Jarmon had contended that O’Connor was his sole companion, and that his children from his third marriage did not pay him much attention.

The criminal charge she faced was brought against O’Connor by Kennett Officer Amanda Wenrich in May 2016.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the matter, Wenrich began investigating O’Connor in December 2015 when Pine contacted her about a possible wiretap violation. She said that she had scheduled a private meeting in January 2015 with Umbs and Carroll, a Swarthmore psychologist, to help determine what his mental capabilities were. There was no permission given to anyone to record the interview.

But in December 2015, 12 months after the meeting, she was contacted by Patrick O’Connor who told her he had witnessed his wife watching the meeting via a live feed through a computer camera.

Patrick O’Connor told Wenrich that he had come home the day of the meeting between Pine, Carroll, and Umbs to find his wife sitting with a laptop, “watching video and listening to conversations occurring … in her father’s garage apartment.” While doing so, the compliant states, she was speaking by phone to an attorney who was representing her in the civil action and said: “We are screwed. He can’t answer a single question.”

Patrick O’Connor told the investigator that he recognized the computer camera that O’Connor was using as a portable device that had been installed in their home’s basement to monitor the activity of her two sons. She could easily have moved it, he said, and viewed the video on her laptop.

Wenrich had O’Connor’s laptop seized, and Chester County Detective Joseph Walton was able to find images and data that showed the laptop had been hooked up to a computer camera on Jan. 30, 2015 between 8:35 a.m. and 9:29 a.m., when the meeting between Pine and Umbs took place.

Wenrich also learned that O’Connor had testified about the video recordings during a guardianship hearing in Orphans Court in December 2015, admitting that she was able to “see it live.” O’Connor also told the officer that she had watched the meeting, but “wouldn’t have done so if she had known it was illegal.”

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Daughter found guilty of invading privacy of her Kennett Square millionaire father

New hire to help establish Nevada Guardianship Compliance Office

A guardianship compliance manager has been appointed to head the Nevada Guardianship Compliance Office, whose creation is due to legislation that took effect on the first of the year.

The Supreme Court of Nevada, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), has hired Kathleen McCloskey to lead the newly created office.

McCloskey, formally with the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division, will make it her focus to hire an investigator and a forensic financial specialist to support Nevada's district courts in the administration of guardianship cases.

Other priorities include the development of a toll-free hotline and assisting the Permanent Guardianship Commission in the formulation of state rules and forms for guardianship cases.

"I am honored to be appointed as the Guardianship Compliance Manager. People under guardianship are some of our most vulnerable citizens and I am excited to build an office that will be supportive to all of our district courts in the administration and oversight of guardianships, as well as provide essential services that will support and protect the rights of individuals under guardianships."

McCloskey brings 20 years of experience developing comprehensive compliance systems in both the fields of intellectual disability and aging service systems in the states of Maine and Nevada. She received her bachelor's in sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and her master's in sociology from the University of Nevada, Reno.

The Commission to Study the Administration of Guardianships in Nevada's Courts proposed seven major reforms, including the Nevada Guardianship Compliance Office, resulting in five bills approved in the Legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The creation of the Nevada Guardianship Compliance Office, a Guardianship Bill of Rights, and mandatory appointment of legal counsel for persons in need of protection were all enacted by legislation.

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New hire to help establish Nevada Guardianship Compliance Office

Lyndhurst woman, boyfriend convicted of bilking elderly man of $75K

Garrett Brewster and Angel Kolasinki
A 22-year-old Lyndhurst woman and her 23-year-old boyfriend on Jan. 19 were convicted of charges relating to the theft of around $75,000 from the woman’s elderly grandfather, according to a statement issued by Lyndhurst police.

“On Sept. 1, 2017, Angel S. Kolasinski, 22, and her boyfriend, Garrett W. Brewster, 23, were indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury for identity fraud, telecommunications fraud, and theft for stealing approximately $75,000 of the victim’s life savings,” the statement reads.

Police confirm the victim was Kolasinski’s 89-year-old grandfather, with whom Kolasinski and Brewster had been living in his home.

“Tips from residents concerned about the welfare of their elderly neighbor sparked investigation by the Lyndhurst Police Department with assistance by the Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services,” the Lyndhurst Police Department’s news release reads.

As part of a plea agreement, Kolasinski pleaded guilty to theft, aggravated theft and telecommunications fraud. She was sentenced to nine months behind bars for each of the three convictions, to run concurrently. She also was ordered to pay restitution to the victim.

Brewster pleaded guilty to identity fraud, attempted theft and aggravated theft. He was sentenced to two years behind bars and ordered to pay restitution to the victim.

The victim’s home also was the target of an investigation after a friend of Kolasinski and Brewster suffered a drug overdose there in May 2017, according to Lyndhurst police.

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Lyndhurst woman, boyfriend convicted of bilking elderly man of $75K

Monday, January 22, 2018

Tonight on Marti Oakley's T. S. Radio: Abolishing Probate: UCC Code Underlying Elder Abuse and Estate Theft

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST
Please join Marti Oakley, Luanne Fleming and Robin Austin as we host Rosanna Miller. Rosanna will be discussing the the underpinnings of the probate tribunals laid out in the UCC code.

The UCC (Universal Commercial Code) which deals with commerce and contract law. We have been commodified, sectioned off as chattel property and are bought, sold and traded under the UCC.

Rosanna will go over specific codes that pertain to fiduciary's, probate, and the uniform probate code. She will have specific information that applies directly to the lack of judicial accountability, corruption of the courts and the ongoing kidnapping, imprisoning and theft of estates from not only the elderly but also the disabled. The question remains....WHO is actually responsible for correcting and abolishing this system?

Have pen and paper will want to make notes. The show will be available in archive.

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

Stage 4 cancer patient facing eviction

WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, TennesseeGREENWOOD, IN (WXIN/CNN) - Mervin Haley is giving it all he has in what doctors said could be his final days.

Haley is diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and in the past months, Haley has had trouble paying his rent.

"He right now can't eat, drink very little, can't walk, talk and there's no way he can possibly leave this home and that was also his last wish to be home as his dying place," said Denise Haley, Mervin Haley's ex-wife and care giver.

His family reached out to property management to make a partial payment with what they had.

A leasing manager told her they could only a make a full payment on the money owed.

She said this was the first time she was given an option to sign up for a payment arrangement.

"They're still saying he's 500 something dollars behind well then come first of January went to pay it they said they couldn't accept a partial payment they had to have the full amount," said Denise Haley, Mervin’s ex wife and caregiver.

Haley owes $569 but with late fees and January`s rent the total is now $1,500.

During a court date this week a judge ruled Haley had to be off the property by Sunday.

Denise Haley wrote the judge a letter detailing her ex-husband’s condition and asked for more time to come up with the money.

"There's no way that man can possibly be out of the house by then if he goes outside he's going to get pneumonia and that's going to end him right there," Denise Haley said.

A small sign of hope as she watches her loved one struggle to survive.

"You know it's gotta be hard on him to be worrying anyway about his life and then worrying about this on top of it," Denise Haley said.

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Stage 4 cancer patient facing eviction

Lawyer charged with embezzling $426k

A former attorney has been charged with stealing $426,000 from his clients.

Connecticut State Police say 65-year-old John Butts, of Salem, has been charged with first-degree larceny after taking funds from two people he had represented in probate matters.

Police say in one of the instances, the former Salem probate judge failed to provide a woman more than $150,000 from the sale of her late father's condominium. In another instance, Butts took about $276,000 from a client.

The state Division of Criminal Justice says Butts was suspended from practicing law last February and surrendered his law license in September.

He's been released pending his arraignment in Norwich Superior Court on Jan. 25. A phone number listed for Butts was unable to accept new messages Thursday because its inbox was full.

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Lawyer charged with embezzling $426k

Nursing home chain looks to future after scandal

Marvin Rubin and Joel Landau
The Allure Group, a Brooklyn nursing home chain, has been mired in a major real estate scandal during more than 20 months of city and state investigations. Now it’s finally poised to pursue its stalled growth plans after reaching a settlement with the state late last year.

Allure, run by operators Joel Landau and Marvin and Solomon Rubin, agreed to pay $2 million in penalties and charitable contributions to local nonprofits in a deal with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, announced Jan. 5.

The agreement marks the end of the state’s investigation into Allure’s closing and subsequent sale of Rivington House on the Lower East Side as well as its closing of a second facility, CABS Nursing Home, in central Brooklyn. For community groups, it opens up the possibility that the city will finally get new long-term-care facilities in neighborhoods that sorely need them. But mistrust persists. “They have to be watched,” said K Webster, who leads the Lower East Side community group Neighbors to Save Rivington.

In February 2015 Allure purchased Rivington House, an HIV/AIDS facility on the Lower East Side, for $28 million. It sold the building a year later to luxury housing developers for $116 million, provoking an outcry from the community, the media and the city.

Allure will pay $750,000 in fines and contribute $1.25 million to health care nonprofits on the Lower East Side. It also committed to spend $10 million in the next five years to establish health care facilities both in central Brooklyn and on the Lower East Side. Allure must run them for at least eight years each.

Roadblocks lifted

Schneiderman withdrew his objection to Allure’s purchase of Greater Harlem Nursing Home on West 138th Street, where Allure has served as the state-appointed receiver of the financially distressed facility since 2014. Under the settlement, Allure must keep the facility open for at least nine years.

Allure can now resume the expansion plans that Schneiderman blocked in 2016 during the investigation. “Now that the roadblocks holding up our full control have been lifted, we look forward to turning our Harlem center into a world-class facility similar to all other Allure facilities,” Landau said.

Landau and the Rubins entered the nursing home business in 2010 with the backing of Leibel Rubin, Marvin and Solomon’s father, who has run nursing homes for decades. The partners bought the vacant nursing home portion of the former Victory Memorial Hospital in Bay Ridge for $20 million and set up Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Landau and the Rubins went on to acquire four more Brooklyn facilities. They successfully raised occupancy at these struggling locations. Its six homes generate about $200 million a year in revenue, according to Landau.

When they sought to buy Rivington House from nonprofit VillageCare, the property had a deed restriction that required it to be used as a nonprofit residential health care facility. 

Because Allure is a for-profit company, the city informed Landau and Marvin Rubin that they would have to pay $16 million to lift that restriction. Landau told the city that the price, which was five times higher than anyone had ever paid to lift a deed restriction, undermined the financial viability of operating a Medicaid-funded nursing home. 

By May, three months after buying the 219-bed Rivington House, Allure had an agreement to sell the building for $116 million to investors including Slate Property Group, Adam America and China Vanke. A partial stop-work order that limits construction and demolition remains in place.

In November 2015 Allure paid the city, and the deed restriction was lifted, facilitating the sale to developers, but they didn’t disclose the deal until several months later. The city Department of Investigation found that City Hall officials ranking as high as then-First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris either were aware or should have been that the deed restriction was being removed, causing the property to lose its public purpose designation. 

“This was a mistake. It was ridiculous, and I’ve said it a thousand times,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in June during a town hall meeting on the Lower East Side. “Not only did we entirely change the rules around anything like this; now it will require a personal signature from me to happen, which did not happen in this case.”

De Blasio said last week that NYC Health and Hospitals is adding 60 beds at its Gouverneur facility in Lower Manhattan to offset the Rivington closure. The beds are a welcome addition in a neighborhood that lost 335 beds when the Bialystoker and Cabrini nursing homes closed in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Still, a larger facility is needed, said Webster. “We don’t want any more stopgap measures,” she said. “We really have a crisis on our hands, and it’s going to get worse.”

The Rivington sale ultimately passed legal muster, as Schneiderman’s office concluded that the developers’ title to the property “is not subject to effective legal challenge.” But Schneiderman enforced penalties on Allure because his office found that designated members of the company’s board of directors failed to fulfill oversight duties. When Allure purchased Rivington from VillageCare, it appointed four board members: the brother-in-law of Allure CEO Solomon Rubin, two Allure employees and a truck driver for a food-delivery business who had no prior nursing home experience. But it was ultimately Landau and Marvin Rubin’s decision to sell. 

Besides failing to question the move, the board did not notify the state Supreme Court or the attorney general before the nonprofit sold its assets. Allure did not admit to or deny any of the attorney general’s findings.

“It was a big struggle for us the last two years while this was going on, and it affected our focus,” Marvin Rubin said. “Now we can continue to do what we do best, which is constantly improving long-term care.”

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Nursing home chain looks to future after scandal