Saturday, March 31, 2018

Harvard administrators accused of embezzling $110,000 meant for disabled students, buying gadgets and sex toys

Meg  DeMarco and a coworker are accused of stealing $110,000 from Harvard Law School.  
 (CBS News)
Two Harvard administrators are accused of embezzling $110,000 meant for disabled students and spending it on items including sex toys.

Meg DeMarco and Darris Saylors used to work at Harvard Law School, but resigned after a new budget manager discovered something wrong and started a police investigation, according to WBZ.

A criminal complaint seen by the station said that the pair each used tens of thousands of the stolen funds to buy iPads, IPods and laptops, with Saylors allegedly using a Dean of Students purchasing card for sex toys.

DeMarco, whose LinkedIn page says that she was in charge of managing the budget for the Dean of Students Office, is accused of using a mobile card reader to put money directly into her own personal bank account.

Saylors, who moved away from Boston, according to public records, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily News.

WBZ confronted DeMarco, now an administrator at Babson College, about the allegations.

“It was a big job and I made mistakes,” she said. “I never intended to harm the university. I’m very sorry and will do everything in my power to rectify the situation.”

Harvard University and the Harvard University Police did not immediately respond to questions about the alleged embezzlement.

DeMarco and Saylors are expected to be arraigned Wednesday. 

Full Article & Source:
Harvard administrators accused of embezzling $110,000 meant for disabled students, buying gadgets and sex toys

Local caregiver pleads guilty to sexually abusing elderly woman

Brandon Bowcut
REXBURG — A Rexburg man has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 76-year-old woman at a care center.

Brandon Bowcut, 38, pleaded guilty to a single charge of sexual abuse or exploitation of a vulnerable adult on Wednesday.

“A vulnerable adult is someone who can’t take care of themselves in a given situation,” Madison County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Wood said.

Court documents show the sexual abuse occurred at Carriage Cove Care Center on West 1st North in Rexburg on Feb. 13.

“She was being treated for some injuries and allegations were made that Bowcut, a CNA, inappropriately touched her during treatment,” Rexburg Police Capt. Randy Lewis told last month.

Bowcut was working at the rehabilitation center and was assigned to the wing where the victim was a patient. While on his shift, Bowcut entered the woman’s room alone — in violation of the facility’s two-person policy — and turned his back to the door to conceal his activities, according to court documents.

He greeted the woman and told her he needed to apply a special medical cream to her groin area. He then proceeded to touch the woman inappropriately. The victim was unable to stand at the time due to an injury and was under the influence of narcotic painkillers.

Bowcut later admitted to police that this was a deliberate and planned assault, and not part of his job.

Police investigated the claim and arrested Bowcut, a Brigham Young University-Idaho student from Wyoming, on Feb. 16. He was booked into the Madison County Jail.

Bond was set at $100,000, which Bowcut has not posted.

His sentencing is scheduled for May 23.

Full Article & Source:
Local caregiver pleads guilty to sexually abusing elderly woman

Financial abuse still a major problem for elderly Mainers, police say

KENNEBUNK, Maine — Whether they are being scammed by someone from faraway or by someone in a position of trust much closer to home, incidents of financial abuse of the elderly tend to go unreported.

Candice Simeoni, founder and president of the York County Elder Abuse Task Force, said nationally, current estimates put the overall reporting of financial exploitation at one in 25 cases.

There are the scams perpetrated by a stranger calling, claiming to be from the IRS, or saying they’re lottery officials from Jamaica, or some similar big lie.

But some forms of financial exploitation can be more insidious.

Perpetrators tend to be family members, or someone else in a position of trust, said Simeoni.

Victims often don’t report crimes against them, she said.

“They’re of a generation when this happens in the family, it stays in the family,” Simeoni said.

And in some cases, health issues — like dementia or some other malady — might cause the abuse to go unnoticed for a while.

In May 2017, a West Newfield woman was sentenced to serve 2-4 years in a New Hampshire prison for stealing more than $90,000 from her mother who had Alzheimer’s disease, according to New Hampshire news reports. The theft came to light when Donna Dell’s mother was no longer able to pay for her private nursing home care.

Another case — one that Simeoni investigated in her capacity as a Kennebunk police officer — is currently making its way through the court system.

Last fall, a York County grand jury indicted a Wells pastor and former candidate for the state Legislature on a number of charges including felony and misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a dependent person, misdemeanor criminal restraint, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and theft.

Police claim Peter Leon befriended an elderly incapacitated Kennebunk woman and then allegedly tried to gain control of her finances. Leon, whose LinkedIn account lists his role as a former teacher and wrestling coach in Downeast Maine and owner of a Kennebunkport tennis center, entered a not guilty plea to the charges at York County Superior Court in December.

A 2017 report by the Muskie School of Public Service examined case files from 2010 through 2016 from Adult Protective Services and Legal Services for the Elderly and concluded that family members accounted for most forms of financial exploitation.

The report, authored by Eileen Griffin, Catherine McGuire and Kimberly Snow, titled “Financial Exploitation of Maine’s Older Adults,” noted that 57 percent of all Adult Protective Services perpetrators were family members and 68 percent of all Legal Services for the Elderly perpetrators were family members. Their research found that 75 percent of APS and 59 percent of LSE victims of financial exploitation were older than 75.

York County Sheriff William King, who was a major with the department at the height of the lottery scams in 2012, said reports of those incidents are no longer at the all-time high they were, but the agency that serves rural York County continues to get some calls about them.

“A lot more than I’m comfortable with,” he said. The agency gets few calls reporting other forms of financial exploitation of the elderly, King said.

Simeoni, who previously served with Kennebunkport and Eliot police before joining the Kennebunk Police Department, is an officer who has seen a lot of elderly folks in distress, whether through self neglect — like someone not talking their medication, not eating properly and not looking after their personal hygiene — or who are victims of a scam or are abused in some other way.

“I have a soft spot for seniors,” said Simeoni in a recent interview.

Her affinity for those in their elder years may come from her close relationship with her grandmother.

“Growing up, my best friend was my Nana,” she recalled. “On New Year’s Eve, we’d buy ice cream and make sundaes and watch the ball drop.”

That warm, loving relationship combined with her law enforcement skills sparked Simeoni to establish the York County Elder Abuse Task Force in 2005. The task force includes people representing social services, legal services for the elderly, financial institutions and law enforcement. The primary goal of the group is to share knowledge and skills, serve as a resource, and to educate the public about elder abuse. The group comes together to discuss current events, cases and legislation, she said.

The group’s motto is “taking care of those who once took care of us.”

Some of the signs of elder exploitation according to Simeoni include: the older person doesn’t know what happens to their money; checks no longer come to the house; there’s an unexplained disappearance of funds or valuables; the elder reports signing papers and doesn’t know what was signed; and/or there is a transfer of property and savings.

Often, financial exploitation is not one isolated case she said, usually there are multiple victims.

Not every case results in a charge. But she urges seniors who think they are victims of financial abuse to call either their local law enforcement agency, the Adult Protective Services hotline at 800-624-8404 or Legal Services for the Elderly at 800-750-5353.

“If something doesn’t feel right, let’s talk about it,” she said.

Full Article & Source:
Financial abuse still a major problem for elderly Mainers, police say

Friday, March 30, 2018

“It is not okay to abuse old people,” Oklahoma detective speaks out about mother’s death

NORMAN, Okla. - An Oklahoma veterans' advocate died last year in a rehabilitation center, and now her family is speaking out about what they call neglect and abuse.

Edwina Luker was a tireless advocate for veterans.

"I am who I am today because of her," said Retired U.S. Army veteran Ed Pulido.

Luker was a veterans administration social worker who dedicated 38 years to serving those who served our country.

"I met her at the medical center. She was a very sweet lady, passionate, lovable. She was a mother figure to a lot of our veterans," Pulido said. "We failed her. And, that's sad because she didn't deserve that. No one deserves that."

Luker fought for our nation's heroes. But, in the end, for her, there was no protection from a painful, humiliating death.

"It is not okay to abuse old people. It is not," said Luker's daughter, Teresa Sterling. "Just because you're gonna die doesn't mean you don't get to die with dignity and respect. It's not okay."

Sterling is a retired Oklahoma City police detective and a specialist in child abuse. She believes her mother's death is a case of elderly abuse and neglect.

"I started working my mom's case myself," Sterling said.

Luker turned 75 years old last year. She was still active in the veterans' community.

She'd just built a house. She adored her grandchildren and cat.

But, on Thanksgiving Day, she was rushed to the emergency room at Norman Regional Healthplex with a serious case of bacterial meningitis.

After six days in the hospital, Luker was moved to a nearby rehabilitation center called Medical Park West.

Within the first week of her stay at Medical Park West, Sterling said she found her mother in disgusting conditions.

"She was laying in a bed covered in urine and diarrhea," Sterling said. "It went all the way up her back. That's how much there was."

Sterling began documenting the neglect. She remembered her mother's diapers hadn't been changed for hours and she hadn't been bathed in three days.

"When they took her diaper off, she had horrible diaper rash," Sterling said. "I mean the skin was gone from her inner thigh and on her buttocks. It was horrible."

The family complained. The facility promised they would do better.

Instead, Sterling believes the staff at Medical Park West retaliated against her mother forcing her to sit in her wheelchair in pain for hours on end.

The family had decided they were going to move her after Christmas out of Medical Park West.

But, on Christmas Eve, Luker got violently ill. Sterling said the director of nursing refused to call an ambulance to take her mother down the street to the emergency room.

"They wouldn't listen," Sterling said through tears. "They don't care. That's the problem. Nobody cares."

Three hours later, Luker was dead.

When Sterling went to see her mother at the hospital where she was pronounced dead, Luker was missing her prized possession: a one-carat diamond wedding ring.

Sterling saw it on her ring finger that night as she cleaned vomit from her mother's hands.

The ring was so tight, Sterling had tried to remove it before but it wouldn't come off.

"Not only did they abuse her and neglect her, and they didn't care enough about her to get her treatment. Then, just stab me in the heart one more time," Sterling said. "Just steal her ring."

EMSStat ambulance service transported Luker to the hospital. Sterling called after her mother's death and was told paramedics picked Luker up at Medical Park West without any property.

"She was naked and had no property," Sterling said. "So, (Medical Park West nursing staff) had to have not started CPR on her before they stole that ring."

Norman Regional Health System issued this statement:
"Norman Regional has no definite record of the patient's ring being in our facility or ambulance. We share our deepest condolences to the family."
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has investigated a number of complaints at Medical Park West. OSDH has made more than 20 investigative trips to the facility in the past five years.

Investigators have substantiated complaints including failing to properly staff the facility and protect residents from personal property going missing.

In the days following Luker's death, her family members went to Medical Park West to inquire about her care and missing jewelry.

One family member was able to wander the halls unescorted. He took cellphone video that indicates no one asked him to leave until he started asking questions at the nurses' station.

Sterling believes it is ironic she spent her entire police career protecting other people's families from neglect and abuse yet was unable to protect her own mother.

"We love you, and we honor you and we're so sorry that happened," Pulido said of Sterling. "Her mom didn't deserve that. Her mom was a champion. Her mom healed and put us together as veterans when we come back."

News 4 called Medical Park West repeatedly, daily for more than a week. Many messages were left and unreturned by staff or administrators at the nursing home.

Medical Park West administrator Daniel Gravatt refused to discuss Luker's care or the theft of her ring.

"I can't comment," Gravatt said. "I can't comment on anything that's going on."

Sterling has filed complaints with the health department and the attorney general's office. She is now seeking other family members who have complaints about the care at Medical Park West.

For more information, email: To file a consumer complaint about a nursing home or rehab facility, click here.

Full Article & Source:
“It is not okay to abuse old people,” Oklahoma detective speaks out about mother’s death

Thomas Co. couple arrested by GBI in elderly exploitation case

HOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - A Thomas County couple is facing charges in a possible elderly exploitation case.

Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said they arrested LaRoy and Eunice Scruggs this week.

According to the GBI, the two stole money from an elderly family member who resides in Thomas County.

The GBI said currently, the amount of money taken is around $85,000, but agents said this is a fluid number and could change as they continue the investigation.  

Eunice is facing charges of exploitation of a disabled adult and false swearing. She was arrested on Friday.

LaRoy, who was arrested Monday night, is facing a charge of exploitation of a disabled adult.

Full Article & Source: 
Thomas Co. couple arrested by GBI in elderly exploitation case

Britney Spears Might Be Moving Closer to Freedom

Britney Spears, from the outside, seems to be living an independent life. She performed a successful Vegas residency for four years and has continued to release music over the past decade, all while updating her Instagram with pictures of her workouts and kids. She’s still Britney (bitch) but she also appears to be a hardworking, healthy single mom.

But Spears, 36, is still living under the conservatorship of her father Jamie Spears and lawyer Andrew M. Wallet, after suffering from her highly publicized breakdown in 2008. As outlined in a great New York Times article in 2016, Spears’ conservatorship, typically given to the elderly and mentally ill, is all kinds of messed up. It keeps her from making any personal or financial decisions without the approval of her conservators, who make money off of their appointed positions.

But yesterday Us Weekly reported that Spears’ father Jamie is actually looking into ending the conservatorship:
“Jamie is actively consulting with Britney’s medical team to determine if the conservatorship of Britney as the person should finally come to an end,” the insider says. “It’s just a question of timing as she is about to begin the tour, so the thinking is to do it at the conclusion.”
Spears is about to embark on her “Piece of Me” tour, which ends in September. And back in February, Us Weekly reported that Spears was also looking to get out of her conservatorship as well.

Full Article & Source:
Britney Spears Might Be Moving Closer to Freedom

See Also:
Britney Spears under conservatorship of father 10 years after mental health battle

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Woman Accused of Stealing $250,000+ From 93-Year-Old Father

A Douglas County woman is accused of stealing a $250,000 from her 93-year-old father.

Authorities say 62-year-old Vicky Jo Adams was arrested on one count of theft and one count of exploitation of an older person, both category “B” felonies.

A criminal complaint says Adams was designated as the caregiver of her father John Lindblade and his estate.

It also says as a caregiver, she was entrusted with funds for the limited purpose of providing for her father’s care. However, she allegedly subsequently converted her father’s funds for her own personal use.

The complaint says the crimes were committed between April and December, 2017.

The State of Nevada v. Adams criminal complaint represents the sixth elder exploitation criminally charged by the Office of the Nevada Attorney General.

KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Full Article & Source:
Woman Accused of Stealing $250,000+ From 93-Year-Old Father

Daughter arrested on charges of exploiting elderly father

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - A Douglas County woman has been arrested on one count of theft and one count of exploitation of an older person, both category “B” felonies. The Nevada Attorney General's Office says the alleged crimes were committed between April and December, 2017.

According to the criminal complaint, 62-year-old Vicky Jo Adams was designated as the caregiver of her 93-year-old father, John Lindblade, and his estate. Adams was entrusted with funds for the limited purpose of providing for her father’s care. However, she allegedly subsequently converted more than $250,000 of her father’s funds for her own personal use.

Adams was arrested by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

The State of Nevada v. Adams criminal complaint represents the sixth elder exploitation criminally charged by the Office of the Nevada Attorney General, which didn't begin prosecuting such cases until Adam Laxalt took over the office in 2015.

“My office works to ensure that all Nevadans are protected and safe, regardless of their age and living arrangements,” said Laxalt. “And we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those seeking to defraud or exploit our vulnerable elderly population.”

In July 2016, the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee unanimously approved Laxalt’s request to combat increasing financial fraud within the State using non-taxpayer settlement funds awarded to his Office. Laxalt’s request included the allocation of more than $400,000 of non-taxpayer settlement funds to the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada to boost their capacity to fight civil guardianship exploitation and abuse. In the 2017 Legislative Session, Laxalt received approval to allocate approximately $250,000 in non-taxpayer settlement funds to Washoe County Legal Services which provides pro-bono legal support to Nevada’s rural counties.

Full Article & Source:
Daughter arrested on charges of exploiting elderly father

EDITORIAL: Confined for life

Jim and Barbara Munves enjoy an afternoon together in 2015. For the past month, the couple has only been able to see each other inside the Atlantic Baptist Home. - Mitch MacDonald

This bureaucratic ruling ensures the Munves will finish out their long, happy and productive lives together in a state of misery.

In the court of public opinion, most Islanders feel that Barbara and Jim Munves are the victims of a great injustice. The heart-wrenching story about the two seniors, forcibly split up at the most vulnerable time in their lives, has garnered wide-spread attention and public comment.

It’s easy to blame the system or bureaucracy for their plight. Government feels that safety is the key issue and that it’s best for all concerned that Barbara remains in a nursing home. Similar situations have occurred in the past and this course of action has proven the best – for government. Each case is different and the same narrow criteria shouldn’t be applied here.

Jim Munves argues there are other priorities in play which the couple have discussed, such as quality and dignity of life. They want to stay in their home with their treasured pet and retain their independence.

Being in familiar surroundings would help limit the symptoms of Barbara’s dementia issues. Jim thought he did all the things necessary or demanded by government to allow his wife to stay at home. But it seems no matter how much he did, it was never enough.

Life-altering decisions were made without their involvement or consent. Crucial information was withheld from the couple. Barbara is now confined to a nursing home in a virtual life sentence.

There are key issues in play here – such as the rights of senior citizens in general – to make their own decisions without government intervening. This bureaucratic ruling ensures the Munves will finish out their long, happy and productive lives together in a state of misery. If they are happy at home, and reasonable precautions are made to ensure their health and safety, then their rights as individuals should supersede the concerns of the state. A live-in, fulltime care worker should have been enough to convince the province to relent and allow Barbara to return home.

The optics are all wrong. We see an elderly couple told that the state knows best; the system is inflexible; a bureaucrat can make an assessment which seems irreversible; there is no room for compromise; and individuals’ rights are trampled on with impunity.

Is there another solution or a workable compromise? Of course. There must be.

This decision flies in the face of government policy to encourage seniors to remain in their homes for as long as possible. The recent multi-million-dollar deal struck between the province, the federal government and Blue Cross / Medavie is a good example. The program utilizes Island EMS paramedics to bridge the transition of seniors from hospital back to their homes until home care is set up. And why can’t provincial home care nurses be utilized to supplement the live-in worker hired by Mr. Munves? And why can’t paramedics’ expertise be used to assist this couple and help them remain in their home?

Government appears to be on the wrong side of this story. It can compromise and correct a wrong. Or at least try. The Munves deserve better.

Full Article & Source:
EDITORIAL: Confined for life

Despite nursing home owners' opposition, House panel passes bill that would allow cameras in rooms

Rep. Helena Moreno (left) & Lucie Titus (right)
Lucie Titus' 92-year-old mother mysteriously suffered a black eye and a serious back injury while under the care and supervision of a Slidell nursing home last year.

Titus' mother, Ann Graff, who had Alzheimer's disease, couldn't explain how it happened. Neither could anyone who worked at the nursing home. And the unanswered questions left doctors guessing for several weeks about the best way to treat Graff's serious pain, Titus said.

Concerned for her mother's well-being, Titus tried to install a small video camera in the room, so she could keep a watch on her mother to ensure her well-being. But administrators from the nursing home banned the camera.

State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, said Wednesday she wants to ensure nursing homes are required to allow residents and their families to place surveillance cameras in their rooms if they choose.

"What's wrong with having an extra set of eyes to check on our loved ones?" Moreno said. "This is our mothers and fathers, and one day this will likely be us. I would want a camera to make sure I'm OK."

The bill advanced out of the House Health and Welfare Committee, 9-1, and heads to the full House, over the objections of the nursing home industry leaders, who raised concerns about privacy and internet hackers who could try to access webcams.

"I strongly contend that if there was video I would have been able to get my mother treatment immediately, instead of guessing for three weeks and watching her suffer in pain," Titus said in her testimony to the committee.

Titus sued in federal court on behalf of her mother for the right to have a camera. But Graff passed away recently, which effectively ended the lawsuit.

Dozens of nursing home owners submitted red cards to the legislative committee, a signal of opposition. But keeping his comments brief, Mark Berger, Louisiana Nursing Home Association executive director, only asked that Moreno be amenable to working together to improve security provisions tied to the bill.

Moreno pointed out that while her bill had a long list of opponents, every single one was the owner of a nursing home.

"Who are we trying to protect here in the state of Louisiana?" she asked. "None of the opposition here was a resident or a family member of a resident."

Moreno noted that to address privacy and liability issues, her bill requires that the nursing home resident who has a camera in their room to sign a waiver. If the patient shares a room, then the roommate would also have to sign a waiver for the camera to be allowed.

The camera would also have to be set up and purchased by the resident's family or guardian.

She said the bill also protected the nursing homes.

"If it was truly an accident, then you can see there is no wrongdoing," she said.

Moreno is set to leave the Legislature before the session ends because she will be sworn into her new office in the New Orleans City Council. She amended the bill to name Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, as the main sponsor, in her absence.

Two other nursing home bills scheduled for Wednesday were deferred, and are not expected to come back up this session.

Rep. Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville, deferred a bill that was expected to create more access to nursing home alternatives in the form of home-health programs. He said he decided to abandon his bill after watching a Senate committee reject the same thing earlier this week.

"I'm deferring this bill because it's dead," he said. "I hate to say it but it's dead."

But Bacala urged his colleagues to address the issue of improving home and community based care in the future.

"I hope the conversation continues and we do not turn a blind eye," Bacala said. "We have to do better."

Another bill to change the rate formula that determines the way nursing homes are reimbursed by the state was also deferred.

Full Article & Source:
Despite nursing home owners' opposition, House panel passes bill that would allow cameras in rooms

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Assisted Living: A $10 Billion Industry With Little Oversight

For millions of older Americans, there’s nothing stronger than the desire to age in place, maintaining their independence and avoiding intensive institutional care for as long as possible. Increasingly, assisted living is filling the gap between home and a nursing facility.

States spend a reported $10 billion in federal and state money per year on Medicaid beneficiaries in assisted living facilities, averaging $30,000 per patient, per year. But it’s not clear whether governments are getting their money’s worth in terms of quality of care and, critically, the safety and well-being of the facilities’ residents.

Answers to some of those concerns came in a February report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found significant shortcomings in oversight of assisted living facilities across the country. Forty-eight states receive some kind of Medicaid funding for assisted living facilities, but 26 of those states do not report “critical incidents” -- including unexplained deaths, abuse, neglect or financial exploitation -- to the federal government.

Yet for many who advocate for older Americans, the GAO report had shortcomings of its own. The advocacy group Justice in Aging put out a statement contending that the report “barely scratches the surface” of the lack of oversight and reporting requirements. And Eric Carlson, directing attorney for Justice in Aging, says that even for the 22 states that do collect data on serious infractions, the information isn’t easy enough for the public to obtain. “I’m not sure it would be all that useful,” he says.

There is little in the way of federal standards around Medicaid-funded assisted living facilities, leaving states mostly in charge of regulating them. So without clear guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), these facilities largely operate under a hodgepodge of rules set by states’ long-term care departments.

A sad result of that lack of regulation was seen at Valley Springs Manor, a California assisted living facility that closed with no warning back in 2014, leaving 19 residents inside without care. The incident gained national attention when a cook and a janitor stayed behind until the residents were safely relocated, shining a light on how little is required of these facilities.

Most of the 48 states that receive some form of Medicaid funding for assisted living get that money only for patients who have needs equal to an institutional level of care, such as a hospital or nursing home. So most Medicaid-reliant assisted living facilities do not employ full-time nurses -- if they employ any nurses at all -- and instead rely on “caregivers,” a role that requires far less education.

Carlson acknowledges that he isn’t an expert in what every state is doing, but he says that based on a 2014 report he worked on for the National Senior Citizen Law Center, some of the Deep South states -- Alabama, Florida and, in particular, Arkansas -- have some of the most rigorous standards for their assisted living facilities. Arkansas, for example, has a tiered system, with higher-need residents living separately from more autonomous residents and nurses responsible for designing the care plan for those needier residents.

That’s a level of oversight the advocates would like to see nationwide, and there is some change on the horizon. In 2014, CMS issued new guidelines for all “community-based care” facilities, including those providing assisted living. The guidelines are still being phased in for many states, but advocates hope that as more states draw up transition plans, their assisted living facilities will finally be held to a higher standard.

Full Article & Source:
Assisted Living: A $10 Billion Industry With Little Oversight

Lawyer who hired embezzling felon is disbarred after failing to notice theft of nearly $5M

The Florida Supreme Court has disbarred a lawyer who hired a felon with an embezzlement history and then put the employee in charge of administering the law firm’s trust account.

The employee embezzled $4.8 million from the law firm over a four-year period, according to the Florida Supreme Court opinion disbarring Randall Lawrence Gilbert. The Daily Business Review, the Legal Profession Blog and Law360 covered the March 22 decision.

A judge who served as the referee in the ethics case had found that Gilbert was “curiously uncurious” about Steven Sacks’ criminal past and claims of expertise. The Florida Supreme Court agreed with that assessment. “Indeed, this case gives new meaning to the phrase ‘turning a blind eye,’ ” the supreme court said.

Gilbert had hired Sacks as a bookkeeper in February 2005 after a referral from a friend. During the interview, Gilbert learned that Sacks was living in a halfway house after a federal wire fraud conviction. Sacks said he was a disbarred New York attorney and a certified public accountant.

Yet Gilbert didn’t check out those claims or the reason for the purported disbarment, and didn’t investigate Sacks’ criminal history, according to the opinion. In reality, Sacks was never a New York lawyer and was not a CPA. If Gilbert had investigated Sacks’ conviction, he would have learned Sacks went to prison after embezzling more than $7 million, the Florida Supreme Court said.

In an April 2005 meeting with Sacks’ probation officer, Gilbert signed a form acknowledging the risk of hiring Sacks. The form stated that Sacks had been ordered to pay $7.9 million in restitution. The probation officer told Gilbert he didn’t think it was appropriate for Sacks to work at a law firm given his criminal history.

Five months after he was hired, Sacks forged Gilbert’s signature on a check for nearly $21,000 that was used to pay for cosmetic surgery for Sacks’ girlfriend. Gilbert fired Sacks, but refused to tell the probation officer why. Gilbert sent Sacks to therapy and rehired him in October 2005.

Sacks carried business cards identifying himself as a JD and a CPA. Gilbert eventually gave Sacks “full rein” over the real-estate closing side of his practice, which grew exponentially after the mortgage foreclosure crisis in 2008, the opinion said. He also named Sacks the firm’s chief financial officer.

Sacks would transfer money deposited into the firm’s trust account that was intended to pay off mortgages on client properties, then transferred the properties to a shell company, called SQWERTY, that he created to keep the mortgages alive with monthly payments.

Randall Lawrence Gilbert
Gilbert said he reviewed financial reconciliations prepared by Sacks, and looked at the first and last page of bank account statements. Sacks handled law firm trust account matters and prepared information for the law firm’s CPA.

The scheme was discovered in February 2014 when Gilbert received a call from a lawyer asking why a mortgage for the lawyer’s client was kept alive when it should have been satisfied.

The firm’s title insurer had to pay more than $3.6 million in claims and was the largest victim of the wrongdoing.

Gilbert himself lost $1 million when Sacks did not pay off the mortgage on Gilbert’s home in a refinancing. Gilbert has also paid about $1.03 million to individuals who lost money as a result of Sacks’ thefts.

The referee had recommended a two-year suspension, followed by two years on disciplinary probation.

Gilbert did not immediately respond to a message left with his former firm by the ABA Journal.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer who hired embezzling felon is disbarred after failing to notice theft of nearly $5M

Embattled prosecutor decides to quit race for 2nd term

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) -- A southeast Iowa prosecutor criticized for dropping charges filed against a nursing home operator has decided not to seek a second term.

The Hawk Eye reports that Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers mentioned in her announcement Monday the scrutiny and criticism she'd received for dropping charges against Marc Johnson, director of the Danville Care Center. He was accused of taking money from a patient's account.

She cited concerns that if he were convicted, the home would have to close. Beavers made an agreement not to pursue the charges if Johnson paid the case's court costs and didn't violate any laws for two years.

She said in her statement Monday that, "If closing this nursing home is what the community expects from their county attorney, I am not the right county attorney."

Full Article & Source:
Embattled prosecutor decides to quit race for 2nd term

See Also:
Prosecutors, fearing nursing home's closure, won't pursue felony exploitation charges against its operator

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tonight on Marti Oakley's T. S. Radio: Hospice Survivors and Victims with Carly Walden

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

Pam Murray is going to share with us how her mother-in-law was murdered by hospice. Her family was lied to by several involved in the unnecessary admission to Hospice. When this finally ended, she found that her mother-in-law was on 19 medications which included the lethal drug cocktail that hospice uses. Morphine, Ativan, and Seroquel were used in combination in this particular case, along with so many other drugs.

Please remember that YOU have a right to refuse Hospice and to revoke it.

Also, keep in mind that HIPPA (patient privacy) does not exist to protect the privacy of the patient, but rather, to protect medical providers and others from exposure for misdiagnosis, medical neglect, unnecessary drug applications, and other wrong doing which may be evidenced in the medical records.

Please tune in to tonight’s show as we continue to try to save lives here on Hospice Survivors and Victims Radio!

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Elderly woman trapped under bed for 6 days after fall

Violeta Pilgrim
MIAMI BEACH, FL (WSVN/CNN) – Two police officers came to an 89-year-old woman’s rescue after she fell on the floor and found herself trapped there for several days.

A family friend called Miami Beach Police, concerned about 89-year-old Violeta Pilgrim whom he says he considers like a mother. The man said he hadn’t heard from Pilgrim in five days.

Officers Whismick Charles and Pablo Gonzalez responded to the scene and knocked on Pilgrim’s front door, but there was no answer.

The officers went around the side of the building, calling for the woman and banging on windows, according to Officer Ernesto Rodriguez.

That’s when the officers saw Pilgrim on the floor.

“We gotta go around now. She’s still awake. She’s still alive,” said one officer in body cam footage.

Pilgrim was trapped under her bed. She had been lying there – without food or water – for six days.

The officers pulled the screen from the window and climbed into the apartment. They had to raise the mattress and bed frame to rescue Pilgrim, Rodriguez says.

Pilgrim was hospitalized and is recovering.

“She has a long road of recovery ahead of her, but she knows she has the Miami Beach Police Department now as an extended family,” Rodriguez said.

Charles and Gonzalez were recognized by the police department for their actions to save Pilgrim.

WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Full Article & Source:
Elderly woman trapped under bed for 6 days after fall

Woman gets 5 years prison for elderly exploitation in North Aurora

Mary E. McMillian
A 41-year-old Joliet woman has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $34,000 restitution for stealing from a client while serving as a state-contracted ombuds at a North Aurora assisted-living facility in 2015.

Mary E. Pfingston, of the 3000 block of Hutchinson Street, was arrested in December on a host of felony charges accusing her of stealing from a woman at Ashbury Gardens while working as state contract worker for Senior Services Associates.

Pfingston, who has since changed her name to Mary McMillan, pleaded guilty to felony financial exploitation of an elderly person in mid-February, a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison, and left it up to a judge to decide her fate Thursday.

Kane County Judge D.J. Tegeler said society needs to protect its vulnerable, elderly population and noted she was still on probation after pleading guilty to stealing some $5,900 while working just two months in early 2014 as officer manager for a doctor in Joliet.

"We're not going to allow people to take advantage of, in any way, shape or form, any of our elderly citizens. It can't happen, those are the people who raised us," Tegeler said, noting the victim lost her home in Westmont and must rely on Medicaid and lacks money to choose the doctors she knows and trusts.

McMillan made a brief statement to the judge and ended with, "I am so sorry to everyone."

Defense attorney Gregory Reeder argued for probation and noted that $15,000 the victim gave was a "donation" to a cancer fund for McMillan's medical expenses. Tegeler, however, noted McMillan willfully ignored her training, which banned her and other ombuds from accepting gifts and donations from clients.

The victim, who hoped to temporarily stay at the Ashbury Gardens, wrote a statement that was read in court by Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Seberger.

In it, the victim noted how she had a reverse mortgage but lost her home to foreclosure after McMillan stole from her and exhausted her line of credit. The woman wrote that "shock and stress" made her health deteriorate.

"Mary robbed me of my dignity and took away my hopes for how to live the rest of my life," read part of the letter.

McMillan has five years after her prison release to pay restitution.

Full Article & Source:
Woman gets 5 years prison for elderly exploitation in North Aurora

Allegations of Fraud and Financial Abuse Leveled Against Minister Edmund Dillon by US Court. Moonilal Calls for Explanation.

Minister of National Security Retired Major General Edmund Dillon
A report in today’s Trinidad Express newspaper says National Security minister Edmund Dillon is facing allegations of “elder financial abuse, exploitation and fraud” in the United States.

The report says the matter has been ongoing for several months in the US Civil Supreme Court with Mr. Dillon reportedly making several appearances in the court over the matter.

The allegations have reportedly been made through his lawyers of an elderly incapacitated man identified as Neville Piper.

US court documents allege that Piper transferred 50% of the ownership of his Uptown Manhattan Condominium to Mr. Dillon.

However the documents allege that the signature on the transfer of ownership and on the deed does not appear to be Mr. Piper’s signature and additionally, the elderly man denies having ever done a transfer of any sort and has no recollection of the transaction.

The Opposition is now calling on Minister Dillon explain the matter before his Parliamentary colleagues, saying that he owes the public an explanation.

Full Article & Source:
Allegations of Fraud and Financial Abuse Leveled Against Minister Edmund Dillon by US Court. Moonilal Calls for Explanation.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Tonight on Marti Oakley's T. S. Radio: Abolishing Probate With Guest Steve Miller

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

Our guest will be Steve Miller, nationally known and recognized journalist who has been instrumental in expoosing the ongoing criminal activities of professional, corrupt guardians in Nevada and most especially in Las Vegas. While a few "sacrificial lambs" have been prosecuted to make it look like there is a real intent to curtail this corruption, it is apparent that the person most often involved in these fraudulent, money making gurdianships skates away unscathed! How Jared Shafer has avoided prosecution is a mystery all on its own. Having profited greatly from accessing the assets of his victims, Shafer remains untouched...and apparently untouchable.

Steve believes some things that happen in Vegas, should not stay in Vegas.

Steve Miller writes internationally syndicated columns on organized crime and political corruption for, The Vegas Voice, and the the Canada Free Press.

Visit his website at:

Or visit Steve on Facebook @

and Wikipedia @


Steve is a former Las Vegas City Councilman; former Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner; Chairman Emeritus of Goodwill Industries of Southern Nevada, and President Emeritus of Opportunity Village.

In 1998, Steve was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

In 1998, the Las Vegas Review-Journal's special edition THE FIRST 100 listed Steve in a historical record of the people who contributed most to the shaping of Southern Nevada.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW LIVE or listen to the archive later

Industry lobbyists push back on Minnesota elder care reforms

Two of the state’s most powerful nursing home lobbyists flanked Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, last week at a Senate committee hearing as she made her case for a package of reforms intended to protect Minnesota seniors from abuse.

Every few minutes, one of the pair stepped to the microphone and launched into a monologue on the strain that each proposal might inflict on nursing homes. And as the hours wore on, the focus of the hearing gradually shifted from preventing elder abuse to the way that new regulation could cripple hundreds of senior care facilities across the state.

The scene exemplified the pervasive influence that Minnesota’s nursing home industry exerts at the Legislature, where deep pockets and an army of lobbyists have given it a long-standing reputation for getting what it wants.

Yet that influence could face a pivotal test this year: Public alarm over a surge in maltreatment allegations and a scathing report by the state’s Legislative Auditor have prompted wide-ranging proposals to expand government oversight of nearly 2,000 senior care facilities.

By last week, industry leaders had embraced much of a bill by Housley, who is chairwoman of the Senate Aging Committee, but they were pushing back against wider reforms, and their voice was being heard.

The senior care industry’s two largest trade groups — Care Providers of Minnesota and LeadingAge Minnesota — spent nearly $1 million on lobbying in 2016 and 2017, an increase of 56 percent from the previous two years and the largest outlay by the groups on record, according to new data from the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

The groups, which together have nearly two dozen registered lobbyists, have also increased their presence at the Capitol, blitzing lawmakers with information as debate intensifies over how to fix the state’s deeply flawed system for protecting seniors from maltreatment.

Industry leaders take a different view. Costly new regulations could hurt, not help, dozens of nursing homes that already struggle to recruit enough workers and pay them adequately, they argue.

“Right now, this is still an industry that is in distress,” said Patti Cullen, president and chief executive of Care Providers, which represents nearly 900 senior care organizations across the state.

Buying time

The 2018 Legislature is shaping up to be a pivotal session for the industry.

A five-part series published by the Star Tribune last November documented that hundreds of incidents of serious abuse — including beatings, sexual assaults and thefts — were going uninvestigated each year by the agency charged with protecting the elderly in senior homes. The findings were affirmed by the state Legislative Auditor, which concluded in a report released this month that the Health Department had failed to fulfill its responsibilities to protect vulnerable seniors.

As a result, Gov. Mark Dayton and several prominent lawmakers have proposed measures that would increase oversight of the lightly regulated assisted-living industry, toughen up penalties for abusers, and establish stronger protections for the roughly 82,000 residents of senior care homes across the state.

Industry representatives argue that a bevy of new rules and regulations could force some struggling nursing homes out of business, and might have a “chilling effect” on recruitment of new staff amid a statewide shortage of caregivers.

They point to this month’s bankruptcy filing of the nation’s second-largest nursing home operator, HCR ManorCare Inc., and declining occupancy rates in facilities in rural Minnesota.

Many nursing homes in Minnesota are barely breaking even or have negative operating margins, and many are having to pay $2,000 cash bonuses to recruit staff, Cullen said. All told, 81 nursing homes have shut their doors since 2000, including a dozen facilities in just the past three years, according to industry data.

“We are concerned that, by only focusing on the isolated incidents [of abuse] … as tragic as those incidents are, it’s a real chilling effect, both on keeping our great caregivers as well as recruiting new people in this profession,” Cullen said in Senate testimony last month.

But those pushing for reforms, including senior advocacy groups like Minnesota AARP, have objected to what they consider the industry’s casual response to a five-year surge in complaints of abuse and neglect at care facilities.

Minnesota Sen. Karin Housley, center, is flanked by senior care lobbyists Toby Pearson, left, with Care Providers of Minnesota, and Kari Thurlow with LeadingAge Minnesota, at a recent Senate committee hearing on elder abuse legislation.
They point to a video posted on the Care Providers website, encouraging members to donate to the industry group’s political action committee, CARE-PAC. In the video, lobbyists can be seen waving cash while singing a parody of the song “Do-Re-Mi.” “Dough, the stuff that buys us time!” the lobbyist sings while waving $20 bills. “Far, a long, long way dough goes!”

To elder care advocates, the video epitomizes what they see as an imbalance of power between the industry and elder residents.

“We are pushing hard for reform, but they have resources that we don’t,” said Kristine Sundberg, president of Elder Voice Family Advocates, a volunteer coalition of family members of abuse victims.

But lawmakers say the industry’s influence stems more from its relationships than its money.

The industry has deep roots in many rural areas where Republicans, who control both chambers of the Legislature, are counting on strong support in this fall’s election. In many small towns, nursing homes are among the largest employers and a source of peace of mind for families with aging relatives.

Almost every legislator from greater Minnesota is on a first-name basis with at least one nursing home manager or owner, said Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, chairman of the Senate Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. Some even have relatives who work in the facilities and have experienced firsthand the difficulties with recruiting staff, he said.

“Their halo is a little tarnished” from the increase in abuse reports, Abeler said. “But the typical [senior] care facility truly is a treasured institution in the community. They command respect.”

Hidden cameras

Industry lobbyists also have a track record of getting things done.

With its strong ties to legislators in both parties, the industry in 2015 won an overhaul of the system by which they are reimbursed through Medicaid. For the first time, their compensation would grow automatically with the costs and quality of care. The monumental change is forecast to generate more than $360 million in increased Medicaid payments to nursing facilities through 2019, while eliminating the need for perennial pleas for rate increases.

Even seemingly modest changes are often challenged by the senior care lobbyists, who have a history of showing up for every legislative hearing and task force meeting, said Iris Freeman, a board member of the Minnesota Elder Justice Center and a former public policy director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Minnesota-Dakotas chapter. For years, she said, advocates struggled to get the industry to embrace basic training standards for dementia care.

“A modest proposal can sometimes take much longer than you expect,” Freeman said.

In 2016, industry groups pushed back on legislation allowing families to monitor the care of their loved ones with electronic recording devices, without fear of retribution. The legislation came on the heels of well-publicized cases in which hidden-camera footage corroborated reports of abuse and neglect at Twin Cities-area nursing homes. Instead of passing a bill, however, lawmakers created a 17-member work group that produced a lengthy report last year but did not recommend any changes to state law.

For now, the industry has embraced some incremental changes, such as tougher criminal penalties and better information sharing with families of abuse victims. At the same time, they have resisted broader reforms, including a proposal to establish a licensing framework for the state’s fast-growing assisted-living industry, which operates under less scrutiny than traditional nursing homes.

“Sometimes, there is a lack of urgency … they seem to forget that people’s lives are at stake,” said Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, a member of the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee.

At a Senate hearing last week, after hours of testimony from Housley and industry lobbyists, senior care advocates made it clear they are not giving up on their campaign to create basic standards of care for assisted-living and stronger consumer protections, including a “private right of action” for lawsuits when vulnerable seniors are abused.

“We had a list [of reforms] that was a mile long because the system was that broken,” said Mary Jo George, associate state director of advocacy at Minnesota AARP, in testimony. “We are going to continue to push.”

Full Article & Source:
Industry lobbyists push back on Minnesota elder care reforms

West Virginia launches elder abuse litigation and prevention unit

CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced on Thursday, March, 22, 2018 that the state has formed an elder abuse litigation and prevention unit.

 The unit will include a dedicated team of seasoned civil prosecutors to hold accountable anyone who exploits, abuses or neglects West Virginia’s senior citizens. It also will utilize a newly established hotline, email address and scam alert database to better connect seniors with the office’s already robust capabilities.

“Senior citizens represent the best of what West Virginia has to offer,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Unfortunately, all too often con artists, deceptive businessmen, caretakers and even family members take advantage of our elderly friends.
“Such conduct cannot be tolerated. We succeed in fighting back against these bad actors by harnessing all of our resources to protect the most vulnerable among us. Our formation of this unit will do just that,” he added.

National research estimates 10 percent of persons age 60 and older have experienced some form of abuse or exploitation and in many instances the conduct goes unreported.

That backdrop causes particular concern in West Virginia. U.S. Census estimates show persons 65 years and older accounted for 18.8 percent of the state’s population in 2016. That marked an increase from 16 percent in 2010, when West Virginia ranked second to only Florida with regard to the share of its population that was 65 years and older.

Litigation brought by the unit will focus upon enforcing a wide variety of consumer protection laws, for which seniors are often targeted victims. Potential violations could occur at home, the automotive repair garage, hospital, nursing home, memory care facility or any number of other settings.

The unit also will assist seniors with preneed funeral contracts, powers of attorney and identifying the signs of criminal exploitation and physical abuse or neglect. Assistant attorneys general, both assigned to consumer protection and to represent other state agencies, will work with the office’s clients and county prosecutors to refer matters as appropriate.

Senior citizens in need of the unit’s expertise will benefit from the Attorney General’s newly established senior services and elder abuse hotline. It’s just a phone call and email away at 304-558-1155 or

The hotline is open for senior citizens and their loved ones. Those preferring traditional mail can reach the office at P.O. Box 1789, Charleston, WV 25326.

The prevention component will collaborate with the state’s Bureau of Senior Services, financial institutions, community groups, local senior citizen organizations and other entities across West Virginia. Those partnerships will provide office representatives a chance to answer questions, give presentations and distribute vital information to educate seniors as to various risks and how to protect themselves.

The unit’s scam alert database will be key in raising awareness of potential scams. Senior citizens and their loved ones can subscribe to the email alerts at

Other aspects of the unit’s civil prosecution include unfair debt collection activities, denial of service complaints, deceptive business practices, overcharging incidents and membership on the West Virginia Financial Exploitation Task Force.

The unit’s attorneys also represent the state’s Adult Protective Services in filing petitions for guardianship, conservatorship and attachment to ensure a trusted individual oversees the senior’s financial and non-financial affairs, as well as clear the path for emergency medical care.

In representing the state’s Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification, the unit protects nursing home bound seniors by supporting efforts to revoke the certification of nurse assistants who are accused of abuse and neglect.

The unit also takes similar action at hospitals in supporting efforts by the state Department of Health and Human Resources to punish abusive and neglectful health service workers.

The unit’s prevention arm also advises seniors about drug abuse prevention. That includes educating seniors about and facilitating the proper disposal of unwanted and/or expired prescription drugs, a major component of fighting the state’s opioid epidemic.

Full Article & Source:
West Virginia launches elder abuse litigation and prevention unit