Saturday, August 25, 2018

Legal troubles continue for couple who ran adult care facility where raid turned up drugs, weapons

Russell Cockerham
A Sept. 5 preliminary exam is scheduled for a judge to determine if a case will proceed against a Highland couple charged with drug and weapons crimes following a raid at their adult care facility.

Russell Cockerham, 48, faces several counts of felony drug possession and intent to deliver, and six weapons charges, in connection with an Aug. 2 raid by the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team at 1288 Essay Lane, where he and several other family members lived. It was also where he and his wife, Angela, operated Carter Country Homes, Inc., providing foster care for a handful of elderly clients.

Angela Cockerham, 45, is charged with felony possession of cocaine. Both are out on bond and required to submit to regular drug and alcohol testing.

Carter Country Homes, Inc. obtained licensure in 1999.

Days ago, the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs issued an order of summary suspension and notice of intent to revoke the group home’s license. Reasons listed include failing to protect residents, not reporting a change in the household and not appropriately maintain the premises.

Angela Cockerham
The violations are related to the recent criminal charges, as well as Angela Cockerham not informing LARA that her adult children were living in the home and for the Cockerhams not providing a physically safe environment for the foster care clients, according to LARA.

The resident clients reportedly told authorities that Russell Cockerham smoked marijuana and sold drugs out of the home.

Bob Wheaton, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said five clients were confirmed to be living at the facility. Adult Protective Services offered assistance to their guardians or family members regarding other living arrangements, he said.

Full Article & Source: 
Legal troubles continue for couple who ran adult care facility where raid turned up drugs, weapons

Probate Judge's Alleged Affair With Opposing Lawyer Exposes Estate Judgment to Challenge

The Texas Court of Appeals has ruled that the losing party in a multimillion-dollar estate dispute can challenge the final judgment in that case based on allegations that the Dallas probate judge who presided over it had an “undisclosed personal relationship” with an opposing lawyer during the litigation.

The case was handled by John Peyton Jr., a former Dallas associate probate judge who entered into a voluntary agreement resigning from office earlier this year in lieu of discipline from State Commission on Judicial Conduct. According to the February agreement, Peyton resigned after the publication of an article in the April 2017 edition of D Magazine called “Ardor in the Court,” which detailed Peyton’s alleged affair with Dallas probate attorney Mary Burdette.

Peyton in his resignation denied the allegations.

After a final judgment was signed in Thomas v. 462 Thomas Family Properties, lawyers for Robert Thomas filed a bill of review before the trial court alleging that Peyton had had a personal relationship with the opposing lawyer during the pendency of the trial, which he did not disclose, that “destroyed the integrity of the proceedings.”

The bill of review seeks to set aside Peyton’s rulings in the case and claims the judge’s alleged misconduct could not have been discovered before the case was resolved in his court. Following a hearing, another Dallas probate court judge dismissed Thomas’ bill of review with prejudice—a decision he appealed to Dallas’ Fifth Court of Appeals.

In its Aug. 2 decision, the Fifth Court ultimately concluded that the trial court erred by dismissing Thomas’ bill of review, noting he couldn’t have known about Peyton’s alleged misconduct conduct in time to file a pretrial motion to recuse the judge within statutory deadlines.

“Assuming appellant’s allegations, as well as reasonable inferences drawn from them, are true, appellant neither knew nor reasonably should have known that the grounds for recusal existed. Thus, a motion to recuse filed after the tenth day before trial would not have been untimely,” wrote Justice Craig Stoddart.

“Applying the notice pleading standard and liberally construing appellant’s petition according to his intent, we conclude the trial court erred by dismissing his petition for equitable bill of review as lacking any basis in law at this early stage,” Stoddart wrote, remanding the case back to the trial court for further rulings consistent with the opinion.

Rob Gilbreath, a partner in Dallas’ Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young who represents Thomas on appeal, is pleased with the decision.

“We believe the allegations of a close personal relationship between the trial judge and opposing counsel during trial justifies a new trial,’’ Gilbreath said.

Robert Dubose and Doug Alexander, partners in Alexander DuBose Jefferson & Townsend who represent appellees 462 Thomas Family Properties, both did not return calls for comment.

Peyton, who now works as the director of probate operations for the Dallas County probate courts, did not return a call for comment.

According to his voluntary agreement to resign from office, Peyton denied the allegations against him in their entirety. The commission initiated an investigation into Peyton’s conduct in February 2017 after receiving a letter from his attorney, Randy Johnston, detailing a “series of events” that he believed would be made public in the D Magazine article.

Johnston did not return a call for comment.

Burdette, whom according to pleadings in the case has not appeared as counsel for the defendants in the bill of review proceedings, also did not return a call for comment.

Full Article & Source:
Probate Judge's Alleged Affair With Opposing Lawyer Exposes Estate Judgment to Challenge

Lakewood Lawyer Stole Millions From Trust Fund

LAKEWOOD, CO – A Lakewood lawyer was sentenced Wednesday for stealing $1.4 million from accounts set up by his deceased grandfather to take care of his late 89-year-old step-grandmother.

Glenn William Gregory, 56, was sentenced in Jefferson County to four years in prison, according to the First Judicial District Attorney's office. Gregory pled guilty on July 23 to one count of theft from an at-risk person over $500.

Last year, Gregory was convicted and sentenced to eight years for stealing $1.3 million from an associated trust fund, set up by his grandfather John B. Villano for the care of his step-grandmother Martha Violet Villano. Gregory will serve the four years consecutively after the previous eight-year sentence, the DA's office said.

According to the Denver Post, Gregory, who had the power of attorney for the account, was found guilty in 2017 of draining the trust down to $24 between 2006 and 2015. Martha Villano died ten days after the jury rendered a verdict in June of 2017.

In the most recent case, Gregory was found guilty of transferring more than $1.4 million from the trust account to his personal and law firm bank accounts.

Investigators said Gregory spent $440,000 from the trust between Feb. 2008-Feb. 2015 for hotels and travel in Nevada at various casinos, and ATM withdrawals in Nevada and Blackhawk, Colorado "which appear to be related to gambling," the arrest affidavit said.

Gregory shuttled money through his personal and company bank accounts. Investigators found that approximately $112,000 was paid from Dec., 2007 through Sep., 2016 to "what appear to be phone/on-line computer sex services." They also noted that $260,000 was paid to PayPal or an online company called, that advertises itself as a service where purchases are "strictly confidential," the arrest affidavit said.

He also gave money to family members in multiple-thousand dollar gifts around the Christmas holidays, investigators found.

All told, Gregory was convicted of stealing $2.7 million from the trust funds.

Full Article & Source:
Lakewood Lawyer Stole Millions From Trust Fund

Friday, August 24, 2018

Marti Oakley On Guardians Stealing Elderly Assets

Marti Oakley On Guardians Stealing Elderly Assets

Lessons From Buzz Aldrin Guardianship: Twin Filings Put Focus on Abuse

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon
Buzz Aldrin was the second person to set foot on the moon’s surface and only 12 people have set foot there. But now he is one of an estimated one and a half million adults who are the subject of guardianship proceedings in the United States. The guardianship case was filed in Brevard County, Florida, on May 30, by two of Aldrin’s three children and by his business manager. Aldrin has vigorously opposed the proceeding and in response filed a separate action charging them with breach of fiduciary duty; exploitation of the elderly; constructive fraud; unjust enrichment; undue influence, conversion and conspiracy.

It is not possible at this time to assess the strength of the allegations of the guardianship or the verified complaint filed in response. The guardianship file is sealed and the responsive suit is a public record so only one side of the case is revealed. In addition, these cases have only been recently filed and it is too early to predict the outcome of either one. It is appropriate at this time however, to call attention to Aldrin’s response to the guardianship, suggesting that the best defense may be an offense.

The Florida Guardianship

Aldrin, age 88, has named his children to important position in the several interests he has created (Buzz Aldrin Enterprises, Inc; Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation, Inc.; Sharespace Foundation, Inc., Aldrin Space Institute and Aldrin Center for Entrepreneurship in Space) indicating a close familial relationship at one time. He has also named one of his sons as trustee of a revocable trust and agent under a power of attorney. But, similar to the fate of Shakespeare’s King Lear, it does not appear that the loving relationship has continued, resulting in the filing of a guardianship petition. It has been reported that within the guardianship petition is an allegation that Aldrin is “in cognitive decline.” There may also have been specific allegations that he suffers from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Florida statutes require that within five days after a petition for determination of incapacity has been filed the court must appoint a three-member “examining committee.” One member of the committee must be a psychiatrist or other physician. The other two members of the committee must be either a psychologist, or gerontologist, or another psychiatrist or physician, or registered nurse, or nurse practitioner, or licensed social worker, or person with an advanced degree in gerontology from an accredited institution of higher learning or a person appointed at the discretion of the court. A comprehensive examination must be made of the alleged incapacitated person and it must include a physical examination, a mental health examination and a functional assessment. Each committee member must submit a written report.

Buzz Aldrin’s Response

The unusual aspect of this case is the response of Aldrin to the guardianship filing. Most subjects of a guardianship who disagree about the need for the court intervention present their defense in the original proceeding. In this case, Aldrin filed a separate action on June 7, against his children (and his business manager and several organizations with which he is associated). Aldrin’s verified complain paints a picture of a celebrity with the capacity to manage his own affairs who is being manipulated by his children and business manager for their own selfish ends. The specific language of the complaint alleges that the defendants:

“… have assumed control and access to the plaintiff’s personal credit cards, bank accounts, trust money, space memorabilia, space artifacts, social media accounts and all elements of the Buzz Aldrin brand.”

“… have been for the past number of years been slandering the plaintiff in public and/or to other individuals or small groups by stating the plaintiff has dementia and Alzheimer’s. The defendants have used this tactic to gain further control over the plaintiff’s personal relationships, business contacts and assets.”

“… have effectively established a de facto guardianship over the plaintiff.”

“… have forbidden the plaintiff to marry and specifically and deliberately have undermined bullied and defamed all of the plaintiff’s personal romantic relationships.”

He also charges defendants with exploitation of the elderly. “Plaintiff is a vulnerable adult, as defined by Florida Statutes and pursuant to Florida Statute Section 415.111, due to the plaintiff’s advanced age of 88 years. Defendant Andrew Aldrin, individually exploited the plaintiff by knowingly and through deception or intimidation deprived the plaintiff of his finances, property and knowledge of the plaintiff’s business affairs.”

Response of Defendants to Suit by Buzz Aldrin

It is noteworthy that in the case initiated by Aldrin, there is a motion by the defendants asking that the court take judicial notice of the reports from Dr. Margaret Rank, Carmal Morelli, RN and Marti Jo McCoy, LCSW. They are each identified as member of the “examining committee” in the separate guardianship case. The examining committee reports are described as confidential and therefore not attached to the motion. The fact that the defendants sought to have the court made aware of the examining committee reports is an indication that the defendants believe the reports contain matters that are favorable to their position and unfavorable to Aldrin. In addition, the defendants have filed a motion for a stay of the proceeding initiated by Aldrin pending the outcome of a ”… previously filed action to determine the capacity of the plaintiff.”


Aldrin joins a list of many well-known individuals who have been the subject of guardianship proceedings (Brooke Astor; Sumner Redstone; Glen Campbell; Mickey Rooney; Casey Kasem and Zsa Zsa Gabor). The proceeding was brought despite the fact that Aldrin had executed a power of attorney and revocable trust agreement, documents often thought to obviate the need for a guardianship. In the Aldrin case, as in many of the other high-profile guardianships, the proceeding is evidence of fractured family relationships.

The cases also demonstrate that no one is immune from the possibility of being the subject of a guardianship. Status alone or financial wealth alone or the use of inter-vivos estate planning documents alone is not enough to ensure that an older individual is insulated from a guardianship proceeding.

The twin filings in this case are a part of the current debate over whether the guardianship statutes are protecting the elderly from abuse or subjecting them to abuse. Once a rather unusual proceeding, the guardianship is now commonly a part of the trust and estates practice.

Full Article & Source:
Lessons From Buzz Aldrin Guardianship: Twin Filings Put Focus on Abuse

Star Trek ‘Lt. Uhura’ on 1960s TV Now Target of Court Battle Over Conservatorship

Nichelle Nichols
A friend of 1960’s TV “Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols filed court papers Thursday challenging the need for a conservatorship over the 85-year-old actress, contending that Nichols’ son and the appointed temporary co-conservators are not acting in her best interests.

Nichols played Lt. Uhura, a translator and communications officer, aboard the USS Enterprise in the “Star Trek” series that ran on NBC from 1966-69, and also appeared in some of the “Star Trek” movies.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson did not immediately rule on any of the issues raised by Angelique Fawcette, a producer and actress based in Ventura County who also is seeking a new judge in the case. Instead, Johnson set a Sept. 10 hearing on whether Fawcette has a legal right to ask Johnson to remove herself from the case.

Last week, the co-conservators filed court papers stating that a geriatrician who examined Nichols concluded that she suffers from “moderate, progressive dementia.” But Fawcette says Nichols can manage her affairs with the help of a regular assistant.

On May 14, Johnson named four individuals to serve as temporary co-conservators of Nichols. The judge said she granted the petition brought by Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, even though she was concerned about the potential cost of the conservatorship to the Nichols estate.

The temporary conservators — Norine Boehmer, Dawn Mills, Susan Ghormley and Leandra McCormick — are “professional fiduciaries” whose full-time job is to take care of the money or other assets of another person. Johnson said they will remain Nichols’ temporary co-conservators at least until Sept. 19.

But Fawcette, who states in her court papers that she met Nichols in 2012 while casting a film, says her friend does not need a conservator and that she can still perform such routine tasks as showering, dressing, putting on makeup and traveling to conventions without assistance.

“Nichelle requires only limited assistance with some of the activities of daily living, which can be provided by a caregiver, assistant or myself,” according to Fawcette.

On Aug. 8, the temporary co-conservators filed court papers stating that Dr. Meena Makhijani, a Woodland Hills geriatrician, concluded that Nichols lacks the mental capacity to consent to any form of medical treatment and that the actress had been prescribed 12.5 milligrams of a dementia medication daily “as needed for agitation.”

But according to Fawcette, Nichols’ ability to recall matters is not seriously impaired.

“I did not observe that Nichelle has any significant memory issues that would prevent her from managing her own business, financial and/or personal affairs,” according to Fawcette.

She also said in a sworn declaration that Johnson, whom she met in 2013, appeared to care little about his mother’s health or well-being.

“I know that Kyle rarely visits Nichelle, if at all,” according to Fawecette.

Fawcette submitted for court review a video which she said demonstrates that Nichols travels to “Star Trek” conventions and still gets excited to meet fans and sign autographs.

Nichols also talks in the video about her conflicts with Johnson over her desire to keep working and how he “does not understand her love for her career,” according to Fawcette.

“As late as March 2017, (Johnson) told (Nichols) that he `can’t wait to get rid of her (expletive) and sell her house and property,”’ Fawcette alleges.

Fawcette further argues that if a court nonetheless finds that a permanent conservatorship is necessary, the four temporary co-conservators should not fill the role because they allegedly are not acting in Nichols’ best interests. Fawcette alleges in her court papers that one of the temporary co-conservators gave Nichols’ former assistant $6,500 “to keep silent about her knowledge of the current estate of Nichelle’s affairs as they are affected by the temporary co-conservators.”

Nichols walked Fawcette down the aisle at the latter’s wedding and Fawcette views her “like a mother,” according to Fawcette’s court papers.

Full Article & Source:
Star Trek ‘Lt. Uhura’ on 1960s TV Now Target of Court Battle Over Conservatorship

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Parents Are Hard to Raise

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Aretha Franklin left no will or trust, court records show

The finances of an intensely private Aretha Franklin soon will become very public in Oakland County Probate Court because she left no will or trust.

Her four sons filed a document Tuesday afternoon listing themselves as interested parties in her estate. One document filed with the court and signed by her son Kecalf Franklin, and her estate attorney, David Bennett, check a box acknowledging the absence of a will.

"The decedent died intestate and after exercising reasonable diligence, I am unaware of any unrevoked testamentary instrument relating to property located in this state as defined" under the law, the form reads.

Franklin's niece Sabrina Owens asked the court to appoint her as personal representative of the estate. The case is assigned to Judge Jennifer Callaghan.

"I was after her for a number of years to do a trust," said Los Angeles attorney Don Wilson, who represented Franklin in entertainment matters for the past 28 years. "It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate, and kept things private."

As Franklin's attorney in copyright matters, song publishing and record deals, Wilson said he would have been consulted about her holdings for any estate planning purposes.

 Wilson said that at this point it's impossible to place a dollar figure on the value of her song catalog. He said she did maintain ownership of her original compositions, which include well-known hits such as "Think" and "Rock Steady." 

Under Michigan law, the assets of an unmarried person who dies without a will are divided equally among any children.

Franklin's decision to not create a will before she died could prompt a court battle over her assets by creditors or extended family members seeking a portion of her estate. One case Wilson has been involved with is that of musician Ike Turner, whose estate is still being litigated 11 years after his death.

"I just hope (Franklin's estate) doesn't end up getting so hotly contested," Wilson said. "Any time they don't leave a trust or will, there always ends up being a fight."

Wilson said many people, famous and not, fail to prepare a will.

"Nobody likes to give careful thought to their own demise," he said.

Franklin died Thursday at home in Detroit. Her funeral is Aug. 31 at Greater Grace Temple, following public viewings at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Aug. 28-29) and New Bethel Baptist Church (Aug. 30).

Full Article & Source:
Aretha Franklin left no will or trust, court records show

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Police can seize heirlooms in family disputes

RESTON, Va. (ABC7) — Several Fairfax County Police officers spent five hours at a Reston home, not carrying out drugs, guns, or dangerous materials. Instead, police carried out china, vases, and teapots.

“I get out of the shower with a towel around me, I'm dripping wet. I see two figures right outside my bedroom door saying, ‘This is the police. We have a search warrant,’” said homeowner Liz Skarlatos.

That search warrant came because a family member watched a 7 On Your Side interview with Liz Skarlatos about guardianship court disputes involving her elderly father.

According to a search warrant obtained by the ABC7 I-Team, that viewer noticed some heirloom teapots and vases she believed belonged to her, told a Fairfax County Police detective who filed a larceny search warrant.

Liz' brother Matt was at the house when the search warrant was served.

“It was an awful use of the police's time and talent,” he recalled.

Fairfax County Police declined to answer questions about the search warrant other than stating procedure was followed. The search warrant itself states no other reason for sending several officers into the home of two people with no reported criminal history looking for heirlooms and documents.

In another bad day for the Skarlatos family, their father Paul Skarlatos, at the center of the guardianship dispute, died at his assisted living home July 16.

"These are family heirlooms that belong to my mother and father through my mother’s side of the family and they were given to us by our parents,” said Liz Skarlatos, who has gathered photographs she says establishes ownership of the heirlooms through the decades.

Weeks after the home seizures, there are still no charges filed against the Skarlatos siblings. The heirlooms remain with police.

“Quite honestly the most horrifying experience of my life,” added Liz Skarlatos. “I haven't been able to sleep very well. I'm taking a shower 2 hours early because I want to make sure I'm dressed in case someone busts my door down…Families should be absolutely scrutinizing any final arrangements they have with their loved ones.”

Full Article & Source:
Police can seize heirlooms in family disputes

Grand jury indicts woman in elder abuse case

A Maury County woman was arrested this month after allegedly abusing her elderly parent in a Mt. Pleasant nursing home.

At the request of Adult Protective Services and the Mt. Pleasant Police Department, TBI agents with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated a complaint of exploitation of an adult at a nursing home in Mt. Pleasant.

During the course of the investigation, agents learned that Jessica Woods, 33, the daughter of a resident there, allegedly misappropriated more than $17,000 of her father’s money, from August 2015 through August 2016.

The investigation revealed that Woods eventually removed her father from the nursing home, leaving more than $26,000 of unpaid bills.

On Aug. 1, the Maury County grand jury returned indictments charging Woods with one count of theft of services and one count of willful abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Woods, a native of Indianapolis, was arrested on Aug. 3, and booked into the Maury County Jail on charges of willful neglect and abuse of an adult and theft in services over $10,000 She has since been released after posting a $10,000 bond.

According to a 2016 segment form Nashville Public Television, there are more than 5 million elder abuse victims in the United States, more than the combined total of child abuse victims and domestic violence victims.

The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability calls elder a abuse a growing problem in the the state.

The National Center on Elder Abuse, or NCEA, defines elder abuse as “intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or ‘trusted’ individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder.”

Physical abuse, neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, sexual abuse and abandonment are considered forms of elder abuse. In many states, self-neglect is also considered mistreatment.

Younger adults with disabilities may qualify for the same services and protections.

Recent incidents

In July, state officials halted admissions to Westmoreland Health and Rehabilitation Center, one of the biggest nursing homes in Knoxville, after an investigation concluded that a bedridden dementia patient fractured both her knees in a fall, but was left in agony and untreated for more than a week, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

The home must also pay $30,000 in penalties and will now be observed by a state appointed monitor, according to a report from the Knoxville News Sentinel.

During the incident, which occurred in November, the unidentified patient fractured her knees while falling out of bed in front of a nurse assistant, and complained of “intense pain,” according to state records.

The records indicate it took the nursing home five days to perform an X-ray, and another four days before the patient was seen by a doctor.

After the patient was sent to a hospital for surgery, she died a month later.

In August, a Morristown man was charged with aggravated elder abuse in what was described as the alleged suspect’s horrific neglect of his 92-year-old grandfather, The Citizen Tribune reported.

According to the Morristown Police Department, first responders found Elbert C. Williams stuck to a couch,” covered in feces and open wounds, and suffering from dehydration.

The primary caregiver, Matthew Allen McReynolds, 24, was arrested for the incident and jailed for failing to appear in court.

Reporting abuse

If elder abuse is suspected, the state urges the public to contact the the Adult Protective Services which investigates reports of abuse, neglect (including self-neglect) or financial exploitation of adults who are unable to protect themselves due to a physical or mental limitation.

The APS can by contacted by phone at 1-(888)-APS-TENN or 1-(888) 277-8366.

Reports can also be submitted online at, using a form provided by the Department of Human Services.

Additionally, those with suspicions, or who want to verify that a person isn’t already on record, can visit the Tennessee Department of Health’s Abuse Registry to search by name or social security number.

Knoxville and Memphis both host what are known as Family Justice Centers, places where victims of domestic violence and abuse can find the resources they need from police, lawyers, medical assistance, planning and safe options to relocate.

In 2013, Chattanooga, Cookeville, and Nashville were awarded funding to create their own Family Justice Centers. In Nashville, The Jean Crowe Advocacy Center is located at 100 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 114, Nashville, TN 37201. Operating hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center’s 24-hour hotline is (615) 862-4767. The center can also be reached for non-emergencies by fax at (615) 862-4768 or email at

The Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Adult Protective Services unit is currently partnering with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and the Tennessee Vulnerable Adult Coalition, or TVAC, to help raise awareness and stop elder abuse.

Full Article & Source:
Grand jury indicts woman in elder abuse case

Doctor who dodged jail time for allegedly sexually assaulting an incapacitated patient admitted to sexual contact

A former Texas doctor convicted Thursday of raping an incapacitated patient will serve no prison time after insisting that the sex with his patient was consensual. 

Shafeeq Sheikh, 46, a physician at Baylor College of Medicine was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault last month. But as CrimeOnline previously reported, a jury recommended no jail time, and he will serve only 10 years probation. The former doctor’s medical license has been taken away and he is also required to register as a sex offender after being found guilty of second-degree sexual assault.

In the state of Texas, a jury is allowed to recommend sentencing, and the judge in the case, Senior District Judge Terry L Flenniken, was required by law to follow the recommendation, according to the Houston Chronicle. The crime is reportedly punishable by 20 years in prison.

According to the Associated Press report, Sheikh, who was not scheduled to provide care for the female victim, acknowledged at trial that he did indeed have sexual contact with the patient while working a night shift in 2013, but insisted to jurors that it was consensual. The woman was in the hospital overnight, heavily medicated while suffering from an asthma attack when Sheikh came to her room several times in the night and sexually assaulted her, reportedly after noticing her breast implants. The patient reportedly tried summoning a nurse to help, the call button didn’t work.

While DNA evidence collected at the scene matched the DNA sample belonging to Sheikh, it took two years for any charges to be filed against the guilty doctor.

In addition to the rape kit findings, investigators reportedly determined that Sheikh swiped his badge on the victim’s floor at least 12 times the night of the assault, with surveillance video capturing him on the same floor.

“He sought her out. He chose her to prey on,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder said during Friday’s sentencing, according to the Associated Press.

“You know he’s the type of man who would go in multiple times, testing the waters, seeing how far he could go and get back to his normal business after that.”

In a statement through a former attorney, the victim gave no comment regarding the punishment and said she wanted to move on.

Full Article & Source:
Doctor who dodged jail time for allegedly sexually assaulting an incapacitated patient admitted to sexual contact

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tonight on Marti Oakley's T. S. Radio: Abolish Probate Tribunals

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

Helen Taylor joins us this evening to update us on all the activities happening in Missouri including the upcoming rally there.

She also is fighting Morgan county Missouri which won’t let her have Charley’s retirement to live on. They apparently need his retirement finances more than she does. Also, Helen discovered late one evening, one aid, Ron, taking care of 61 inmates and the LPN was asleep on the couch in the dining room.

Helen will also be speaking about the veterans who have asked for help in getting free from forced isolation in this nursing home. While the VA has claimed that it has no guardianship program, the fact is that it does. And the VA has the lawful authority to step in and retrieve these veterans from these homes. The question is: Why don’t they act to protect them from these predators?

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

The Elder Abuse Reform Project (The EARN Project): Margaret Meade

Now, almost 100 years after Margaret Meade spoke those words, they are every bit as true. But now, though the organization may be small, it needs to be joined by many voices to be heard.

It can be very discouraging to be greeted by indifference when we try to enlist people's help in our campaign to end elder abuse in America. We just received a letter from a state first lady, who we had asked to speak up about this problem—she said she was too busy. Many simply do not believe it is that big of a problem or that, though it may happen to other people, it won’t happen to them. In fact, one out of every five of those people will have it happen to them and then they ask why this is allowed to happen. I can answer that question. It happens because you, and many like you, did nothing to help stop it - because you were indifferent to the suffering until it was your suffering.

Happily, there are others who care very much and jump right in to do what they can.

The EARN Project made a little poster for Elder Abuse Awareness Month and our wonderful volunteers, all over the country, printed them up and took them to local businesses. We even got a few pictures from two of those wonderful volunteers Angela Biggs and Kathy Dunn.


Top Left: John Witte the owner of Sit n Sip Books in Mineral Wells Texas put our poster in his shop;
Top Center: Gerry Lamphier at the National Vietnam War Museum in Weatherford Texas holds up our poster that they put up in the museum;
Top Right: Holding the poster they put in the window of the Copper pot Restaurant downtown Clarksville Georgia;
Middle Left: The Attic restaurant in downtown Clarksville Georgia put the poster in their restaurant
Middle Center: Regions Bank in Clarksville GA;
Middle Right: Christine holding the poster and the sign in the window of Tinder's restaurant in downtown Clarkesville Georgia;
Bottom Left: Coz Whitten Skaife did a fund raiser for NASGA at her bakery Rosie's Coffee Bar and Bakery in Madison WI And she put up the EARN poster and gave away DVDs of our documentary;
Bottom Right: Owner of Garrett Jewelry and Loan in Mineral Wells Texas, Lisa Garrett and friends holding The EARN Elder Abuse Day poster she put up in her shop;
Also in Clarksville GA, though not pictured, the Midtown grill and Ingles grocery

The Silver Standard News
The Unforgivable Truth
The EARN Project

Columbus lawyer indicted on charges of stealing from elderly client

A Columbus lawyer whose license was suspended recently amid allegations that he stole from an elderly client has been indicted by a Franklin County grand jury on charges of theft and tampering with records.

John David Moore Jr., 48, faces two counts of theft from an elderly person and two counts of tampering with court records in an indictment filed Wednesday.

The criminal charges come seven months after the Ohio Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel filed a complaint accusing Moore of withdrawing $35,132 beginning in 2010 while overseeing the assets and nursing-home care of a man in a guardianship case. Moore is accused of depositing the money in his checking accounts while failing to provide a complete accounting of the funds in Franklin County Probate Court in 2012 and 2013 after the man died.

In April, Moore’s license to practice law was placed under suspension after he failed to respond to the complaint, Supreme Court records show.

The two felony theft counts accuse Moore of stealing more than $7,500 from an elderly or disabled person. The counts of tampering with records accuse him of falsifying, altering or destroying the guardian’s inventory and an affidavit in Probate Court.

Moore made headlines last year when he accused Franklin County jurors of stealing 71 oxycodone pills while deliberating in the case of a client who was convicted of drug possession and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Moore accused jurors of stealing the pills while handling evidence in the jury room, and he unsuccessfully sought a new trial for his client. An investigation failed to uncover what became of the missing opioids.

Full Article & Source:
Columbus lawyer indicted on charges of stealing from elderly client

Star Trek‘s Nichelle Nichols Goes to Court Over Guardianship Issues

Sci-fi icon Nichelle Nichols, who made history as Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek, is undergoing a legal battle regarding her guardianship and estate. The 85 year old actress was recently diagnosed with “moderate progressive dementia”, according to her her geriatrician. The doctor described Nichols’ condition as “major impairment of her short-term memory and moderate impairment of understanding abstract concepts, sense of time, place and immediate recall.”

Since the diagnosis, Nichols’ friends and family have been squabbling over her estate and conservatorship. At the center of the legal battle is Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson, who brought in the doctor who made the diagnosis. Johnson is trying to get control of the estate from other people who claims have “unduly exerted themselves into Ms. Nichols’ life to her detriment.” Since her diagnosis, four conservators have taken over Nichols’ financial and health-related decisions.

Meanwhile, Angelique Fawcette, an alleged close friend of Nichols, claims that Johnson is merely after the star’s money and that Nichols wanted him removed from her will after he allegedly said, “I can’t wait to get rid of this sh*t and sell [your] house and property.” Fawcett also claims that the doctor’s diagnosis was inaccurate and that Nichols is able to function and make decisions on her own.

The case, like Stan Lee’s current legal woes, is tragic. As the baby boomer generation ages and the “silver tsunami” grows closer, issues of guardianship and elder care are more important than ever. While many obviously want to provide comfort and safety for aging seniors, these people are vulnerable to con artists and abusers looking to scam their money. Elderly celebrities are especially vulnerable, as their estates can draw people who prey on the vulnerable.

Nichols’ co-star William Shatner recently appeared in a filmed PSA on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, where the show did a segment on guardianship and elder abuse. The story is a tragic one, and we all hope that Nichelle Nichols get the care and treatment she deserves. 

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Star Trek‘s Nichelle Nichols Goes to Court Over Guardianship Issues

Monday, August 20, 2018

Judge denies elderly woman’s move to thwart daughter’s control of assets

BELLEVILLE – Margaret Ashmann, 85, whose children claim she isn’t competent enough to be independent, understood a decision of a probate judge well enough to weep.

She broke down in front of Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf on Aug. 14, after he ruled that she could not live at her home in Fairview Heights.

Rudolf didn’t declare her an incompetent person and didn’t treat her as such – he conversed with Ashmann throughout a hearing that lasted an hour.

Yet, he denied her motion to dismiss the guardianship of daughter Kathleen Wilshire, a client of former chief judge John Baricevic.

Rudolf wrote that disability was contested, and he gave guardian ad litem Michael Rousseau additional time to evaluate her.

Rousseau stated in court that he just met Ashmann for the first time.

“She’s very with it, very sharp,” Rousseau said at a hearing Tuesday.

He said he asked questions and, “She answered them all.”

“She wasn’t confused,” he said.

Wilshire petitioned for an emergency guardianship order on July 27, swearing her mother was disabled and incapable of managing her estate and person.

A physician’s affidavit was attached to the petition.

Wilshire estimated the value of her mother’s personal estate at $450,000, and her gross annual income and other receipts at $20,000.

She listed nearby adult relatives as herself, sons David and Lance Ashmann, and sisters Catherine Ritzheimer and Rose Conyer.

Associate Judge Patricia Kievlan granted the petition on a temporary basis on the same day Wilshire sought emergency guardianship.

Ashmann then retained Margaret Lowery, who answered the petition and moved to dissolve the guardianship order on Aug. 6.

“Margaret Ashmann states she is capable of making her own decisions and denies that she is in need of a plenary guardian,” Lowery wrote.

Lowery wrote that for an appointment with Ashmann’s physician, her daughter intentionally removed her hearing aids. Ashmann suffers from significant hearing loss and would have been unable to properly respond to physician questions, she added.

She further wrote that Ashmann was placed at Cedarhurst, against her will. She feared her daughter would dissipate her estate.

Wilshire closed Ashmann’s credit cards and bank accounts, and left her mother destitute, Lowery wrote.

The physician’s affidavit – which stated that Ashmann couldn’t make decisions on her own due to dementia - contained “an inaccurate diagnosis, no foundation basis, and perhaps tainted facts,” she wrote.

Another physician examined Ashmann at Cedarhurst in Collinsville on Aug. 6 and rendered an opinion that she is not under disability, Lowery wrote.

“The guardian (Wilshire) has telephoned, but does not visit the ward,” Lowery wrote.

On Aug. 9, Baricevic filed a denial that any funds were misspent.

Before Tuesday’s hearing began, FCB Bank general counsel Kevin Stine brought Ashmann’s records to court under subpoena from Lowery.

Rudolf told Stine he could leave, but Stine stayed in his seat.

“I want to see these two titans go up against each other,” Stine said.

He meant Baricevic and Lowery.

Baricevic and Lowery entered, and Baricevic told Rudolf the motion to dismiss the guardianship was premature.

Rudolf told him Lowery alleged that the guardian would steal.

Baricevic said, “All she did was cancel her credit card.”

Lowery said Ashmann had no access to any money, and Baricevic objected to giving her access to it.

Lowery said, “It isn’t his money, it’s her money.”

Wilshire suddenly cried out, “Am I allowed to speak at all?”

Rudolf said, “You have counsel, don’t you? Speak through your counsel.”

He said he would leave everything in place for now.

Lowery said, “This woman worked all her life and doesn’t have any money, with a million dollars in the bank.”

Baricevic said, “She doesn’t have a million dollars in the bank.”

He said she had $280,000.

He said they found moldy food in her refrigerator.

Rudolf asked Rousseau if home care was an option.

Rudolf said his dad fell five months ago and, “That’s what I did.”

Ashmann began gasping, and then she wept.

She rose from her seat, and Rudolf said, “You don’t need to get up.”

She said she was sorry, and he said, “You don’t have to apologize.”

He told her he would free up some of the money.

She said the second installment of her property tax was due.

He said, “It will be figured out but you need to relax.”

She sat and wept.

Baricevic asked Rudolf if he denied the motion.

Rudolf said, “I am denying it at this time.”

He said Ashmann would be at Cedarhurst until Sept. 6.

He said she could have the general practice physician of her choice.

He approved $2,600 for Lowery’s fee at $200 an hour, and $400 for the physician Lowery hired to evaluate Ashmann.

Rudolf set a hearing in October, but not in his court.

He told the parties that William Stiehl, appointed as circuit judge until the November election, would hear further proceedings.

Rudolf then signed an order giving Wilshire control of Ashmann’s funds, “subject to expenditures being in the best interest.”

He wrote that Ashmann could choose her own primary care physician.

He granted Lowery access to Ashmann’s medical records.

He approved further evaluation at St. Louis University Hospital.

“Guardian’s account statements to be provided to Margaret Ashmann,” Rudolf wrote.

He granted Ashmann $300 a month on a preloaded debit card.

He denied her motion to dismiss the guardianship, but without finding disability.     

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Judge denies elderly woman’s move to thwart daughter’s control of assets

Sauk Centre CNA charged in exploiting of clients at assisted living home

SAUK CENTRE — A nursing assistant took $980 belonging to a Getty Street Assisted Living resident, according to an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health and a Stearns County Statement of Probable Cause. 

Amelia Story, 31, has been charged with one felony count on suspicion of fraudulent transactions with a debit card. 

Story is not named in the April Department of Health report, but the details of the incident are the same in court documents and Department of Health documents. 

Both describe a Getty Street Assisted Living staff person who used a client's debit card twice in October 2017. According to the Department of Health, the staffer also borrowed $20 from another client.

"Based on a preponderance of evidence, financial exploitation occurred," according to the public Office of Health Facility Complaints Investigative Report.

The first client reported a missing debit card to the assisted living Administrator Mary Jo Marthaler in November 2017. Marthaler canceled the card, asked for a financial statement and called police about the matter, according to the state report. 

"I helped investigate it," Marthaler said Wednesday.

She said she also fired Story after police found footage of the Sauk Centre woman at the ATM at times that aligned with the client's bank statement. 

Story told police the client "wanted her to go to Walmart to purchase some things for him and he gave her his PIN to do this," according to court documents. "The defendant stated that instead of going to Walmart, she went to Holiday and withdrew cash on both dates on her way home from work. The defendant stated that she needed the money to buy groceries for her family."

After she was arrested, a second Getty Street Assisted Living client told Marthaler that client had loaned Story $20. That client shared a note from Story seeking $20 to feed her kids and promising to repay $25 the following week, according to the Department of Health report.

"The administrator (Marthaler) said a few days later s/he discovered a note under his/her door from (Story) with $20 in it repaying Client #2 the $20 while denying s/he every borrowed $20 from Client #2," according to the Department of Health documents, which obscured the names and genders of people mentioned. 

Story is still listed in the Minnesota Nursing Assistant Registry with a license that expires in October 2019. There's a note in the online registry that Story "has a substantiated finding of abuse, neglect and/or misappropriation of property."

In April, Story pleaded not guilty to the charge in Stearns County court, according to the court record. She has a settlement conference scheduled for the end of the month. 

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Sauk Centre CNA charged in exploiting of clients at assisted living home

Viewpoint: Supporting justice for elders

by Philip C. Marshall

I am the grandson of the late Brooke Astor who was a New York City philanthropist, summer resident of Northeast Harbor for over fifty years, and victim of elder abuse and exploitation by her son, my father.

In 2006, with the help of my grandmother’s staff, caregivers, and friends, I filed a petition for guardianship, which was awarded. This allowed us get my grandmother back to her country house in New York to spend her last days as, and where, she wished. My grandmother died peacefully at home and free from fear on August 13, 2007.

I am now advocating for elder justice, informed by hard-learned lessons and in recognition of the abuse and trauma imposed on millions of elders every day—with two-thirds of abusers being family, “friends,” or caregivers.

I was compelled to work on elder justice full time after testifying before Senator Collins and other members of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging in February 2015.

I have traveled border-to-border, coast-to-coast, and have met face-to-face with elder-justice professionals who do so much for so many, sometimes with so little.

Elder abuse is the betrayal of trust. Elder justice is the restoration of trust through relationships and responsibility.

Our greatest resources and our first line of defense are the relationships in our communities, with programs and services that cultivate trust among seniors and their circles of support, including other professionals.

Should abuse occur, they demonstrate community concern and capacity, empowering individuals to come forward and act. This allows us to articulate our personal responsibility to act with our community “response ability” (ability to respond). We can act knowing our community has our back.

Our silence protects perpetrators, not their victims. Today victims of elder abuse may be strangers, tomorrow they may be our loved ones, and perhaps in the future they may be ourselves.

Seniors, and society, deserve more. Yet only one in 23 cases of abuse, and one in 44 cases of financial exploitation, are reported, according to a 2011 New York study, appropriately titled “Under the Radar.” Perpetrators know this, to their advantage.

On Aug. 29, I will join Maine elder-justice professionals for a program in Northeast Harbor, “How the Brooke Astor Story Can Help Our Communities Achieve Elder Justice.”

We will explore ways those who serve and save seniors are working together in partnership with their communities in detecting, responding to, and even preventing abuse. We will explore how Maine has taken a leadership role in protecting seniors’ net worth, self-worth, and lives—and how, “as Maine goes, so goes the nation.”

I look forward to returning to Mount Desert Island, hiking my grandmother’s favorite mountains and joining elder-justice professionals for the program.

Philip C. Marshall is the founder of “Beyond Brooke – Advancing elder justice.” He lives in South Dartmouth, Mass.

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Viewpoint: Supporting justice for elders

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Man's death at group home illustrates challenges of meting out justice when suspect has intellectual disability

Click for Video
Herbert “Herbie” Rohloff wasn’t expected to live to 53 years old.

He was born with Down syndrome, and doctors said they did not think Rohloff would survive past his second birthday, according to relatives. As a teen, he wasn’t expected to make it to adulthood. As he reached middle age, his brother worried that the biggest threat to his life was the busy intersection outside his group home in the West Rogers Park neighborhood.

But his family never thought his life would end violently. Last October, a fight with another resident over Halloween candy turned physical, and two weeks later Herbert Rohloff was dead. Chicago police closed the homicide case by exception, meaning detectives know who committed the killing but aren’t pursuing charges because of the person’s mental capacity, said Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the department, in an email. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office declined to comment.

The homicide case, among hundreds in Chicago last year, was complicated from the start because of the suspect’s intellectual disabilities. The legal community has discussed for years how to mete out justice in such cases. Now an approach known as an individualized justice plan is gaining some traction as a way to hold people with intellectual disabilities accountable while providing alternatives to traditional forms of punishment. Last year, Illinois lawmakers agreed to create a task force to look at the issue.

Charging people with intellectual disabilities can be complex because it’s unclear whether they could formulate the intent to kill, said Hugh Mundy, an associate professor at the John Marshall Law School.

“Every criminal (offense), or virtually every criminal offense, required a mental state in order to prove the element,” Mundy said. “It’s not just the act itself.”

Rohloff’s brother, Michael, and his sister-in-law, Maria, have been grappling with who should be held accountable. They described him as someone who liked to eat fried chicken, listen to Prince and watch “Rocky” movies. They’ve filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the organization that runs the group home where Herbert Rohloff spent his entire adult life.

“You know, I don’t think it serves a purpose for (the person of interest) to be put in jail because he will not understand,” Maria Rohloff said. “But he needs to be put where he can’t hurt anyone else.”

‘Killed over a candy bar’

Last November, Michael Rohloff got a call from his mother telling him Herbert Rohloff had been hospitalized in Evanston. He found his brother struggling to breathe, with a black eye and bruises to the head, Michael Rohloff recalled in an interview with the Tribune.

Michael Rohloff holds a childhood photo of his brother, Herbert, at his home in Indian Head Park. Michael said his brother "looked just like this except with a snowy white beard" when he was killed in 2017 by a fellow housemate at a group home. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

“He looked at me, his face lit up, like it always does, and he was like, ‘Michael,’” he said.

The last thing Herbert Rohloff told his brother was that his ribs hurt. He would spend the next few weeks at Presence St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, heavily sedated, before he died. He suffered his injuries Oct. 31 when another resident beat him up over Halloween candy, but he wasn’t taken to the hospital until the next day, according to the family and reports from Chicago police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

An autopsy determined Herbert Rohloff died Nov. 16 from complications of multiple injuries and from congestive heart failure, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He had rib fractures and multiple injuries to his spine.

“You know, it’s ridiculous,” Michael Rohloff said. “Of all the things, I was sitting there worried about him living too close to Devon and Western because the traffic is hectic, and (there are) so many strangers in the area. And you essentially get killed over a candy bar.”

‘It’s not about pointing fingers’

There aren’t data on how many people with intellectual developmental disabilities have been charged with serious felonies, but The Arc, a national advocacy organization for people with disabilities, is trying to get funding to fill that void in research, said Leigh Ann Davis, director of its criminal justice initiatives.

There have been cases of those with intellectual disabilities being prosecuted for, and being victims of, serious crimes, Davis said. That’s why it’s important for police agencies and the courts to understand the needs of those with disabilities, she said.

“What we’ve seen happen is that law enforcement (officers) don’t decipher that there is a difference, necessarily, between people with mental illnesses and intellectual developmental disabilities, and how that’s important because they may need to provide different services for someone or they may need a different referral depending on what type of disability the person has,” Davis said. “And the more that they (officers) know about the person’s disability, the more likely they can de-escalate a situation.”

In Illinois, advocates for those with intellectual disabilities are working with local prosecutors to find a middle road that provides alternatives to traditional criminal punishment. Amy Newell, executive director for The Arc’s branch in Rockford, said the group is pushing for courts to use personal justice plans that lay out the person’s diagnosis, limitations and recommendations.

“It’s not about pointing fingers, shaming people or any of that,” Newell said. “It’s about having an open conversation and really doing what’s best and safest for everyone.”

Last year, lawmakers created a task force to examine how those with disabilities are confined in jails, how they are represented in criminal cases and how police interact with them.

Michael Rohloff said he was worried about his brother, Herbert, living near a busy Chicago intersection. His brother's fatal beating over Halloween candy was shocking. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

In Herbert Rohloff’s case, police believe a resident of the group home caused the injuries and the person was taken to a local psychiatric facility for treatment, said Guglielmi, the police spokesman. Police aren’t moving forward with any criminal charges because of the person of interest’s mental capacity, he said in an email.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office did not return multiple requests for comment.

Mark Heyrman, a clinical law professor at the University of Chicago Law School, said not pursuing charges in the case was probably a wise choice, because it would be difficult for prosecutors to secure a conviction if they couldn’t prove the person of interest comprehended what he did.

“He may have a limited understanding of what actually happened,” Heyrman said.

Herbert Rohloff, who had Down syndrome, was beaten during a dispute over candy by a fellow resident of their group home in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

A family seeks justice

The Rohloff family suspects a worker supervising the residents was preoccupied giving another resident a bath when the fight unfolded, said Craig Hoffman, an attorney representing the family. Even so, the family isn’t sure why Herbert wasn’t taken to the hospital the same day he was injured. In the lawsuit against the home, the family notes that Herbert Rohloff was taken to the hospital the next day and in a private vehicle by a worker rather than in an ambulance.

The home where Herbert Rohloff lived, in the 6200 block of North Artesian Avenue in West Rogers Park, remains open, according to a statement from Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. It opened in 1983, and many of the residents have lived there since then, according to the statement.

“At Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, we consider the people who live in our CILA (Community Integrated Living Arrangement) homes family, so of course we mourn the loss of any of these individuals as that of a family member,” the statement read. “Legally, the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act precludes us from divulging any information on our residents.”

The civil case remains pending, and the family expects it could take years before it’s concluded.

Holidays and birthdays without Herbert Rohloff keep coming and going. This summer, Michael Rohloff had the words “my favorite” tattooed on his arm in the same font used in the “Rocky” movies.

Herbert Rohloff stopped intellectually developing when he was 5, and he couldn’t express himself beyond simple sentences. “My favorite” was something Michael Rohloff often heard his brother say, and “Rocky” was one of Herbert’s favorite movies.

Michael Rohloff also has found himself regularly wearing the T-shirt that he wore to the hospital the day his brother died.

“It’s odd what you connect and stay with,” he said as he teared up. “I was wearing this shirt when he passed, and I was just saying today, ‘I’m never going to get rid of this shirt.’”

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Man's death at group home illustrates challenges of meting out justice when suspect has intellectual disability

Rehab center manager pleads to embezzlement, exploitation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A rehabilitation center manager accused of stealing money from elderly residents pleaded guilty Wednesday to 11 charges.

Leanne Bennett, 60, must pay more than $44,000 in restitution, and she faces up to three years in custody at sentencing, which is set for October. Bennett was indicted in three cases beginning in late 2017 on charges stemming from events from 2013.

Joseph Martinez, a prosecutor with the state Attorney General’s Office, said Wednesday that Bennett had access to one resident’s checkbook, and two residents’ ATM cards, and stole thousands from them. All three residents had dementia.

Martinez said that Bennett also embezzled funds from two companies where she worked, in one case stealing cash, and in the other, writing checks to herself.

She pleaded guilty before state District Judge Charles Brown to charges including exploiting a resident’s property, violating the Remote Financial Service Unit Act and embezzlement.

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Rehab center manager pleads to embezzlement, exploitation

Georgia police taser 87-year-old grandmother who was cutting flowers for not following orders

Martha Al-Bishara
Georgia police are defending an officer's decision to use a taser on a 87-year-old elderly woman using a knife to cut dandelions.

Law enforcement officials say the woman, Martha Al-Bishara, should have followed orders. But Al-Bishara does not speak English and did not understand the officer's request, her family says.

"An 87-year-old woman with a knife still has the ability to hurt an officer," Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge told the Daily Citizen-News of Dalton.

"There was no anger, there was no malice in this," Etheridge said. "In my opinion, it was the lowest use of force we could have used to simply stop that threat at the time."

Al-Bishara was cutting dandelions outside a local Boys and Girls Club nearby her home in Chatsworth to use in a salad, her family said. An employee called the police on her for walking around with a knife.

"She's old so she can't get around too well, but," the employee said on the 911 recording. "Looks like she's walking around looking for something, like, vegetation to cut down or something. There's a bag, too."

When Etheridge and other officers arrived at the scene Al-Bishara would not put down her knife or follow orders, Etheridge said. He tried to communicate with her to drop the knife by dropping his own pocket knife on the ground.

Footage viewed by the Daily Citizen-News shows Etheridge and officer Steven Marshall in a stand down with a woman who is holding a knife, Etheridge with a pistol aimed at the woman and Marshall with a Taser in his hands, the outlet reported.

Officers employed the electric stun gun, bringing Al-Bishara to the ground. She was charged with criminal trespass and obstructing an officer.

Al-Bishara's family members said officers should have been more patient.

“You don’t Tase an 87-year-old woman,” great-nephew Solomon Douhne, a former Dalton Police Department officer told the Daily Citizen-News. “She was not a threat. If anything, she was confused and didn’t know what was going on."

Al-Bishara is stable but shaken up and embarrassed, her family said. The police department will undergo an internal use-of-force review, according to Etheridge.

The incident comes just a week after a separate case involving the controversial use of a taser occurred in Ohio when a police officer used a stun gun on an 11-year-old girl accused of stealing.

Last year, the family of 15-year-old Damon Grimes filed a $50 million lawsuit against a Michigan State Police after an trooper shocked Grimes from the window of his patrol car in an effort to get Grimes off the road. Grimes, who was riding an ATV, then crashed into a pickup truck and died.

A Reuters investigationpublished last year looked into over 1,000 deaths related to tasers with many fatalities among society's most-vulnerable. When used properly, tasers lower the rate of injury for both police and people they confront, according to independent studies.

But Reuters investigation found that stun guns can be deadly, and when they are, its often for people dealing with mental illness, emotional breakdowns or seizure disorders.

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Georgia police taser 87-year-old grandmother who was cutting flowers for not following orders