Saturday, April 6, 2019

Millington Police look into possible case of elder abuse at facility

MILLINGTON, Tenn. — Millington police are investigating another possible case of elder abuse at a health care facility, after WREG reported on another allegation there in February.

Bernadette Gross wants her mother remembered with a smile, but she can't forget the horrific images etched in her mind of her 87-year-old mother with a severely bruised neck and a cracked jaw.
Dorthy Appleton, who had been a patient Millington Healthcare Center, was taken to the hospital in December 2018.

Staff from the center said she had been hit by a Hoyer lift, which moves a patient from a bed to a wheelchair.

"It's very sad. I just don't believe that's what happened," Gross said. "She was a sweetheart, very caring, very giving. She was a wonderful mom."

A social worker and Millington Police took a report, she said. Millington Police confirmed they are investigating but did not elaborate on any details.

Appleton suffered a stroke several years ago so she was immobile and had an extremely difficult time speaking.

Gross said her mother had been at the Millington facility for eight or nine years and never had any problems until November, when there was another report of her being hit with a Hoyer lift. Gross said she believed it was an accident then.

We took her complaints to Millington Healthcare to get their side of the story.

The front door was locked but we spoke with an employee through the glass door. They had no comment.

After Appleton was hospitalized in December, she was eventually moved to another facility then hospitalized again. She passed away from several health issues last month.

Now Gross is gathering paperwork for police as they look into her case.

"I don't want to see anyone else have to go through this," she said.

Full Article & Source:
Millington Police look into possible case of elder abuse at facility

Elder abuse investigations in Connecticut have more than doubled in seven years

Rita Pompano, 76, sitting inside her living room in West Haven. Pompano endured seven months of physical abuse from her husband. (Carl Jordan Castro)
State investigations of elder abuse, ranging from neglect to emotional abuse to physical abuse, more than doubled in Connecticut between 2011 and 2017, from 3,529 to 7,196.

Some of the recent cases investigated by the state Department of Social Service’s Protective Services for the Elderly are chilling. A 74-year-old man who was frail, thin and prone to falling was living alone in a home infested with cockroaches and mice. The in-home care of a woman over 90 was stopped for nonpayment because her niece had spent her aunt’s money on her own household. An 87-year-old man confused about his finances had his utilities shut off after his son had spent his money instead of paying the bills. The 68 social workers at DSS helped all the seniors find in-home care, a new conservator or better housing—whatever they needed to escape the neglect or abuse.

In 2017 alone, the DSS received 11,123 reports of elder abuse and decided that 7,196 warranted an investigation. That year, self-neglect—when adults are unable to provide for their own basic care—was the most common type of elder abuse reported to DSS, at 30 percent, followed by neglect by others, financial exploitation, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and abandonment.
“It’s all trending up,” Dorian Long, DSS director of social work services, said.

Sexual abuse of the elderly is also on the rise, Long said. In the past, DSS would investigate three or four cases a year, working with police, and now it typically handles 40 cases a year. Scams targeting the elderly are also increasing, she said. Seniors can avoid becoming victims by staying involved in their communities. “The more you are isolated, the more vulnerable you are,” Long said.

The Justice Department estimates that 1 in 10 American seniors are abused, and state officials say the problem is likely to grow as the population in Connecticut—already the sixth oldest state -- continues to age.

Complaints about abuse in Connecticut nursing homes, residential care homes and assisted living facilities rose by nearly 15 percent between 2015 and 2017, said Mairead Painter, the state Long Term Care Ombudsman.

Experts say the numbers of elder abuse complaints may be rising due, in part, to greater awareness, but still, many cases are never reported.

“Sometimes individuals are too embarrassed to report it,” Painter said. “Sometimes people are fearful that if they report abuse, they may have to stay longer at a nursing home.”

From physical abuse to scammers

This past January, a Rockville couple in their 70s had several thousand dollars in cash and jewelry stolen when they let in their home men posing as utility workers.

Criminals use other scams as well, such as befriending seniors or showing a romantic interest and then asking for money.

Betty Bajek, 66, of Prospect, volunteered to educate seniors about fraud for AARP after someone stole her credit card number and charged $1,200.

“These con artists prey on lonely people,” Bajek said.

Nationally, financial exploitation and neglect are the most common types of elder abuse. Some states, including Connecticut, count self-neglect as abuse. Julie Schoen, deputy director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, said that is appropriate so those seniors get help.

Sometimes the abuse is physical. When she was 69 and living in Meriden, Rita Pompano said, she endured seven months of physical abuse from her husband, Ralph Pompano.

Each day when he told his wife to grab a pillow, the pain would soon follow.

“I knew that was time for my daily beating,” said Pompano, now 76 and living in West Haven. “He’d have me put my face into the pillow so nobody would hear me screaming.”

She escaped with her son Anthony’s help in 2011, only to have her husband threaten him three months later to find out where she was hiding. Ralph Pompano, 74, pulled a gun and fired a shot at Anthony that day before fleeing to Virginia. Two years later, he died in prison.

Bonnie Brandl, director of the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life, said she has encountered similar cases.

“The abuser may decide their life is being cut short and will become threatening,” Brandl said. “It’s the ultimate act of power and control.”

Help is available

State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, and four state representatives have proposed legislation to create an elder abuse registry. Similar to the state sex offender registry, it could keep people convicted of such crimes from doing it again, he said.

“We need to be sure our seniors are protected,’’ he said. The bill has been approved by the state legislature’s Committee on Aging and referred to the Senate.

The AARP Connecticut holds workshops across the state to alert seniors about scams, ranging from IRS and sweepstakes scams to fake Nigerian princes, said Erica Michalowski, the organization’s associate state director for community outreach.

Scammers succeed by "keeping the senior off-balance in a heightened emotional state,'' Michalowski said.

Unlike children who are abused, seniors can decline help. Long said DSS social workers do encounter some elderly people living in squalor who refuse their services.

“We put on the charm and try to convince them, but as an adult, you have a right to make choices—even bad choices,” Long said. The caseworkers may go back a few weeks later to try again. If the person says no, they have to close the case.

One of several agencies in Connecticut assisting elders is the CHERISH program in Ansonia, which counseled Rita Pompano after she left her husband. It provides a hotline, court advocacy, safe housing and counseling for victims of domestic violence who are over 60 statewide.

Its coordinator, Mary Jane Liddel, stayed close by as Pompano recounted her story of her husband’s violence. Tearing up briefly, Rita said CHERISH helped her heal. Now, she enjoys freelance writing, cooking for friends and taking road trips with friends.

“I’m just happy that I’m free,” she said.

To report cases of suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation in Connecticut, call the toll-free referral line at 1-888-385-4225; after business hours, or weekends, or state holidays, call 211.

Full Article & Source:
Elder abuse investigations in Connecticut have more than doubled in seven years

Justice Department Coordinates Largest-Ever Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep

Attorney General Focuses on Threats Posed by Technical-Support Fraud

Attorney General William P. Barr and multiple law enforcement partners today announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, surpassing last year’s nationwide sweep. The cases during this sweep involved more than 260 defendants from around the globe who victimized more than two million Americans, most of them elderly. The Department took action in every federal district across the country, through the filing of criminal or civil cases or through consumer education efforts. In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of millions of more dollars than last year, putting the total alleged losses at this year’s sweep at over three fourths of one billion dollars.

Attorney General Barr was joined in the announcement by FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich; Executive Associate Director Derek Benner for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons; Louisiana Attorney General and President of the National Association of Attorneys General Jeff Landry; Director Randolph Alles of the Secret Service; Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale; Barbara Stewart CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service; and former FBI director and CIA director Judge Webster and Lynda Webster.

The charges are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

“Crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “But thanks to the hard work of our agents and prosecutors, as well as our state and local partners, the Department of Justice is protecting our seniors from fraud. The Trump administration has placed a renewed focus on prosecuting those who prey on the elderly, and the results of today’s sweep make that clear. Today we are announcing the largest single law enforcement action against elder fraud in American history. This year’s sweep involves 13 percent more criminal defendants, 28 percent more in losses, and twice the number of fraud victims as last year’s sweep. I want to thank the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, which led this effort, together with the Department’s Criminal Division, the more than 50 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and the state and local partners who helped to make these results possible. Together, we are bringing justice and peace of mind to America's seniors.”

A list of Elder Fraud cases by the Department of Justice is provided on this interactive map.

Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors. The Justice Department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act. In February 2018, the Attorney General announced the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history at the time, charging more than 200 defendants in a nationwide elder fraud sweep. In November 2018, Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture hosted the first Rural and Tribal Elder Justice Summitin Des Moines, Iowa.The Summit focused on supporting the efforts of elder justice professionals to combat elder abuse and financial exploitation in rural and tribal communities.

Technical-Support Takedown 2019

As part of the sweep, the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners announced a tech-support fraud takedown, designed to combat an increasingly common form of elder fraud in which criminals trick victims into giving remote access to their computers under the guise of providing technical support. In 2018, technical-support schemes generated over 142,000 consumer complaints to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network. Consumers 60 and over filed more loss reports on tech-support scams from 2015 to 2018 than on any other fraud category reported to the Consumer Sentinel Network.

The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, the Criminal Division’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section, and 10 U.S. Attorney’s Offices brought cases against perpetrators of technical-support fraud. The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and HSI partnered with the Justice Department in investigating these cases, and the FTC, several state Attorneys General and the U.K.’s City of London Police joined the effort by initiating their own cases. A fact-sheet with technical-support fraud case information can be found here.

“We’re committed to investigating financial fraud schemes against the elderly,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “We’ve dedicated additional resources to address a wide range of elder fraud threats, including technical-support fraud. Victims of these schemes often lose thousands of dollars or more apiece, which can cause significant harm to elderly victims and their caretakers. If anyone suspects that they – or a senior they know – may be a victim of fraud, we encourage them to report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.”

Transnational Criminal Organizations Committing Elder Fraud

“The sweep announced today brings the Postal Inspection Service to a landmark point in its battle against transnational criminal organizations committing mass mailing elder fraud,” said Chief Postal Inspector Barksdale. “In a recently unsealed case, two Canadians pled guilty and, thanks to the Spanish National Police, another was arrested in Spain for an alleged mail fraud scheme involving $180 million in losses to over one million victims. The Inspection Service has been at the forefront of protecting customers from fraud schemes for many years and we will continue to investigate and stop those who exploit older Americans for their own illegal gains.”

A fact-sheet with cases on mass mailing fraud can be found here.

Many of the cases brought as part of the elder fraud sweep announced today – including many of the technical-support fraud cases – allegedly involved transnational criminal organizations. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs worked with numerous countries to secure evidence and capture defendants. During the sweep period, defendants in elder fraud cases were extradited from Canada, The Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Poland. A fact-sheet with examples of a few elder fraud cases involving extradition in which the Office of International Affairs played a substantial role can be found here.

Money Mule Initiative

In addition, in a novel approach, the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners took comprehensive action against the money mule network that facilitates foreign-based elder fraud. Generally, a money mule is someone who transfers money acquired illegally in person, through the mails, or electronically, on behalf of others. Across the country, money mules receive fraud proceeds directly from victims and forward proceeds to perpetrators and ringleaders of fraud schemes—individuals who often reside in other countries. As part of the sweep, the FBI and the Postal Inspection Service took action against over 600 alleged money mules nationwide by conducting interviews, issuing warning letters, and bringing civil and criminal cases. Secret Service agents aided these efforts by seizing and forfeiting elder fraud proceeds in transit from victims to perpetrators.

“Homeland Security Investigations is committed to the fight against elder fraud in conjunction with the Justice Department, and our other law enforcement partners,” said Executive Associate Director Derek Benner. “HSI Special Agents across the country have worked to address illegal fund transfers, fraudsters operating technical-support schemes, and elder fraud of all varieties. We will continue to use creative solutions to protect our nation’s seniors from fraud; financial security is critical to homeland security.”

“The Secret Service is committed to aggressively investigating and disrupting organized criminal groups who prey on our most vulnerable citizens,” said Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles.“The results of the elder fraud sweep announced today demonstrate what can be achieved though incredible partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.”

Public Education

The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners focused the sweep’s public education campaign on technical-support fraud, given the widespread harm such schemes are causing. The FTC and State Attorneys General had an important role in designing and disseminating messaging material intended to warn consumers and businesses.

Public education outreach is being conducted by various state and federal agencies, including Senior Corps, a national service program administered by the federal agency the Corporation for National and Community Service, to educate seniors and prevent further victimization. The Senior Corps program engages more than 245,000 older adults in intensive service each year, who in turn, serve more than 840,000 additional seniors, including 332,000 veterans. Information on Senior Corps’ efforts to reduce elder fraud can be found here.

Global Efforts

Exceptional assistance from foreign law enforcement partners amplified the effectiveness of the Department’s initiative. The sweep announced today benefited greatly from the work of the International Mass-Marketing Fraud Working Group (IMMFWG), a network of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies from Belgium, Canada, Europol, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The IMMFWG is co-chaired by the Department of Justice and the FTC, and law enforcement in the United Kingdom, and serves as a model for international cooperation against specific threats that endanger the financial well-being of each member country’s residents. Due to the IMMFWG’s network of law enforcement, simultaneous technical-support fraud consumer education campaigns are being released in Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Elder Fraud Complaints

Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at

Full Article & Source:
Justice Department Coordinates Largest-Ever Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep

Friday, April 5, 2019

Stealing from the dead

Thieves and forgers are taking houses from the deceased in ‘hot’ neighborhoods — as the city stands by. 


by Craig R. McCoy

They are all dead. Yet if city records are to be believed, they all walked into the office of a notary public and signed away their homes, which just happened to be in gentrifying neighborhoods with soaring property values.

Gail Harrison lived alone in the house where she grew up on Seybert Street in North Philadelphia. She had her quirks, but neighbors looked out for her. “She was a nice, friendly, Christian-hearted woman,” one said.

Harriet Dunn and Dorcas Moone lived quietly in a North 27th Street rowhouse in Brewerytown that they bought in 1950 after leaving the Army.

Alex Krasheninnikow survived a Nazi concentration camp. He later handed out the Communist Party paper on the streets of Philadelphia. His home on Agate Street in Port Richmond was overflowing with books.

Their properties all ended up in the hands of a stranger, a 43-year-old man named William Ernest Johnson III, who wrapped up some of the deals while still on parole from a long prison term for a string of violent crimes.

William Ernest Johnson III has acquired a string of properties in sales involving people who were dead or whose family members have disavowed the acquisitions. Johnson says he is a legitimate businessman victimized by impostors.
William Ernest Johnson III has acquired a string of properties in sales involving people who were dead or whose family members have disavowed the acquisitions. Johnson says he is a legitimate businessman victimized by impostors. 
In all, an Inquirer investigation has linked Johnson to at least six suspicious home transfers over the last 2½ years. In case after case, he acquired vacant houses with longtime owners who were dead or so aged that their grown children would later say they never participated in the transactions.

Johnson insists that he is a victim too — that he was misled by a series of impostors posing as the dead owners and by other “sellers” who misrepresented the provenance of the deeds they were offering. "I assumed the seller of the home was legitimate, straight up,” he said.

He has resold three of the properties, two for $50,000 each, city records show.

"Fact of the matter is, I’m in the business of providing people with shelter,” he said. “I’m just a person trying to earn an honest living, but at the same time trying to be of help to my community, my neighbors. It’s as simple as that.”

Besides, he said: “What’s the deal here? If these people are dead, what are we talking about?"

Johnson’s nonchalance aside, the transactions have upset neighbors, spawned lawsuits from the families of aggrieved “sellers,” and sparked inquiries, but no charges, from the FBI and the District Attorney’s Office.

They have also drawn attention to the notaries whose stamps appear on the bogus transfers, a crucial aspect of verifying sales.

One is Johnson’s former sister-in-law, Rovella Johnson, who said her name and stamp were forged on documents transferring Harrison’s home. “I’m feeling that somebody fudged some paperwork," she said.

Another is April Marie Scott-Street, the wife of Philadelphia State Sen. Sharif Street, the son of former Mayor John F. Street. She said thieves used a counterfeit notarial seal with her name to complete a series of fraudulent transfers.

Full Article & Source:
Stealing from the dead

Probate Court has a productive year

I come to you as your elected Perry County Common Pleas Court Probate and Juvenile Division Judge where it is my privilege to present the 2018 Progress Report for your review.
The Perry County Probate Court serves citizens in many different ways; and although one might often think the Court is the place to go to file a will or get a marriage license, in actuality, the Court is involved in many other aspects of an individual’s life.

As the Probate Judge, I am aware that when the good people of this county and families from all over come to the Probate Court, they have suffered a loss or are facing a problem with care of a family member, my staff and I are there to assist them.

The Probate Court has jurisdiction over guardianships. A guardianship is filed by someone seeking to obtain guardianship over an individual who may be suffering from a physical or mental impairment. If granted, the guardian will seek to make good decision on the behalf of the individual and or handle their finances.

When a person is granted a guardianship, they must make annual reports to the Court as to their contact with the ward (person they are caring for) and the distribution of the funds of the ward. They must at all times make decisions in the best interest of the ward.

In 2018, we had 47 guardianships filed with the Court. The new laws we were required to implement pertaining to guardianships of incompetent individuals has required even more diligence on the part of the Court as well as the appointed guardians. The 47 new filings in 2018 are in addition to the 149 the Court already manages, bringing the total to guardianships on file at the end of 2018 to 196.

In 2018, there were 179 estates opened in the Probate Court. Five of those filings were re-opened estates that were closed previously. Re-opens are usually done to report and administer a newly discovered asset. We have Full Administrations, Release from Administrations and Summary Releases.

What is filed in regards to an estate depends on the value of the assets and the relationship of the applicant to the deceased. Although we are finding more and more people are interested in doing estate planning to insure proper transfer and to protect loved ones to whom they wish to leave their assets.

Adoptions are by far are the most rewarding cases filed in the Probate Court. In 2018, there were 15 adoptions filed with the Probate Court. These cases come from Children Service, step-parents, grandparents as well as other relative and non-relative filings.

It is always rewarding to see a child receive a permanent stable family, no matter the circumstances. This year the Court participated in National Adoption Week celebration in conjunction with Perry County Children Services with cake and balloons.

The Probate Court also receives several different kinds of cases. In 2018, there were 26 guardianships, four civils, 15 name changes, seven minor settlement, two structured settlement purchases, five registration/corrections of births, as well as two other miscellaneous case filings.

Marriage licenses are a daily part of the Probate Court business. There were 219 marriage licenses issued by the Probate Court in 2018, and in 31 of those issued by the Court, Judge Luann Cooperrider performed the wedding ceremonies.

With the epidemic of drug addiction the court would like the public to be aware that there is a process that allows a family to file in the Probate Court, seeking to have an adult family member committed for court-ordered treatment for drugs and alcohol.

My concern, as the Probate Judge, is community awareness. I am not sure that this law has been publicized enough to alert families of the opportunity available to them. While it is quite a cumbersome process of paperwork, it is still something the court is more than happy to assist a family with.

In total the Perry County Probate Court accepted 494 newly filed cases in 2018 and brought in revenue of $53,030.99; approximately $2,500.00 more than was collected the year prior.

Another requirement of the Probate Court is to form a Park Board. Several years ago I held a public hearing and we determined Perry County would benefit from having a Park Board. We established the board, which is still in existence today; members include Steve Glade, Scott Moore, Theressa Snyder, Jenny Larue and Matt Reed.

A county that has a valid Park Board may seek grants or receive funds as a benefactor in a charitable contribution through wills or other bequests. It has always been my desire and that of the Park Board to promote parks and recreation in and around Perry County.

If you would like to be involved in this process or have other ideas or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me or any of the Park Board members. The Park Board meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Perry Behavioral Health Activity Center and is currently working on opportunities to promote the beautiful parks and recreation of Perry County.

The Probate Court also assists the public with genealogical research. Some researchers come to the office, some mail requests, some call in for information but most are now received via e-mail. Through this service the Probate Court is able to serve people from all over the United States and some foreign countries. The e-mail for those interested is:

Ohio has enacted a form called Advanced Directives. This form contains Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney for Healthcare. The Court has been providing this service to the public by making available forms to create Living Wills and Health Care Power of Attorneys for a nominal fee. As with all other filings in Probate Court, our office can only provide the necessary forms but cannot provide any legal advice.

Under my direction, the Probate Court staff, Linda Young and Debbie Bender, process all paperwork as dictated by Ohio Law and the Local Rules of the Court. The clerks attend a yearly conference to stay current with proper procedures, laws and any changes. It is their job to track all cases to insure filings are done properly and in a timely manner. All case activity then must be reported quarterly to the Ohio Supreme Court.

This past year was again a busy year for the Perry County Probate Court serving the needs of the people of Perry County. My staff and I are honored to serve the public and consider it a privilege. My staff and I are here to offer any assistance the law permits and are available if you have any questions or concerns.

The Probate Court can be reached by calling 740-342-1493, by e-mail at or by writing to: P. O. Box 167, New Lexington, Ohio 43764.

Full Article & Source:
Probate Court has a productive year

Local woman on legislative committees for guardianships, long-term care

KEVIN HARVISON | Staff photoState AARP President Joe Ann Vermillion, of McAlester, prepares to answer a question regarding her role in serving on state legislative committees looking to improve Oklahoma's laws regarding longterm care and court-assigned guardianships.

A local woman is working at the state level to help develop options regarding long-term care for older Oklahomans.

She's also working with another group searching for ways to strengthen Oklahoma's guardianship laws.

Oklahoma AARP President Joe Ann Vermillion has been traveling to the state Capitol twice a month to serve on separate legislative committees examining the two issues and serves on a subcommittee that spreads information regarding different types of long-term care. Citing the expense of longterm nursing home care, Vermillion said less-costly options are available.

"It's less expensive to stay at home," Vermillion said. Some aging individuals who pursue that option may still need some assistance, through home health care, with transportation, or in other areas.

Even staying in an assisted living center is cheaper than staying in a nursing home, said Vermillion.

Pursuing those options doesn't mean that everyone will be able to stay at their residence as he or she ages, but it's likely more could do so, Vermillion noted.

Vermillion is also a member of a larger guardianship committee that's looking at revamping the state's laws in that area. Among the other members are several attorneys and Jari Askins, the chief administrative officer of Oklahoma's court system system. Askins is also a former lieutenant governor and a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Guardianship refers to the legal relationship when someone is assigned by the court to be in charge of the personal, monetary or property interests of another individual. A guardianship could be to take care of the interests of a minor child; an adult who's become incapacitated due to infirmity, old age, illness, injuries or other issues, or a mentally vulnerable adult.

While many guardians have been known to do an outstanding job of handling their responsibilities, others try to take advantage of the situation.

"Everyone agrees that guardianship is a problem," Vermillion said.

"Part of the problem is a guardianship is assigned to someone and no one gets to monitor them that much," said Vermillion. "That's how money gets taken from people; there's not a lot of oversight," she said, referring to instances where guardians have drained accounts or otherwise have taken advantage of the very people whose interests they are supposed to be protecting.

Typically, a guardian could be a family member, an attorney or someone else who is supposed to be looking out for a subject's best interest.

Vermillion said it's difficult for judges to monitor all the guardianships which might be active in a given county or judicial district.

Pittsburg County Court Clerk Cindy Ledford said there were 92 guardianships filed in Pittsburg County in 2018 and another 101 cases were filed in 2017.

Normally, the guardianships cover three areas: a person who is incapacitated, a vulnerable adult, or minor children, she said.

Guardianships are not typically reviewed in a courtroom setting unless there's a reason to do so.

"Once the judge grants it, that's it, unless it's brought back into court and dismissed," Ledford said. Guardianships could be dismissed for a number of reasons. They include a child who reaches the age to be legally identified as an adult, or the recovery of a previously-incapacitated individual.

At the Pittsburg County Courthouse, Associate District Judge Tim Mills handles guardianships for adults and Special Judge Mindy Beare handles guardianships for children, Ledford said. Files on the guardianships are sealed, she said.

"The guardian is supposed to file an annual report to the courts," Ledford said. It costs the person filing the report an annual filing fee of $56.64.

What happens to the guardianship report after it's delivered to the court clerk's office and the $56.64 filing fee is paid?

"The report normally goes into the file," Ledford said.

If local residents have any ideas or insights about how the state's guardianship laws could be strengthened, Vermillion said she would like to hear from them as she continues her work with the legislative committees. She said she can be contacted by phone or text at 918-429-8328. Those calling should leave a message and she will get back to them, said Vermillion.

Full Article & Source: 
Local woman on legislative committees for guardianships, long-term care

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Tonight on Marti Oakley's TS Radio Network: Whistleblowers! with guest Coz Whitten-Skaife

At 7:00 pm CST

Tonight we will expose the rampant abuse of the judicial system operating out of Montgomery County courthouse in Pennsylvania. Targeted victims and their families speak out about the collusion and ongoing conspiracy to target, imprison and defraud elderly family members, facilitated by the court of Judge Stanley Ott. Judge Ott and his gaggle of predators-for-profit are commonly known as the “Ottholes”.

Having exercised every available legal avenue in an attempt to hold Judge Ott and his merry band of predators accountable, it has become apparent that blowing the whistle on this Judge is of no interest to Pennsylvania State government nor the Judiciary. Join Coz Whitten-Skaife and myself as we expose the criminal racketeering taking place in Montgomery County via just this one court. Numerous individuals kidnapped, isolated and robbed while being forcibly medicated in many instances…..all so some predator working under the protection of Judge Stanley Ott can enrich themselves by seizing the assets of those they hold hostage.

Shenanigans in the Montgomery County, PA, Courthouse

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Proposal to probe elder deaths receiving little pushback in Florida Legislature

Proposals to create teams to review deaths of the elderly when abuse or neglect is suspected and to prevent future deaths are moving forward with little pushback in the Florida Legislature.

Elder advocates say establishing elder death review teams in Florida could help cut down on the number of cases of nursing home neglect and mistreatment like those identified in a recent USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA investigation.

The proposal, included in Senate Bill 452 by state Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, has unanimously passed three committees since mid-February with little discussion. Most recently, the Senate’s Governmental Oversight and Accountability committee approved it March 26.

The bill would allow, but not mandate, the creation of elder death review teams in each of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits. The teams would review cases in their judicial circuit where abuse or neglect has been found to be related to or the cause of an elderly person’s death.

“I believe this task force and the team is critically important to the state,” Gibson said when explaining her bill to the Senate’s Children, Families and Elder Affairs committee in February.

As part of its investigation, the USA TODAY NETWORK - FLORIDA reviewed 54 nursing home deaths where state inspectors cited neglect and mistreatment as factors from 2013 through 2017. The network investigation found Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration rarely took action and often didn’t investigate the deaths at all.

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

Gibson’s bill would limit reviews to closed cases and to deaths where abuse or neglect has been verified by a state attorney, a potential roadblock that could prevent probing of many nursing home deaths in Florida. State attorneys didn’t prosecute any of the 54 nursing home deaths reviewed in the network's investigation.

The goal of the elder death review teams would be to identify problems or gaps in service, to recommend solutions, and to author annual summaries of their findings, according to the bill.

The teams would be comprised of volunteers from a variety of vocations, including attorneys, police officers, medical examiners, nurses and members of the state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. The teams would be housed, administratively, in the Department of Elder Affairs, but would be initiated by states attorneys in the judicial circuits.

The only expected expenses of the program would be administrative costs incurred by the Department of Elder Affairs, according to a Florida Senate analysis of the bill.

The Alzheimer’s Association supported Gibson’s proposal during a Judiciary Committee hearing in mid-March.

“Anything we can do to support our most vulnerable population is going to be good. And I think this is a good way to support them,” Michelle Branham, the association’s vice president of public policy in Florida, said in an interview.

This is the third year in a row Gibson has sponsored elder death review team legislation. Her efforts failed during the last two legislative sessions.

A companion bill by Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, unanimously passed its first House committee Monday, March 25. Watson stressed that the purpose of the bill is to learn from closed cases, not to re-investigate them.

“We’re just looking at the ability to find the best practices, and how we can learn from what has transpired in the past,” she told the House Children, Families and Seniors subcommittee.

The Florida Legislature established the Child Abuse Death Review Committee in 1999, with the goal of reducing child deaths in the state. Ten years later the state established domestic violence death review teams in response to an increase in domestic violence-related homicides in Florida.

But there is no comparable review when an elderly or vulnerable adult dies in Florida, even under suspicious circumstances.

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

Florida is not among them.

The Women's Center in Jacksonville is in the planning stages of an elder fatality review team pilot project examining closed criminal cases involving elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. But the team would not look at a nursing home case where there was no criminal prosecution, even if there was a finding of neglect by Florida's Department of Children and Families or another state agency.

Full Article & Source:
Proposal to probe elder deaths receiving little pushback in Florida Legislature

Florida Lawyer Gets 15 Years in Prison for Swiping $2 Million From Disabled Clients

David Land Whigham mugshot.
Former Tampa attorney David Land Whigham’s mugshot.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Nash handed down a 15-year prison sentence to former Tampa defense lawyer David Land Whigham, who pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $2 million from clients.

Whigham, 51, will also have to pay restitution. He once specialized in wills, trusts and estate planning, often representing charities and disabled litigants through his firm, the Whigham Law Group. Many of his clients had sought help paying for medical care or making arrangements to have savings go to charities after they died.

But court documents show the Florida Bar discovered he’d overstepped his bounds in 2016, when the Bank of Tampa flagged strange activity in his trust accounts.

According to the bar’s petition for disciplinary revocation, Whigham failed to distribute more than $900,000 to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children and a schizophrenia research foundation in Massachusetts, as a client had requested before his death in 2011.

Whigham was suspended, then disbarred and charged with 22 counts of grand theft and organized fraud.

An investigation ensued, led by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which found at least nine victims had lost money to Whigham — which news outlets report he spent on his mortgage, vacations, shooting and hunting trips, restaurant meals, fishing and his family’s personal expenses. In November 2017, he pleaded guilty to nine counts of grand theft.

Whigham’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Joseph Larrinaga Jr., had asked for less than the 11 years recommended by state guidelines, highlighting that his client had been diagnosed with major depression and alcoholism. Larrinaga did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.

Whigham reportedly told the court he couldn’t explain his decisions, adding, “I promise the court I’ll dedicate the rest of my life to making restitution.”

Marisa L. Pupello represented the state and had asked for 20 years plus restitution. She did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

Full Article & Source:
Florida Lawyer Gets 15 Years in Prison for Swiping $2 Million From Disabled Clients

Diamond Resorts still can’t explain why it sold $250,000 worth of timeshare points to an 88-year-old

The man’s daughter says that Diamond has agreed to forgive about half of the purchase


Photo (c) ShutterWorx - Getty Images

Millennials have miraculously managed to not kill timeshares, possibly because the business model relies on preying on the elderly.

In late December, Diane Burkhart sent a complaint to the FBI describing how her 88-year-old father agreed to purchase $250,000 worth of timeshare points over the course of 18 months, from 2016 until late 2017. In 2018, he was diagnosed with dementia. He is now 89 and living in a nursing home, Burkhart says. His wife passed away last May.

The couple purchased the points from Diamond Resorts International, a $2.2 billion timeshare corporation that claims to hold about 400 properties worldwide.

As Burkhart detailed in her FBI complaint, her father was 87 at the time, enjoying a day trip to the beach with his wife at a town about thirty miles from their house in central California, when they came across a charming hotel. Unbeknownst to them, the property had been purchased by Diamond. Salespeople standing outside by the property lured the interested couple into a timeshare sales pitch, Burkhart says.

She writes that they immediately regretted the purchase.

“A month after purchasing the first contract, my dad tried to end the agreement due to his wife's declining health and included a letter from one of her doctors,” she told the FBI. “Diamond turned him down, so he paid off the promissory note in full, believing that would be the end of it.”

It was only the beginning. “Shortly thereafter, Diamond told them they needed to go to a meeting to learn how to use their points,” Burkhart wrote. The meeting turned out to be another lengthy sales pitch.

Elder abuse

It’s not the first time that consumers have described possible elder abuse in the timeshare industry, which has reinvented its business model in recent years. Timeshares used to be tied to a specific property, where people who owned partial deeds had the right to vacation for a set amount of days each year. But in recent years, the industry has instead switched over to “points,” or the concept of being part of a vacation club at any hotel of your choosing.

While the industry claims that “points” are no different than a deed, simply with more flexibility, consumers have noted that points appear to have no intrinsic value because they can’t be resold, making memberships that were purchased for hundreds of thousands of dollars essentially worthless on the resale market. Some consumers also claim that the concept of “points” may be intentionally confusing to the elderly.

“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value, while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.

Which makes the sale of timeshare points to people who are running out of time all the more questionable.

In 2016, an 81-year-old in Ventura filed a class-action lawsuit against Diamond, one of several lawsuits that have cropped up in recent years, saying that he was sold $50,000 worth of timeshare points that he did not want. The man said that he was lured into the pitch after Diamond sent a bus to his assisted-living home in California. Diamond then subjected the seniors to an aggressive timeshare pitch in Nevada, he alleged, a tactic that his attorney told Courthouse News was common in the industry.

Class actions and addressing issues

In addition the class-action consumer lawsuits, the state government in Arizona has also piled on. In 2017, Arizona’s Attorney General announced that an investigation revealed “that Diamond used deceptive sales practices and made numerous oral misrepresentations and false statements during timeshare sales presentations.” Diamond agreed to pay $800,000 to settle the manner.

Such accusations are at odds with the image portrayed by Stephen Cloobeck, a vocal critic of Trump and a successful investor who founded Diamond in 2007 with a group of other Wall Street investors. Cloobeck was crowned as the world's most generous boss for his likeable stints on the show Undercover Boss. Though he is no longer the CEO of Diamond, he recently wrote a book about the ins and outs of providing good hospitality service based on his experience at Diamond.

On Twitter, Cloobeck is the rare ex-CEO who champions relatively progressive policies such as raising the minimum wage, preserving the Affordable Care Act, and banning bump-stocks. Asked on the social media platform if he considers it appropriate to sell $250,000 worth of timeshare points to an 88-year-old, Cloobeck replied, “Absolutely no way! Never !”

In January, when ConsumerAffairs first reported on Burkhart’s story, Diamond’s press team said that they hoped to resolve the matter shortly.

“We appreciate ConsumerAffairs’ inquiry into this matter and, we had, in fact, already been working with Diane Burkhart directly,” the statement said at the time. “While we do not disclose member details publicly, we expect the issue to be resolved imminently.”

Catering to consumers’ “best interests”

The timeshare industry has claimed that unsatisfied owners can easily return points that they don’t want, and in that regard, Diamond has said that its own special Diamond Clarity program offers exactly that.

“We encourage all members with any questions to contact us directly so we can work together and identify solutions that are built with their best interests in mind,” Diamond’s press team added.

ConsumerAffairs recently contacted Burkhart again to find out if her complaint did, in fact, result in a solution “built with [her] best interests in mind.” Burkhart replied that Diamond offered to forgive the loan on her father’s most recent and especially questionable Diamond purchase -- a points contract that he bought in late 2017 for $116,000. The purchase was made possible with a loan issued by Diamond and Barclays credit card, also issued by Diamond.

Before she signed the forgiveness agreement, Burkhart told ConsumerAffairs that Diamond agreed to forgive the $116,000 loan on the condition that the family agree to a “non-disparagement” clause. The family must also waive their right to pursue the other timeshare contracts.

Burkhart asked Diamond to modify the agreement so that she could possibly get the other timeshare loans cancelled. She also requested that the $116,000 loan be completely rescinded and cancelled, rather than forgiven. Otherwise, she fears that her father will still owe taxes on it.

“The big issue is the 1099 in my mind,” Bukrhart wrote.

In an email, Diamond responded to Burkhart that it would not accommodate any of her requests on the loan agreement, with a representative simply referring the decision back to Diamond's legal team. Burkhart said that as a result, she would probably just accept Diamond's offer as is.

After all, consumers unhappy with their timeshare purchases tend to have little recourse. The timeshare exit industry, which promises to help people cancel their timeshare contracts, is also notorious for fraud.

In a more recent statement, a public relations agency working on behalf of Diamond tells ConsumerAffairs that “we learned that they had already been working directly with Diane and had resolved this matter.”

The agency did not respond to follow-up questions about whether Diamond is reevaluating its sales tactics.

Booming industry

Diamond is not the only timeshare company to face accusations of deceptive sales tactics and elder abuse, though, according to a 2016 New York Times article, they have the reputation of being particularly aggressive. Still, the hours-long hard-sell has long been known to be the industry's bread and butter.

Despite the seemingly outdated business model and questionable tactics, the industry is apparently doing better than ever. The industry's lobbying group bragged last year that timeshares made $9.6 billion worth of sales in 2017. Wyndham Vacation Ownership, another major United States timeshare company, said in a press release late last year that millennials are “raving” about timeshares.

However, a Wyndham employee won a $20 million judgement in 2016 after she alleged that the firm actually made its money by pouncing on the elderly.

Full Article & Source:
Diamond Resorts still can’t explain why it sold $250,000 worth of timeshare points to an 88-year-old

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Attempt to recuse probate judge fails in Thrash case

Charlie Thrash, 81, who is legally mentally disabled is shown in a December 2018 photograph from FaceBook. Thrash's girlfriend Laura Martinez has been accused of undue influence and also spending the wealthy man's money. The case is in court.  Photo: Courtesy

by John MacCormack, San Antonio Express-News

An impassioned attempt to remove Bexar Probate Judge Oscar Kazen from a controversial guardianship case involving millionaire Charlie Thrash came up short Tuesday.

In his motion for recusal, attorney Phil Ross had accused Kazen of various improprieties including “extra-judicial acts,” political association with other parties in the case and “retaliatory and discriminatory conduct and rulings.”

Taken together, Ross said, they tended to show an appearance of bias and impropriety.

Lawyers for Thrash’s two guardians argued that Ross’s recusal motion was no more than a delaying tactic.

After hearing five hours of testimony and argument, regional Presiding Judge Sid Harle summarily rejected the recusal motion, saying the evidence for it was unconvincing.

Harle also denied a request by the five lawyers in the courtroom, representing the two guardians in the case, that he punish Ross by ordering him to pay their $17,265 legal bill.

“Now we can get back to the merits of the case. We respect the court’s ruling,” said Barrett Shipp, who represents Mary Werner, Thrash’s personal guardian.

Despite falling to oust Kazen, Ross did not complain about the not unexpected outcome.

“I thought the judge gave a fair and impartial ruling. I think it’s unfortunate for Charlie Thrash that we did not prevail,” he said.

Thrash, 81, the longtime owner of CT Thrash Differentials & Axle on West Avenue, was found in 2017 to be mentally incapacitated.

He became a ward of a guardianship after Adult Protective Services investigated a complaint about him being exploited and manipulated by Laura Martinez, 54, his longtime girlfriend.

Her March 4 marriage to Thrash was quickly annulled by Kazen, on the grounds that he did not have the mental capacity for such an important decision.

Separately, a state district judge ruled that Thrash’s March 5 adoption of her two adult children had also been improper for the same reason.

On March 6, Thrash was removed from the home in Shavano Park he shared with Martinez and various of her family members. Werner said she took the dramatic action, backed by police, because she was fearful of his safety. Thrash is now staying with a relative in Bexar County.

A nephew, Michael Thrash, 56, recently visited with him for several days and said he is doing very well.

“He seems to be very happy. He is getting his health back and his diabetes under control,” said Michael Thrash.

“His world is upside down now. He just wants it back the way it was before all this started, before Laura Martinez,” he added.

Martinez insists she loves Thrash and has always acted in his best interests. Ross, who claims that Thrash has regained his mental capacity, is seeking to end the guardianships of his person and estate.

And very soon, the half-dozen lawyers involved will again be arguing in court in front of Kazen.

A critical hearing on the case, originally set for March 26, was canceled when Ross filed an 11th-hour motion to recuse Kazen.

It has been reset for April 9, and as Kazen recently described it in court, it will be “for all the marbles.”

At the hearing, Kazen will decide on a permanent injunction sought by the guardians that, if granted, would effectively impose a legal barrier between Thrash and Laura Martinez and her family.

Full Article & Source:
Attempt to recuse probate judge fails in Thrash case

Easthampton attorney charged with financial fraud, lying to federal agents

U.S. District Court in Springfield
BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Easthampton attorney Phillip R. Williams has been arrested and charged for various financial fraud offenses and lying to federal agents.

Williams, 49, was indicted on three counts of wire fraud, two counts of engaging in financial transactions greater than $10,000 of proceeds derived from criminal activity, two counts of money laundering, two counts of tax fraud, and one count of false statements to a federal official. Williams appeared in federal court in Springfield Monday and was detained pending a hearing scheduled for April 4, 2019.

According to the indictment, Williams was an attorney licensed to practice law in Massachusetts. Williams maintained an Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account at a bank in Massachusetts and was required to hold funds with the care required of a professional fiduciary, for the exclusive benefit of his clients. Between approximately Jan. 29, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014, Williams allegedly devised a scheme to defraud two individuals who transferred $950,000 into the Williams Lawyers’ Trust Account. As part of that scheme, Williams stole $453,695 of these funds for his own benefit, his family members, and two associates.

It is further alleged that when Williams electronically filed his self-prepared 2014 Individual Tax Return Form 1040 with the IRS, he failed to report the full amount of the $453,695 that he misappropriated from the Williams Lawyer’s Trust Account. In September 2015, Williams filed an amended 2014 Individual Tax Return, Form 1040x, with the IRS and increased his adjusted gross income from $44,439 to $282,000.

In addition, in July 2015, Williams allegedly told agents that he reported an estimated $300,000 of the stolen funds on his 2014 income tax return.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Full Article & Source:
Easthampton attorney charged with financial fraud, lying to federal agents

Police: Caregiver caught on video abusing 94-year-old woman

A Florida caregiver is accused of abusing a 94-year-old amputee at an assisted living home.

The Orlando Sentinel reports 64-year-old Soebhagwatie Changoer was arrested last week after the woman's son placed a camera inside her room at the facility in Clermont.

An arrest report says the woman told her son the caregiver was being too "rough with her." The son viewed the video footage and "discovered his mother was being abused by her caregiver." He reported what he saw to management at Crane's View Lodge Assisted Living and Memory Care.

Changoer was suspended and the facility reported the incident to the Department of Children and Families and police. She's charged with abuse of an elderly person.

A lawyer wasn't listed for Changoer on arrest records.

Full Article & Source:
Police: Caregiver caught on video abusing 94-year-old woman

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Winstanley Family Continues to be Abused

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
by Michael Volpe

The abuse continues without end for Elizabeth “Betty” Winstanley and her children fighting for her at the Lancaster, County Court of Common Pleas.

Winstanley has been in guardianship since 2014, with most of her rights removed, forced to live in a home in Pennsylvania, rather than in Maryland near her children.

She was not given a hearing aid and so couldn’t hear at all at the hearing which determined if she was “incapacitated”, the term used by the court to determine if someone needs to be placed into guardianship.

She has been isolated, abused, and had her money misspent by the courts and court actors appointed by the courts; many of these same court actors charge her up to $400 per hour for their services.

This is not the first-time media has looked at the tragic guardianship case of Elizabeth Winstanley.

Diane Dimond’s Take
“Would you hire someone to manage your personal affairs and finances who charged $50,599.18 in just three months?

“What if they charged $1560.00 to make two phone calls to your son to discuss, ‘Dates for (a) Christmas’ visit with you. Or if you got a bill for more than $1,000 from this person explaining, it was because their, ‘Computer emails appear(ed) to be breached …(and) extensive work (was) done on my phone and computer as a result.’ They charged you for calls to their IT department and to an attorney they consulted.

“And what if this same person refused to communicate with two of your three children even when you were rushed to the hospital? And when they placed a couple of phone calls 3 days later to see how you were doing you were charged another $990.00?”

Dimond continued later: Widow Betty Winstanley, 94, who is under a disputed court-ordered guardianship and lives in theMasonic Village Retirement Home in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. She is forced to pay her court-appointed guardian for the expenses I just described (and many more) because Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court Judge Jay J. Hoberg says she must.”

Sharyl Attkisson’s Take

In 2017, Sharyl Attkisson featured Winstanley’s story on her program, Full Measure.

Attkisson found that 1.5 million people in the US were under guardianship, which controlled $273 billion.

“Betty’s court appointed guardian from a for profit company controlled nearly every aspect of Betty’s life at Betty’s own expense.” Attkisson said.

Attkisson, like Dimond, found the guardians charged in an exorbitant manner.

They charged $180 for an email regarding Mother’s Day, $426 for a conversation about the ownership of a French horn, and $2,070 to discuss Christmas visits.

Attkisson found that guardian bills came to $93,908 in one five-month period.
The guardian would not let Betty speak to Attkisson, but she did broadcast a video tape made previously of Betty.

“Why are you trying to damage all my life by taking me away from all family and my friends?” Betty said in the video.

Back to the Present

Despite the media attention, the abuse by the court and others of Betty Winstanley continues.

Her family provided photos of Betty with a bruise on her hand; the photo was taken at her assisted living facility, Masonic Village.
In a letter to the Pennsylvania authorities, they listed other immediate concerns.
  • 1) How pale, gaunt and the lack of moons on her fingers a sign of being anemic
  • 2) The extended stomach - if it is diet
  • 3) Her heart monitor and a follow up as she stated her chest felt tight
  • 4) The infection in / on her leg since around November of 2018
  • 5) THE LACK OF HEARING AIDS and the pattern of taking them from her since 2014
  • 6) The emotional abuse by Candice Beckett in trying to silence her of what has happened to her and is happening to her.
  • 7) The emotional abuse by Masonic Village by all appearance “ORDERS” from above to the local staff as to what Mrs. Winstanley is able to do.
  • 8) The Lack of activities for Mrs. Winstanley to participate in such as exercise classes et al

The Convoluted Court Process

Betty’s son David has been attempting to keep the pressure on and this includes a March 7, 2019, hearing.

Namely, on June 12, 2015, Judge Jay Hoberg to the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas inPennsylvania issued an order.

Hoberg is the long-time judge on this case.

In that order, he purportedly honored Betty’s wish to move to Maryland, where David lives.

This was even supported by the current guardian Candace Beckett, who on February 3, 2017 filed a petition for the court to move Winstanley to Maryland, “It is the intention of this Plenary Guardian of the Person that, following to Mrs. Winstanley’s stated preferences that she permanently be relocated from Lancaster, County, Pennsylvania where she has no relatives to Anne Arundul County, Maryland where two of her children reside.” Beckett said.

She continued in the same affidavit, “The transfer to Maryland would be in the best interest of Mrs. Winstanley.”

When reached by phone, Beckett, who remains the guardian, said, “the problem is there’s no money left.”

Beckett insisted she has not even been paid since coming on board herself in 2017 but that Winstanley’s estate was estimated at between $1.4-$1.8 million when things began in 2014.

She estimates that it is down to $250,000-$500,000, most of which is not liquid now.

She said some of the money went to caring for Mrs. Winstanley at Masonic Village, but the rest went to the other guardians like Stump.

Betty Winstanley remains in Pennsylvania more than two years after Beckett’s petition was filed.

Furthermore, David told me, the judge has been resistant to ordering a forensic audit of the expenses made by the guardians.

Judge Hoberg, David told me, has previously claimed that the audit was too expensive, but as much as $2 million has been squandered from Betty Winstanley’s estate without proper records being kept, David told me.

I left an email for Stacey Witalec, the press and communications manager for the Pennsylvania Judicial System, but it was not returned.

Also still unsettled is the issue of alleged malfeasance by the former guardian, Robert Stump.


His attorney, Douglas Earl, did not respond to an email from me.

Stump had hired Gloria Byars to work as a guardian for his company, RES Consulting, and she worked on Betty’s case as well.

She was hired despite multiple convictions for financial crimes. Here’s part of a 2018 story.

Byars had been convicted multiple times of financial theft.

“Her most recent arrest came in 2005. She pleaded guilty to felony fraud and was sentenced to 37 months in a federal prison after cashing $20,000 in blank checks found rummaging through trash cans at a Virginia post office.

“Federal dockets show Byars was paroled on supervised release in 2008, the same year - according to her LinkedIn account - she began working in Philadelphia with RES Consulting, which provides guardian services.”

I sent an email to RES Consulting but that was also not returned.

The guardian who took over stated previously that the judge, Hoberg, approved payments of $18,500 per month to Stump, but now refuses to revisit those payments.

David Winstanley asked his attorney to demand for several things at the March 7, 2019, hearing. Those include.




Winstanley told me this is not the first time these things have been demanded and he does not expect this time to be any different, but that he hopes renewed pressure from the media will finally end the never-ending nightmare.

Winstanley is 97 years old.

Full Article & Source:
The Provocateur