Saturday, April 20, 2019

Elderly woman allegedly raped by employee at Mansfield assisted living facility

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A 62-year-old employee of an assisted living center in Mansfield is behind bars, charged with raping an 84-year-old resident of the facility. Donald Chinn was arrested Thursday night at his Shelby home and charged with one count of rape.

The daughter of the alleged victim alerted the Waterford assisted living facility in Mansfield about the alleged crime and the executive director then called 911.

He is no stranger to the law, with drug offenses, including drug trafficking, stretching back to at least 1999.

No one at the facility would answer questions about the incident or Chinn's employment. But a spokesperson later sent a statement saying in part that management is "disappointed and concerned."

"We are taking swift action and conducting an internal investigation as well as cooperating with authorities," the statement said. It also said Chinn has been suspended indefinitely.

Chinn's next-door neighbor in Shelby, Brad Sammons, said living near the man has been a nightmare. He said he supports people being given second chances, but can't believe Chinn was allowed to be with vulnerable seniors.

"People need to start over, but not in that situation," he said.

Chinn pleaded not guilty in municipal court and is in the Richland County jail. He's being held on $100,000 bond.

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Elderly woman allegedly raped by employee at Mansfield assisted living facility

Deputies: Death of nursing home patient ruled a homicide

84-year-old accused of striking 71-year-old who later died


By Colette DuChanois - Web producer, Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - The death of a nursing home patient has been ruled a homicide, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.

Veteran Daniel Henson, 71, died Sunday after he was attacked April 9 at the St. Augustine Health and Rehabilitation Center off State Road 207, according to family.

The Sheriff's Office said Thursday that it responded April 9 to the nursing home and rehabilitation center, where staff had discovered an 84-year-old resident on top of the 71-year-old, repeatedly striking him in the head and face, before staff separated the two men.

Deputies said the 71-year-old was transported to Orange Park Medical Center and then to another facility in Jacksonville, where he died Sunday.

The medical examiner's office in St. Johns County conducted an autopsy. On Thursday, the medical examiner's office released its preliminary findings in the case, and ruled the cause of death as blunt force trauma and the manner of death a homicide, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Henson's family told News4Jax that the 84-year-old was his roommate. According to the Sheriff's Office, due to the various medical needs of the 84-year-old, charges of battery of a person over 65 years of age were forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office for its review.

Mary Henson, Daniel Henson's older sister, told News4Jax by phone Wednesday from Colorado that her brother had a stroke 25 years ago and had been living in a nurse home since then.

"He had some use of his left arm, but the rest of him was totally paralyzed and had been for years," she said. "My brother was not able to get out of bed or move or anything except for his left arm."

According to News4Jax I-TEAM sources with knowledge of the investigation, Henson had a fractured skull, broken bones and severe injuries to his eyes. The sources described the attack as "horrific" and "sickening."

On Thursday, Henson's sister said she was relieved to learn the case had been classified as a homicide.

"I want justice for my brother," she said.

The Sheriff's Office said the homicide investigation continues.

Early Thursday evening, the St. Augustine Health and Rehabilitation Center released the following statement:
The professional staff and caregivers at St. Augustine Health and Rehabilitation Center are deeply saddened by the tragic outcome of an incident at the facility on April 9th. The staff extends its deepest condolences and prayers to the impacted family.

"Facility caregivers immediately reacted to a situation and took the appropriate steps to separate the individuals. The facility contacted the St. John’s Sheriff’s Office as well as Fire Rescue to assist. As required by state law, the incident was reported that morning to The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) in Tallahassee. We are cooperating fully with both local law enforcement and AHCA as the incident remains under investigation. Federal health privacy laws restrict us from commenting on any resident, past or present, without the written consent of the resident or his or her responsible party.

"The death of a resident is a very emotional time for facility staff. Our caregivers develop true relationships with the residents and families that enter our facility on a daily basis and take seriously their care and wellbeing.

"Skilled Nursing Facilities are the most regulated of all health care providers and undergo rigorous surveys throughout the year. Our employees are real people who answered a calling to care for our most frail and elderly population. We stand by the care of the professionals at St. Augustine Health and Rehabilitation Center and extend our prayers to the family and friends of the resident involved in a tragic situation."

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Deputies: Death of nursing home patient ruled a homicide

Stop drugging Texas nursing home residents who have dementia

Photo by Todd Wiseman

Imagine the horror of living in a deep fog day in and day out. Your steps, if you’re able to walk, are wobbly. Your memories are confused. Your grasp of reality is lost.
And to discover that you’ve been purposefully sedated for no legitimate reason.

Federal reports show that thousands of nursing home residents in Texas are being inappropriately prescribed antipsychotics. They’re not given the drugs because of psychiatric conditions for which they can legitimately be prescribed. Rather, they are being administered for other causes. Sometimes, it’s merely for the convenience of nursing home staff.

It’s called a chemical restraint and it’s akin to the way people were handled in the Dark Ages.

This is a misuse of one of the most powerful classes of psychiatric drugs. For those with dementia, which is not uncommon among nursing home residents, receiving antipsychotics is especially dangerous, even deadly. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration gives these medicines a black-box warning: an alert of an increased risk of death among people with dementia.

No one disputes that providing daily care for nursing home residents is a patience- and stamina-testing ordeal. Attending to these moms, dads, grandparents and other loved ones is a truly honorable profession. Working with those who have Alzheimer’s and other dementia adds greatly to the frustrations.

Through music and memory programs, and other therapies, Texas and some other states have made progress over recent years in reducing inappropriate use of antipsychotics among nursing home residents. But this crisis in care has by no means been eradicated.

So, it’s exasperating that lobbyists for the nursing home and medical industries this legislative session are opposing reasonable proposals to rectify the problem.

Today, the law says that nursing home residents must give consent for antipsychotics to be administered. And yet, all too often, family members of nursing home residents still report a lack of awareness of these drugs being administered. They see sudden and solemn changes in the mental well-being of their loved ones. Later they learn — or come to suspect — a culprit: antipsychotics being administered without their knowledge.

A stronger consent law that would require written consent of a nursing home resident or a legal decision-maker. And that’s essentially what’s offered in Senate Bill 1212 by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills and House Bill 2050 by Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall.

To improve nursing home safety, please ask your state representative and senator to support those bills.

Disclosure: AARP has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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Stop drugging Texas nursing home residents who have dementia

Friday, April 19, 2019

Complaint: Probate judge used position to raid estate

By Katy Barnitz / Journal Staff Writer
In her role as a deputy field investigator with the state Office of the Medical Investigator, Pamela Smith was sent on March 9, 2017, to look into the death of 82-year-old Dominic Domingo. Then, in her role as Sierra County probate judge, she appointed her own husband as special administrator to his estate.

Randy Smith went on to move nearly $300,000 from Domingo’s accounts into their own, ignoring “living heirs entitled to the estate.”

That’s according to criminal complaints filed Tuesday by the state Attorney General’s Office against the Truth or Consequences couple. The criminal charges come more than a year after Pamela Smith resigned as probate judge in lieu of further disciplinary proceedings by the Judicial Standards Commission.

Asked Tuesday about Pamela Smith’s employment status at OMI, a spokesman for the UNM Health Sciences Center said, “We are not able to answer due to pending litigation.”

The complaints allege that the probate court records granting authority to a special administrator were “filed and altered unlawfully by Pamela Smith,” to give Randy Smith access to Domingo’s bank accounts. The couple used the money to pay their mortgage and other debts, and to improve Randy Smith’s boat repair and consignment sale business, among other things, according to the complaint.

“Pamela Smith, as a probate judge in Sierra County, had a fiduciary responsibility of presiding over an orderly administration of justice,” a special agent wrote. “… Instead, Mrs. Smith committed criminal acts of willful misconduct while serving in office.”

The Smiths could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. It’s not clear who is representing them in the case.

Pamela Smith wrote in her OMI report that the chief of TorC police indicated Domingo had no next of kin. But in a recorded interview, the chief said he knew Domingo and knew he had family in New York. She also claimed that she received the same answer from a pension fund administrator, the complaint alleges. In fact, that company had sent a condolence letter to Domingo’s sister and nephew.

And Domingo’s nephew, Joseph Paone, told an investigator that he once met Randy Smith as he repaired his uncle’s car.

“Mr. Smith was misrepresenting himself as the special administrator by knowing there were living heirs that should have prevented him from accessing the estate of Dominic Domingo,” his complaint says.

Paone says the Smiths later hired an investigator who offered him a $192,000 “payoff settlement,” which he pointed out to investigators was less than the amount taken from his uncle’s accounts. Domingo’s family learned of his death through a letter from his pension administrator.

Pamela Smith is charged with crimes including engaging in an official act for personal financial gain, tampering with public records, forgery, fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. Her husband, Randy, is accused of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

Paone has filed a civil suit against the Smiths, OMI, the Sierra County Board of Commissioners, and the state of New Mexico.

Frances Crockett Carpenter, the Albuquerque attorney representing him, said Tuesday that along with the missing money, the Smiths still have Domingo’s remains.

She said her client’s hope is that no other families find themselves in this position.

“They want to make sure this never happens to anyone again,” Crockett Carpenter said. “That a person that has been given the permission and the privilege to hold office will never see that as anything but that, and that they won’t use their powers of office to commit fraud and steal and do all the awful things that they did.”

Asked whether the Attorney General’s Office believes other families were targeted, a spokesman for the office said he could not comment.

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Complaint: Probate judge used position to raid estate

Mahoning County judge accepts Ohio Supreme Court reprimand

Judge Rusu
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Supreme Court has issued a public reprimand to Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Robert Rusu for violating the rules of conduct established for members of the legal profession.

The justices on Wednesday accepted the recommendation of the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct that found Judge Rusu was in violation of a rule that mandates that he acts in a manner promoting public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of judges.

A Public Reprimand is a public statement issued by the Supreme Court of Ohio informing the public that a lawyer committed misconduct.

The recommendation came following a complaint filed with the Ohio Supreme Court alleging that after taking over as county Probate Judge, he presided over 185 cases in which he represented clients while he was still an attorney with the law firm of Lane & Rusu Company. After becoming a judge, Rusu sold his partnership interest in the law firm.

Judge Rusu's decisions in those cases including appointing fiduciaries, approving legal fees for his own work (or his previous law firm), approving guardian fees, settlements, addressing cases with delinquencies, approving magistrate decisions, and waiving guardianship matters.

In a previous statement, Judge Rusu explained that he handled more than 1,300 cases during his 23 years as a probate attorney and that some of those cases are still pending.

Rusu said that he believed that some of those cases he heard after being appointed as a judge in July 2014 were not matters of controversy and did not require him to disqualify himself from presiding over the case.

In its findings, the Board of Professional Conduct said that Rusu has accepted responsibility for his actions, has no prior disciplinary record, and was not motivated by selfishness or dishonesty.

Rusu was appointed to the Probate Court position in 2014 by Governor John Kasich, after the conviction of former Judge Mark Belinky and was then elected that same year.

Judge Rusu issued the below statement:

Below please find Judge Robert N. Rusu, Jr.’s public statement regarding the recent ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court:
“When I became judge, I was attempting to transition from a large probate law practice with hundreds of cases and files to becoming the probate judge. I was also trying to make all the proper notifications and follow all of the complicated ethical rules for this transition.
I accept responsibility for misinterpreting those rules. It’s no one else’s fault but my own. I appreciate that the Supreme Court found that I was ‘frank and open’ about everything and that I took responsibility for my actions. I also appreciate that the court found that none of my actions ‘caused measurable harm or resulted in anything less than the even handed administration of justice.’ I’m thankful for the strong showing of public support I’ve received during this time and I will continue to do my very best as the Mahoning County Probate Judge.”
Robert N. Rusu, Jr.
Judge, Mahoning County Probate Court
The Ohio Supreme Court opinion may be seen here

Click to View

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Mahoning County judge accepts Ohio Supreme Court reprimand

Adult Protective Services Abuse Registry National Report

By Kathleen Quinn, President, NAPSA Board of Directors

Over half the states (26) now have abuser registries for perpetrators of elder and vulnerable adult abuse. In 2016, NAPSA’s Regional Representatives Advisory Board created a volunteer ad hoc committee which examined abuser registries in detail and produced the first-ever, comprehensive report on this recent trend. [1]

To be considered, a state registry had to fit the following definition: “a system for maintaining the identity of individuals who are found, only as a result of an APS investigation, to have abused, neglected or exploited seniors or adults (18 and older) with disabilities living in the community or in a facility.”

Registries in 26 states met these criteria; of those, 21 agreed to submit information to the project. Data was collected through surveys and telephone interviews.

Consistent with APS Programs in general, the committee found that APS registries across the country differ in significant ways, including coverage in terms of age, disability, location of the abuse, offender type, the nature of abuse, the levels of funding and staffing, and more. For example, some registries are limited to offenses which take place in state-regulated facilities only.

The Committee found three components common to APS abuse registries:
  1. A requirement that the perpetrator be notified that they are being placed on the registry;
  2. Due process provisions governing the administration of the registry; and
  3. A specified time limit for appeals.
Challenges were noted:
  • Some responders stated that abuser registries conflict with APS’ primary role of protecting victims and respecting clients’ wishes.
  • Several felt that the creation, funding and maintenance of registries takes resources away from victims and shifts it to perpetrators, and
  • Some thought registries create a false sense of security, as some abusers could continue to be employed and have access to vulnerable adults.
The Ad Hoc Committee completed their report with the following recommendations and suggestions for research:
  1. An APS abuse registry must be adequately funded in accordance with its mission, structure, and goals in order to insure that critical resources are not diverted from already-overburdened APS systems.
  2. An APS abuse registry must provide for dedicated registry staff: APS staff already have full workloads.
  3. States need to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of APS abuse registries.
Areas Requiring Further Research:
  • Measuring the efficacy and efficiency of APS abuse registries
  • States’ approaches to due process
  • The overlap between APS and other abuser registries, including the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE) for perpetrators paid through Medicaid
  • The question of varying employment restrictions; e.g., in some states, employers could hire a person on the registry if that person did not provide direct care
  • A closer analysis of people directly hiring their own care staff. Some states omit privately-hired perpetrators from the registry, while others allow listed perpetrators to be directly employed by a vulnerable adult

[1] The NAPSA AD HOC COMMITTEE ON Adult Protective Services Abuse Registries: Catherine Bingle (Texas), Andrew Capehart (NAPSA), Linda Chun (Hawaii), Lori Delagrammatikas (California), Steve Fisher (Kentucky), Marta Fontaine (Missouri), Mariah Freark (Massachusetts), Lynn Koontz (New Hampshire), Paige McCleary (Virginia), Catherine Stack (Iowa), Mandy Weirich (West Virginia) and Sharon Zanti (Colorado). Mariah Freark was the principal author of the final report.

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Adult Protective Services Abuse Registry National Report

Thursday, April 18, 2019

New Mexico judge accused of stealing from dead man's estate

Judge Pamela Smith

By: KRQE Media

SIERRA COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) - A former New Mexico judge is now facing charges for stealing from a dead man.

Sierra County probate judge Pamela Smith resigned in 2017 after an investigation revealed she abused her power as a judge and OMI field investigator.

Smith is accused of responding to Dominic Domingo's death and identifying her husband as Domingo's next of kin, to gain access to his estate. In all, the couple is accused of stealing more than $280,000 from Domingo.

Smith is charged with "engaging in an official act for personal financial gain," fraud, and forgery.

Full Article & Source:
New Mexico judge accused of stealing from dead man's estate

Officials:Dickson attorney stole $1 Million from child of Tennessee trooper killed on duty

A Dickson attorney is accused in a million-dollar scheme, including stealing $1.1 million from a minor whose Tennessee trooper father was killed in the line of duty.

Attorney Jackie Lynn Garton, 54, is charged with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and tax fraud related to an 8-year long scheme stealing money from clients and law partners.

The scheme lasted from 2009 to 2017, according to middle Tennessee's U.S. District Attorney's office.

Officials said Garton acted as a trustee and removed over $1.1 million from the trust of a minor whose Tennessee trooper father was killed in the line of duty.

Documents say Garton withdrew funds from clients’ accounts without their permission and deposited the stolen funds into his personal bank accounts. He's also accused of trying to defraud the IRS of $350,000.

If convicted, Garton faces 25 years in prison and a $750,000 fine in addition to paying restitution to the victims. 

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Officials:Dickson attorney stole $1 Million from child of Tennessee trooper killed on duty

Saving elderly parents from financial fraud

Talk about precautions with the seniors in your family.

Elders are financially defrauded in this country on a daily basis. Only a few of these crimes are made public. In fact, the National Adult Protective Services Association estimates that only one in 44 cases of elder financial abuse are reported.

NAPSA also reports that one in nine seniors had been financially “abused, neglected or exploited” within the past year.

Friends, family and caregivers perpetrate much of this financial abuse.

They commit 90 percent of it, according to NAPSA. Major fraud damage might even result in a decline in an elder’s physical and mental health: victims of elder financial exploitation are four times more likely to go into a nursing home than their peers, and nearly 10 percent of the victims end up relying on Medicaid.

Frauds range from big scams to little schemes.

You may already know about the common ones: the grandparent scam (“Grandpa, I’m in jail in _____ and I need $___ to make bail”); the utility company scam (one criminal keeps the elder busy in the yard as the other burglarizes their home); and the lottery scam (a huge prize awaits, and the elder need only pay a few thousand upfront to take care of associated taxes).

Others are more subtle: home health aides severely overcharging an elder for their services; relatives or caregivers using a financial power of attorney to draw down an elder’s bank or investment accounts.

Talking about all this may help to prevent it.

Sometimes, a good way to introduce the topic is by referring to what happened to someone else – a story coming up on the news or in the paper, or an article online, or maybe even a friend’s experience. Part of this conversation will be about the elder in your life taking you on as a sort of second line of defense, someone to help them watch over things.

They may be resistant, at first, but advise them that this is a precaution not necessarily for today, but for a time when they may not be able to make decisions. From there, have a conversation about setting up powers of attorney and other legacy paperwork (will, living will, health-care directives) in coordination with legal and financial professionals.

Make it clear that you are there to back up the elders in your life and look after their wellbeing.
Maintain good communication with these professionals – not just the aforementioned legal and financial professionals, but caregivers, health-care professionals, and anyone else who works with them on a regular basis.

Maintaining these conversations with seniors and the people who work with them, asking questions and being present can go a long way to deterring financial fraud.

Have the conversation; have a look at Mom or Dad’s financial situation.

It’s a good idea to protect your family members from such a growing problem. The Senate Special Committee on Aging says that American elders lose $2.9 billion in fraud per year. That’s spread among 78 million Americans over the age of 65.

One in five of that population has some sort of cognitive issue, a number that rises to more than half when narrowed to people 85 and older.

Taking steps now might mean curtailing or avoiding bigger problems down the road for the seniors in your life, so it’s definitely worth having those conversations today.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Bush Wealth Management and LPL Financial are separate entities. Stacy Bush is with Bush Wealth Management.

Full Article & Source: 
Saving elderly parents from financial fraud

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Attorney accused of stealing $87,000 from disabled woman with head injury

Joseph Baessler
FLINT (WJRT) (4/9/2019) - Police have charged a local attorney with embezzling $87,000 from an incapacitated woman who suffered a closed head injury 35 years ago.

Joseph Baessler was appointed the conservator for the 64-year-old woman after she suffered a closed head injury during a crash in 1984. She has been incapacitated and required around-the-clock care ever since.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said his Elder Abuse Task Force began investigating Baessler. They determined he billed the woman for time and services he did not perform amounting to $87,962.

He said Baessler used that money to pay his legal secretary, pay his mortgage, pay his condominium fees and to spend on personal use.

Baessler was arraigned on one count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine equaling three times the amount embezzled if he is convicted.

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Attorney accused of stealing $87,000 from disabled woman with head injury

Milford lawyer Harland L. Smith Jr. disbarred, accused of stealing $300K from clients

MILFORD – The state’s top court has disbarred a Milford attorney, accusing him of stealing more than $300,000 from clients and mishandling cases over at least two decades.

“There were multiple aggravating factors,” according to documents from the state Board of Bar Overseers, announcing the disbarment, “including the respondent’s experience in the practice of law, prior discipline, as well as dishonesty and lack of candor before the hearing committee.”

Harland L. Smith Jr., whose office is in downtown Milford, was most recently in Framingham District Court late last year on embezzlement charges. Holliston police accused Smith of stealing from a dead client, whose money should have gone to her estate and family, according to the state board and Holliston police.

That case, which played out between 2012 and 2017, and another from 2006 to 2018, were the subjects of particular scrutiny in Smith’s disbarment.

The board accused Smith of stealing at least $40,000 associated with the case, beginning in 2006, in which he handled money from a home sale in a divorce, and mishandled more. That included an accusation that Smith withdrew $160,000 meant for his client, but did not notify her or give it to her for years, and failed to give the money to his client for child support when asked.

State board documents said he inaccurately blamed the ex-husband for the lack of child support payments, and that the account plummeted from $210,899 to $140 under his care.

In the second case, with the Holliston client, the board claimed Smith took $17,456 in pension checks and a $9,577 insurance check meant for his client, as well as $183,865 in real estate proceeds. Some of that money, board documents said, was used to pay back the $160,000 due his client in the divorce case.

Smith was admitted to the bar in 1988. The Board of Bar Overseers records accuse him of mishandling multiple cases since the 1990s, saying he “took advantage of and victimized multiple vulnerable clients.”

In the earliest case in the board’s online records, Smith is accused of failing to secure necessary permission from a trustee.

“At the time that he filed suit, (Smith) knew that he was required to obtain permission of the trustee,” the board’s summary of that case reads, “but the statute of limitations was about to expire and the respondent was concerned that the trustee would not provide authorization in time.”

Over the years, the board publicly reprimanded Smith, and in 2011, gave him a stayed suspension of six months.

Smith lives in East Brookfield, according to phone records and Daily News archives. The voicemail for the number listed for Harland Smith Attorney at Law in Milford was full Tuesday, calls to the number went unanswered, and he was not available at his listed address of 134 Main St.

To comply with the order for disbarment from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Smith will have to do several things within a month, according to the documents. Those include officially withdrawing from every court where he has a case, resigning from all his attorney-related appointments, such as guardian, executor or trustee, and notifying all his clients that he has been disbarred. He will no longer be able to practice law as of May, though he can finish cases on which be might currently be working.

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Milford lawyer Harland L. Smith Jr. disbarred, accused of stealing $300K from clients

No rest in peace for Anna Nicole Smith

After her death and burial, custody battle continues for her 5-month-old child


By Michelle F. Solomon - Podcast Producer/Reporter
Finally, Anna Nicole Smith is buried in Nassau, Bahamas, next to her son, Daniel. She has the ashes of dearly beloved billionaire husband J. Howard Marshall with her.

But there's still no rest in peace. Activity in the Smith saga continues in Nassau. Just 20 minutes from Lakeview Memorial Gardens & Mausoleum, and since her burial on March 2, 2007, the Supreme Court of the Bahamas is hearing from all sides fighting over Dannielynn, Smith's 5-month-old daughter.

It's about two weeks after Smith's burial. Larry Birkhead, one of the men claiming to be Dannielynn's father, comes out of the Supreme Court building in Nassau looking upbeat. He doesn't have any news he can share but tells the media that the legal battle should soon be over.

"I've been putting a nursery together, so I'm smiling," he says.

Someone who isn't smiling is Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur. She wants custody of Dannielynn, saying she could provide a more stable home than Howard K. Stern.

DNA from the baby was obtained on March 21, 2007. A judge could have ordered a DNA test from Stern, but it was determined that he did not have to submit to the test because, under Bahamian law, it is already presumed he is the father of the baby because his name is listed on the birth certificate.

But Bahamian attorney Godfrey Pinder says that the birth certificate is far from proof.

"The birth certificate is defective," he says. "The area where 'informant' is, well, there is an attorney's name and it should be his name. According to section 12, the Registration Births and Deaths, Chapter 188, only certain people can give that kind of information -- the father, the mother, a person who was present or the nanny. The lawyer cannot sign it. You can do it California, but you can't do it in the Bahamas. It makes it defective. It makes it voidable. Right now, it makes (the birth certificate) not good."

Pinder is the lawyer representing developer G. Ben Thompson, who is battling, too, in Nassau Supreme Court to take control of the Horizons estate on Eastern Road where Stern and Dannielynn are living. Pinder says Thompson bought the house and Thompson's lawyers had drawn up papers for it in Smith's name because, although he was in possession of the house, he wanted her to purchase the house eventually. Now Thompson's lawyers are claiming that since Smith has died, Stern is trespassing on the plaintiff's property. And he needs to go.

When the press asks what will happen to Dannielynn, he says, "Dannielynn is basically a ward of the Bahamas, so to speak.

But nothing is going to happen to her," he promises. "We love our babies."

DNA from Smith's body was obtained when she was at the Broward County medical examiner's office. Birkhead has submitted his DNA, as has another man who claims he could be the father -- Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, who says that he had a decade-long affair with Smith.

Back in Broward County

The Smith saga hasn't exactly left Broward County either. Broward County medical examiner Dr. Joshua Perper has yet to announce, officially, what exactly caused Smith's death. Seminole police continue to investigate.

In Perper's comprehensive 84-page report from March 2007, he states that forensic examination of two of Smith's computers "confirmed intense grieving over Daniel's death but showed that her mood had improved, she was generally enjoying life, and that she was planning on having another child." These conclusions were dated the weeks of March 10-23.

On this same page, it says the investigation and final reports are complete.

On Monday, March 26, 2007, Perper and the Seminole Police Department hold a press conference to officially announce the findings. Outside of the ME's office, Perper speaks, saying the former Playboy Playmate didn't "suffer. She went to sleep." He said that all of the drugs in Smith's system were prescribed to her, including three different drugs for anxiety and three for depression. Only one of the drugs was found at toxic levels, chloral hydrate, a sedative used to treat insomnia. Perper said that alone would not have killed her, but it was the effect of the drugs combined.

"Therefore, the cause of death is combined drug intoxication, with chloral hydrate being the major component and the other drugs being contributing," Perper tells the media. "Basically, what happens is that those drugs act on the respiration and the circulation centers in the brain and it shuts them off."
The announcement came seven weeks after her death at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.

Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger put to rest theories of anything other than a drug overdose.

"We are convinced, based on the extensive review of the evidence, that this case is an accidental overdose with no other criminal elements present," Tiger says. "Today's release by Dr. Perper of the cause of death effectively closes the case. We found nothing to indicate any foul play."

Judge Seidlin writes a book

In 2010, Judge Larry Seidlin, the Broward County judge who presided over the battle to bury Smith, writes and publishes a book. Its title: "The Killing of Anna Nicole Smith."

"Being so deeply troubled by the outcome of these matters in my case, we decided, my wife and I decided, that I would write a book," Seidlin tells me. "She was very helpful, and we spent the next few years investigating and researching all of these issues. When we finished, we looked at each other and we said we could write another because there are many issues that are unanswered. There are red flags flying."

'This body belongs to me now,' Judge Larry Seidlin says at hearing for body of Anna Nicole Smith
AP Photo/Alan Diaz
"This body belongs to me now," Broward County Judge Larry Seidlin says during a hearing regarding who should have control of Anna Nicole Smith's body, Feb. 14, 2007, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
His job presiding over the battle to bury Smith, he says, became about two things: "Where Anna Nicole should be buried, that was my primary job, and secondly, I made sure that this DNA was done. That we need to find the father for this little girl who has no mother. And that was done. And the foul play? That had to be proven by law enforcement. I could only take the horse to certain water. I couldn't do everything. I was done with the case after six days. You wanna be chasing windmills? I did the best I could do in researching this and investigating this and I still feel it doesn't add up. But I have nothing that puts A equaling B. I have nothing that directly brings it all together. I have my feelings based upon what evidence there was. There are questions that still need to be answered."

Most everyone I've spoken with both on and off the record, besides Seidlin, is satisfied with the conclusion that both Smith's and Daniel's deaths were caused by accidental overdoses -- that Daniel had a drug problem and that, after his death, Smith had lost her will to live and had a history of prescription drug use and overuse.

Will Seidlin continue on his quest to prove what he believes is an unsolved case?

"If you're asking me if I'm going to get back on my white horse and start to ride again, I don't have the power and the influence to get anything going more than what I did," Seidlin says. "I quote the great poet who says, 'You go to your grave with a story still be told.' I've told my story. I'm not going to be frustrated. I told my story the way I see it."

Birkhead says that what he remembers during the trial was a snowball effect -- that the story began unfolding as if the players were characters in a Shakespearean drama. All the world was a stage.

"You have to have a hero and a villain and sometimes the media wants to switch it up and make someone else the villain," Birkhead recalls. "The people that have become friends out of this whole thing, oddly enough, are the people I was sitting on the opposite sides of the table from (in that courtroom). That speaks volumes. It goes to show that these were the people that were out for things that they believed in. At the end of the day, no matter what their beliefs were, right or wrong, that the big picture was Dannielynn. They are still around in my circle."

Who's the father?

It's April 10, 2007, and the final piece of the puzzle is about to be put into place. The DNA test results are in. Birkhead is declared the father of Dannielynn, and Stern, whose name is on the birth certificate, says he will not fight for custody.

Birkhead walks out of the Nassau Supreme Court all smiles.

"I didn't want to tell you I told you so, but I told you so," he says.

Stern steps up to the microphone and says, "We're going to do what we can to make sure that the best interests of Dannielynn are carried out. And I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure he gets sole custody."

But Arthur's attorney, John O'Quinn, says that she will not seek any guardianship and will work with Birkhead solely as the girl's grandmother.

The DNA test declares that Birkhead is the father.

"Ninety-nine-point-nine percent," he says.

On April 29, 2007, her name is officially changed on her birth certificate. She's Dannielynn Hope Birkhead.

12 Years Later

Twelve years later, he tells me Dannielynn is a well-adjusted kid. They live outside of Louisville, Kentucky, and away from prying eyes and paparazzi. He picks her up at school every day and makes a living flipping houses with his own real estate business, he tells me.

Larry Birkhead and Dannielynn in 2015
Joe Imel/Invision/AP
Larry Birkhead and his daughter, Dannielynn, arrive on the red carpet at the Kentucky Derby, May 2, 2015, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
In November 2018, Arthur died at the age of 66 at her home in Montgomery, Texas.

Stern practices law in Santa Monica, California. In 2011, a judge ruled in his favor that there was no evidence that he intended fraud or deception when he picked up drugs for Smith under a slew of fake names. All charges against him were dropped.

Room 607 at the Hard Rock

When I contact the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's public relations representative, Gary Bitner, he tells me that several months after Smith's passing in February 2007, all of the rooms on the floor were renumbered. 

Anna Nicole Smith suite at Seminole Hard Rock AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
A four-post canopy bed is part of a two-bedroom suite at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Anna Nicole Smith spent her final hours in room 607.
There was an urban legend that the room numbers skip over on that floor, but Bitner says not at all. The whole floor was renumbered, starting from a different point, he explains. The suite in room 607 was not closed off, but it was gutted and refurbished and has since been renovated.

I stand at the gravesite in Nassau, Bahamas. The wind is warm. Things are quiet. I ponder the months of mayhem Smith's death brought to South Florida and then stretched to this small, friendly island.
I ask Birkhead about what he thinks Smith would say today about things: how the paternity turned out and about the daughter she didn't get to watch grow up.

"I think Anna would have been proud," Birkhead says of Dannielynn, who will soon be a teenager. "Dannielynn does really great with the situation at hand, her not having a mom, and I think that's one of the things she'd be proud of. I always say positive things and nice things about her mom, despite the fact that things weren't that great with our relationship at the end. I feel like it's my duty to keep her mom's image and memory alive in a positive way. She's always been told about her mom."

Full Article & Source:
No rest in peace for Anna Nicole Smith

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

From The Silver Standard’s Elder Abuse Reform Now Project: "YOU HAVE NO MORE AUTHORITY THAN A HORSE'S ASS" - said the guardian with a chuckle

By Marcia Southwick

In most states, if you are deemed incapacitated by a court, it will hand your rights over to a professional or family guardian who then will make all decisions for you.  Given that state courts are backlogged, and judges are faced with stacks of papers, it’s no wonder that a tendency to treat every case with uniformity has developed.   Unfortunately, one size does not fit all, and many elders and persons with disabilities are not being treated as individuals with dignity but rather as second-class citizens without equal protection under the law—as a non-person.  The descriptions of how removal of rights has caused suffering are heartbreaking.

Now that someone (often a complete stranger) has been appointed Dictator over your life and assets, and now that this Dictator has almost no supervision and little accountability for how your assets are spent, how are you feeling about it?  Not too great.   How is the guardian feeling?  Power drunk.

Even though guardians can control every aspect of people’s lives, they aren’t monitored by outsiders.  They pay themselves out of your estate in addition to having the right to claim that anything they do is in your “best interest.”  If that means selling your house and throwing you into a lock-down unit, so be it. If your spouse of 50 years fights for your freedom, they will simply, on your behalf and “in your best interests”, get you a divorce from that pesky spouse.  If your family doesn’t like it and wages a court battle, the guardian can use YOUR money to hire a lawyer to battle back, quickly exhausting your estate. And, what are your families chances of winning if you are in one of the many jurisdictions where the judge, the guardian, who was very possibly appointed by the judge, and the guardian’s lawyer are old pals?

One example out of many in which guardians became increasingly tyrannical can be seen in the case of Evelyn Schwartz.  Evelyn was born in 1916, widowed early, and, having had no children, lived alone for many years.  She had been a secretary to the dean of a local Mayfield Ohio college, and at the time she was deemed “incompetent”,  a very alert 93-year-old woman who had been declared fully capable by her physician. 

For fifteen years, her caretaker, a young man named Dean, had been seeing to her every need.  He had a heart attack, however, which caused Adult Protective Services to come knocking.  At that moment, her life was changed forever.

Evelyn didn’t expect or welcome this intrusion into her life. She was receiving excellent care and had a close-knit group of friends.  She had put a financial Power of Attorney and Health Directive in place, which meant that she was well prepared for the future.  As most of us do, Evelyn desperately wanted to remain in her own home.  Instead, a professional guardian was appointed over Evelyn.

In the documentary The Unforgivable Truth, produced by The Silver Standard for the EARN Project, Evelyn can be seen picking typos out of the court document declaring her to be—in their assessment—incompetent. Can we really trust those who are not educated enough to construct a simple document to assess others’ mental capacity (overriding the judgement of medical professionals)? Do we really want them to have the right to use this assessment to imprison someone for life after having rob them of their entire identity, and given that identity, and all the powers and possessions that come with it, to someone else?

In a YouTube video, Evelyn describes losing her rights: “Everything is turning against me. It’s the most unfair thing I have ever encountered in my life!  I’m in my 90s and should not have to put up with anything like this—

I’m treated like a common criminal.  I have nothing left to live for . . . I don’t deserve this, a prison sentence!” (view article).

Many elders in her situation have compared being forced into nursing facilities as no different than criminal incarceration, yet their only crime is aging and their rights are less than an incarcerated criminal.  The “hearing” was held in front of a magistrate (not a judge) in a civil court.  Those giving testimony did not have to swear under the penalty of perjury.  Evelyn’s Power of Attorney was not allowed to speak (view article).  Often the senior citizen in question is not even allowed to be present at those hearings to determine the direction of their property and their very life.

Evelyn entered a world of psychological and financial devastation in which the guardian stole, destroyed, or sold off many of her and Dean’s belongings.  One of Evelyn’s friends, upon mentioning to the guardian that he could be fined five thousand dollars for removing Dean’s belongings without giving proper thirty-day notice, received this response: “YOU HAVE NO MORE AUTHORITY THAN A HORSE’S ASS”  (view article).

To me, that phrase captures the one-sided power that guardians have over protected persons and anyone who tries to help.  Lord Acton, the 19th century politician, said, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Unfortunately, that is still even more true today.

Full Article & Source:
From The Silver Standard’s Elder Abuse Reform Now Project:  "YOU HAVE NO MORE AUTHORITY THAN A HORSE'S ASS" - said the guardian with a chuckle

See Also:
Evelyn Schwartz, Gone Too Soon

The Elder Abuse Reform Now Project (EARN) Presents: The Unforgivable Truth: How We Have Turned America's Greatest Generation into America's Abused Generation

JOIN The EARN Project

Ex-Kentucky lawyer sentenced to 8 years in prison over stolen $1.3 million

by Matthew Glowicki, Louisville Courier Journal

A now-disbarred Kentucky attorney was sentenced to eight years in prison Thursday and ordered to pay back nearly $1.3 million to former clients from whom he stole to pay gambling debts.

Danny Butler, 72, pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud in December 2018 in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Greg Stivers sentenced Butler to the prison term as well as two years of supervised release. 

Butler admitted that between 2009 and 2016 he stole money from estates and took money for legal work he didn't do. 

Butler practiced in Greensburg but had victims in several counties. The largest loss to a single client was $401,000. There were 11 victims in total. 

He used some of the stolen funds to pay for about $1.5 million in gambling losses.

Six of Butler's victims, who are identified by their initials in federal court records, have received partial reimbursement from the Kentucky Bar Association's Clients' Security Fund. 

Those reimbursements are capped at $50,000 per claim, with a total cap per attorney of $150,000.

Court records show the fund has paid out about $113,000. 

Butler, who began practicing in 1973, has a long disciplinary history including four private admonitions and a private reprimand, according to the Kentucky Supreme Court. 

The Courier Journal previously reported that his scheme unraveled when two brothers awaiting proceeds of an estate contacted authorities about Butler's continued excuses for not giving them their money.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. States Attorneys Bryan Calhoun and Nicole Elver. The FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Kentucky State Police investigated. 

Full Article & Source:
Ex-Kentucky lawyer sentenced to 8 years in prison over stolen $1.3 million

Disqualifications from serving as guardian

Last week’s column discussed the considerations 70-year-old Penelope should give to determining the persons she would choose to serve as her guardians of her person and her estate if she became incapable of handling her own care and financial affairs. In addition to the considerations mentioned, Penelope needs to understand the type facts and circumstances that disqualify a person from serving as a guardian in Texas.

Penelope cannot name her best friend’s sixteen-year-old granddaughter as her guardian because minors are not allowed to serve as guardians. She cannot name her long-time gentleman friend as her guardian because he has mental and physical disabilities that would disqualify him.

Penelope cannot appoint her excellent and devoted housekeeper as her guardian because, although this would not be the case with all domestic employees, Tina lacks the education and experience that would be required to handle either medical or financial decisions required by a guardian.

Penelope should be careful not to name someone whom a judge would be likely to find “unsuitable.” Because judges have wide discretion in determining “unsuitability,” Penelope should disclose to her attorney any facts about a person she is considering that might raise questions in a judge’s mind. The attorney will be able to assist her in assessing whether a person might be disqualified by the court.

Texas law was amended in 2014 to require courts to disqualify a person from serving as a guardian if the person’s conduct has been determined to be “notoriously bad.” Again, the court has discretion in making that determination. However, under the law, it is presumed that a person’s conduct is “notoriously bad” if one has been convicted of: (1) any sexual offense; (2) aggravated assault; (3) injury to a child; (4) making terroristic threats; (5) continuous violence against the family of the ward or incapacitated person.

I believe Penelope would be taking too high a risk by naming as her guardian a person suspected of having engaged in any of the offenses named above, even if the person has not been convicted of the alleged crime.

Any person who has a lawsuit against Penelope, one who is indebted to her or who has a claim adverse to her or her property will be disqualified from serving as her guardian.

Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.

Full Article & Source:
Disqualifications from serving as guardian

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tonight on Marti Oakley's TS Radio Network: Queensland Australia, a Dangerous Place for the Elderly

8:00 pm CST

In Australia.... an immediate gag order is placed on family members to prevent them from speaking out about the abuses conducted under the protection of Tribunal hearings. To violate that order, will see the police kicking in your door, filing false charges against you only to have them drop the charges because they have no evidence of wrong doing. But defending yourself from false charges can cost thousands of dollars, your job and have major repercussions.

Sound familiar America??

Join us this evening as we welcome another member of Australian Association to Stop Guardian & Administrative Abuse.

Louise joins us to tell the story of how her grand parents were stolen by one predatory social worker and how that same worker has numerous other families she has preyed upon in Queensland, Australia. Gaming the system for profit, this worker targets, captures and monetizes elderly family members and immediately begins to avail herself of assets. Queensland authorities are fully aware of the trafficking of the elderly, and cooperate fully in the threatening, harassment, and intimidation of family members who fight back.

Sadly, Queensland has the highest volume of elder abuse cases perpetrated by social workers, guardians and trustee's. Police retribution and abuse is shocking and continuing without being investigated. This one particular social worker continues to sign over elderly victims in the hospital with urgent interim Orders for Tribunal Hearings and the local police help cover up her activities.

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Seniors, disabled residents sue nation’s largest assisted-living provider

Brookdale San Ramon is one of 89 assisted living centers in California operated by Brookdale Senior Living, Inc., which is based in Brentwood, Tennessee.(Google Street View)
OAKLAND — When Rita Stiner signed an agreement in February 2016 with Brookdale San Ramon for her disabled daughter who uses a wheelchair, she fully expected Brookdale to live up to the accord.

But Brookdale San Ramon has not only failed to provide the services listed in the agreement — as well as the enhanced personal services plan — it also has created “humiliating, frustrating and hazardous situations on a daily basis” for Stacia Stiner, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The lawsuit says that Brookdale San Ramon has not provided Stacia Stiner with a room that has any physical access features, including insufficient space in the bathroom, which makes it impossible for her to enter in her wheelchair; lack of a roll-in shower and insufficient grab bars; and storage space in her closet that is out of reach for her. Stiner has had to wait up to 45 minutes to order breakfast, wait up to an hour for help getting dressed in the morning and wait up to an hour for staff to respond if she needs to use the toilet, according to the lawsuit.

Stiner, 48, is one of eight disabled and elderly residents who are suing Brookdale Senior Living in federal court, accusing the nation’s largest provider of assisted living centers of financial abuse and multiple violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit will seek class-action status for the estimated 5,000 residents in Brookdale’s 89 assisted living facilities in California, as well as unspecified damages. No date has been set when the plaintiffs’ attorneys will seek the class-action status.

“It is our view that Brookdale has failed to accommodate the disabilities of the named plaintiffs, has discriminated against them on the basis of their disability and has defrauded them of hard-earned money by not providing them the individualized services they were promised,” said attorney Gay Crosthwait Grunfeld of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, of San Francisco, in an interview. Her firm is one of three law firms representing the plaintiffs.

In addition to violating the ADA and accompanying regulations, Brookdale also has not adhered to requirements of the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, the lawsuit maintains. The Unruh Civil Rights Act bans discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status or sexual orientation.

The lawsuit contends that Brookdale has violated the ADA by failing to make its facilities usable by people with disabilities.

The lawsuit also alleges that Brookdale has violated the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, committed elder financial abuse and engages in unlawful and fraudulent practices.

“The results of Brookdale’s callous and profit-driven approach are devastating: As multiple reports by state regulators confirm, residents are left without assistance for hours after falling, they are given the wrong medications, they are denied clean clothing, showers and nutritious food, and they are left in their own waste for long periods of time,” the lawsuit continues.

Brookdale, with headquarters in Brentwood, Tennessee, owns and operates senior living and retirement communities across the United States and is a for-profit company. Brookdale has a total of 961 retirement communities serving 75,000 people, according to its website.

Heather Hunter, a spokeswoman for Brookdale’s corporate office in Tennessee, said: “The only remark we have is that we strongly disagree with the allegations and are defending ourselves.”

The lawsuit is not the first time that Brookdale has been in the courts. In December, a suit filed in Ventura County Superior Court alleged residents of Brookdale’s 10 California nursing homes are being illegally evicted.

In a separate case, Brookdale has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a 2012 case involving allegations of fraudulent Medicare billings totaling about $35 million. That case was brought by a former Brookdale employee in its Tennessee office.

And in a case involving a bizarre death, the granddaughter of a 90-year-old senior resident sued Brookdale over an alligator attack. The body of Bonnie Walker, a resident of Brookdale Charleston in South Carolina, was found in July 2016 in a pond near the senior living community. The coroner ruled the death an accident and said the cause was “multiple sharp and blunt-force injuries” consistent with those made by an alligator.

The federal court lawsuit, amended on Feb. 15, was first filed on July 13, 2017. It was prompted by “scores of family and resident council meetings and hundreds of communications to Brookdale management,” which “have failed to rectify these problems, leaving plaintiffs and the class no choice but to seek redress.”

On Jan. 25, U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. denied Brookdale’s motion to dismiss the case, setting the stage for a potential jury trial. No date has been set for a trial.

The lawsuit details the plaintiffs’ issues with Brookdale facilities across the state.

According to the lawsuit, on October 2016, Stiner’s mother, Rita Stiner, received a letter from Brookdale’s executive director, telling her that the cost for basic service, medication management, dressing and grooming assistance, shower help and toilet assistance would increase from $4,736 to $5,638 a month, a 19 percent increase.

Rita Stiner spoke with Shawn Cull, acting executive director in San Ramon, and said he told her that Brookdale would not charge the full amount of the increases. But Brookdale subsequently sent Rita Stiner notices of late payment and a “30-day final demand to pay,” the lawsuit stated.

A call seeking comment from Cull was not returned.

Edward Boris was a resident at Brookdale Fountaingrove’s assisted living facility from Sept. 10, 2015, to July 21, 2016. He required regular monitoring of his catheter.

The lawsuit says that in May 2016, his catheter overflowed, disconnected and spilled urine all over his room. And on July 20, 2016, Boris’s catheter developed a blockage, “but Brookdale’s staff failed to identify or address the problem for about 24 hours.”

The lawsuit said the next day, Boris was reported in extreme pain and suffered a urinary tract infection and kidney failure and had to stay in intensive care for several days. After he left the hospital, his condition deteriorated to the point where he needed skilled nursing care.

Ralph Schmidt, 54, is blind and suffers from short-term memory loss, the result of a traumatic brain injury. He was a resident at Brookdale Tracy from September 2011 to Oct. 30, 2017.

“Brookdale responded to Mr. Schmidt’s frustration and need for appropriate accommodations in shockingly inappropriate ways,” the lawsuit says. “Professing to be concerned that Mr. Schmidt might harm someone with his tapping cane, Brookdale staff once took it away from him for several weeks.”

Schmidt’s toilet overflowed “on several occasions,” and “Brookdale responded by locking Mr. Schmidt out of the bathroom in his apartment altogether. Rather than fix the problems with the toilet, Brookdale gave Mr. Schmidt, via his conservator, Heather Fisher, the option of a portable toilet in Mr. Schmidt’s room or paying for a full-time personal caretaker at the additional cost of $250 per day,” according to the lawsuit.

Full Article & Source: 
Seniors, disabled residents sue nation’s largest assisted-living provider

Can an elder with mild dementia revoke her Power of Attorney?

Q: My mother signed a durable POA and a health directive just six weeks before two Drs declared her incompetent in 2016. Her agents are also her trustees. Isn’t her trust now irrevocable? These two, my siblings stuck her in a home against her wishes prematurely and are now abusing their responsibility, claiming they can as POA make trust changes and do not have to give an accounting either. Mom also signed on the directive that the agents can’t be questioned by anyone. This is horrible. Her symptoms are mild. They are acting directly against her wishes. Her trusted attorney I used to talk to has passed. I am prohibited from acting as trustee, but I have two petitions filed in pro per. I think the facility she is in is not properly licensed for her health needs. Can I file ex parte for a guardianship just related to her health and placement? I can’t afford an attorney. They have trust funds for theirs. (Oil City, PA)

A: How was she declared incompetent in 2016 and now just has mild dementia? Normally it is reversed. However, mild dementia normally does not render someone incompetent to make decisions that affect their life and to sign important documents. I would consult with her physician as to whether she is now competent. If she is competent, she can act on her own, and revoke the POA in writing. Once done, she can fire the two Agents on the POA, your siblings. As to whether the POA allowed your siblings to make changes to a trust, that is dictated by the language of the POA. Under the new POA statute, effective 1/1/2015, that power must be specifically granted in the POA document-the power to alter trusts. Even if the POA was written prior to the new statute and therefore grandfathered in, the POA should have some language authorizing such power. There are many issues here and I strongly suggest you seek an attorney to consult with. If the attorney advises that your actions may have merit in court, the attorney may be able to be paid from your mother’s funds.

Full Article & Source:
Can an elder with mild dementia revoke her Power of Attorney?

A Caregiver Looks Back After His Mother’s Death

On the first anniversary of my mother’s death, I take stock of what I learned


Barry J. Jacobs and his mother
Courtesy Barry Jacobs
Barry Jacobs provided care for his mother, who suffered from kidney failure and vascular dementia.

There were times when we stared across the kitchen table at one another in tight-lipped anger during yet another argument. My mother bridled at my efforts to control her. I bristled at her resistance to using her walker and budgeting her money, even though her frequent falls and financial woes were negatively affecting me and my family.

There were moments of tenderness, too. We never had a “huggy” relationship or even one in which we talked much. But as we sat silently in the car, sometimes for hours, on the way to visiting her sister or nieces or friends, she would suddenly say “Thank you for driving me” in a clear voice that brought a lump of emotion to my throat. Much later on, as we sat eating lunch together in the sunroom at her nursing home, in the days when her halting speech and fumbling fingers made it evident she was declining, I tried to show her through gently wiping her mouth and touching her shoulder that I understood her fears and sadness and would be there for her.

Anniversaries are times for family caregivers to look back and take the measure of themselves. As the first anniversary of my mother’s death arrives, I’ve been reflecting on the nearly seven years of caregiving I provided for her before her death from complications of vascular dementia and kidney failure. I’ve been asking several questions: What did I learn about myself — good and bad — through this often difficult challenge? How does that matter to me in my life now? What lessons have I gleaned to share with those still in the middle of the daily grind of self-sacrifice and caregiving? Here are some thoughts.

No one should posture as a hero: I used to hate when others would make me out to be some kind of saint for taking care of my mother. They seemed to be making an implicit gender judgment — “It’s so special for a son to be a caregiver” — which I knew from national statistics and my personal experience wasn’t true. I also knew I didn’t act like a saint, and their praise just made me feel guiltier.

In the face of my mother’s sometimes wanton disregard for her health and safety, I acted like a stern taskmaster, forcing her to get out of bed, take her pills and interact with her home health aides. She in turn described me as “sour” to her friends and called me a “bastard” to my face. In hindsight, I should have been gentler, less task-oriented and more patient and sensitive to her feelings. If an iron fist was ever needed, then I should have wrapped it in a velvet glove.

Nor play the victim: Sure, I complained. Sitting for long hours in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, emptying commodes, and making frequent drugstore runs weren’t particularly fun. But when I invited my mother to move up from Florida to live near me, my wife and kids in Pennsylvania, I kept in mind — just like I counsel my family-caregiver clients — that I had chosen to make a commitment which I had the right to define in more detail. Yes, I would and did give her comfortable shelter, good food and opportunities for company. No, I wouldn’t and didn’t always take her to the concerts, museums and family gatherings to which she wanted to go. I wanted to take care of my mother, and did it my way without feeling too sorry for myself.

Relish the gifts: Even though I’d known my mother all of my life, I learned through caregiving just how tough she was — gumption I now grudgingly admire. Even though I had spent decades working in health care, I learned how many obstacles — such as long wait-times and poor communication systems — we professionals unthinkingly place in the caregivers’ way. Even though I’d written myriad articles and a book on caregiver psychology, I learned just how much anguish and perseverance caregiving can take.

Remember the forest: For me and many others, caregiving is a classic tree-and-forest scenario in which each tree, like each daily task, looms so large that it obscures awareness of the wider terrain and greater mission. I would get so caught up in the day-to-day frustrations of juggling schedules, calling insurers and managing pillboxes that I sometimes lost sight of the purpose for all of my self-sacrifice — to help my mother live as well as possible in her last years. Thankfully, from a full year’s distance, it is the forest, not the trees, that now stands tall in my memory and makes me mostly proud to have been the caregiver I was.

Barry J. Jacobs, a clinical psychologist, family therapist and healthcare consultant, is the co-author of the book AARP Meditations for Caregivers (Da Capo, 2016). Follow him on Twitter @drbarryjacobs and on Facebook.

Full Article & Source:
A Caregiver Looks Back After His Mother’s Death