Saturday, August 24, 2019

State Attempts To Shut Down Care Facilities After Seniors’ Deaths

ROSEVILLE (CBS13) — California regulators are cracking down on two assisted living homes after seniors were left alone in the sun and later died. 

The two incidents took place just months apart last year at facilities in Roseville and in Chico. Now, the state is taking legal action to get their licenses revoked. 

The state says staff at Meadow Oaks assisted living facility of Roseville on Oak Ridge Drive, failed to provide proper care and supervision that ultimately led to Gene Roger’s death. The staff worker mentioned in their complaint has a number of warrants out for her arrest, raising questions about the facility’s hiring practices. 

Eighty-three-year-old Gene Rogers was a Marine who fought in Korea. He later went on to coach youth football and raised three boys during his 60 years of marriage. On June 30, 2018, he became gravely ill.

“The hospital called and said he was almost dead when he arrived,” said his son Jeff. 

Jeff said his father was rushed to the hospital while in the care of nurses and staff at Meadow Oaks.

“He was unconscious, they had to bag him with a cooling bag, his skin temperature was 103 something,” he said. 

Gene was in a wheelchair and had dementia. The staff at the time told his family that he had wandered outside in the blazing sun, and staff later found him unresponsive. An explanation Jeffs family did not accept. 

“They cooked him to death, they put him out there, a person in his 80’s who’s not supposed to have severe heat exposure,” said Jeff. 

According to a complaint filed by the CA Department of Social Services, Rogers was left, “unattended for a prolonged period of time outside in the sun and heat. This resulted in the client suffering dehydration and heatstroke and ultimately led to the client’s death…“ 

Carole Herman is the President of the Foundation Aiding the Elderly (FATE), a non-profit that protects the rights of the elderly.

“To leave that man on the patio is inexcusable and they should lose their license over this,” said Herman.

Herman said her biggest concern is lack of enforcement at these facilities. 

“To shut down a facility is not common, and it rarely happens, and so that just tells you how egregious this was,” said Herman. 

Gene’s death came just two months after another patient died in Chico at a care home owned by the same group based in San Diego: Westmont Living. 

Now California regulators are taking action to revoke the licenses of both facilities.

“I want justice for my father, and I want to prevent this from happening to anyone else,” said Jeff. 

Since the incidents, Meadow Oaks is now under new management.

A spokesperson for the new group released the following statement: “First, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Rogers. Integral Senior Living took over management of Meadow Oaks of Roseville on July 1, 2019. Because we were not involved with the community at the time of this unfortunate incident, we feel it would be inappropriate to comment on the circumstance,” said Carrie DelaneyDivisional Vice President of Sales & Marketing. 

CBS13 reached out to Westmont Living, based in La Jolla, but have not gotten a response. Lawyers for the company filed an answer with the state denying the allegations. They have requested a hearing. That date has not yet been set. 

Full Article & Source:
State Attempts To Shut Down Care Facilities After Seniors’ Deaths

Uptick in 'guardianship cases' leave Maryland patients in EDs for months

An increasing number of patients without guardians are staying in Maryland emergency departments for months, even though they don't require emergency care, according to The Capital Gazette.

The patients often lack a legal guardian and cannot care for themselves. Many have advanced dementia or a psychiatric illness. If case managers cannot find relatives to assign as guardians, the hospital must go through the county circuit court to appoint two people: one to make care decisions and the other to make financial decisions.

In the meantime, hospitals such as Glen Burnie-based Baltimore Washington Medical Center are not allowed to discharge the patients to long-term care facilities. Patients who lack guardians spend an average of 90 days at BWMC. "This is taking up beds for acute needs," said Beth Tingo, RN, BWMC's director of population health.

BWMC had 14 guardianship cases in 2017, 16 in 2018 and 19 in 2019 so far. The patients have waited a combined 3,000 days for discharge since 2017. The hospital does not know why there has been an increase in guardianship cases, Ms. Tingo said.

Annapolis, Md.-based Anne Arundel Medical Center's ED has also seen an uptick in such cases, with 18 over the past two years, according to Barbara Jacobs, RN, the hospital's chief nursing officer. The issue may be due to the increase in families moving away and leaving behind aging relatives, Ms. Jacobs said.

Full Article & Source:
Uptick in 'guardianship cases' leave Maryland patients in EDs for months

LTCCC Alert: The Most Poorly Rated Nursing Homes in the United States

August 21, 2019 – Approximately half of all seniors will need nursing home care at some point.  Despite this significant need, and the vulnerability of most nursing home residents, serious problems are widespread and persistent, including inadequate staffing, substandard care, abuse, and neglect.

To help the public gain insights into the quality and safety of facilities in their communities, LTCCC regularly publishes data on key indicators relevant to nursing home care. Today, we are publishing the latest data on nursing homes that have received a one-star overall rating on Nursing Home Compare. One-star is the lowest possible rating in the federal Five-Star rating system, which bases its overall rating on staffing levels, health inspection outcomes, and a range of quality measures. While studies have shown that having a high rating does not necessarily mean that a nursing home is safe, substandard care in lower rated facilities has become a matter of increasing public concern.

All files are searchable by facility name; location; ratings for health inspections, quality measures, and staffing; ownership type (for-profit vs not-for-profit); reported staffing; substantiated complaints against the facility; and number and amount of fines. The data were downloaded from Nursing Home Compare in August 2019.

In addition to the one-star facilities, LTCCC recently reported the Special Focus Facility candidate list, the latest information on staffing levels for every nursing home (in compliance with federal reporting requirements), and the top ten & bottom ten nursing homes in each state in respect to staffing levels.

To assist residents, families, and those who work with them achieve better care, LTCCC provides a range of fact sheets on residents’ rights as well as easy-to-use forms to support resident-centered advocacy on our website,  All resources are free to use and share.

LTCCC Alert: The Most Poorly Rated Nursing Homes in the United States

Friday, August 23, 2019


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

Award-winning investigative journalist Gretchen Rachel Hammond spent the past 13 months independently investigating a systemic problem at the Oakland County Probate Court, which has allegedly been shielded by the highest levels of Michigan government for the past 30-some years.

The guardianship system isn’t new; in fact, it’s rooted in medieval English law. Every US state still uses some form of the system, which, at its best, is designed to protect citizens who are no longer able to protect themselves by declaring them wards of the state. We know, of course, that the system is rarely at its best, with increasing reports of abuse cropping up nationwide, prompting Congressional calls for reform.

But the level of controversy over how guardianship cases are handled in one Detroit-area probate courtroom has reached such heights, the story reads more like Orwellian fiction than it does a model of the American experience.

An unsettling number of accusations have been leveraged against the court, citing abuse, neglect, robbery, and exploitation, often in cases that arguably didn’t merit guardianship in the first place. In as little as a year, “incapacitated wards” are stripped of the entirety of their savings and possessions and rendered completely reliant upon social services and benefits such as Medicaid. Even high-profile families, including the estates of Rosa Parks and Aretha Franklin, have been drawn into the quagmire.

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Nessel relieves 4 lawyers of duties to administer certain estates

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Friday relieved four public administrators of their responsibilities in Oakland and Macomb counties, including two who have been linked to guardianship problems in those counties. 

The decision to relieve four of the 104 public administrators of their state-delegated duty to administer deceased estates where there is no family was made after Nessel’s months-long elder abuse listening tour.

The four lawyers relieved of their responsibilities were Robert Kirk in Macomb County Probate Court and John Yun, Thomas Fraser and Jennifer Carney in Oakland County Probate Court.

“Now that we’ve concluded our elder abuse listening tour, our office is taking a fresh look at how we provide critical services and resources to Michigan residents based on the feedback we received,” Nessel said in a statement Friday. “After reevaluating our needs, we decided to relieve these public administrators of their appointments.”

Kirk and Fraser had been highlighted in a WXYZ investigation revealing problems at the guardianship company Caring Hearts Michigan, owned by Kirk’s wife, and a guardianship case for which Fraser billed more than $17,000 in attorney fees.

When asked about the reasoning for relieving those specific lawyers, Nessel’s office gave few details.

“This was an internal decision made, in part, based on the feedback our office received from the communities we visited during our elder abuse listening tour,” said Nessel’s spokesman Dan Olsen.

The Attorney General’s office is tasked with appointing public administrators to help manage deceased estates as needed in Michigan’s 83 counties when no family is available or no estate is opened.

When contacted Friday, Kirk said he was informed of his removal by phone, but said he usually only handled one or two cases a year. He served as public administrator in Macomb County for 30 years.

In a Friday statement, Carney said she was honored to serve Oakland County residents for the four years she served in the position.

“I am saddened by the attorney general’s decision to terminate my appointment as a county public administrator, but my work as an advocate for the protection of vulnerable adults will continue,” Carney said.

Yun and Fraser did not immediately return calls for comment.

Nessel launched the Elder Abuse Task Force in March to address the legal, social and judicial shortfalls that have contributed to the abuse of the state’s 73,000 older adults. The task force has resulted in several elder abuse charges across the state since then.

Full Article & Source:
Nessel relieves 4 lawyers of duties to administer certain estates

Unprotected: Botox, breast, butt implants allegedly bought with cash from elderly victims

By: Ron Regan

CLEVELAND — A portion of the hundreds of thousands of dollars allegedly exploited from an 89-year-old Parma Heights man was used to purchase botox injections, breast implants and butt implants by the woman he trusted.

Details of the alleged scheme were revealed during testimony in a Cuyahoga County courtroom where 38-year-old Latasha Wisniewski is on trial on charges she orchestrated an elaborate plan to befriend the recently widowed victim and ultimately fleece him of his life savings.

Wisniewski has pleaded not guilty to the charges and insists the couple had a romantic relationship that included her moving in with the victim and taking care of him in the months before he died of cancer.

Parma Heights police investigated when the man's family complained.

The testimony came from Wisniewski's aunt, 39-year-old Lisa Dotson, who pleaded guilty earlier Monday in the same courtroom to similar charges in a separate case involving multiple elderly victims.

Dotson faces two to four years in prison and restitution totaling $200,000.

But Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brent Kirvel says both Dotson and Wisniewski collaborated at one point to siphon off hundreds of thousands of dollars from the 89-year-old victim. That money was allegedly used to purchase plastic surgery, an SUV, gift cards and more.

In testimony Monday, Dotson also explained how she would earn a 50% "kickback" from checks she helped cash on the victim's account.

The case follows an exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation--"Unprotected"--detailing the growing crime of elderly financial exploitation and the lack of resources to investigate and prosecute.

Last year, as many as 3,000 elderly people across Ohio filed complaints that left the vast majority unprotected from financial exploitation.

Full Article & Source:
Unprotected: Botox, breast, butt implants allegedly bought with cash from elderly victims

Welch pleads guilty of embezzling $300k from probate court

A Grand Jury style closed hearing was held last Monday August 12th, at the Chambers County Court House where former Probate Clerk Rene Welch, 57, plead guilty to using her official position in the Chambers County Probate Judge’s Office for personal gains. 

Welch was sentenced to 18 months in prison and supervised probation for five years after she pled guilty to the theft of nearly $300,000 from the probate office.

Welch was charged with a class B felony.

Welch was a bookkeeper for the Chambers County Probate Office between the years of 2013 and 2017. She was responsible for verifying the amount of money collected each day and correcting any discrepancies.  Her position’s responsibility was to combine all collected money thru out a workday and prepare a deposit slip and take the money to the bank.

Investigators from the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts noted numerous instances where the amount of cash recorded on the deposit slip by the bookkeeper and the cash deposited into the bank was less than the amount of cash collected by the clerks and verified by the

The plea agreement states that Welch has agreed to pay restitution for the full amount of the stolen funds. Current Probate Judge Paul Story said, “ It will be very hard to recoup the taxpayers money thru restitution.”

“This situation has not been detrimental to the county funds, it has been detrimental to the funds for the probate office itself and affected how it runs,” said Judge Story.

The news of this story was originally released a few days before the general election at which Story beat the seated Probate Judge Brandi Easlick. Story stated, “ We now have further checks and balances within our office, we have increased accountability for not only employees but myself also.”

Full Article & Source:
Welch pleads guilty of embezzling $300k from probate court

Serial Fraudster Pleads Guilty To Scamming Elderly Victims Out Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars In Fraudulent Payment Scheme

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Serial Fraudster Pleads Guilty To Scamming Elderly Victims Out Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars In Fraudulent Payment Scheme

Michael Pizarro Had Previously Been Convicted of a Similar Offense and Continued to Perpetrate the Scheme even after his Arrest

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MICHAEL PIZARRO, a/k/a “Eric Miller,” pled guilty today before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein to defrauding individuals (the “Victims”) by representing to them that they had qualified for a government grant, which could be accessed only upon the payment of an up-front refundable application fee.  In actuality, the government grant did not exist and none of the Victims had been approved for such a grant.  PIZARRO continued to perpetrate this scheme even after he was arrested and released on bail.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted in court, Michael Pizarro preyed on elderly victims and others by charging them up-front fees to get government grant money that was fictitious.  In fact, there were no ‘grants’ and the ‘registration fee’ Pizarro charged his victims was just money he stole from them.”

According to allegations in the criminal complaint, the information, and other documents filed in federal court, as well as statements made in public court proceedings:

Beginning in at least February 2017 through July 25, 2019, PIZARRO called the Victims, many of whom were more than 70 years old, and told them that his name was “Eric Miller” and he was calling on behalf of a company called “National Grants.”  PIZARRO informed the Victims that they had been approved for a government grant, which was being held in escrow at an account with the “Word Bank” in Washington, D.C.  Before the funds could be released, however, the Victims would have to pay a registration fee.  In fact, none of the Victims had been approved for a grant, the grants did not exist, and no Victim ever received any funds.

In April 2018, PIZARRO was charged in New York Supreme Court in connection with his involvement with National Grants from October 2015 through January 2017.  PIZARRO pled guilty in December 2018 and was awaiting sentencing when he was arrested in connection with this scheme on May 2, 2019.  After he was released on bail, PIZARRO continued to seek contact information for additional Victims in furtherance of the scheme.  In total, not including the conduct charged in New York Supreme Court, PIZARRO defrauded the Victims out of approximately $270,000.

PIZARRO, 37, of Brooklyn, New York, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud while on pre-trial release.  That offense carries a maximum prison term of 30 years.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  PIZARRO is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Paul A. Crotty on December 20, 2019.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the New York City Police Department.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kiersten A. Fletcher and Benet J. Kearney are in charge of the prosecution.

If you believe you have been a victim of the scheme described above, including a victim entitled to restitution, and you wish to provide information to law enforcement and/or receive notice of future developments in the case or additional information, please contact Wendy Olsen-Clancy, the Victim Witness Coordinator at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at 866-874-8900, or  You may also report it to Detective Christopher Bastos at 917-480-7167 or

Serial Fraudster Pleads Guilty To Scamming Elderly Victims Out Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars In Fraudulent Payment Scheme

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bitter Reno family battle leads to manhunt, arrests

By Bill Dentzer

RENO –Two days before he absconded with his dementia-stricken, 80-year-old mother from an Alzheimer’s care facility in northwest Reno, Roger Hillygus eagerly showed a Review-Journal reporter a “jury verdict” that he said would make it all legit.

The document was a sham.

By the end of the following week, Hillygus was in custody in California on kidnapping charges; his mother found safe with him. A second man, a former county sheriff, had been charged as an accomplice in the abduction, despite telling Reno police he knew nothing of Hillygus’s intentions. His arrest and alleged involvement, as a former top county cop, propelled the case into the national headlines, garnering media attention as far away as New York.

Meanwhile, the “verdict” document, which Hillygus had submitted multiple times in his mother’s ongoing guardianship case, held no legal weight. He had obtained it online from a citizen’s rights group in Arizona.

Hillygus took his mother, Susan Hillygus, without a confrontation from the Stone Valley Alzheimer’s Special Care Center where she lived on Aug. 8. Two days before, a reporter ran into him by chance, along with the lawman, Stewart Handte, whose 30-year law enforcement career included a stint as Mineral County sheriff. Handte, at Hillygus’s request, was one of two men who went with Hillygus to the care center. After about an hour there, Hillygus left with his mother, later calling the center to say he was not returning.

As events unfolded over the next week, Handte communicated daily with the reporter, repeatedly recounting that day’s events along with day-to-day updates, including his discussions with, and later interrogation by, Reno police, as authorities searched for Hillygus and his mother. A “Silver Alert” — similar to the Amber alerts posted on electronic highway signs in cases of missing or abducted children — was posted in the Reno area on Friday, the day after Hillygus fled the area.

“The FBI’s gonna be coming for me soon,” Handte sardonically told the reporter that afternoon, before recounting the previous day’s events at the care facility.
On that score, he would prove about half-right.

Long-running custody battle 

The one-page document Hillygus thought would cover him, obtained by the Review-Journal from the court file, was his latest legal ploy to win back custody of his mother and control of the family trust that paid for her care. Whether he knew it was worthless is not yet clear, but Hillygus, in that Aug. 6 conversation with the reporter, said it would legitimately restore him as his mother’s guardian, a status he had been stripped of in a long-running guardianship dispute with his sister.

A review of the court docket in his mother’s custody case shows he had submitted the document multiple times since July, the last time on Aug. 8, the day he fled with her.

The reporter had met Hillygus in passing earlier in June at a Reno law office. Handte had met Hillygus through a mutual acquaintance at the law office a few months prior. Hillygus alleged to the reporter that guardianship of his mother had been effectively stolen from him in legal proceedings and he was fighting to regain it. He said he was a victim of a conspiracy involving lawyers, judges, a private guardian and his sister, who wanted to control the family trust that paid for his mother’s care.

Such incidents, where people lose guardianship to unscrupulous third-parties in the courts, do happen, usually when a large estate or trust is involved. The Review-Journal is among the media outlets that have written about the issue. The paper’s reporting prompted the state Legislature, in 2015 and again this year, to tighten licensing procedures for private guardians in the state. Hillygus in fact contacted the Review-Journal reporter who wrote the stories in the spring of 2018, hoping to get coverage for his plight.

A review of Susan Hillygus’ five-year-old guardianship case shows her son filed motion after motion accusing the judge, lawyers, court-appointed guardians and his sister of conspiring against him. Multiple lawyers asked to be replaced as his attorney. He filed so many frivolous and defamatory motions in the case that the opposing lawyer sought to have him declared a “vexatious litigant.” After repeatedly failing to heed court orders or follow through on pledges he made, the judge in the case removed him as guardian in December 2015.

More recently, Hillygus, representing himself, filed an action in U.S. District Court alleging all manner of wrongdoing in the guardianship proceedings. His case was thrown out in December, and again on appeal in June.

Plan to take mother to California 

Hillygus, on the Tuesday before he took his mother, told the reporter and Handte he would show the care center the document. The Review-Journal later obtained a copy from the guardianship court file. Hillygus said he planned to take her to California, later telling Handte that his mother had a brother living there and that he hoped to establish residency there himself.

Hillygus, 52, who is married and lives in Dayton, said he would undertake the trip despite having fallen off a second-story roof at his contracting job a few weeks earlier, suffering several broken ribs, clavicle and a head injury that knocked him out cold. He had asked Handte to go with him to the care center. A third man would join them, videotaping with his phone if things got out of hand, according to Handte’s account to the reporter and police.

Handte, 59, had his doubts about Hillygus’s strategy, but he was also sympathetic. As he had told the reporter once in an earlier casual conversation, he had been involved in a similar custody fight with relatives several years earlier when his mother took ill and died.

During a 30-year career in Nevada law enforcement, Handte served in the state Highway Patrol, twice as a deputy in Storey County, and most recently, as chief of two tribal police forces, the Yomba Shoshone Tribe in Austin, and more recently, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. He was forced out of the Reno-Sparks job in June after just seven months, prior to the Hillygus matter, and is currently trying to win either reinstatement for wrongful dismissal or a severance settlement.

A few days before the abduction, according to Handte, he called Reno Police Chief Jason Soto asking that the department get involved and speak to Hillygus. Soto was out of town in Washington. Reno Police Cmdr. Oliver Miller called Handte back, telling him that Hillygus had been in touch with the department before.

The morning of the abduction, Hillygus met with Reno Police Sgt. Robin Hannafin. Hillygus was told police considered his case a civil matter and would not get involved. Hillygus took Hannafin’s card, which he gave to Handte a few hours later, shortly after 2 p.m., when they met outside the care center. He told Handte what Reno police told him about not getting involved. Handte said he asked if police gave any other guidance. Hillygus said no.

The Review-Journal on Monday asked to speak to Cmdr. Miller. The department declined to make him available. Detective Lt. Zack Thew said Miller “is part of the investigative process and has documented his contact in the police report.”

“I can confirm that there was some contact with the police department beforehand, but not the specific details of what that contact was,” Thew said.

The apartment complex in Bellflower, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, where Roger Hillygus went ...
The apartment complex in Bellflower, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, where Roger Hillygus went with his mother, Susan, after taking her from her Reno care facility. (Peter Bennett/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

A quiet departure

Handte met Hillygus and a third man – known to Handte only by his first name, Tracy – outside the care center about 2:15 p.m.. They spoke for about 15 minutes outside before Hillygus and Handte entered, according to Handte. Hillygus had mentioned an earlier confrontation at the center on a previous visit, and Handte said that if center staff objected to his presence or stopped him for any reason, they would leave immediately.

Handte said he entered the facility with Hillygus, who initially asked to see another woman. After a few minutes, he came back to the lobby where Handte had remained. The third man remained outside. Handte said he later identified the third man to Reno police when detectives showed him a picture from the body cam footage recorded when Hillygus spoke to police.

Hillygus asked to see his mother and a male attendant took him to her, Handte said. After about 10 minutes, Hillygus returned to the lobby with her. They remained in the lobby for five or 10 minutes when Hillygus asked his mother if she wanted to go for a ride. She said yes, and they exited the building with no objection or intervention by staff, according to Handte. They walked across the parking lot, Susan Hillygus shuffling her feet and holding her son’s arm, according to Handte, who walked ahead of them.

Roger Hillygus put his mother in the front seat and fastened her seat belt. He told Handte he was taking her home to Dayton. The third man, Tracy, asked Handte for a ride back to his car, which he had left at a McDonald’s in Sun Valley, about 10 miles away.

Some of the details from Handte’s account are mentioned in the statement Hillygus’s sister wrote in a court filing seeking a protection order after the abduction. Unlike Handte’s account, however, her statement says a witness saw Susan Hillygus being “dragged” to her son’s car.

Staff at the facility on Friday referred the Review-Journal to upper management regarding questions about the incident. Erin Peacock, a spokeswoman for Stone Valley’s parent company, Sunshine Retirement Living of Bend, Ore., said Monday the company “can’t provide any kind of input or answer any questions because we don’t want to jeopardize the investigation.”

After leaving, Handte said he called Hillygus and told him he needed to give the center the paperwork he had brought along. Later, according to the sister’s court filing, Hillygus faxed the sham paperwork to the center, told them he held health care power of attorney for his mother, and was not returning her.

Police get involved

Handte dropped Tracy off and went home. About 11 p.m., Miller, the Reno police commander, called Handte, asking where Roger Hillygus was.

Handte told Miller he didn’t know. He spoke to Reno police several times in the coming days, relaying the same details about the visit he had told the reporter. But Reno police began to doubt his story and challenged his version of events, he said. He had thought Hillygus was taking his mother to Dayton, his home, but recalled Hillygus telling him about his mother’s brother in California, and his interest in becoming a California resident.

That brother’s apartment in the Los Angeles suburb of Bellflower ultimately is where police found Hillygus and his mother one week after he walked her out of the care center unchallenged. The 85-year-old brother’s 80-year-old girlfriend, Wilma Dester, who managed the 16-unit, two-story apartment complex where they lived, told a Los Angeles TV station that the pair showed up last week and that Roger Hillygus had dutifully cared for his mother during their stay.

Dester told the TV station she did not realize Hillygus was being sought until police knocked on her door around 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15. A seven-hour standoff ensued until Hillygus, according to media reports from the scene, nodded off about 2 a.m. He was arrested and booked into a Los Angeles county jail, where he is being held without bail. Susan Hillygus was unharmed. Her current whereabouts could not be determined Monday.

The bedroom where Roger Hillygus stayed with his mother, Susan. (Peter Bennett/Las Vegas Review ...
The bedroom where Roger Hillygus stayed with his mother, Susan. (Peter Bennett/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Friend interrogated, arrested 

Handte had fared only slightly better. On the Tuesday following the abduction, he was interrogated by Detective Allison Jenkins and other Reno police officers for more than two hours. He surrendered his cellphone to them. He had tried to reach Hillygus by phone and text, but Hillygus wasn’t responding.

On Wednesday, the day before Hillygus was found, police arrested Handte outside the Reno law office where he’d gone to discus his employment complaint. He was charged with second-degree kidnapping and conspiracy, both serious felonies.

Handte, speaking to Reno police by phone Wednesday, was told he was getting his phone back that day. According to witnesses at the law office and to those who spoke to him after his arrest, Handte went out to the law-office parking lot when he was met by a half-dozen officers in tactical gear.

“What the hell, Stew? What the f–– are you doing?” one yelled. As he was being handcuffed, another told him to “stop struggling or I’ll take you to the f–ing ground.” An officer then entered the law office to get Handte’s wallet. When a paralegal asked for the officer’s business card, the officer refused.

Thew, the Reno police lieutenant, said Monday the manner of Handte’s arrest “was a tactical decision based on circumstances that were presented at the time.”

Following his arrest Wednesday, police let Handte use his previously confiscated phone.

“I’m actually in custody and being detained right now,” he texted in a reply to the reporter shortly after 5 p.m. The reporter texted back to confirm, doubting that someone under arrest would be given use of his cellphone.

“No. … I actually have it if you can believe that,” Handte wrote. Twenty minutes later, he texted that he was being charged with kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

“This is nuts,” he wrote. “Going to jail now.”

Stewart Handte, a former Mineral County sheriff, charged last week as an accomplice in the abdu ...
Stewart Handte, a former Mineral County sheriff, charged last week as an accomplice in the abduction of an elderly woman from a Reno Alzheimer's care facility on Aug. 8 by her son. He was photographed Monday in Reno. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The reporter asked again why Handte still had his phone. This time, Handte did not respond.

Arrest becomes news

It took about 24 hours for news of Handte’s arrest as an alleged accomplice to get picked up by the media, the headlines focusing on his law enforcement background. Handte was being held without bail at the Washoe County jail – housed in the infirmary, apart from the general population. His police mugshot joined photos of Hillygus and his mother that accompanied the news stories.
On Thursday, a few hours before Hillygus was found, Handte was released without having to post bail, despite facing Class A and Class B felonies. He has a court appearance scheduled for Aug. 29.

Following his release, Handte has declined to speak further publicly because of the charges pending against him. He did consent to having his photo taken, confirmed he was still seeking a lawyer and said he feared his arrest would end his career in law enforcement.

As of Monday, Reno police still had his phone.

Full Article & Source:
Bitter Reno family battle leads to manhunt, arrests

The State of Pennsylvania "Cash for the Elderly" is MURDERING the elderly for the profit of Judges "friends"

Genevieve Bush 89 of Chester County, Pennsylvania

Before the Guardianship


Nearly a decade in, Genevieve Bush, 89, continues to be held in guardianship against her will, against advanced directives, her life savings is nearly depleted. 

The Estate Battle

Bush’s saga started approximately fifteen years ago, when Genevieve Bush’s sons, Joseph and Michael, challenged the estate of her and her husband. 

After her husband had a stroke and was hospitalized in November 2003, they saw an opening, according to a letter she wrote in 2007, to her brother Leon. 

“In April 2004, before Fabian (her husband) passed, Joseph asked me to sign a blank check…Joe asked me to sign more blank checks so he could move the money…In May of 2005, Joe called me and told me he was putting stocks in my name…Then, (a) month later in June, Joe Decided to give papers about me being an estate, like I was already dead.”

At the time, Joseph and Michael had power of attorney power which Genevieve quickly sought to overturn after the squabble turned bitter and wound up in court. 

“I, Genevieve Bush,” she stated in a notice of revocation of power of attorney dated September 6, 2005,  “do hereby revoke any and all powers of attorney given to Joseph Bush.” (she also revoked Michael Bush’s power of attorney at the same time)

Four days later, the Chester County of Pennsylvania  Department of Aging showed up to test Genevieve, according to the same letter, “On September 10, 2005, the Department of Aging came to Mary’s home (where Genevieve was then staying) with the State Police and gave me a competency test.”

Genevieve stated that the Department of Aging came because Joseph complained to them. While she passed the test, her ordeal was not over. 

“September 13, 2005, the Department of Aging came to my house. I told her to leave me alone. 

‘This is all about money.’ That day all three sons called me on the phone. I guess they wondered if I got removed from my home….We started the new year (2006) just great. Joe called threatening to call the Department of Aging again.”

Bush hired attorney Jay Fischer to represent her and he sent a letter to Joseph on November 21, 2005, stating in part. 

“In addition, you are requested to return all funds, investments or other accounts transferred into your name to your mother immediately.”

Fischer continues to practice law in Pennsylvania but did not respond to a voicemail at his office. 

A court fight over the estate resulted and this even included a brutal deposition of Genevieve which lasted  between four and six hours. 

She described it in her letter. “All of them were there with lawyers. I brought a lady friend for support, but they would not let her in. I felt attacked, question for four hours straight.”

The matter was finally decided on October 2007, when Judge Robert Shenkin ruled in favor of Genevieve’s sons, that the monies were “gifted to them” according to a timeline Mary provided. 

The full letter Genevieve wrote is below. 

The Incapacitated Claim

While Genevieve lost, Mary told me she still had over $1 million left after the settlement. She went ahead with her life until 2009, speaking rarely to her sons. 

That all remained until on October 30, 2009, a petition was filed with the Chester County Orphans Court by her two sons to have Genevieve declared incapacitated. 

“Now comes Joseph Bush and Michael Bush, sons of the alleged incapacitated person, Genevieve Bush, through their attorney, Alex Chotkowski,” their petition stated, “and hereby Petition this Honorable Court for the Declaration of Incapacitation and the Appointment of an Emergency Guardian for Genevieve Bush and an injunction.”

An incapacitated person “means that you are not able to receive and evaluate information and communicate decisions and that you are unable to manage your money and/or property, or to make necessary decisions about where you will live, what medical care you will get, or how your money will be spent,” they stated in the petition. 

Chotkowski still practices law and continues to represent Joseph and Michael today but he did not respond to an email for comment. 

When someone is accused of being incapacitated, their case goes to probate court as a guardianship or sometimes called conservatorship. 

This is a civil, not criminal court, where the protections of a criminal court for an accused often don’t apply. 

Chotkowski described the reasons needed for the declaration in the petition. 

“Petitioners believe that guardians should be appointed for the alleged incapacitated person because the alleged incapacitated person cannot manage her financial and cannot care for herself without the assistance of skilled caregivers. The physical condition of the alleged incapacitated person is that she is in poor physical condition due to her advanced age.

The matter wound up in front of Judge Katherine Platt. 

On June 24, 2011, Platt made her decision. 

“The nature of the condition or disability which impairs Respondent’s (Genevieve Bush) capacity to make and communicate decisions is cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s.” Platt stated in ruling her incapacitated. “The extent of Respondent’s capacity to make and communicate decisions is severely impaired.”

But Mary Bush told me the hearing was a farce, Platt made the decision without giving Genevieve Bush any chance to be heard, “Mom never had a single day in court and Judge Platt never met or saw my mother”, Mary told me.

Furthermore, no one had claimed Genevieve ever had Alzheimer’s or claimed she had Alzheimer’s since 2006, even though no such evidence was introduced. 

“The duration of such guardianship shall be permanent.” Platt stated, nonetheless in her decision.

Judge Platt did not return a voicemail at her chambers and a subsequent email to Stacey Witalec, the press contact for the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, was also not returned. 

Judge Platt remains on the case today. 

The Uneasy Set-Up

Initially, there was an uneasy dynamic created. Mary shared guardianship with her brothers. Judge Platt ordered Joseph to be guardian of the estate, while Michael and Mary were made guardian of the person. 

Genevieve initially lived at her home. 

It was a troubled dynamic that continued to be abusive to Genevieve, particularly when her sons petitioned the court for another evaluation.

“AND NOW, this 12th day of February 2013, upon the Motion to Compel an evaluation of Mrs. Genevieve Bush IP., by Movants Michael and Joseph Bush, it is hereby ordered,” Judge Platt’s order stated. 

They did this even though another court appointed evaluator submitted their report on October 21, 2011.

“Dr. Sarah Stookey, court appointed psychologist concluded her evaluation of Genevieve Bush that she became very agitated around Michael and said to her ‘wants none of that’ when reminded of her session with Michael. 

Judge Platt ignored the report from her own court appointed doctor.” Mary stated

This created all sorts of drama, particularly in arranging for this evaluation.

George Zumbano represented Genevieve during this period, and he sent a letter to Judge Platt stating. 

“I write to Mr. Chotkowski’s letter to you. First and foremost, this whole most unfortunate disagreement arises because Mr. Chotkowski failed, contrary to your direction, to circulate the Order to counsel prior to submitting it to Your Honor for signature.

“Be that as it may, let me simply address two brief issues. As to the 10:30AM time frame, we will do our best with Mrs. Bush. My understanding was that she couldn’t be dressed, fed, etc. under her normal routine before 11AM.”

Zumbano continues practicing law but he did not respond to an email at his work email. 

The initial evaluation turned into a nightmare, according to an email from Mary’s then lawyer, Clifford Cohn to Chotkowski from February 13, 2013.

 “Apparently a caregiver had to leave at 9AM. I understand the doctor did not feel comfortable interviewing Mrs. Bush without someone else being present. As nobody else meeting the criteria as set forth in the order had been obtained to stay with Mrs. Bush, she apparently left without doing the interview. I suggest we reschedule as soon as possible.”

Cohn did not respond to a message at his office. 

At around this time, Mary was removed as guardian of the person by Judge Platt, and she was replaced by Elizabeth Srinivasan in 2013. 

Srinivasan is an attorney who sometimes acts as a professional guardian; she did not respond to a message at her office. 

In 2015, the Chester County Pennsylvania Department of Aging stepped in, Mary told me. 

“My mom was punched in her abdomen, (and the) department of aging removed her,” she told me. 

As a result, Judge Platt removed everyone from the guardianship matter and replaced them with Carol J Hershey, who is also a professional guardian. 

Carol Hershey and the Vicious Cycle

Things have only gone from bad to worse for Mary, she told me. Her mother is now in a home, where Mary provided PA Health Department citation evidence, she is not receiving proper care. 

“Based on a review of the facility abuse policy, clinical records, and staff interviews, it was determined that the facility failed to fully investigate allegations of abuse to a resident,” according to a report about one facility Genevieve stayed at. 

Mary also provided photos where her mom also appears isolated and mistreated. 

Hershey, “tried to charge me with trespassing, always maligned me, restricted visits,” Mary said, of the things Hershey has done.

She said Hershey ordered that each visit be supervised and charge from $400-500 for a once a week visit.

Bush remains undaunted. 

On November 1, 2018, Judge Platt denied one of Mary’s motions; this, among other things, asked for Hershey to be removed. 

On November 2, 2018, Judge Platt disregarding a higher courts order gave guardianship of the person back to Michael Bush who did not file a petition, thus ignoring Mary again. The Pennsylvania Superior Courts Order No. 3207 EDA 2015 dated February 21, 2017 (permanently removed Michael Bush as a Co-guardian or Plenary Guardian of Genevieve Bush.) 

February 21, 2017, higher courts decision states on page 8; "The record supports the trial court’s findings and conclusion that Michael’s appointment, as either sole or co-guardian of the person, would not fulfill Mrs. Bush’s best interests. See 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 5521 (duty of guardian of the person to pursue an incapacitated person’s best interest). Michael’s actions have ignored Mrs. Bush’s best interests." “he has been passive about her medical care, physical therapy and encouraging her social life.”

On May 7, 2019, she sent Judge Platt what she referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding. 

“Let this be our Memorandum of Understanding, with all parties copied on the above-referenced issue; that according to statements made by Terri Clark the Chester County Register of Wills/Clerks of the Orphan’s Courts on May 6, 2019, to me Mary Bush, that you have given an Oral Order to the Clerk of the Orphan’s Court, not to allow me access to any of the Guardianship Reports from 2015 to the present times that contains substantive issues.

“As you know I have been a party to this matter of my natural mother Genevieve Bush since the onset of this matter starting in 2009 to the present."  Carol J. Hershey (professional for-profit guardian)  “tried to charge Mary Bush (daughter) with trespassing, always maligned Mary Bush, restricted Mary Bush's visits,”  this is just some, of the things Carol Hershey has done.

Mary Bush said Hershey ordered that each visit be supervised and charge from $400-500 for a once a week visit.

Mary Bush remains undaunted and willing to protect her mother to the best of her ability. 

Written By: Michael Volpe

Full Article & Source:
The State of Pennsylvania "Cash for the Elderly" is MURDERING the elderly for the profit of Judges "friends"