Saturday, August 31, 2019

FIDO and FELIX May Be The Best Medicine

By Mary West

Programs Allow Seniors to Enjoy the Benefits of Pet Ownership Longer

The lavish love and unconditional acceptance that pets bestow on their owners is a gift of great worth to people of any age. However, for the elderly, who often are lonely, the value of canine or feline companionship is incalculable. Studies show that pets enhance physical, emotional, and social health, so pet ownership remains an advantage even after seniors develop conditions that make caring for a dog or cat challenging. Fortunately, programs are available that enable the elderly to keep their cherished pets in their homes longer.

Part 1: Benefits of Pet Ownership

Physical Health

Since dogs need to be walked, dog owners are more likely to meet the recommended daily exercise requirement, which is critically important in slowing the aging process. A 2014 study featured in Preventive Medicine concluded that dog owners were 12 percent more active than those who do not have a dog.

Aside from increasing activity, pets improve physical health in other ways. According to the American Heart Association, research suggests a link between pet ownership and better fitness, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Moreover, a study in the Journal of Community Health Nursing found that pet therapy sessions lead to a lower heart rate.

Emotional Health

The emotional health of seniors is often taxed to the limit because they have more than their fair share of problems. These hardships may include losing a spouse, undergoing chemotherapy, or coping with a disability. The comfort derived from all the manifestations of the kind heart of a dog can make a huge difference in weathering life’s hard knocks. In addition, nothing is more relaxing than the sound of a cat’s contented purring.

Pets offer a tremendous emotional benefit through their effect on hormones. Studies show that petting a dog reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and releases the anti-stress hormone oxytocin. Spending time with animals also promotes heightened feelings of security and lessens anxiety, depression, and loneliness, reports the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Social Health

Caring for a pet fosters increased socialization and involvement with life. Walking a dog in the neighborhood puts seniors in the path of other dog owners who could become friends. Driving to the pet store, vet office, and dog groomer provide opportunities to get out of the house.

Loneliness is a common malady for seniors, as they often have a declining circle of family and friends. The affectionate nature of pets, especially dogs, can be a solace to those who have no one to hug them, and the companionship they afford can diminish feelings of isolation. Furthermore, when seniors come home after being out, instead of facing an empty house, they are greeted with joyous abandon by a canine that is delighted to see them.


A barking dog can be a deterrent to break-ins even if the dog is small. Once the barking starts, any would-be burglars know that the homeowner has been alerted and has likely called the police. If a senior is nervous about staying home alone, having a dog can make them feel safer.

Part 2: Programs that Help Seniors with Pet Care

The debility and reduced income that often accompany aging make it harder for seniors to care for pets. When this happens, instead of giving up a dog or cat that is like a member of the family, the elderly can take advantage of programs that offer an array of assistance. Below are some examples.

Pets Forever

Reporter Herald Neighbors reports on Pets Forever, a community program housed in Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. It helps local low-income seniors maintain pet ownership by providing financial support for animal supplies and vet care. The program also sends people to the homes of the elderly to walk dogs, deliver pet food, clean litter boxes, and give rides to the vet. Volunteers who staff the program, consisting of students and community members, make it possible to preserve the human–animal bond. Funding for Pets Forever comes from grants and donations.

Share a Dog

Borrowing a dog is an option for the elderly who adore canine company but can’t afford the upkeep or prefer not to have sole responsibility for a pet. Dog-sharing arrangements permit a senior to walk or care for a dog that belongs to someone who travels or whose schedule affords little time for pet care. The schemes are a win-win situation for all concerned. Instead of a dog languishing home alone while its owner works, it goes to a free version of doggy daycare—the home of a loving senior.

Examples of programs that facilitate dog sharing include Share a Dog and the Canadian company Dogtime Community. Borrow my Doggy, a website that connects local dog owners with borrowers, is currently only in the UK, but it might eventually expand to America. Seniors who don’t live in a community that has such a program could perhaps ask around and find someone who needs help in caring for their pet.

Pet-Friendly Senior Living Communities

Some assisted living and senior living communities allow residents to have pets because they recognize the multifaceted benefits the animals provide. This is a godsend for the elderly who face the heartbreak of having to give up their dog or cat when moving from their home to a facility. Pets of individual owners often become like community pets because they’re enjoyed by all the residents. Other assisted living facilities have official community pets that live on the premises. Some communities that don’t allow resident pets may offer pet therapy, where volunteers bring trained therapy dogs to visit.

Organizations That Assist Seniors with Pets

A few non-profit groups help seniors with pet ownership in various ways. The elderly may adopt a pet from PAWS at a discounted rate, and the staff will help select a pet that matches their lifestyle. Pets for Seniors helps pay vet bills, and the Pets for the Elderly Foundation pays part of pet adoption fees.

Full Article & Source:
FIDO and FELIX  May Be The Best Medicine 

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

Get Those Boomer Bottoms Off The Sofa And Travel

By Elizabeth Sinclair

Donna Hull is not your average travel blogger. Since 2008, she has been documenting her travels with photographer husband, Alan, on her blog, My Itchy Travel Feet. What makes Donna stand out is that she is an older traveler, a Boomer, in fact, and her mission is to “inspire Baby Boomers to get up off the couch and go travel.”

In 2011, Donna was one of five finalists for Best Travel Blog in the 2011 Bloggies. Her blog is syndicated at Arizona Voices Network. She is also a member of Travel Insights 100, an online panel of global travel leaders.

Donna, now professional writer, majored in journalism in college and later wrote for regional and local publications in Arizona. She’s also worked in business communications and marketing. Her interest in travel started after her children had grown and left home.

Donna set up her personal travel blog in 2008 when she and her husband decided to take a long trip together. “I was just looking for a way to communicate with family and friends about all the adventures we were having,” she said. The posts were open for anyone to read, and she started getting some public interest.

 Donna, who has written for publications such as Fifty Plus, Affordable Tours, Live Life Travel, Lovin Life After 50, and many more, says that at first, “I wasn't going to share anything really important on the blog, as I needed to save all that information for articles (which were an income source).”

Later, she realized that not posting the full story “cheated the people who came to read [my posts], as there was nothing substantial there”.

As the publishing industry—and her market for travel articles—declined in the early 2000s, Donna decided to focus more on her blog and tell better stories for her online audience. This decision has worked out very well for her.

As her audience grew, Donna quickly discovered that there were few sources of information or inspiration for Boomers on active travel. “What I found on the internet eleven years ago was depressing. Most of the information for older people was about aged care. If you saw anything about senior travel, it took a more sit-on-the-bus-and-look-out-the-window approach.” She said all her older friends were “out there four-wheeling in Jeeps, or taking hiking vacations or snorkeling. Everyone I knew took active trips, but I didn’t see anyone writing about active travel for our age group.” Donna said even now, eight years later, “it’s still underreported just how many active Baby Boomer travelers are out there.”

Donna said she tries to write in a way that is entertaining and inspiring yet also gives readers the information they need to take the same (or a similar) trip themselves.

Her audience is often looking for specific travel information: where to go, when to go, and how to get there, and they rely on Donna to provide these kinds of details. She writes a lot about national park trips within the USA as well as cruises, particularly small luxury boats. As her audience increased, and Donna realized she couldn’t take all the trips herself that people were asking about, she began to hire the occasional guest writer on her blog to cover trips she either is too busy for or lacks interest in taking.

Donna doesn’t take sponsored trips and funds her travel herself. This, she said, allows her to stay impartial and be critical.

When asked about her best advice for older travelers, she said, “Make sure your expectations are realistic” and that the activities you choose match your fitness level. Donna said she suffers from a fear of heights, so she is careful not to choose trips that involve great heights. She said travelers should look for that “sweet spot: challenge yourself but don’t do something so scary that it isn’t fun.”

She’s had a lot of interest from readers for posts about packing and what clothes to bring. When she’s on a trip, Donna takes photos of everything she wears and posts them for her readers so they have help planning their own travel wardrobe. Cruises, for example, often don’t have luggage restrictions and allow plenty of chances for travelers to dress up.

She said that many cruises have increased their active excursions in ports. “The cruise industry is just booming right now,” she said, “Cruising really appeals to Boomers, and I’m glad to see that cruise lines are offering more activities. This way, you don’t just get into a port, have an orientation, and you’re done.” She feels that by increasing the number of activities and trips onshore, cruises are adding a lot of value for their best market: Boomers.

Donna’s blog is found at She also has a Facebook page at

Full Article & Source:
Get Those Boomer Bottoms Off The Sofa And Travel

Friday, August 30, 2019

Tonite on Marti Oakley's TS Radio: Coz and Marti - The Predators Walk Among US!

5:00 pm PST…6:00 pm MST…7:00 pm CST…8:00 pm
When will this ever end?? Join us this evening as we discuss current events in the criminal world of professional guardianship. The predators walk among us! Facilitated by civil tribunals and hearing examiners masquerading as actual judges of the law, the attack on the elderly is in full swing. Estate theft is the fastest growing cottage industry in the country and possibly around the globe. Everyday, seemingly ordinary people succumb to the worst in human nature and become predators, presenting themselves as guardians, conservators, attorney's and other agents supposedly dedicated to protecting the elderly from abuse and exploitation. Oblivious to their own lack of integrity, character or sense of morality, they prey on the most vulnerable in our communities causing pain and suffering not just to the victims they target, but also to everyone around them.

Updates on :
Wisconsin...The Death of an Heiress and the theft of estate

The murder of Marian Leonard via Hospice. Ms. Leonard was condemned to Hospice because she was "old".

Update on a huge case in Alaska. We may be heading north very soon!

These and any other issues that arise. So much to talk about! Join us please!

PS: A note to our friends in Australia....Contrary to what is being told to you, there has been no rounding up of, nor prosecution of, vast numbers of probate "judges". In fact, you would be hard pressed to find even one that has been held accountable. Be careful who you talk to. Some people are not only delusional, but suffer from a distinctive form of malignant narcissism.

LISTEN to the show LIVE or listen to the archive later

The Fortress: Protected by Secrecy and Ageism

by Gretchen Rachel Hammond
Part five of five

At the Oakland County Probate Court, relationships between the four judges as well as those between the judges and the attorneys who work in their courtrooms are not simply limited to judicial campaigns. They have a history that is not always on the surface.

Judge Jennifer Callaghan
Judge Jennifer Callaghan, who began her career as an Assistant Attorney General, was hired by Oakland County Public Administrator John Yun in 2010 as an associate attorney and regularly took guardianship and conservatorship cases at the Oakland County Probate Court. When Callaghan ran for Oakland County Probate Judge in November 2016, Yun’s office served as her campaign headquarters, where she received almost $160,000 in contributions.

Oakland County Probate Chief Judge Kathleen Ryan, retiring probate judge Elizabeth Pezzetti, and Judges Linda S. Hallmark and Daniel A. O’Brien attended as “Honored Guests.” Ultimately, Callaghan won with 68 percent of the vote.

Callaghan’s husband Sean is an FBI agent serving in the Detroit office.

Her Judicial Staff Attorney Christine A. Waid used to work for former Oakland County Public Administrator Jon Munger. His firm’s email address is still listed on her profile at the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) and her name is included an attorney with the firm listed as a defendant in a 2016 lawsuit.

Jon B. Munger

Yun and former Oakland County Public Administrator Jon B. Munger worked out of the same address on Gateway Park Drive in Clarkston, Michigan, before Munger relocated his Munger & Associates headquarters half a mile down the street. While Callaghan recuses herself as judge in Yun cases, Munger regularly appears in front of her.

The ongoing deceased estate hearings concerning musician and civil rights activist Aretha Franklin, who passed away in August 2018 without leaving a will, is presided over by Callaghan.

As he is presently the guardian to Franklin’s eldest son, Clarence, Munger is an interested party in the case.

Judge Linda S. Hallmark was appointed as Oakland County Probate Court Judge in 1997 by then–Governor John Engler (R) after spending three years in private practice at May’s then–law firm May & May, PC. She has been unopposed since taking the bench.

May has donated not only to judicial campaigns, but to individuals running for Michigan’s House and Senate.  ...

Civil Death for the Developmentally Disabled
According to a March 2018 report released by the National Council on Disabilities, an estimated 1.3 million Americans with disabilities have been directly impacted by guardianship. [Dohn] Hoyle asserts that 73 percent of Michigan’s developmentally disabled population are under some form of guardianship.
Dohn Hoyle
We have kind of a mill,” he says. “The issue isn’t one of a blindfolded lady justice deciding upon whether they need one or not. It’s automatically assumed. The system continues to portray the necessity of guardianship.”

In its report, the Council took the system to task.

“It has often been noted that an individual subject to guardianship moves through the world indistinguishable from the rest of the population,” the report noted, “except that he or she has undergone a kind of civil death and is no longer permitted to participate in society without mediation through the actions of another if at all.”

The report’s key findings stated that “people with disabilities are widely (and erroneously) seen as less capable of making autonomous decisions than other adults regardless of the actual impact of their disability on their cognitive or decision-making abilities. This can lead to guardianship petitions being filed when it is not appropriate and to guardianship being imposed when it is not warranted by the facts and circumstances.”

“Prisoners have more rights than people under guardianship,” Hoyle says. “I don’t think people recognize that, they ignore it or don’t pay attention to it. So, probate judges are able to continue what they’ve always done, which is not to the benefit of the people who are given guardians.” 

Full Article and Source:

The Fortress: Part Five of Five: Protected by Secrecy and Ageism

Judge threatens to hold AdventHealth in contempt over records on embattled guardian Rebecca Fierle

By Monivette Cordeiro

A judge has threatened to hold AdventHealth officials in contempt of court, writing that the Central Florida hospital company failed to hand over records related to its financial relationship with Rebecca Fierle, the former professional guardian currently under criminal investigation.

Circuit Judge Janet C. Thorpe ordered AdventHealth on July 10 to produce documents involving Fierle. During a hearing the next day, an attorney for the hospital system told the judge that AdventHealth paid the court-appointed guardian to provide services for roughly 50 patients — an arrangement which was not disclosed to the court.

In an order dated Tuesday, Thorpe wrote that AdventHealth had only “partially complied” with her order to produce the documents, which were to be given to Wynter A. Solomon-Cuthbert, a court monitor assigned to investigate the disgraced guardian.

The hospital company still had not given Solomon-Cuthbert all checks and invoices for payments made to Fierle and her various business entities, Thorpe’s order said. AdventHealth also failed to provide a list “of all patients receiving services from Rebecca Fierle, referred to by AdventHealth as 'permanent’ or 'forever’ patients,” the judge wrote.

“You are hereby ordered, within 5 days of entry [of] this order, to submit the listed documents ... or to show cause why you should not be held in contempt for failing to do so,” Thorpe wrote, emphasizing the contempt threat in bold type.

Court records show Thorpe set a hearing earlier in August to let AdventHealth explain why the company should not be held in contempt for failing to comply with her order from July. A transcript of that hearing, which was not publicly noticed in advance, was not immediately available.

AdventHealth spokesman Bryan Malenius told the Orlando Sentinel the company had complied with Thorpe’s orders.

“We have responded to all requests from the court and are in the process of re-sending and providing additional documents the court has requested,” Malenius said.

He said the hospital company uses the term “forever patients” to describe “patients who have no family or friends willing to assume guardianship, and as an absolute last resort, a professional guardian may be appointed by the court.”

During the July 11 hearing, AdventHealth attorney Troy A. Kishbaugh told Thorpe the company thought it should not be responsible for paying private guardians, who are typically compensated for their time from their clients’ funds or by the state.

“You shouldn’t be,” Thorpe told him, according to the transcript. “All payments to guardians come through the court based on the statutes. ... I haven’t seen your payments come through to me.”
“They don’t,” Kishbaugh responded.

“That’s a problem, sir,” the judge said.

A review by the Orange County Comptroller’s office of 30 of Fierle’s cases found the guardian appeared to have entered into a contract with AdventHealth without telling the judge — a potential violation of Florida law, which says guardians may not “have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, in any business transaction or activity with the guardianship.”

The death of one of Fierle’s clients, 75-year-old Steven Stryker, sparked a scandal that has embroiled Florida’s guardianship program and led to increased scrutiny over how guardians are appointed to make legal, financial and medical decisions for minors and incapacitated adults, known as wards.

Stryker died at at a Tampa hospital after staff could not perform life-saving procedures because of a “do not resuscitate” order Fierle filed against his wishes, according to an investigation by the Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller.

After details of the Stryker case came to light, Thorpe sought Fierle’s removal from all 95 cases the guardian then had pending in Orange County. Eighteen of those cases involved wards who were AdventHealth patients when petitions to place them under guardianship were filed, more than any other care provider, according to data compiled by the Sentinel.

Fierle, who is not currently facing charges and has resigned from all cases statewide, is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a separate Medicaid fraud probe by the state’s Office of Attorney General. Earlier this month, authorities found the cremated remains of nine people when they searched the Orlando office for Fierle’s business, Geriatric Management.

Full Article & Source:
Judge threatens to hold AdventHealth in contempt over records on embattled guardian Rebecca Fierle

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Fortress: The Consequence of Protecting Justice

by Gretchen Rachel Hammond
Part four of five

[F]amily members, like so many others in Oakland County and across Michigan, feel helpless. In trying to find legal counsel for themselves or their loved ones, they scoured the State Bar of Michigan’s website and methodically contacted each on its substantial list of estate, probate and elder law attorneys.

According to numerous families who spoke with this investigation, if their case has anything to do with the Oakland County Probate Court, attorneys either declined to represent them or asked for an unaffordable retainer.

Two such attorneys stated that the reason was a high probability of facing punitive sanctions or a disciplinary investigation by Michigan’s Attorney Grievance Commission for challenging a probate judge’s appointee.

They spend day-after-day desperately seeking help from the Attorney General, and, since their cases involved public administrators appointed as guardians and conservators, State Public Administrator Michael Moody. ...

A Task Force of Their Own
MI AG Dana Nessel
During the run-up to last year’s election, [Mimi] Brun and[Jayne} Collins met with then–candidate for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who pledged to do what her predecessor had refused and take their complaints about the Oakland County Probate Court seriously.

During a March 25 press conference at her office in Lansing, she announced the creation of an Elder Abuse Task Force. With the participation of Michigan Supreme Court Justices Richard Bernstein and Megan Cavanaugh, Nessel presented a number of reforms to Michigan’s guardianship system as among their primary goals.  Although attendance to the press conference was restricted only to members of the press, [Randy] Asplund, McCasey, Abood, Rice-White and her husband Jeff went to Lansing anyway.

There, alongside families fighting probate cases in both Oakland and Wayne counties, they carried signs demanding an investigation of Michigan’s probate courts and asked Nessel’s staff if they could join the event.

Since it was their lives and those of their loved ones that had been devastated by the probate courts, they were surprised to be denied access. During the press conference, no mention was made of investigations into alleged crimes committed by probate judges, public administrators or attorneys. Supreme Court Communications Director John Nevin told a reporter that “we don’t have specific instances of wrongdoing.”

Full Article and Source:
The Fortress: Part Four of Five: The Consequence of Protecting Justice

Former nursing home worker charged with exploiting victim in her care

OKLAHOMA CITY – A former activities director at a nursing home is facing charges after allegedly stealing money from a resident.

On Nov. 28, 2016, authorities say Jaime Ruth Persall was working as the activity director at the Quail Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Oklahoma City.

According to the court documents, Persall “knowingly, intentionally, and feloniously” exploited a resident who was suffering from multiple debilitating medical issues.

Investigators say Persall used the victim’s debit card and spent over $500 of the victim’s money without his permission.

According to the affidavit, the victim noticed something was wrong when he saw purchases from Amazon and Papa John’s Pizza on his bank statement. Investigators also determined that Persall used the victim’s card at Walmart and Sam’s Club.

At one point, authorities say Persall tried to pay back $200 of the funds by writing a check to the victim’s account. However, it was later returned for insufficient funds.

The affidavit states that Persall confessed to using the card without the victim’s permission and offered to pay restitution.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has charged Persall with one count of financial exploitation by caretaker.

Full Article & Source:
Former nursing home worker charged with exploiting victim in her care

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


LOS ANGELES , CA, USA, August 26, 2019 /


Michigan Attorney General
Dana Nessle
An August 23 investigation detailing a massive alleged elder abuse and exploitation ring operating out of a Michigan probate court was published on the same day that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel fired three public administrators, exposed in the story as allegedly exploiting thousands of vulnerable Americans under their guardianship.

High-profile cases such as the ongoing dispute concerning the estate of famed musician Aretha Franklin have been affected.

Franklin's eldest son Clarence is under the guardianship of Michigan attorney Jon Munger who is one of the targets of the probe which uncovered an unsettling number of alleged crimes including abuse, neglect, robbery, and exploitation, often in cases that arguably didn’t merit guardianship in the first place.

In as little as a year, so called "incapacitated wards” are stripped of the entirety of their savings and possessions and rendered completely reliant upon social services and benefits such as Medicaid.

Hammond states that she and her team revealed their findings to Nessel's staff at a March 12, 2019 meeting implicating three of the four public administrators Nessel eventually fired.

On March 25, 2019 Nessel announced the creation of a multi-agency Elder Abuse Task Force. The Task Force presented nine reforms to the guardianship system. Nessel claims the firings were due, in part, to Task Force discoveries.

Hammond says she does not buy it.

"Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and her staff knew this story was coming ever since our March meeting," she says."Her firing of the public administrators we discussed has been a long time coming but doesn't have any effect without criminal investigations. They can still take guardianship cases."

In a forensic review of the Oakland County Probate Court, available to the public for the first time in Michigan history, Mulholland also concludes that criminal investigations into the guardians are warranted.

Hammond's investigation found campaign donations from Nessel to Oakland County Probate County Chief Judge Kathleen Ryan. It also revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Whitmer by a public relations company owned by Ryan's brother James.

Every US state still uses form of guardianship Rooted in Medieval English law, at its best, it is designed to protect citizens who are no longer able to protect themselves by declaring them wards of the state. However, increasing reports of abuse cropping up nationwide, has prompted Congressional calls for reform.

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

Discoveries include the forced separation of families and isolation of the vulnerable; fraudulent petitions for guardianship by Adult Protective Services investigators; massive over-billing; the forced removal of individuals from their homes and the placement of them in nursing facilities or unlicensed group homes with subhuman living conditions; real estate fraud; and missing assets that number in the millions of dollars.

The investigation met with constant challenges, including threats and harassment by Oakland County Sheriff’s officers. A surreal March 12, 2019 four-hour meeting between Hammond's team and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's staff led to a new line of inquiry and discoveries of campaign ties between Nessel, Whitmer and Oakland County Probate Court Chief Judge Kathleen Ryan and her family.
+1 323-366-2796

Click the links below to read the five part series:

The Fortress Part One of Five: Unacknowledged and Unprotected
The Fortress Part Two of Five: Protected in Hell
The Fortress Part Three of Five: Profiting from Protection 

The Fortress Part Five of Five: Protected by Secrecy and Ageism

The Fortress: Profiting From Protection

By Gretchen Rachel Hammond
Part three of five

It was December 18, 2018, and in the lockdown Alzheimer’s unit of Lahser Hills Care Center in Southfield, Michigan, 64-year-old Virgil sat at a rectangular, plastic lunch table with a small and untouched plate of food in front of him.

The lockdown unit is on the second floor of the facility and only accessible from the main entrance via a code-restricted elevator, the doors of which open into a common area that looks like a hybrid of a hospital ward and prison dayroom.

Legally deaf, Virgil (whose last name is omitted for privacy reasons) stared directly ahead. He made no eye contact, but his expression was one of despair. His only answer to questions from this investigation was given through a single, cinematic tear that ran down his cheek, which he made no attempt to wipe away.

For 40 years, Virgil had lived in his childhood home in Pontiac under the care of his mother Beth. After she passed away and left the home to Virgil, the neighbors, with whom both mother and son were close, stepped in and helped wherever they could. Virgil was not a wealthy man. He had no savings to speak of, and his only income came via a Social Security check.

However, he did have property.

Jennifer Carney
In late 2016, Oakland County Public Administrator Jennifer Carney was given control over that property alongside Virgil’s income, identity, possessions, and future after he was placed under her guardianship by Oakland County Probate Court Chief Judge Kathleen Ryan. It all began when a petition for guardianship was filed in the court by Michigan Adult Protective Services (APS). The reasons for the guardianship began “[Virgil] is deaf.”

Virgil was adamant that he did not want to leave his childhood home, something he was able to express to his Guardian ad Litem (GAL), a probate attorney assigned by the court to investigate the allegations, inform Virgil about his rights, note his objections and make recommendations as to whether guardianship is warranted. Virgil’s feelings were echoed by his neighbors in letters to Ryan.

On August 11, 2017, Carney met with Virgil at his home. In his subsequent report, the GAL noted that, “Ms. Carney indicated a willingness to allow for a temporary move, while determining if MORC [Macomb Oakland Regional Center] services are available to allow [Virgil] to remain in his home.”'

Losing a Home (Twice)
Carney’s accounting shows that, from her point of view, Virgil’s forced relocation was far from temporary.

On September 25, 2017, Carney’s office told Lahser Hills that “the plan is for Virgil to be there long-term.” By November, Carney was billing Virgil $10.50 per-call for back-and-forth calls between her office and a property preservation services company called Wolverine Securing, which was disposing of “[Forty] yards of debris” from inside Virgil’s home. It was not explained, in the line item, whether this included any of personal belongings. However, on November 27, Carney’s accounts note that Virgil’s sister called to inform the Public Administrator that that she had taken “some photos etc. out of the house.”

According to those same accounts, the sale of Virgil’s “Property-auto/personal” netted a total of $842. It is unknown whether Carney took a car or if Virgil even owned one. However, what is clear is that she paid Wolverine Securing $1,969. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) lists the Wolverine Securing headquarters with the same Clawson Tank Drive, Clarkston, address as the law firm of former Oakland County Public Administrator Jon Munger. Carney was employed by Munger before forming her own practice in 2017.

Virgil’s home was listed on February 20, 2018, for $44,900 and was taken off the market one day later. A line-item in Carney’s accounting shows that the realtor called her office one week before the home was listed with information about a potential buyer.
On February 23, 2018, Carney filed a petition with Ryan to sell Virgil’s home for $41,400.

The only evidence of the home’s value, attached to the petition, was an Oakland County tax assessment, which was not dated. In the document, Carney noted a total of $6,172.35 in unpaid taxes and mortgage on the property.

On November 8, 2018, Earnest Inc. signed a Quit Claim Deed ( a document transferring interest in property from one individual/company to another) for the property to a Florida company, Evergreen Mortgage Notes, for $10.

Today, Virgil’s former home is listed for sale at $89,500 (reduced from the original list price of $104,900).

Accounting Questions
In 2018, Carney applied for and received Medicaid on behalf of Virgil, with a $1,123-per-month patient pay amount, paid to a facility outside of the bills covered by Virgil’s Medicaid or insurance benefits. She indicated that Virgil also received Medicare.

A February 16, 2018, line item shows that Carney’s office contacted an attorney and limited-license psychologist, who is on the Oakland County Probate Court’s list of individuals conducting Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs) for the developmentally disabled. She advised him that “the house is up for sale. Once we have those funds, we will be able to pay the bill.”

According to her account, filed one year later, Virgil’s annual income was $16,821.04. However, his expenses totaled $50,851.55.

Full Article and Source: 

The Fortress: Part Three of Five: Profiting From Protection

Opinion: New York State’s Escalating Need for High-Quality Guardianship

‘Currently, guardianship in New York is comprised of a fractured network of providers ranging from Adult Protective Services, non-profits, and court-appointed lawyers.’
New York State currently has 3.7 million individuals aged 60 and older and by 2025, nearly one in four New Yorkers will be an older adult. At the same time, 11 percent of older adults in New York are in poverty and the number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase by 21 percent in the next five years. Taken together, these statistics paint a picture of a rapidly aging state in need of a social safety net that ensures the support and well-being of all older New Yorkers, regardless of family or financial situation.

Central to this safety net is a strong guardianship program that provides decision-support for elders and person with disabilities who lack family or other support. After all, what happens to people who are indigent, whom the court determines are “incapacitated” — individuals who are among the neediest in society and who may be taxing to serve?

Currently, guardianship in New York is comprised of a fractured network of providers ranging from Adult Protective Services, non-profits, and court-appointed lawyers that together fail to meet the growing need. A recent report by the Independent Budget Office of New York City shows that from 2014 to 2018, the average number of cases under care by Adult Protective Services in the city grew 37 percent, attributed to the rapid rise in the older adult population in need of home care and mental health services, and further demonstrating the escalating demand.

Yet the role of a guardian is a complicated one that requires financial, legal, health care, and social work skills. Being someone’s guardian in the true sense of the word is a tremendous responsibility. And one that has been abused by individuals seeking to profit from vulnerable clients. It is precisely these abuses by overwhelmed, ill-trained, and nefarious guardians that illustrate the real need for investment into a cohesive, comprehensive system.

In the wake of studies and news reports documenting abuses by guardians, the Vera Institute of Justice and New York State’s Office of Court Administration launched The Guardianship Project (TGP) in 2005 to test an innovative, outcomes-based model of guardianship that brings together a team of social workers, lawyers, and financial professionals to offer wraparound support for client needs. In this way, TGP is pioneering the holistic, “one stop shopping” approach to guardianship, providing high-quality services and prioritizing the notion of keeping people in the least restrictive settings possible.

While one of TGP’s staff members noted, “there is no such thing as an average client,” looking at just one of our cases illustrates the sheer complexity of the role. TGP was appointed as a guardian for a 79-year-old bed-bound client who was living with congestive heart failure in a basement apartment in the brownstone that she owned. Her reverse mortgage was in default and pending foreclosure because a previous guardian, her niece, had taken the proceeds intended to make home repairs and pay the carrying costs of the property and instead fled with the money.

TGP worked to settle the foreclosure action with the mortgage company, set up payment plans to “keep the lights on,” and began making repairs to keep her and the other tenants safe. TGP also reported the niece’s fraud to the Kings County district attorney. With TGP’s support, the client was able to remain in her home until the day she died.

After nearly 15 years serving hundreds of vulnerable New Yorkers and assessing best practices here in New York State and across the nation, we have learned a lot about what makes for a successful guardianship program and have developed a roadmap for how New York State can create one.

Fundamentally, this comes down to investment: investment in home and community-based care, along with affordable housing for indigent individuals who may be at risk of guardianship, investment in recruiting high-quality guardians with the right skill sets — particularly with social work and nursing backgrounds — and investment in oversight so that guardians are appropriately monitored and abuse is detected immediately.

With the escalating need to create a stronger support system for aging New Yorkers, it is time for New York State legislators to put that infrastructure into place now.

Kimberly George is director of The Guardianship Project at The Vera Institute of Justice. Susan DeMaio is director of development and communications at The Guardianship Project.

Full Article & Source:
Opinion: New York State’s Escalating Need for High-Quality Guardianship

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Fortress: Protected into Hell

by Gretchen Rachel Hammond
Part two of five

“Get me the hell out of here!”

It was a Saturday evening on Thanksgiving weekend, 2018, and Carolyn was sobbing bitterly in the living room of an unassuming four-bedroom bungalow on Leslie Street in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park.

The home was one of a myriad of unlicensed small group facilities across Michigan’s Oakland, Wayne and Genesee Counties in which adults and developmentally disabled individuals have been placed after being declared an “incapacitated ward” by Oakland County Probate Court Judges, Jennifer Callaghan, Linda Hallmark, Daniel A. O’Brien and Chief Judge Kathleen Ryan.

Carolyn, 64, who like her two roommates, Rita and Mary, asked to keep her last name private, had been moved into the facility by her court-appointed guardian and former Oakland County Public Administrator John Yun.

The three women told this investigation that they had been alone since the previous Wednesday, when all staff left for the Thanksgiving holiday. On their way out, someone had wrapped a large chain around the handles of the kitchen’s refrigerator/freezer combo unit and padlocked them shut.
Fortunately, Mary’s son was able to bring in McDonald’s once a day, otherwise the women would have been left for the entire long weekend without any food at all.

Court records show that individuals who attempt to leave a nursing or group home facility (called eloping) have been tracked down and caught by Oakland County Sheriffs or local police and then placed, by the guardian, in a lockdown ward.

Carolyn is one of well over 1,500 wards whose lives are under the complete control of Oakland County Public Administrators who act as guardians and conservators. Even though the roles are not in their job descriptions, they have accepted thousands of cases as private attorneys. They include Yun and his colleagues, Thomas Brennan Fraser, Jennifer Carney and Jon Munger.

Judge Daniel O'Brien
In March 2016, presiding Judge O’Brien had declared Carolyn incapacitated and handed her over to Yun. His decision followed a petition for guardianship filed by a Michigan Adult Protective Services (APS) Investigator, which stated that the “Proposed ward survived a stroke in July 2015 resulting in some physical limitations and some memory issues.”

Yet, as Carolyn was ravenously devouring what was left of her paltry McDonald’s Thanksgiving dinner, she had no problem recalling her life under Yun who exerted control over every aspect of it, including her annual $12,579 Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

In an account Yun filed with the court in April 2017, he took $2,700 in attorney’s fees from Carolyn, paid $7,224 in group home rent and gave her an allowance of $1,538 for the year, or approximately $128 per month. However, according to Carolyn, she only received $40 per month from Yun, which left her reliant on the unlicensed group homeowner and its staff for her food and daily living needs.
She added, at the time, that she had seen Yun only once in the more than two years since she had been placed under his guardianship. Despite begging him to allow her to live independently, she claimed that he simply responded, “You’re fine where you are.”

With no money, no means of transportation and terrified to say even a word of dissension to the group homeowner, whom Carolyn described as “harsh,” it has been next to impossible for her to work toward independent living. But that wasn’t the worst of her problems. Between tears, she claimed Yun had also isolated her from her own daughter.

“I lost my family because of him,” she said.

Carolyn believed her daughter had no idea she was under Yun’s guardianship, that she didn’t know how to reach her and that Yun would not provide any new contact information.

Full Article and Source:
The Fortress: Part Two of Five: Protected into Hell

Three employees surrender in deaths at sweltering Hollywood nursing home

In this Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 file photo, a woman is transported from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills as patients are evacuated after a loss of air conditioning due to Hurricane Irma. (Amy Beth Bennett)
Jorge Carballo, the nursing home’s chief administrator; Sergo Colin, supervising nurse; and two nurses on duty at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — Althia Meggie and Tamika Miller — are facing manslaughter charges.

Tamika Miller
Carballo, Colin and Meggie will have to spend the night in jail and appear before a Broward County judge on Tuesday morning to see whether they can be released on bond.

Miller, 31, who does not have a lawyer, has been jailed in Miami-Dade County since Saturday evening, records show. It would likely take an extra day to get her transferred to Broward County, attorneys said.

Carballo, Colin, Meggie and their lawyers met about noon at a law office and together went to the jail where they quietly slipped in to begin the hours-long booking process.

Jorge Carballo
“They’re very concerned. They’re upset. I mean, they’re bewildered about why they’re being arrested,” Colin’s defense attorney David Frankel said Monday afternoon.

Carballo, 61, and Colin, 45, each face a dozen counts of aggravated manslaughter, Frankel said.

That’s one count for each of the eight patients who died of heat exposure on Sept. 13, 2017, after three days without air conditioning, and the four who died in coming weeks and were ruled heat-related homicides.

Sergo Colin
Colin had been left in charge of the building even though he had started working there just about a week earlier.

Meggie was a fairly new hire and Miller didn’t have much experience, yet they were left to care for the most vulnerable and seriously ill residents on the second floor, where temperatures soared.

Meggie had worked a total of 10 days in the three months she had been there and hadn’t worked a shift in three weeks. Miller had become a licensed practical nurse that same year.

Eleven of the 12 who died of heat exposure were on the second floor. The first patient to die had a temperature of 108.3 when she was taken to the Memorial Regional Hospital across the street. The next had a temperature of 107 degrees.

Althia Meggie
Meggie’s charges include two counts of manslaughter and two counts of tampering with or fabricating evidence, Frankel said. He had not yet seen a listing of Miller’s charges but suspected they were the same.

After leaving the jail Monday afternoon, Frankel said he had not yet seen the arrest warrants or affidavits for the warrants but felt optimistic about getting Colin, Carballo and Meggie released on bond while they await trial.

“I expect the state and I will be able to work out bond amounts,” he said.

Hollywood police announced a press conference to be held Tuesday morning to discuss the department’s two-year criminal investigation into the dozen heat-related deaths at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

“No additional information regarding this ongoing investigation will be provided prior to 10 a.m. on Tuesday,” police spokeswoman Miranda Grossman said in an email

Hurricane Irma knocked out the air conditioning at the nursing home on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. For three days staff tried to tamp down the escalating heat with fans, portable coolers and by hooking chillers up to air ducts.

But by early Wednesday morning, Sept. 13, 2017, patients were sweltering, feeling faint and dizzy. Some were breathing heavily, others were panting. Between 2:55 a.m. and 3:09 p.m. that day eight patients were pronounced dead. Six more would follow in subsequent weeks; two of those deaths were not deemed to be heat-related.

“I am deeply saddened by the fact that these health care workers — good people, family people, stable people — will be dragged through the mud," said Carballo’s defense attorney James A. Cobb Jr.

Cobb believes the Hollywood Police Department vowed to make someone pay for the deaths they saw. “I understand the emotion,” he said. “But emotion shouldn’t dictate whether or not criminal charges are brought.”

Meggie’s lawyer, Lawrence Hashish, felt likewise.

“She’s in shock. She’s hurt,” he said of his 36-year-old client, a temporary, part-time employee who picked up emergency shifts at short-staffed facilities.

“She jumped into emergency mode and was helping whoever needed help. She didn’t panic, she didn’t break down, she called 911 when needed, she was comforting residents," he said.

“It doesn’t appear that anyone was neglected,” Hashish said. “However, the Hollywood police want somebody to pay for it, so they chose the easiest targets.”

Cobb has experience in such cases.

He wrote the book “Flood of Lies, the St. Rita’s Nursing Home Tragedy” after successfully defending nursing home owners in Louisiana who were charged with negligent homicide after Hurricane Katrina, when 35 elderly patients at St. Rita’s drowned in their wheelchairs and beds.

The trial lasted six weeks and the defendants were acquitted.

The Hollywood case is very similar, he said.

The Louisiana jury thought it was inappropriate for the government to prosecute health care workers and caregivers who showed up for work during a hurricane and then had to make tough decisions, Cobb said.

“We should not be charging health care workers," he said. "If we start doing that and the next storm headed for Florida, if I were a health care worker, I wouldn’t show up. That is the policy risk the police and prosecutors run.”

The defense, Cobb said, will show that policymakers were to blame.

The nursing home is no longer in operation. State regulators revoked its license and the facility laid off 245 of its workers.

Full Article & Source:
Three employees surrender in deaths at sweltering Hollywood nursing home

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Fortress: Unacknowledged and Unprotected.

by Gretchen Rachel Hammond
Part one of five

In 2016, retired teacher Christine Abood's mother, Gloria, was placed under the control of Oakland County Public Administrator John Yun who put her in a Novi, Michigan, nursing facility. Abood and her sons say they were unable to be at Gloria’s bedside on the night she died because she had been moved and Yun didn’t know where she was.

“I will never forget that, never,” Abood says. “He was supposed to care for her and he didn’t even know where she’d been moved? Why?”

It was a question Abood raised during a 45-minute back-and-forth argument with [Michigan Attorney General Dana] Nessel’s staffers, who refused her and the other families access to the press conference. She left the lobby, throwing her arms up in exasperation. ...

...During her more than two-year fight to regain custody of her mother, [Virginia] Wahab’s daughter Mimi Brun claimed she was denied visitation rights, had a warrant issued by [Judge Linda S.] Hallmark for her arrest and filed three reports with the local police department asserting that [then Oakland County Public Administrator Jon] Munger had illegally entered her mother’s home and looted it.

Jon Munger
After the story was published, a July 30, 2018 bench trial on Brun’s petition to terminate the guardianship and conservatorship of Munger was presided over by Hallmark. During a day-long deposition, Munger was asked how many times he had been appointed as a guardian.

“Several thousand,” he replied, but could not precisely cite the Michigan statute under which a guardian is considered necessary.

He admitted to entering Wahab’s home to look for “Information about ownership, assets, bills, any of the above” and to taking a painting that was hanging on Wahab’s wall.

“It's very colorful. I walk around it every day in my office,” Munger noted.

When asked if he had seen his ward lately, Munger replied, “In 2018, I doubt it.”

He also admitted that he hadn’t reviewed Wahab’s medical records since his first visit in 2016.

Judge Linda S. Hallmark
After a second day of testimony, the trial was adjourned. Before it could resume, Hallmark issued an August 3 opinion and order terminating Munger as guardian and conservator.

“Mr. Munger has satisfactorily provided care, control and custody of Ms. Wahab,” Hallmark wrote. “In all of these matters, Mimi Brun has interfered with Mr. Munger using misinformation, obfuscation and self-dealing. She has engaged in scorched earth litigation. Ms. Brun has demonstrated a complete lack of authority because she believes herself to be the victim.”

“The litigation in this matter has been ongoing for two years,” Hallmark concluded. “The financial and emotional costs to the ward have been significant. It is not in the ward’s best interests for the litigation to continue. Her assets have been depleted but remain with the family.”

Michigan AG's Office Relieves Four Southeast Michigan Public Administrators of Their Appointments

Contact: Kelly Rossman-McKinney 517-335-7666
Agency: Attorney General

LANSING – Taking a fresh look at how to better serve and protect Michigan seniors and reevaluating the needs in the various counties around the state, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office Wednesday relieved four Southeast Michigan-based county public administrators of their appointments.

Nessel's office relieved the following public administrators of their responsibilities:
  • Robert Kirk, who served 30 years with the Macomb County Probate Court;
  • John Yun, who served 18 years with Oakland County Probate Court;
  • Thomas Fraser, who served 14 years with Oakland County Probate Court; and
  • Jennifer Carney, who served four years with Oakland County Probate Court.
There are 104 public administrators across the state who are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the State Public Administrator. They are tasked with one primary role: representing deceased estates where there is no family, or where no estate had been opened. These cases are a very small subset of the hundreds of probate cases that take place daily around Michigan’s 83 counties.

In order to efficiently practice in all 83 counties, the State Public Administrator Act authorizes the appointment of private attorneys in each county to serve on behalf of the State Public Administrator to handle cases for the state on an as needed basis. While these public administrators may have additional responsibilities outside of their appointment, their limited responsibility as a public administrator is deceased estates.

“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. “After reevaluating our needs, we decided to relieve these public administrators of their appointments.”

Full Article & Source:
Michigan AG's Office Relieves Four Southeast Michigan Public Administrators of Their Appointments

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Old Age Seen as Justification for Forcing Woman onto Hospice

By Terri LaPoint

The admission sounded like something out of “Logan’s Run” or other dystopian sci-fi movie, not an explanation one would expect to hear from legal associates. Nancy Scott and others who joined her in a peaceful prayer vigil for her mother’s life on Tuesday, August 20, were stunned when representatives from the court-appointed guardian’s office explained that the reason that retired Alabama schoolteacher Marian Leonard was on hospice was because she was old.

According to, hospice care is supposed to be for people who are certified by a hospice doctor and the patient’s regular doctor that they are terminally ill with a “life expectancy of 6 months or less.” Hospice care is palliative, or “comfort” care, rather than curative care, and it is supposed to be a choice that the patient makes, not a decision thrust upon them without their consent.

That is not what has happened with Marian Leonard. When the state seized guardianship of Mrs. Leonard in February 2018 at the request of St. Vincent’s Hospital and the Department of Human Resources (DHR), she was forced into a nursing home, Diversicare of Riverchase, and forced onto hospice care, against her will and that of her designated Power of Attorney, her daughter Nancy Scott.

At that time, Marian Leonard pleaded with her daughter to get her out of there, saying she feared that they were going to kill her if she did not get out. Nancy Scott has been fighting ever since to free her mother from state custody. She has hired attorneys and gone to court, but has thus far been unsuccessful.

When Birmingham-area pro-life advocate Phil King saw Mrs. Leonard’s story, he called for a prayer vigil. A handful of supporters brought signs and prayers to the sidewalk in front of court-appointed guardian Sidney Summey’s office in downtown Birmingham Tuesday.

Photo by Sherrie Saunders
They were joined by a small group of people who stated that they worked for Summey’s office.

Nancy Scott took the opportunity to explain to them that her mother had never been diagnosed with any kind of terminal illness, and thus should not be on hospice. The only “diagnosis” was a fraudulent statement on a medical report by a convicted felon named Lisa Fuller that Marian had “End Stage Alzheimer?s [sic] Disease.”

Full Article & Source:
Old Age Seen as Justification for Forcing Woman onto Hospice