Saturday, September 14, 2019

AG: 'Unscrupulous' nursing home agent convinced elderly woman to leave her entire estate

The Michigan Attorney General's Office stepped in to stop what it called a case of "financial exploitation" in St. Clair County Probate Court.

"The Office of Michigan Attorney General filed objections in a St. Clair County probate case after Lisa Tramski, a nursing home leasing agent who became a guardian, convinced an 85-year-old woman to make her the sole beneficiary of the woman’s estate," according to a press release.

"Pauline Runyon, who had no living heirs, was a resident at a nursing home where Tramski befriended her. Within five months,Tramski was able to obtain large monetary gifts from Runyon for herself and her son."

The Attorney General's Office said following an accident that caused Runyon to lose most of her memory, Tramski became her guardian. Two months following the accident and only days before Runyon's death, Tramski had a friend provide a will to the woman, making Tramski the sole beneficiary of her estate, according to the Attorney General's Office.  

"St. Clair County Probate Court Judge John D. Tomlinson agreed with the Attorney General’s Office that Runyon lacked the capacity to sign the will and that Tramski exerted excessive influence on Runyon in her role as the guardian," the Attorney General's Office said.

As a result of this ruling, a new representative was appointed and a prior will from 2009 that leaves a portion of Runyon's estate to the Leader Dogs for the Blind and a local domestic violence shelter will be used to distribute her remaining assets and fulfill her wishes.

“What this guardian did is exactly the kind of financial exploitation of seniors that everyone worries about,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel.  “Ms. Runyon did not have any living relatives to watch out for her, so my office stepped in to protect her interests from this unscrupulous nursing agent who befriended her for the sole purpose of lining her pockets.”

Tramski did not immediately respond to messages sent to her on Facebook and left on a number listed for her on Thursday. 

When asked if there were any further investigations into the matter, Dan Olsen, the attorney general's spokesman, said, "We do not comment on who we are and are not investigating."

Full Article & Source:
AG: 'Unscrupulous' nursing home agent convinced elderly woman to leave her entire estate

Guardian care reform eyed

Screen Shot from Facebook Page
By Duwayne Escobedo

CRESTVIEW — An Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller investigation of embattled guardian Rebecca Fierle found she may have violated the law when she filed a do not resuscitate order without her ward’s, the family’s or the court’s permission.

Her ward, 75-year-old Steven Stryker, died May 13 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa. He had a chronic condition that required him to have an EGD periodically to allow him to eat solid foods. However, medical staff were prevented from attempting to rescue him when he began choking because of Fierle’s DNR order.

Okaloosa County is one of six clerk’s offices in Florida accredited to do investigations for the Clerk’s Statewide Investigations of Professional Guardians Alliance. It issued its investigative report July 9 that includes a finding the Fierle committed aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult, a first-degree felony.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has opened its own investigation into Fierle.

“We certainly don’t want to speak for the FDLE,” said JD Peacock, Okaloosa County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller. “This is what we think they may look into. Our report speaks for itself.”

Clerk investigator Andrew Thurman spoke to the embattled Fierle, who lives in Orlando. A guardian for at least 10 years, Fierle resigned July 25 from all 450 of her court-appointed guardianships in 13 counties.

Elaine Renoire, president of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, said many of its members have complained about Fierle for years but that the complaints fell on deaf ears.

“How many complaints does it take?” Renoire asked. “Does it take a death? Apparently it does take a death. Life and death decisions should go to the court and a judge should decide.”

Fierle told the Okaloosa investigator that “because she was the court-appointed guardian, she had the authority to decide on end of life care and life-saving procedures.”

During her interview, she said she understood Stryker was estranged from his daughter and son. She said it was “difficult” to find places to accept and treat Stryker because he was a registered sex offender. Fierle mentioned that a DNR “was an issue of quality of life rather than quantity” and she filed them regularly.

Fierle also claimed she discussed life-saving care with Stryker and that “he agreed to the DNR being in place,” the report said, contradicting statements made by his daughter’s, a Tampa doctor and a friend to the Okaloosa investigator.

Kim Stryker, who lives in Washington, D.C., filed a complaint May 9 with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ Office of Public and Professional Guardians. In her complaint, she said her father expressed a desire to live but Fierle refused to remove the DNR. She said, “If not for Fierle’s actions her father would still be alive.”

She characterized Fierle as “callous and disrespectful,” and provided an email she received from Fierle on May 15. Fierle said it wasn’t her responsibility to inform her of her father’s death and that final arrangements “can be handled by you and your brother. That is not a task I handle if there is family.” She said they could submit the funeral home invoice to her, which funds in her guardianship account would cover.

Steven Stryker’s daughter also admitted to the Okaloosa investigator she did keep her father “at a distance” because of his past sex offender issues.

Dr. Kirtikumar Pandya, a licensed psychiatrist who examined Stryker at St. Joseph’s Hospital determined “he had the ability to decide that he wanted to live.” Pandya said Stryker “wanted to be resuscitated and wanted to be alive.” He called Fiele’s DNR “not rational” and requested the hospital “rescind the DNR.”

Based on the Okaloosa investigative report, Circuit Judge Janet Thorpe in Orlando, stripped Fierle of her oversight of 98 wards there at a hearing July 11.

“It’s awfully pompous for you to make a decision of what quality of life somebody else values,” Thorpe told Fierle.

Additional fallout included Gov. Ron DeSantis vowing to “vigorously” investigate Florida’s guardianship program and directing the state’s Department of Elder Affairs to do the same.

“There’s going to be action taken whether it’s administratively or legislative,” he said at a press conference. “I think something needs to be done.”

Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom said he would work with DeSantis on reforms.

“The governor and I will pursue legislative changes to grant the Department of Elder Affairs the necessary oversight authority to guarantee our ability to ensure that neglect and abuse to the frailest of the frail never occurs again,” Prudom said in a statement. “Something needs to be — and will be — done.”
Full Article & Source:
Guardian care reform eyed

98-Year-Old Victim Of Financial Exploitation One Step Closer To Justice

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Supporters of a 98-year-old-victim of financial exploitation believe they are one step closer to justice.

Grace Watanabe survived a Japanese internment camp during World War II.  She later moved to Washington, DC and spent decades working for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Watanabe moved to the Symphony Residences of Lincoln Park 10 years ago due to declining health and the aftereffects of a fall.

She suffers from dementia and has no surviving relatives.

The Cook County Public Guardian's Office said five employees at Symphony Residences and one caregiver are accused of scamming Watanabe out of at least $700,000 dollars of her life savings.

Supporters said some progress was made during a court hearing this morning. Acting Public Guardian Charles Golbert told the judge that the Cook County State's Attorney's Office told him that a decision on criminal charges should come in the next three weeks.

Golbert believes criminal charges are necessary because financial exploitation of the elderly often goes unreported.

"That's why in a case like this, where we know that it happened and we have all the facts, it's critical that criminal charges be brought as a deterrent to protect vulnerable citizens," Golbert said.

Chicago's Japanese-American community has rallied to Watanabe's side.

"We're here to make as much noise as possible, to get justice for Ms. Watanabe, but also to work on fixing the system," said Michael Takada, CEO of the Japanese American Service Committee.

Golbert and attorneys for Symphony said they have reached an agreement on the discovery process in civil proceedings. Golbert said his office has taken depositions from the nursing home employees who allegedly took part in the scheme, but all six have asserted their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. 

Full Article & Source:
98-Year-Old Victim Of Financial Exploitation One Step Closer To Justice

Friday, September 13, 2019

Board Reprimands Former Probate Judge Over Guardianship Case

Posted By Paul Heintz

Matt Morris
Vermont’s Judicial Conduct Board has publicly reprimanded Bernard Lewis, who served as Orange County’s probate judge from 2002 until earlier this year. 

In an order issued late last week, the board wrote that Lewis had violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by failing to dispose of cases “promptly, efficiently and fairly.” Lewis formally accepted the reprimand instead of fighting it at a hearing that was scheduled to take place in October.

At issue was the judge’s handling of a nearly decade-long family feud over the guardianship of an elderly Newbury woman, Miriam Thomas, who has since died. As Seven Days reported last year, three of her children had accused a fourth of abusing his power as her court-appointed guardian and depleting her assets by more than $1 million.

In its reprimand, the board wrote that Lewis’ “repeated failure to address and decide issues” that came before him had cost the aggrieved siblings “significant attorney fees” and wasted both parties’ time and resources.

“The chronic failure to hold the guardian accountable for his actions with respect to his obligations while allowing him to pay himself enormous amounts of money over 7 ½ years, despite repeated filings that brought such issues to the Court’s attention, exemplifies a failure to dispose of issues fairly,” the board wrote.

Lewis declined to comment, saying only, “There’s two sides of every story.”

The judge’s decision not to seek reelection last year may have spared him a heavier penalty. “The board does have the authority to take more severe sanctions if it were a sitting judge, but Judge Lewis is no longer presiding,” said Andrew Maass, the Judicial Conduct Board chair.

Lewis is the second probate judge to face sanctions in recent months. In June, the board publicly reprimanded Chittenden County Probate Court Judge Gregory Glennon for asking lawyers who practiced in his court to be on his election campaign committee.

According to Maass, it’s highly unusual for a judge — let alone two — to be disciplined. “It’s not often that these kind of events happen in Vermont,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
Board Reprimands Former Probate Judge Over Guardianship Case

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel vows to protect seniors

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel following her elder abuse listening tour 
stop at the Clinton Township offices of the Macomb Intermediate School District.
When Dawn Bartolomeo’s health began to suffer as she struggled to care for her 73-year-old mother who was also in declining health, she entrusted her care to a local private pay senior facility and it’s something she quickly came to regret.

In a matter of weeks Bartolomeo, of Washington Township, said she found her mother was being isolated, her cell phone was destroyed after she called her daughter to report neglect, her medications weren’t given and there were bedbugs everywhere.

“I am her advocate and I will tell you the squeaky wheel gets hurt not heard; if they speak or squeak, they get hurt,” Bartolomeo said. “The workers were recording that she got her medication but they were taking it themselves. I took her to Beaumont and they verified through a blood test that none of her medications were in her system.”

This was just one of hundreds of stories people shared during the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force’s recent traveling listening tour which logged more than 2,600 miles across the state this summer.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel along with Supreme Court Justices Megan Cavanagh and Richard Bernstein, embarked on the 12-stop tour to better focus and guide the efforts of the Task Force on the issues and concerns that impact Michigan seniors.

“This listening tour was about providing a voice to those who don’t often have a chance to speak up and speak out,” Nessel said, in a recent press release.

In total, nearly 1,000 seniors and advocates attended at least one tour stop and more than 10,000 residents tuned in online via Facebook Live.

Macomb County stop well attended

The tour was at the MISD in Clinton Township on July 22 and the two-hour session had nearly two dozen people sharing their concerns with the panel.

Nessel began by telling the audience that the Task Force was formed to create real solutions to the challenges the elderly population faces and very soon there will be nearly two million people in Michigan over the age of 65.

“My office has the legal authority to intervene in any case in the state and we can petition the court for what we believe to be the right course of action,” Nessel said, noting that anyone with an issue is encouraged to contact her office with the case number and relevant information.

Guardianship was a recurring topic as people stepped to the microphone to share their stories regarding probate courts taking over and awarding guardianship, many times to non-family members.

Adult licensing foster care was another hot topic. One woman told the panel it seems there aren’t any real regulations for those and even if they are closed down due to a reported incident they just reopen somewhere else.

When asked if hoarding is considered a form of elder abuse Nessel said yes, anything that affects the health, welfare and well being of a senior constitutes concern.

A woman from Macomb Township wondered who should be contacted when elder abuse is suspected and Nessel said the local police department is the first place to go.

When Bartolomeo took the floor, she provided a strong voice for her mother and many others stating she’s part of the sandwich generation, those who are dealing with grandkids and elderly parents all at once.

“I’ve lived this, I’ve lived what I hear today and it’s very painful,” Bartolomeo said.

After reporting her mother’s abuse including the theft of her medication to the senior facility and asking to see the licenses for the nursing staff Bartolomeo said they simply released her mother from the center. Currently in a rehab facility after suffering a nervous breakdown, Bartolomeo said her mother will be moving back to her house until she can find a safe place for her.

At the conclusion of the session, Judge Bernstein said the task force is “truly going to do our best to make things better,” including addressing the guardianship issues.

When contacted following the listening tour stop Bartolomeo said sharing the truth in a public forum was something she needed to do because there are no regulations on many of the senior living facilities when it comes to medication distribution and care.

“They hire people off the streets without certification; they use an LPN license to register with the state of Michigan then allow anybody to use the license without being licensed,” Bartolomeo said. “It’s a joke.”

Attorney General’s office to take action

Following appearances across the state the officials involved seemed to be both enlightened and determined to begin addressing the issues of elder abuse in Michigan.

“I appreciate the courage of each and every person who spoke and shared their stories of pain and loss,” Bernstein said. “Your strength in speaking out is the inspiration for the next step— turning words into action.”

“I sincerely believe that when we are done with these initiatives, we will have made more progress in protecting our seniors than we have in the last 30 years,” Nessel added.

Dan Olsen, spokesman for the Attorney General, said the most challenging aspect of the tour was ensuring that everyone had an opportunity to speak. When time was short with the full panel the staff stayed after to speak with all those who wanted to provide additional comments and ask questions.

“We received a lot of valuable feedback from the communities we visited during our listening tours,” Olsen said.

The three top concerns shared by seniors and advocates alike included:

• Full-time and court-appointed guardianships

• Selling the personal property of a senior who has been declared a ward of the court

• Isolation from their families

“We fully intend to incorporate these concerns as we prepare to properly address the troubling issue of elder abuse here in the state,” Olsen said.

For more information on Michigan’s Elder Abuse Task Force, visit To reach the hotline call 800-242-2873.

Signs of elder abuse:


• Fear of caregivers
• Left without care for long periods of time
• Misuse of funds or property
• Unexplained bruises
• Verbal abuse (threats, ridicule or cursing)

Courtesy of Michigan's Elder Abuse Task Force

Full Article & Source: 
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel vows to protect seniors

‘Today is a day of reckoning’; Gov. Tom Wolf wants Pa. to do better for its residents in vulnerable situations

Surrounded by an army of advocates and administration officials, Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed an executive order designed to identify ways to improve services to Pennsylvanians in vulnerable situations.
Saying the horror stories of Pennsylvanians who were harmed by state-provided programs and services designed to protect them, Gov. Tom Wolf is calling for change.

He signed an executive order that acknowledges shortcomings in the systems and establishes a process aimed at identifying their causes and making improvements.

“Today, we are being honest that the decades-in-making, outdated, rigid, convoluted system is not working for too many Pennsylvanians. And we are vowing to change this,” Wolf said at a Wednesday news conference at the Capitol. "The problem, of course, is that institutions you all know have lobbyists and powerful advocates while the people they serve do not. For these systems, today is a day of reckoning.”

His executive order creates the Office of Advocacy and Reform, the position of Child Advocate, and a 25-member Council on Reform, all volunteers, tasked with crafting with a report with recommendations to address the inadequacies by Nov. 1.

Wolf acknowledged the failures of the system were highlighted by reports of violent treatment of children at Glen Mills Schools and violations at Wordsworth Academy, both Philadelphia area schools for troubled youth, and the rape and murder of 14-year-old Grace Packer by her adoptive parents.

“This is all unacceptable. These tragedies should never have happened,” Wolf said. “For too long we have viewed the role of the state as one of just administration and oversight. Our systems have been built to prioritize the institution over the human being. This executive order reimagines our responsibility and shifts our outlook.”

The council also will look at weaknesses in systems supposed to protect older Pennsylvanians from abuse in nursing homes, those struggling with access to treatment for mental illnesses, people with disabilities, and those with substance abuse disorders. Wolf said it will work with the Legislature and advocates from interest groups in making changes.

The Office of Advocacy and Reform is charged with reviewing policies, laws and procedures and to make recommendations to revamp the way services are developed by the commonwealth, including strengthening the advocacy for the rights of older Pennsylvanians. The Child Advocate will focus on children’s safety and legal protections.

“Over the years, there have been many reports and many studies often undertaken in response to a crisis,” Wolf said. “Critical recommendations have emerged from many of these reports but they were often laid aside as the crisis faced into history. People forgot. No more.”

The executive order drew a mixed response from the various groups representing the very populations that the governor wants to better serve. Some voiced optimism that long-awaited improvements could result while others voiced trepidations that as Wolf noted, end up being another report that grows dusty on a shelf.

The Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association, an organization that represents a variety of health and human service providers, applauded the governor’s focus on addressing and helping to prevent the mistreatment of Pennsylvanians in vulnerable situations.

County commissioners whose agencies are responsible for delivering many of the human services targeted in the executive order also welcome this thorough review.

“We agree system changes are needed to allow us to more efficiently deliver services for which counties have been advocating, and we look forward to working together with state officials in developing solutions,” said Doug Hill, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

Both the county commissioners organization and Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association will be among those with represented on the council. Kari King, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, also will be a member.

She said she looks forward to being able to elevate the need to reduce placement of foster children in group homes by placing them in kinship or family-based care settings where research has shown the outcomes are better.

Statistics from the organization’s 2019 State of the Child Welfare report show of the 25,441 in foster care last year, only about half of the 81 percent in a family-care setting were living with a relative. A third of the foster children were 13 or older and more likely to be placed in a group home or institution setting.

“Anytime we take a look at the way we are doing things is probably good to do that," said Vicki Hoak, executive director of PA Homecare Association, which represents organizations that provide home care services.

In particular, she is glad the governor mentioned a need to look at reviving the Older Adult Protective Services Act that the court struck down four years ago that would establish in law limitations on hiring individuals with criminal records to provide in-home services. Currently, home care agencies can only rely on departmental guidance for this information, she said.

“I just hope we are given the opportunity to work with the groups appointed to the council and help them form their opinions and recommendations,” said Hoak, whose organization is not a represented on the council.

Others were less enthused or at least conflicted about what this initiative will accomplish, particularly since Wolf said he expects savings may be derived from the changes that result.

Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children’s Justice, said while she wants to celebrate the governor’s decision to create a Child Advocate, “the challenge is that announcement was woven together with repeated references to the fact that no money is needed, there is no cost.”

“Anytime we take a look at the way we are doing things is probably good to do that," said Vicki Hoak, executive director of PA Homecare Association, which represents organizations that provide home care services.

In particular, she is glad the governor mentioned a need to look at reviving the Older Adult Protective Services Act that the court struck down four years ago that would establish in law limitations on hiring individuals with criminal records to provide in-home services. Currently, home care agencies can only rely on departmental guidance for this information, she said.

“I just hope we are given the opportunity to work with the groups appointed to the council and help them form their opinions and recommendations,” said Hoak, whose organization is not a represented on the council.

Others were less enthused or at least conflicted about what this initiative will accomplish, particularly since Wolf said he expects savings may be derived from the changes that result.

Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children’s Justice, said while she wants to celebrate the governor’s decision to create a Child Advocate, “the challenge is that announcement was woven together with repeated references to the fact that no money is needed, there is no cost.”

She also is troubled by the fact that the advocate serves at the pleasure of the governor and will take direction from other administration appointees. “In other words, is there a level of independence that is implied and expected?" she said.

"There is every reason to see this as a step forward just the use of the governor’s bully pulpit to send a message Pennsylvania is done letting institutional practice and loyalties be of greater priority than protecting children, but there are just so many questions that need answered to be sure this isn’t a moment of victory in words only.”

The Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which represents skilled nursing homes, felt the governor in his comments failed to recognize that nursing homes have a role to play in elder care in this state. Its president and CEO Zach Shamberg also lamented the fact that no one representing nursing homes and their concerns about Medicaid underfunding, staffing shortages, and the legal and regulatory environment was included on the council.

“If the Wolf administration wants to continue its intense scrutiny of nursing facilities, then it must be willing to hear from those who face these challenges daily,” Shamberg said. "In the meantime, we look forward to providing input and testimony to ensure our residents are protected from any kind of abuse and continue to receive the best care possible in Pennsylvania.”

Wolf acknowledged the council was not an exhaustive group but that it will be going around the state taking testimony from those who have direct knowledge of the problems that exist in the system.

“It’s just time to take a look at this,” he said. “It was probably time when I first became governor but I think this is as good a time as any. Let’s address the issue. Let’s open our eyes and acknowledge we probably have not done as well as we should have.”

Full Article & Source:
‘Today is a day of reckoning’; Gov. Tom Wolf wants Pa. to do better for its residents in vulnerable situations

Thursday, September 12, 2019

San Antonio divorcee drops federal suit against boyfriend’s guardians

By David Yates

SAN ANTONIO - A federal lawsuit filed in the Texas Western District Court concerning the rights of an 81 year old San Antonio man under court appointed guardianship has been voluntarily dismissed with prejudice.

As reported in the Southeast Texas Record, Charles Thrash, 81, owned an auto repair shop on West Avenue and had  been in the news for marrying his divorcee girlfriend, Laura Martinez,  without his court appointed guardian’s permission.

The marriage was subsequently annulled by the Honorable Bexar County Probate Judge Oscar Kazen on March 15 without an evidentiary hearing, according to a press release.

Ms. Martinez and her daughter Brittany alleged in their second amended complaint against Guardian of the Estate Tonya M. Barina, Guardian of the Person Mary C. Werner and five San Antonio attorneys that the Honorable Judge Kazen’s voiding of her marriage to Thrash was not only “a mistake of law but also showed callous indifference to Charlie and  Laura’s rights to due process.”

The five Defendant attornies include William Leighner, Laura Cavaretta, Barrett Ship, Les Katona, Jr and Karen Anderson.

But  the Martinez family, through counsel, voluntarily dismissed their federal claims on Aug. 26, the same day that Attorney George H. Spencer,  Jr. filed a Motion to Dismiss citing the state’s Attorney Immunity  Doctrine. Counselor Spencer is married to retired Bexar County Probate Judge Polly Jackson Spencer who continues to preside over guardianship cases by assignment.

“Well-settled Texas law provides that attorneys are immune from liability to  non-clients for conduct within the scope of the attorney’s representation of his client,” wrote Counselor Spencer in his federal Motion to Dismiss on behalf of Leighner, Cavaretta and Katona who represented Guardian of the Estate Barina in the underlying Bexar County Probate Court guardianship case.

Court-appointed adult guardianships are designed to help the aging manage their lives,  but in recent years, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and other states have been plagued with federal lawsuits that allege financial exploitation, civil rights violations, isolation, medical neglect,  abuse, wrongful death and Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Those allegations haven’t escaped the watchful eye of Congress, which  introduced HR 4174 to enact protections against elder abuse and neglect under guardianship.

“It  is our duty in Congress to speak up and protect the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Congressman Darren Soto. “In Orlando, we saw firsthand the abuse of a former guardian which led to a preventable death.”

Congressman Soto is referring to Rebecca Fierle, a court appointed guardian in Orlando, Florida who is under investigation for allegedly causing the  death of a man who was under her care by issuing a “Do Not Resuscitate”  order without consent.

In Ohio, the son of an aging retired physician who was forced to divorce his guardianized wife Fourough Bakhtiar [Saghafi] has moved the Lorain County Probate Court to justify its relocation of the 85 year old grandmother to the home of her guardian daughter Jaleh Presutto.

Ms. Presutto was appointed guardian of Mrs. Saghafi by Lorain County  Probate Court Judge James Walther and, according to Lorain County police  records, Ms. Presutto was found guilty of forgery and other counts in a  matter relating to the Amherst School district.

In some states, individuals who have a record cannot legally be appointed the guardian of a senior citizen experiencing cognitive decline or person with disabilities.

Khashayar Saghafi filed the Motion for Relief from Judgment Granting [Zachary] Simonoff Plenary and Unsupervised Authority to Relocate Ward on Sept. 9, after Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Sherrie Miday Judge  set a hearing for Sept. 25 in his father, Dr. Mehdi Saghafi’s racketeering lawsuit. Simonoff is guardian of the estate of the octogenarian couple’s estimated $8 million in assets, according to a  press release.

“The  Notice of Relocation, filed by [Guardian of the Estate] Zachary  Simonoff, is by design intentionally vague and eliminates most relevant  information, specifically that the relocation of the Ward [Mrs. Saghafi]  was and has been to the Presutto residence, the same residence which  this Court deemed inappropriate as of May 16, 2016 when Jaleh Presutto was indicted for various criminal felonies involving the Amherst School system,” wrote the son's attorney Charles Longo.

Full Article & Source:
San Antonio divorcee drops federal suit against boyfriend’s guardians

Las Vegas police lieutenant’s elderly exploitation trial starts

By David Ferrara

A Metropolitan Police Department lieutenant deceived an elderly couple out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors told jurors Tuesday at the start of the officer’s criminal trial.

The allegations against James Melton, 52, stretch from December 2010 to May 2017. The 13 counts include elderly exploitation, theft, grand larceny auto and perjury.

Prosecutors have said that Melton hired April Parks, the owner of A Private Professional Guardian LLC; her office manager, Mark Simmons; and attorney Noel Simpson to exploit an elderly couple.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jay P. Raman explained to the jury during opening statements that others involved, including April Parks, had pleaded guilty and were given lengthy prisons sentences in separate cases.

“This case is about what James Melton did, including using others to get what he wanted,” Raman told jurors. “He may attempt to blame others for his actions. But the buck stops with James Melton.”

This year, District Judge Tierra Jones, who is overseeing Melton’s trial, ordered Parks to serve 16 to 40 years behind bars for stealing from elderly victims for whom she was supposed to care. Simmons and Parks’ husband, Gary Taylor, also were given prison time.

Prosecutors have alleged that Melton hired Parks, Simmons and Simpson to act as guardian for Beverly Flaherty, 87, and obtain control of more than $700,000 in assets from her and her husband, 84-year-old Jerome Flaherty.

Melton, who most recently worked in Metro’s Homeland Security division, has been on unpaid suspension since July 2017, when authorities launched the investigation.

His attorney, Josh Tomsheck, did not give an opening statement but has said publicly that Melton “violated no law and committed no crime.”

Melton, Parks, and Simmons were accused of using Simpson’s services to file false and misleading legal papers with the court in order to obtain guardianship and name Melton as the successor trustee of Beverly Flaherty’s family trust.

Simpson has cooperated with prosecutors, pleading guilty in November to one count of elderly exploitation, and is expected to testify at Melton’s trial.

Full Article & Source:
Las Vegas police lieutenant’s elderly exploitation trial starts

The Elderly Are Getting Complex Surgeries. Often It Doesn’t End Well.

Complication rates are high among the oldest patients. Now a surgeons’ group will propose standards for hospitals operating on the elderly.

By Paula Span
People over 65 represent roughly 16 percent of the American population, but account for 40 percent of patients undergoing surgery in hospitals — and probably more than half of all surgical procedures.
Those proportions are likely to increase as the population ages and more seniors consider surgery, including procedures once deemed too dangerous for them.

Dr. Clifford Ko, a colorectal surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently performed major surgery on an 86-year-old with rectal cancer, for instance.

“Ten years ago, I’d think, ‘My god, can this person even survive the operating room?’” Dr. Ko said. “Now, it’s increasingly common to see octogenarians for these types of operations.”

He and Dr. Ronnie Rosenthal, a surgeon and geriatrician at the Yale University School of Medicine, lead the American College of Surgeons’s Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery.

As older people undergo more operations, the coalition has focused on the results. Perhaps unsurprisingly, older surgical patients often fare worse than younger ones.

One study reviewing major, nonemergency surgery in 165,600 adults over 65 found that mortality and complications increased with age; hospital stays often lengthened.

Patients in their 80s undergoing major surgery for lung, esophageal and pancreatic cancer have substantially higher mortality rates than those aged 65 to 69, another study found; they’re also more likely to go to nursing homes afterward.

Why? Older patients often have chronic health problems, aside from whatever the surgery is supposed to fix, and take long lists of drugs. The hospital itself, where they risk acquiring infections or losing mobility after days in bed, can endanger them.

Frailty, an age-related physiological decline, particularly correlates with increased mortality and complications. “How we talk to them, how we care for them, their outcomes — there’s a lot of opportunity to do better” for older surgical patients, said Dr. Ko.

Hence, the college’s new geriatric surgery verification program, to be unveiled next month at a conference in Washington, D.C., after four years of planning and research. It sets 30 standards that hospitals should meet to improve results for older patients.

In October, hospitals will begin applying for verification, an assurance to patients and families that the best possible surgical care will be provided. The college previously devised similar quality programs for trauma, cancer and pediatric surgery.

“People understand that children are different from adults,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “It’s taken a surprisingly long time to come around to the realization that older adults are also different.”

A team will visit each applying hospital. “We’ll look at charts, we’ll interview people,” she said. “We’ll see if they’re actually meeting the standards, so the public can have confidence.”

Some of the standards, based on published research, relate to staffing or physical changes like “geriatric-friendly” patient rooms. Some involve managing medications, with less reliance on opioids.

Participating hospitals will screen older patients for vulnerabilities — including advanced age, cognitive problems, malnutrition and impaired mobility — that put them at higher risk. Some of these risks can be addressed before surgery, through “pre-habilitation,” to help patients gain strength.

But many of the standards involve not infrastructure and surgical approaches but communication: ensuring that patients truly grasp their risks and alternatives, and that physicians ascertain patients’ wishes.

“The goals of a patient who’s 80 might be very different from someone who’s 50,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “They may value a higher quality of life for a shorter amount of time.”

Without clear understandings, things can go very wrong in the hospital. Consider this account from Dr. Gretchen Schwarze, a vascular surgeon and ethicist at the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Schwarze helped care for a woman, 77, who contended with multiple health problems, including heart failure, weakened kidneys and emphysema.

“She was on oxygen,” Dr. Schwarze recalled. “She had terrible arthritis and used a walker.”

She also had a large aortic aneurysm extending from her chest into her abdomen — a weakened blood vessel wall that had ballooned and could burst. But she and her doctors had agreed not to repair it; the risks of the surgery, involving an incision from armpit to pelvis, seemed too high.

Then the aneurysm began bleeding, a painful and life-threatening development that sent the woman to the emergency room.

Her surgeon, Dr. Schwarze’s colleague, carefully explained to the woman that her odds of surviving surgery were about 50 percent (“which I think was a little optimistic,” Dr. Schwarze noted). Afterward, the patient would likely require ongoing dialysis and might remain indefinitely on a ventilator.

The surgeon made clear that, alternatively, she could choose a palliative approach to maintain comfort. Despite his concerns, the woman opted for surgery.

The problem, said Dr. Schwarze, was that “the kind of language we use to explain surgery doesn’t really describe the experience.”

After eight hours in the operating room, the woman went to intensive care, then suffered cardiac arrest. She underwent another six-hour operation before returning to the I.C.U.

The next day, “when the surgical team saw her, they were thrilled — ‘Wow, she’s doing great,’” Dr. Schwarze said. “Then her family came in.”

The woman for years had told them, but not her surgeons, that she feared life support and nursing homes. Now — sedated, swollen, breathing through a tube — she was unable to open her eyes, speak or squeeze a hand.

Even had the procedure gone perfectly, she was bound for a nursing facility, probably permanently.

“They had no idea this was part of the routine,” Dr. Schwarze said of the stricken family. “They said, ‘This is not O.K. You can’t do this to her. You have to stop.’”

At their insistence, the hospital discontinued treatment, allowing the woman to die.

The geriatric surgery verification program, now being piloted at eight hospitals across the country, could help prevent such horrors. Eventually, patients and families will be able to choose hospitals that participate over those that don’t.

But that option might be years off. The coalition hopes 100 hospitals will apply in the program’s first year; however, more than 4,500 community hospitals perform adult surgery in the United States.

Some hospitals may balk at the fee the College of Surgeons will charge for verification — “in the low five figures,” Dr. Ko said. Or they’ll simply defer: “There’s the response, ‘We’re doing fine. We don’t need anything more.’”

Still, insurers, including Medicare, are already paying attention to how well hospitals meet quality standards. In any event, Dr. Ko said, surgeons can adopt some of the required practices on their own.

Take the frail 86-year-old with rectal cancer. Standard treatment involved radiation, chemotherapy and “a pretty big surgery,” necessitating a colostomy bag afterward. But the patient also had heart disease, pulmonary disease and failing kidneys.

“It was dicey,” Dr. Ko said. “We really needed to talk about quality of life and quantity of life and complications.” The patient could have chosen less aggressive treatments, but wanted curative surgery.

Sensitized by years of discussing geriatric surgery, Dr. Ko prescribed a “pre-hab” program to help his patient stop smoking, begin walking for exercise and increase his protein intake.

Subsequently, “he had the surgery, had a wound infection afterward, but no heart or lung complications,” Dr. Ko said. “Knock on wood, the patient did well and continues to do well.”

Full Article & Source: The Elderly Are Getting Complex Surgeries. Often It Doesn’t End Well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Taking Charge! New Details About Britney Spears’ New Conservator Revealed

Britney Spears‘ father, Jamie Spears, has stepped down as her conservator after he was accused of abusing Sean Preston, her 13-year-old son with ex husband, Kevin Federline — and has the scoop on his replacement!

Jamie asked that Jodie Montgomery be made the temporary conservator of his 37-year-old daughter until January 20, 2020. Montgomery was granted the position after a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, Sept. 9.

According to a court insider, “Jodi and the attorneys seemed to be in high spirits” as they were leaving the court room,” after Montgomery was officially granted the conservatorship over the pop superstar.

While fans may not have heard of Montgomery before, she is an experienced fiduciary who has worked with the troubled singer for more than a year.

She now has the power to do everything from filing restraining orders to making mental health decisions on Britney’s behalf.

To find out more about Britney’s new guardian, scroll through Radar’s gallery.

Full Article & Source:
Taking Charge! New Details About Britney Spears’ New Conservator Revealed

Mannford Nursing Home Workers Accused Of Patient Abuse - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

MANNFORD, Oklahoma - Mannford police are investigating what the police chief calls a disturbing case of nursing home abuse.

Police Chief Lucky Miller says his department received a tip that some caretakers at the Cimarron Pointe Nursing Home were abusing patients in their care.

Miller says the abuse was reported to the Department of Human Services through email on May 20, 2019. But Miller says his department was never contacted by DHS, which is protocol.

He says because police weren’t notified, seven residents endured months of abuse that could have been stopped in May.

Officers arrested Senite Smith, one of four suspects, Thursday. Miller says he and investigators confirmed the abuse through pictures, text messages and an interview with Smith.

An arrest affidavit says Senite Smith, a certified nursing assistant, took a selfie showing a nude, elderly man lying in the background. The court document says Smith sent a text message of the picture saying he was high and noted to look at the man’s private parts.

The affidavit says there were two other pictures showing a man’s bloody head with message indicating he’d pushed him in the shower. The arrest affidavit shows Smith also texted he liked the smell of blood.

The affidavit shows Smith told investigators we was attempting to be edgy and the man had actually fallen down and cut his head. But the court document says Smith admitted to slapping and cussing one elderly man and being rough while cleaning an elderly woman.

The arrest affidavit says Smith told investigators he saw other employees abusing elderly residents.

Nursing home owner Frank Sullivan, Jr. said in a written statement that within two hours of hearing the specific allegations, they reported them to the Department of Human Services and Adult Protective Services.

He said nothing in the prehire history of the workers suggested they were potential threats to residents. All have been fired and told not to return to the building.

“Of the four persons accused, three were employed by us as late as yesterday afternoon. The fourth employee was terminated sometime ago for speaking harshly and profanely to a resident. There have been no complaints about the remaining three employees who are involved and who were terminated yesterday.”

“As a result of this event, we will be more vigilant and more protective and will install new protocol in an effort to prevent acts such as these from ever happening again," Sullivan said.

The affidavit says Smith described one worker as sadistic. He told investigators, according to the court document, that the employee would put a resident in the shower and intentionally run cold water on her until she screamed. The affidavit says the employee slapped an elderly man in his private parts on multiple occasions, poured ice on a resident and stole pain pills.

The court document says Smith didn’t report the abuse because the worker was his friend.

The court document says Smith did not have a reason for taking a selfie with the nude, elderly resident. The affidavit says that man has since passed away. Smith, 21, was booked on six complaints of abuse by caretaker, 1 count of sexual exploitation of a vulnerable adult, and seven counts of permitting abuse by a caretaker.

Mannford Police expect to make three more arrests.

Frank Sullivan, Jr., manager and owner of Cimarron Pointe Care Center, issued the following statement:
Yesterday afternoon, September 5, 2019, I received a call from the Administrator of Cimarron Pointe Care Center in Mannford relating to me specific allegations of abuse by members of the Cimarron Pointe Care Center clinical staff. These specific allegations were provided to her by Lucky Miller, Chief of Police of Mannford, Oklahoma.
Chief Miller is an excellent administrative and investigative officer and has worked closely with the Nursing Facility on many occasions. He and his staff are quick to respond, capable, professional, efficient and very diligent in their efforts to protect the people of the Mannford community.
At the request of Chief Miller, we were immediately very cautious about divulging this new information. Chief Miller was attempting to arrest those responsible and did not want “word” of the events being spread to those who he was attempting to arrest. He was concerned that they may flee and make apprehension a difficult task. We cooperated and even attempted to lure those suspected to the building so they could be taken into Chief Miller’s custody.
When Chief Miller contacted us yesterday with these horrific allegations, we immediately dropped everything we were doing and went to work to with the new knowledge we gained from Chief Miller and began all of the preparation need to perform evaluation and interviews of residents, interviews of staff and assisting Chief Miller in finding those who are responsible for the abuse committed against our residents.
None of those staff members who perpetrated these criminal and sick acts of abuse against our residents were on duty at the time. We checked to see when they were on the schedule and made arrangements to have their shifts covered by other members of our staff. We communicated their shift times and scheduled work dates to Chief Miller to assist in their apprehension. We handled each of the individuals responsible differently in order to assure that they would never be back in the building where our residents live. At this point in time they are all aware that they have been terminated and have been instructed not to return to the building.
Within two hours of learning of the specific allegations of abuse, we reported the allegations to the Department of Human Services and to the Adult Protective Services. We immediately began reinforcing common sense values, reporting duties and other obligations that staff owe to residents of our building through a process known as “inservice.” All employees will be inserviced as they report for their shifts.
Simultaneously, through interviews of our staff, we are determining if there are other members of our staff who knew of any of these atrocious acts against our residents. We have an absolute “zero tolerance” rule. Those health care providers who know or even hear of such acts and fail to report what they know or have heard are immediately terminated and reported to the State of Oklahoma.
We do not exist for the sake of employees. We exist for the sake of our residents who are dependent on us for care. We have total disdain not only for those who perpetrate such acts but also for those who are compelled to protect anyone who does.
We know that three of the four employees who have been terminated as a result of these acts of abuse are from Mannford. In each instance these people were hired by following a very strict hiring process. The State of Oklahoma has enacted, in an effort to curtail a deeply concerning trend of nursing home abuse, a very strict hiring process that involves background checks and fingerprinting. We zealously follow the protocol and endorse it as our own policy to keep abuse perpetrators out of our buildings. Nothing in the “prehire” history of these individuals suggested that they were a potential threat to our residents.
Myself and the administrative team at Mannford and the Home Office staff are sickened and in some instances physically affected by the knowledge of these twisted and indifferent acts by members of our staff. Of the four persons accused, three were employed by us as late as yesterday afternoon. The fourth employee was terminated sometime ago for speaking harshly and profanely to a resident. There have been no complaints about the remaining three employees who are involved and who were terminated yesterday. As indicated, above, one of those three has been arrested and the other two are to our knowledge still at large.
When being advised of these allegations of abuse, the reaction has been one of complete shock. We are told by local administrative staff that there were no indications of what has now been “brought to light.” It reminds all of us that we can never accept at face value the purported good intentions of employees who work with our residents. It reminds us that we cannot even accept the high standards imposed by the State and readily adopted by us in the hiring process. It is disappointing to know that these “kind” of sick, calloused people exist in our communities but the harsh reality is that they do.

As a result of this event, we will be more vigilant and more protective and will install new protocol in an effort to prevent acts such as these from ever happening again.
Frank Sullivan, Jr.
LLC Manager and Owner
DHS issued the following statement to News On 6:

“This is a heartbreaking case. Adult Protective Services (APS) case records are confidential by law. APS is not legally required to notify law enforcement when an APS investigation in a long term care facility begins; however, APS reports the results of its investigations to the local District Attorney who determines whether or not charges would be filed in a particular case.

Full Article & Source:
Mannford Nursing Home Workers Accused Of Patient Abuse

What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse of Seniors with Dementia

When someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia lives in assisted living or a nursing home, they may become vulnerable to bruising, falling, wandering into unsafe areas, or forgetting their physical limitations.

But if your older adult can’t remember how they broke their hip, hit their head, or suffered an injury, you might wonder if it was truly an accident or if nursing home abuse was involved.

If a nursing home failed to properly care for your older adult, you may be able to file a lawsuit to cover your parent’s medical costs and receive compensation for their pain and suffering.

If it’s determined that your older adult was abused, an attorney can help you report it to the proper authorities and make sure their rights are protected.

Use these tips to find out how the injury happened, identify signs of elder abuse, how to know if the nursing home was at fault, and what to do if nursing home abuse is a real possibility.

5 steps to find out how the injury happened

If your older adult can’t recall how an injury occurred, you may need to investigate on your own. Here are 5 steps that help you find out what happened.

1. Ask around
Ask other residents if they saw anything, especially if your parent has a roommate.

2. Request a care plan meeting
Meet with the Administrator and Director of Nursing to bring attention to the situation and determine how it occurred.

3. Contact the local ombudsman
If you’re not getting appropriate answers, report the incident to your state’s elder abuse ombudsman or the state agency that regulates nursing homes or assisted living communities.

4. Check for security footage
If the accident took place in a common area, a security camera may have captured it. 

Note that private facilities aren’t legally obligated to share footage unless required by local authorities or a court order.

5. Have a doctor examine them
Your older adult’s physician can also do a physical exam to help identify possible causes of the injury and whether it seems to have been caused by abuse or if it was more likely an accident.

Look for common signs of elder abuse

If this isn’t the first unexplained injury your older adult has suffered, don’t rule out the possibility of elder abuse.

More than a third of people with dementia are psychologically or physically abused by their caregivers.

Warning signs of elder abuse include:
  • Unusual injuries – If bruises are large or in odd places like on the face, neck, upper back, or chest, investigate further. Also look out for burns or indications of physical restraint.
  • Severe injuries – A serious injury, like a broken bone, without an explanation of how it happened could be a sign that something is wrong.
  • Skin lesionsBed sores, ulcers, or pressure sores are obvious signs that your older adult isn’t being properly cared for.
  • Malnutrition – Sudden weight loss, dehydration, or bowel impaction (often caused by dehydration or insufficient fiber), could mean that your parent is malnourished.
  • Unsanitary conditions – Soiled clothing, dirty linens, or evidence that your older adult is being forced to lie in bodily waste are also clear signs of abuse.
Additional signs of elder abuse include:
  • Sudden changes in personality and behavior, including depression and withdrawal.
  • Your older adult becoming quiet when a certain staff member is present.
  • Your older adult refusing to see a doctor or dismissing the severity of their injury.
  • Caregivers not wanting you to be alone with your older adult.
  • Caregivers offering differing explanations or unusual excuses for the injuries.

How to determine if the nursing home is at fault

Whether your older adult was hurt in an accident or abused by a caregiver, the nursing home or assisted living community could be at fault for their injuries.

3 top factors that could make the nursing home liable are:

1. Negligent staffing
The care community could be liable if they are understaffed, have unqualified people on staff, don’t provide adequate training, or if they hire people who have a history of abuse.

2. Inadequate security
A care community could be liable if they fail to install locks and alarms to keep patients from wandering inside the facility or leaving the building. 

They could also be at fault if there are a lack of security cameras that could help prevent violence or abuse from occurring.

3. A hazardous environment
If the care community has failed to address tripping hazards like slippery floors or raised carpeting, they could be at fault for an injury caused by these hazards.

6 steps to take if you suspect nursing home abuse

1. Talk with other families
Ask other families they’ve noticed similar injuries on their older adults or rough behavior by any staff members.

2. Report your concerns
File a formal complaint with the Administrator and/or the Director of Nursing.

3. Install a camera in their room
Installing a camera means that you can observe and record what happens in your older adult’s room.
Be sure to research the privacy laws in your area – you may need to put a notice on the door alerting others of the camera’s presence.

Note: Some states, including Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, do allow cameras to be installed in private nursing homes.

4. Visit regularly
Do your best to visit your older adult weekly, or even multiple times a week. The age-old saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” helps your older adult get better care.

You want the care community’s staff to get to know you and, more importantly, to know that you care about your older adult and you’re keeping an eye on them.

5. Move them to another care community
If you fear for your older adult’s safety, move them to another care community as soon as possible.

6. Document everything and report it to the proper authorities
Having a record of what happened is important when reporting the incident to local authorities.
These could include the police, Adult Protective Services, or an ombudsman program in your area to advocate on your older adult’s behalf.

Full Article & Source: 
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse of Seniors with Dementia

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Britney Spears’ Dad Jamie Steps Down As Conservator Amid Abuse Allegations

Britney Spears’ father is stepping down as her conservator after he was accused of abusing her oldest son with ex-husband Kevin Federline, can confirm.

In court papers obtained from Los Angeles Superior Court, Jamie is requesting Jodi Montgomery be made the Temporary Conservator of his daughter until January 20, 2020.

He is seeking to temporarily relinquish the powers of conservatorship due to “personal health reasons.”

Montgomery is an “experienced professional fiduciary with the ability, experience and support resources, to take on these obligations during this time.” He claimed in the Friday, September 6 filing that she has been the care manager for Spears for a year.

The Temporary Conservator “shall have the power to restrict and limit visitors by any means, provided that the Temporary Conservator shall not prevent the Conservatee from meeting with her court-appointed attorney, Mr. Ingham.”

The conservator shall also have the power to retain caretakers for the Conservatee on a 24 hour/7 day basis, prosecute civil harassment restraining orders that the Conservator deems appropriate, communicate with treating and other expert medical personnel regarding the Conservatee, and to have access to any and all records regarding the singer’s medical treatment, diagnosis and testing, as well as psychiatric treatment, diagnosis and testing.

Montgomery has consented to act as Temporary Conservator of Spears.

Jamie is asking for a hearing to be held on Monday, September 9 at 8:30am.

The filing comes after Spears’ ex-husband filed a police report against Jamie, claiming he abused their oldest son Sean Preston during an August 24 incident.

The District Attorney is reviewing the case, but no charges have been filed yet.

Federline was granted a temporary restraining order. Jamie is forbidden from seeing Sean Preston, 13, and Jayden, 12, for three years.

Spears, 37, reportedly took the boys from her father following the altercation and brought them to Federline’s home.

As Radar reported, Federline, 41, was granted 70 percent of time with their sons, while she has the remaining 30 percent on Wednesday, August 28.

According to reports, their previous agreement was 50/50 custody.

“She is very angry at her father,” a source told Radar. “Because Jamie is her conservator, she lost time with her boys after the [alleged abuse] incident and she blames him.”

Britney’s dad Jamie, who has been dealing with medical issues, has been in charge of her conservatorship ever since she suffered a mental breakdown in 2007.

She checked into a mental wellness center in April 2019 amid her father’s health crisis.

Full Article & Source:
Britney Spears’ Dad Jamie Steps Down As Conservator Amid Abuse Allegations