Saturday, November 9, 2019

Hidden camera records nursing home assistant abusing 93-year-old woman, daughter claims

Click to Watch Video
TOMBALL, Texas - The video is hard to watch and even tougher to listen to.

In it, Mary Teno says her 93-year-old mother Ethel was roughed up by a certified nursing assistant at the Grace Care Northpointe Center in Tomball, where she’s been staying for about a year.

"She just snatched her around and continued to hit her over and over again while my mom just screamed for help," Teno said.

Teno said after her mother complained of being hurt by some staff members, she decided to set up a hidden camera.

"It hurt me to see my mom being treated like that. And she could not defend herself,” Teno said.

Beyond what Teno said was verbal abuse, she also says there was physical abuse.

Teno said while the nursing assistant was wiping her mother, there was a shocking exchange caught on camera.

Although the nursing assistant may no longer be at the facility, Teno still worries how long this has happened to her mother and if it’ll happen to anyone else.

"She needs help. She’s very sick. No human being would treat a person in that manner," Teno said.

The law firm representing the nursing home released the following statement:
"Although we have not been provided the video at issue, we understand that the events depicted therein are inexcusable. We obviously do not condone such behavior and are taking every step necessary to ensure that nothing remotely similar happens again. Grace Care Center is committed to the welfare and safety of its residents and the involved nursing assistant has been permanently removed from the facility. We are working with the family, will continue our investigation, and are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities."

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Hidden camera records nursing home assistant abusing 93-year-old woman, daughter claims

Legislation aims to prevent incapacitated people from being cut off from loved ones

A bill (S.B. 110) is working its way through the legislature that would help incapacitated adults whose caretakers are cutting them off from family and friends.

The bill would allow a court to appoint a guardian for the limited purpose of supervising the incapacitated individual's access to people they want to see or talk to.

The court would first need to determine that the incapacitated person wants contact with the person who has been barred - and that the contact is in the best interest of the incapacitated person.

According to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.), the goal is to provide a legal avenue for allowing visitation and other communication when a caretaker says no.

"That's what courts are supposed to do: access to justice," said Lucido. "It is unjust to allow one party to seclude others from seeing their loved one."

"Especially in their golden years, why would you want to bar somebody from having that time with their loved one? That's what this is about," Lucido said. "Family members may not get along, but the person who had these children - or an uncle or aunt that misses their nephew or niece - should have the benefit of seeing that loved one."

Some say the bill does not go far enough to protect vulnerable adults from being isolated.

Sean Bennett, a disability rights advocate, submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee for its November 5th hearing, stating, "A better approach, and that required by Constitutional law, is to stipulate that a guardian may not restrict visitation or communication rights unless necessary to protect the person from harm or some other very good reason."

Alison Hirschel, managing attorney with the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative, in her testimony commended Lucido's efforts to address the "common scenario" of incapacitated adults being isolated from people important to their lives.

"Many of these situations arise as the result of long-standing family tensions and sometimes create heartbreaking situations in which concerned family members and vulnerable adults have no access to each other," wrote Hirschel.

But she urged some amendments to the bill such as clarifying that it applies to institutional settings as well as home settings and including language that "the limited guardian must promote access consistent with the incapacitated person's wishes and welfare."

Lucido said the bill has passed in the state Senate, was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee this week, and is headed for a vote in the House.

Full Article & Source:
Legislation aims to prevent incapacitated people from being cut off from loved ones

Elderly man scammed out of $130K in home repair scam

Seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion every year from financial exploitation, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

One North Dakota man is out a lot of money and his family wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

“Back in 2012 a company came out to my house, contacted my uncle about doing work at his property,” said Danielle Levey.

That’s how the long list of charges began to add up.

Danielle Levey’s 86-year-old uncle, who asked not to be identified, got coaxed into fixing his roof, windows and adding siding on to his home.

“Family came out and saw the work that was done, saw that it was sub-par, and then when we heard the prices, we were all outraged,” said Danielle.

The sticker price was $82,000.

A family member contacted the company and told them to not contact their uncle ever again. The family would go out to check on the property periodically to make sure no one else showed up to try and scam him.

Five years later — it happened again.

“You can’t really see that they did anything but when you look at the invoice’s a lot of them were sealing the roof and installing lightning rods,” said Danielle.

Invoices of things that were never done and costing their uncle another $50,000, this time around.
She said it would still be going on if the bank hadn’t caught on.

“The bank noticed transactions of large sums coming out of his account. There were transactions in the spring and the fall. The bank called adult protective services,” she said.

Which brought them to the culprit.

Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult and Construction Fraud are among the many charges Sean Gorman faces in McLean County, and this isn’t the first time his name has come up in construction fraud.

In 2015, Gorman was wanted for questioning in a similar incident. This time around, a warrant was issued for his arrest and earlier this week he turned himself in.

“It seems like its a couple of individuals, it’s not just this guy by himself. There’s different family members or other people that work alongside these people,” she said.

Gorman is out on bond and expected to be in court on Dec. 18. Until then Danielle wants others to be cautious.

“I just want people to know that if you see or hear of this company, or see these people around that they just need to be aware. And when it comes to an elderly person, then they aren’t going to call and see if they got a contractor’s license. They don’t know to do that,” said Danielle.

We reached out to Gorman’s attorney but did not hear back.

Danielle said she hopes her uncle can get some of his money back through restitution, but most importantly, they just want to move on.

McLean County Sheriff’s Department is also warning that there may still be others who are targeting people with the same scam.

Full Article &  Source:
Elderly man scammed out of $130K in home repair scam

Friday, November 8, 2019

Tonight on Marti Oakley's TS Radio Network: "In the Mix" with Coz and Marti

7 CST:

Join us this evening as Coz & Marti discuss several issues that have popped up in the news recently.

Q: Are predatory guardians in reality, serial killers?
A: It would appear so! And they collect trophies from their victims! Just like all serial killers they like little mementos, personal to the victim, to keep as treasures to enable them to relive their crimes.

And what’s up with the Ottholes? Coz will be delivering all the news that is news on this band of merry thieves and liars.

Also, we have noted that many of these predators hide themselves behind some church. Perfect cover! How could we suspect them of anything so horrendous? After all, they are sitting right there in the front row of the church! This is a very common tactic for sociopaths and psychopaths. They hide behind churches and portray themselves as highly regarded members of the community. They secure connections to other high profile people in the community. How could you ever suspect them of anything?

More news from Alaska and Coz will be reporting on a huge case in Wisconsin that's about to go to trial.

So much to talk about! So little time!

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Judge's family in turmoil after her Alzheimer's diagnosis

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Should a Court of Appeals Justice remain on the job after an Alzheimer's diagnosis?

That is the question at the heart of a family saga involving the mayor of West University Place and his entire family.

When you walk into the stately First Court of Appeals courthouse in downtown Houston, Justice Laura Higley's smiling face is displayed along with the other justices.

At the city hall of West University Place, her husband Bob Higley's picture is also on display, as its current mayor.

However, it's the court filings in Harris County Probate Court 2 that paints the picture behind the smiling images.

"It's a sad, sad case on so many levels," said Sally McCandless, a West U resident for more than 43 years.

Like many, she was surprised to learn through news reports that Higley's sons have filed an application for permanent guardianship.

In these court filings, the adult sons contend that the judge has Alzheimer's.

In addition, "due to the recent (and rapid) progression of her Alzheimer's disease, Justice Higley's mental state has deteriorated to the point that she is no longer able to care for her own physical health or her own financial affairs ... Justice Higley is mentally 'in the moment' only, meaning that Justice Higley can carry on brief conversations and exchange simple pleasantries."

Click to Read Document
The sons also accuse their own father, Mayor Bob Higley, as having "acted as a malevolent enabler in that he has encouraged Justice Higley not to resign or retire from serving as Justice in the First Court of Appeals."

"He's the mayor of West University, but obviously the sons feel like he has not done what he's supposed to do," said McCandless. "She should not be in that position. She needs to have proper care, and it must be very difficult for those sons to say, 'We have to take action.'"

Neither the mayor nor the judge were available for comment at their West U home.

The chief justice for the First Court of Appeals, Sherry Radack, did not return ABC13's calls for comment, and neither did the sons.

When ABC13 inquired at the court about the cases Justice Higley was reviewing, we were told she has not been assigned any cases for November, and it's unknown if any additional cases will be assigned to her.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct would not say whether any complaints have been filed against the judge, citing their rules for privacy.

Full Article & Source:
Judge's family in turmoil after her Alzheimer's diagnosis

Appeals court justice with Alzheimer’s disease resigns

Laura Higley
by Samantha Ketterer 

A justice on the state’s First Court of Appeals has resigned, days after reports that she was sitting on the bench while diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Justice Laura Carter Higley, who lives in West University and served on the Houston-based court, submitted her notice to Gov. Greg Abbott, the appeals court’s clerk confirmed Tuesday. In the letter, she did not offer a reason for stepping down from the bench, he said.

“Her service is appreciated by us and the state of Texas,” clerk Christopher Prine said.

The justice, a Republican, has held Place 5 on the court since 2002. She was re-elected in 2008 and 2014, with her term set to expire December 2020.

Higley has not responded to requests for comment.

The Houston Chronicle reported on Higley’s cognitive condition after her sons launched an effort to become her legal guardians. The justice, who is 72, had been continuing with her daily work routine contrary to her failing health, the sons said.

“Due to the recent (and rapid) progression of her Alzheimer’s disease, Justice Higley’s mental state has deteriorated to the point that she is no longer able to care for her own physical health or manage her own financial affairs,” sons Garrett C. Higley and Robert Carter Higley said in the filing for guardianship.

She had continued driving herself to work downtown, and had not resigned from her job despite “clear indicators and explicit warnings” that she was no longer capable of serving on the court, the brothers said.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressively-natured form, meaning it can begin with mild memory loss and become increasingly severe, possibly causing the person to lose the ability to respond to their environment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can affect the ability to complete daily activities, the agency said, and there is no known cure.

Higley became the subject of the guardianship case in mid-October, just a week after receiving an official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, according to documents filed in Probate Court No. 2. Her wellness issues began more than a year earlier with a diagnosis of an unspecified mild neurocognitive disorder, which progressed to a mild neurocognitive disorder stemming from possible Alzheimer’s disease in March, records show.

The sons hope to pull decision-making regarding Higley’s care away from her husband and their father, West University Place Mayor Bob Higley.

They called their mother’s condition “in the moment” only, meaning she can’t engage in substantive conversations. She struggles to remember information relayed to her or people she spoke with just a day before, according to the court filing.

Higley can’t do her job or manage her personal and financial affairs without complete assistance and supervision, meaning she’s a legally “incapacitated” person, the sons said.

She has a long history in law, and was an attorney at Baker Botts, L.L.P. prior to being a judge. Before that, she was the mayor of West University Place.

Higley was one of nine justices on her court, which serves Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller and Washington counties. The judges mostly hear appeals on cases decided in lower district and county courts in their jurisdiction.

It’s unknown whether Justice Higley has been on the receiving end of any official complaints related to her work. Those would be brought to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the oversight group for judges, interim executive director Jacqueline Habersham has said.

The Houston Chronicle has requested comment from the governor’s office regarding Higley’s resignation.

Keri Blakinger contributed to this article.

Full Article & Source:
Appeals court justice with Alzheimer’s disease resigns

Ex-attorney jailed for theft

Brumbaugh, 64, stole from handicapped victim’s trust

By Melanie Yingst - Miami Valley Today

MIAMI COUNTY — A former Miami County attorney is spending 30 days in jail as part of his sentence for stealing trust funds from a mentally handicapped woman.

On Tuesday, Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Stacy Wall sentenced former Troy attorney Jeffrey Brumbaugh, 64, now of Sedona, Ariz., to serve 30 days in county jail and five years of community control. He was ordered to pay $94,000 in restitution to the victim, or $1,567 per month, for the next five years. He also was ordered to surrender his law license to practice in Ohio.

He also was ordered to pay a $7,500 fine and not to have access to financial records for his new business — a tourism company in Sedona. Judge Wall reserved up to three years of prison if Brumbaugh violates any conditions of his community control.

Judge Wall said Brumbaugh’s conduct was “completely inexcusable” since he was in a position of trust for the 56-year-old incompetent woman to whom the trust was in his care. The victim’s father left two properties, a vehicle and $600,000 to care for the woman after his death in 2011.

“You took advantage of someone who was vulnerable,” she said. “There’s no integrity to what you did.”

As part of a joint recommendation between the state and Brumbaugh’s attorneys, the state dropped four of the six indicted charges, including first-degree felony conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity, second-degree felony conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity, second-degree felony theft and first-degree felony theft.

On Tuesday, Brumbaugh entered an Alford Plea to one count of third-degree money laundering and one count of fourth-degree theft. An Alford plea is a guilty plea in criminal court in which a defendant doesn’t admit to the criminal act, yet fears the consequences of the original charges.

Prior to sentencing, Brumbaugh said he had no intent to keep the victim’s funds over a long period of time. His counsel claimed Brumbaugh may have had “questionable management of funds,” but had no “nefarious plans.”

Prosecutor Tony Kendell said it was the state’s wish to make the victim financially whole again. Kendell said his office spent numerous hours working with the forensic accountant to investigate the misappropriated funds.

“This is the best avenue to get to where we want to go,” Kendell said.

The victim’s court appointed guardian, attorney and advocate Judith LaMusgah, spoke on behalf of the victim. She said the victim was diagnosed with autism, anxiety and is a diabetic. The vicitim was found incompetent and needs daily support for the rest of her life. LaMusgah said Brumbaugh’s actions as a fellow attorney were “astounding, shocking beyond belief.”

She said not only was the woman a victim, but the victim’s deceased father was a victim, as he had left the assets to Brumbaugh to care for the victim and provide her support. She said once it was found Brumbaugh drained the accounts, the victim lived on $800 a month. She said the victim would have lived comfortably for the rest of her life had Brumbaugh not been entrusted with her financial care.

Prior to sentencing, Wall highlighted Brumbaugh’s attempts to cover up his financial trail. She said Brumbaugh contacted relatives while in jail following his arraignment in October 2018 asking them to transfer car titles, funds to an LLC and to drain bank accounts. She also noted he sent a social media message to his son stating $100,000 would be shipped to him soon. He also gave a woman tens of thousands of dollars to renovate a home in the victim’s name, but the work was never completed.

She also noted Brumbaugh was paying employees in cash before closing his practice and “disappearing to Arizona” with no warning to clients whose files were never were found. After moving to Arizona, he had a mailing address in a strip mall and it took some time to locate him prior to his arraignment. Judge Wall found Brumbaugh expressed no remorse for his actions. She also asked Brumbaugh what happened to the victim’s car, which he said his son had abandoned in Nevada.

The Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Brumbaugh from practicing law on May 25, 2017, and he was ordered to cease and desist practicing law. Brumbaugh also failed to respond to a formal complaint before the Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel submitted on Sept. 9, 2016.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-attorney jailed for theft

Thursday, November 7, 2019

88-Year-Old Woman Sexually Assaulted at Hillcrest Nursing Home

San Diego Police announced Tuesday the arrest of a man suspected of sexually assaulting an elderly woman in a nursing home in Hillcrest.

Detectives took Lusean Arline, 48, into custody Monday for the crime which occurred Oct. 27. Police did not release the name of the nursing home, but administrators with Balboa Nursing and Rehabilitation Center confirmed with 10 News the attack happened in their facility.

Police said the 88-year-old victim was inside the nursing home when Arline illegally entered the facility. He sexually assaulted the woman, who was in her bed, officers said.

The victim and other patients in the room began screaming.

“When staff members responded, Arline ran away,” police wrote in a news release.

San Diego Police Sex Crimes Unit investigators collected evidence at the scene, including male DNA which was processed by the Crime Lab and loaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Investigators identified Arline as the suspect and, with the help of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Arline was arrested.

Arline is currently being held on a parole violation. He will face multiple felony counts that include burglary, felony sexual assault, and elder abuse charges, according to police.

Full Article & Source:
88-Year-Old Woman Sexually Assaulted at Hillcrest Nursing Home

The Judiciary Is Not Above The (Guardianship) Law

A Texas judge is now the subject of a guardianship proceeding.

Recognizing that a loved one needs a guardian can be a trying time. Taking steps to help the situation is painful and often destructive to the family unit. Not everyone agrees on next steps or who should take control. Sometimes, a medical diagnosis suggests cognitive impairment. Other times, one’s conduct indicates that she requires intervention. The standard for the appointment of a guardian or a conservator varies from state to state. Generally, one is appointed as a guardian when the individual’s functional limitations are so great that she is likely to suffer harm.

A personal guardian makes medical decisions. The guardian may decide treatment plans, choice of residence, and doctors. A financial guardian marshals assets, pays liabilities, budgets, applies for benefits, and can commences lawsuits in order to recoup monies which are owed to the individual. Often guardianships are born out of financial scams wherein individuals are taken advantage of and made to give or loan their money away.

Not every guardianship involves a grandmother with dementia or a bed-ridden senior citizen. For example, despite the fact that pop star Britney Spears has a conservatorship, she has continued to work, earn money, and raise her children. Often guardianships are tailored to allow the individual as much freedom as is safe in her particular instance. Guardianships and conservatorships apply to those with mental, emotional, and physical diagnoses when individuals exhibit behaviors that may cause harm to themselves. Sometimes people do not even have an official diagnosis.

As with Britney Spears, a guardianship proceeding may be commenced while someone is still working and participating in the community. Justice Laura Carter Higley is a 72-year-old judge in the First Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas. As she sits on the bench, her two adult sons have commenced a guardianship proceeding on her behalf in Harris County Probate Court 2. She was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and they have alleged her failing cognitive health.

Her sons argue that since November 2017, the justice has suffered from neurocognitive issues. Justice Higley, who first took the bench in 2002,  drives herself to work daily in Houston. She has been involved in cases since March 2019, although no one has appealed her decisions since her diagnosis.

As in many guardianships, there exists a fight for control as the judge has an $8 million estate. Her husband, Bob Higley, is the mayor of West University Place, Texas, and he resides there with his wife. The sons are concerned about financial exploitation. Mayor Higley serves as the justice’s agent under a financial and medical power of attorney since March 2019. The sons also question their father’s actions with regard to the judge’s personal safety.

Complaints and concerns about Justice Higley could be made to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, although it will not reveal if any have been filed as a result of their rules on privacy. The sons allege that their father has encouraged Justice Higley not to resign from her position.  According to the Texas Constitution, a judge can be removed from office in the event a disability interferes with her duties, which is or is likely to become permanent.

In many state jurisdictions, there is mandatory retirement for judges at a certain age. Such a rule often prematurely removes productive judges from the bench. Some of these judges then seek employment in the private sector. Justice Judith Kaye, the first woman to serve as the New York chief justice of the Court of Appeals, retired at age 70, due to the New York mandatory retirement statute. She then joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom as of counsel. Supreme Court and federal judges have lifetime appointments and many of these jurists have demonstrated monumental decisions during their “golden years.”

The case of Justice Higley highlights the fact that every guardianship matter is different. Individuals have different impairments, some of which can be hidden in the course of day-to-day activities. Some individuals may require assistance yet present well. Conversely, others may appear disheveled or in despair, but have a clear grasp on their lives. As practitioners and judges, we must look at the details and background of each case and make certain that the outcome specifically fits the facts. As is the concern with judicial mandatory retirement, not everyone ages the same way.

Full Article & Source:
The Judiciary Is Not Above The (Guardianship) Law

Las Vegas man among 15 defendants in international mailing scheme targeting the elderly

Among the 15 defendants in an international mailing scheme targeting the elderly is North Las Vegas resident Dennis Hunsaker, who with his company, Digital Matrix International Inc, played a key role in the fraudulent ploy. (MGN Online)
A federal judge in New York ordered 15 individuals and companies to cease their involvement with fraudulent mailings targeting the elderly on Monday, Oct. 21.

Among the 15 defendants is North Las Vegas resident Dennis Hunsaker, who with his company, Digital Matrix International Inc, played a key role in the fraudulent ploy.

According to a release from the Department of Justice, the defendants mailed and assisted in the mailing of thousands of solicitations disguised as individualized notices. These notices falsely stated that the recipients had won large sums of money or valuable prizes yet needed to pay a fee to claim the winnings.

The solicitations were mailed to victims throughout the world, and many victims returned their payments but received nothing in return.

These schemes defrauded a number of individuals and grossed around $4.8 million in just the last year, according to the complaint.

Monday’s order ends the defendants’ involvement in the multi-million dollar schemes.

.“Anyone who engages in deceptive practices like this should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable, regardless of where they are," said Inspector in Charge Delany DeLeon-Colon of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Criminal Investigations Group.

Hunsaker and his company enabled the scheme by providing tools that managed lists of recipients and respondents.

Other defendants reside across the U.S. as well as Canada and Germany.

Permanent injunctions were issued after the New York district court granted a request for a temporary restraining order against the defendants. This prohibits the defendants, including Hunsaker, from sending fraudulent solicitations, receiving, handling, or opening any victim mail and using or benefitting from the lists of respondents.

“These permanent injunctions stop unscrupulous individuals and companies from conducting fraudulent solicitation schemes that targeted the elderly in our district and throughout the country and the world,” said U. S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York. “This office will continue to use all available resources to protect victims of get-rich-quick schemes.”
This case is a part of the DOJ’s Elder Fraud Initiative.

Full Article & Source:
Las Vegas man among 15 defendants in international mailing scheme targeting the elderly

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Allegations Of Abuse And Neglect At 5 San Antonio Nursing Homes

Five San Antonio nursing homes were flagged for alleged instances of abuse and neglect of their residents.

Click to Listen

The Express-News reports the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services flagged River City Care Center, Retama Manor Nursing Center-San Antonio West, San Pedro Manor, Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Senior Care of Windcrest.

The five nursing homes were cited for several problems, including neglect of medical needs; and physical, verbal, or sexual abuse.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services flagged the centers on their nursing home comparison website to alert customers to potential problems.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, November 5.

Full Article & Source:
Allegations Of Abuse And Neglect At 5 San Antonio Nursing Homes

Ex-Wichita attorney who stole from bankrupt clients gets prison in embezzlement case

By Amy Renee Leiker

A former Wichita attorney who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his bankrupt clients was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison.

Christopher O’Brien, 69, must also pay $603,000 in restitution, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release.

O’Brien pleaded guilty in March to one count of embezzling from the bankruptcy estate of Roger and Marcia Altis. The Eureka couple told The Eagle earlier this year that the money O’Brien stole was supposed to go toward their debt after financial troubles at their family’s oil field business forced them into bankruptcy in 2010.

But instead of paying the bills, they said, O’Brien dragged out their case, ultimately pocketing $132,447.31 in proceeds from a business asset auction. The Altises nearly lost their home in a tax sale earlier this year due to the theft.

And, they told The Eagle, they still don’t know what happened to a $350,000 check O’Brien received after an oil lease was sold.

The amount stolen from the Altises makes up part of the more than half a million in restitution U.S. District Judge John Broomes ordered O’Brien to pay during his sentencing hearing.

He also has agreed to turn over $554,889 to the bankruptcy estate of a Wichita machine shop called Machining Programming Manufacturing Inc. that he stole from between 2010 and 2012 and $51,500 to a group of Hawker Beechcraft retirees who hired O’Brien in 2013 to file a claim on their behalf in the company’s bankruptcy case.

Hawker reimbursed the retirees for their attorney’s fees, but O’Brien kept the money for himself instead of returning it to his clients, according to his plea agreement.

O’Brien, in six pages of typed testimony filed as an attachment to an Oct. 4 sentencing memorandum, described a more than 25-year pattern of embezzlement from law firms and clients to feed his “lust for money and to keep my image up.”

His handling of more recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases amounted to a five-year Ponzi scheme where he used “money from the next case to pay the creditors from the old case,” the testimony says.

Meanwhile, he lavished his family with expensive trips and weddings, a costly home renovation, season sports tickets and a country club membership.

“I justified my actions always saying that I was going to pay it all back,” he wrote in the testimony, “but I was always in the hole.”

O’Brien voluntarily surrendered his law license in 2015. He was disbarred two weeks later.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-Wichita attorney who stole from bankrupt clients gets prison in embezzlement case

Read more here:

My family faces an impossible choice: caring for our mom, or building our future

Caregiving can have an especially heavy penalty for women and millennials. 

By Kristina Brown
Kristina Brown is in her fourth year at the Yale School of Medicine.

My final year at medical school began this fall with an unexpected flight home to Colorado. My mother has multiple sclerosis, and my sister, her caregiver for the past three years while I attended school in New Haven, was moving away to start a new job she’d suddenly gotten. There was no one else but me. I postponed my hospital rotation and canceled my board exam. I notified the school registrar, saying I was uncertain of when I could return and resume my studies.

Many people assume that having a disability guarantees access to a network of resources. Not so. Because my mother has an income of $36,000 from her divorce settlement, is younger than 65 and lacks a 10-year employment history, she is disqualified from receiving Medicaid (despite its expansion), Medicare and Social Security Disability Insurance. Her private insurance company, like many others, does not cover home care for daily needs. The median cost of this service, for help seven days a week, is more than $80,000 per year. Like many families, we could not afford full-time coverage. This posed a life-altering dilemma: One of us had to stay home to care for her. 

With my sister away at college, I went first: At age 16, when our 43-year-old mother lost the ability to walk, my life shifted to sleepless nights and baby monitors. Her disease progressed swiftly; soon she could no longer stand, eat or bathe without assistance. For six years, I provided 10 hours of care every day.

I woke up at 5:30 each morning. After helping my mom with a bed bath, brushing her teeth and lifting her into her wheelchair, I would arrive late to school, breathless and racking my brain for an excuse to tell my English teacher. I accumulated enough pink tardy slips that, despite being a straight-A student, I received a letter threatening my graduation. I dedicated weekends to caring for my mother and missed class to make it to her doctors’ appointments. I quit the cross-country team after finally making varsity. I skipped prom. I turned down the chance to give the graduation speech. I lost my adolescence, and still my mother needed more support than I could give.

Even though I told no one about my home life, it permeated every decision I made. When I received my high SAT score in the mail, I cried tears of disbelief: I soon received a flood of invitations to apply to Ivy League schools and full-ride scholarship offers from out-of-state universities I longed to explore. I declined them all, knowing I had to stay nearby for college. To save money on home health-care costs, my sister and I spent weekends with our mother; that way, we wouldn’t have to hire extra help for the physical tasks that required two people. Midway through my sophomore year, we both moved off campus and back in with her.

I knew that even if I reached out for assistance, few resources were available: Most nursing facilities serve only seniors. And even if we found a facility for younger adults with disabilities like my mother’s, the cost of that care could exceed $10,000 a month. Home care is only slightly more affordable, at $6,000 or $7,000 a month. My mother is on a first-name basis with all the local paramedics — not because of medical crises, but because of the many nights when we needed another set of hands just to help her get out of her wheelchair and go to bed.

These strains can take a toll on caregivers’ health. Sixty percent of people caring for adult relatives or friends also have full- or part-time jobs, according to the AARP’s Public Policy Institute. More than half of caregivers report a decline in exercise , poor diet and not seeing their doctor as needed. Chronic stress in caregivers has been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease . Compared with their peers, elderly individuals who serve as overburdened caregivers are 1.6 times more likely to die within four years. Only 13 percent of caregivers are between the ages of 18 and 29, according to Gallup-Healthways, so fewer studies exist on the effects on younger people. From my own experience, I can say that I routinely missed meals and sleep during my adolescence, and that I strove to hide my exhaustion, weight loss and social isolation from the people around me.

In recent years, I’ve taken out loans to keep up with mortgage payments on our family’s home in Colorado, and, for additional income, worked shifts in the radiology department at the university’s hospital. Combined with my sister’s meager salary, this barely ensures our mother’s survival. We are starting to run out of options: We could sell our home to qualify for state assistance; I could leave medical school to become a full-time caregiver for my mother. But taking these extreme, temporizing measures would only drive us further into a vicious cycle of financial instability.

Caregiving fuels generational poverty, disproportionately affecting millennials and women who take on that role in their families. People like my sister and me, who begin caregiving as first-time job-seekers or students, may face significant employment challenges: Millennial caregivers are more likely than previous generations to be passed over for promotions, forced to reduce their job responsibilities or fired, according to the TransAmerica Institute. Just a few years of caregiving early in life creates cumulative financial setbacks for women, making them less likely to have retirement savings and more likely to require government assistance. A 50-year-old woman earning $40,000 a year who leaves the workforce to care for a family member for five years loses 11 percent of her potential lifetime earnings ($256,753), according to the Center for American Progress. If she does the same at 25, she loses 20 percent of her lifetime earnings ($679,000). When women become caregivers, they also become 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty.

There are resources supporting caregivers, but families like mine fall through the cracks. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows for 12 weeks of leave each year so that people may tend to loved ones, but this time off is unpaid. While many workplaces have paid parental leave, and educational institutions offer stipends for students with children, such policies exclude other kinds of caregivers. Programs such as respite care and adult day care often have limited funds, or come with out-of-pocket costs or age requirements.

Last spring, Washington became the first state to pass a publicly funded long-term-care benefit. It provides individuals $100 a day, with a lifetime cap of $36,500, to pay for services including caregiving, meal delivery and nursing home fees; lawmakers estimate that the measure will ultimately save the state billions in Medicaid costs. Widely adopting such programs would be expensive, but without help, families like mine will be crushed by needs we cannot meet.

Somehow, after a few weeks, my family pieced together a patchwork of caregivers who could help my mother with bed, baths, meals and overnights. Since we couldn’t afford aides from certified agencies, I recruited people through online ads and trained them in her needs and routines. I filled out reams of applications and made a flurry of phone calls to my mother’s social worker, the state’s health and human services department, and the regional disability resource center, seeking financial support. (So far, none has arrived.) This arrangement has allowed me to return to campus for now. But it’s also haphazard, and could collapse at any moment. Home health aides have quit unexpectedly, leaving my mother to forgo regular meals and bathing while, thousands of miles away, I scrambled to find replacements, calling the police department to ask them to perform welfare checks. From week to week, I don’t know whether my mother will have the care she needs.

Numbers alone cannot capture the costs we’ve incurred: every sleepless night, every missed opportunity, every surge of shame and guilt. Some nights, when I’m away at medical school, my mother calls me to apologize for being sick: She always dreamed of being able to take care of me and my sister, and instead our youth has been devoted to taking care of her. It took me years to feel worthy of pursuing a separate identity for myself. In the face of insurmountable health-care expenses, my family had become numb to the sting of dreams deferred. Yet with each day more uncertain than the last, I focus on carving out a new future for us amid this fragile present.

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My family faces an impossible choice: caring for our mom, or building our future

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Lawsuit: Nursing home allowed man to bleed to death, then employee stole his phone

Daughter says her dad “was doing really well” until alleged negligence contributed to his death. 

By Stephanie Zimmermann

Jaime Hernandez, 66, of Bolingbrook, died Oct. 25, 2018, at a Forest Park nursing home.
Provided photo
The family of a Bolingbrook man who was left alone to bleed to death in a nursing home —and then had his iPhone swiped from his room after his body was removed — is suing the facility for negligence.

Jaime Hernandez, 66, was recuperating at an Aperion Care facility in Forest Park after getting a kidney transplant at the University of Illinois-Chicago Medical Center a month earlier.

He’d waited seven years to receive a new kidney and all signs were looking good, said his daughter, Maria de Lourdes Gutierrez.

“He was doing really well,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez took her dad for a regular appointment with his UIC doctor on Oct. 25, 2018, then brought him back to the nursing home at 8200 Roosevelt Road, where he had been staying for 17 days.

His UIC doctor had said Hernandez’s blood pressure looked good and his new kidney was doing well, Gutierrez said. Her dad was looking forward to watching his beloved Club America Mexican soccer team on TV and eating his favorite foods when he fully recovered.

“He was so happy,” she said. 

According to the lawsuit naming Aperion, Berkshire Nursing & Rehab Center LLC and several employees as defendants, a health care staffer was supposed to check Hernandez every two hours as well as regularly check his forearm, where he had a fistula from a dialysis catheter. The lawsuit says the nursing home should have known that he was at risk for a hemorrhage in that arm.

Video of the nursing home hallway later obtained by police showed that no one entered Hernandez’s room for at least three hours before he was found in a pool of blood on the floor of his room’s bathroom, said attorney Margaret Battersby Black with the firm Levin & Perconti.

Battersby Black added that staffers allegedly lied to police about the last time they’d seen Hernandez alive. 

To make matters worse, Gutierrez said her dad’s iPhone disappeared from his room shortly after. She said her niece tracked it with the Find My iPhone app, watching in horror as it left the nursing home building and traveled down the Dan Ryan Expressway before going dark.

The lawsuit claims the phone was stolen by a nursing home worker who had an active arrest warrant in Iowa for theft, dependent adult abuse and forgery.

Jaime Hernandez dances with his wife, Maria Guadalupe Rios Valdez, in this undated photo. Hernandez bled to death in 2018 at a Forest Park nursing home.
Provided photo
Aperion Care did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

On its website, the company says its employees “provide a level of personal caring that goes well beyond providing post-hospital rehabilitation and long-term skilled nursing care.”

The lawsuit also contends that Aperion knew it was understaffed because the Illinois Department of Public Health had cited it for providing inadequate staffing less than a month before Hernandez arrived.

The suit was filed on behalf of Hernandez’s widow, Maria Guadalupe Rios Valdez, his daughter Gutierrez and two other daughters and two sons. It seeks monetary damages for 17 alleged specific failures of the nursing home to properly care for Hernandez.

Gutierrez said the worst part was the suddenness of her father’s death, which occurred just as the family thought he had rounded a corner in his recovery.

“It was great, the doctors were saying everything is good,” she said of the kidney transplant surgery. “You’re thinking it’s a new life for him.”

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Lawsuit: Nursing home allowed man to bleed to death, then employee stole his phone

FL lawmaker proposes law requiring guardians to seek court's opinion for DNRs

New law comes after multiple I-Team investigations

By: Adam Walser

After our investigation into a man who died in guardianship, lawmakers, judges and even Florida Governor Ron Desantis have called for sweeping reforms to better protect Florida's seniors.

Now, one Lakeland State Representative is drafting a new law.

“When I first heard about this, I was like what do we need to do… and we need to do it now,” said Rep. Colleen Burton.

Burton says she's drafting a new law to protect vulnerable seniors in Florida's broken guardianship system

This comes after the death of Steven Stryker, who investigators say died as a result of the actions of his court-appointed guardian Rebecca Fierle.
She is now under criminal investigation by multiple agencies.

Stryker choked to death after Fierle ordered his feeding tube removed and issued a “Do Not Resuscitate” order without permission.

The I-Team later uncovered Florida guardians widely using DNR orders on people under their care without the court's approval.

That’s something Burton says she hopes a new law will stop.

“If they don't have that expressed authority, they have to go to court. A judge will have to say that they can do that,” said Burton.

Burton says her bill has strong support from members of both parties and expects to file her legislation by the end of the month.

Later this month, the ABC Action News I-Team will launch an investigative series on the state's troubled guardianship program.

You'll be able to watch it exclusively on our free streaming apps.

We will explore some of the issues we've uncovered about the wide-spread use of “Do Not Resuscitate” orders and hospitals going to court to strip away patients' rights.

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FL lawmaker proposes law requiring guardians to seek court's opinion for DNRs

North Carolina assisted living facility workers accused of running dementia resident fight club

Danby House
Three employees at a North Carolina assisted living facility were arrested after police said they ran a fight club with elderly residents with dementia battling it out against each out.

The women were accused in court documents of watching, filming and even encouraging a fight between a 70-year-old woman and a 73-year-old woman at the Danby House assisted living and memory-care facility in Winston-Salem, Fox 8 High Point and other local media reported.

Marilyn Latish McKey, 32, Tonacia Yvonne Tyson, 20, and Taneshia Deshawn Jordan, 26, were each charged with assaulting disabled persons, according to the reports.

Winston-Salem police announced their arrests Friday following an investigation into a June complaint of elder abuse at the facility.

“When you’re talking about someone who can’t take care of themselves, we’ve got to give specific attention to that,” Lt. Gregory Dorn told Fox 8.

Documents from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services show that during the filming of the fight one of the combatants was heard yelling “let go, help me, help me, let go” as McKey, Tyson, and Jordan continued to watch, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

According to the documents at some point one of the staffers told the resident to “stop screaming (expletive),” the paper reported.

Danby House said in a statement that McKey, Tyson, and Jordan were fired in June when managers were alerted to the situation.

"Additional staff training and a more rigorous vetting process for all new and existing employees at Danby House have been implemented," the statement said.

Fox 8 reported that two of the arrested women could not be reached for comment and that the third declined to comment.

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North Carolina assisted living facility workers accused of running dementia resident fight club

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Dirty Little Secret Probate Courts Hope You Never Find Out

Investigative reporter Gretchen Hammond

Show Transcript Parents Are Hard To Raise® S03 Episode 134 Transcript

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The Dirty Little Secret Probate Courts Hope You Never Find Out

Promised $2.5 million and a Mercedes, an Auburn senior wound up losing her life savings

Barbara Hinckley, 95, lost everything to a sweet-talking scam artist who told her she'd placed second in a sweepstakes for the Publisher's Clearing House. 

By Steve Collins

Barbara Hinckley sits in her Auburn home with paperwork from a monthslong scam that promised her millions of dollars and a new car, but instead drained her life’s savings. Andree Kehn/Staff Photographer
AUBURN — When the phone rang in her trailer at the Ja-Lynne Mobile Home Park off Turner Street on July 6, 95-year-old Barbara Hinckley quickly answered it.

A friendly voice on the other end told her that he was David Sawyer, prize director for Publishers Clearing House in New York, and he had some good news: She’d won second prize in its annual contest.

That meant, he told her, that she could expect $2.5 million and a new Mercedes-Benz.

Hinckley said she didn’t need a new car and wasn’t even too sure about the cash.

“What would I do with all that money?” she asked. “What would anybody do with all that money?”

Three days after hearing she had won $2.5 million in a Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes, Barbara Hinckley received a package that included a purported copy of the check she would receive for $2.5 million. Provided image
But she didn’t see any reason to be suspicious. After all, she said, she’d done business with the company off and on for three decades. She also knew from its television commercials over the years that it really does give away large sums.

Sawyer, who struck Hinckley as a well-spoken, well-educated fellow, told her she had two choices about how to handle her good fortune.

“You can do it publicly,” he said, with all the attendant publicity, “or you can do it privately. But if you do it privately, it is just between you and me. You can’t say anything about it to anyone.”

During the next six weeks, keeping it all mum from family and friends, Hinckley forked over more than $16,000 in a series of transfers that wiped out her life savings.

Right to the end, the man identifying himself as Sawyer, never dropped the pretense that Hinckley was a lucky winner.

In fact, though, she was just the latest — and, no doubt, not the last — to be conned by crooks who prey on vulnerable, often lonely seniors who are too trusting and naive. Publisher’s Clearing House, which has long warned about the fraud, had nothing to do with the crime.

The Federal Trade Commission says that if somebody claims you won something and then asks for a fee, it’s fake. “If you have to pay, it’s a scam,” the agency says.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who chairs the Senate Aging Committee, has long targeted scams aimed at the elderly.

“I have heard numerous heartbreaking stories of Mainers being robbed of their hard-earned money, from amounts ranging from hundreds of dollars to their entire life savings,” Collins said Friday. “One of my top priorities as chairman of the Senate Aging Committee is to stop the ruthless scam artists who steal billions of dollars from seniors each year.”

“Last year, the bipartisan Senior $afe Act I authored was signed into law, which helps protect seniors by encouraging the trained employees of financial institutions to question suspicious transactions and report suspected senior financial exploitation,” Collins said. “I have also introduced legislation to prevent guardianship abuse and crack down on robocalls, but more work remains to be done. Protecting our nation’s seniors requires a coordinated response among all levels of government.”

This fall, her office said, staffers assisted an older Lewiston woman robbed of her life savings through a lottery scam that came to light after a teller noticed she was withdrawing large sums. The FBI is investigating it.

For Hinckley and other seniors, it’s an all-too-common tale, usually remaining under wraps because victims are too broken or ashamed to admit they fell for cons ranging from “your grandson is in prison and needs your help” to phone warnings that only immediate payments will stop the Internal Revenue Service from seizing your home, both schemes that often entrap unwary seniors.

Hinckley said she wanted to tell the story of this “sleazy business” that happened to her because the only good that can come of her odyssey is to let others know how it occurred so that they don’t fall victim as well.

“I hope it never happens to other people,” she said. “It was horrible to live through.”

That first call from Sawyer came on a Saturday.

By Tuesday, the supposed company executive was fast on his way to becoming a near-constant phone buddy, calling Hinckley “sweetheart” and “baby girl,” asking about her health, her meals, her family and all sorts of things.

“The conversation just kept going on and on and on,” Hinckley said. “We talked about everything, just about.”

Sawyer even mentioned President Donald Trump to her, calling him “that freak down in Washington” whose new rules and regulations were supposedly making it hard for his firm these days.

At first, Hinckley said, she wondered if it was some sort of flimflam operation. She asked the caller flat-out whether she could trust him.

He told her she was “perfectly safe, that it was all on the up-and-up,” Hinckley said.

Within a week, Sawyer said he was heading to Auburn, calling her before boarding a plane to Portland and then from the airport in Maine and then from a hotel there. He even gave her the name of the hotel and its phone number.

That was also when he first asked her to send money.

Sawyer provided some convoluted tale about why she had to send the cash — placed inside the pages of three magazines in an overnight package — so Publisher’s Clearing House could confirm her identity and ensure that she could get her prizes.

“Gee, that doesn’t sound right,” Hinckley said in response. “I said to him, ‘Asking me to send this is like scammers have done.’”

But Sawyer assured her she would get reimbursed soon. The fees she paid upfront, he said, were just a technicality.

They soon added up.

On July 10, she sent $3,490. Three days later, it was $500. On July 15, another $1,000. Three more days went by and then she sent $500 more.

On July 20, she mailed him $9,000. Then, after two more days passed, $2,000.

A teller at Mechanic Savings Bank asked her if she knew what she was doing — and even got a supervisor to come talk to her.

“That’s a lot of money,” Hinckley recalled the teller saying. “Are you sure?”

But Hinckley explained to the skeptical bankers that she would be getting it all back soon, nothing to worry about.

Somebody at the bank apparently didn’t buy it, since Hinckley’s children got a call warning them that something was amiss. She said she “sort of put off” subsequent questions from her family about the money.

“I was being loyal to the wrong people,” Hinckley said.

By early August, a month into the scam, Hinckley’s account was pretty much drained.

“Don’t worry about anything,” Sawyer told her. “You’re going to get this all back.”

Hinckley said that even though she enjoyed talking with Sawyer, the experience became an ever greater worry, so upsetting that she lost eight pounds fretting about it.

Hinckley, who retired at age 65, had built up her savings by working multiple jobs for 46 years and spending as little as she could. Typically, she said, she even added $200 a month from her pension and Social Security checks to the stash.

She said she has always lived on the money she gets from Social Security and a pension from her old job with the Auburn Housing Authority, never touching the cash she’d socked away for the future.

“I just knew I was never going to spend it,” Hinckley said, but having something set aside was a comfort — security for what could happen.

The scam began to unravel in August, when Sawyer claimed he had arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn, preparing to get the car and cash to Hinckley at last.

He called her to say he was on the way over to her home — a trailer with a baby grand piano where the music-loving Hinckley had lived for 40 years. In the next call, though, just minutes later, he told her his GPS was acting up and instead of nearing her place, he was actually over by the post office on Rodman Road.

Before long, he was supposedly having his first lobster dinner in Maine at Mac’s Seafood in Auburn.

The man had all the details down, but nothing he couldn’t have found easily on the internet. He talked as if he often came to Maine to see her, but somehow could never quite get to her.

“This kept happening, over and over and over,” Hinckley said, with Sawyer always friendly and solicitous, asking her about whether she’d taken her medication, worn her seat belt and kept herself safe.

Sawyer promised repeatedly to come to her. But “always something happened” that made it impossible or impractical, especially for a busy executive with a wide portfolio, Hinckley said

Sawyer had Hinckley change her phone number a couple of times, once knowing her new one even before she did. He kept switching his number, too.

“You don’t want scammers getting to you,” Sawyer told Hinckley.

Calls by the Sun Journal to the last number Sawyer used to phone Hinckley went straight to voicemail. Nobody responded to them.

Hinckley still speaks of Sawyer with more than a hint of fondness, despite everything.

“He was very considerate,” she said, and obviously bright. He spoke without an accent, only saying a few words oddly, but nothing that triggered any concern.

Collins’ office and the AARP say scams like this one are often run out of Jamaica.

Hinckley sent money to addresses in Connecticut, North Carolina, Rhode Island and elsewhere, always changing.

Early on, she got a packet of information from a fellow in New Britain, Connecticut — her address handwritten on a mailing label for a Priority Mail package from the post office — that included copies of prize letters, Internal Revenue Service documents, picture of other prize winners and such, clearly meant to bolster Sawyer’s tale but short on any solid information.

The language sometimes displayed fake formality and twisted legalese, but to someone unfamiliar with such things, it seemed to have a ring of authenticity.

But Hinckley grew suspicious as her savings dwindled.

On Aug. 6, she mailed a check for $4,300 to a man in Greenville, North Carolina — and then thought better of it. She made sure it bounced.

Out of money, worried and increasingly convinced she’d been tricked, Hinckley said she finally fessed up to a family member.

“I’m in something over my head,” she said. “I need help.”

Within a day, the bank, the police and others were told. But nobody had an answer for how to find Sawyer, how to get her money back or how to roll back the clock to July 5.

“My family was ready to lock me up” in an assisted-living facility, Hinckley said, but she refused to go.

“If you’re going to take away all of my independence,” she said she told them, then “you might as well shoot me.”

Instead, they all agreed to let someone else control her finances. By then, though, her savings had vanished.

“I gave it all away,” she said sadly. “I felt so stupid.”

The problem, Hinckley said, is that “I never think anybody would do anything to hurt me.”

The next time Sawyer phoned, she told him she’d talked to the police and knew she’d been the victim of a scam. She told him, as the police urged her to say, not to call ever again.

But he didn’t listen.

Hinckley said he kept calling, repeatedly, for days and weeks. She ignored him.

By mid-September, she’d had it.

She said she knew it was hopeless, that she’d been the victim of a thief.

And yet, when Sawyer called one day to tell her he was in town and had the $2.5 million, Hinckley didn’t just tell him to get lost.

She said she wanted to find out if there was any chance that maybe it wasn’t all just a fraud. She said she wanted to be sure, to be absolutely positive.

Sawyer insisted he just wanted “to prove my honesty to you once and for all.”

So Hinckley listened as Sawyer said he could refund all her money to her that very day.

All he needed, he said, was $285 to pay a police officer to escort him to her home.

So she sent him the $285.

Nobody showed up.

She had $8.75 left in her account.

“Now I know,” Hinckley said. “I want nothing to do with him again.”

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Promised $2.5 million and a Mercedes, an Auburn senior wound up losing her life savings