Saturday, November 16, 2019

19-284 Economic Crimes Detectives Arrest Professional Guardian for Exploitation Of An Elderly Person While Acting As A Power Of Attorney

 

Economic Crimes Arrest

Who:
 
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Investigative Operations Bureau
-Economic Crimes Unit

Traci Hudson (Samuel) (Arrested)
Business: Owner of Florida Guardianship Services, Inc.
DOB: 03/19/1968
Address: 10834 Charmwood Drive in Riverview Florida
Charges: Exploitation of an Elderly Person over $50,000

What:
 
Detectives assigned to the Economic Crimes Unit have arrested 51-year-old Traci Hudson, after a complex investigation which determined Hudson was exploiting an elderly person by transferring large sums of money to her accounts for personal gain.

When:
 
The investigation began in November, 2018.
The suspect was arrested at approximately 2:29 p.m., on Thursday, November 14, 2019.

Where:
 
The investigation was conducted in Pinellas County.

Why/How:
 
Detectives assigned to the Economic Crimes Unit have arrested 51-year-old Traci Hudson, after a complex investigation which determined Hudson was exploiting an elderly person by transferring large sums of money to her accounts for personal gain.

According to detectives, their investigation began in November, 2018 after the Florida Department of Children and Families, Adult Protection Division (APID) forwarded a tip to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

In November of 2017, Traci Hudson was introduced to the victim, 92-year-old Maurice Myers after the death of his daughter, who had been taking care of Myers’ finances. The introduction was made by people who knew Hudson was a professional guardian and she worked with court appointed wards.

Hudson is self-employed as the business owner of Florida Guardianship Services, Inc. She is listed also as the President of the Guardian Association of Pinellas County per the Florida Department of Corporations website. In addition, Hudson is listed on the Guardian Association of Pinellas County newsletter as Board of Directors, President as recent as October of 2019.

Detectives say after the introduction, Hudson through her Power of Attorney also became the court appointed personal representative for Myers’ daughter’s estate.

Myers passed away in October of 2018 with no next of kin.

Although Hudson worked as a professional guardian since 2016, she was not a court appointed guardian for Myers. Therefore, none of her financial transfers and expenses were monitored by the courts.

Detectives found over the course of eleven months, a total of $541,541.12 was transferred from Myers account to accounts owned by Hudson.

Detectives presented the case to the Pinellas/Pasco State Attorney’s Office and a warrant was issued for Hudson on one count of Exploitation of an Elderly Person over $50,000, a first degree felony.

On November 14, 2019, at approximately 2:29 p.m., Traci Hudson was taken into custody by deputies, on a warrant issued by the State’s Attorney’s Office with a bond amount of $250,000. Hudson was transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident

The investigation continues.

Full Article & Source: 
19-284 Economic Crimes Detectives Arrest Professional Guardian for Exploitation Of An Elderly Person While Acting As A Power Of Attorney

Lincoln-Lemington woman charged with stealing $100K from father with dementia

Tonya Reid
by  Jonathan D. Silver

A Lincoln-Lemington woman raided her incapacitated father’s checking account, stealing more than $100,000 from his Social Security payments, pension and annuities, authorities said.

Tonya Reid, 51, was charged Wednesday with two felony counts of theft, receiving stolen property, access device fraud and misapplication of entrusted property.

She was arrested Thursday by detectives with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office.

In 2016, Ms. Reid was designated as the legal guardian for her father, Walter Daniels, 71, who has dementia, a criminal complaint said.

But instead of using Mr. Daniels’ money to pay for his room and board at LGAR Health & Rehabilitation Center in Turtle Creek, where he moved in July 2017, Ms. Reid spent $106,543.34 on herself, investigators said.

“Once Mr. Daniels was transferred to LGAR, Ms. Reid stopped paying her father’s bills at his new facility,” the complaint said. “LGAR did not receive any money from Ms. Reid [on] behalf of her father.”

Detectives alleged that the money went to pay for Ms. Reid’s vehicle, bank fees, beauty supplies, cell phones, travel, liquor and tuition at the University of Pittsburgh, among other personal expenses.

Investigators said that Mr. Daniels, because of his dementia, had no need for any such items or services.

Mr. Daniels had two guardianship accounts; both were closed with zero balances. Ms. Reid’s signature, the complaint said, was the only one on the bank signature cards.

Authorities were alerted to problems by a complaint in June 2018 from an employee from Allegheny County’s Area Agency on Aging.

Ms. Reid was appointed by the court in July 2016 to be her father’s guardian, responsible for paying his bills. But she was removed by Orphans’ Court in March 2018 and replaced by Ursuline Senior Services, which discovered that Mr. Daniels’ guardianship account had been depleted, the complaint said.

It wasn’t until this past June that Ms. Reid’s attorney, identified in the complaint as Jonathan Orie, filed an accounting of the guardianship account with the court.

Investigators found that while Ms. Reid was her father’s guardian, there were $133,776.76 in deposits, but withdrawals of $138,486.42, leaving the account with a negative balance of $4,700. That included nearly $32,000 that paid for Mr. Daniels’ accommodations at a different senior center before he was moved to LGAR. The rest of the money, authorities said, went to Ms. Reid.

Mr. Orie could not be reached for comment.

Full Article & Source:
Lincoln-Lemington woman charged with stealing $100K from father with dementia

Bank teller charged in home invasion of a customer who'd made a large withdrawal, authorities say

By Ralph Ellis and Rebekah Riess

Nathan Michael Newell was charged with home invasion and other offenses.
(CNN)
A bank teller has been charged in connection with a home invasion at the residence of a customer who'd made a large withdrawal of money, authorities in Maryland said.

A 78-year-old man told investigators he answered his door around 8:30 p.m. Monday and an unknown male forced his way inside, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. The intruder assaulted the man until a relative, a 57-year-old woman, intervened, the sheriff's office said.
 
The suspect ran upstairs and the woman called police from a nearby home. When sheriff's deputies arrived, the intruder had fled and was not found during a neighborhood search with the K-9 unit, the sheriff's office said.
 
"As the investigation continued, it was determined one of the victims had removed a large amount of money from the bank," the news release said. "Detectives gained information identifying a teller at the bank as the suspect."
 
Nathan Michael Newell, 19, of Bel Air, was arrested Wednesday at the bank, the sheriff's office said.
 
He has been charged with robbery, first- and third-degree burglary, first- and second-degree assault and home invasion, the news release said.
 
Newell was being held at the county detention center without bond. The public defender's office said Thursday he will be assigned representation.
 
Both residents suffered injuries. The woman was treated at the scene and the man was transported to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with what are believed to be non-life-threatening injuries, the sheriff's office said.
 
Michael MacPherson, president and CEO of Freedom Federal Credit Union, confirmed Newell was an employee of the credit union.
 
Newell was fired, he said, adding vetting procedures while hiring Newell met all standards. Search of online databases showed he faced two traffic cases.
 
"We are shocked and appalled to hear of the events that led to the assault and injury of a longtime member of our credit union," MacPherson said in a statement. "Our thoughts go out to him, and his family, during this difficult time."

Full Article & Source:
Bank teller charged in home invasion of a customer who'd made a large withdrawal, authorities say

Friday, November 15, 2019

WHO IS DOING THEIR JOB.

On the EARN website under “State Info,” There is a drop-down list where you can find all the legal information about Financial Elder Abuse and involuntary Guardianship for your state.

As we researched each state, a question arose—though the public chooses those who will represent their interests and safety and, through one manner of taxation or another, pay the salaries of those representatives as well as Attorney Generals, Judges, and District Attorneys, why is there so little concern shown for the senior citizens in so many states? It is particularly perplexing given the fact that those very senior citizens are, more often than not, paying the largest share of the taxes and casting the largest share of the votes.

Over the next year, we will compare all 50 states, each month we will carry forward the state that was the best in the previous month’s comparisons, to see...  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
WHO IS DOING THEIR JOB.

Collins urges VA to protect veterans from financial scams

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, sent correspondence Nov. 8 urging Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to increase protections against scams targeting veterans.

The letter specifically asked Wilkie to ensure that the VA was taking necessary steps to alert veterans to targeted scams and to gather information about what protective steps the department has already taken. It was co-signed by the 12 members of the Aging Committee, including Committee Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA).

Prior to the letter, Sens. Collins and Casey held a committee hearing on Nov. 6 that focused on the importance of preventing veteran-targeted scams and aggressively prosecuting the individuals behind the scams.

“One issue that calls for our immediate action is to fight a newer enemy facing our veterans – relentless criminals who seek to rob them of their life savings and defraud them of the benefits they have earned in service to our country,” Sen. Collins said. “Veterans and their families have a right to expect that the nation they served will fight to protect them.”

According to a 2017 AARP study noted by Sen. Collins’ office, veterans were twice as likely to lose money to scams than non-veterans, with 80 percent of those being targeted with scams pertaining to their veteran status.

“As scammers become more sophisticated in their efforts, it is imperative that VA play an active role in combatting financial exploitation posed by scammers,” the senators wrote to Wilkie.

“Veterans and their families have a right to expect that the nation they served will fight to protect them from such unscrupulous tactics… It is critical that Congress fully understands how our nation’s veterans are affected by financial fraud, and what Veterans Affairs is doing to protect them.”

Full Article & Source:
Collins urges VA to protect veterans from financial scams

Woman sentenced to 18 months in prison for fleecing elderly

By: Courtney Shaw

PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio — A woman who stole more than half a million dollars from the elderly and disabled has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Lisa Dotson, 40, pleaded guilty to aggravated theft with forfeiture specifications and money laundering.

Dotson will face up to three years of parole when she is released.

As part of Dotson's plea deal, she testified against her niece, Latasha Wisniewski, in August for similar charges.

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

Wisniewski was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of theft and money laundering after she systematically siphoned off as much as $150,000 from a 89-year-old man Parma Heights man she had moved in with and for whom she promised to care for.

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

Full Article & Source:
Woman sentenced to 18 months in prison for fleecing elderly

Thursday, November 14, 2019

DNA Match Leads to Arrest in Sexual Assault at Nursing Home

A DNA match led San Diego police to arrest a man accused of sexually assaulting an elderly resident of a nursing home in Hillcrest.

Lusean Arline, 48, was arrested Monday by San Diego Police Department detectives after a DNA sample collected from the scene of the assault matched that of Arline.

The alleged assault took place Oct. 27. Arline entered the nursing home illegally and went into the 88-year-old victim’s room and sexually assaulted her while other patients were in the room, SDPD said.

Screams from the victim and the other patients alerted staff to the alleged assault but when staff responded to the room Arline ran away, according to police.

The DNA sample collected from the nursing home was passed through a federal DNA database – the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) – and Arline was identified as a suspect.

Arline is facing felony burglary, sexual assault and elder abuse charges.

No other information was available.

Full Article & Source:
DNA Match Leads to Arrest in Sexual Assault at Nursing Home

Police: Convicted rapist sexually assaulted disabled woman at Dallas nursing home

Police say a disabled woman was sexually assaulted by a convicted rapist at a nursing home in Pleasant Grove.

An arrest warrant alleges Olander Grant, 59, forced a fellow resident at Brentwood Place Nursing Home into his room early Sunday morning.


The victim told police Grant sexually assaulted her multiple times before she escaped.

Court records show Grant was convicted of rape in 1982 and served 25 years in prison. He remains in the Dallas County jail on an aggravated sexual assault charge.

Full Article & Source:
Police: Convicted rapist sexually assaulted disabled woman at Dallas nursing home

Parma Heights home health aide who stole more than $250K from people in her care gets prison sentence

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Parma Heights home health aide who admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from elderly and developmentally disabled people to fuel a burgeoning drug addiction was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison.

Lisa Dotson, 40, was also ordered to repay more than $250,000 total to six different victims she scammed over a period of six years.

Common Pleas Court Judge Shannon Gallagher imposed the sentence after several family members of those that Dotson scammed told the judge that Dotson had hurt them, but they still loved her and forgave her.

“That tells me you’re not a bad person,” Gallagher said to Dotson. “You made bad decision after bad decision after bad decision, and you let your addiction take over.”

Dotson also agreed as part of her plea bargain to testify against her niece, Latasha Wisniewski, who was convicted and sentenced last month to three years in prison.

Dotson took the stand at Wisniewksi’s August trial and detailed the pair’s scheme to fleece Charles Bauer, an octogenarian Korean War veteran and widower, out of his life’s savings. Wisniewski, 37, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bauer after she feigned a sexual interest in him and asked him to pay for her breast implants, prosecutors said.

Gallagher credited Dotson for helping prosecutors build the case against Wisniewski, who maintained her innocence at her October sentencing and plans to appeal her conviction.

Dotson became close with several of the families of her patients, and exploited that trust to access and pilfer the financial accounts of her patients, prosecutors said. She routinely wrote herself inflated checks for the work she performed and took out short-term, high-interest loans in the name of a 79-year-old woman who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, court records say.

Dotson deceived a man with disabilities of his Supplemental Security Income by keeping his government-issued benefits card from him, withdrawing all of the monthly benefits - approximately $740 - from ATMs at the beginning of each month and lying to the victim that the benefits had been cut, the indictment says.

Bank records and other evidence showed that Dotson gambled at casinos and bought scratch-off lottery tickets on the days that she withdrew the man’s money.


Full Article & Source:
Parma Heights home health aide who stole more than $250K from people in her care gets prison sentence

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Detroit grandma just wanted a wheelchair ramp, but ended up being put under guardianship


DETROIT (WXYZ) — After a fall in her home, 78-year-old Bessie Owens said she just needed some help getting a wheelchair ramp installed. Instead, the long-time Detroit resident ended up being put under guardianship in the probate courts – where she was declared legally incapacitated.

When you’re put under guardianship and conservatorship, you can no longer make any legal, medical or financial decisions.

That’s why Owens says she wants to know why Adult Protective Services workers petition the court to put her under guardianship and conservatorship, instead of helping her get what she really needed.

Owens needs a walker to get around, but she’s still fiercely independent. She struggles with osteoarthritis, but Bessie says she is more than capable of handling her own medical and financial affairs.

“I know how to tap into resources in my neighborhood and beyond,” Bessie told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo. “And I think I should have some input into my life daily.”

That’s why the long-time Detroiter is furious that an Adult Protective Services worker petitioned the Wayne County Probate Court last May to place Bessie under guardianship and conservatorship.

“Did you have any notice that a guardianship case had been opened about you?” Catallo asked.

“No,” said Bessie.

“Nothing in writing?” asked Catallo.

“Nothing in writing,” Bessie responded.

This all started last year when Bessie says she fell two times and ended up in the hospital.

Bessie says on her own, she arranged for in-home caregivers, but she still needed a ramp to bypass her front steps with her walker.

“Without the ramp, I could not get outside to transact business and that kind of stuff,” said Bessie.

Someone contacted Adult Protective Services for a welfare check, and then Bessie says an APS investigator named Tresna Tupper came into her home uninvited.

“That’s intrusion,” said Bessie.

Tupper then filed petitions for guardianship and conservatorship with the Wayne County Probate Court, saying Bessie is “medically frail” and “unable to manage her affairs.”

Court records show Tupper even wrote under penalty of perjury that she couldn’t find Bessie’s adult children to tell them about the guardianship – even though the 7 Investigators easily found Bessie’s daughter on Facebook.

Her daughter, a Wayne County employee, confirms no one from APS or the courts ever contacted her. Tupper also typed the wrong address for APS on the petitions, as well as on the petition in another case reviewed by the 7 Investigators.

Legal experts say Owens' family would have had priority under the law to become a guardian, if one was needed.

“Your guardian is making some very intimate decisions about everything about your life,” said Nicole Shannon, Systemic Advocacy Attorney from the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative.

Shannon also says, “Michigan law requires that adult children be notified of a petition for guardianship and presumptive heirs be notified of a petition for conservatorship. That notice has to be in writing and served either in person or through the mail."

If a person filing a petition is unable to locate the adult children or presumptive heirs, they can ask the court for special permission to notify them through publication or some other method. That is done by filing an affidavit under penalty of perjury with the court showing that despite diligent efforts, they could not determine the whereabouts of the person.

Diligent effort typically includes asking known friends or family members, as well as conducting an internet search. There should not be a final ruling until all parties have received their notice.

Unfortunately, when family members do find out about guardianship or conservatorship after the fact, it can be too late. Significant decisions have already been made, and there must often be a second series of court hearings to try to unwind what has already happened.”

“I do not need no one to oversee my finances, or a guardian. I’m mentally capable of transacting my day-to-day business. I do not need that. I need a ramp to be able to leave my home when I need to,” said Bessie.

Even after she learned of the guardianship case, Bessie says she did not have transportation for court so she could not attend the hearing last summer.

Tupper asked the court to appoint Whitehouse Guardian Services, which is owned by Stacey White-Smith.

Court records show Tupper has asked the court to give at least nine guardianship cases this year to Whitehouse Guardian Services.

Tupper also nominated a lawyer named Cynthia Williams to be Bessie’s conservator to take over her social security income.

Court records show Tupper and Williams are also listed together on at least eight conservatorship cases since 2018.

Williams and White-Smith deny they have any sort of relationship with APS investigator Tupper.

On her own, Bessie contacted a local non-profit who installed the ramp for her in August.

Guardian Stacey White-Smith would not talk to us on camera, but she did admit she’s only seen Bessie two times since she was appointed guardian in June.

Bessie says when she tried to get ahold of White in September she couldn’t, and later found out White was out of the country.

The 7 Investigators started asking questions why Bessie Owens was put under guardianship in August.

Now, both the guardian and the conservator have told they court that they want out of the case, and say Bessie doesn’t need a guardian or conservator.

“Have you met your conservator?” Catallo asked Bessie.

“No. Never,” said Bessie.

Even as she seeks to terminate her involvement, court records show the conservator wants to get paid $687.50 for five and half hours of work.

We caught up with conservator Cynthia Williams after a court hearing for another case where she and White-Smith are both in charge of a different ward.

“Why are you trying to charge her $687 when she only has $6500?” asked Catallo.
Conservator bill for Bessie Owens
“Because that is my fee for my services,” said Williams.

“What did you actually do though?” asked Catallo.

“It’s on my account did you see it,” said Williams.

“I did see your account, but you never talked to her, you never went to see her, you filed some paperwork, she doesn’t have that much money, she says she doesn’t need a guardian or conservator -- so what did you do?" asked Catallo.

“You saw my account correct,” said Williams.

“I did – I’m asking you what you did,” asked Catallo.

“I told you, my account shows you what I did,” said Williams, who refused to provide more details.

“I want everybody to know, especially the population that I’m in, which is seniors and people with disabilities, what can happen, if you don’t pay attention to the system that’s supposed to protect us,” said Bessie.

Bessie Owens, the guardian and the conservator will all be in court next week when Bessie Owens hopes to have this guardianship terminated.

The 7 Investigators did try several times to talk to Tresna Tupper from APS, including visiting her a home and calling her.

A spokesman says they can’t comment on the specifics of this case due to privacy rules, but they are going to conduct additional training on filing guardianship petitions and using community resources first.

Below we have listed a series of our questions to APS about their role in initiating guardianship cases.

The guardian says she tries to go above and beyond for her wards. Her additional statement is below.

Stacey White-Smith Statement

“I am one of many public guardian's that genuinely care [sic] about the community that I live in and would like to see more stories in regards to the challenges we face serving the mentally and physically incapacitated individuals in Wayne County. Every day is a challenge in making sure that my Wards have all of their needs met. It is my job to assess every situation individually and make the best decisions for the people I am appointed to serve. As a guardian at times I go above and beyond my mandated duties to make sure that my Wards feel that they are cared for. It is not beneath me to assist with transportation to hair appointments, grocery stores, doctor’s appointments, even bringing lunch and snacks to my clients in nursing and group homes. I love my community and I love the people in it and I have committed myself to making sure that I help as many people as I can in Wayne County. My client list is very small, one of the smallest agencies in Wayne County but that's only because I want to make sure that I can give individualized attention to the people I've been appointed to care for…

Everyday I work with phenomenal Judges who have to make tough decisions in regards to people's lives. I am proud to be a part of this system and I hope that I can continue to provide quality Guardianship Services to my community. At this point I would have to respectfully decline a second interview. I thank you in advance for respecting my privacy and the privacy of my family.”

Questions regarding Adult Protective Services to Bob Wheaton, Public Information Officer, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:

How often do APS investigators file petitions for guardianships?

Guardianship petitions are filed when allegations of abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation is substantiated for adults determined to be vulnerable, mentally or physically at risk of harm and/or unable to make an informed decision. APS will exhaust all other alternative resources to alleviate risk of harm to the client prior to filing a petition.

Policy is as follows:

Whenever non-legal intervention fails to meet the goal of protection, the need for voluntary or involuntary legal intervention may be utilized to protect the client. The APS worker must evaluate the need for legal intervention, and it should be initiated only when the following conditions exist:
· Endangerment cannot be eliminated with the use of the social intervention process, and
· The client requests or voluntarily accepts legal assistance because physical or cognitive limitations result in the inability to manage one’s own affairs or the client does not consent to legal action but is endangered because he/she is unable to exercise independent judgment due to cognitive or physical limitations.

What’s the protocol for filing a petition?

The APS investigator determines if petition is needed and gathers information to support or justify the need to present to the court.

What happens before a petition is filed?

The APS investigator gathers pertinent information, attempts to alleviate risk of harm by obtaining resources, working with client (if cooperative/able), working with the client’s support base, i.e. community affiliations, family, neighbors, and friends, and making appropriate referrals/arrangements for other services. APS investigator reviews the case with supervisor.

What’s the protocol for trying to reach family members?

It is routine for APS investigators to attempt to find and contact family members and include the family if appropriate (unless the related person is the perpetrator) when completing a Plan of Care and filing petitions. There are times in which it is appropriate to honor the client’s request not to contact family. In an attempt to locate family, APS investigators will ask the client, review former MDHHS cases, conduct the Bridges system (which tracks public assistance cases) clearance to search associated people, ask friends or neighbors of the client if appropriate, review the Court-View court records system, and publish in the Legal News.

How is the guardian determined?

The guardian can be nominated by the judge or APS investigator. There are times when APS will nominate a guardian and the judge appoints someone else. Wayne County has two contracted guardianship agencies which we will generally nominate, prior to 2018 we only had one. However, APS is not restricted to utilizing contracted agencies due to the volume of clients in need. Guardianship agencies are our community partners who we establish working relationships with. Due to agencies’ established networks with community resources, some specialize in serving developmentally delayed clients, seniors who want to stay in their own home or clients who need placements. In general APS investigators establish working relationship with various guardians and learn who provides the best client services and will best meet the needs of clients.

Does your APS investigator (Ms. Tupper) have a relationship, financial or otherwise, with Whitehouse Guardian Service?

The department is unaware of any relationship other than a professional relationship.

Why did the APS investigator (Ms. Tupper) say in the petition that she couldn’t reach the client’s family to see if there was a suitable relative provider when the client says all she had to do was ask the client for contact information? Tupper wrote “unknown” for the address of all three adult children who live in Southeast Michigan.

We can’t discuss specifics due to confidentiality, however, as stated above, APS attempts to find a suitable family guardian if possible and if the client wants to have a relative guardian. In some cases, the client does not want to have a relative be his/her guardian or the probate court may appoint an guardian that the court feels is best suited for this role, if the court finds there is clear and convincing evidence that the person is legally incapacitated and that the appointment is necessary to provide continuing care and supervision of the person.

How does this APS investigator (Ms. Tupper) find guardians?

Each county has contracted guardians, and can also utilize other guardians that the workers are familiar with. There are checks and balances in the system. Clients have a guardian ad litem who is appointed to watch out for the client’s interest, and the probate judge makes the final decision. So APS investigators may make a recommendation of a guardian who is willing to serve as guardian and the probate court determines who the guardian will be.

Full Article & Source:
Detroit grandma just wanted a wheelchair ramp, but ended up being put under guardianship

California Supreme Court to Decide if Judges Can Speak Out on Their Decisions

DANA POINT, Calif. (CN) – Bound by a strict code of ethics, judges have long been barred from speaking publicly about pending cases, a constraint that could soon change in response to increasing attacks on judicial independence in an age of widespread social media vitriol.

California Supreme Court San Francisco MA-Wikipedia
The California Supreme Court is seeking public comment on a recently-proposed exception to the judicial ethics rules to allow judges to speak out if they are criticized about their decision in a case and are facing re-election or a recall campaign.

Whether judges should be allowed to publicly defend themselves in such fraught situations was a focal point of discussion Sunday morning at a meeting of the Alliance of California Judges in Dana Point.

Heather Rosing, a San Diego attorney with Klinedinst PC and outgoing president of the California Lawyers Association, said in a presentation entitled “Preserving Judicial Independence in Troubling Times” that bar associations “need to step up and educate on the independence of the judiciary and assist judges when they are subject to unfair attacks.”

Rosing, who has represented judges in proceedings before the state’s judicial disciplinary body the Commission on Judicial Performance, said inaccurate news reporting and the omnipresence of social media, along with a neglected civics education system, has contributed to a lack of understanding about the role of the third branch of government.

“This lack of information makes judges subject to attack,” she said. “Having spent the last couple of years in particular on judicial independence issues, we are indeed in troubling times and if we don’t take decisive action, it’s going to get worse.”

The CJP receives roughly 1,200 complaints about judges annually. Rosing said about 80% of these complaints come from people upset by the outcome of a case. She added that California has also seen an uptick in contested elections involving well-regarded incumbent judges with no ethics violations, and recall efforts over lawful decision-making.

The most infamous recent example of the latter is that of Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who was recalled in 2018 for sentencing convicted rapist Brock Turner to six months in jail, on the recommendation of the court’s probation department.

That the decision was well within the bounds of the law did not stop an enraged public from demanding his job.

Persky was also recently fired from his new gig as a high school tennis coach after a television station aired a report about it, a development Rosing called “horrific.”

“This is a sad situation we find ourselves in that we are talking about this,” said Judge Robert Bowers of Solano County, an Alliance director who presented alongside Rosing. “There are troubling times. You can look to it on a national level, the inability of the Executive to respect the judiciary and its independence.”

He added, “This is not necessarily a California problem, but this politicization of what we do, the attack literally on the rule of law, judges trying to be independent, following the rules and being threatened with their livelihood for making lawful decisions, this is where we’re going.”

Rosing said the CLA, a non-profit attorneys’ group founded in 2018 after the State Bar split up its attorney discipline and trade industry functions, supports the amendment to the ethical canon’s prohibition on public comments.

The amendment reads: “In connection with a judicial election or recall campaign, this canon does not prohibit a judge from making a public comment about a pending proceeding, provided (a) the comment would not reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of the proceeding, and (b) the comment is about the procedural, factual, or legal basis of a decision about which a judge has been criticized during the election or recall campaign.”

The rule extends to judges commenting on cases where they have no involvement, allowing them to defend embattled colleagues both individually and collectively. In fact, the Judicial Fairness Coalition, a group of judges, attorneys and law school deans proposing the amendment, said a third-party’s defense might be preferable in some situations.

They suggest adding the following commentary to the canon: “The provision allowing a judge to make a public comment about a pending decision that is the subject of criticism during an election campaign applies to all judicial elections, including recall elections. Depending on the circumstances, the judge should consider whether it may be preferable for a third party, rather than the judge, to respond or issue statements in connection with allegations concerning the decision.”

Bowers called the rule change “a little something” to help judges defend themselves, though he said he doesn’t think it will make much difference.

“We’re talking about changing some canons to allow some folks to talk about things to people who won’t listen,” he said.

Some judges have expressed concern about the amendment’s breadth. Retired Judge Julie Conger, an expert in judicial ethics, said she agreed with the amendment in principle, but found it too problematic to allow judges to comment publicly on their colleagues’ decisions.

Conger, who did not attend the conference due to a prior obligation, was not able to comment Sunday afternoon, but referred Courthouse News to a letter she wrote to the Supreme Court’s judicial ethics advisory committee.

“This amendment would open the door to judges commenting on other judges’ decisions without full knowledge of the facts, circumstances and details underlying the controversial decision made in the case,” she wrote.

Conger added that the canon currently provides judges with a shield against media requests for comment on controversial cases.

“Removing this shield would put a judge privately dissenting from another judge’s controversial ruling in the position of having to duck the question, dissemble, or openly criticize a colleague; even a ‘no comment’ can be interpreted negatively,” she wrote.

“I understand Judge Conger’s position is that’s a bridge too far,” Bowers said. “When people want to ask me about certain opinions that happened in certain parts of the country, I always say, ‘I don’t know all the facts in that case. Not my case. Not my record. I can’t comment as a judge.’ ”

Bowers said he’s often asked if he would have sentenced Turner differently.

“If it’s a case of popular concern, everyone wants to know what would you have done,” he said. “I always get, ‘Would you have done something different?’ I’m a little concerned about this. We work within the rules we have.”

Speaking off the record, other judges said they were worried being pulled into fights on social media over their public comments, further contributing to an already caustic rhetorical climate. One judge called it an “ugly slippery slope,” adding, “to go down that road is really scary.”

While many judges said colleagues were “guaranteed to say something stupid,” some were adamant that they should nonetheless have the right to do so and argued that judges can always opt to ignore a reporter’s calls if they want to avoid controversy.

“I think it’s an interesting debate,” Rosing said. “If this amendment passes, judges should be prepared when approached by the press to say ‘no comment’ and I think that’s going to happen.”

But what’s most important, she added, is that the amendment allows judges to band together to support their colleagues. “I just love the idea of that,” she said.

The Alliance board later met privately to vote on whether to back the proposed amendment as written or adopt a stance in line with Conger’s. After closed door debate, the board emerged with a vote in favor of the current proposal.

“Any time judges are given an opportunity to have a First Amendment right, that should be embraced,” said Judge Maryanne Gilliard of Sacramento, an Alliance director. “Judges have been historically unable to make comments on virtually anything. This amendment gives judges some of the rights all Americans take for granted.”

She said the Alliance will be submitting a formal public comment. The comment period closes on Dec. 2.

Full Article & Source:
California Supreme Court to Decide if Judges Can Speak Out on Their Decisions

How Los Angeles Superior Court’s Coven of Evil Abuses the Elderly

by Richard Lee Abrams

ONE MAN’S OPINION-The California Supreme Court case of American Philatelic Soc. v. Claibourne (1935) 3 Cal.2d 689, 698-699 says, “When a scheme is evolved which on its face violates the fundamental rules of honesty and fair dealing, a court of equity is not impotent to frustrate its consummation because the scheme is an original one.

There is a maxim as old as law that there can be no right without a remedy, and in searching for a precise precedent, an equity court must not lose sight, not only of its power, but of its duty to arrive at a just solution of the problem."

In abusing and fleecing the innocent, the courts themselves have devised a variety of schemes which violate the fundamental rules of honesty and fair dealing and the courts have lost sight of their duty to arrive at just solutions. 

What Does an Elder Do When the Court Itself Is the Perp?

Recently, an unidentified Los Angeles Superior Court staffer, writing on “The Robing Room,” explained one of the court’s scams.

“CORRUPTION? How do the courts do it? 

“Delays, sealing documents, ignoring constitutional rights, perjury, abuse and crime. How does anyone profit? Legal fees, did you consider lawyers charge a minimum of $250 per hour. (Private attorneys can be $600/hr.)

“Most hearings involve 2 or more lawyers all billing for time. Victims are billed to death with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The judge knows every time they continue, delay or fail to act it costs victims thousands of dollars. Remember lawyers are paid whether they win or lose. It’s not about justice, it’s about greed and profit. That's the game, follow the money, reward the lawyers who are controlled by the judge. It’s been found judges are bribed paid via generous home and property loans, payments and exchanges.”

This scam might be the most prevalent because it can happen in any case where the family has money. It is almost axiomatic that only families with money seek a conservatorship to protect an elder’s real estate and other property. (I’ve seen attorneys who buck the system and cut their fees so that they are partially pro bono, but it is questionable whether any of the judges’ buddies cut their fees.) 

The wanton and unjustifiable aggrandizement of attorney fees seems to be a primary way conservatorship judges rip off the public.

Other Ways to Abuse and Loot the Wealthy

As described last time, Judge Elizabeth Lippitt (photo above, center on her GoFundme page) is in the middle of depriving the Widow M of her property. Judge Lippitt chose ex-Judge Reva Goetz to set up the structure where all the Widow M’s properties would be sold. Then, the court arranges to deplete the widow’s assets in order to claim that the Widow M’s houses must be sold for living expenses. The court requires the Widow M to support her adult daughter who has fleeced her mother of hundreds of thousands of dollars plus the widow must allow her adult daughter to live rent-free in the widow’s large Temecula home. That stops the Widow M from making any money by renting her house at 41120 Chemin Coutet.

The Goetz-Lippitt plan is to stop the short-term rental of the Rancho Rivera and Verdugo Hills properties to further reduce the Widow M’s income.  

Let’s look at Reva Goetz, the mediator Judge Lippitt appointed. Vultures of a feather flock together. Comments from The Robing Room:

(1) First, notice that Reva Goetz has an extraordinarily negative rating by both attorneys and litigants, 1.7 and 1.0 respectively. The scale is 1 to 10.

(2) Comments about Goetz’ 

Jan 18, 2019 -- Extremely unprofessional.

January 7, 2018 -- Disgusting judge who lacks any form of integrity or ethics.

October 5, 2016 -- Glad to see she's off the bench. As a judge, she had a nasty combination of being dumb and mean. She doesn't care about the law at all, much less the impact of her reckless decisions on children.

April 6, 2016 -- A truly awful Judge, lacking intellect and lacking a sophisticated understanding of the law. She often "shoots from the hip" and makes snap decisions that are contrary to law and that cannot be squared with the facts of the case. . . .No, this is not a case of "sour grapes" because I have discussed her performance with a number of other lawyers, and they confirm that she is a Judge to avoid.

October 8, 2015 -- Literally the worst judge I've ever appeared before. She ignores the law, ignores the facts, and is insulting and demeaning to whichever side she doesn't like.

May 31, 2014 -- Judge Reva Goetz participated in fraud upon the court when trust funds were misappropriated by attorneys for the trustees and left a beneficiary defrauded of over $1 million.

The crucial question is: Why Judge Lippitt would appointed anyone with a reputation like Goetz’s to mediate anything? (Yes, that’s rhetorical.)

“Walk in Another’s Shoes” Does Not Apply to Toxic Narcissists

One might suppose that Judge Lippitt has no way to understand the harm she is causing. Let’s take a look-see.

The Woosley Fire was an unmitigated disaster and almost everyone felt the shock and pain of those people who lost their homes. Even wealthy people living in mansions have feelings, they have loved ones, and they experience a devastating sense of loss when their homes are destroyed. One would think that when such a tragedy besets someone, they wouldn’t do the same thing to another person.
 
The help for Judge Lippitt was muy pronto. A GoFundme page a position of power so people make contributions to help you and perhaps more importantly, are seen to be helping you.

Apparently not a whit of compassion carried over to the Widow M in order to temper Lippitt’s fleecing the Widow M of her three properties which it took the widow and her late husband a lifetime to acquire. Rather, Lippitt became livid when she learned that the Widow M had people who were helping her avoid bankruptcy without charging anything.

Judge Lippitt’s Indignation Over Late Payment of her 2%

After the Woosley fire, insurance proceeds were deposited with a corporation called Mr. Cooper, aka Nationstar Mortgage LLC, which is supposed to pay 2% per annum on the deposits. Mr. Cooper, it seems, was not nice to Judge Lippitt and he didn’t place her $457,848.12 into the 2% interest bearing account.  

Fortunately for Judge Lippitt, Mr. Cooper doesn’t have absolute judicial immunity. So she sued him -- Lippitt v Nationstar, 8:19-cv-01115-DOC-DFM. Apparently, Judge Lippitt got all or substantially all of her $9,100. [FAC 7:27-8:4].  Balance that small sum of money against Judge Lippitt’s pursuing the Widow M to deprive her of 100% of her three properties as well as stopping her from suing over the $435,000.99 below-market-rate sale of her Hollywood home.  

What does the loss of an unknown fraction of 2% say about Judge Lippitt when it sends her to federal court in righteous indignation while she attacks 100% of the Widow M’s property? Power corrupts, turning the judiciary into a coven of evil.

Full Article & Source:
How Los Angeles Superior Court’s Coven of Evil Abuses the Elderly

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Police: Former Nursing Home Employee Took Photos Of Dead Residents Because Her Ex-Boyfriend ‘Liked That Kind Of Thing’

READING, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Authorities say a former Pennsylvania nursing home employee took photographs of deceased residents and shared them with co-workers and friends. Stephanie Thomas, 28, of Muhlenberg Township, now faces corpse abuse charges.

According to an affidavit, Thomas admitted to taking the photos and did it because her ex-boyfriend “liked that kind of thing.”

Bern Township police said the deceased patients at the county-owned Berks Heim senior living facility were between the ages of 84 and 92.

Family members told police that they “were outraged such conduct would take place in a senior living facility.”

Authorities say an anonymous source tipped off police.

Attorney information for Thomas could not be found.

Berks Heim says Thomas no longer works at the nursing home.

Full Article & Source:
Police: Former Nursing Home Employee Took Photos Of Dead Residents Because Her Ex-Boyfriend ‘Liked That Kind Of Thing’

County program could ease conservatorship process for some people with severe mental illness, addiction

San Diego County Board of Supervisors agreed to pursue an expanded conservatorship program that could be in place some time next year.
(Rob Nikolewski / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles are cities that can adopt pilot programs that can place more people into conservatorship

By Gary Warth

San Diego County is pursuing a pilot program that would make it easier for judges to order some homeless people with mental health issues into conservatorship, a step that could lead to them to treatment they otherwise would not voluntarily accept.

Because of its strict requirements, they program isn’t expect to apply to many people. However, some concerns already have been raised about how it would affect the civil rights of people with mental health issues, although none of those concerns were voiced when the Board of Supervisors approved the program at a Oct. 29 meeting.

San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco counties have an option to create the program under Senate Bill 40, written by State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October. It was brought to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on the recommendations of Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Nathan Fletcher.

The supervisors’ vote directed the county to develop a pilot program as outlined by SB 40 and report back with recommendations for implementing it within one year.

In San Diego County, 43 percent of homeless people surveyed during the 2018 annual Point-in-Time Count stated they had mental health issues. Another 14 percent acknowledged having substance abuse issues, and 9 percent said they abused alcohol.

The bill is focused on helping a small percentage of homeless people so deeply affected by addiction or mental issues that they cannot make their own decisions responsibly. In certain cases, a judge can appoint a guardian or protector as a conservator for six months to make choices for the person that could lead to housing and treatment.

The new program identifies specific reasons why a person may be placed under a conservator, while existing law requires people to be gravely disabled, defined in part as being in danger of seriously harming themselves.

“We will utilize every available tool to address the issues of behavioral health and homelessness,” Fletcher said in advance of the board’s vote in support of the program, which was passed without discussion on the consent calendar.

Fletcher said the county hopes to build a regional, coordinated, integrated behavioral health system that prevents people from needing a conservator, but the new program could be helpful until then.

“Our ultimate success as a region should be judged on keeping people out of that situation, but in the interim we will utilize every option that can provide help to those most in need,” he said.

There is a high bar for eligibility in the program under the bill, which requires people to have been diagnosed with serious mental illness and substance-use disorder. They also must have had at least eight involuntary psychiatric hospitalizations under state Welfare and Institutions code 5150 over 12 months.

Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages, said there is a need for such a program, but it must be be respectful of people’s civil rights.

“I just want to make sure that any measure that’s adopted is one that’s compassionate and not a matter of criminalizing the issue,” he said. “The core challenge is, these individuals out on the street can’t help themselves. We need to make sure there is a balance where we don’t take away civil rights, but we compassionately and effectively address those issue.”

The bill amends similar bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. Senate Bill 1045 allowed the three counties to have expanded conservatorship programs, but with the additional requirement that people had to have been ordered into assisted outpatient treatment.

Under Laura’s Law in California, the treatment can be ordered for people who have severe untreated mental illness and a history of violence or repeated hospitalizations.

Because of those restrictions, an analysis of SB 1045 in San Diego County found only eight people would be eligible for the conservatorship program, said Tim McClain, group communication manager for the county’s Health and Human Services Agency. More are expected to be eligible for the program under SB 40 guidelines, but just how many is not known, he said.

Only San Francisco County voted to create a program under SB 1045. Although it was expected to affect only five people in that area, it was considered a controversial move and was met with protests.

About two dozen people, including representatives of the Coalition on Homelessness, disability rights groups and medical professionals, disrupted an April town hall meeting where Wiener and other legislators had appeared to discuss the bill.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Western Center on Law and Poverty and Disability Rights California sent a letter opposing the bill to Newsom in September. No members of any of those groups spoke against it in San Diego.

Homeless advocate Martha Sullivan and former state Assemblywoman Lori SaldaƱa co-wrote a commentary against the program that appeared this month in The San Diego Union-Tribune. The two cited an analysis of SB 40 that estimated it would assist only up to 100 people in all three counties and doesn’t provide any housing or services for people beyond six months.

Bob McElroy, president and CEO of the nonprofit homeless service provider Alpha Project, saw merit in the program, if done right.

“You have to have either institutionalized care or assisted living care. somebody who knows these populations and has training with these folks,” he said about the need facing some people on the street.

Homeless advocate Michael McConnell also said he said he saw a need for getting mental health treatment to people on the street, but was cautious to endorse the plan.

“I think the execution is what’s going to be super important,” he said. “I’m on the fence about whether we should implement laws like this or not. We haven’t tried hard enough to house these folks, and now we’re going to say we failed. But if we do this, I certainly support the very conservative, narrow definition of who it applies to.”

Linda Mimms, a San Diego advocate for reforms to mental health policies, said she was encouraged by many things the county is doing, but saw problems with the proposed conservatorship program.
“The actual idea of it is great,” she said before quickly adding that more resources for mental health patients are needed statewide for the program to be effective.

She also has criticized for the program for taking a punitive rather than medical approach to mental health by requiring 5150 holds for people.

“We’re criminalizing neurological illness in order to get treatment,” she said.

Vargas said the move is a step in the right direction in helping a specific population get off the street.

“This is a serious issue we have as a society,” he said. “As a society, I think we’re not doing enough to care for those individuals.”

Full Article & Source:
County program could ease conservatorship process for some people with severe mental illness, addiction

Man charged with bilking his elderly mother

FAIRMONT — A Idamay man faces a charge of financial exploitation of an elderly person after he used more than $6,000 of his incapacitated mother’s money for personal use.

W.Va. State Police said an investigation found that from May 4, 2017 through April 2019, 44-year-old Jessy Aric Haught took advantage of his mother’s finances.

According to the court papers, Haught was appointed Power of Attorney May 18, 2016 of his incapacitated 71-year-old mother. As Power of Attorney, he was authorized to access his mother’s bank account and be financially responsible for any debts she had that needed paying.

According to the complaint, Haught’s mother was placed in a nursing and rehabilitation center May 2017 and has accumulated bills for her care at the center that Haught failed to pay by forwarding her deposited Social Security, alimony and pension checks to the center. The complaint states that Haught’s mother’s bills have accumulated as high as $126,035.19 because of Haught not using his mother’s money for her own care.

According to the court papers, a total of $8,519.72 in Social Security checks and alimony/pension checks have been deposited in Haught’s mother’s bank account between May 3, 2017 and Jan. 23, 2019. During the same period of time, Haught has withdrawn $8,474.84 from his mother’s bank account through ATM withdrawals, cashier checks and other other purchases, but has only made four payments totaling $2,080 to the nursing and rehabilitation center for his mother’s care, the complaint states.

According to the court papers, Haught has used approximately $6,394.87 of his mother’s money for personal use by withdrawing that amount from the bank through approximately 50 ATM withdrawals, six cashier check withdrawals, 14 point of sale purchases and one online payment to Frontier, with the majority of the withdrawals in Mannington.

Court records show Haught’s bail of $10,012 was posted and he is out of jail.

Full Article & Source: 
Man charged with bilking his elderly mother

Monday, November 11, 2019

8 Ways to Express Appreciation on Veterans Day

Members of the U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club salute the flag during the playing of the National Anthem at the beginning of a memorial and remembrance service for seven motorcyclists and their spouses who died in the June crash Saturday, July 13, 2019 in the parking lot of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. The seven bikers were killed when a pickup truck hauling a flatbed trailer slammed into a group of riders in Randolph, New Hampshire. (Mark Stockwell/The Sun Chronicle via AP)

Veterans Day is an important day for showing appreciation to members of our military, past and present.

If you're looking for an appropriate way to honor a veteran in your life, or would like to contribute in a way that's meaningful for veterans everywhere, here's a list of suggestions to start you off.

1. Show Up

Girl scouts at Veterans Day parade
Attend a Veterans Day event in your area -- not just a picnic with friends but an honest-to-goodness parade or service for veterans. Roy Rogers said, "We can't all be heroes; someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." Veterans Day is a great opportunity to do just that.

2. Donate

Veteran at DAV event
There are a plethora of wonderful organizations who offer all manner of support, services and appreciation for our service members. To get a few ideas for donations, you can check out this page.

3. Fly a flag - correctly

raising the US flag
Veterans Day is a great opportunity to fly the flag! Just make sure you're observing the proper rules for display. Not sure exactly what those are? Check out Military.com's guide to the flag.

4. Ask someone about their service

Retired Army Sergeant visits
It seems like we all know someone who has served and Veterans Day is a great time to ask them about their service. Some questions to get started are: What did you do in the military? How long did you serve? What was your favorite moment in all your time in the service? Did anyone else in your family serve? Why did you choose to go into the service branch you did? Do not ask if they've killed anyone and should your veteran be a combat vet who is either unwilling to share or plainly states what they went through, be supportive without being intrusive. Sometimes you don't have to say anything, just listen and give them your full attention.

5. Write

child writing card for service member
If you know a veteran, write a simple postcard or e-card that recognizes them on Veterans Day. If you don't know a veteran, look up the closest military installation and send one there. Small acts of recognizing someone's service, even anonymously, are appreciated.

6. Don't Confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day

Veterans Day Parade in New York City
Veterans Day is a time to thank those who are serving or have served and are still with us. Memorial Day is to reflect and remember those who lost their lives in service to their country. Confusing the two or combining the two diminishes the importance of both.

7. Visit a VA Hospital

volunteer at VA hospital
Find out what the policies are at your nearest VA hospital for interacting with patients or volunteering, and spend the day with a veteran. Many VA facilities will have events on Veterans Day or a special lunch you can help prepare. Even if you never interact with a veteran, helping at a facility is a way to give back.

8. Get Outdoors with a Veteran

veteran fishing at Lassen Park
Invite a veteran or a military family to explore a national park -- admission is free for all visitors on Veterans Day. Being outside helps improve physical and mental health, boosts emotional well-being, and is a great way to celebrate the day with a veteran.

Full Article & Source: 
8 Ways to Express Appreciation on Veterans Day

The Scourge Of Elder Abuse: Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up

by David Holmberg

If you or a member of your family have experienced elder abuse in a highly flawed guardianship system, you should be aware that you’re not an isolated case or a helpless victim.

Elder abuse by opportunistic court guardians is one of those issues in American society that has reached critical mass in recent years, and some statistics indicate that it might soon achieve a dubious parity with child abuse.

In 2016, the General Accountability Office in Washington examined the state-based guardianship system and found hundreds of cases of physical and financial abuse, and negligence throughout the country. According to The New York Times, the GAO reported that “in eight cases examined in six states, guardians were found to have stolen more than $600, from their elderly wards.” And from 1990 to 2010, the GAO reported, guardians in 20 cases stole $5.4 million.

The Department of Justice has an elder justice coordinator in each of its 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices, in accordance with the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act—enacted in October 2017. The guardianship system is now on trial and you need to take advantage of that.

Full Article & Source:
The Scourge Of Elder Abuse: Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up

Providers can make end-of-life decisions for mentally incompetent residents, judge rules

Craig Cornett, CA Association of Healthcare Facilities
Physicians can administer psychiatric medications and make end-of-life decisions for residents in California who are mentally incompetent, provided family and independent representatives have input, a state appeals court has ruled.

While a 2016 court decision said the law violated patients’ rights, the 1992 law allowing the physician authority over residents at the end of life has remained in effect over the past three years. The law can continue to stand as long as it respects the rights of nursing home residents, the First District Court of Appeals said Monday. But there are caveats, which include an independent patient representative on the team reviewing medical decisions.

A “patient representative must be appointed for every nursing home resident determined to be decisionally incapacitated,” it wrote. A notice that a resident is “found to lack decision making capacity” must be given orally and in writing, “and the written notice must be given not only to the affected nursing home resident but to at least one other competent person whose interests are aligned with those of the resident.”

Industry leaders expressed relief over the decision.

“This ruling means an interdisciplinary team of caregivers will continue to be able to formulate and implement care plans for up to 12,000 individuals covered by the law,” said California Association of Health Facilities CEO and President Craig Cornett. “We are gratified that the court has brought clarity to this important issue so our members can continue to insure the well-being of these residents.” 

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, one of the plaintiffs, also found reasons to praise the decision.

“The Court has required nursing homes to provide more due process to critical medical decisions affecting these infirm and otherwise powerless patients, including the administration of psychotropic drugs and decisions surrounding the end of life,” said Amitai Schwartz, the attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform and nursing home a resident identified as “Gloria A.”

Full Article & Source:
Providers can make end-of-life decisions for mentally incompetent residents, judge rules

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Five Star Nursing Home Allegedly Engaged in Nursing Home Abuse Against Legendary Educator ...

A five star nursing home has engaged in elder abuse against a legendary educator, part of a growing problem of elder abuse in America.
Sean Higgins is Department of Veteran Affairs whistleblower but for the last year he has been dealing with a different form of corruption.
He said his mother, Cleo Higgins, 96, has been the victim of elder abuse at the Riviera Nursing Home in Holly Hills, Florida.  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:

Former Autauga probate judge Al Booth pleads guilty to ethics charge, gets community service

PRATTVILLE — Former Autauga County Probate Judge Al Booth pleaded guilty to misdemeanor ethics charges Monday morning.

Booth pleaded guilty to one count of theft of services, court records show. He was initially indicted on four theft of services charges, but three of those charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Circuit Judge Ben Fuller suspended any jail time and gave Booth 40 hours community service and was told to paid $1,676 in restitution to Autauga County. Booth was placed on supervised probation for two years, said Brad Ekdahl, his attorney. After Booth completes his community service and pays restitution, the probation becomes unsupervised, Ekdahl said.

“There was certainly never any intent to defraud the people of Autauga County,” Ekdahl said. “The process had to be allowed to play out. Judge Booth and his family are glad to get this behind them and are moving forward.”

The only witness to appear before the grand jury was an investigator with the Alabama Ethics commission. Theft of services is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a year in the county jail. Booth, 75, was facing felony ethics violations, but the grand jury indicted him on misdemeanor charges.

On four occasions Booth appointed his son, Alfred B. Booth also an attorney, to handle matters before the probate court when Al Booth was probate judge. The younger Booth goes by Brannon. The money paid to Brannon Booth did not exceed $500 on each individual appointment, the indictment reads.

Booth served 18 years as probate judge, retiring this year. State law does not allow judges to seek election or re-election to the post after they turn 70. Booth did make an unsuccessful bid for the House District 88 post in 2018. Al Booth serves as chairman of the Autauga County Republican Party.

The ethics commission determined in April that Booth violated the ethics law and forwarded to case to District Attorney Randall Houston’s office for review and possible legal action. An “intentional” violation of the state’s ethics law is a Class B felony, with a punishment range of two to 20 years in prison, the ethics commission website shows.

Houston recused himself from the case since Booth is a former elected official in his circuit. There was also the possibility that Houston may have been called before the grand jury as a witness.

The Shelby County District Attorney was appointed to handle the case.

Brannon Booth took an oath of office as "Special Judge of Probate" on Nov. 13, 2017, records at the probate office show. The oath was signed by Al Booth. Probate office records also show a motion filed July 17, 2017, where Brannon Booth submitted a bill to the probate office for $500 in a case where he was named guardian ad litem in a matter before the probate court.

The matter came out in open court during a misdemeanor harassment hearing on April 23, 2018 in Prattville Municipal Court. Al Booth had filed harassment charges against Keith Kuzma, after the two got into a shoving match at a GOP executive committee meeting in Prattville. Kuzma was found not guilty. Trey Norman represented Kuzma at the hearing.

Norman brought up Al Booth’s appointment of his son, Brannon Booth, as special counsel in Probate Court, while Al Booth was on the stand. Al Booth testified that he had appointed his son one time to handle a matter in probate court, where he was serving as judge.

“Did you consider the ethics laws and judicial canons before appointing your son?” Norman asked with an edge to his voice.

“That could be a problem,” Al Booth responded.

Houston was in the gallery during the trial.

On June 22, after the hearing, Brannon Booth filed a motion in Probate Court requesting he be withdrawn from the case, citing a " conflict of interest."

Full Article & Source:
Former Autauga probate judge Al Booth pleads guilty to ethics charge, gets community service