Clerk won a settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit
Photo by: Former Denver court clerk blew whistle 10 years ago about conservatorship system.
By: Jennifer Kovaleski , Joe Vaccarelli
DENVER — It’s been 10 years since Caroline Cammack lost her job at Denver’s Probate Court and spoke out against a guardianship and conservatorship system she said was failing to protect vulnerable Coloradans from abuse.
“They fired me because I was a whistleblower. I just can’t believe that in this country we can’t protect our vulnerable citizens,” she said. “I don’t think anything has changed.”
Today, Denver7 Investigates found the same system continues to bleed estates with little oversight despite warnings from people such as Cammack about the broken system that went unheeded.
“It was the money that was lost — and we’re talking about millions of dollars in some estates,” Cammack said. “The real tragedy of it all is that they continue to do this.”
It starts with a petition to the court, something anyone can file if they think a person is mentally unfit to handle their life. If a judge agrees, and no family members can step in, they can place the person under either guardianship or conservatorship with, essentially, a stranger who then has control over all aspects of a person’s life and finances.
Guardians are responsible for taking care of a person’s medical and personal needs, while a conservator handles all their finances and legal decisions. They can each charge large fees to the family’s estate for doing work on their behalf. (Click to continue reading.)
TRENTON - A former South Jersey attorney has been
disbarred after a disciplinary panel called her "a detriment to the
The state Supreme Court ordered
the action against Stephanie Julia Brown, who formerly practiced in
Sewell, after reviewing a 97-page report on seven complaints against
The report, prepared by the court's
Disciplinary Review Board, asserted Brown "either refuses to provide, or
is incapable of providing, her clients with even a rudimentary level of
It also said Brown
"has demonstrated a dangerous habit of undertaking the representation of
vulnerable clients and utterly failing them, in some cases to their
detriment, and lying to them."
And the report claimed Brown, who did not respond to the ethics charges
against her in New Jersey, had "a long history of snubbing courts (and)
Brown could not be reached for comment on the high court's Sept. 28 order.
disciplinary board recommended disbarment for Brown, who received a law
license in New Jersey in 2006 and in Pennsylvania two years earlier.
noted she had been suspended from the practice of law in New Jersey
since April 2019, and was previously disciplined in Pennsylvania.
of the allegations against Brown arose from the representation of
clients seeking representation in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the report
An account of one complaint noted a client's multiple efforts to obtain basic information about her bankruptcy filing.
was beyond dropping the ball," the client, Nicole Ferrara, wrote about
Brown's performance in a letter cited by the report. "She lied about
having my work completed and was unresponsive from the beginning."
other points, it said Brown failed to tell Ferrara that her bankruptcy
action would allow her to recover a car that had been repossessed.
She also incorrectly advised Ferrara to turn down a job, mistakenly
saying the salary would exceed a level allowed under the bankruptcy
One ethics complaint arose from Brown's guilty
plea in March 2019 to charges of driving while intoxicated and driving
during a license suspension for a previous DWI conviction.
The complaint alleged the conviction reflected "adversely" on Brown's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.
"We are not unmindful of what appears to be (Brown's) serious substance abuse issue involving alcohol," said the report;
But it also noted "her inability or refusal to
address this issue," as well as "the adverse consequences suffered by
multiple clients … and her contemptuous conduct toward the courts."
a result of those findings, the board said, "We reach the conclusion
that she must be removed from the practice of law in order to protect
the public and preserve confidence in the bar."
One of the more high-profile and costly romance scams happened in St Louis
by PJ Randhawa
ST. LOUIS — The search for love can cost you more than time and heartache.
Federal investigators saw a huge increase in the number of romance
scams reported over the past year. One of the more high-profile and
costly crimes happened in St Louis.
Federal prosecutors said a St. Louis woman in her 60's was swindled out of $1.2 million after falling in love online.
“She went on one of the dating websites and thought she had met
someone that she could build a future with,” said Tracy Berry, Assistant
US Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.
While the identity of that St Louis woman has not been made public,
Berry explains how the scammers adapted their con to fool her.
“[The scammers] used a LinkedIn profile. They use local universities.
They use local things that gave her a sense of comfort, that she was
dealing with someone that she wouldn't just have an online relationship
with, but that she would be able to meet for coffee or dinner or go to a
concert with,” said Berry.
Berry said the victim was conned out of money gradually. She was
allegedly told the love interest was in Dubai and needed funds for an
emergency. Later on, the alleged scammer claimed he had gotten sick in
Dubai and needed money for treatment.
“They do it in bits and pieces. They don't ask for $1.2 million all
at one time. They may start with $5,000, $10,000,” said Berry.
Two men from Texas, Rotimi Oladimeji and Olumide Akinrinmade, are now
facing federal charges of mail and wire fraud, and identity theft
related to that St. Louis case.
And while prosecuting romance scammers doesn't happen often, more
than 32,000 incidents of romance scams were reported to the federal
trade commission last year.
The growing scam has also caught the attention of congress.
"I was constantly sending him gift cards, even though now I was using
up the last of my husband's life insurance. My savings were gone,” said
Katie Kleinert, a romance scam victim from Pennsylvania.
Kleinert testified at a recent Congressional hearing involving the
Senate Special Committee on Aging about how the romance scammer gained
“[The scammer] had his kids get in touch with me through email and
they started calling me mom, which is my Achilles' heel because I didn't
have children of my own,” said Kleinert. “From then, there was always
some kind of an emergency or some urgent need for money.”
Growing, profitable scam
Romance scamming netted nearly $300 million in 2020.
The victims hardest hit were between the ages of 60-79.
Berry recommends checking in with any family member involved in an online romance.
“Stop being condescending. Stop saying things that could be
interpreted as ‘you think I'm stupid.' Sometimes it might just be sit
down with them and say, ‘hey, well, let's look at their Facebook
profile’. There's just a way to do it that makes all the difference in
the world,” said Berry.
How can you avoid romance scams?
The quickest way to find out if the person you or a loved one is
talking to online is legitimate is to do a reverse image search. Start
by saving a picture of the person on your computer or smartphone. Then visit Google Images or TinEye.
On Google Images, you’ll see a camera icon near the search bar where
you click. You can then upload the image in question. Google Image will
find out if that image has appeared anywhere else on the internet.
Sometimes you will find the image is actually of a model, actor or
member of the military.
According to the FTC, here are some ways you can avoid being scammed:
Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers. Check the
person’s photo using your search engine’s “search by image” feature. If
the same picture shows up with a different name, that’s a red flag.
Talk to someone about this new love interest. And pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
If you suspect a romance scam, cut off contact right away. Then, report to the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the dating site where you met the scammer, too.
The Lies Romance Scammers Tell
They’ll often say they’re living or traveling outside of the United States. We’ve heard about scammers who say they are:
working on an oil rig
in the military
a doctor with an international organization
We’ve heard about romance scammers asking their targets for money to:
Did you send a wire transfer through a company like Western Union or MoneyGram? If so, contact the wire transfer company. Tell them it was a fraudulent transfer. Ask them to reverse the wire transfer and give you your money back.
MoneyGram: 1-800-MONEYGRAM (1-800-666-3947)
Western Union: 1-800-325-6000
Scammers often ask people to pay using wire transfers. The FTC
brought successful cases against both Western Union and MoneyGram, and
the companies agreed to return hundreds of millions of dollars to people
who were tricked into wiring money to scammers using their services.
The settlements also required both companies to make changes to make it
harder for scammers to use MoneyGram or Western Union to defraud
Did you send cash? If so, chances are it’s gone. But
contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 and ask them
to intercept the package. To learn more about this process, visit USPS Package Intercept: The Basics.If you used another delivery service, contact them as soon as possible.
If you spot a scam, tell your loved ones and people in your community
about it so they can avoid it, too. Then tell the Federal Trade
Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your reports can make a huge difference in knowing what’s happening in your community.
her latest post, Britney Spears settles accounts with everyone whose
inaction – in her opinion – contributed to her long suffering. “If you
have a friend who is trapped at home and banned from going out for four
months, without a car, without a phone, without any privacy, and forced
to work about 10 hours a day, 7 days a week and toil without a day off …
I strongly urge you to go get that friend and get him the hell out of
there! ” – wrote the singer. She addressed equally bitter words to her
immediate family. “My family kept telling me,” Sorry, you’re
incapacitated. “They probably thought they were different (than me), so
they might not care about me!” – she added.
the end of her accusatory post, Spears thanked her lawyer Matthew
Rosengrat. “He helped change my life,” she wrote about him. The attorney
led to the fact that at a hearing on September 29, Los Angeles Supreme
Court Judge Brenda Penny ruled Jamie Spears’ removal from the post of
probation officer overseeing the singer and her estate, which Britney
had struggled for many months. Now, with the help of his lawyer, the pop
star plans to accuse his father of financial fraud. Rosengart also
investigates whether there has been a violation of the law following the
disclosure by one of the singer’s former bodyguards that she was
overheard and under surveillance by her father in many different ways.
also believes that Internet users involved in the #FreeBritney
initiative played an important role in the removal of Jamie Spears and
the increasingly likely release from judicial incapacitation. “Movement #
FreeBritney … I have no words. Thanks to you and your continued
strength in the quest to free me, my life is now going in the right
direction!” – the star wrote on Instagram and added: “I cried for two
hours last night, my fans are the best and I know it.”
mother, Lynne Spears, began to support her daughter’s drive to end
incapacitation from the moment the #FreeBritney initiative launched in
2019. Like the younger sister of singer Jamie Lynn Spears. The singer’s
brother Bryan Spears, on the other hand, supports his father – in one
interview he called the custody of Britney “a great thing” for their
next hearing, which will consider the request to end Britney’s
incapacitation completely and hold Jamie Spears for abuses, will be held
on November 12.
- The D.C. bar’s disciplinary office has asked an appeals court to
approve its power to negotiate lesser penalties for lawyers when
disbarment is the presumptive sanction.
three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the
highest local court in city that also oversees attorney misconduct
disputes, on Wednesday weighed whether a three-year bar suspension for a lawyer accused of "reckless misappropriation" of client funds was unduly lenient.
an ethics charge carries the presumption of disbarment, but in the case
before the court, the lawyer, Paul Mensah, negotiated a lower penalty
with the D.C. Office of Disciplinary Counsel. The deal suspends his
license for three years and requires him to show fitness to practice law
if he ever wants to rejoin the bar. Disbarment in D.C. comes with a
minimum five-year suspension, and proceedings can take longer to resolve
than a negotiated penalty.
is the public perception going to be if we say that, 'Here's a lawyer
who has engaged in misconduct and is willing to be immediately
suspended,'" Hamilton Fox III, the top D.C. disciplinary lawyer, told
the appeals panel. "But because we want to go through this process and
have him disbarred, he's going to be allowed to practice for two more
years. Removing that lawyer more quickly serves the interest of the
Court of Appeals Judges Roy McLeese and Joshua Deahl, sitting with
Senior Judge John Steadman, considered where and how to draw the lines
governing how much discretion the disciplinary office should have in
crafting penalty deals.
did not immediately comment on Thursday, and Justin Flint of Eccleston
& Wolf, a lawyer for Mensah, did not respond to a message seeking
panel judges spent the bulk of the hour-long hearing trying to glean
the scope and impact of a 1990 decision from the appeals court.
decision, issued before the D.C. bar had a system of negotiated
discipline in place, said reckless or intentional misappropriation of
funds should result in disbarment unless there are "extraordinary"
court, in dealing with negotiated cases, has always looked at the
acceptable range," Steadman said at the hearing. "We have no range in
this sort of case, misappropriation of funds, except in exceptional
a member of the D.C. bar since 2003, did not contest the claims that he
misappropriated client funds in a personal injury matter and a debt
collection lawsuit that settled in 2017 for $15,200.
lawyer was aligned with the recommendation from the D.C. bar's
disciplinary office that the D.C. appeals court approve the negotiated
case is the model for what this court wants to set forth for the bar,"
Flint said. "Knowing that he has a problem with this trust account --
admits to it, owns it, has remorse, hires a bookkeeper, and makes sure
that everything is correct."
The case is In the Matter of: Paul T. Mensah, District of Columbia Court of Appeals, No. 20-BG-560.
CARSON CITY, NV – The Nevada Supreme Court is pleased to announce it
has been awarded $891,000 in federal funds from the Elder Abuse
Prevention Interventions Program. The grant is from the Administration
for Community Living, a division of Health and Human Services. The
two-year grant runs October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2023. The National
Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
(NCJFCJ) and the Nevada Center for State Courts (NCSC) are partners on this project.
The Project will meet immediate needs to improve equity and innovate
how guardianships are viewed, administered, and monitored within the
Nevada Judiciary. Through data analysis conducted by the NCSC, the
Project will assess the current state of guardianship after the
implementation of the thirteen recommendations by the Nevada Permanent
Guardianship Commission in 2018.
The Commission has identified four topics that warrant further study
in order to implement the Commission’s 2018 recommendations. The topics
include data collection, disparate business processes within district
courts, lay guardian training, and judicial training on reasonable
alternatives to guardianship.
The Project’s proposed products will improve outcomes for older
adults who are or may become protected persons by improving training for
Nevada’s judges on the less restrictive alternative to guardianship,
provide training to guardians related to their responsibilities, and
improve consistency in guardianship practice and monitoring statewide.
The project will positively impact all participants in the guardianship
process by expanding access to training of guardians at no-cost to the
court-ordered guardian. Training will be expanded to hard-to-reach
populations and Nevada’s limited English proficiency guardians.
Attorneys will benefit from the proposed judicial training, as more
options will be available to their clients in lieu of guardianship.
The purpose of the Elder Justice Innovation Grants program is to
support the development and advancement of new and emerging issues
related to elder justice. Funded projects will contribute to the
improvement of the field of elder abuse prevention and intervention at
large, such as by developing materials, programs, etc. that can be
widely disseminated and/or replicated, or by establishing and/or
contributing to the evidence-base of knowledge.
In 2017, after considering the information submitted in the final
report of the Commission to Study the Administration of Guardianships in
Nevada, the Supreme Court of Nevada created a Permanent Guardianship
Commission to address issues of concern related to those persons who may
be subject to the guardianship statutes, rules, and processes in
Nevada. All Nevada guardianships are administered by Nevada’s courts
pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 159, which are reviewed by
the Commission along with court rules, policies, and procedures.
The NCSC is an independent, nonprofit court improvement organization
founded at the urging of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren E.
Burger. He envisioned NCSC as a clearinghouse for research information
and comparative data to support improvement in judicial administration
in state courts. All of NCSC’s services — research, information
services, education, consulting — are focused on helping courts plan,
make decisions, and implement improvements that save time and money,
while ensuring judicial administration that supports fair and impartial
The NCJFCJ is the oldest judicial membership organization in the
country and provides all judges, courts, and related agencies involved
with juvenile, family, and domestic violence cases with the knowledge
and skills to improve the lives of the families and children who seek
Britney Spears celebrated her dad Jamie’s suspension by sharing
risqué photos, but could they actually hurt her conservatorship case?
39, is full of joy over the latest change in her conservatorship case.
With her estranged father being suspended as conservator, the pop star
has got plenty to celebrate. But, could her risqué photos on Instagram
do more harm than good? Family Law Attorney, founder, and managing
partner of The Cronin Law Firm, JD, MBA, Sabrina Shaheen Cronin, has some thoughts on the matter.
“The initial reason the conservatorship was put in place is because
of Britney’s very public meltdown several years ago along with other
questionable patterns of behavior, which made those people around her
question her mental stability,” Sabrina shares with HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY.
“It is possible that the photos Britney recently posted online could be
brought forward as evidence of her mental state at the hearing in
November; however, the photos likely will not be strong enough evidence
on their own to prevent ending the conservatorship.”
The Stronger singer, who is currently engaged to Sam Asghari,
27, has been sharing positive messages, gratitude, excitement, and even
a few risqué pics on the gram since the latest revelations. Most
recently, Britney wore nothing but red bikini bottoms with red knee-high
boots in an Instagram pic from Oct. 4.
The mom-of-of-two captioned the photo, “Pssss you heard me … kiss it
!!!!” with kissy lips, a peach, and crying laughing face emojis. As of
late, the singer has been letting her hair down and letting fans in a
bit more on her fun social media posts. And whether that affects her
conservatorship case is yet to be determined as her next court date is
set for Nov. 12.
“One could argue this is Britney being true to her authentic self, and
finally feeling empowered to be her own person and make her own
decisions. Personal choices, decisions, and actions relative to
character, values, integrity, etc. usually are not in and of themselves
enough to affect a conservatorship ruling,” Sabrina continued. “On the
other hand, if those choices, decisions, and patterns of behavior
corroborate [the] evidence that she may be mentally unstable, then her
freedom from this oppressive conservatorship may be jeopardized.”
In either case, the pop star is enjoying the moment and her newfound
freedom. “#FreeBritney movement … I have no words … because of you guys
and your constant resilience in freeing me from my conservatorship … my
life is now in that direction !!!!!,” the star’s Oct.4 Instagram caption read.
She continued, “I cried last night for two hours cause my fans are the
best and I know it … I feel your hearts and you feel mine … that much I
know is true 💞 !!!!!”
A nursing home employee getting a COVID-19 booster shot at the Hebrew
Home at Riverdale. Many New York nursing homes have had trouble filling
staff vacancies after the state's vaccine mandate started.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
ALBANY — Nursing homes desperately seeking relief from staffing shortages tied to New York’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate
are being told “we do not have any staff to offer you or any other
nursing homes” upon calling the hotline specifically set up to help plug
vacancies, The Post has learned.
“Despite what the media says, currently, we do not have any staff to
offer you or any other nursing homes. I will log you in our system,” a
state Department of Health staffer manning the agency’s “Surge and Flex
Operations Center” hotline told one nursing home, when they asked about
getting reinforcements on Oct. 4 — just one week after the mandate’s
“Feel free to call with updates, but no need to call daily hoping
this will be your lucky day,” the operator told the disappointed nursing
home, which wished to remain anonymous.
Callers receive an “intake number” and assigned a case, which is then
reviewed by the state and severity of need is assessed, according to a
source familiar with the hotline.
The stark reality contradicts Gov. Kathy Hochul’s public statements since the mandate
took effect Sept. 27, as well as an executive order she signed
declaring there’s a reserve of healthcare employees ready to backfill
positions following resignations or terminations.
The mandate requires all healthcare workers in healthcare facilities
to be vaccinated from the deadly virus — unless they have an approved
medical exemption — or else employers can fire them.
Another nursing home industry source reached out on Sept. 29 to the hotline who was told “they do not have any staff.”
“They are aware that it was mentioned in the news regarding vaccine
mandate staffing issues,” wrote the source, according to internal
communications obtained by The Post.
But Hochul dug in during a Tuesday press conference when probed about
the state’s refusal to release data pertaining to worker shortages in
nursing homes or hospitals, which are required to be reported to the DOH
in daily surveys.
She argued healthcare facilities should call the DOH’s “24/7
operations center” to request staff and may even have access to student
nurses. In the worst case scenario the National Guard could be deployed,
although the state has not done so.
“We set up a system to be responsive to any institution that needed help,” Hochul told reporters in Albany Tuesday.
“We set up all these opportunities, whether it was using student
nurses, whether people with licenses had lapsed, whether or not someone
would be coming in from another state…and so we’ve reached out. We
offered help. Very few have taken [us] up on it, because they are also
required to have their own emergency staffing plans themselves,” said
A DOH rep told The Post that since last Monday, the agency has
received “nearly 50 calls” related to staffing requests. The rep would
not say whether or not any healthcare staff were actually deployed to
facilities, instead saying “the Department is advising facilities on
internal steps they can take to address staff shortages, as well as ways
to take advantage of the Executive Order.”
But the statewide vaccination rate of elder care staffers with at
least one shot has increased to 97 percent statewide according to the
latest DOH data. It’s up from 92 percent of staffers on the day the
mandate was announced.
The statewide vaccination rate of elder care staffers with at least
one shot is 97 percent, according to the latest DOH data, up from 92
percent of staffers on the day the mandate was announced.
Although elder care facility residents and staff were first in line
last December to get shots, efforts to boost vaccination rates have been
met with resistance.
Nursing homes could be on track to lose more staffers within the coming week tied to a pending federal
court case, where a judge is anticipated to rule on or before Oct. 12
whether or not employers may deny requests for religious exemptions from
getting the shot.
But nursing homes could be on track to lose more staffers within the coming week tied to a pending
federal court case, where a judge is anticipated to rule on or before
Oct. 12 whether or not employers may deny requests for religious
exemptions from getting the shot.
The DOH confirmed to The Post Wednesday that just 2,934 workers — or
2.1 percent of 140,917 total employees statewide — have “claimed another
exemption, which is the subject of pending litigation” — a nod to the
total number of religious exemptions submitted.
Another 674 statewide — 0.5 percent of staffers — have been granted medical exemptions.
For hospitals, 7,019 employees — 1.4 percent of around 521,000
employees statewide — have claimed “another exemption,” and 2,607
workers — or .06 percent — have been granted medical exemptions.
The DOH confirmed to The Post that 2,934 workers have “claimed
another exemption, which is the subject of pending litigation” — a nod
to the total number of religious exemptions submitted.
Another 674 statewide have been granted medical exemptions.
There are 613 nursing homes in New York and roughly 145,408
employees, according to the DOH on Sept. 23 — but it is unclear how many
workers have been fired or resigned because they refused to get
“They talked about calling up the national guard and importing nurses
from out of state and out of country and now when the facilities say
‘we are ready to use those people,’ the state says, ‘we don’t have
any,’” said Bill Hammond, the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health
One nursing home industry source told The Post: “We’ve told [nursing
homes] we’re not confident that staff would actually be available
because our past history throughout the pandemic has been just that.”
“The state’s volunteer corps or hotline has not been able to provide
help to long term care providers…You are more likely to get a survey
team sent to your facility rather than new staff,” said the source,
noting the DOH would probably send a group of agency inspectors to
assess current staffing and safety protocols,” the source added.
Since the pandemic’s start in March 2020, over 15,000 nursing home residents have died from the virus.
Disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration refused to release
data pertaining to the true number of deaths tied to the virus for
months, until a state judge forced the DOH to release statistics.
Cuomo’s former top aide then admitted they “froze” and were worried
about retribution from the Trump administration if they released the
The FBI and Eastern District of New York launched an investigation
into the matter shortly after and are apparently still probing the
The DOH did not return an immediate request for comment by The Post.
Calistoga City Council member Irais Lopez-Ortega in 2013, when she was appointed to fill a vacant position on the council.
Sean Scully, Register
by Cynthia Sweeney
Vice-Mayor and City Council member Irais Lopez-Ortega, also the
operator of two senior care facilities, has been charged with four
felony counts of elder abuse by the Napa County District Attorney’s
Charges allege that
two separate incidents occurred in June and July at Cedars Care Home, a
10-bed assisted living, residential care facility in Calistoga.
Lopez-Ortega has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The District Attorney’s Office filed
the charges Aug. 9 after investigating complaints by an elderly male
resident of Cedars Care, as first reported in the Calistoga Tribune.
action is pending to revoke the license of Lopez-Ortega’s L&B Care
Home on Foothill Boulevard, another assisted living facility, according
to the state's Department of Social Services. L&B was ordered to
close on Aug. 6, and the department appointed an outside entity to run
operations until the six residents can be relocated.
July, responding to a complaint, the department inspected Cedars Care
regarding an allegation that facility staff physically abused a resident
in their care.
According to a
complaint investigation report dated Sept. 9, video evidence from
incidents in June and July reveal a staff member grabbing and pushing a
resident, causing them to fall. Video also shows two staff members
grabbing the resident by the arm and shirt and dragging them in the
direction of a bedroom.
A second recorded incident shows a
staff member pulling the resident away from the dining room table,
resulting in another fall. The Department also obtained photo evidence
of multiple bruises on the resident’s body.
The department issued an immediate civil penalty of $500, and additional civil penalties are under review.
the department presented its findings, Cedars Care agreed to elder
abuse prevention training from an outside vendor, according to the
Lopez-Ortega could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Care was licensed in 1999. In 2013, Lopez-Ortega was cited by state
regulators for running an unlicensed residential care facility for
seniors, L&B, as reported in The Weekly Calistogan. That facility
was licensed in 2017.
was appointed to a vacant seat on the city council in February 2013 and
has served on the council since then. The council unanimously voted to
appoint Lopez-Ortega to the position of vice-mayor last December.
Chris Canning said Thursday that the current matter is not related to
the city of Calistoga or in Lopez-Ortega’s role as a city council
member. If convicted, however, she would not be allowed to serve.
A hearing will take place on Oct. 29 in Napa Superior Court.
Britney Spears thanked the #FreeBritney movement on Monday, saying fans were instrumental in last week's ruling to suspend her father as her conservator after 13 years under his control.
In a Twitter post,
Britney Spears wrote: “#FreeBritney movement… I have no words… because
of you guys and your constant resilience in freeing me from my
conservatorship… my life is now in that direction !!!!!”
The #FreeBritney campaign gained momentum
on social media in recent years as fans questioned whether the pop star
was being taken advantage of through what was supposed to have been a
temporary arrangement. Organizers shined a light on others who have been
negatively affected by conservatorships, such as former "Star Trek"
star Nichelle Nichols.
"I cried last night for two hours
cause my fans are the best and I know it," Spears continued. "I feel
your hearts and you feel mine … that much I know is true."
#FreeBritney movement … I have no words … because of you guys and your constant resilience in freeing me from my conservatorship … my life is now in that direction !!!!! I cried last night for two hours cause my fans are the best and I know it … pic.twitter.com/7OpsOKoHNc
Britney Spears, who has been in a conservatorship since 2008
after a mental health crisis, spent the past year trying to remove her
father James "Jamie" Spears from her case, telling the court that she
feels traumatized over what she said was an abusive conservatorship.
Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny ruled in her favor
last week, describing the arrangement as "toxic." Britney Spears testified in June that her father ruined her life through his role in the conservatorship, alleging that he took pleasure in controlling her and in her pain.
Spears' attorney, Vivian Thoreen, said the ruling was a loss for his
daughter in a statement Thursday. Thoreen said part of working in
Britney Spears' best interests meant her client had to bite his tongue
and not respond to the "false, speculative, and unsubstantiated
the court was wrong to suspend Mr. Spears, put a stranger in his place
to manage Britney's estate, and extend the very conservatorship that
Britney begged the court to terminate earlier this summer," Thoreen
A hearing to formally remove Jamie Spears as conservator is
set for Nov. 12, when Britney Spears' attorney, Mathew Rosengart, also
intends to present Penny with a plan to end the conservatorship
He previously credited the #FreeBritney movement for its role in Wednesday's ruling.
free today in a sense ... but there's a larger issue here," Rosengart
said. "And the larger issue is now being looked into by state
legislatures throughout the country, certainly in California, and by the
U.S. Congress. To the extent we can shine a light on that issue, as
well, that's something that's very important."
Fans of Britney Spears protest in front of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse
during Britney's hearing to end her father's controversial guardianship,
in Los Angeles, California on Wednesday (AFP photo by Valerie Macon)
Jordan Times) LOS ANGELES — Britney Spears' father was removed from
his controversial role as his daughter's guardian on Wednesday by a Los
Angeles judge, ending a long and bitter legal battle by the pop
Jamie Spears was suspended with immediate effect and
replaced with a temporary conservator "in the best interests" of the
singer, said Judge Brenda Penny, calling the present arrangement
"Mr Spears is ordered to turn over all the conservatorship assets," said Penny.
father has controlled her life for the past 13 years, under a legal
arrangement the 39-year-old US singer has slammed as "abusive."
move came after a years-long campaign that played out in public, and
after the emergence in the last week of two new powerful documentaries
featuring allegations that Jamie Spears had bugged his daughter's phone
Spears' lawyer Mathew Rosengart described her father as a "cruel, toxic and abusive man."
deserves to wake up tomorrow without her father as her conservator,"
Rosengart said. "It is what my client wants, it is what my client needs,
it is what my client deserves."
Dozens of supporters gathered outside the courtroom cheered and wept as news of the ruling emerged.
fiance Sam Asghari took to Instagram to post "FREE BRITNEY!
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!" along with a photo of what appeared to be him
handing the singer a rose.
In their motion filed this week,
Spears' lawyers said: "Every day that goes by with him as conservator —
every day and every hour — is one in which he causes his daughter
anguish and pain."
claims were seemingly bolstered by a New York Times documentary
released Friday that alleged Jamie Spears had surveillance devices
secretly installed in his daughter's bedroom to record her
"It really reminded me of somebody that was in
prison," a former security firm employee told the "Controlling Britney
The pop star's lawyers said the Times'
allegations about her father showed "horrifying and unconscionable
invasions of his adult daughter's privacy."
Jamie Spears denies any illegal surveillance took place.
new documentary — Netflix's "Britney vs Spears," released on Tuesday —
claims the singer twice tried to hire her own lawyer in the early years
of the conservatorship, but was denied.
In July, Spears was
finally successful in appointing her own lawyer — Rosengart — and last
month, her father filed a petition for the conservatorship to be ended.
judge appointed accountant John Zabel as a temporary conservator of
Spears' estate, in an arrangement she said can last until the end of the
Jamie Spears' lawyers repeatedly objected to his
suspension, disputing the Times' allegations and questioning the
veracity of his daughter's testimony that the conservatorship amounted
"There is not a shred of evidence to support suspension," said Vivian Thoreen, via video call.
Spears' 13-year record as guardian had been "impeccable" and he should
not be temporarily replaced but instead the entire guardianship should
be terminated immediately, they argued.
Rosengart insisted that
this was simply a tactic and said Jamie Spears was afraid he would have
to turn over "evidence of his corruption and worse."
immediate suspension is "what my client Britney Spears — who has been
abused by this man not only for the past decade but since her childhood —
wants and deserves," said Rosengart.
"Please hear the plea of my client" to "end this Kafka-esque nightmare," he added.
'Never fit to serve'
representatives and fans have long accused her father of profiting from
the guardianship, which was set up after a highly public 2007 breakdown
when the shaven-headed star attacked a paparazzo's car at a gas
The lawyers have said her father was "never fit to
serve," citing in their petition allegations of his "reported
alcoholism" and "trauma he caused his daughter since her childhood."
A hearing expected to formally dissolve the conservatorship will be held on November 12.
During Sunday's episode of 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper sat down with Bennett and Benedetto following his final stage appearance.
recognizes me, thank goodness, his children, you know we are blessed in
a lot of ways," Benedetto told the journalist. "He's very sweet."
"He doesn't know he has it," she added, referring to his Alzheimer's.
Previously, Benedetto said that Bennett was unable to understand what the disease is.
During the 60 Minutes broadcast,
Bennett performed a song with his pianist — recalling each word and note
without sheet music or lyrics in front of him.
"Well that was really one of the great honors I've ever had," Cooper, 54, said, thanking Bennett for the song.
likes to say he's in the business of making people feel good, and he
still is," Benedetto commented, to which Bennett confirmed, "That's
Dr. Gaytari Devi, who diagnosed Bennett with the disease in 2017, said in the 60 Minutes interview that the star "knows he's Tony Bennett and he knows how to behave like Tony Bennett."
an area of the brain that's just so an innately hardwired part of his
brain," she told Cooper. "And it's also an area of his brain that gives
them real meaning and purpose in his life, and it's imbued with
She continued, "I mean that's the other thing
about music that sets it apart, is that it is a part of the brain that's
very emotional. Music is housed in different parts of the brain,
including parts of the brain that deal with emotion, and therefore, it's
easy to be moved by it when you hear it."
asked by Cooper if Bennett's final performance is "a sad story," Gaga
gave her own reflection on the "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"
"It's not a sad story,"
she said. "It's emotional. It's hard to watch somebody change. I think
what's been beautiful about this, and what's been challenging, is to see
how it affects him in some ways, but to see how it doesn't affect his
"I think he really pushed
through something to give the world the gift of knowing that things can
change and you can still be magnificent," she concluded.
N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina agency has cited a nursing home after live
maggots were found in the wound of a dementia patient.
N.C. Department of Health and Human Services cited University Place
Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Charlotte on Sept. 20
following an investigation prompted by a complaint from the resident’s
grandson, WBTV reported.
Waddell told the television station that he first became aware of his
grandmother’s infested wound after a tip from the facility’s staff
members. Another staffer sent him video that showed an open wound on his
grandmother’s heel with live maggots crawling out. He called regulators
to report the incident.
of having Mayes taken to the hospital to have the wound cleaned, staff
told inspectors, the nursing home’s director of nursing called in the
assistant director of nursing to clean the wound on-site, according to
The nursing home didn’t respond to the television station’s emails seeking comment.
to the latest inspection, records show University Place had been cited
21 times for violations by state inspectors over the past decade.
Frank N. Tobolsky, 59, of Cherry Hill, used the stolen funds on gambling at casinos and personal expenses.
by Robert Moran
A disbarred lawyer from Camden County pleaded guilty Monday to defrauding a Delaware man of almost $2 million in a scheme claiming to fund loans to Eagles season-ticket holders, then spending the money on gambling at casinos and personal expenses, according to acting U.S. Attorney in New Jersey Rachael A. Honig.
Frank N. Tobolsky, 59, of Cherry Hill, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden to one count of wire fraud.
Tobolsky’s lawyer, Lisa Lewis, a federal defender, could not be reached for comment.
Honig said in a news release that starting in 2013, Tobolsky raised money from the victim, purportedly as an investment that would loan money to Eagles season-ticket holders who owned seat licenses.
The victim was told that the seat licenses would be used as collateral to secure the loans. The victim sent Tobolsky about $2.4 million to invest in the purported business venture, but the money was not used for loans to season-ticket holders. Instead, Tobolsky used a substantial portion on personal expenses, prosecutors said.
He faces a maximum 20 years in prison and maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the loss to any victim or gain to Tobolsky, whichever is greatest. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 10.
In 2018, Tobolsky was separately charged by state authorities in Atlantic County on theft offenses in an alleged scheme in which authorities said he fraudulently sold an Eagles Stadium Builder License to a victim and then deposited the money into his account at the Golden Nugget casino. According to Atlantic County court records, Tobolsky entered a pretrial diversionary program.
Also in 2018, Tobolsky was disbarred in New Jersey for stealing $32,500 from a client’s escrow account to use for gambling. He also was disbarred in Pennsylvania later that year.
Montreal police say a door-knocking campaign intended to identify
vulnerable seniors in the context of the pandemic led to the arrest of a
28-year-old man who had been living with his 75-year-old grandmother
and had allegedly been physically, financially and psychologically
abusing her for two years.
The grandson was charged with assault following the intervention and
the elderly woman was offered assistance through the Crime Victims
Assistance Centre and her local CLSC.
It’s just one of the stories highlighted in the review of the second
edition of the “Visit an isolated senior citizen” campaign to help
identify seniors in need of help.
This year, police knocked on more than 21,000 doors between May 15 and June 15, up from 13,500 door knocks in 2020.
Started last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative
partners police officers with volunteers from local organizations to
help seniors living in precarious situations by connecting them with
resources in their community.
In total, police carried out 188 door-to-door operations this year and
spoke with 4,794 people aged 65 and older with the help of 89 partner
organizations, up from 32 in 2020.
There were two “criminal mistreatment” events during this year’s campaign, according to police.
Police had to do 33 follow-ups with seniors, compared to 14 last year,
for issues such as health, psychosocial, and community services. The
majority (21) were for home support or personal hygiene assistance,
while seven were for psychological support.
Three seniors visited required a hospital visit, including one man with
emphysema who lived alone on the third floor of a building without an
elevator and couldn't leave his home.
“In addition, the number of reports of possible situations of elder
abuse has increased this year," police said in a news release.
“Citizens met, whether parents, relatives or neighbors, reported cases
where people could experience such situations in their area. With the
information gathered, the police will be able to prevent cases of elder
abuse, or intervene with victims, refer them to the appropriate
resources or support them through the legal process, if necessary.”
The initiative is expected to be back for a third year in 2022.
Attorneys say the bill ensures the state is not allowing corporations to profit from mistreating the elderly.
lawmakers consider extending lawsuit protections for Florida’s nursing
home industry in the upcoming Legislative Session, one House Republican
will push to scrap a current law requiring a portion of punitive damages
awarded in lawsuits be placed in a state trust fund.
Rep. Amber Mariano‘s HB 6035
would eliminate a mandate that half of any punitive damages awarded in
lawsuits against nursing homes or assisted living facilities be directed
to a fund dedicated to quality improvement efforts.
Mariano has filed the bill every year since she was first elected
five years ago. She says the 2022 Legislative Session is the time to
finally get it passed.
“The sixth time’s a charm,” Mariano told Florida Politics.
She said it’s “absurd” that Florida requires plaintiffs to put punitive damages into a trust fund that benefits “perpetrators.”
The punitive damage provision was
included in a 2001 omnibus measure meant to improve quality of care at
Florida’s long-term care facilities as well as to protect nursing homes
That same trust fund also receives a
portion of the assessments the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services levies against facilities for failing to comply with federal
to lawmakers earlier this month show the fund has an available balance
of about $32 million for the state fiscal year beginning next July. In
the fiscal year that ended this past summer, $200,350 in punitive
damages were deposited in the trust fund.
That was a drop from the $473,475 in punitive damages deposited into the trust fund during the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Florida Health Care Association spokesperson Kristen Knapp said the proposed change sought by Mariano would not improve resident care.
“These funds would better serve our
nursing home residents if they were directed toward quality care
improvements, including programs that support our workforce challenges,
enhance technologies and other activities that directly benefit those
entrusted to our care,” Knapp said in a statement to Florida Politics.
For instance, Knapp said funds from the
trust currently are being used to help cover the costs for a two year
project dubbed the CaregiversFL Career Program. Knapp said the program
is designed to promote long-term care job opportunities as well as
enhance recruitment and retention efforts and build partnerships with
statewide educational, workforce and veteran organizations.
But the Florida Justice Association, the group representing the state’s trial lawyers, has a much different viewpoint.
“The current law serves no purpose other
than to deter plaintiffs from pursuing legitimate claims for punitive
damages,” FJA Deputy Director & Director of Legislative Affairs Jeff Porter said.
“It then gives this money to undeserving nursing homes for expenses
they should pay for themselves like any other legitimate business. It
comes down to a fundamental issue of fairness.”
Porter said Mariano’s proposal is a
“step in the right direction of ensuring the state is not allowing
corporations to profit from mistreating the generations that built our
A nursing home or assisted living
facility in Florida may be liable for punitive damages only if a judge
or jury finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the facility
actively and knowingly engaged in intentional misconduct or in conduct
that constitutes gross negligence and contributed to the claimant’s
loss, damages, or injury.
Punitive damages generally are limited
to three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $1 million,
whichever is greater. A jury can, though, award four times the amount of
compensatory damages, or $4 million, whichever is greater, if it finds
that the conduct was motivated primarily by unreasonable financial gain
and the dangerous nature of the conduct was known by the managing agent,
director, officer, or other person responsible for making policy
decisions on behalf of the defendant.
Mariano first became aware of the requirement after meeting with the
family of a professional wrestler who successfully sued a Florida
nursing home for wrongful death. Debbie Dahmer‘s family won a case against Lake Worth Nursing Home for the wrongful death of their father, George Dahmer, also known by his wrestling name, Chief White Owl. The family was surprised to find out about the requirement.
“I really want to get this done,” Mariano said. “I think it’s really important.”
Gainesville attorney is permanently disbarred for Florida Supreme Court.
The Florida Bar announced that the Florida Supreme Court disciplined 13 attorneys.
Leslie H. Smith said that five were suspended, four were disbarred,
three were reprimanded, and one had their license revoked.
Gainesville attorney, Robert Bauer, has been permanently disbarred, following a court hearing from Sept. 9th, said Smith.
said, in one case, Bauer billed a client despite performing no legal
services for them. When he was confronted about the situation, Bauer
"misrepresented the status of the case to the client and failed to
disclose that her claim was barred".
This case was just one of many where Bauer failed to conduct his job in a legal manner.
said disbarred lawyers are not allowed to re-apply for admission for
five years. They are required to go through an extensive process,
including a background check and retaking the Bar exam.
Robert Bauer's full order issue from the Florida Supreme Court:
W. Bauer, 3721 N.W. 40th Terr. Suite B, Gainesville, disbarred
permanently effective immediately following a Sept. 9 court order.
(Admitted to practice: 2005) In Supreme Court Case No: SC19-1824, Bauer
obtained a proprietary interest in his client’s litigation while
offering financial assistance to the client to pursue unfounded
litigation. Bauer failed to advise his client to seek independent
counsel and advice prior to obtaining a priority interest in the
litigation. In a separate matter, Bauer billed a client despite
performing no legal services. In another matter, Bauer failed to
diligently represent a personal injury client which led to the client’s
claim being barred by the statute of limitations. When confronted, Bauer
misrepresented the status of the case to the client and failed to
disclose that her claim was barred. Bauer also misrepresented the status
of his client’s claim to the grievance committee. Once SC19-1824 was
set for trial, Bauer abandoned his clients and failed to properly advise
the courts in which he had ongoing litigation. (Case No: SC21-668)