Saturday, March 19, 2022

New Baltimore woman appointed to Macomb County Probate bench

By Jameson Cook

An attorney who has mostly practiced in Oakland County has been named a Macomb County Probate judge by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Sara A. Schimke, of Southfield law firm Chalgian & Tripp, PLLC, was appointed to fill the vacancy left with the January retirement of Kathryn George, who hadn’t worked in over a year, Whitmer announced Thursday.

Schimke, who lives in New Baltimore, specializes in probate law, estate planning, and advocacy, 

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MDHHS highlights Developmental Disability Awareness Month this March


CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112

MDHHS highlights Developmental Disability Awareness Month this March

LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is celebrating the abilities and contributions of people with developmental disabilities in our state this March during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Approximately 180,000 people in Michigan have a developmental disability.

"Each person in our state, including those with developmental disabilities, can share their abilities and make contributions to Michigan communities," said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. "At MDHHS we are committed to helping those with developmental disabilities reach their highest potential, and we encourage those in our state to work together and ensure full inclusion with those with disabilities."

As part of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council (DD Council) is hosting events to raise awareness about people with developmental disabilities. To see all events and get more information, follow the DD Council's Facebook page.

Current DD Council advocacy efforts include:

  • Eliminating the practice of paying persons with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
  • Educating individuals with developmental disabilities on their voting rights and advocating for voting access.
  • Promoting supported decision-making and educating people with developmental disabilities on restoring rights after they've been taken away by a guardianship.
  • Advocating for accessible and affordable housing and sexuality education to decrease the abuse and exploitation of people with developmental disabilities.

As part of the state's COVID-19 vaccine town hall series, a town hall is being held to answer questions for individuals with disabilities and their caregivers on Friday, March 25 at 11 a.m. The event will be held at

The DD Council also supports the Self-Advocates of Michigan (SAM), a statewide organization led by people with developmental disabilities, that promotes the values of diversity, inclusion, equal rights and the self-determination of individuals with disabilities. SAM addresses issues that impact people with developmental disabilities on both a state and federal level. More information about SAM is available online.

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Disbarred Attorney Sentenced To Four Years For Conspiring To Commit Bankruptcy Fraud And Defrauding Clients Of $1.3 Million

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Friday, March 18, 2022

Disbarred Attorney Sentenced To Four Years For Conspiring To Commit Bankruptcy Fraud And Defrauding Clients Of $1.3 Million

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Thomas Barber has sentenced James Lee Clark (61, Wilton Manors) to 48 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and wire fraud.  Clark had pleaded guilty on December 14, 2021.

According to court documents, from January 2010 through February 2017, Clark, who was a licensed attorney, conspired with his paralegal, Eric Liebman, to defraud mortgage creditors and guarantors holding notes on properties in foreclosure. Clark and Liebman falsely and fraudulently represented to distressed homeowners that they would negotiate with creditors and guarantors to prevent foreclosures in exchange for the homeowners’ execution of quitclaim or warranty deeds for the properties to an entity controlled by Liebman. Clark and Liebman also convinced the homeowners to pay rent or agree to sell their houses.  In order to continue collecting ill-gotten rents and/or profit from the property sales, Clark filed fraudulent bankruptcy petitions in the names of the homeowners to prevent the mortgage creditors from lawfully foreclosing and taking title to the properties.

Additionally, from January 2012 to February 2017, Clark defrauded his clients out of approximately $1.3 million. As part of his practice, Clark acted as a trustee for clients and held their money in various bank accounts.  Instead of using the funds for the purpose intended by his clients, Clark diverted the money into his law firm’s bank accounts, and used it for personal expenses, like gambling, travel, and automobiles. 

Liebman previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud. He was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Office of the United States Trustee for the Middle District of Florida (Tampa Division) provided substantial investigative support. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

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Police: 96-year-old Hagerstown woman allegedly assaulted by caregiver

Hagerstown Police say a caregiver crafted a plan with two other men to steal a large amount of cash from the woman.
John Henry, Matthew Torres

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — The Hagerstown Police Department arrested three people for allegedly assaulting and attempting to murder a 96-year-old woman.

Hagerstown Police were called to a home on Marshall Street on March 7 where they found the woman with severe lacerations and bruises to her head, neck, and face. Officers said the woman claimed a man had come to her home and had tried to kill her.

Court documents revealed the elderly woman approached the front door when she heard the screen door opening. She recalled a masked man shoving her to the ground and placing his hands over her neck and mouth. She felt he was trying to kill her as she was struggling to breathe. 

Upon further investigation, detectives learned Angel Parker, 33, of Hagerstown, had been providing home health care assistance to the woman and had become aware of a large sum of money in the house.

Hagerstown Police alleged that Parker crafted a plan with her boyfriend 23-year-old Jacob Kitch-Nordsick and 23-year-old Taylor Alexander to steal the $10,000 in cash stashed in a box.

Surveillance videos from Scott's Speed Shop next door captured two of the trio approaching the woman’s house. The court document said Parker stayed outside and appeared to act as a lookout.

"I can't believe anyone is cold enough to do something like that," Scott's Speed Shop owner Scott Hoffman said. "I hope they rot in hell. That's the only thing I can say."

The victim has since been treated and released from the hospital. WUSA9 briefly spoke to her more than a week later. She still has visible signs of bruises around her neck and face. The elderly woman was also wearing the home health alert necklace she used to press and contact 911 when the suspects left. 

"It may have saved her life," Washington County Dept. of Social Services Director Mike Piercy said. "These technologies can be critical in these types of things."

Piercy said among elder abuse being a problem, financial exploitation targeting the elderly has seen a 25% increase over the years in Washington County.

He strongly urged people to conduct a background check, to run the person's name against the Maryland Judicial Case Search, and determine if the individual is with a reputable licensed agency.

“We are extremely grateful that this brave woman was not more seriously injured or killed,” a Hagerstown Police statement reads. “HPD would like to acknowledge responding officers and EMTs that provided initial treatment and the swift work of HPD detectives. All three subjects have been arrested and are held without bond.”

Both Parker and Kitch-Nordsick were charged with first- and second-degree attempted murder, among other charges.

Kitch-Nordsick claimed to police that he just held the door open when Alexander "went haywire." 

Alexander also faces several charges including first- and second-degree assault and robbery and theft.

If you do suspect someone of being abused, neglected or exploited, call 1-800-91-PREVENT

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Friday, March 18, 2022

Study supports shifting patients away from SNFs to at-home care

by Danielle Brown

Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images Plus

Seniors recently discharged from the hospital should consider having skilled-level care at home instead of at a facility, researchers said after a new pilot study found that patients have better experiences with lower costs under the model.  

Their findings were published Thursday in the Journal of Applied Gerontology by a Brigham and Women’s Hospital-led investigative team. The group researched whether the cost of care and safety and experience of patients could be improved by shifting the site of care to the patient’s home. 

The study was conducted using a pilot trial where 10 participants were randomly assigned to rehabilitation at-home (RAH) or traditional SNF care. 

Findings showed that the median cost of care for patients receiving RAH was $8,404, compared to $9,215 for the SNF residents. At-home patients also saw an increase in their activities of daily living, such as personal hygiene and feeding themselves. 

The findings signal that a shift in post-acute care, away from SNFs and toward home-based services, could be the next step in care delivery but more research is needed. 

“We are making a lot of progress in delivering advanced care at home, and SNF-level care is an example of what could come in the future,” said corresponding author David Levine, M.D., with Brigham’s Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care. 

“My hope for the future is that this will become an option for rehabilitation for all patients who have been discharged once we conduct further studies and better understand the model’s limits,” he added.

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A Miami attorney altered police lineup photos. One judge had no problem with that

by David J. Neal

MIAMI — That Miami criminal defense attorney Jonathan Schwartz changed police lineup photos in a police lineup during a witness deposition wasn’t in question. The disagreements came in what should be done about it.

After the Florida Bar prosecuted a complaint against Schwartz, the first referee said the Florida Bar hadn’t proven the attorney violated any rules. A second referee advised a 90-day suspension followed by a year of probation.

The state Supreme Court made the suspension three years. Schwartz begins his suspension March 19.

Changing faces and hair

Armed robbery and carrying a concealed weapon charges hung over Schwartz’s client, Virgil Woodson, when Schwartz went into a pretrial deposition with the alleged victim on Feb. 13, 2015.

As detailed in the state Supreme Court’s opinion on the first referee’s decision, there were two photocopies of black-and-white police photo lineups. The victim had identified Woodson, photo No. 5, circled the photo and the number and signed her name. The police officer who conducted the photo lineup had done the same.

But Schwartz, the court said, changed one photo lineup by swapping out Woodson’s picture with the picture of another suspect other witnesses identified as the guilty party. For the second exhibit, Schwartz changed Woodson’s photo “by imposing the alternate subject’s hairstyle on the client’s image.

“Although the images in the exhibits were altered in this manner, they nonetheless retained the circle around subject No. 5 and the signatures of the victim and police officer below the photographs.”

A judge gives an opinion. The state Supreme Court disagrees

The first referee in this disciplinary case, 11th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Celeste H. Muir, found the Bar didn’t prove that Schwartz (admitted in 1986) committed any professional misconduct.

In the referee’s report, Muir wrote that she found Schwartz’s “entire conduct was to conduct a legitimate and constitutionally allowable challenge to a questionable eyewitness identification, after having first brought favorable evidence and witnesses to the attention of the prosecutor handling his client’s case, including evidence that identified another person as possibly the actual perpetrator.”

As for Schwartz himself, Muir found him “ forthright and honest in his testimony and conduct ” throughout the disciplinary trial.” The judge felt his testimony showed her that he “acted without any purpose or intention to deceive” and “his conduct was not dishonest or fraudulent.”

The Bar appealed Muir’s decision. The state Supreme Court issued an opinion that disapproved the referee’s findings of fact and the recommendation that Schwartz violated no Bar rules.

When addressing Muir’s findings, the court said, “notwithstanding the referee’s credibility findings and her finding that Schwartz did not subjectively intend to deceive the witness, this finding does not address that Schwartz knowingly and deliberately created the defense exhibits by altering photocopies of the police lineups and showing them to the victim at the deposition. “

The court also said: “Our consideration of the defense-altered exhibits leads to the inevitable conclusion that they are deceptive on their face. The referee, without elaboration, concluded that the exhibits “in and of themselves” were not “misleading,fraudulent, deceitful, or misrepresentations.”

“This conclusion is unsupported by the record and patently erroneous.”

A judge gives an opinion. The state Supremes agree — to a point

In addition to rejecting Judge Muir’s findings and recommendation into the 10th row, the state Supreme Court recommended review of the case by a new referee.

And, so the partial do-over fell to replacement referee Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Lizzet Martinez.

Judge Martinez took the above facts, the state Supreme Court opinion, Schwartz’s discipline history (three incidents of “minor misconduct,” two public reprimands and a 90-day suspension) and case law and recommended a 90-day suspension followed by one year of probation.

The state Supreme Court’s second opinion said: “Based upon the record before us, we conclude that in recommending a non-rehabilitative suspension the referee did not give Schwartz’s prior misconduct proper consideration in light of existing case law. As the referee found, on three prior occasions ... Schwartz violated numerous Bar rules, which in each instance included those rule violations that the Court has held are considered the most serious.”

Schwartz’s 90-day suspension came in 2012 after he filed affidavits knowing he’d notarized them even though he hadn’t actually seen his client sign them. Both public reprimands concerned some form of lying.

“This cumulative misconduct by Schwartz, of the most egregious type (dishonesty) and where he has previously received the longest non-rehabilitative suspension permissible under the rules ... surely necessitates an escalated sanction by this Court for that same repeated type of misconduct,” the court stated in handing down its opinion on Martinez’s suggestion.

The Bar wanted a three-year suspension. The state Supreme Court agreed with the Bar and suspended Schwartz for three years.

As for Woodson, online court and Florida Department of Corrections records say he got six years’ probation on March 25, 2015, violated probation in October 2016 and went to prison until Jan. 1, 2018.

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Nursing homes will be ‘very, very happy’ with new legislation, governor says

by Danielle Brown
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Credit: Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida’s nearly 700 nursing homes are in line for additional help in the ongoing workforce crisis, thanks to several key actions by lawmakers this legislative session. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday said there will be “a lot of nursing homes that are very, very happy” while marking the end of the 2022 legislative session. It saw lawmakers advance loosened staffing standards and a nearly $300 million increase in Medicaid funding for providers. 

Florida’s $112 billion state budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year was approved Monday. Lawmakers included a 7.8% increase in Medicaid funding for nursing homes. That amounts to an additional $293 million in funding, or about $419,000 per facility. The state’s new fiscal year starts July 1. 

DeSantis said the hope is that the increase will allow nursing homes to increase hourly pay rates for certified nursing assistants. 

“This will help us begin to address the workforce challenges that are impacting our ability to meet the needs of our aging seniors and people with disabilities.” Emmett Reed, CEO of the Florida Health Care Association, said Monday. “This much-needed funding increase will help our care centers support their front-line caregivers and compete in the labor market.

The governor is also expected to sign HB 1239, which reduces the minimum number of hours of direct care per resident day provided by CNAs from 2.5 to 2. It also accounts for time other workers, including therapists, have spent with residents.

“We are in a situation where it is very hard to find staff,” DeSantis said. “You have people who are making $10 an hour. It’s hard to get people to be able to do that, so being able to increase those rates, I think, will really help with staffing across the board.”

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

Bill creates a statewide guardianship database

Rep. Linda Chaney
The Legislature has agreed to create greater transparency in the guardianship process, a top recommendation of the Guardianship Improvement Task Force.

The House voted 117-0 on March 10 to grant final legislative approval to HB 1349 by Rep. Linda Chaney, R-St. Petersburg. Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Orange Park, sponsored the companion, SB 1710.

Chaney said the measure will create a statewide database that will pave the way for future reforms.

“This amendment establishes a guardianship database that we first heard last week,” Chaney said. “So thank you for recognizing this as a first step, and for supporting it, and I hope that you can help me take it to the next step.”

The measure would require the Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation and the clerks of court to create a statewide database of guardian and guardianship case information by July 1, 2023.

Accessible only by judges, magistrates, court clerks and certain court personnel, the searchable database would include such things as the registration status and “substantiated” disciplinary history of professional guardians.

Sen. Jennifer Bradley
The measure would also require the Office of Public and Professional Guardians, by July 1, 2023, to post searchable profiles of registered professional guardians on a website.

The profiles would include such things as whether the professional guardian meets educational and bonding requirements, the number and type of substantiated complaints filed against the guardian, and any disciplinary actions imposed by the Department of Elder Affairs.

Data related to individual wards would be “deidentified” to protect their privacy.

House members from both parties praised the proposal, although some expressed a concern that it doesn’t go far enough.

Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, and an attorney, asked why the court database won’t be accessible to the parties in a guardianship case.

Chaney said the restriction is needed to protect wards.

“The reason for that is there are times when family members have good intentions, and family members have bad intentions,” she said. “So we didn’t want them to have full access to the ward’s information, and maybe be part of a problem.”

Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, noted that the database was a top priority of the taskforce, but not the only one.

“This is a good first step,” she said. “I’m hopeful that the 12 other recommendations by the taskforce [are] something that we can work on next session moving forward.”

Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, said constituents have contacted her to complain about guardians who shuffle wards from nursing home to nursing home to hide them from concerned family members.

“You do have families that are good actors, and some attorneys are bad actors.,” Davis said. “The families that we’re dealing with in this program are good with this amendment, but it doesn’t go far enough for them.”

Chaney assured her colleagues that the measure will also require the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, (OPPAGA,) to use the database information to generate annual reports suggesting reforms.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Winter Park, called the measure vitally important. Despite anecdotal evidence of ward abuse, the state knows little about the scope of the problem, he said.

“For too long, issues like this don’t necessarily get as much attention as so many other issues that we have contemplated here in this chamber.”

Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, credited Pinellas County Court Clerk Ken Burke, who chaired the taskforce, for helping shape the legislation.

She said she was encouraged that freshmen lawmakers were interested in the legislation and eager to see more reforms.

“This is a heart-wrenching issue that affects real Floridians,” she said.

The Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers organized the taskforce last summer to begin addressing the problem.

It included legislators, court clerks, court system employees who work with guardianships, lawyers from the Elder Law and Real Property, Probate and Trust Law sections, consumer advocates, a former ward, and others.

The task force was given an open-ended mission to make recommendations for improving the system.

In addition to the database, the taskforce recommended creating a permanent legislative or state body to suggest regular updates to the law.

The task force also called for such things as barring hospitals and nursing homes from recommending a specific guardian when they file for a guardianship, including consideration of powers of attorney and advanced directives previously signed by a ward when a guardianship is set up, and improving training and education for everyone involved in the guardianship process.

“The final report of the Guardianship Improvement Task Force is the product of the many perspectives represented by its members, and I believe we accomplished what we set out to do from the start: to make recommendations for the Legislature’s consideration that will begin addressing the major issues with guardianships in our state,” Burke said at the time.

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Scammers bilk elderly couple out of $5K; police search for car, suspects

Police in Floyd County are hoping someone will recognize a red compact car used by alleged scammers.

The Floyd County Police Department released video of that car on Monday. Investigators said an elderly couple was scammed out of $5,000 after the thieves told them their grandson was in jail.

The scammers then came to the house in the red compact vehicle seen in the video.

This type of scam has been plaguing north Georgia recently. Last month, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office sounded the alarm there after three victims were bilked out of a combined $40,000 in cash.

"All these scams are similar in nature. The victims are in their early to mid-80s. They received telephone calls from their landline telephones advising that a family member was in an accident, or in jail, and needed to be bonded out of jail," said Forsyth County Sheriff's Detective Christopher Murphy.

"The first call was the attorney stating that they were acting on behalf of the victim's family member that was in jail, then they were handed off to a bail bondsman to try to obtain the money, so there are different layers to the scam, "said Det. Murphy.

Investigators in Forsyth County are searching for this man wanted in connection to reported scams against the elderly.

Investigators in Forsyth County are searching for this man wanted in connection to reported scams against the elderly. (Forsyth County Sheriff's Office)

In one case, a suspect impersonated a victim's distressed family member, convincing the elderly woman to pay the money to get her out of jail.

"After they contacted the family member that they thought was in jail, that's when they realized the family member was not in danger was not in jail, that's when they realized they had been scammed and contacted law enforcement," he said.

Law enforcement officials have not said if the cases in the two counties are linked, but remind anyone who receives one of those calls to hang up and call the jail or law enforcement’s main number directly to verify.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

‘The Power to End a Person’s Life’

by Eleanor J. Bader

A crowd protesting artist Peter Max's forced guardianship.

The Population Reference Bureau estimates that within the next eight years, more than seventy-six million U.S. residents will be over the age of sixty-five. Many will remain healthy, active, and engaged for the duration of their lives. Others, however, will need assistance.

This is also true for the more than sixty-one million Americans who live with a disability, nearly eight million of whom are estimated to need help with personal care. That’s where guardianship—or if real estate is involved, conservatorship—comes into play.

In its most perfect form, a guardian is appointed by a court to help an elderly or disabled person who has been deemed “incapacitated”—defined as being unable to manage self-care or the tasks of daily living. The goal is to protect them from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. But as the well-publicized guardianship cases of Peter Falk, Britney Spears, and Wendy Williams have revealed, guardianship can include gross judicial overreach and lead to overly restrictive control by one person over another.  (Click to continue reading)

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How Amanda Bynes' Conservatorship Compares With Britney Spears'

By Emma Nolan

Amanda Bynes addressed her fans for the first time in a long time this week, as she awaits a court hearing over her conservatorship—but her experience seems to have been quite different to that of Britney Spears, whose 13-year arrangement was finally terminated last year.

The former Nickelodeon actress took to her new Instagram account on March 8 to thank fans for their support, and confirmed that her court date is imminent.

"My court date is coming up in two weeks," Bynes said in the self-shot clip. "I want to thank you so much all for your love and support. Peace out."

In February of this year, Bynes, 35, filed a petition at California's Venture County Superior Court requesting termination of her conservatorship, which has seen her personal and financial decisions controlled by a third party since 2013.

Byner's lawyer David A. Esquibias at the time of the filing said, per People, that "Amanda wishes to terminate her conservatorship. She believes her condition is improved and the protection of the court is no longer necessary."

However, Bynes' ​​attorney has said the Easy A star's efforts to end her conservatorship are not inspired by the iconic pop star's recent legal battle.


While Britney Spears' father and conservator Jamie Spears long expressed the need to continue his daughter's conservatorship, Amanda Bynes' family are in agreement that the arrangement should be dissolved.

Bynes' mother, Lynn Organ, became her personal conservator after the actress was placed on a 5150 psychiatric hold, and was experiencing issues with substance abuse issues.

Organ has been overseeing the legal arrangement and supports her daughter's petition to terminate it.

A lawyer representing the family, Tamar Arminak, said Bynes' mother was "extremely happy and thrilled and proud of Amanda and ready to terminate this conservatorship based on the hard work Amanda has done."

"This conservatorship that Lynn brought has always been intended to be temporary," Arminak said in a statement per Variety, last month.

The She's The Man star's assets are part of a separate trust overseen by her father, Rick Bynes, and are not subject to the conservatorship.

Arminak also told NBC News that Bynes' parents "100 percent support" their daughter's move to end the conservatorship.

"The professionals say she is ready to make her own life choices and decisions and we are so proud of her," said Arminak. "They 100 percent support her decision to end the conservatorship."

In a further statement shared with E! News in February, Arminak said Lynn Bynes is "excited" about her daughter embarking on the "next chapter" in her life.

"Lynn is so incredibly proud of the progress Amanda has made over the last few years and is so excited about the next chapter," said Arminak. "Based on the petition, and Amanda's amazing progress, she completely supports Amanda's request to terminate the conservatorship."

Many Spears fans will note that this was not the case for the pop star when she sought to end her conservatorship, and that she actually accused her family of conservatorship abuse.


Bynes' parents filed to place her in a conservatorship in 2013 after a period of drug-related mental health struggles and a DUI. Since then, things have been quiet and Bynes has not worked as an actress in the public eye.

Conversely, Spears worked for a number of years while under her conservatorship, releasing albums and completing a Las Vegas residency.

Bynes has been open about her past drug use that fueled that dark chapter in her life which saw her take to Twitter to share explicit and erratic tweets.

In her 2018 interview with Paper Magazine, the actress traced her addiction issues back to smoking marijuana at 16, this then progressed to her using harder drugs like ecstasy and cocaine along with misuse of Adderall.

"I definitely abused Adderall," she told the magazine.

In contrast, Spears' was placed under her father's control by the California court system in 2008, after a public breakdown captured by paparazzi. No drug use has ever been cited as a reason for Spears' mental health problems.

Media Coverage

Britney Spears' conservatorship received an intense amount of media attention, while Bynes' situation has yet to capture the same level of awareness.

The #FreeBritney movement grew and grew, with massive protests taking place, up until late last year when the arrangement ended. But, there has been no such movement of support (at least not to the same extent) for Bynes.

Bynes' opened up about the shame she felt about her past behavior in the interview with Paper Magazine. "I'm really ashamed and embarrassed with the things I said. I can't turn back time but if I could, I would."

"And I'm so sorry to whoever I hurt and whoever I lied about because it truly eats away at me. It makes me feel so horrible and sick to my stomach and sad. Everything I worked my whole life to achieve, I kind of ruined it all through Twitter..."

A hearing to end Bynes' conservatorship arrangement is scheduled for March 22 this year.

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Police: Three caretakers charged in death of Evansville woman who was special needs patient

by Houston Harwood

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — On Jan. 4, 2020, a home health aide in Evansville dialed 911 to report that her special needs client may have stopped breathing. When the Evansville Fire Department arrived, technicians determined that 28-year-old Robin Phillips was dead. 

Prosecutors this week charged three Evansville women in connection with Phillips' death. Latavia M. Booker, 20; Victoria D. Brown, 32; and Glenda R. Fields, 38, all face two counts of neglecting a dependent resulting in catastrophic injury. 

Brown and Fields were booked into the Vanderburgh County jail on Wednesday. Booker was arrested Tuesday. 

The three women worked for Compass Residential, a company that provides services to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

According to court records, Evansville police spoke to Booker at the scene of Phillips' death. Booker told police she heard a "thump," and the sound prompted her to check on Phillips. After placing a protective helmet on her, she returned Phillips to the bedroom.

When Booker later checked on her client, she told police she found her unresponsive and dialed 911.

A day before Phillips' death, her care team at Compass Residential held a meeting to discuss changes in Phillips' condition, according to court records.

Brown told police that protocol dictated Phillips be taken to the emergency room for treatment. After the meeting, Brown said she directed Booker and Fields, who worked the 3 p.m. shift with Phillips that day, to take Phillips to the emergency room. 

Megan Conner, who works for Indiana's Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services, told police she attended part of the meeting with Phillips' care team. She told police that Brown assured her Phillips would be taken to the emergency room.

According to court documents, that never happened.

After Phillips' death, Conner received a report from Compass that showed staff did not take Phillips to the emergency room despite being instructed to do so. 

Lakesha Watt, who was working with Phillips prior to the arrival of Booker and Fields on Jan. 3, 2020, later told police that Fields said "it was not her f-----g job" to take Phillips to the emergency room, according to a sworn affidavit filed against Fields. 

Fields told police she said "it was not her job" to take Phillips to the hospital because she "did not get paid extra," according to the affidavit. 

Compass Residential conducted its own internal review after Phillips' death.

Lee Vanhorn, a director at Compass, told police "there were a lot of documents just missing" from Phillip's medical records — specifically her Medication Administration Record.

According to court records, the Compass employee manual states that all direct support staff are required to "transport consumers during their shift," and also specifies how employees can receive compensation for the use of a personal vehicle. 

The same manual also defines "neglect" as the "failure to provide supervision, training, appropriate care, food, medical care, or medical supervision to an individual."

The Vanderburgh County Coroner's Office eventually determined Phillip died as the result of chlorpromazine intoxication and caretaker malfeasance of a special needs patient. Chlorpromazine is a widely used antipsychotic medication, and the drug was legally prescribed to Phillips. 

All three women charged in connection with Phillips' death are being held on $150,000 bond in the Vanderburgh County jail.

In Phillips' obituary, her family wrote, "Robin loved to swim and enjoyed listening to music. She also enjoyed long rides in the car."

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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

(Australia) Guardianship: Life Under the Hidden Control of the Public Trustee System Program Revealed

Our good friends at AASGAA (Australian Association to Stop Guardian and Admin Abuse) have worked so hard to expose the atrocities suffered by elderly and/or disabled Australians under the control of the Public Trustee -- and their hard work has paid off in a big way!

Awareness drives reform! This is an amazing report with shockwaves which will be felt for a long, long time.

Second arrest in alleged theft by funeral home worker of 84-year-old client's home and life savings

A second person has been arrested for allegedly defrauding an 84-year-old man who has Alzheimer's disease out of his home and life savings, CBS Miami reports.
Police say Andy Mora is one of two people who persuaded the elderly victim to sign over the house and funds, claiming to him that they were family.

Mora's arrest came a day after police took 57-year-old Maribel Torres into custody.

Authorities say she was a funeral home worker who met the victim while he was making arrangements for his wife the day after she died in August 2019.

It wasn't clear what Mora's relationship was with Torres.

Authorities say Torres not only filed paperwork to take the house but took out business loans under a corporation she created, using the victim's residence and collecting more than $400,000.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told CBS Miami it all came to light when "a good nephew who went back to check up on his uncle."

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Panel Report: Laramie County DA Manlove Not Competent, Should Be Disbarred

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Laramie County’s district attorney has failed to competently carry out the duties of her office and has consistently blamed that failure on others, according to a report issued by the group that oversees attorneys.

The Board of Professional Responsibility said in its formal report on the February hearing of Leigh Anne Manlove that her actions have hurt the cause of justice in Laramie County, leading to its recommendation to the Wyoming Supreme Court that she be barred from practicing law.

“Considering the broad range of Ms. Manlove’s misconduct and its impact upon the administration of criminal justice in Laramie County, the hearing panel finds that the presumptive discipline … is disbarment,” said the report, which was released Friday. 

“Ms. Manlove’s course of conduct clearly demonstrates that she does not understand the most fundamental legal doctrines or procedures, and such conduct caused serious injury to the administration of criminal justice in Laramie County,” the report added.

The hearing stemmed from formal complaints filed against Manlove by the Office of Bar Counsel, the individual charged with looking into allegations against attorneys.

The first formal complaint was filed against Manlove in June 2021 and was prompted in part by a letter by all seven of Laramie County’s judges expressing concern about her performance.

Among other things, she was accused of exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of hundreds of cases in circuit and district court. She was also accused of misrepresenting the facts surrounding the case of a man accused of killing two people five days after being released from police custody because of a procedural error.

Manlove will be allowed an opportunity to respond to the report before it is submitted to the Wyoming Supreme Court for its decision.

In the months leading up to the hearing, Manlove alleged the disciplinary process was the result of a concerted attempt to remove her from office.

The BPR, however, rejected the argument said it showed a pattern on Manlove’s part to blame others for the problems in her office.

“The spectacle (Manlove) has turned this proceeding into, complete with talk radio interviews … and press releases, has created an unfortunate and unnecessary diversion from the issues before this panel,” the report said. “Simply put, it evidenced (Manlove’s) continued refusal to acknowledge and to take responsibility for her misconduct.”

The report also noted that under Wyoming law, it is doubtful Manlove could be removed from office, even if she were disbarred.

Manlove was elected in 2018 and took over the office on Jan. 8, 2019, when she fired all but one of the office’s seven lawyers. While five new lawyers were added to the staff by February of 2019, the report said the firings and later turnover continues to leave the office “chronically understaffed.”

The resulting dismissal of about 700 cases was the result of understaffing, the report said, not budget cuts.

“The panel finds that Ms. Manlove unnecessarily seized upon a 6% budget cut to prematurely and arbitrarily reduce the services performed by her office by more than 50%,” it said.

Manlove also did not accurately explain why she took certain actions, the report said.

“Ms. Manlove engaged in a pattern of neglect, thereby causing serious injury to the administration of criminal justice on Laramie County,” it said. “Ms. Manlove improperly withheld material information and submitted false reasons for declining to charge cases. 

“In this regard, Ms. Manlove intended to deceive the court, making numerous false statements, published numerous false documents, and caused injury to the administration of justice in Laramie County,” it added.

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126-year-old Eliza Bryant’s nursing home another pandemic victim, closing in summer

by James M. Berklan

Eliza Bryant Village, a Cleveland institution for 126 years, announced Thursday it is closing its 99-bed skilled nursing unit due to “unsustainable” conditions exacerbated by the pandemic.

President and CEO Danny R. Williams blamed soaring costs, low census and insufficient pandemic relief funding for the decision. 

The announcement came 19 months after he publicly expressed worries as to how long Eliza Bryant would be able to survive under pandemic conditions.

“What happens next year when that emergency funding disappears?” he asked rhetorically at an August 2020 press conference with other leaders urging Congress for more relief funding. “We need additional help if we’re going to truly withstand this pandemic.”  

The nonprofit organization’s 99-bed skilled nursing unit will close June 8, but its other elements will continue to operate. They include a home care unit, adult day care, senior outreach, affordable senior housing. community transportation and its Elder Justice Center.

“[O]ur current business model is simply unsustainable,” Williams said in Thursday’s announcement, calling it “heartbreaking.” “Our costs have skyrocketed, admissions have fallen, Medicaid subsidies have failed to keep up with soaring care expenses and the COVID-19 pandemic have all wreaked havoc with our finances and forced us to make this regrettable decision.”

The nursing home will lay off 99 employees, 58 of them union members, according to a filing with the state. Many will be incentivized to remain on the job over the next 90 days.

The senior care organization calls itself the oldest continually operating African-American founded long-term care facility in the United States. It was started by its namesake, Eliza Bryant, who was born into slavery in North Carolina, according to a published history of Cleveland.

The organization has faced headwinds since before the pandemic. In 2018, the Cleveland City Council unanimously agreed to waive the remaining $1.85 million of a $5 million loan it had granted in 2000 after the organization had agreed to take on a failing nursing facility. At the time, it served about 2,000 individuals annually.

Federal Housing and Urban Development funding supported the loan, which was part of an Empowerment Zone, a designation given to areas that are economically distressed.

“We have been a safe haven for Cleveland’s elderly Black population since the 19th century,” Williams said in a statement. “But we must evolve our organization to continue our mission. We are committed to providing the people we serve with outstanding care and programs in a dignified, compassionate and secure environment for seniors, their families and their caregivers.”

Eliza Bryant staff have been active on the national caregiving scene as active members LeadingAge and in various other capacities. In 2020, the organization was in the national spotlight when its director of nursing, Dallas Taylor, was named to the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes.

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Monday, March 14, 2022

Miami Funeral Home Worker Charged With Exploiting Elderly Man After His Wife's Death

Maribel Torres allegedly told the victim she and her son were family members and she was able to obtain his financial paperwork as well as information regarding the status of his home of 40 years

By NBC 6

A Miami-Dade funeral home worker found herself behind bars after authorities said she befriended an elderly client after his wife's death and gained access to both the paperwork on his home and his financial affairs, using them to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars through a loan and a balloon mortgage.

Miami-Dade Police and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office's Elderly Exploitation Task Force arrested 56-year-old Maribel Torres on Tuesday and charged her with three counts, including grand theft and organized scheme to defraud.

According to a news release, Torres was an employee at Maspons Funeral Home and met the 84-year-old victim in August 2019 shortly after the death of his wife.

Miami-Dade Corrections
Maribel Torres

The man had been diagnosed the previous year with Alzheimer's and advanced dementia, and his wife had been his primary caregiver, authorities said.

Torres allegedly told the victim that she and her son were family members and she was able to obtain his financial paperwork as well as information regarding the status of his home of 40 years.

Torres and her adult son also allegedly had the victim sign numerous documents so they could be added as owners of the home, and had him sign a power of attorney to provide her with access to his legal and financial matters.

In 2020, the property ownership was changed to a corporation created by Torres that was listed as a car wash business, and Torres used that to obtain a $100,000 balloon mortgage, authorities said.

Last year, Torres' corporation obtained a business loan for $360,000, which was deposited to a bank account controlled by Torres, officials said.

“Utilizing a wife’s death and an obvious impairment as tools to steal an elderly man’s home would seem to be a new low in alleged criminal conduct,” noted State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Situations like this expose the ugly face of elderly exploitation which targets the frailest members of our community.”

A spokesperson for the Mapsons Funeral Home said in a statement that they suspended Torres indefinitely.

"Our funeral home does not have access to, nor were we ever provided with any of the family’s financial paperwork that is allegedly involved in this case," the statement read in part. "We are deeply concerned for the family, as we have a long tradition of serving this community with compassion, dignity, and professionalism. We are cooperating with Miami-Dade Police in their investigation and will share more information as we receive it."

The victim’s nephew, who lived in Palm Beach County, visited the victim and discovered Torres and her son living at the home recently. When the victim identified Torres and her son as the nephew’s aunt and cousin from Cuba, the nephew notified the authorities.

Torres and her son are not related to the victim and his family. Torres is scheduled to appear in court April 7.

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Oklahoma bill to create designated investigative teams for elderly, vulnerable adult abuse passes Senate

by: Hunter McEachern

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill that would increase investigations into abuse of elders and vulnerable adults received full support from the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1163, authored by Senator Jessica Garvin, R-District 43, would enable district attorneys to create multidisciplinary teams, in coordination with the District Attorneys Council, to investigate and prosecute crimes committed against elderly or vulnerable adults.

“Our state has seen dramatic improvements since the creation of the multidisciplinary child abuse teams in the number of reported and prosecuted child abuse cases, so we want to do the same thing for our elderly and vulnerable adults,” said Sen. Garvin. “By collaborating with other entities already investigating and prosecuting these types of crimes, we can eliminate duplicative efforts, identify gaps in service, and standardize investigative practices. This will ensure these Oklahomans are better protected from predators and that abusers will be caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

The team would be comprised of a mental health professional, law enforcement agents that have experience or are trained in elder/vulnerable adult abuse investigations, medical personnel, coordinators, the district attorney, Adult Protective Services and the Department of human services.

The team will intervene in reports involving sexual abuse, abuse, neglect or exploitation of an elderly person or vulnerable adult. 

SB1163 passed the Senate with a 43-1 vote on March 8. It will now go to the House for further consideration.

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Belle, MO, contractor charged for fraud, exploiting the elderly

by Jennifer Weiser

Rodney G. Durbin, 51, owned and operated "Honey Do's Handy Service" in Belle. Prosecutors charged Durbin with seven counts of Deceptive Business Practices and two counts of the Financial Exploitation of the Elderly. (Maries County Sheriff's mugshot)

A Belle, MO, contractor was charged, accused of defrauding customers and exploiting the elderly.

Rodney G. Durbin, 51, owned and operated "Honey Do's Handy Service" in Belle.

Maries County prosecutors said Durbin would demand to be paid upfront, only to do minimal work, if at all.

Prosecutors charged Durbin with seven counts of Deceptive Business Practices and two counts of the Financial Exploitation of the Elderly.

The Maries County Sheriff wants anyone who thinks they have been a victim of Durbin to call the Missouri Attorney General's Office's Consumer Complaint line at 1-800-392-8222 or the Maries County Sheriff's Office at 573-422-3381.

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Sunday, March 13, 2022

Plumber Refuses To Charge 91-Year-Old Woman For His Services – Then, He Hands Her A Receipt

By Joel Balsam 
One plumber who performs good deeds has gone into more than $10,000 debt, but admits that he has no regrets.

James Anderson is a father, a plumber, and to many in the United Kingdom, a “godsend.”

In 2017, Anderson closed his private business and devoted himself entirely to helping disabled and elderly people with their plumbing issues- for free (with that said, here are some kindness quotes).

No charge

Anderson made the decision to entirely commit to not-for-profit work when a receipt that was posted online went viral. It showed that he charged a 91-year-old woman with acute leukemia £0 for the job.

“No charge for this lady under any circumstances,” he wrote, as shared by Metro UK. “We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible.”

He’s in debt

To do this saintly work, Anderson has gone into £8,000 of debt- but he isn’t too worried about it.

“To me, debt is debt… I would rather owe some money to somebody and another person be alive and happy and safe,” he told Metro UK (Here’s how to get out of debt).

It’s an ethos that’s in my heart and it will always stay there.

James Anderson

A ‘godsend’

To pay for his supplies and costs, Anderson launched a fundraising campaign that pulled in £49,309 over the 42 days it was live.

During the campaign, he filmed heartwarming videos with some of the people he helped, including this one:

Anderson’s work might not be as popular as supporting those impacted by war or hunger, but it’s necessary nonetheless.

“I don’t want any person who is elderly and disabled in this country, in this day and age, to die or suffer because of a cold home or a lack of funding to repair the boiler,” he said. “It shouldn’t be happening– that number should be down to zero. Simple as that.”

Help others in unexpected ways

There is a serious problem in our society when disabled people and our elders- our moms and dads, sisters and brothers- don’t have enough money to fix their broken toilets or showers. Sadly, without someone like a child to look after them, these people can be forgotten (here’s how to deal with loneliness).

Fortunately, the world still has people who use their skills for good, like James Anderson did. The lesson here is to help someone in need- it can really mean the world to them.

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Viral Video: Lubbock Biker Helps Sick Elderly Man Seen Trying to Cross the Road

Reader's Digest recently shared a video of an elderly man in Lubbock being helped by a biker who saw him trying to cross the street. The biker noticed the man was shaking and having trouble crossing the street with his walker, standing in the middle of the road. The biker decided to stop and help him.

The video has been viewed nearly 900,000 times since it was posted and has been shared across Lubbock, garnering tons of shout-outs for the people in our city who do everything they can to help their neighbors.

The elderly man appeared to be confused while walking in the middle of the busy street. The good Samaritan who spotted him just might have saved his life by stopping to see if he was okay. Sometimes a few minutes of your time can make all the difference in someone else's life. Small acts of kindness like this are what make our city a great place to live. 

Bikers don't always get the praise they deserve and are often looked down upon by others for their tattoos and free-spirited lifestyle. It's important to take notice of things like this and remember that we're all in it together, and our differences are what make us unique and special. There are so many wonderful people in the biking community who would give you the shirt off of their back, many of which are big 94.5 FMX fans. We love bikers, and we love seeing acts of love from their community such as the video above. 

If you see a biker today, give them a big hug. And most importantly, watch out for them on the road. They're clearly watching out for us.

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Kids help elderly man cross the street, then get a surprise l GMA


Richard Allen was touched by their act of kindness and wanted to inspire them to keep doing selfless deeds.