Saturday, April 23, 2022

Brookdale, California AG Reach $3.25M Deal Over Alleged Nursing Home Data Reporting Fraud

By Jordyn Reiland

Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) will pay $3.25 million to settle allegations that it submitted false nursing home staffing data to the federal government and improperly handled resident discharges, the California Attorney General’s Office announced late last week.

The settlement agreement comes one year after then-California attorney general Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against Tenn.-based Brookdale, pertaining to its current skilled nursing facility in Bakersfield and nine of its former facilities throughout the rest of the state.

The lawsuit argued specifically that Brookdale submitted artificially inflated nursing staffing data to CMS in order to achieve higher ratings on the overall five-star scale. The lawsuit also alleged that the operator did not follow the proper family and ombudsman notification process when handling resident discharges.

Brookdale operates and manages 679 senior living communities across 41 states, according to its most recent financial report. That total includes 559 assisted living and memory care campuses, 68 independent living developments, and 19 continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs); the remaining 33 consist of communities managed for third parties.

Brookdale did not admit any liability or wrongdoing in agreeing to settle the case, according to court records. In an emailed statement to Skilled Nursing News, a Brookdale spokesperson said they “strongly disagree with the characterizations made by the other parties in the case.”

“Our communities rely upon the relationships we build with our seniors, and our top priority will always be the health and safety of our residents and associates,” the statement read. “Resolving this case for an amount equal to the continued cost of defense was in the best interests of our residents, and we are pleased to put this behind us.”

As part of the settlement agreement Brookdale will pay $2.4 million in civil penalties, $550,000 in costs and $300,000 to the Kern County long-term care ombudsman, in addition to appointing a monitor to oversee compliance at its Kern County facility.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in the news release that Brookdale put its residents at risk and “misled” prospective residents about the quality of its California facilities.

“Today’s settlement will hold Brookdale accountable by making certain that its California locations are in full compliance with the law and provide truthful information for Californians to use when choosing a facility for themselves or their loved ones,” Bonta said.

The deal comes at a time when the Biden administration has said it will place a heightened focus on nursing home financial transparency and accountability — in line with the White House’s proposed sweeping nursing home reform announced late last month.

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Disbarred lawyer Robert Menard sentenced to six months in jail for stealing or mishandling about $1 million

by Cary Spivak

Disbarred lawyer Robert Menard, who prosecutors say pocketed or mishandled as much as $1 million from clients and his ex-law partner, was sentenced to six months in the House of Correction Thursday. 

In addition, Milwaukee County Judge Milton Childs also sentenced the once-prominent lawyer to four years in prison, followed by four years of extended supervision. The judge, however, stayed the prison time. He also ordered Menard to do 100 hours of community service.

Milwaukee County Judge Milton Childs Sr

The sentence was imposed near the end of a nearly two-hour sentencing hearing during which four of Menard's victims, some sobbing or holding back tears, told the court Menard caused them financial and emotional pain. A tearful Menard apologized for his actions — an apology the judge said he accepted on behalf of Milwaukee County.

Menard in January pleaded guilty to four felony counts of theft and embezzlement for bilking clients and his now-former law partner.

On Thursday about two dozen people sat in the courtroom's gallery, with Menard's family and friends on the left side of the courtroom and the victims and their supporters on the other side of the aisle. 

They listened quietly as a trembling and softly sobbing Menard pled for leniency and acknowledged he broke the law and violated his oath as an attorney.

Robert Menard

"I betrayed the trust of my clients, friends, family and the profession," Menard said. "I am ashamed and will walk a better and honest path."

Assistant District Attorney Nicolas Heitman urged Childs to sentence Menard, 59, to four years in prison for stealing from his clients.

"His law degree was a tool to steal," Heitman said.

At one point, the prosecutor held up a copy of the oath lawyers take and tore it in half.

"That's what (Menard) did so many times," Heitman said. "He used his job, his education, his position to steal — just like a robber uses a gun."

In an interview after the hearing Heitman declined to say exactly how much money Menard is believed to have stolen, saying the figure would be determined later at a restitution hearing. Menard was initially charged in 2019 and 2020 with pocketing about $1 million from clients and his former law firm partner.

Menard had practiced law for about 30 years and was a longtime partner in the firm of Derzon & Menard. The now-defunct firm was a frequent advertiser on sports radio and billed itself as the law firm for "average Joe" and used the fictional "Joe Bob" as its mascot. 

Joe Bob, the fictional character that had been used as the mascot for the now-defunct Derzon & Menard law firm. (Photo-Screen shot)

Childs noted that many of the clients in Menard's now-defunct law firm were already hurting because they had been injured on the job and hired him to handle worker's compensation claims.

"For the most part, the victims were (already) victims of something else" when Menard stole from them. 

Menard's attorney, Craig Mastantuono, argued Menard has already been punished, noting that his client is no longer practicing law because he was disbarred in 2020.

"The loss of one's profession is hard to minimize," Mastantuono said.

Robert Menard and his defense attorney Craig Mastantuono

Although Judge Child's accepted Menard's apology, the felon's uncle did not and his ex-law partner did not.

"Our children missed opportunities directly because of him," said Alan Derzon, his former law partner. Derzon said in a victim impact statement that he lost $286,796 to Menard.

Philip Menard said his nephew's actions caused a rift in the family and that Robert Menard still owed him $144,000. He said he asked his nephew a few years ago to represent him in a car accident case that resulted in a $500,000 settlement for the uncle.

In 2018 Philip Menard told the Journal Sentinel he had not seen a penny of the settlement. Philip Menard and his wife, Joyce Fletcher-Menard, sued their nephew in 2018 and won a $329,333 judgment.

"I wanted to believe him and believe he would not take advantage of me," Philip Menard said in court Thursday. He added that his nephew "should spend more than three years in prison."

"A man we trusted had clearly taken advantage of us," Fletcher-Menard wrote in a statement to the court. 

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'I didn’t realize what he was doing until it was too late:' 80-year-old Issaquah man's kindness exploited

By Jennifer Lee 

80-year-old Issaquah man's kindness exploited

We’re hearing about a heartbreaking case of potential elder abuse in our community. This case of abuse wasn't physical but it was financial and emotional.

FOX 13 has uncovered what appears to be an uncommon and particularly cruel form of potential elder abuse in one of our communities. 

A weeks-long investigation found mistreatment that wasn’t physical but instead appears to have been financially exploitative, with victims sharing accounts of emotional manipulation by the same man.

One of the victims is a beloved 80-year-old man from Issaquah, whom many in town know for the decades he served as the owner of Lewis Hardware.

"I didn’t realize what he was doing until it was too late," said Steve White, who is also known as Homer.

White’s stepsons, Kevin and Jim Carey, said White is known to be an incredibly kind person, very outgoing and someone who will help everybody.

The brothers said a man named Steven Dempsey came off as harmless in the beginning, but soon the family started noticing some red flags.

"Steve Dempsey just came in here and made out to be everybody’s best friend. He’s very good at being everybody’s friend, as a lot of people who do what he does, kind of gain your trust right away," said Jim. "He definitely knew what he was doing, and he was working angles to get in to live here, which is ultimately what he was able to do. There was a whole new bed made up and belongings, and so it was obvious that somebody was staying there, and my brother asked my stepdad, ‘He’s not living here is he?’ and my stepdad said, ‘No, he’s just sleeping here.’"

The family said Dempsey first offered to chop up a fallen tree in exchange for the firewood, and proceeded to do other odd jobs around the property.

Now, White's home has a ripped-up sidewalk, a large pile of wood and tree limbs in the back, a makeshift fence and a set of stairs leading up a tree.

Kevin called Issaquah Police, and officers said the family would have to evict Dempsey, since he had taken tenancy inside the home. 

The family said Dempsey moved himself into White's home in mid-January and refused to leave until the family evicted him a month later.

"According to my stepdad, he said he only gave Dempsey the debit card twice to go get food, and we had to tell him, we went through the bank record and said ‘look at it, no, he was up at the casino, you know, Snoqualmie drawing out money multiple times in the same day,’" said Jim. "So we don’t know if he was just taking and gambling away, or he was just taking it out in increments and keeping the money."

"You’ve gotten in here and gotten a hold of my stepdad‘s finances to some degree, locked my brother and my phone from my stepdad‘s phone, trying to isolate us from him. So he could try and move in and take control of the property and the house and live off of my stepdad‘s money," said Kevin. "Once we got him removed, and we were able to get back in the house, we found my stepdad’s pills that he has to take were kind of hidden in the back counter underneath some stuff, so he hadn’t been taking them for probably the better part of a month," said Kevin.

White has been diagnosed with early stages of dementia, which we learned is common in elder abuse cases.

"I think the two most common factors we see in people who are victimized are dementia and social isolation," said Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Page Ulrey of the King County Prosecutor’s Office. "Often we see gambling addiction and spending addiction is sort of driving the exploitation."

Ulrey has dedicated the last two decades of her career as an elder abuse prosecutor in King County.

She said cases historically across the U.S. have been underreported and under prosecuted and that for every one case of elder abuse that occurs another 23 never come to light.

Studies have also found that any form of elder abuse increases the risk of premature death of the victim by 300%

"The betrayal they feel, it’s just incredibly devastating, and they also don’t have the ability to get that money back. They can’t start over again and get a new job and start saving. They’re retired, they have no additional sources of income, and they’ve lost everything to someone they thought they could trust," said Ulrey.

Carol Sullivan, 74, thought she could trust Dempsey as well.

"I wrote everything that he had done and how I was afraid of him, I really was," said Sullivan. "He acts like he’s going to do all this stuff for you, ‘oh, let me do that, let me do that,’ and then the next thing you know he’s taking from you."

Sullivan filed for a protection order against Dempsey in 2021. In the filing, she claims Dempsey threatened to kill a dog they were watching, stabbed a friend of theirs on the forehead and that he stole from them and brought stolen items to their places.

In fact, Sullivan said Dempsey brought rare, old coins to her home that had gone missing from White's house.

Sullivan evicted Dempsey at the end of 2021 and said it appears he targeted White next.

White’s family successfully filed a five-year vulnerable adult protection order against Dempsey, and FOX 13 News has talked to at least one other couple in Issaquah who said Dempsey stole from them as well. 

Dempsey is not currently facing any criminal charges. FOX 13 has reached out to Issaquah Police, who say the case involving Dempsey's encounters with White is an open investigation.

"I would urge them to report it to the police," said Ulrey. "It’s a crime to financially exploit someone. It’s a crime to physically abuse someone, obviously, or abuse them in any way."

Common signs of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation can include: 

  • A new power of attorney
  • A decrease in self-care, including missed doctor’s appointments
  • A dramatic change in spending patterns
  • A change in socializing, i.e. missing church all of a sudden or an activity they loved
  • A new best friend they’re suddenly spending a lot of time with to the exclusion of long-time friends or family members

Ulrey said it’s important to maintain strong connections with the older people in your life.

She also recommends having more than one person or family member managing the finances of older loved ones.

"If anybody has any vulnerable parents at home, really keep an eye on them and ask them questions, because there’s other people out there like Dempsey who are trying to take advantage of people," said Jim.

"It’s the most common refrain I hear from the victims I work with, that they feel ashamed or they feel stupid, and it just breaks my heart to hear that," said Ulrey. "What I would say to them is, this is not your fault, this is their fault. You did nothing wrong."

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office launched a joint venture with Aging and Disability Services and Adult Protective Services to establish the King County Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) in 2019.

The MDT strengthens ties between many agencies to respond to reports of elder abuse by bringing together professionals across disciplines to improve the system response to cases of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation in King County.

Ulrey said if you suspect abuse, call 911 and report it to police. She also recommends getting in touch with Adult Protective Services, which investigates and helps with protective orders and guardianships. 

She also recommends the agency Sound Generations which offers resources, and will do intakes and referrals for cases. Their phone number is 206-448-3110.

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Friday, April 22, 2022

How Social Interaction Plays a Principal Role in Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term for a progressive age-related disorder which is primarily seen in senior patients. It is associated with deterioration of the patients’ memory, cognition, behavior and a decline in their ability to perform activities of daily living. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia that makes up nearly 70 percent of the cases.

One in ten Americans aged 65 years and older suffers from dementia. 2017 statistics reveal that an estimated 5.3 million senior Americans are living with dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 28 percent of seniors aged 65 years and older are living alone. Seniors with dementia are at a higher risk of social isolation, leading to serious consequences for the patient.

If you have a senior loved one who is suffering from dementia, it is crucial that you engage him/her in suitable social activities to make him/her feel loved and cared for.

Here are five ways in which social interaction can affect your senior’s health positively and boost his/her longevity and mental wellbeing.

1. Social Interaction Preserves Cognitive Function

Research has found a strong connection between loneliness and impaired cognitive function. Patients with dementia are often pessimistic about their future and tend to feel lonely owing to social isolation. This happens mainly due to retirement, the death of a spouse and/or close friends, and the lack of mobility.

Numerous studies confirm that seniors with dementia who have a strong social network experience delayed cognitive impairment. Larger social circles have a protective influence on the comprehension and reasoning ability of seniors battling dementia. Seniors who have a considerable amount of support from their families are at a lower risk of developing memory-loss symptoms.

When seniors interact with other family members, relatives, and friends, they have to think of ways to converse and respond. Scientists believe that this basic exchange is a form of exercise that stimulates the brain cells and the formation of brain synapses, thus fueling the creation of new nerve cells.

Encourage and help your senior to build a social network by participating in voluntary and social service activities and cognitive rehabilitation programs. These activities can be a valuable source of social connection for your elder, making him/her feel valued.

2. Meeting People Comes with Psychological Benefits

Dementia is often associated with psychological conditions such as stress, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. Researchers estimate that nearly 95 percent of seniors living with dementia suffer from behavioral and psychological symptoms such as agitation, aggression, depression, delusions, hallucinations, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms are commonly referred to as the neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia.

Seniors with strong family and social bonds tend to have a positive outlook as they have someone reliable to talk to. Remaining socially active can significantly reduce the risk of psychological disorders and improve sleep quality.

Getting quality sleep is crucial for dementia patients to calm their psychosomatic symptoms of depression and anxiety. The National Sleep Foundation states that undisturbed sleep relaxes the brain and helps it focus and retain information better.

Plan meaningful activities for your senior, keeping in mind his/her physical abilities, leisure interests, past work life, and social preferences. Take your senior for a movie or a play, invite family and friends for a game of cards, or go through a photo album and talk about old times. These activities will improve your senior’s mood and reduce challenging behaviors.

3. Get-Together Offer Physical Health Benefits

Engaging in social interaction offers numerous physical benefits to patients with dementia. Participating in group physical activities improves the patients’ ability to perform activities of daily living and reduces the risk of falls.

Group activities like exercising, walking, and playing games offer social interaction opportunities and can be adapted to suit a wide range of physical limitations of seniors.

Take your senior for regular walks in the park. Encourage him/her to join yoga, meditation or exercise class. Engaging in group exercises builds a strong social circle, improves mood, boosts physical strength, and reduces the risk of age-related ailments.

4. Socializing Improves the Overall Quality of Life

Dementia can significantly impact your senior’s quality of life, causing him/her to feel isolated, agitated, frustrated, depressed, and embarrassed. Your senior’s inability to perform daily tasks and remember simple things can affect his/her emotional wellbeing as well.

Patients with dementia often land up in hospitals mainly due to fractures, urinary tract or chest infections, or strokes. These patients have twice as many hospital stays every year compared to other seniors, contributing to a total annual healthcare cost of $259 billion.

According to a research paper presented at the Annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, social interaction can significantly improve the quality of life of patients with dementia, ease their agitation, and reduce overall healthcare costs. Support from family, friends, and relatives can go a long way in building the confidence of elderly patients.

5. Social Stimulation Promotes Independence

Seniors with dementia need assistance with personal and domestic tasks. Moreover, they often feel frustrated about and guilty of not being able to help with household activities. This increased dependence on others and feeling of being incapacitated often makes them irritable and damages their confidence levels.

Having compassionate loved ones who celebrate happy times with them and listen to their frustrations and offer solutions can be extremely comforting for seniors with dementia. This social stimulation fosters their independence as they feel connected and secure about their support system that assists them when required.

Involving your loved one in simple domestic activities like sorting out the post, organizing the laundry, arranging fresh flowers, and laying the table for a meal can make him/her feel involved and boost his/her confidence.

Seeing a loved one live with dementia can be painful. Fortunately, personal relationships and social environment can play a principal role in improving the patient’s cognitive skills and overall quality of life. Caregivers, family members, and friends can help their ailing loved one feel more valued by being around him/her during this tough period.


There is mounting evidence highlighting the role social interaction plays in improving the lives of seniors with dementia. The above points will help you encourage your senior to engage in activities that will build and strengthen his/her social circle, enabling him/her to live a fulfilling life.

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Court-Appointed Attorneys in Guardianship Proceedings

Attorneys appointed to serve as counsel for minors or alleged disabled persons in guardianship proceedings under Md. Code, Estates and Trusts Article, Title 13 must meet the following requirements:

Md. Rule 10-106(b) Eligibility for Appointment

  1. (1) To be eligible for appointment, an attorney shall:
    1. (A) be a member in good standing of the Maryland bar;
    2. (B) provide evidence satisfactory to the court of financial responsibility; and
    3. (C) unless waived by the court for good cause, have been trained in the aspects of guardianship law and practice in conformance with the Maryland Guidelines for Attorneys Representing Minors and Alleged Disabled Persons in Guardianship Proceedings

These requirements promote good practice and consistency in the appointment and performance of attorneys appointed to represent minors and alleged disabled persons in guardianship proceedings in the circuit and orphans’ courts.

Roster of Eligible Attorneys

The Roster of Attorneys eligible for appointment under Md. Rule 10-106 will be updated periodically. Inclusion on this roster does not guarantee court appointment. Some courts maintain their own rosters.

To be added to this roster, attorneys who complete a Maryland Guidelines training can complete an Application for Court-Appointed Attorneys in Guardianship Proceedings.

Attorneys with other relevant training or experience seeking waiver of the Maryland Guidelines training requirement should complete an Application Seeking Waiver of the Md. Rule 10-106(b)(1)(C) training requirement and file it in each court they are willing to accept appointments. If approved for appointment in a particular court, the court or attorney should email the completed application to

Host a Training

The Guardianship/Vulnerable Adults Workgroup of the Maryland Judicial Council’s Domestic Law Committee is committed to working with external justice partners to organize trainings that meet the Maryland Guidelines requirements. If you would like to sponsor a training, review the Training Programs for Court-Appointed Attorneys in Guardianship Proceedings Information Sheet.

Court Appointed Attorneys Program

The Court Appointed Attorney Program (CAAP) was established by the Department of Human Services, Maryland Legal Services Program (MLSP) to allow private attorneys statewide, to provide legal representation in cases where a conflict of interest in representation arises with an MLSP provider. CAAP ensures that the rights of indigent alleged vulnerable adults are protected throughout the entire court experience in Adult proceedings. To learn more, see Department of Human Services CAAP Policy and Request for Payment Forms.

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Woman charged with elder abuse, trying to bite deputy

by: Jess Grotjahn

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A Marshall County woman is facing numerous charges, including elder abuse, after authorities were called to a home about a domestic violence dispute.

Grant Police and the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office were called to a home on Starnes Loop Road in Grant on Wednesday, April 20.

The sheriff’s office says Andi Daniel Wichmann, 39, apparently got into a fight with her 78-year-old grandmother. Authorities said Wichmann had thrown furniture into the yard and urinated on the front steps before officers arrived.

During Wichmann’s arrest, she allegedly tried to bite the deputies as she was being taken into custody.

Wichman is charged with third-degree domestic violence, resisting arrest, and third-degree elder abuse and neglect.

Wichmann was taken to the Marshall County Jail on a $13,000 bond.

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Nassim: Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes and why their cases are making advocates think twice

by Adria Nassim

Many of us watched as pop icon Britney Spears' thirteen-year convenorship finally ended in November 2021 after a weeks-long battle in the courts during which she alleged financial abuse from her father, Jamie Spears. Separately, former child actress Amanda Bynes was recently released from her own conservatorship in late March, after 9 years following a period of significant mental health issues.

Such high-profile names have brought the issue of conservatorship and guardianship into the spotlight. However, in the disability community, establishment of guardianship or conservatorship is more common. Even though I am pleased to see that Spears and Bynes were able to have their conservatorships dissolved, this is less common in the case of people with disabilities. Not that it does not happen at all, but once guardianship or conservatorship is established, it is often a rare and sometimes a difficult occurrence to see it eliminated.

Understanding the difference between these two, guardianship and conservatorship, may not always be clear. Both of these legal arrangements are typically overseen by a court. A guardianship may be put in place when a child or adult is deemed physically or mentally incapable of caring for themselves and making their own responsible and safe decisions. The guardian is then responsible for decisions relating to daily care and living needs of the individual. These decisions can include providing or securing a safe and stable living environment, assisting with everyday care and managing financial matters related to everyday necessities. Similarly a conservatorship involves a judge appointed protector for a person who makes decisions regarding finances and/or daily life of another person due to old age or physical or mental limitations.

While establishment of guardianship is more common in the case of individuals with disabilities than those without, disability advocates and policy makers around the country are saying it’s time to shake things up. This would demand that individuals with disabilities be given more control over their own lives. In cases where the individual with a disability truly may not have the capacity to care for him or herself without significant assistance, may not be able to execute safe and responsible judgement and may unknowingly potentially place him or herself in a dangerous situation, yes, in those types of cases, guardianship may be needed.

Still I agree as well, with what many advocates and policy makers are saying, that just because a child grows up living life with a disability and later becomes an adult, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be taught or entrusted to make their own responsible and safe decisions and to have control over their day to day lives to the fullest extent possible.

According to the American Bar Association, since October 2019, 10 states including Indiana have now passed what are known as Supportive Decision-Making laws as an alternative to guardianship. Supportive Decision Making is defined as services and supports including trusted friends and family members in the lives of individuals with disabilities whom the individual may choose to go to for support and consultation in making a decision, such as where to live. This can be an informal arrangement but many times, it is a legal document kept on file with the court. For these 10 states that have passed Supportive Decision-Making laws, the law also states that guardianship must be in place only as a last resort and when absolutely necessary.

Adults with disabilities need to be held to high expectations, and I think even more so, they need to be allowed to fail. I think a lot of parents of children with disabilities only see the challenges their child will have or the struggles they may have. While this is understandable, for a while, it’s really important that families not just look at their kid’s challenges, but what they can do, and build from that.

Challenges for children with disabilities probably will not end in their teen years. However, if challenged, and if taught with the right amount of guidance and proper supports, many adults with disabilities can become capable of making their own decisions and executing control over their lives. When you live with a disability, you learn to rely on other people, but along with relying on a supportive community of individuals around them, adults with disabilities need to be given every chance possible to make their own decisions and figure out life on their own. I think it’s important to have people who can look after you, but also, as much as possible, to be able to look after yourself as well.

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Lawyer who yelled profanities at judge at bar association party gets stayed suspension

By Debra Cassens Weiss

An Ohio lawyer has received a stayed six-month suspension for alcohol-related conduct, including a profane outburst directed at a judge during a holiday party.

The Ohio Supreme Court disciplined Natalie Bahan of West Mansfield, Ohio, in an April 14 opinion. The six-month suspension is stayed on the condition that Bahan engage in no further misconduct, that she submit to a substance use assessment by the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, and that she comply with recommendations from the OLAP.

Two judges on the seven-member court concurred in the judgment. But they would not have disciplined Bahan for her profane criticism of the judge because of her First Amendment right to criticize the courts.

The majority, however, concluded that Bahan violated an ethics rule requiring lawyers to maintain a respectful attitude toward the courts for her December 2018 outburst at a Logan County Bar Association holiday event.

During the party, the bar association presented a mock award to a judge who was then on the Logan County Court of Common Pleas.

“Bahan, who had consumed alcohol at the event and appeared to be intoxicated, loudly and rudely interrupted the presentation,” the opinion said. She used the F-word to describe the judge, and she also called him a “piece of s- - -” and an “a- -hole.”

The judge, Judge William Goslee, was involved in filing a grievance against Bahan in a separate case in which she received a public reprimand for improper in-person solicitation of a client, according to prior coverage by Court News Ohio. That prior ethics matter was pending at the time of the holiday party.

Bahan had argued that her profanity was intended to criticize courtroom conduct by Goslee that led the bar to present him with the mock award. Her profanity was protected political speech, she had said.

The majority said it did not think that sanctioning Bahan for her outburst would have a chilling effect on legitimate criticism of the judiciary by attorneys. Lawyers who have the privilege of practicing law accepts certain duties as officers of the court, according to the majority opinion by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.

Ohio lawyer regulations “require a lawyer to conduct herself with the dignity and respect that is commensurate with her role as an officer of the court to encourage civility and to preserve public confidence in the legal system,” O’Connor wrote.

Bahan also engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice for two other incidents that allegedly happened while she was intoxicated, the Ohio Supreme Court concluded.

In the first incident, Bahan was accused of calling the sheriff’s office in May 2019 to report that her car had been stolen. She later said she thought that her husband had taken her vehicle home from a charity benefit. He said there was no car theft, and he had driven her home from the event.

In the second incident, Bahan called the sheriff’s office to report that her teenage son had stolen her iPad. When deputies arrived, she allegedly yelled profanities at them as they helped her husband leave their home.

Bahan had sought no more than a public reprimand.

Goslee resigned from his judgeship in June 2019, citing “health reasons and the sedentary nature of serving on the bench,” according to

Bahan and her lawyer, Tim Steinhelfer, gave statements to the ABA Journal.

“I thought the disciplinary system was supposed to protect the public, not protect judges’ feelings,” Bahan said in her statement.

She said she spoke out against Goslee at the holiday party because he got the mock award for an alleged incident in which he used curse words.

“I guess when it comes to judges, it’s better to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. But I wasn’t raised that way,” Bahan said.

Bahan pointed out that none of her clients were harmed. She also said she and Steinhelfer weren’t able to find a single case in which a lawyer was sanctioned for calling police over a trivial matter.

“I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, but today’s precedent seems dangerous and may have much wider implications, especially for women in the law,” she said.

Steinhelfer said he is proud to have Bahan as a client because she has the courage to speak truth to power.

“The First Amendment is always on fragile ground and depends on the courage of Americans willing to defend it,” Steinhelfer said.

“I take solace in the dissenting opinions. Sometimes dissents eventually become majorities, and I look forward to that day,” Steinhelfer said.

Hat tip to Bloomberg Law and the Legal Profession Blog, which had coverage of the opinion.

Updated April 19 at 3:15 p.m. to include statements by Natalie Bahan and Tim Steinhelfer.

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How Adam Lopez went from Springfield School District 186's board president to guilty plea

 by Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register

Adam Lopez looks over as his attorney returns from speaking with State's Attorney Dan Wright while appearing in the courtroom of Associate Judge Rudolph Braud at the Sangamon County Complex in Springfield, Ill., Monday, May 3, 2021.

Former Springfield School District 186 board president Adam Lopez pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge Monday.

He was accused in 2018 of stealing money from clients when he was an agent with Country Financial.

Here is a timeline of events:

Apr. 9, 2013

Elected to District 186 board of education from Subdistrict 2

Apr. 7, 2015

Reelected to District 186 board of education from Subdistrict 2

July 7, 2015

Defeated by Rob Mellon in a special Democratic primary for the 18th congressional seat

Early September 2018

Lopez is fired as a Country Financial agent after a client filed a complaint that he knowingly exerted unauthorized control over more than $1 million entrusted to him.

September 2018

Springfield Police Department open an investigation against Lopez and raid his home and office. The FBI later takes over the investigation.

Sept. 28, 2018

Lincoln Land Community College rescinds on an agreement to host Adam Lopez Basketball Tournament after allegations are made against Lopez

October 2018

The first lawsuits from victims alleging Lopez mishandled funds are filed against him

Oct. 16, 2018

Lopez files a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights against a Country Financial regional manager alleging his termination was retaliation for complaints he made about a series of racially insensitive comments directed at him by company employees.

Nov. 7, 2018

Grand jury indicts Lopez. U.S. marshals arrest him. He is jailed and charged with two counts of theft and three counts of financial exploitation of the elderly.

Dec. 12, 2018

A charge of financial exploitation of a person with disabilities is added.

Early May 2019

Springfield Police seized several items of sports memorabilia and gym equipment that Lopez purchased with money he allegedly stole from his clients while he was an agent for Country Financial.

Aug. 15, 2019

Lopez is charged with two counts of theft involving a fellow inmate in the Sangamon County Jail. The charges are dismissed as part of Lopez's plea Monday.

May 3, 2021

Lopez pleads guilty to a felony theft charge. Three counts of financial exploitation of the elderly and a count of financial exploitation of a person with disabilities were dismissed. Also dismissed were the two counts of theft involving a fellow Sangamon County Jail inmate in 2019.

June 29, 2021

Lopez was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He will serve the sentence at 50% and will get credit for 965 days he served in the county jail.

Source: The State Journal-Register archives

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Adam Lopez's guilty plea: See timeline of his elected position to jail

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Feds formally investigating private equity ownership of nursing homes

by Danielle Brown

Credit: Cravetiger/Getty Images

The federal government’s focus on private equity ownership in nursing homes is just a “red herring” for lawmakers, one leader said after the launch of a new probe into the matter. 

The Government Accountability Office recently launched the probe, which will assess the reach and impact private equity investments have had on the nursing home industry. A report is expected in fall. The probe comes in the wake of research that suggests the effect has been negative, KHN reported Wednesday.  

The issue is not without controversy. A 2020 study that was last updated late last month found that “contrary to a common media narrative — PE-owned facilities have actually fared better under the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The new GAO probe stems from a pre pandemic request by the House Ways and Means Committee. 

“It is my hope GAO will shed more light and provide more information on Wall Street’s dangerous growing control over nursing homes and long-term care facilities,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) told KHN. Pascrell has also submitted a second request to the agency to look into private equity investments in all parts of healthcare. 

The American Health Care Association earlier this week told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News that the focus should be on meaningful solutions that will make a positive impact across the entire industry. 

“We support financial transparency, and nursing homes already report ownership and financing through a vast array of current requirements,” the association said. “However, neither ownership nor line items on a budget sheet prove whether a nursing home is committed to its residents.” 

“The focus on private equity ownership of nursing homes is a red herring,” added AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson. 

“If policymakers want to talk about private equity, then this is a conversation for the entire healthcare system, not just nursing homes,” Parkinson told KHN.

President Joe Biden’s nursing home reform plan was unveiled on Feb. 28, and a day later, he called out private equity ownership in his State of the Union address. The administration says that private equity’s investment in nursing homes ballooned from $5 billion in 2000 to more than $100 billion in 2018 — with about 5% of all nursing homes now owned by private equity firms.

Some experts have also said that before placing blame, the federal government needs a better understanding of private investment in nursing homes and the role it plays in capital and quality improvements.

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Victims question how Utah lawyer continued to bilk his clients out of millions for years

by Jeremy Harris

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — A disgraced Salt Lake City attorney who stole millions from his clients – most of whom are disabled – will have to face his victims in a courtroom on Tuesday.

In court filings ahead of his sentencing, federal prosecutors point out that 61-year-old Calvin Curtis ‘had it all’ – a legal education, a good reputation, and a successful career.

“He traded it all in for greed and avarice. And because of his actions, these victims have lost nearly everything. Not only has Curtis destroyed the lives of two dozen individuals but he also stained the reputation of the legal profession,” Assistant United State Attorney Ruth Hackford-Peer wrote in a sentencing memo.

Curtis admits he stole nearly $13-million from clients who trusted him.

[Curtis] has lost the trust and respect of many of the people who trusted or knew him, including friends and family. He will always be remembered as ‘that lawyer’; the one who embezzled millions of dollars from some of the most vulnerable people a lawyer could possibly represent,” Curtis’ attorney, Greg Skordas, wrote in a memorandum ahead of sentencing.

Federal prosecutors charged Curtis last Fall with money laundering and embezzlement, alleging he stole millions from 24 clients.

He pleaded guilty in November.

A disgraced Salt Lake City attorney who stole millions from his clients – most of whom are disabled – will have to face his victims in a courtroom on April 18, 2022.

Curtis’ victims include the daughter of Matt Hess, a dairy farmer in Box Elder County who spoke with 2News shortly after Curtis’ fraud came to light.

According to court records, Curtis stole over $260,000 from the Hess family, which is the money they had set aside to make their home wheelchair accessible.

Matt Hess, a dairy farmer in Box Elder County, said estate attorney Calvin Curtis oversees a trust to care for his daughter who has cerebral palsy. (Photo: Jeremy Harris/KUTV)

Another disabled victim lost $40,000 to Curtis’ scheme. Prosecutors say that money was needed for healthcare aid and home repairs.

Prosecutors mention other stories – but by far the victim who lost the most money to Curtis is 79-year-old Glenn McConkey.

“She became an easy target when, about eight years ago, she started showing signs of mental illness and Alzheimer’s dementia. In 2014, Curtis changed her estate documents and named himself as her trustee at a time that Ms. McConkey was incapacitated. He then stole over $10,500,000 from her trusts over the next several years,” Hackford-Peer wrote.

McConkey’s family began to raise concerns about Curtis in 2018 when attorney Laura Milliken Gray started looking into how Curtis was managing her trust.

“There were huge red flags in the way that Cal had acted,” Gray told 2News.

Glenn, Sherry, and Ayla McConkey (Photo: McConkey family)

Gray and McConkey’s family believe more could – and should – have been done to stop Curtis’ fraud years ago.

“There were people who were supposed to be monitoring him that didn’t do that,” Gray said.

McConkey’s family is disappointed in Stagg Fiduciary Services – a Salt Lake City company that acts as Glenn McConkey’s conservator.

“They, in our view, have a duty to at least know what’s going on in that trust, and we believe they enabled Cal to steal money from Glenn for years by trusting him,” Gray said.

Gray represents Sherry McConkey and her daughter Ayla McConkey, the only living descendant of Glenn McConkey.

“Stagg Fiduciary Services was paid – and continues to be paid – from Glenn’s assets to protect her from people like Cal, but failed to do so. When I think about Glenn, I get angry with Cal and his enablers, which is not in my personality,” Sherry McConkey wrote in a statement. “Glenn worked so hard her entire life and she wanted to leave a legacy to her granddaughter and her favorite charities. But now, a greedy and evil man stole from her, taking her wishes away and leaving her with a fraction of her former wealth.”

For their part, Stagg denies claims they failed to protect Glen McConkey from Curtis’ fraud.

“Stagg faithfully fulfilled its duty as conservator. Any allegations to the contrary are mere allegations. There’s no evidence, no proof, of any wrongdoing by Stagg,” Michael A. Jensen, an attorney for Stagg, told 2News in a statement.

The McConkeys worry there will not be enough money to pay for Glenn McConkey’s dementia care for the rest of her life.

Gray says she does not believe the full scope of Curtis’ fraud is known yet.

“We fought, and continue to fight, this David vs. Goliath fight to discover the truth. He did stall, he came up with every excuse in the book and I’m on the other side screaming with my hair on fire saying ‘don’t trust this guy’,” Gray said.

Prosecutors and Curtis’ defense attorney both asked a federal judge to impose a prison term of 73-months in prison and restitution of over $12-million.

Curtis will appear in court on Tuesday afternoon to be sentenced. His victims are expected to address the court prior to his sentence being imposed.

Curtis has been in the Salt Lake County Jail since January when prosecutors alleged he was continuing to run up his credit cards and pay expenses for his girlfriend in Florida.

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Caretaker Son Jailed After Elderly Mom is Found Dead in Bed With Maggot-Filled Bedsores & Exposed Bones: Police

by Jacquelyn Gray

A Texas grand jury indicted a man last week in connection with the September 2021 death of his disabled, elderly mother — who authorities said was neglected for months before she died.

In September 2021, Bexar County police responded to an Elmendorf residence amid reports that Juan Huerta’s mother, Maria Huerta, 74, had died in the residence. Deputies found Maria deceased in a soiled bed with bedsores that not only housed maggots but were so large that they exposed her bones, according to WOAI.

Maria had become bedridden in 2013. Police said  Primavera Primary Home Care paid Juan weekly to be his mother’s primary caregiver, but he instead worked as a trucker. He allegedly said he cashed the checks — despite neglecting his mother — because he fell on hard financial times.

According to KSAT, Juan told police that he stopped taking his mother to the shower more than a year before her death because he had run out of energy. He reportedly could not explain why he did not seek medical attention for his mother, and continuously claimed he did the best he could, based on the training he received from a group of registered nurses.

A healthcare representative first expressed concerns about the care Maria received in February 2020, a year and a half before her death. At the time, the representative reported that she smelled due to a urinary tract infection.

The representative also claimed her feet were discolored and she had bedsores.

At the time, Juan allegedly refused to allow an ambulance to pick up his mother, telling them to “leave her alone” and that she was being cared for properly. It is not immediately known when his mother died or if any other interventions occurred before September 2021, when cops found her dead in bed.

Juan was arrested shortly after his mother’s death, as he was charged with injury to the elderly.

However, on April 7, a grand jury upgraded his charges to injury to the elderly – serious bodily injury by omission. He remains jailed on a $200,000 bond.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Commission on Elder Law to help protect older adults

by Zach Richardson 

As people advance in age, they become more vulnerable to people taking advantage of their finances and legal rights.

The Illinois Supreme Court wants to help change that.

"It's really important that the court system be able to have the tools it needs to protect their interest and to make sure that nobody is preying on the elderly," said attorney Chris Scholz.

The court has established the Commission on Elder Law to study ways in which the state can better serve the needs of those individuals advancing in age.

The Commission will look at the role the court plays in cases such as guardianship as well as the Judicial Branch's obligation to protect the legal rights of the most vulnerable population.

The Commission also wants to hear from the people to be able to make recommendations for Judicial Branch policies, procedures and supreme court rules to help reduce attempts to defraud seniors and mitigate their effects.

To come up with the best possible solution, the Commission is composed of a variety of members.

"We're going to have a medical perspective, a law enforcement perspective, elected official perspective, a judicial perspective, the lawyer perspective and others all filtering the information that the public provides us to reach a solution," said first chair Kerry Peck.

The Commission seeks to protect all elders from being taken advantage of, but Scholz says the population that the commission will benefit the most are those who are unable to make important decisions on their own.

"Primarily, I think the Commission will be helping to educate and inform the court system about ways, particularly guardianship cases when they become necessary, to help the court system best serve the interest of the disabled adult,” Scholz said. “That's paramount."

Peck is thrilled to deliver new changes and innovative ideas to tackle these elder law issues.

"I'm honored that the supreme court has chosen me to lead this Commission and thank the court for its support as we embark on this very important endeavor for both the court and the people of the state of Illinois," said Peck.

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Supreme Court deciding if Cleveland Judge Pinkey Carr should be suspended

by: Peggy Gallek

CLEVELAND (WJW) – The Ohio State Supreme Court is now deciding if a local judge should be suspended.

The Ohio Supreme Court held a hearing Tuesday to consider what discipline Cleveland Municipal Judge Pinkey Carr should face.

Attorney Joseph Caligiuri, of the disciplinary counsel, is recommending the judge receive a two-year suspension.

She is accused of several judicial misconduct accusations, including holding hearings without a prosecutor present and issuing warrants for defendant who didn’t appear for court during the first few days of the COVID-19 pandemic

The judge is accused of ignoring a directive by the municipal court’ presiding judge to stop holding hearings because of the pandemic.

The FOX 8 I-Team interviewed Judge Carr in March 2020 and she denied that she issued warrants for anyone who did not appear in court during the  COVID-19 shutdown. However, we checked court records and found she issued more than 30 warrants.

Judge Carr’s attorney, Nicholas Froning, said the judge should receive a two-year suspension, but that 18 months of the suspension should be stayed, meaning she would only serve a six-month suspension.

“As the expert testified, Judge Carr suffered from mistreated or untreated sleep apnea, menopause and a generalized mood disorder,” Froning said.

A supreme court justice, however, asked this question.

“How does sleep apnea or menopause contribute to lying?” asked Justice Patrick Fischer.

Froning responded that it caused the judge to not be able to think clearly.

But the attorney for the disciplinary counsel disagreed, saying the judge lied about her actions to her therapists, her lawyer and character witnesses.

Supreme Court justices say they are taking the matter under advisement and will issue a decision soon.

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