Saturday, August 13, 2022

Woman who finally retired at 100 celebrates 107th birthday

A woman from Cape Girardeau celebrated her 107th birthday.

By Carly O'Keefe and Debra Worley

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS/Gray News) – Velma Finger, known to her friends as Sally, worked as a manager at her housing complex until she was 100 years old.

She hasn’t slowed down since and recently celebrated her 107th birthday with family and friends.

“Some people dread old age, but I think it’s what you make of it yourself,” Finger told KFVS.

On the day she was born in 1915, Finger said her dad hopped on a horse to get the doctor to deliver her, Woodrow Wilson was president and women couldn’t yet vote.

She’s seen a lot of changes in the century-plus she’s been alive, including the widespread use of automobiles, electricity and computers.

Finger said she doesn’t have any real secret to longevity, but she did say she ate a lot of vegetables with olive oil and peanuts, and she gave up meat for several years.

She said she keeps her mind sharp by doing crossword puzzles and reading. She also credits exercise and her love of the game of golf, walking the course in the fresh open air, for her incredibly long life.

Looking back, Finger said she’s most proud of her family.

“I am proud of my granddaughter and my great-grandchildren,” she said. “They’re good kids. I feel, that when I leave this world, I will leave it a better place for my children and grandchildren.”

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Butte woman sentenced to prison for stealing more than $600,000 from elderly, blind victim under her guardianship

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Butte woman sentenced to prison for stealing more than $600,000 from elderly, blind victim under her guardianship

MISSOULA  — A Butte woman who admitted to stealing more than $600,000 from an elderly and blind woman, now deceased, who was under her care, and spending the money instead on lake property, vehicles, a pontoon boat and other items for herself was sentenced on Aug. 10 to one year and a day in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

Debra Gean Roeber, 66, pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud and to money laundering.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.  Judge Christensen also ordered $661,549.00 in restitution. 

“Montanans are inherently trusting and the victim in this case trusted Roeber because she was the victim’s guardian.  Roeber abused that trust when she defrauded her elderly, lonely, and blind victim, which is not just tragic and egregious, it’s reprehensible and unacceptable.  Our office and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate elder abuse, and we will be steadfast in our commitment to protect our most vulnerable friends and neighbors,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said.

“Senior citizens and those that care about them must be vigilant to prevent future scams targeting elder Americans,” said Andy Tsui, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office. “As a community, it is our responsibility to care for our elders. As a law enforcement community, it is our duty to hold individuals accountable who abuse their position of trust and steal from the people that are under their care.”

“Motivated purely by greed, Roeber defrauded the victim and betrayed her trust. This was a truly reprehensible crime aggravated by the fact that the victim was blind,” said Special Agent in Charge Dennis Rice of the Salt Lake City FBI. “Our elderly citizens should be valued, not victimized. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will hold accountable those who prey on society’s vulnerable populations.” 

The government alleged in court documents that the state district court appointed Roeber as the guardian and conservator for the victim, identified as Jane Doe, who was unable to care for herself or her financial needs without assistance because she was blind. From about January 2017 until June 2020, Roeber stole $661,549 from Jane Doe and used the money for, among other things, construction projects on lake property at Canyon Ferry, vehicles, furniture, a pontoon boat and cash. None of the expenditures was authorized. Roeber admitted she took advantage of Jane Doe “a lot,” including lying to the victim about her finances. Jane Doe, who is now deceased, lived her final days believing this fraud left her destitute and unable to care for her simple needs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation.


3 handymen swindle 90-year-old Ga. woman out of $118,000 in life savings, police say

3 handymen swindle 90-year-old Ga. woman out of $118,000 in life savings, police say

By News Staff
FLOYD COUNTY, Ga. — Three men have been charged in Floyd County for allegedly stealing money from a 90-year-old Armuchee woman.
Police said that Robert John Criswell, 39, of Lindale; Kyle Dewayne Dover, 28, of Cedartown; and Hunter Chase Hammitt, 23, of Kingston met the victim while were working for a local tree company. They were working on their own when they allegedly committed the crime.
During the months of December and April, investigators said the victim wrote 33 checks to each man for various amounts for tree work they were supposed to do on her property. The checks totaled $118,000, investigators said.

The men did complete some tree work, but on those occasions, the trees were left in place, and small bush piles were left on the property.

Shutters that were intended to be hung were barely attached, and in some cases, were hanging crooked by one screw, the report stated.

Investigators followed up on a tip and found the trio near Johns Mountain at a creek-side campsite.

Police believed the suspects were living in the camp, just 10 minutes from the victim’s home. The three suspects were arrested on Wednesday at the site.

Criswell and Dover are facing charges of exploitation of the elderly and theft by deception. Hammitt is charged with exploitation of the elderly, theft by deception and probation violation.

Criswell and Dover are being held on a $15,000 bond. Kingston is being held with no bond.

“Trailers filled with pine straw, rogue tree surgeons and traveling paving companies will often exaggerate damage and embellish their skill level to give hope to victims who might only need small repairs,” investigators said. “In return for little or no work being done, these scammers often drive away with small fortunes.”

Police said the elderly are sometimes embarrassed by the spending or intimidated by the persistent and aggressive sales techniques of scammers.

They encourage families and neighbors to check in with older relatives and neighbors to ensure they are not being swindled or victimized by scammers and to be aware of visits by service technicians or home improvement companies going to an elderly person’s home.

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Friday, August 12, 2022

Rethinking Guardianship: Emma’s Story

Emma Budway describes her experience as a nonspeaking autistic woman under guardianship and the benefits of less restrictive alternatives.
Guardianship is a restrictive legal arrangement that often strips many rights from disabled people, including the right to make independent decisions. But it doesn’t have to be this way—supported decision-making is a less restrictive alternative arrangement that centers the individual and their wishes and preferences. Emma Budway details how we can reimagine guardianship, including for nonspeaking autistic people like her.

Report: Wendy Williams Unable to Pay Staff Amid Wells Fargo Legal Battle


- It's been months since Wendy Williams was reportedly locked out of her Wells Fargo account. A new report claims that the former TV host is still banned from accessing her $20M funds, making her unable to pay her own staff.

"Her team has not been paid since these accounts were shut," a source spills to theJasmineBRAND. "Her manager is relatively new, but there are people who have been working for her this entire time and they haven't seen a dime since the accounts were closed either. People have been floating their services to Wendy for months on end now."

It is also said that the former host of "The Wendy Williams Show" "gets money through the financial guardian, but it's not like the level of money Wendy Williams would need to get by in New York City." Another source notes, "Her manager is footing the bill for a lot of her personal upkeep right now." 

Back in January, Wells Fargo freezed Wendy's bank account because the bank was worried she had been subjected to "financial exploitation, dementia, or undue influence." The TV personality denied the claims during her appearance on "Good Morning America" in March, insisting that she's "of sound mind" and well enough to manage her own money.

"Well, you know, when people want control of their accounts, they say anything, including something crazy like that about me," she told T.J. Holmes in the Thursday, March 17 episode of the talk show. "They say that I need somebody to handle my account, and I don't want that."

"I want all my money. I want to see all my money that I've worked hard for my entire life. My entire life," Wendy, who has hired her ex-husband Kevin Hunter's lawyer to settle the case, further stressed, "I don't lie, I don't cheat and I don't steal. I am an honest, hard-working person." She continued, "I want to spend more time with my family and, you know, working out and waiting for the responses to my money situation and Wells Fargo. And they don't like that." 

During her interview, Wendy also assured viewers that she was doing okay. "[My] health is very well, and I've actually had a few appointments. You know, I'm 57 now, and I have the mind and body of a 25-year-old," she pointed out. "I'm very comfortable [with returning to work]. You know, my partners with the show, everybody's ready."  

Full Article & Source:

Man arrested in Palo Alto on suspicion of robbery, elder abuse

Police in Palo Alto arrested a man Monday on suspicion of shoplifting merchandise, of physically resisting loss prevention personnel and of the attempted robbery of an elderly man, police said.

A loss prevention employee at Macy’s in the Stanford Shopping Center notified police at about 3:19 p.m. on Monday that a shoplift was in progress. The loss prevention officer reported that the man had physically resisted them and had allegedly just attempted to steal a cellphone from someone in the mall as he was fleeing.

The suspect, Bryan Michael Flint, 49, from Santa Cruz, had allegedly tried to steal $350 worth of merchandise. The male and female loss prevention officers claimed that Flint shoved them when they attempted to place him under a private person’s arrest. The officers followed him through the mall and said they allegedly witnessed Flint attempt to snatch a cellphone out of the hand of an 80-year-old man who was sitting on a bench, but the man thwarted his attempt.

Flint was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of felony robbery and elder abuse. Flint had six outstanding warrants from Santa Cruz County.

Full Article & Source:

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Forum brings awareness to Supported Decision Making, an alternative to Guardianship

KOLO spoke with a local mom who says a 2019 state law allowing those with developmental disabilities to choose who is in their support network saved his life

By Freixys Casado

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities is inviting providers and parents of children with special needs to participate in a forum about supported decision-making.

In 2019, the state of Nevada passed a law which allows people with disabilities to choose people they know and trust to be part of a support network to help with decision-making. This is an alternative to guardianship which is more restrictive and involves a court order.

We spoke with a local mom who says this option saved her son’s life.

“I honestly think he would not be on the earth. His blood condition, they didn’t think he would make it to his teens and he’s made it to 21,” said Toni Richard. “So you know, being here is what has kept him alive. He gets to pick what he wants for dinner, what restaurant.”

The goal is to allow people with disabilities to have a voice and make their own decisions. However, because the law is fairly new, many families still don’t know about it.

“There’s often a pipeline from school to guardianship where that age of majority transition occurs and you have guardianship while still receiving services,” said Deputy Director of Litigation with Nevada Legal Services, Alex Cherup. “Our thought is if we can have supported decision-making then there doesn’t have to be that immediate jump from school to guardianship and we can look at lesser restrictive alternatives.”

The process to establish a supported decision-making agreement is fairly easy and doesn’t require going to court.

You can learn more about it during a virtual forum Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Click here to register.

Full Article & Source:

Circuit judge will face reprimand from Florida Supreme Court later this month

Judge Barbara Hobbs (Photo: Leon County 2nd Judicial Circuit website)(WCTV)

By WCTV Staff

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (WCTV) - Circuit Judge Barbara Hobbs will be reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court later this month for her conduct after her son’s 2019 arrest.

The court’s docket shows Hobbs will be formally reprimanded at 9 a.m. August 31, 2022.

In May 2022, the Florida Supreme Court suspended Judge Hobbs for 60 days without pay and ordered her to pay a fine of $30,000.

The Second Circuit Court Administrator says Judge Hobbs has already completed that suspension.

The case has been pending since the Judicial Qualifications Commission issued a notice of formal charges in April 2020.

The misconduct allegations focused mainly on Judge Hobbs’ actions following her son’s 2019 arrest for a shooting at his home.

Florida Supreme Court documents say Hobbs arrived at the Tallahassee Police Department the night of his arrest, told officers she was acting as his lawyer and sat in on the police interview.

The Florida Supreme Court further disciplined Hobbs for failing to properly supervise her Judicial Assistant who sat at counsel table at two of the son’s court hearings and later gave him her security badge, allowing him to access “restricted areas of the courthouse while serious criminal charges were pending against him.”

“Although we are not unsympathetic to Judge Hobbs’s family situation, her violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct demonstrate a failure of judgment and a lack of appropriate boundaries between her judicial office and her personal life that cannot be tolerated in members of our judiciary,” the Supreme Court said in its May 19, 2022 decision.

Hobbs was elected to the Second Circuit bench in November 2012 and has been a member of the Florida Bar for 40 years.

Full Article & Source:
Circuit judge will face reprimand from Florida Supreme Court later this month

Man charged with exploitation of a care-dependent person and related charges.

The Criminal Investigation Division of the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office filed felony charges of Financial Exploitation of An Older Adult or Care-Dependent Person, Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, and Theft Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds against David Bilbay on August 4, 2022. These charges were brought in District Court 09-3-02, after an investigation found that Bilbay, in his role as a caretaker of an elderly family member, did divert monies from the victim to his own personal use. The total amount of alleged theft was found to be approximately $88,000. Bilbay refused to appear at arraignment and was taken into custody in Centre County on August 5, 2022. Bilbay was arraigned and bail was set at $25,000 unsecured. 
District Attorney Seán M. McCormack urged people to report to police situations where they believe elder abuse or exploitation is occurring. “Due to deteriorating physical or cognitive conditions many elder adults are extremely vulnerable to being abused or taken advantage of. The Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office is committed to safeguarding the senior members of our community in both their personal and financial security.” Persons having information of elder exploitation should contact their police department or the District Attorney’s Office Criminal Investigation Division at 
The information provided is merely an accusation. David Bilbay is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Source: Cumberland County District Attorney's Office

Sourced via CRIMEWATCH®

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

She says she was coerced into signing away her rights in a nursing home. When she got out, everything she owned was gone.

Suzanne Araneo at home in Keyport, which she found empty upon her return from a months-long stay at a nursing home, after sighing a power of attorney agreement to a Medicaid advisor who started selling off everything in her house, Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media

By Ted Sherman

Suzanne Araneo’s memories were gone. And so was just about everything else.

After returning home last year following a months-long stay at Anchor Care & Rehabilitation in Hazlet, the 67-year-old retiree said she discovered her house in Keyport had been emptied.

Gone were her treasured family photo albums. So was a turquoise box with crystal rosary beads given to her by her parents when she was 7 years old. A collection of CDs and her jewelry were all missing. Her bank accounts had been cleared out.

Even her Christmas tree has been carted off, along with her clothing, her computer and stereo equipment, her bed and all her furniture — some of which she later discovered being sold through Facebook Marketplace. In fact, her small, two-bedroom house had been put up for sale as well.

“It was like a knife through my heart,” said Araneo, 67, recalling the scene when she returned. “There was not one single thing left.”

She had not been the victim of a random break-in.

According to a lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Monmouth County, she had been coerced while heavily medicated to sign what is known as a durable power of attorney agreement that essentially handed over total control of her life to someone she had never met.

The agreement gave Shmuel “Sam” Stern, who became Araneo’s “attorney-in-fact” the authority to collect monies owed on her behalf; to sell her property; conduct banking powers; manage her investments; borrow against her real estate and personal property; sell her car; conduct business in her name; prepare, file and sign tax returns on her behalf, access her safety deposit boxes, and sell any and all assets in her possession, according to the lawsuit. Stern also barred her from seeing or having any contact with family, her niece alleged.

The agreement also allowed him to use her assets to pay himself compensation, the filing claimed.

In fact, Araneo alleged that everything she owned was subsequently stolen, sold off or just thrown away in the trash, all without her knowledge or consent.

According to the lawsuit, at play was a financial scheme to force Araneo, against her will, to become a permanent, long-term resident of Anchor Care by stripping her of all of her assets and enabling her to qualify for Medicaid. In turn, Stern took all of her money and other assets, the lawsuit alleged.

“After my client told Anchor Care multiple times that she did not want to destitute herself and live in the nursing home, they stole her money from her bank account, sold her car, and even tried to sell her house,” said Araneo’s attorney, Deborah Gough of Hackensack, reiterating the claims made in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit charged that within days of signing that agreement all of Araneo’s possessions would be taken, liquidated or converted. Furniture was sold off, personal papers discarded and bank accounts raided.

How the money was spent remains unknown, although Araneo said none of it came back to her.

The complaint, which included accusations of false imprisonment, unjust enrichment, and breach of contract — as well as a violation of her rights as a nursing home resident — named Anchor Care, along with Stern. Also charged was Stern’s company, Future Care Consultants of Brooklyn and Lakewood, which according to its website provides financial and accounting services for nursing homes.

Attorney Deborah Gough, left, with her client Suzanne Araneo at home in Keyport. “What happened to my client is like a Category 5 hurricane that came without warning in a flash and swept her life away,” Gough said.Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media

Anchor Care and its attorneys did not return calls or emails seeking comment. But the nursing home and its operators in their own filing in response to the complaint said there had been “no deviation from any applicable standard of care” in the case of Araneo, nor did they breach “any duty with respect to any care, treatment or services.”

Stern did not return messages left with his office. However, attorney, Richard J. Kozel of Clifton, who represents Stern and Future Care’s said his client’s involvement in the matter was “solely with regard to Medicaid eligibility for the long-term care that Ms. Araneo’s medical team believed she needed.”

In a statement, he said, “Thankfully, Ms. Araneo recovered and was able to leave the long-term care facility and return home,” adding that Future Care Consultants “had no involvement in Ms. Araneo’s medical care or treatment.”


According to the court filing, Araneo’s nightmare began after she became ill and entered Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank for treatment of a number of medical issues, including hypomagnesemia and acute kidney failure.

Following an 11-day stay at the hospital, Araneo, who lives alone, was admitted to Anchor Care in February 2021 for what she expected to be a short-term period rehabilitation. She then had hoped to be discharged home not long afterward, the lawsuit stated.

During those first few weeks at the nursing home, Araneo said an Anchor Care employee “repeatedly suggested that she should destitute herself, enroll on Medicaid,” and move into the nursing home for the remainder of her life.

Medicaid serves as a safety net to help with medical costs, including nursing home care, for those with limited income and resources. But in New Jersey, one cannot have more than $2,000 in assets to qualify for the state and federal program. Under the rules, one also cannot have gross income — including Social Security or pension payouts — of more than $2,523 per month to receive Medicaid assistance.

That requires individuals with any sort of savings or assets to “spend down” their money on nursing care and other specifically allowed personal expenses, before they are eligible for Medicaid assistance.

At the time, Araneo said she was receiving Medicare benefits and supplemental insurance, and repeatedly told Anchor Care that had no interest in doing anything but returning home.

However, according to the lawsuit, she was soon placed on a number of psychiatric medications at the nursing home for treatment of anxiety and depression that, taken with other drugs that had been prescribed for neuropathy, frequently result in serious side effects — including dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating.

“Things got foggy,” Araneo recalled in an interview. “It was almost like I was having hallucinations. Sometimes they were dreams and I thought they were real. I was under that fog until I left there.”

The cabinets were empty when Araneo finally returned home. Dishes, forks, knives were all gone, including all of her photo albums, furniture, clothing. Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media

While in that “fog,” the lawsuit said she was presented with a durable power of attorney agreement in March of 2021, which she had no recollection of signing, naming Stern as her attorney-in-fact.

The complaint, though, argued that Araneo had not been mentally competent at the time to sign any legal agreement. It alleged that Stern and Anchor Care “knowingly and intentionally manipulated and took advantage” of her, getting her to sign a power of attorney agreement for the purpose of converting her assets to qualify for Medicaid and force her to become a long-term resident of the nursing home.

In their own court filings, Stern and Future Care denied any misconduct or liability.

While acknowledging that nursing home residents were indeed required to spend down their assets to obtain Medicaid benefits, the filing by Stern and Future Care refuted that there was any aim “to render patients destitute.”

The filing added that Araneo did in fact execute a general durable power of attorney with the full understanding of its terms and conditions being necessary in order to obtain Medicaid benefits.

And in a counter claim, they also charged that the allegations in Araneo’s complaint were made in bad faith and “for the sole purpose of attempting to otherwise threaten, intimidate and scare” Stern and Future Care to seek “undeserved monetary compensation.”


While Araneo was under the care of the nursing home, meanwhile, her niece, Rachel Paskitti, said she was blocked from any contact with her aunt.

The two had long been close, with Paskitti often traveling to New York with Araneo to catch shows on Broadway when she was much younger. Suddenly cut off from her aunt, she said she was not allowed to visit and unable to reach her by phone.

Araneo walks into her bedroom. After returning home, she slept for a time in her empty home on a donated couch.Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media

When she tried calling, she said she was told her aunt did not want to speak with her. When she tried to visit, she was told any visit had to be scheduled through Stern, who she said would not allow it.

At the same time, she said she was unaware of what was happening at the house in Keyport.

Months after arriving at Anchor Care, Araneo left the nursing home for a second hospitalization in June of 2021, where she demanded to be allowed return home. It was then, she said, that she began to realize what had happened. According to the lawsuit, she was told on multiple occasions that she could not make decisions for herself and that she could not be discharged home from the hospital without the permission of Stern. Her brother then went to court seeking to obtain a guardianship, said the complaint.

Araneo was ultimately found competent in October and only then was she discharged. When she finally returned home, she said just about everything she owned was by was no longer there.

Pictures that had hung on the walls were gone, their absence noted by a shadow of sun-bleached paint or paneling faded by time. Her television set had been taken. So was her car. As was all the money in her bank accounts.

For a time, she lived day-to-day sleeping on a donated couch.

Rachel Paskitti in her aunt's home in 2014. Upon her return, she bought Araneo a new Christmas tree to replace the one taken from the house.Photo courtesy Suzanne Araneo

Paskitti welcomed her aunt back home by getting her a new Christmas tree. Months later, the artificial tree remains in place in front of her fireplace, within a house that was taken off the market and has since been furnished by many donations.


Issues of guardianship abuse have long been rife in the long-term care industry. A U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging in 2018 cited a number of incidents where “unscrupulous guardians acting with little oversight” used court proceedings to obtain control of “vulnerable individuals” and liquidated assets and savings for their own personal benefit.

At issue in Araneo’s case was not a court-appointed guardian, but rather of an individual ostensibly acting on her behalf as her “attorney-in-fact,” a legal route that is sometimes taken to avoid the possibility of guardianship.

But that, too, can be problematic.

“Unfortunately, there can be some very bad actors out there,” said Ann Kohler, New Jersey’s former Medicaid director and a retired national health care consultant.

Earlier this year, a New Mexico woman who held power of attorney for a nursing home resident in that state was sentenced to five years in prison after representing that funds belonging to the resident were being held in a Medicaid trust. Prosecutors said no such trust existed. Instead, she spent that money on trips, a car payment, spa visits, online dating, pet grooming, and other personal items.

In Pennsylvania, a 54-year-old woman was sentenced to two years of probation in May after pleading to theft charges involving $74,000 taken from the accounts of a 92-year-old woman she claimed to be her mother to obtain power of attorney. The victim had reportedly been under 24-hour care in a nursing home at the time, authorities said. None of the money was used for her care, prosecutors said.

And in Florida, the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in May arrested a man who allegedly used a power-of-attorney agreement to steal $40,000 from an elderly victim residing in a Medicaid-receiving facility. Officials said the individual made multiple withdrawals from the victim’s bank account for personal use, including back-rent to a marina. The state Attorney General’s office said the money should have been spent on medical bills, property taxes and care for the victim.

There has so far been no accounting for how Araneo’s money was spent, or how much, if any, was applied toward the cost of her care while in the nursing home, her attorney said. But a person acting under a durable power of attorney has a fiduciary responsibility toward the individual who signed the agreement, said Reid Weisbord, a Rutgers Law School vice dean and law professor whose focus includes wealth transfer and elder law.

“The attorney-in-fact has to act in the best interest of the principal,” he explained. While a durable power of attorney agreement confers the power to act on behalf of someone, those decisions must still be evaluated from the perspective of that individual, he said.

Under such an agreement, for example, the attorney-in-fact could not exercise the power to take all that person’s money for personal use, unless there is language in the agreement that allowed it.

“It’s not in the normal action to give away everything to those who take care of you,” Weisbord observed.

Although he was not familiar with Araneo’s litigation, he said much will depend on how the proceeds were spent and whether the Stern had a financial relationship with the nursing home, which could constitute a conflict of interest. According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Stern is listed as an officer of Anchor Care.

Still, Weisbord said the argument could be made that what was being done was in Araneo’s best interest, if in fact the money was being spent on her own care.

The other question, though, said Andrea McDowell, a Seton Hall Law School professor who teachers elder law, is whether the power of attorney agreement was even valid.

If obtained when Araneo lacked the capacity to sign it, as she claims, then there would be a matter of whether it had been granted fraudulently, McDowell said, noting as well that Araneo’s signature would have had to be acknowledged before an attorney or notary, while adding that the witnesses to that agreement were employed by Anchor Care, according to the lawsuit.

“He owes her a duty of loyalty,” said McDowell of Sam Stern.


Today, Araneo’s home remains mostly empty.

Despite the donations, what she misses most are the things that cannot be replicated.

“If I could have all my pictures back, I could give a damn about everything else,” she said.

Gough, her attorney, said that Araneo trusted that Stern and the nursing home would help her in a time of ill health and great vulnerability, and that they betrayed that trust.

“What happened to my client is like a Category 5 hurricane that came without warning in a flash and swept her life away,” she said.

Life is the memories we make, she said.

“When everything that you possess, that you have earned, that you have created, and that gives your life meaning, is taken from you, then there is no more you,” she said. “It’s devastating.”

Full Article & Source:

Tuesday, August 9, 2022


Traci Samuels Hudson ia allowed to leave state with father for family gathering while under multiple indictments of elder exploitation

by Sherry Johnston

After several years of investigation Traci Samuels- Hudson was finally arrested and charged with multiple charges of Elder abuse while serving as a state licensed professional guardian with over 49 wards.

Traci Hudson appears notorious for Isolating and exploiting her wards with monstrous attorney fees defending herself against the family members accusing her of abuse. Finally in 2019 Traci was arrested and charged with elderly abuse after going on a spending spree charging over $500,000.00 on one of her wards Estate.

Judge St. John (right) has granted Traci Hudson permission to take her supposedly ill elderly father to Texas to a family gathering while wearing a ankle bracelet and furnish the courts with an itinerary. Apparently Judge St. John doesn't think that Traci Hudson is a flight risk even though previously Hudson had divorced her husband, sold her home and assets, and stating she has no money! Hudson has previously filed lawsuits against one of her wards daughter forcing the daughter to be illegally evicted from her home. Traci has transferred the Eviction Lawsuit from herself to an attorney Named John Hayter who has alleged illegally evicted the daughter and she is presently homeless. While many over 42 advocates watching the hearing on Zoom objected to the permission allowing Hudson leaving, Florida Judge St. John granted permission to leave even though Texas is 3 states west of Florida and app 1400 miles one way, borders Mexico and Traci facing the rest of her life in prison. Hudson attorney has amended motion to travel from flying to driving which could make it much easier to flee and harder to capture if she decides to leave the country.
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Should Colorado judges be disciplined by an independent board? The Judicial Department says no.

State constitution currently requires Colorado Supreme Court to oversee judicial discipline

Hamza Syed, research and constituent services analyst, left, and Sen. Pete Lee, D-El Paso County, right, listen to the presentation from the Commission on Judicial Discipline by chair Elizabeth Espinosa Krupa, front, during the first meeting of the Legislative Interim Committee on Judicial Discipline, which is tasked with reforming the state’s discipline system for judges in the wake of the judicial scandal, at Colorado State Capitol Building in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

By Shelly Bradbury

Colorado’s Supreme Court justices should not cede the ultimate power to determine how judges are publicly disciplined to an independent board, state Judicial Department representatives argued in a document submitted to state lawmakers this week as part of an ongoing effort to reform judicial discipline.

The Judicial Department’s stance goes directly against a proposal by the Commission on Judicial Discipline — the body responsible for investigating judges’ misconduct — and is one of several remaining conflicts between the two organizations as the reform effort unfolds this summer, according to documents reviewed by The Denver Post.

Colorado lawmakers earlier this year launched an effort to examine the system for disciplining the state’s judges in light of allegations that judges’ misconduct was previously covered up by the Judicial Department.

Lawmakers this summer are holding a series of public hearings to guide the reform effort. The next public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 10 at the state Capitol building.

Under the Colorado Constitution, judges who misbehave on the job are investigated by the Commission on Judicial Discipline, which can issue minor, private discipline to judges — like a private admonishment, censure or improvement plan. But all public discipline, including public censures, suspensions or a judge’s removal from the bench, must go through the Colorado Supreme Court.

The Commission on Judicial Discipline has proposed taking that power from the state Supreme Court and instead giving the authority to an independent disciplinary board made up of judges, lawyers and citizens. The Colorado Judicial Department opposes that idea, according to the document submitted to lawmakers Monday.

“No investigation has revealed that this basic structure of Colorado’s current system is deficient,” the unsigned document reads. “Thus, the justification for making such a significant and novel change to the current system is conspicuously lacking.”

The Commission on Judicial Discipline, in its own unsigned document submitted to lawmakers Tuesday, argued that the Supreme Court justices may not dole out fair discipline because of their concern for the reputation of the court system or potential liability for the Judicial Department, and compared the justices to a company’s board of directors, who feel obligated to protect the institution.

“To be credible, a neutral, detached and objective decision-maker must oversee a system of judicial discipline,” the commission’s document reads. “To be credible, that decision-maker cannot be a corporate board of directors that may prioritize the risks of incurring financial liability over the necessities of enforcing ethics rules. To be credible, that final decision-making body cannot be the same entity that also controls access to evidence and decides whether misconduct allegations are reported in the first place.”

The commission also raised the issue of more direct conflicts of interest, like if a member of the state Supreme Court were to face discipline proceedings — that justice’s colleagues would be in charge of any public discipline.

The Judicial Department wrote that the justices are considering a rule change to address such conflicts. Jon Sarche, a spokesman for the department, said Wednesday the justices expect to publish a draft rule in October. He said he could not share any additional details.

The recommendations and responses filed with state lawmakers this week also show the Judicial Department opposed a proposed change that would strip the Colorado Supreme Court of its authority to set the rules and procedures for the Commission on Judicial Discipline, another power enshrined in the state’s constitution.

The commission and Judicial Department did find some areas of agreement during meetings in late July, according to the documents. Both believe there should be more transparency in the process for disciplining judges — which now is, under the state constitution, almost entirely cloaked in secrecy.

The two entities agree that disciplinary proceedings should no longer be kept secret once a case has gone into formal proceedings, which is a stage in the process that happens after investigators believe a judge’s misconduct is supported by a preponderance of evidence.

“Although we do not agree with all of the commission’s recommendations, the department and the commission are not and should not be adversaries in this process,” the Judicial Department’s document reads. “It is clear that both parties want a robust, fair, and more transparent system of judicial discipline, which is essential to Colorado’s merit selection and retention system.”

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Woman charged with swindling mother out of $57K

The Wisconsin woman used the money on mortgage payments and a new bank account. 


By Trey Mewes

ROCHESTER — A Wisconsin woman has been charged with swindling her elderly mother out of nearly $57,000 last year.

Monica Jean Zanon, 69, faced her first hearing Thursday in Winona County District Court on felony financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, theft by false representation and theft by swindle charges.

Zanon's attorney, Christopher Dyer, could not be reached for comment Monday.

According to court records, Zanon allegedly took her mother, who has dementia, to a bank in Winona in September 2021. Zanon had herself added to her mother's bank accounts and withdrew $55,858.42. She told the bank's employees the money would go into a joint account at another bank.

Zanon later used $50,000 on her mortgage and put the remainder into a new bank account in her name only, according to charges. Financial records later showed the victim had to pay another $978 because money was prematurely withdrawn from some accounts.

Records show the victim's son has power of attorney over the victim's accounts and Zanon was aware of the arrangement.

The victim's doctor told police she's suffering from "dense dementia" and has "cognitive defects," according to court documents.

The victim told police she didn't remember much of what happened, but said she learned she had accrued interest and wanted to take that in cash out of her accounts. She asked Zanon to take her to the bank and tuned out when Zanon spoke with bank employees.

"How did she sneak that in?" The victim said when police told the victim Zanon had been added to her accounts. The victim later said Zanon "pulled a good one."

Zanon's next court hearing is Sept. 1.

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Monday, August 8, 2022

Archie Battersbee: 12-year-old boy dies hours after hospital ends life support against parents' wishes

By Lawrence Richard

A 12-year-old boy who was comatose in the United Kingdom has died after a lengthy legal battle ended with the determination that doctors could remove him from life support.

Archie Battersbee, 12, died at a London hospital around noon on Saturday, about two hours after doctors discontinued treating him. Young Archie has been in a coma since April 7, when he was initially found unconscious in the family’s home.

Ella Carter, the fiancée of Archie's eldest brother, Tom, said the family watched the boy’s final moments.

"He went completely blue,'' she said. "There is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or a child suffocate. No family should ever have to go through what we’ve been through. It’s barbaric."

Archie Battersbee, 12, died Aug. 5, 2022, after British courts rejected the family’s request to transfer him to a hospice. (Hollie Dance via AP, File)

Battersbee’s situation became the latest legal feud that pitted the will of parents against the advice of doctors.

His parents advocated for keeping their son alive by extending treatment or moving Archie to a hospice, while doctors said it was in Archie’s best interest to be taken off of life support.

Doctors at the Royal London Hospital argued Archie was brain-stem dead and should be allowed to die. They pushed to end the treatment that kept him alive, which included artificial respiration, medication to regulate his bodily functions and round-the-clock nursing care.

The hospital also testified that Archie’s condition was unstable and that moving him would hasten his death.

His family objected and said they would not give up hope.

On Friday, High Court Judge Lucy Theis sided with the doctors, against the parents' wishes, ruling Archie should remain in the hospital and for his treatment to be withdrawn. 

He died hours later.

Journalists' cameras are lined up at the entrance to the Royal London Hospital in London, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

"Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case,″ Theis wrote in her decision. "I hope now Archie can be afforded the opportunity for him to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family who meant so much to him as he clearly does to them." The European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene in the case.

A tearful Hollie Dance, Battersbee’s mother, said she was "the proudest mum in the world.''

"Such a beautiful little boy and he fought right until the very end,'' she added outside of the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, following the boy's death.

Hollie Dance, mother of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, speaks to the media outside the Royal London Hospital, on Aug. 3, 2022.

Hollie Dance, mother of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, speaks to the media outside the Royal London Hospital, on Aug. 3, 2022. (James Manning/PA via AP)

The case continues a widely debated topic in the U.K. around how such cases should be handled and if the court should have any say in the situation — or if such disagreements should be decided away from the courts.

In 2017, a legal battle over the life of Charlie Gard, an infant with a rare genetic disorder, made headlines around the world. In the case, the will of the parents was again pitted against those of medical professionals. The parents pushed for their son to undergo experimental treatment before a court sided with doctors, who argued for ending life support.

British law allows for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on a child's medical treatment, and a judge is then tasked with determining the best interests of the child.

Battersbee has been unconscious since April 7. His parents believe he may have been taking part in an online challenge that went wrong.

A viral "blackout challenge" on TikTok has led to the deaths of other children, including a 9-year-old girl in Wisconsin and an 8-year-old girl in Texas, whose parents are suing the social media platform.

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Editorial: #Free Britney movement revives overdue conservatorship system reform

A Los Angeles Times investigation in 2005 exposed deep flaws in California’s probate conservatorship system, which is meant to protect adults who cannot adequately see to their own needs or manage their money because of a disability, such as dementia or traumatic brain injury.

The “Guardians for profit” series outlined horrendous abuses by court-appointed professional conservators who used their considerable powers to mismanage the lives of some of the state’s most vulnerable people. Some of the cases were the stuff of nightmares, as unscrupulous and poorly supervised conservators took over bank accounts, blocked people from spending their own money on their comfort and safety, removed people from their homes, and got rich in the process. Other failures were more mundane but revealed a system in which overworked probate judges relied too much on the judgments and recommendations of professional conservators, to the detriment of the people they were supposedly protecting.

A probate conservatorship begins when a family member, or sometimes a public agency or other interested party, files court papers that claim a disabled adult cannot, or should not, make fundamental decisions about how to live his or her life. After a hearing, which often does not include the disabled person, the court generally appoints a conservator to take over decision-making. Conservators can dictate how a person spends money, where to live, even whether to date, marry or have sex.

Probate conservatorships are generally indefinite and are subject to only cursory review in the following years. In that way they are different from temporary mental health holds and conservatorships under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act for people who are so “gravely disabled” they cannot feed, clothe or shelter themselves; those conservatorships expire automatically after a year.

There currently are thousands of conservatorships in California. How many thousands is a mystery, since the state relies on reports from each of the 58 superior courts. Many courts don’t file their reports.

The laws on the books permit a person under a conservatorship in California to ask a court to review and reconsider the oversight and to seek a different conservator. But they often are unaware of these rights, in part because the conservator can control what they read or hear, and with whom they speak or visit.

Former Assemblyman Dave Jones (later the state insurance commissioner) responded to The Times series with a bill intended to repair the system. It passed and was signed into law — but many of the reforms required investment in court oversight and were never put in place amid the Great Recession and the state’s dire financial condition. Little changed, and for nearly 17 years, the urgent need to fix the conservatorship system was forgotten.

In 2019, a reminder came from an unexpected source. The #FreeBritney movement rallied around pop star Britney Spears, who was the subject of a conservatorship that began in 2008 and ended in November 2021. Members of the movement became experts in California conservatorships, and reignited public interest in the broken system.

A reform bill was signed into law last year, but it, too, remains partly unfunded.

Now lawmakers are considering a bill to complete the work and, importantly, provide less-restrictive alternatives to court-ordered conservatorships, allowing disabled adults to retain as much control over their lives as they want and can exercise, with assistance.

Assembly Bill 1663 would create a program of “supported decision-making,” in which an adult can select a person to provide assistance in making choices that otherwise would be up to a court appointee, and so retain the fullest practical measure of self-determination.

Supported decision-making is based on the conviction that as long as an adult is able to communicate his or her choices, those choices should be honored. They should be able to select their own advisors and experts.

They also should be informed of those rights — as should the judges and state agencies that are part of the traditional conservatorship process. To that end, the bill allocates a one-time $10-million appropriation to provide education and technical assistance to courts, as well as to people who might otherwise be conserved, and their families.

Lawmakers should move AB 1663 forward. Improvements and alternatives to the state’s conservatorship process have been far too slow in coming. Further delays would inflict unnecessary damage on thousands of Californians.

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