Saturday, October 29, 2022

KIYC: Thousands of NJ residents are in court-ordered guardianships. Some fight to get rights back

By: Walt Kane

 More than 36,000 people in New Jersey live under court-ordered guardianships, essentially losing many or most of their rights, a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds. Some say the guardianships were unnecessary and imposed against their will. But terminating a guardianship can be difficult and costly.

Elberta Cohen, 80, can remember the details of every trip she and her late husband took. Her family room is filled with photos and souvenirs of their travels.
“This, of course, is Russia,” Cohen says, gesturing to a framed photo. “That’s St. Petersburg. I loved it, absolutely loved it.”
Cohen also enjoys playing Scrabble and can talk at length about current events like the war in Ukraine. But she has no access to her money and can’t make major life decisions. Those are in the hands of a stranger, a guardian appointed after a judge ruled her “totally incapacitated.”
“I went to the dentist the other day and I had to explain, ‘The money is there. I'll get it to you.’” Cohen recalls. “Do you know how embarrassing that is?” 
New Jersey has no diagnostic standards to determine if a person lacks capacity, according to state judiciary spokesperson, Peter McAleer. Instead, it “requires courts to determine the functional capacity of the individual, regardless of their diagnosis.” In other words, if a judge says someone needs a guardian, then they do.
The National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse says guardianships may be necessary in some cases, but are too easily abused, given the consequences. “The person in a guardianship has no right to choose where to live, who to associate with. They have no control over their money,” says NASGA director Marcia Southwick.
Cohen lost her rights after her youngest son, Robert, petitioned for guardianship. She says he did it to stop her from changing her will, after “I told him he wasn't gonna get any money.” Robert Cohen insists the will had nothing to do with it. He says his mother’s “thoughts can be scattered at times. Other times, she can be coherent.”
Elberta says she’s “not incapacitated in any way, shape or form,” and that one of New Jersey’s top eldercare attorneys, Lauren Marinaro, has agreed to represent her.
“I believe she is competent to make decisions and should be restored to capacity,” Marinaro says.
But Southwick says terminating a guardianship can be costly.
“The lawyer for the guardian can charge your estate to fight back,” Southwick says. “So basically, you're being held captive while people are just charging your estate. It's as if you’ve become a cash cow.”
As in most guardianship cases, Elberta was evaluated by three doctors. One found she could “manage her medical, financial and legal affairs.” But the others disagreed.
Faced with the conflicting reports, the judge ordered a full or “plenary” guardianship, covering not just Cohen’s estate but also her “person.” Marinaro has now gotten three more doctors to do evaluations. All found her capable of making decisions on her own. Marinaro says the lack of a diagnostic standard can make evaluations subjective, and “only the people giving the test know how to how to grade the quiz.”
The subjectivity also extends to opinions of Cohen’s living conditions. The guardianship petition claimed the house was “very filthy” and so cluttered that it was “unsafe” for Cohen to walk. But Kane In Your Corner visited the house more than once, and never saw that. Footage shows the house is clean, and while there is some clutter, like a dining room table that is largely covered by books and knick-knacks, it does not create an impediment to walking around.
“You don't have to have a perfectly clean house every day to be an adult with the ability to do your own thing,” Marinaro says. “You're still an adult, and you still have fundamental rights.”
Elberta admits her life isn’t perfect. She lives with her oldest son Larry. She says she and Larry argue at times, sometimes loudly. But she says, “I don‘t want to be taken care of by a stranger” and disputes Robert’s contention that Larry “is controlling her life.” So when the guardian sought to have Larry evicted and replaced by a full-time aide earlier this year, Elberta was furious, especially since the filing openly stated the aide would likely be temporary and serve as a “transition to assisted living.”
“He was going to go and make me sell my home and put me in a nursing home,” Elberta says indignantly. “I feel it’s my home. I'm entitled to live where I want to live.”
Cohen’s case is scheduled to go to a court hearing next month.
If you have a story that needs to be investigated, click HERE to get in touch with Kane In Your Corner.

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KIYC: Thousands of NJ residents are in court-ordered guardianships. Some fight to get rights back

Friday, October 28, 2022

Anderson woman charged in 3 Upstate counties with practicing medicine without license, officials say

by Janice Limon

alyssa beth steele, charged with practicing medicine without a license
SOURCE: Anderson County Detention Center
A woman faces charges in three Upstate counties for practicing medicine without a license at seven nursing and assisted living facilities, state officials said Thursday.

Alyssa Beth Steele, 37, of Anderson, is charged in Anderson, Greenville and Pickens counties, where investigators said she worked as a registered nurse without the required certifications, qualifications, or training, according to the South Carolina Attorney General's Office.

Steele was arrested in Anderson County Monday, in Greenville County on Tuesday, and in Pickens County on Wednesday, officials said.

Investigators said between Jan. 15, 2020, and June 13, 2021, Steele used a State of Georgia Board of Nursing license number belonging to someone else to gain employment as a registered nurse in seven facilities.

"By holding herself out as having credentials she did not possess, Steele’s conduct resulted in a failure to provide adequate medical care and services to vulnerable adults and presented a substantial risk of causing physical or mental injuries to the residents under her care," officials said in a news release.

Investigators said Steele worked as a registered nurse at the following Upstate nursing and assisted living facilities:

  • Cascades Verdae Assisted Living Facility in Greenville
  • Iva Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Iva
  • Piedmont Post Acute, in Piedmont
  • Brookdale Assisted Living Facility, in Anderson
  • Condor Health, in Anderson
  • Easley Place Assisted Living Facility in Easley
  • Fleetwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Assisted Living in Easley

All the above facilities fully cooperated with the investigation, officials said.

Steele faces the following charges:

  • 7 counts of neglect of a vulnerable adult, felony, carries up to 5 years in prison
  • 5 counts of unlicensed practice as a registered nurse, carries one year in prison or a fine of not more than $50,000 dollars
  • Financial identity fraud to obtain employment, felony, carries a fine or imprisonment up to 10 years
  • Obtaining signature or property under false pretenses, value of $10,000 or more, felony, a fine of up to $500 and up to 10 years in prison

Attorney General Alan Wilson said his office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit led the investigation.

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Anderson woman charged in 3 Upstate counties with practicing medicine without license, officials say

Louis Angelos can keep control of father’s law firm for now, judge rules

By: Madeleine O'Neill

Peter G. Angelos, center, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, sits in the owners’ box at Fort Lauderdale Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his son Louis, and wife, Georgia, during his team’s spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox on March 18, 2007. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)

Louis Angelos will temporarily maintain control of his father’s storied law firm, a Baltimore County judge decided Thursday, ruling against the other members of the Angelos family who sought to strip Louis of his management authority.

The ruling will only remain in effect for a few weeks, however. Baltimore County Circuit Judge Keith R. Truffer on Thursday declined to appoint a conservator to run the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos PC, effectively leaving Louis Angelos in control until a more substantive court hearing to determine the firm’s ownership takes place on Nov. 9.

Thursday’s hearing dealt with a request from Georgia Angelos, the wife of Peter Angelos, to take emergency control of the law firm. The couple’s son Louis has been running the firm since 2018, when 93-year-old Peter Angelos fell ill and became incapacitated.

Georgia Angelos sought to take over the firm’s bank accounts last month after Wells Fargo threatened to freeze the accounts because it was unclear who was in charge. Louis Angelos had been improperly issuing checks with Peter Angelos’s signature, her lawyers claimed, placing the firm in jeopardy. Georgia Angelos’ lawyers asked Truffer to appoint a conservator to run the firm and a signatory who was not Louis Angelos.

Truffer did not name a conservator and named three signatories who will have the authority to sign checks for the firm. Though the names of the signatories were not disclosed in court, Truffer proposed making Louis Angelos one of them in order to keep the firm running as it has been for the past four years.

“To some degree, I’m punting a little bit,” Truffer said.

The judge on Thursday also appointed Benjamin Rosenberg to serve as Peter Angelos’ lawyer during the proceedings.

Truffer’s short-term decision on the law firm’s management allows time for Maryland Bar Counsel to potentially take action. When a lawyer becomes incapacitated, bar counsel can petition to appoint a conservator to handle client matters.

It is not clear whether bar counsel will ask a conservator to take over the Angelos firm. Bar Counsel Lydia E. Lawless could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.

The Angelos firm was built on decades of asbestos-related litigation, but its future came into doubt when Peter Angelos lost the ability to manage his business interests, including his majority stake in the Baltimore Orioles.

Louis Angelos, who is a lawyer, has argued in court filings that his father intended for him to take over the firm and that his mother and brother, John Angelos, have no authority to run the firm because they are not lawyers. Louis Angelos also claims to have sold himself the firm, at a price to be determined later, through a promissory note.

Georgia and John Angelos, who together have sided against Louis, dispute Louis’ ownership of the firm and claim that Peter Angelos wanted the firm to be shut down.

Georgia and John Angelos have asked Truffer to invalidate Louis’ sale of the firm to himself. That issue will be among those considered at the Nov. 9 hearing.

The contentious family dispute first came into public view this summer, when Louis Angelos filed a lawsuit against his brother alleging that John had manipulated their mother and was exerting unilateral control over the Orioles and the family’s other business interests, including the law firm.

Louis Angelos claimed in court papers that his brother intended to dismantle the law firm, in part because he was concerned about liability arising from a pending malpractice lawsuit in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

Jeffrey Nusinov, the lawyer for Louis Angelos, declined to comment on Thursday’s hearing. Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who is representing Georgia Angelos, also declined to comment.

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Louis Angelos can keep control of father’s law firm for now, judge rules

A billing expert investigated her husband's ER bill. She was able to knock thousands off the charge.

A skiing accident led to an emergency room visit — and an incorrect charge on the hospital bill. 

If Dr. Bhavin Shah was on his own, he said, he probably would have paid the bill for his broken arm. The 47-year-old physician from suburban Chicago incurred surprisingly steep charges after landing in an emergency room on New Year’s Day 2021. He’d hit an icy patch while skiing with his kids in Wisconsin.

The $10,563.49 in initial ER charges from a Froedtert South hospital in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, seemed high considering he basically got only an exam, X-rays, pain relief, and an arm splint. His insurer negotiated the cost down to $7,922.62 — but, with Shah owing $250 for his deductible and 40% of the remaining charges, his bill of $3,319.05 still felt like too much. However, he thought, who was he to question the hospital’s billing department?

Shah’s wife, on the other hand, is highly qualified to question such charges. Sunita Kalsariya, 45, is the office manager of her husband’s medical practice, a job that includes overseeing billing. She took one look at the hospital charges and decided to investigate further.

Kalsariya had no way of knowing then that she was embarking on a crusade that would take over a year, send their bill to debt collections, lead her to complain to the Illinois attorney general, and discover that the hospital charged nearly $7,000 for a procedure that was never performed.

After disputing her husband’s bill for over a year, Sunita Kalsariya was able to get it reduced to about a third of the original balance.
Bram Sable-Smith / KHN

Froedtert South did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the case.

Here’s how Kalsariya reduced her family’s bill:

Tip 1: Start early

Even before you know you’ll be challenging a bill, Kalsariya said, you should ask the hospital both for more information and to pause the billing process. The sooner you do that, the more time you’ll have to track down the details you need to contest a bill — and possibly reset the clock before it is sent to collections.

“Even in our case, we waited until the second bill,” Kalsariya said. “Start acting with the first bill.”

Tip 2: Get an itemized bill

Hospitals often have their own internal billing codes, so it’s important to ask for an itemized bill that lists “current procedural terminology” billing codes (CPT codes, for short), which are standardized across the country.

Depending on the medical procedure, Kalsariya said, a bill could contain an overwhelming number of line items that are hard to understand. She suggested focusing on the items that stand out, such as those with the highest price tag.

Kalsariya said it took months to get a bill that included CPT codes for her husband’s ER trip. Once she did, one item jumped out: $6,961.75 for CPT code 24505 — treating a fractured humerus without making an incision.

Dr. Bhavin Shah was left with a $3,319 medical bill after he landed in an emergency room following a skiing accident in Wisconsin.
Bram Sable-Smith / KHN

Shah didn’t remember having that treatment at Froedtert South. What he did recall was having his arm splinted in a comfortable position and making plans to have surgery the next day at a hospital in the Chicagoland area unaffiliated with Froedtert South. He returned home that night, caught maybe a couple of hours of sleep while propped up by pillows in an almost-seated position, then had a successful surgery.

Tip 3: Compare your charges with those at other hospitals

Since January 2021, all hospitals have been required to make their prices publicly available, although some do so in a way that is difficult to find. Still, Kalsariya was able to find the prices that other hospitals in Wisconsin and beyond charged for the same procedure. They ranged from $201 in Boise, Idaho, to $1,300 in Madison, Wisconsin, she said, but all were fractions of the nearly $7,000 that Froedtert South charged.

The website has a tool that allows consumers to search for typical patient expenses for procedures in their area. The website estimates that the out-of-network cost for the procedure Shah underwent, within the hospital’s ZIP code, would be $3,863; in network, it would be $1,707. Medicare also has an online tool to find national average patient expenses searchable by CPT code. The total cost for that procedure is listed at $1,892, with Medicare paying $1,514 and the patient on the hook for $378.

Tip 4: Challenge your charges

Armed with the information that Froedtert South was seemingly charging more than others for the bone realignment, the couple tried appealing directly to the hospital with no luck.

“The charges incurred on your date of service were both reasonable and within the range usually charged by similar healthcare providers in the area,” the hospital’s response letter read. “Moreover, your insurance company, United Healthcare Choice-Golden Rule, entered into a long-term agreement with Froedtert South knowing the charges for its various services.”

The couple sent two complaints to their insurer asking how it could allow itself to be charged such a high amount, but response letters said the claim was processed correctly.

“We expect our in-network providers to bill appropriately for their services,” UnitedHealthcare spokesperson Maria Gordon Shydlo wrote in an email to KHN. “We paid the claim under the terms of Mr. Shah’s benefit plan based on the information we received from the provider.”

Fed up, Kalsariya filed a complaint with the Illinois attorney general’s office. After going back and forth, she eventually was told her husband could apply for the hospital’s financial assistance program to reduce his bill. But Kalsariya said they didn’t need financial assistance. They could afford $3,319.05. This, she said, was about the principle of the thing — she felt they were being egregiously overcharged.

Tip 5: Request your medical records

Getting Shah’s medical records proved to be another challenge. Kalsariya said her attempt to access the records on the hospital’s website didn’t work, so instead the couple was required to send hospital officials a form to release the records.

“They wouldn’t even accept fax or email,” Kalsariya said. “They needed it mailed, specifically, and it had to be notarized.”

It almost didn’t seem worth the hassle to them. But when a KHN reporter responded to the family’s request for help investigating Shah’s hospital bill, the couple decided to send in the form to accurately document their saga.

When the records arrived, they showed the splinting that Shah remembered but not the treatment that was driving up his bill. They appealed the bill to Froedtert South once more in May 2022, this time noting the discrepancy between the charges and the medical records.

Tip 6: Tell collections you are disputing the bill

Shah had received a letter from a debt collector, which Kalsariya said came in November 2021, over his unpaid medical bill. She asked the hospital to pull the bill from collections because the dispute was unresolved, which she said it did.

Informing a collections agency that a bill is in dispute can help protect a patient’s credit score. That wasn’t an issue with Shah’s bill from the hospital because the hospital pulled it back after Kalsariya’s call.

How it all ended

After the couple asked the hospital about the discrepancy with the procedure, Shah received a letter from the hospital dated May 27 of this year, saying it had reviewed the records and discovered the bill was inappropriately coded: The hospital should have used the code for a splint, not a treatment. A month later, Shah got a new bill with a patient balance of $1,214.91 — $2,100 less than the original balance.

Kalsariya still thought the bill seemed high and that the hospital seemed unapologetic about charging for a procedure that was never performed.

But the couple paid the new, smaller bill, and their saga was finally over. Her advice to other patients? When you get a bill, look into it before paying.

“I know it’s time-consuming. It is really taxing on our minds to do this,” Kalsariya said. “But if everybody makes that effort, then they have to be transparent.”

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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A billing expert investigated her husband's ER bill. She was able to knock thousands off the charge.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Britney Spears’ Mother WITHDRAWS Request For $600,000 In Lawyer Fees

by Mike Walters


Britney Spears'
mother has just withdrawn her request for the pop star to pay her massive legal bills, just a day after making a final push to get the money.

According to legal documents, obtained by The Blast, Lynne Spears informed the court she is no longer looking for Britney to pay her large legal bill, but it's unclear why it was done. In the filing, Lynne simply states she is stopping the attempts to get the large sum from the singer.

"Lynne B. Spears, an interested party and mother of the former Conservatee Britney Jean Spears ("Ms. Spears"), hereby withdraws her Petition for Reimbursement of Attorney Fees," the document states.

Did Britney Spears Pay Her Mother's Massive Legal Bill?


This is shocking, considering just 24 hours earlier, Lynne was pushing the court to pay the monster bill -- even explaining why her involvement was so important to Britney getting out of the conservatorship and stopping doctors from giving her powerful narcotics.

We broke the story, Spears' mom specifically pointed out that she was responsible for the pop star getting off Lithium. "Factually, the beginning of the end of the abusive conduct, and indeed the conservatorship itself, started at that court hearing at which Lynne Spears first appeared in May of 2019. The Court ordered a medical review. The lithium stopped. Ms. Spears could see her children and was allowed to travel," she wrote.

Adding, "Five months later, in September of 2019, her father temporarily resigned as the Conservator of her Person. After nearly eleven straight years of an unchallenged Conservatorship, five months after Lynne Spears intervened as an interested party, the structure of the conservatorship was upended, and the direct beneficiary of that change was Britney Spears."

Lynne Spears: I Am The Reason They Stopped Giving Britney Lithium


At this point, it's unclear if the news coverage or reaction to the request is why Lynne Spears decided to pull the plug on her request, or if it was simply paid. It's possible, the final request pushed the two sides to come to an agreement about payment. Again, this is a request by Lynne's lawyers to Britney's lawyers for money. The latest document does not say which way this thing went.

As we reported, Lynne was asking the court to order Britney to cover over $600,000 in legal fees. Over half a million dollars of it was for one law firm alone.

So...why would Lynne think Britney would pay HER legal bills. Well, the pop star's mother claims the work was done on Britney's behalf. "Lynne Spears signed a contract with the undersigned, explaining to her attorneys at the outset that she and Ms. Spears wished them to modify the medical treatment of Ms. Spears, to exact change to the personal restrictions being imposed on Ms. Spears by her father the conservator of her person and estate at the time, to start the process of removing her father from those roles, and in the end, to terminate her conservatorship. All of those things were ultimately achieved," she wrote.


In the past few weeks, Britney has made it very clear that she is bitter with her mom for allowing the conservatorship to go on as long as it did -- so paying it in full was out of the question. What happened here? We may never know...

What we do know...Britney is back to posting super sexy shots on Instagram...and everyone loves that!

Full Article & Source:
Britney Spears’ Mother WITHDRAWS Request For $600,000 In Lawyer Fees

Debra Bailey Sentenced for Financially Exploiting her Elderly Mother

For Immediate Release
October 25, 2022

Concord, NH – Attorney General John M. Formella announces that Debra Bailey (Lemere), age 58, of Enfield, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Monday, October 24, 2022, in the Grafton County Superior Court to one class A felony count of financial exploitation of an elderly adult.

A joint investigation by the Lebanon Police Department and the Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit of the Attorney General's Office revealed that on December 4, 2017, Ms. Bailey was appointed legal guardian over the finances of her 76-year-old mother, who suffered severe cognitive impairment due to dementia. As guardian, Ms. Bailey was required to prudently manage her Mother's financial affairs and was prohibited from using her mother's money for herself. However, between December 5, 2017, and July 16, 2019, Ms. Bailey unlawfully took $45,957.93 of her mother's money for herself, using the funds at, among other places, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, salons, and spas.

The Court sentenced Ms. Bailey to serve 12 months in the House of Corrections, stand committed, and ordered her to pay $45,957.93 in restitution to her mother's estate. Following her incarceration, Ms. Bailey will serve two years' probation. She is also prohibited from serving as guardian or in any other fiduciary capacity for any individual.

This case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant Attorney General Bryan J. Townsend, II, and Attorney Mary Stewart.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of elder abuse or financial exploitation, please contact your local police department and the Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services (1-800-949-0470).

Debra Bailey Sentenced for Financially Exploiting her Elderly Mother

Man arrested after mother-in-law’s body found buried in flower bed, officials say

Gregory Tanner is charged with theft of property, forgery, financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable person, identity theft and abuse of a corpse.(Action News 5/SCSO)

By Shyra Sherfield and Emily Van de Riet

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC/Gray News) – A man is facing charges in connection with the death of his 83-year-old mother-in-law whose body was found buried in her own garden.

According to an affidavit, Rebecca Seay was reported missing on Feb. 18 after caseworkers were unable to get in touch with her following her release from the hospital. Seay was diagnosed with dementia and was last seen leaving the hospital on Jan. 22 with her son-in-law, 59-year-old Gregory Tanner.

Investigators say her body was found on March 3 in the flower bed of her rental property, wrapped in sheets next to a black box of ashes labeled “High Point Funeral Home, David Seay.” David is Seay’s deceased son.

A cause of death has not been released.

According to an affidavit, Rebecca Seay was reported missing on Feb. 18 after caseworkers were unable to get in touch with her following her release from the hospital.(TBI)

On March 2, investigators were reportedly notified of suspicious activity regarding Seay’s bank accounts that were not related to her care. Between Jan. 7 and March 7, Tanner allegedly made $24,600 in unauthorized purchases on gambling sites that matched player records under his name.

It was also found that $80,800 in checks were forged and negotiated by Tanner into his personal bank accounts, according to the affidavit.

The total loss was $105,409.

Tanner is charged with theft of property, forgery, financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable person, identity theft and abuse of a corpse.

Full Article & Source:
Man arrested after mother-in-law’s body found buried in flower bed, officials say

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Anne Heche's Ex Claims Her Son Homer Has Treated Half-Brother, 13, in 'Hostile Manner' Since Her Death

By Glenn Garner

Anne Heche Homer Laffoon James Tupper. Photo: getty (2); Anne Heche/Instagram

Anne Heche
's ex James Tupper is pushing back against her older son Homer Laffoon amid their ongoing legal battle.

In new court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Tupper has objected to Homer's latest request for the court to "expand his authority" over his late mother's estate, citing poor treatment of his and Heche's son, 13-year-old Atlas.

According to the documents, which were filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Tupper, 57, alleges that Homer, 20, "has acted in a hostile manner" towards his half brother and "has refused to communicate with him or his representatives at all."

"Further, Atlas has no confidence in [Homer]'s ability to meet his fiduciary obligations to Atlas," the filing states, adding that Homer has allegedly not inventoried their mother's belongings, per his agreement with Tupper and Atlas, before they place the items in storage. 

"On behalf of Atlas, [Tupper] requests that prior to granting [Homer] any powers to take possession of the tangible personal property in the apartment, the Court compels [Homer] to provide an inventory of such personal property to Atlas so it can be determined whether [Homer] actually safeguards all of the Decedent's personal property in the future and conflict can be minimized," the documents read.

Additionally, the documents state that Tupper believes the bond should be set at $2 million, not $800,000.

Tupper's attorney Christopher B. Johnson argues that Homer — who Heche shares with ex-husband Coleman Laffoon — already has some of the powers he's requesting from the court, which they said "underscores his lack of competence and inability to preserve estate assets."

After Homer filed papers to assume control of his mother's estate last month, he and Tupper have been locked in a legal battle. Although Homer claimed that his mother didn't have a will, Tupper said Heche named him the executor more than a decade ago. 

Homer has since argued that the signature on his mother's will is not valid, while accusing Tupper of preventing him from communicating with his younger brother.

The pair is also fighting for guardianship ad litem of Atlas, with Tupper arguing earlier this month that Homer has "conflicts of interest" in the custody battle for his biological son as it relates to Heche's estate, and that appointing him custody "would actually harm the interests" of Atlas. 

Heche died after being involved in a car accident in Los Angeles on Aug. 5. After being in a coma, the state of California declared Heche legally dead on Aug. 12. She was temporarily kept on life support in order to prepare her organs for donation. On Aug. 14, her rep confirmed to PEOPLE she had been taken off life support.  

Full Article & Source:
Anne Heche's Ex Claims Her Son Homer Has Treated Half-Brother, 13, in 'Hostile Manner' Since Her Death

See Also:
Anne Heche

Lancaster attorney suspended 1 year for failing to timely report DUI


Lancaster lawyer Lon VanDusen Hughes will be suspended from practicing law for a year and a day after failing to timely report a DUI conviction.

In its order Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania also acted on findings and recommendations by its disciplinary board that Hughes had subsequent alcohol-related convictions, money problems and “a complete lack of respect for his professional duties.”

Hughes, 51, who has an office at 908 Columbia Ave., did not respond to a phone message Tuesday.

Newberry Township police in York County charged Hughes with DUI after his blood alcohol content was measured at .297% following a November 2018 stop for driving on the wrong side of the road, according to the disciplinary board’s report. The legal limit for intoxication in Pennsylvania is .08%.

Hughes pleaded guilty in April 2019 and was sentenced to two to five years of intermediate punishment — essentially, a period of house arrest and probation — lost his license for 18 months and had to pay fines and costs.

Hughes was required to report his conviction to the state Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel office within 20 days of the conviction. He reported the conviction May 14.

Hughes also pleaded guilty to three subsequent alcohol-related offenses: public drunkenness in February 2020 in Manheim Township, retail theft from a state liquor store in February 2020 in Manheim Township and public drunkenness in July 2021 in East Hempfield Township.

Hughes also “has a history of fiscal irresponsibility as demonstrated by three matters where he did not timely pay obligations,” the disciplinary board wrote. They include a late payment of $3,148 to York County related to his DUI conviction and a $4,418 judgment in Lancaster County related to credit card debt that’s still unpaid.

The disciplinary board also noted that Hughes was standoffish, rudely interrupted others and called its special counsel a jerk at a January conference related to his discipline. He also failed to appear at his disciplinary hearing.

Hughes, the board wrote, “has made no effort to acknowledge his disciplinarian issues and by his non-appearance, forfeited any meaningful opportunity to accept responsibility and express remorse, show that he is addressing his alcohol related problems, and convey to this board and the court that he values his privilege to practice law. In our view, respondent’s nonappearance at his own disciplinary hearing signifies the ultimate act of this interest in his professional license.”

Hughes’ suspension is effective Nov. 24. He was also ordered to pay all costs incurred by the disciplinary board in the investigation of his case.

Full Article & Source:
Lancaster attorney suspended 1 year for failing to timely report DUI

Oconee County woman scammed out of $93,000, deputies say

by Janice Limon

An Upstate woman was scammed out of $93,000 and deputies are using her experience to warn others.

According to Oconee County deputies, the woman met the scammer, who claimed to live in Russia, online in December 2020 and also exchanged text messages.

Deputies said that the scammer asked the woman for money in March 2021, claiming his son was hospitalized after a motor vehicle accident.

The woman gave the scammer money using gift cards and bank transfers, deputies said. She told deputies the scammer changed his name frequently while also changing locations in terms of where he lives.

The scammer originally told the woman that he knew her because they had gone to high school together.

"The sheriff’s office recommendation is not to provide any money to anyone you meet online," Master Deputy Jimmy Watt, with Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, said. "We have seen variations on this kind of scam, from a sweetheart scam or someone who needs money for a family emergency. Scammers can be very adept at building online relationships with people. Also, a sure sign of a scam is someone who requests money through some type of prepaid card," Watt said.

Watt said scammers obtain personal identifying information and financial account information, when in some cases, that information is not provided to a scammer.

He cited a recent edition of The Deputy podcast, when Bailey Parker, from the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, said that this information is normally found on the Dark Web via security breaches.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the Dark Web as the part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.

"The way that information gets there, I would take a guess of 95% of the time, is through security breaches," Parker said. "So, businesses we are using on a daily basis, whether it is the gas stations or grocery store or even the health care organization you go to, they are victims of security breaches. Hackers, and criminals in general, are targeting these large businesses because they know that they businesses have tons of your personal identifying information."

When these security breaches happen, according to Bailey, the criminals go on the Dark Web and sell it, use it for themselves, or do both. Bailey said the reason criminals like the Dark Web is because criminal activity is much harder to trace as well as the anonymity factor.

Anyone who thinks they have fallen victim to a scam should contact their local law enforcement agency immediately.

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Oconee County woman scammed out of $93,000, deputies say

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

So long, senior centers and nursing homes. Older adults don’t want to spend their time in places where they are seen as victims in decline.

by Michael Adams

So long, senior centers and nursing homes. Older adults don’t want to spend their time in places where they are seen as victims in decline. © istock

At 104 years old, Sally has more stories than you can imagine. As a young woman during World War II, she was the embodiment of Rosie the Riveter, working in New York City’s defense factories. She went on to break barriers as one of the first women recognized as a full journeyman in a California shipyard. She has been one of the most dedicated and oldest members of SAGE, the LGBTQ+ older-adult advocacy group.

But the pandemic hit her hard. She moved into a skilled nursing facility, and her vibrant life changed. She missed her friends and wasn’t herself. When SAGE was safely able to reopen in-person services, Sally’s pre-pandemic spirit was rekindled — she could see and talk with her friends and join in the reopening festivities.

Older adults want to connect

Sally’s story is a powerful reminder of an important service offered by older adult centers: connection. As leaders of SAGE and Wallis Annenberg GenSpace, we advocate for our older adults, and when we talk with our members, it’s not the food, housing, or exercise classes that keep people coming back — it’s the connection.

September is National Senior Center Month, but we try not to use that term. Instead, we’re working to redefine the traditional senior center. In our experience, older adults don’t want to spend their time in places built around the notion that they are victims in decline. They want to be in places that empower them to learn, have fun, and grow. Our spaces should reflect this difference and be designed in a way that embraces the idea of new stages in life instead of ages.

That’s why GenSpace was created. Our innovative center in L.A.’s Koreatown offers older adults opportunities to find new hobbies, pursue creativity and health, and meet new people in a welcoming environment.

Creating a community

We held focus groups of older adults to better understand how to create a space that serves the needs of its members. Those focus groups informed the design and programming of GenSpace, so older adults feel supported and seen.

We’ve continually heard from our members that GenSpace is the one place where they feel welcome. So far, we’ve seen a great response from the community, as our classes fill to capacity and we offer more programs to meet demand.

At SAGE, we’ve been advocating and supporting LGBTQ+ older adults for 42 years. When we opened our first SAGE Centers, LGBTQ+ older folks passionately embraced our spaces as the only elder-focused places where they truly felt at home. We’ve seen the power of creating a community and never has it been more important.

And while we are aware of the increasing interest and need for spaces like ours, the country is not prepared to handle the pending age shift.

By 2034, adults aged 65 and older will outnumber children for the first time. This new wave of older people will have longer lifespans and smaller family and support networks while facing more housing, transportation, caregiving, healthcare and technology challenges.

Services are seriously lagging

Our ecosystem of services, resources, and facilities that support older adults is seriously lagging. Not only do we not have the necessary resources, but we aren’t prepared to offer older adults what they need to thrive.

Furthermore, centers today often aren’t designed to serve the disparate needs of our increasingly diverse population. LGBTQ+ elders, for example, experience acute levels of social isolation, while Black and brown elders struggle with serious health disparities, as illustrated during the COVID pandemic.

These are some reasons why LGBTQ+ elders and older adults of color, who are more likely to age in poverty and with serious health problems, need community centers more than anybody.

Investments to support older adults are growing, which is encouraging. California is one of five states implementing a Master Plan for Aging (MPA), which provides a road map to transform the infrastructure and services available to each state’s rapidly aging population. New York state and Vermont are drafting MPAs now. But more is needed as demand grows for spaces that help older adults stay active and connected.

By revolutionizing spaces and services for older adults, we can breathe new life into these traditional community institutions and turn them into destinations that older people want and need. We can and must give older adults a vibrant next phase of their lives — so other people like Sally can party and connect with their community until they’re 104 and beyond.

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So long, senior centers and nursing homes. Older adults don’t want to spend their time in places where they are seen as victims in decline.

North KC lawyer disbarred after accusing judges of lying, committing crimes

 By Sarah Motter

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A North Kansas City lawyer has been disbarred after he accused federal judges of lying and committing crimes.

The Kansas Supreme Court says that in Case No. 124,956: In the Matter of Jack R.T. Jordan, it ordered Jordan’s disbarment. Jordan had been a North Kansas City, Mo., attorney admitted to practice in the state of Kansas since 2019.

The Court said it agreed with a recommendation from the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys panel and the Disciplinary Administrator’s Office that Jordan should be disbarred for misconduct. The incident came during federal court proceedings that had been initiated to get a “Powers email” document under the federal Freedom of Information act. 

The Court noted that it found Jordan had engaged in serious misconduct which included making frivolous claims, disobeying obligations under tribunal rules, making false or reckless statements about the qualifications or integrity of judges, and committing conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and conduct adversely reflecting on his fitness to practice law.

According to the Court, Jordan denied the allegations and argued discipline could not be imposed due to his First Amendment-protected statements. He also claimed the assertions have not been proven false.

In a unanimous decision, the Court said it set out the panel’s detailed factual findings and conclusions and Jordan’s challenges to them. The Court found clear and convincing evidence that established his multiple violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct and held that disbarment is appropriate.

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North KC lawyer disbarred after accusing judges of lying, committing crimes

Art dealer faked lung transplant to rob seniors in $1.6 million fraud scheme, FBI says

by Tresa Baldas


  • A Michigan art dealer is being charged in U.S. District Court with running a $1.6 million scam that preyed on the elderly and involved more than 100 rare, fine art photographs.
  • Instead of honoring her clients’ contracts to sell the artwork on consignment, the FBI says, Wendy Beard sold the photos without their knowledge and kept the money.
  • The FBI also alleges that Beard created fake employees and email addresses, used to send clients messages that claimed Beard couldn't be reached because she was in the hospital or in a coma.

For years, Wendy Beard ran a lucrative art gallery she inherited from her millionaire father in Birmingham, Michigan.

But along the way, the FBI says, she got greedy – so greedy that she scammed seniors by taking their rare art on consignment, selling it and then keeping all the profits, including a mural-sized Ansel Adams photograph she sold for $440,000 without ever telling the owner.

When the 82-year-old owner of the photo tried to get the picture back, the FBI says, Beard came up with a story: She was in the hospital getting a double lung transplant and was too sick to deal with the request.

None of it was true, the FBI says.

Fake employees, fake emails, fake transplant

The 82-year-old woman – identified as Victim No. 1 in court documents – was not alone.

On Thursday, the FBI issued a plea to the public, asking for its help in identifying "additional potential victims" who may have provided art to Beard and never got paid, or who bought art from her and never received it.

In an alleged fraud scheme unraveling in U.S. District Court, Beard is charged with running a $1.6 million scam involving more than 100 rare, fine-art photographs that collectors entrusted her with to sell on consignment.

Instead of honoring her clients’ contracts, the FBI says, she sold the photos without their knowledge and kept the money. Moreover, the FBI says, Beard sold artwork to other victims but never delivered the goods – even after they had paid her – and created fake email addresses of fake employees she pretended worked for her.

It was these fake employees who came up with the lung transplant story, the FBI says, alleging it was really Beard who made up the tale in emails to her unwitting clients.

The FBI detailed these allegations in a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court, where Beard is charged with wire fraud and bank fraud for allegedly running a yearslong scheme that preyed largely on the elderly, out of a gallery that her father founded more than 50 years ago.

Beard is free on bond. Neither she nor her court-appointed attorney could be reached for comment.

How the scam allegedly worked

According to the complaint, Beard’s scheme started in 2017 – one year before her father died – and ran out of two locations.

The gallery, which was renamed the Wendy Halsted Gallery a decade earlier, operated for a few years out of a Birmingham storefront. But in 2020, the business closed and relocated to Beard’s home in Franklin, Michigan.

Full Article & Source:
Art dealer faked lung transplant to rob seniors in $1.6 million fraud scheme, FBI says