Saturday, November 19, 2022

Here's how Michigan is working to ensure court-appointed guardians don't take advantage of elders


Nicole Shannon, systemic litigation and advocacy attorney for the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative, and Alison Hirschel, director and managing attorney of the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative.

This article is part of 
State of Health, a series about how Michigan communities are rising to address health challenges. It is made possible with funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

Very few court-appointed guardianship cases reflect the plot of the popular Netflix movie "I Care a Lot," in which Rosamund Pike plays a predatory guardian who makes a living swindling the elders she's supposed to protect. However, similar situations are still unfortunately common enough that many Michigan providers and activists are working hard to ensure the guardianship system effectively serves Michigan's older adults.

When any adult becomes incapacitated, a Michigan county probate court can appoint a guardian to take care of the individual's needs. A similarly appointed conservator takes care of an incapacitated adult's property. One appointee can serve as both guardian and conservator. While most guardians and conservators do their jobs well and without issue, there are still many cases in which the incapacitated adult has deep concerns with their guardian or conservator's behavior.

Alison Hirschel is director and managing attorney of the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative (MEJI), elder law attorney at the Michigan Poverty Law Program, and serves on Michigan's Elder Abuse Task Force. The task force is comprised of more than 100 individuals representing 55 organizations who are dedicated to addressing abuse, neglect, and exploitation of Michigan's vulnerable older adults. One focus of the task force is making sure that court-appointed guardianships and conservatorships truly serve the people they are supposed to protect and support.

Alison Hirschel.

"Truly, we have so many of these cases," Hirschel says. "Many of our clients are concerned about how their guardians are spending money. Because there aren't adequate financial reporting requirements for guardianship, this can lead to real distrust and, sometimes, real problems with the guardianship. We also have cases where the guardians aren't spending money that needs to be spent. They're not paying their nursing home bills or their mortgages. We have many family members who contact us because they've been passed over to serve as a guardian."

For example, one older man who was both blind and deaf lived very successfully on his own. When a petition was made to appoint him a guardian, the court did not obtain an interpreter who could speak for him or to him. The judge could not appreciate how much capacity the man had and appointed a guardian. With MEJI’s help over the course of several years, the man's case was finally heard by the Michigan Supreme Court.

"He's now in charge of his own life and living independently as he had before," Hirschel says. "He got caught in the system because no one gave him a way to communicate, to express that he had capacity to manage his own life as he always had. There are lots of stories like that."

While designed to protect people who cannot care for themselves, guardianship, when abused, strips the ward of their most basic rights: where they live, what medical care they receive, what activities they take part in, and who they spend time with. One way adults of all ages can avoid court-appointed guardianship is to file an advanced medical directive that names one’s own choice of a medical patient advocate. (Many guardianship cases arise out of medical necessity.)

Hirschel notes that emergency and temporary petitions for guardianship are often granted quickly and with little oversight. When a court agrees to hear an emergency petition, decisions can be based on limited evidence. The person at the heart of the petition doesn't have a good opportunity to respond and the law does not require other interested parties, such as family or close friends, to be informed. And the current statute does not define what constitutes an emergency.

"Right now, an emergency is really in the eyes of the beholder," Hirschel says. "That might be okay if it were a true emergency and it was a short-term solution. But very often we see those emergency appointments turn into permanent appointments. That means the person has lost the right to make decisions about their life for the rest of their lives."

The long road to better guardianship guidance

Since the '90s, the state of Michigan has explored and enacted many reforms to its guardianship and conservatorship statutes. When the Michigan Department of Attorney General launched its Elder Abuse Task Force in 2019, guardianship and conservatorship became one focus of its work.

Katharyn Barron.
"When the task force was formed in 2019, the members first took a step back, read all previous task force reports, and asked, ‘What still needs to be done? What can we reasonably accomplish?' A task force often writes a report, puts it on a shelf, and disbands," says Katharyn Barron, Michigan's assistant attorney general, state public administrator, and head of the Elder Abuse Task Force. "We don't intend to write any report. We intend to push these initiatives through."

A few of the task force's many initiatives include limiting the number of wards per guardian; refining emergency petitions for guardianship/conservatorship to promote due process rights and ensure no less restrictive alternatives exist; ensuring that lawyers assigned to these cases spend quality time meeting privately with the vulnerable adult; requiring training and certification of professional guardians; increasing guardians’ visitation requirement to monthly; making sure family members are not passed by when appointing guardians; and improving protections for people when professional guardians seek to remove them from their homes. Many of these were introduced to the Michigan legislature in June 2021 through a package of four bills each in the state house and senate. If passed by the legislature, the bills will implement the remainder of the task force's first nine initiatives

"[The package of bills] puts into law the factors that judges should look at in guardianship cases," Barron says. "It is before the legislature now and we are expecting a decision on it soon."

Barron and Hirschel agree that many of Michigan’s professional guardians do right by their wards. In fact, input from these professionals was considered as the various initiatives were drafted. However, more help is needed to protect vulnerable adults of all ages from the few predatory professional guardians — and family members — who seek their own financial gain or neglect those in their charge. One grievance Hirschel often sees in her work is wards forced out of their homes and into long-term care facilities. Guardians find it much easier to place a ward in a facility where others attend them 24/7 and there’s only one bill to pay each month.

"We often see people who want more than anything to remain in their home," Hirschel says. "As soon as the guardian is appointed, in very short order, they get moved out of their home. Once they lose their home, they lose almost all their possessions and they're living in an assisted living facility or a nursing home with hardly anything from their entire life. It’s heartbreaking."

Closing gaps and ensuring safeguards

When handled correctly, a county probate court appoints a guardian or conservator when there is clear and convincing evidence that an individual cannot make informed decisions about their welfare and safety and when there is no less restrictive alternative. Family members or others close to the person are supposed to be the first considered as guardians.

"The system as it is right now, if it was fully implemented, would work. But I'm not convinced that [the laws] are fully being implemented," says Steve Burnham, guardianship diversion project co-chair, head of the Probate Registers Association, board member of the Michigan Guardianship Association, and former Kalamazoo County probate register. "I dealt with thousands of these cases every year. I don't think there's any one, single answer. It's a multitude of things. The changes that are being talked about can be good. But if we don't enforce the rules that are already there, what makes us think we're going to enforce any new rules?"

Burnham would like to see more funding for court staff to more aggressively investigate cases before guardians are appointed. During his years in probate court, family members were routinely sought out before professional guardians were appointed. And he has seen more problems with family members taking advantage of wards than professional guardians.

"The question is: how do you protect the wards, whether it be a public guardian or family?" Burnham says. "How do we protect vulnerable adults from any court-appointed fiduciary?"

Burnham and Hirschel co-chair a new task force subcommittee that is planning a guardianship diversion program. When implemented, this program will help ensure that guardians are appointed and monitored appropriately.

"We're concerned about all petitions for guardianship and conservatorship," Hirschel says. "We know that there have been problems across that whole process." 

For more information on elder abuse and the State of Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force, download its brochure.

Full Article & Source:
Here's how Michigan is working to ensure court-appointed guardians don't take advantage of elders

Guardianship - what is sufficient incapacity?

By Dan Barney

Estate Planning & the Law

Last week we discussed the relative merits of a guardianship versus the much less restrictive Power of Attorney.

Because a guardianship has been described by the Oklahoma Supreme Court as “a massive curtailment of liberty,” it is important that guardianship be used only when necessary.

Although various degrees of control may accompany a limited guardianship, our discussion here applies to a general guardianship which includes full control of an individual’s person and property. The court must be assured that a person is truly “incapacitated.”

Who is an Incapacitated Person? Oklahoma laws define an incapacitated person in 30 OS 1-111. A person 18 years or older who is impaired by reason of:

1. Mental illness

2. Intellectual or developmental disability

3. Physical illness or disability

4. Drug or alcohol dependency

And whose ability to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions is impaired to such an extent that the person:

1. Lacks capacity to maintain health and safety

2. Is unable to manage financial resources.

A person requesting to be appointed guardian must present adequate evidence to the court to prove incapacity of the subject.

How is Evidence Presented? The professional opinion of medical, psychological or administrative bodies may be presented to the court.

Also, the court may initiate its own investigation via known medical experts.

In each case the type of professional selected to provide an opinion should match the needs of the person who will be subject to guardianship (i.e. the “Ward”).

Elderly clients are evaluated by geriatric specialists; financial capability by a financially oriented professional. Drug or alcohol disability may require some specific psychiatric expert opinion.

The court will receive such evidence and upon acceptance may, in many cases, require that the experts provide a plan for the care and administration of the ward and his assets.

This plan will become a control measure as well as provide guidance for the guardian who is finally appointed. Such controls will include regular monitoring and reports of performance back to the court.

Conclusion. A guardianship is restrictive and therefore requires careful review and confirmation of its necessity.

Medical and expert opinion is an important part of the review by a court to confirm that a guardianship is necessary and to develop guidelines for the administration of that guardianship.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship - what is sufficient incapacity?

Ohio woman allegedly drowns 93-year-old grandmother in kitchen sink, bathtub to dodge nursing home bills

By Danielle Wallace | Fox News

An Ohio woman allegedly admitted to drowning her elderly grandmother to avoid nursing home bills. 

Heidi Matheny, 35, was arrested for the murder of her 93-year-old grandmother, Alice Matheny. 

The granddaughter allegedly admitted she took her grandmother to a doctor’s appointment, where a doctor told them the elderly woman needed to be in a nursing home, something they could not afford and insurance would not cover, according to the Eaton, Ohio, police report. 

Heidi said they left the appointment and enjoyed ice cream together. 

Back at the house, Heidi allegedly described to officers how she walked up behind her grandmother while the 93-year-old woman was doing dishes and pushed her head into the sink, holding her there "until the bubbles stopped," according to the police report cited by WDTN. 

Heidi Matheny, 35, is accused of murdering her 93-year-old grandmother, Alice Matheny, by drowning her in the kitchen sink and bathtub.
Heidi Matheny, 35, is accused of murdering her 93-year-old grandmother, Alice Matheny, by drowning her in the kitchen sink and bathtub.  (Montgomery County Jail)

The 35-year-old allegedly said she then brought her grandmother to the bathtub to make sure she was dead. 

"It’s nothing that she did," Heidi allegedly said during a police interview. "She’s not – She’s the perfect freaking grandma."

"According to the confession, she was just tired of taking care of a grandmother," Eaton Police Division Chief Steven Hurd said. "It’s difficult not to take this to heart when you have a 35-year-old granddaughter who allegedly drowned her grandmother of 93 years of age in the bathtub." 

After the deed was done, Heidi left the apartment through a window and walked to the nearby sheriff’s office. 

The Eaton Police Division said officers were dispatched to the 300 block of East Somers Street on a report of a possible homicide at approximately 5:54 p.m. on Tuesday. 

Upon arrival, officers found Alice Matheny dead in the bathtub as Heidi had described. 

The granddaughter was arrested and booked into Preble County Jail on a murder charge. Though, the police department said formal charges are pending from the Preble County Prosecutor’s Office. 

The grandmother was transported to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy. 

Police said there are currently no other suspects, though the case remains under investigation. 

Full Article & Source:
Ohio woman allegedly drowns 93-year-old grandmother in kitchen sink, bathtub to dodge nursing home bills

Friday, November 18, 2022

Justice Department Launches Disability Rights Investigation into Missouri’s Use of Skilled Nursing Facilities

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Justice Department Launches Disability Rights Investigation into Missouri’s Use of Skilled Nursing Facilities

The Justice Department announced today that it has opened an investigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into whether the State of Missouri unnecessarily institutionalizes adults with serious mental illness in skilled nursing facilities. The department will investigate whether these individuals could be served in the community with services such as supported housing, assertive community treatment, crisis services and peer support services, and whether the State’s use of guardianship for people with serious mental illness contributes to unnecessary placements in nursing facilities. Guardianship is a process in which a court appoints someone to make certain decisions for a person, often including decisions about where to live.

Prior to the announcement, the department informed state officials of the investigation.

“People with disabilities have too often been unlawfully isolated in institutions and stripped of their autonomy,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to defend the rights of individuals with mental health disabilities to access the community-based services they need and to participate fully in community life.”

The Justice Department has not reached any conclusions regarding the subject matter under investigation. Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the department via email at or through the Civil Rights Division’s Civil Rights Portal, available at

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division’s Olmstead enforcement is available on its website at

Justice Department Launches Disability Rights Investigation into Missouri’s Use of Skilled Nursing Facilities

Combating Elder Financial Exploitation Remains A Constant Battle

By Randy Yohe

James Lindsay is a financial exploitation attorney for Legal Aid of West Virginia.

Crimes of elder financial exploitation damage more than a senior citizen's bank account.

James Lindsay is a financial exploitation attorney for Legal Aid of West Virginia and a leader in a multi-agency state task force fighting elder financial abuse.

Lindsay addressed the West Virginia Legislature's interim meeting of the Children and Families Committee Tuesday. He said about half of the state’s 16,000 elder abuse and neglect cases involve financial exploitation.

“Financial exploitation is what we call the biggest ‘silent crime’ in the United States,” Lindsay said. “One study from the Government Accountability Office found about $5.5 million in assets from about 158 incapacitated victims, most of whom were seniors. The estimated cost of financial exploitation in the United States is approximately $3 billion.”

Lindsay listed the usual suspects in elder financial exploitation, including computer hackers, identity thieves, IRS scams, government impostors and impostor businesses. However, he focused his remarks on nearly half of all state and national scam artists, calling them the ‘“unusual suspects.”

“These people come from diverse professional backgrounds. We've had engineers, bankers — these are trusted agents, consumers, friends, family, people who the elderly trust with their finances,” Lindsay said. “A lot of family members, spouses, caregivers, needy children, grandchildren, best friends and neighbors, guardians and conservators.”

He said several recently passed West Virginia laws have greatly aided in investigation, prosecution and returning millions in lost assets.

“Judges can award double or treble damages under the statutes. There is a fee shifting statute to the preponderance of the evidence standard,” Lindsay said. “We have a two year statute of limitations in West Virginia. Judges also have the power to freeze assets, provide injunctive relief, appoint receivers, void contracts or require security be posted.”

Lindsay told lawmakers that creating a state consumer protection penalty and restitution fund would bolster the criminal battle and aid victims in recovery.

“The fund would provide consumer enforcement actions and distribute compensation to eligible consumers and victims,” Lindsay said. “This is something that could be administered by a state agency.”

National studies show elder financial crime victims are twice as likely to die at an earlier age.

Full Article & Source:
Combating Elder Financial Exploitation Remains A Constant Battle

Atmore woman arrested on elder abuse, fraudulent use of credit/debit card charges

By Andrew Garner

An Atmore woman was arrested and charged with elder abuse and exploitation charges on Oct. 24, according to the Atmore Police Department.

Shelley Lafever
Public Information Officer Sgt. Darrell McMann said in a release that Shelley Lafever, 39, of Atmore, was charged with financial exploitation of the elderly, forgery III, fraudulent use of a credit/debit card and elder abuse and neglect III.

McMann said the arrest stemmed when an elderly victim came to the APD on Oct. 18 to report that her daughter, Lafever, had allegedly used her debit card numerous times without permission.

“The victim was contacted by an investigator and it was discovered that Lafever had used the debit in excess of 25 times without permission,” McMann said. “Several checks were also forged by Lafever over the course of a few months.”

McMann said the victim feared for her safety and moved from the residence.

“After speaking with the victim, the investigator discovered the victim suffered severe emotional distress in reference to the declining condition of the residence and the emotional trauma created by Lafever,” he said. “

McMann said arrest warrants were signed on Lafever, and she was arrested on Oct. 24, and transported to the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton.

Full Article & Source:
Atmore woman arrested on elder abuse, fraudulent use of credit/debit card charges

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Lewiston Woman Charged with Felony Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult After Her 72-Year-Old Mother Dies in Her Care

Cindi Williams

LEWISTON - A 37-year-old Lewiston woman has been charged with Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult, a felony, after her 72-year-old mother, who was in her care, died. According to a release from the Nez Perce County Prosecutor's Office, detectives with the Lewiston Police Department began investigating the death and observed injuries common with neglect. 

On Friday, November 11, the Lewiston Fire Department responded to a medical call at a residence in the 3100 block of 7th Street regarding an unconscious 72-year-old woman. Firefighters and medical personnel arrived on scene to find the woman to now be breathing. According to the Nez Perce County Prosecutor's Office, the woman was then transported to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center where she later died. 

The Lewiston Police Department was then notified over concerns regarding the suspicious death, which prompted an investigation. Detectives with the LPD began their investigation where they observed the woman to have injuries common with neglect. 

The release from the Prosecutor's Office states that detectives learned the victim had dried blood/fecal matter on her body, bed sore injuries common with laying in one position without moving, extremely long/curling toe nails, malnourishment, and was covered in dark brown vomit. The doctor tending to the victim also reported finding multiple hygiene dermatitis rashes and skin breakdowns over the victim's entire body, which was worse in the pelvic region and buttocks, and on the left side of her body.

It was then learned that 37-year-old Cindi Williams, of Lewiston, was the sole person taking care of her. According to a Probable Cause affidavit, Ms. Williams was allegedly tending to the care of the victim to include bathing, feeding, and providing care for the last 3-4 years.

While serving a search warrant on the residence, LPD Detectives found the house to be extremely cluttered, littered with assorted clothes, and other property/trash. All detectives wore personal protective equipment because of the unsanitary conditions.

A small white toy poodle was also found huddled on the kitchen floor that was distressed and obviously in poor health. Animal Control responded to the scene and took the dog to the vet for examination.

Detectives then placed Ms. Williams into custody and she was later booked into the Nez Perce County Detention Center.

In court, the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office filed a single felony count of Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult charge against Ms. Williams. The Prosecutor’s Office asked for $20,000 bond because of the nature of the charges and Ms. Williams does not have any prior failure to appear warrants or felony cases. Judge Sunil Ramalingam ordered a $10,000 bond.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges will be considered once an autopsy has been completed.

Full Article & Source:
Lewiston Woman Charged with Felony Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult After Her 72-Year-Old Mother Dies in Her Care

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks at Elder Justice Coordinating Council Meeting

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks at Elder Justice Coordinating Council Meeting
Washington, DC - Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you for that warm welcome, Acting Assistant Secretary Barkoff. It is a pleasure to join you once again and to represent the Department of Justice at the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, alongside Andy Mao, the Department’s National Elder Justice Coordinator.    

I would like to thank Deputy Secretary Palm for the leadership role that HHS has played on the Council and for partnering with Council participants to protect older Americans from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. 

For the past decade, combating elder fraud and abuse has been a top priority for the Justice Department. We remain committed to doing all we can to restore dignity to older adults who have been abused, and to repair the sense of safety and security for those who have been financially exploited or defrauded. Prevention, early detection and early intervention — combined with partnership at every level of government — are all necessary to combat elder abuse.

Let me begin with some updates since I last spoke to this group.

As outlined in our recent annual report to Congress, the Department pursued nearly 300 criminal and civil cases in the past year on issues ranging from COVID-19 fraud to grossly substandard care in nursing homes. We also returned millions of dollars to elder-fraud victims through asset forfeitures and other actions. At the same time, we developed tools for elder justice professionals on the front lines and devoted substantial resources to victim assistance, including by responding to a record number of calls on the National Elder Fraud Hotline. And the Department participated in public outreach on numerous elder justice topics to over 150,000 individuals, including members of law enforcement, legal aid attorneys, elder justice professionals and members of the public.

Collaboration and coordination at all levels of government have been key to the success of these departmental initiatives.  

First and foremost, this is reflected in our close partnership with other federal agencies. As many of you know, the Justice Department has focused much of our elder justice enforcement on transnational schemes, which comprised nearly 40% of our cases in the past year. Our whole-of-government approach has been critical to detecting and disrupting these schemes, which include grandparent scams, romance fraud, identity theft and lottery fraud. Our work to investigate, build and prosecute these cases has involved collaboration with the U.S. Postal Inspection Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Our federal partners have likewise been instrumental in helping raise awareness on issues impacting older adults. For example, with the help of the Administration for Community Living, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the National Institute on Aging and others, we convened a three-day virtual symposium last April focused on the role that decision-making capacity plays in elder justice proceedings, where criminal and civil judges are frequently called upon to undertake the complex and nuanced task of trying to assess the abilities of older adults to make independent decisions about personal and financial matters. 

Equally critical for the department’s work has been our continued collaboration and coordination at the state and local level. Our federal initiatives have long benefitted from the assistance of our state and local law enforcement partners — and I am excited that the Council will be hearing today from some of our state partners who are so committed to this work. 

We also have several efforts in the works to strengthen these partnerships in the days ahead.  

One example of a successful collaboration is the National Nursing Home Initiative. Launched in 2020, this initiative is designed to coordinate and enhance civil and criminal enforcement related to nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care by drawing on a wide network of state and local professionals, including state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, adult protective services, Long-Term Care Ombudsmen, state and local law enforcement and many others. 

Next month, the initiative will launch a significant new training effort with state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Directors across the nation. In a series of six virtual convenings, the Justice Department’s Elder Justice and Health Care Fraud Coordinators will meet with Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Directors to discuss the most effective ways to collaborate on priority substandard care cases and share best practices related to this enforcement work.

And just last month, the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime announced the first of its kind effort to support a National Elder Justice Coalition Center to support the development of new state and tribal coalitions that will collaborate with federal agencies to coordinate elder justice work. The National Elder Justice Coalition Center will release a competitive solicitation early next summer to fund and support additional elder justice coalitions across the country.   

Finally, a bit of a coming attraction: I am pleased to announce that in the fall of 2023, the Justice Department will host an Elder Justice Summit specifically for state and local law enforcement. This Summit will provide a national platform for sharing strategies and best practices, information, and resources. Stay tuned for more information on this.

On behalf of the Justice Department, I want to thank you again for all that you have done and will do to advance the cause of elder justice. My colleagues and I look forward to continuing to partner with you on this important issue.   

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks at Elder Justice Coordinating Council Meeting

Schmanek, Theresa - 18 4101 A1 Forgery (F2) and 3 additional charges

In the beginning of September, Warrington Police received a report from an individual concerned that their 87-year-old family member was being victimized financially by their care-giver, later identified as 57-year-old, Theresa Schmanek of Philadelphia, Pa. 

Warrington Police began investigating this case and eventually discovered that Schmanek opened multiple credit cards under the elderly victim’s identity without permission and began making numerous purchases and several cash advances. 

 Schmanek was charged with Forgery, Access Device Fraud, Identity Theft, and Financial Exploitation of an Older Adult or Care-Dependent Person. Criminal charges, and any discussion thereof, are merely allegations and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

Arrest Date:  Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - 12:00pm 

Reference ID:  2022-09-0487 

18 4101 A1 Forgery (F2)
18 4106 A1 Access Device Fraud (F3)
18 4120 A Identity Theft (F2)
18 3922.1 Financial Exploitation of an Older Adult or Care-Dependent Person (F3) 

Incident Type:

Warrington Township Police Department

Sourced via CRIMEWATCH®:

Full Article & Source:
Schmanek, Theresa - 18 4101 A1 Forgery (F2) and 3 additional charges

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Jenny Reimenschneider Gives Updates On Her Mother In A Guardianship: Her Family Are Now Co-Guardians

November 14, 2022 Jenny Reimenschneider Season 3 Episode 153 

Slam the Gavel

00:00 | 36:25

   Slam the Gavel welcomes Jenny Reimenschneider back to the podcast. She was last on the show Season 3, Episode 80. She also invited her friend Deb to speak on the podcast in regards to what has happened with Jenny's mother. Jenny is a long-term  activist and Montgomery County, PA resident. She comes from a very close-knit, community-service oriented family.  The idea that in the year 2022, in the United States, a human being can actually own another human being, is atrocious. 

      The  family has been living the nightmare of having an uninvolved, stranger taking complete control not just of their Mother, but their entire extended family. After unfortunately reaching out to the county looking for assistance, the family suddenly found themselves falsely accused of not properly clothing and feeding their Mother, not taking her to appointments, using her money, and other things that were easily refuted had anyone taken the time to look at.

   After attending a hearing with a clearly predetermined outcome, a judge assigned this stranger, whom none of the family had ever met, and who didn’t even speak to their Mother, became the owner of their Mother.

      For eight months now, she has endured multiple fractures and head injuries, the situation has caused her to mentally, physically and cognitively decline exponentially, and the county claims they “can’t do anything”.

     What Jenny wants everyone to know is that she and her family are "co-guardians" of their mother as of September. They get to see their mother more often and get to take her out of the nursing home per judge's orders. Jenny also encourages that if you need help with a loved one, ask another relative or a friend, but do not go to the state for help. NO ONE should not, under any circumstances ask county agencies for help. Do not under any circumstances allow anyone you care about to become under the control of a “Guardian “. 
To Reach Jenny Reimenschneider: Facebook:  Guardianship Court Corruption Victims 2021 and

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Jenny Reimenschneider Gives Updates On Her Mother In A Guardianship: Her Family Are Now Co-Guardians

Pennsylvania Courts Awarded Federal Grant to Further Develop Programs to Protect Elders

By Editor

The Pennsylvania Courts have been awarded nearly $1 million in federal Elder Justice Innovation Grant funds to protect older Pennsylvanians. Pennsylvania was one of three states to receive the award.

The three-year grant, awarded through the federal Administration for Community Living, Elder Justice Innovation Grant program, aims to provide assistance to states in their efforts to assess and implement improvements in the handling of adult guardianship cases.

“We are grateful for this grant award which will allow us to continue educating elders and their families about guardianship,” Pennsylvania Chief Justice Debra Todd said. “Knowledge is power and these additional resources provide a tremendous opportunity to develop new and innovative programs and trainings which will give people the information they need to change lives across Pennsylvania.

“We are pleased that Pennsylvania was successful in winning this award, amid such a competitive group of applicants. We extend our sincere thanks to the Administration for Community Living.”

The grant work in Pennsylvania will be overseen by the Office of Elder Justice in the Courts (OEJC) which was established by the Supreme Court to assist the Court in implementing recommendations contained in the 2014 Elder Law Task Force’s Report and Recommendations. The OEJC, along with the Advisory Council on Elder Justice and the Courts, is committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s rapidly growing population of elders from all forms of abuse and neglect, promoting best practices and educating judges, court staff, attorneys, guardians and the public about elder abuse.

Among the projects planned, the OEJC and the Advisory Council intend to deploy two pilot projects focused on providing trained counsel to represent alleged incapacitated persons in guardianship proceedings and using court-appointed volunteer monitors to visit the individual prior to and following the appointment of a guardian. They will also develop and implement continuing education programs and online video modules for judges, court staff, attorneys and guardians.

“We are thrilled to pilot these new programs along with the help of our court and community partners,” Montgomery County Administrative Orphans’ Court Judge Lois Murphy said. “Initiatives like these directly impact elders and their families and allow us to learn more about what they need and how we can further develop relationships to continue building on the existing system in place to support elders and their families.”

Full Article & Source:
Pennsylvania Courts Awarded Federal Grant to Further Develop Programs to Protect Elders

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Caregiver sentenced to 20 years without parole for elder abuse in Acworth that resulted in shattered hip on 86-year-old woman

Posted By: Larry Felton Johnson

On November 7, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Angela Z. Brown sentenced Shelia Knight to twenty years to be served in custody for aggravated battery and elder exploitation. Knight was convicted of charges arising from an incident that resulted in a shattered hip of an 86-year-old Acworth woman.

Knight will have to serve out the entire 20 years because of her past criminal history.

A Cobb County jury found Knight guilty in a trial that ended September 28.

A public information release from Cobb County District Attorney Flynn D. Broady, Jr. described the incident leading up to the arrest, and the subsequent trial, as follows:

“While Knight was filling in as a CNA caregiver for eighty-six-year-old female victim, she forcefully pushed the elderly victim to the ground. Knight pushed the elderly victim so hard she flew a short distance, before landing hard on the floor of her apartment.

“The elderly victim shattered her hip as a result of being pushed by Knight. Knight’s actions were caught on film, by a home security video system installed by the elderly victim’s family. Once the family observed Knight’s abuse, they immediately called 911.

“The family drove to elderly victim’s apartment, retrieved the video, and turned the video over to Acworth Police Department. The Acworth Police Department immediately began an investigation of the incident. Based on the results of their investigations, Knight was arrested on May 19, 2019.

“During Knight’s trial, Assistant District Attorney John Tully presented the testimony of the home security video footage, law enforcement, and medical personnel. 

“During the deliberations, Knight who was out on bond failed to appear back in court.

“In Knight’s absence, the jury returned a guilty verdict for Aggravated Battery and Elder Abuse.

“Knight was apprehended eight days later in Paulding County and transported back to Cobb County to await sentencing.”

The District Attorney Elder Abuse/White Collar trial team prosecuting Knight included Assistant District John Tully, Investigator F. Stevenson, Investigator A. Allen, and Victim Advocate Cindy Bard.

ADA Tully was quoted in the press release stating, “To abuse the elderly, some of our most vulnerable people, is absolutely reprehensible and unacceptable.”

Full Article & Source:
Caregiver sentenced to 20 years without parole for elder abuse in Acworth that resulted in shattered hip on 86-year-old woman

Former Kentucky judge reprimanded over ‘flirtatious and sexual’ text messages

By Bill Estep

Brian Privett is a former circuit judge in Scott, Bourbon and Woodford counties. Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts

A state judicial panel publicly reprimanded a former Kentucky judge who allegedly exchanged flirtatious text messages with a court employee. The Judicial Conduct Commission issued the sanction against Brian Privett Thursday. Privett served more than three years as circuit judge in Scott, Woodford and Bourbon counties before resigning in January.

In the order issued Thursday, the Judicial Conduct Commission said it did a preliminary investigation that arose from a complaint that Privett exchanged “flirtatious and sexual text messages” in 2018 with a female court employee he did not supervise. The texts involved multiple conversations, including some that happened while Privett was on the bench presiding over court, the order said.

The order did not include copies of the messages. However, in a story in June, the News-Graphic newspaper in Georgetown printed some messages it said Privett had sent. The newapaper said it had received the messages from an anonymous source. “Just noticed your long legs back there. Enjoying court?” said one message Privett allegedly sent. Privett told the newspaper at the time that he had made mistakes that hurt his family, friends and supporters.

“I am truly sorry for anything I have done that hurt others. I have asked forgiveness from God, and have many times sought counsel of ministers and my closest friends,” Privett said, according to the newspaper. The Judicial Conduct Commission said Privett’s resignation was not connected to the alleged inappropriate messages. The commission said it concluded Privett committed misconduct in office and violated several ethics rules, including a requirement for judges to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and another that bars judges from using the prestige of the office to advance a personal or economic interest.

Privett cooperated in the inquiry and agreed to accept the public reprimand, the commission said. Privett is now an official with a substance-abuse treatment program. He did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday afternoon. In 2021, Privett alleged that Sharon Muse-Johnson, commonwealth’s attorney in the circuit, had engaged in potential ethical and legal violations and asked the Attorney General’s Office to investigate. The allegations Privett raised included that Muse-Johnson paid her husband, an assistant in her office, more than other employees, and he questioned if she had used taxpayer resources for a reality television show. An attorney for Muse-Johnson denied she did anything wrong. The Attorney General’s Office ultimately said it found insufficient evidence of any criminal activity and had no jurisdiction over allegations of unethical conduct.

Full Article & Source:
Former Kentucky judge reprimanded over ‘flirtatious and sexual’ text messages

Rome Woman Jailed for Exploitating the Elderly

Posted by Staff Reports 

Gerry Ann Cassell, 54 of Rome, was arrested this week after reports said she made up to $1,400 in purchases while being a caretaker of an elderly woman.

Reports said that the victim never gave Cassell permission to make the purchases that occurred between July 2021 and September 2021.

Cassell is charged with exploitation and intimidation of the elderly.

Full Article & Source:
Rome Woman Jailed for Exploitating the Elderly

Monday, November 14, 2022

Cedar Rapids care facility cited for untrained workers, resident abuse

By: Clark Kauffman

Heritage Specialty Care in Cedar Rapids was fined for the financial exploitation of a resident earlier this year and is now accused of using untrained caregivers. (Photo via Google Earth)

A Cedar Rapids nursing home previously fined for the financial exploitation of a resident has now been cited for using untrained caregivers.

State inspectors say the abuse involved a worker at Heritage Specialty Care who allegedly took $1,625 from a resident with a spinal cord injury. The worker then taunted the man, sending him text messages in which she called him a “vegetable” and “veggie boy.”

The inspectors also allege that Heritage, which is home to 156 older Iowans and is operated by West Des Moines’ Care Initiatives, has failed to provide its training nursing assistants, or TNAs, with either the state-approved training or the required competency evaluations.

According to inspectors, the TNAs are supposed to complete an eight-hour, online training course and then complete a skills-competency checklist through job-shadowing with a licensed worker, before working on their own.

Heritage’s nurse manager told inspectors in August that he felt an eight-hour online course was not sufficient training to perform the duties of a fully certified nurse aide and so prior to June 2020, he did not hire a single TNA to work in the home. After that, he said, the home’s owner began hiring TNAs.

One TNA at the home told inspectors the home’s training program was “not so good” and said she had worked independently at the home before completing the required competency checklist. She said it seemed to her that “everyone hired as a TNA worked with someone for four to five days and then went out on their own,” working independently, because the home was “so short-staffed.”

Another TNA agreed with that assessment and said she had refused to work on her own until completing the required skills checklist.

A third TNA confirmed the practice and said the home failed to provide adequate training to do her job. She said she had failed her community college exam to become a certified nurse aide and felt she needed more training but still worked independently in the home caring for residents.

A fourth worker told inspectors she was trained not by a certified nurse aide but by another TNA who had let her certified nurse aide’s license lapse.

That trainer told inspectors she was given no training when hired at the home and said management gave her a certified nurse aide badge and then “acted like” she was fully certified. Inspectors reported the nurse said it “made no sense” to her that she was used to train other TNAs, adding, “what else was I supposed to do” when residents needed help.

Cook tried to serve oatmeal from garbage can

Inspectors also cited the home for unsanitary practices. A cook at the home, when asked by a nurse for a bowl of oatmeal for a resident, opted not to make a fresh bowl of oatmeal and instead went to a garbage can intending to scoop out some of the discarded oatmeal that was sitting in the trash receptacle.

The nurse refused to accept the oatmeal from the trash, telling the cook, “Absolutely not.”

In addition, the home was cited for inadequate infection control. Inspectors reported that while on site, they observed a dietary aide, a certified nurse aide and an occupational therapist working with residents without the required face mask in place.

The home also was cited for insufficient staff, with one resident complaining she had to wait up to an hour to have her call light answered.

No fines were imposed by the state as a result of the inspectors’ findings in August. The home filed a plan of correction with the state that indicates it will address the citation for insufficient staff by providing “staff education.” The home has also indicated it will ensure TNAs receive the required training.

Worker allegedly took $1,625 from resident

In April 2022, the home paid a total of $650 in fines for resident abuse related to financial exploitation and for failure to conduct adequate background checks on workers.

At the time, inspectors alleged a nurse aide at the home had sold her cell phone to a resident late last year for $800 and then failed to turn over the phone. A few weeks later, when the worker was on a trip with her family, she sent a message to that same resident’s old phone, asking him to send her more money.

“Can you do $200 and I’ll pay you back when I start working more hours again,” the message read, according to inspectors who examined the resident’s phone. The resident then provided the money through an app on his phone.

The same resident told inspectors that after he loaned the worker his debit card to order him a pizza, unauthorized charges for Door Dash showed up on his bill and he had to cancel his card. In January, when the worker asked the man for another $200 and he refused, the worker sent him what the man called “mean and hateful” messages, calling him a “vegetable” and “veggie boy.”

According to inspectors, the messages, which were archived on the resident’s phone, stated: “Thanks again for saying you would help us and then go back on your own word … Have fun sitting in that s— hole with that big ego of yours.”

At one point, the worker indicated she’d soon be leaving her job at Heritage, stating, “I’m not there for the rest of my life … 11 days and I’m out sweetie … How many days ya got in heritage? Yikes, I think it’s more than 11 … But enjoy.”

When the man indicated he might report his debit card as stolen, the worker wrote back, “Good luck. LOL. I’ll tell them you let me use your card … You’ll look like a retarded vegetable lol.”

A review of transactions on resident’s cash app revealed 10 transactions, indicating the resident had transferred $1,625 to the worker.

Six other Iowa nursing homes run by Care Initiatives have been cited for major violations in recent weeks. They face fines of up to $80,250, and additional penalties may yet be imposed by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The company has not responded to requests for comment.

Full Article & Source:
Cedar Rapids care facility cited for untrained workers, resident abuse

Committee backs bill requiring banks to report suspected exploitation

By Hannah Black

The Wyoming State Capitol Building stands tall Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022.

CHEYENNE — A Wyoming legislative committee will support a bill aimed at protecting vulnerable adults from financial exploitation — something stakeholders testified is a big issue.

The Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to sponsor a bill that would require those in leadership positions at financial institutions to report suspected exploitation of vulnerable adults to their institution. Institutions would then provide a report to the Wyoming Department of Family Services. (An amendment added that a report was only required “if warranted.”)

Individual institutions may also enact policies that require them to report the suspected exploitation to law enforcement or another state or federal agency.

The committee passed an amendment lowering the maximum number of days a financial institution could place a hold on a transaction where exploitation is suspected.

Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, proposed a five-day limit, rather than the 10-day limit written into the draft bill.

Under the bill’s language, an additional 30-day hold could be placed on such a transaction within that initial five-day period, if requested by the investigating state, federal or law enforcement agency.

Tom Lacock, AARP Wyoming’s associate state director for communications and state advocacy, said 34 states had already passed similar legislation.

Lacock said an AARP study released last month showed that “the rate of financial exploitation targeting older adults has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic.”

“That’s likely a pretty small estimate, given the fact that we figure about one out of every 44 older adults actually reports the exploitation – those numbers go down when it’s someone that they feel like they trust and know,” Lacock said.

That same report “emphasizes the proven effectiveness of freezing or delaying or rejecting suspicious transactions to prevent theft before it occurs.”

DFS Director Korin Schmidt said the proposed legislation “would be helpful in order for us to be able to better respond quickly to suspected financial exploitation.”

Schmidt said the agency’s ongoing concern is that money taken from these vulnerable adults “gets out the door faster” than they can do anything about it.

Scott Meier, president and CEO of the Wyoming Bankers Association, said his organization supports the bill.

Full Article & Source:
Committee backs bill requiring banks to report suspected exploitation

Stevens pleads guilty to exploitation and intimidation of disabled/elderly adult, gets probation

by Robert Preston

Michael Stevens of Ambrose was charged with multiple counts earlier this year after law enforcement reported that he failed to provide essential services to his mother, Sherry Stevens, who was unable to care for herself at the time. Stevens pleaded guilty to the charge as well as an additional count of possession of methamphetamine on Tuesday.

Last month, DouglasNow published a story on Stevens' arrest, which occurred earlier this year. As previously reported, law enforcement was dispatched to Sherry's home on April 20 after a hospice nurse reported that she and one of Sherry's family members were unable to enter the home. When the deputy was able to make entry into the residence, the victim, who was on hospice care at the time, was found lethargic and dirty.

The report also documented that she was "unable to open her eyes, had audible gurgling and bleeding areas noted to be on her mouth, oxygen saturations of 71%, was in distress, and was covered in her stool."

Stevens was his mother's caretaker at the time and was not on the property. However, his girlfriend, Susie Jewell, was discovered asleep in one of the bedrooms.

While the deputy was still on scene, Stevens showed up at the property and reportedly showed signs of impairment. As the deputy was waiting on assistance from a Georgia State Patrol trooper for a DUI investigation, Stevens gave him consent to search the car, and the deputy discovered a quantity of suspected methamphetamine.

Stevens was charged with possession of methamphetamine, DUI, and exploitation and intimidation of a disabled/elderly adult. Jewell also received one count of exploitation and intimidation of a disabled or elderly adult a few weeks later.

Sherry passed away the following day from, according to the autopsy, natural causes. 

On Tuesday, Stevens pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine (count 1) and exploitation or intimidation of a disabled adult or elderly person (count 3). As a part of the plea, the DUI charge was dismissed.

Stevens was sentenced to 3 years probation for count 1 and 10 years probation for count 2.

Before entering the plea, Stevens had been incarcerated at the Coffee County Jail after being denied bond. Jewell was released on bond last month, and her case is still pending.

Full Article & Source:
Stevens pleads guilty to exploitation and intimidation of disabled/elderly adult, gets probation 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

She is starving herself to death


She is starving herself to death. She has had enough of prison. Extorted from, locked down, neglected, abused, threatened, isolated, starved she is f*king done. and had rather DIE then live under tyranny and human trafficking called Guardianship for Profit brought to you by Adult Predator Services. IT KILLS ME!! They ALL need to go to prison for life and their day is coming QUICK! Just look at my poor Mama. Its devestating, no this is not just a pic of someone who has Alz this is a pic of my loving MOm who has had enough of the tyranny against her and family. Enough of the intentional neglect from this organized crime ring! Adult Predator Services.They are successfully killing her but not before they squeeze every dime they can get as they double bill medicade for services she doesnt get and pills you name it! She is a skeleton they took her teeth so she cant eat at first now she dont care any more. They took her glasses, her hearing aides, her family away from her her LIFE now she wants to DIE! My poor Mommie... I WANT JUSTICE!!

Facebook - Tammy Blythe

Disbarred lawyer can't blame bank fraud on old football injury - appeals court

By Barbara Grzincic 

Sept 2, 2022; Uvalde, TX, USA; Football players watch the game from the sideline. Mandatory Credit: Sara Diggins-USA TODAY NETWORK


  • Defendant argued that brain disorders nixed specific criminal intent
  • 6th Circuit found the lawyer's conviction and 30-month sentence proper

(Reuters) - A disbarred Tennessee lawyer cannot claim that head injuries he suffered playing football in high school and college made it impossible for him to form a criminal intent to commit federal bank fraud, a federal appeals court held Wednesday.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction and 30-month sentence of George Skouteris Jr, who had settled several cases between 2007 and 2013 without his clients’ knowledge and signed their names to deposit the checks to his own account. Those same actions had resulted in Skouteris’ disbarment in 2014.

At his criminal trial April 2021 in U.S. District Court in Memphis, the defense argued the federal bank fraud statute required the prosecution to show that Skouteris specifically intended to defraud the bank, and that his “days on the gridiron had left him with mental impairments — including possible chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — that cast doubt on whether he had the requisite state of mind,” Circuit Judge Chad Readler wrote Wednesday for the three-judge appellate panel.

Both sides introduced evidence and expert testimony about Skouteris’ mental disorders, but the trial judge declined to instruct the jury that evidence of “diminished mental capacity” could provide “reasonable doubt” that Skouteris lacked a specific intent to defraud the bank.

That was the right call, the 6th Circuit said. Despite some older appellate decisions to the contrary, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear in 2016 that the bank-fraud statute only requires prosecutors to show that defendants knew their actions were likely to cost the bank money – not that they purposely set out to do so.

Applying that “clarified standard,” the 6th Circuit said, “a mountain of circumstantial evidence demonstrated Skouteris’s knowledge that depositing unauthorized settlement checks into his own account was likely to wrongfully deprive the bank of its property.”

Former clients and colleagues had described Skouteris as a “detail-oriented lawyer who did not exhibit signs of a diminished mental capacity,” while others testified that Skouteris repeatedly lied to clients about the status of their settlements, “suggesting that he knew he was engaged in deception when cashing the settlement checks.”

In addition, the fact that Skouteris had engaged in similar behavior in seven cases over the “better course of a decade,” even after being confronted and sued for doing so, suggested that his actions “were no accident,” Readler wrote.

“That evidence is reliable proof that Skouteris knew the likely consequences of his behavior,” the court concluded.

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense declined to comment on Wednesday.

The case is USA v. Skouteris, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals No. 21-6221.

For Skouteris: Josie Holland of Holland Law

For the USA: Carroll AndrĂ© III, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee

Full Article & Source:
Disbarred lawyer can't blame bank fraud on old football injury - appeals court