Thursday, June 1, 2023

Growing older is growing dangerous

PENNSYLVANIA — Pennsylvania’s elderly population is rapidly growing; so are the dangers seniors face on a daily basis. Robin Soares, protective services supervisor with the Pike County Area Agency on Aging (AAA), recently called elder exploitation a “rampant” problem “all over the state.”

According to the PA Department of Aging (PDA), between 2016 and 2021, reports of elder abuse increased by 63 percent. Such a dramatic uptick can be attributed to the state’s ongoing educational efforts to help residents recognize and report instances of elder abuse. However, modern technology allows con artists and scammers to employ tactics that get more and more sophisticated and convincing every year, PDA found in a recent study.

Throughout the 2022-23 fiscal year, Wayne County’s AAA has received more than 200 reports of abuse. Financial exploitation accounted for nearly one-fourth of those calls.

Social isolation and loneliness have put older residents at an increased risk as well.

“Even before COVID, but of course with the pandemic, social isolation became even more of an issue,” said Mary Ursich, director of Wayne County AAA. “We’ve seen a lot of romance scams that have been occurring, and people have lost quite a bit of money on those.”

Years ago, PA governor Tom Corbett declared June Elder Abuse Awareness Month. Worldwide, June 15 is recognized as Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Even with efforts in place to raise awareness, many cases of elder abuse, particularly financial exploitation, likely never get reported at all.

“Compared to other forms of abuse, such as child abuse, there is a dire lack of research, not only on financial exploitation of older adults, but on elder abuse in general,” PDA found in a 2020 study on elder abuse. “There is minimal research on national costs, the causes of elder abuse or how to prevent elder abuse.”

The most common forms of exploitation come in the form of unauthorized bank withdrawals, and the perpetrators are most commonly family members. Ursich said that—since it can be emotionally devastating to file a report against one’s own family member—this also contributes to the underreporting of abuse.

“There’s a lot of reluctance to report that type of abuse, and there’s a lot of reluctance to press charges when that type of abuse has occurred,” she said. “It can be very difficult to report a family member to an agency like ours or to the police.”

Just going on conservative estimates from the substantiated cases, financial abuse is still a multi-million dollar drain on the population. Older Pennsylvanians suffered a collective loss of $58 million over the course of the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The elderly population throughout the state is also getting larger. The Census Bureau estimates that 27.5 percent of Pennsylvania’s population will be 60 and older by 2030, an increase of almost 28 percent from 2012. That’s also notably higher than the national percentage of older Americans, around 17 percent.

The local population is quickly getting older too. More than 32 percent of Wayne County residents are age 60 and older. In Pike County, the 65-and-older age group was the fastest growing demographic between 2010 and 2021, increasing by nearly 50 percent.

As the result of the increasing risks that more and more residents are facing each year, PDA recently assembled a financial exploitation task force made up of state agencies; aging, legal, financial, law enforcement and healthcare stakeholders; and other experts, “to discuss the issue of financial exploitation and focus on a multi-disciplinary approach to its prevention.”

Ursich said that a local task force that handles all forms of elder abuse has been in place since 2016 in Wayne.

“[The task force comprises] people from the banking industry, representatives from the hospital, people who provide home health care, people who are part of law enforcement or the district attorney’s office,” she said. “I think that having a local task force has been really helpful.”

While bringing the perpetrators of abuse to justice is important, Ursich said, it’s not always possible. The primary goal is prevention.

“It is difficult to bring some of these crimes to justice, because at times the older adults themselves might have difficulty testifying,” she said. “Of course bringing someone to justice is very important, but that’s not always feasible, so we’re more focused on preventing, reducing the risk and maybe recouping the losses, if we can.”

Ursich in Wayne and Soares in Pike both encourage older residents to utilize the local resources available, especially the various senior centers throughout the region for meals, social activities and educational opportunities to stay updated on avoiding the latest scams.

For information on the local resources available for older adults, Wayne residents can call 570/253-4262 or visit Pike residents can call 570/775-5550 or visit

Wayne residents who think they or someone they know might be the victim of elder abuse can call 800/648-9620. Pike residents can call 800/233-8911. Both counties are available 24/7 to take reports of potential abuse.

Full Article & Source:
Growing older is growing dangerous

EDITORIAL: Hotline helps vulnerable older population

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong speaks next to, left to right, State Reps. Liz Linehan (D-103) and Jack Fazzino (D-83), and State Senator Jan Hochadel (D-13), at the Cheshire Senior Center, Thursday, April 27, 2023. Tong spoke to seniors on how to combat financial fraud along with other kinds of abuse. Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

Elder abuse comes in many forms and far too often those in this demographic do not have the connections or resources needed to fight back. A hotline project is working to address that injustice by giving older people a way to protect themselves and get support.

Record Journal reporter Cris Villalonga-Vivoni recently wrote about elder abuse, a nationwide problem and one that continues to be underreported, according to Audrey Grove, director of CareConnect Navigator at Masonicare, a Wallingford-based not-for-profit provider of senior living and healthcare.

Nationwide, an estimated 10% of adults 60 and older will experience one or more forms of elder abuse during any given year, according to the federal Department of Justice.

Elder abuse runs the gamut of painful experiences and can include caregiver neglect and financial exploitation as well as psychological, sexual or physical abuse, writes Villalonga-Vivoni, citing Department of Justice findings. The resulting trauma can result in “increased chance of mortality to financial loss to disruptions in relationships.”

A common and disturbing exploitation involves frauds and scams. Grove told Villalonga-Vivoni that seniors can be easy prey as they may be isolated and looking for connections to others. Their knowledge of internet safety may not be the best, either, Grove explained. For instance, romance scams often foster a friendship with a senior ultimately resulting in the scammer asking for money. Most seniors realize they're being exploited only after it's too late, she said.

Scams often prey on fear, Grove said, describing how a scammer can frighten an older person with a phone call saying a family member was arrested and needs money to get out of jail.

In 2021, the state's Office of Attorney General William Tong created the Elder Justice Hotline. The service provides seniors a place to report abuse and get help with issues that may require financial, criminal or social services to address their situations.

"We provide this resource so that people aren't alone. They have someplace to turn and can get someone in the Attorney General's office to focus on their issues personally,” Tong said.

The Elder Justice Hotline has assisted hundreds of Connecticut seniors experiencing elder abuse, typically fielding 70 calls a week, through its 1-860-808-5555 number. Those statistics show this service is needed and being used.

The idea was to create a “one stop shop” for seniors, making it easier to find and use the many available resources. Hotline operators can immediately connect callers with the right department or authorities for a wide range of needs: housing, food insecurity, health insurance and legal assistance. There’s a follow up call, too, to ensure that the issue is resolved.

Having a phone line with a live staff member was an important piece of creating the service, as older people may not like or have easy access to the internet. They also need to connect with a human voice and not an automated message.

"This hotline will help law enforcement, as well as family and friends, protect our most targeted and vulnerable population,” said James Rovella, the commissioner for the state department of emergency services and public protection. “Our older populations sometimes have difficulty and fear when they are trying to report that they are a victim. This will be a tremendous help."

Giving older people a hotline — at times it’s a lifeline — provides them access to a wide range of support services. It means they do not have to be alone as they sort out what can be a confusing and, at times, dangerous world. The components of this hotline assistance reflect a compassionate and result-oriented approach. The hotline can help our elderly stay healthy and safe and let them know they are valued. “Elder justice” says it all.

Full Article & Source:
EDITORIAL: Hotline helps vulnerable older population

Teen arrested in random beating of man, 71, as NYPD seeks additional suspect in elderly assault

By Amanda Woods

The teen boy allegedly punched a 71-year-old man in the face and shoved him on West 55th Street near Broadway. DCPI

A 14-year-old boy was busted this week for allegedly slugging an elderly man in an unprovoked attack in Midtown, cops said. 

The teen was nabbed at his home Wednesday and charged with assault in connection to the May 6 assault on a 71-year-old man on West 55th Street near Broadway, police said. 

The boy approached the septuagenarian from behind just after 9 p.m., punched him in the face and pushed him to the ground, authorities said. 

The pint-sized assailant took off, and the senior was taken to Mount Sinai West for medical treatment, cops said. 

Days after the attack, police released a photo of the suspect, standing with one clenched fist, in hopes of tracking him down. 

In a separate incident later this month, a 69-year-old woman was slugged on board a Queens train around 12:50 p.m. Friday, cops said.

The victim was riding a Manhattan-bound E train approaching Queens Plaza when the stranger approached her, police said. 

He punched her once in the head without saying a word, before getting off the train when it pulled into the station, authorities said. 

Another assailant slugged a 69-year-old woman in a random attack on a Queens train, cops said.

The victim suffered minor injuries and was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital, where she was listed in stable condition. 

Police are still looking to track down that suspect, shown on surveillance footage with a small face tattoo and dark curly hair. 

He is described as between 30 and 40 years old, with a light complexion and slim build, standing around 6 feet tall. 

He was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants, and black sneakers.

Full Article & Source:
Teen arrested in random beating of man, 71, as NYPD seeks additional suspect in elderly assault

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Colby’s Act: Rethinking guardianship for Alabamians with disabilities


Colby Spangler carries groceries for Julie Senter as they walk to her vehicle at Publix at The Village at Lee Branch. Colby’s Act was recently passed by the state Legislature to honor the rights of individuals with disabilities to speak for themselves and make their own decisions.

Oak Mountain High School graduate Colby Spangler, 24, cannot answer why he was born with cerebral palsy, but he can tell people that his voice and ideas are important.

More specifically, Colby and other people with disabilities across the state have not seen a modern update on the laws on guardianships and conservatorships since the 1980s. That is, until the work of Colby and his mother, Kim Spangler.

During a seniors’ banquet ceremony for the OMHS band, when students acknowledged their college choices, Colby, then a freshman, asked his parents, “Where am I going to college?” They decided to investigate his options to make an informed decision.

His mother learned that Colby’s individualized education program (IEP) levels had to reach certain criteria to determine if Colby could even go to college. It also brought up the school-to-guardian pipeline discussion from school officials, telling his parents to become his legal guardians. 

However, once Colby started applying to colleges, the programs either required or preferred that college students remained their own guardians. This led to the Spangler family’s decision to let Colby become his own guardian when he turned 19 years old.

During Colby’s high school years, Kim Spangler advocated for her son’s disability rights and for a supported decision-making agreement bill, which she said would change the lives of Alabamians with disabilities.

“A lot of people are not aware that you are signing over a lot of rights [with guardianship] — like the rights to vote, marry, where to live or who to live with,” Kim Spangler said. “Also, you maintain so much control over someone else’s life, and then you may decide you don’t want to anymore. Most importantly, when the original guardian passes away, there is often a downward spiral in a person’s life.”

Supported decision-making (SDM) is a substitute to guardianship and conservatorship. In 2022, Colby’s mother introduced the Colby’s Act bill, sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), into legislation.

The Colby Act defines SDM as: “The process of supporting and accommodating an adult in the decision-making process without impeding the self-determination of the adult. This term includes assistance in making, communicating, and effectuating life decisions.”

Colby understands the importance of the bill passing in the state Legislature not only for his own life, but also for the lives of others like him.

“It will help me live a full life — to vote, to marry and to go to church,” he said. “It will help people with disabilities to live their own lives and speak for themselves.”

In April, Colby’s Act passed unanimously and is now waiting for Governor Kay Ivey to sign the bill into law.

“I can choose for myself. I don’t need a guardian,” Colby said.

It will help me live a full life — to vote, to marry and to go to church. It will help people with disabilities to live their own lives and speak for themselves.

Colby Spangler

Colby is able to lead a full life just like anyone else. He currently lives in a basement apartment on his own, attends Highlands College and commutes to his job at Publix.

Kim loves that Colby now functions as his own guardian, but it also couldn’t happen without the support of the community and the awareness they pushed for his disability and rights. Colby even has his own “Dream Team” — his support team that consists of nine other people, including his parents, experts and mutual friends.

“When we increase Alabamians with disabilities’ support and awareness from inclusion to belonging, then they won’t have to live such isolated lives like they have had to in the past,” Kim said. 

Full Article & Source:
Colby’s Act: Rethinking guardianship for Alabamians with disabilities

Senate Approves Sen. Dodd’s Elder Fraud Protection Bill

Press Release

SACRAMENTO – The California Senate has approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would strengthen elder and dependent adult financial abuse protections by clarifying the duties of banks and financial institutions to safeguard against fraud.

“Banks must do a better job of protecting the most vulnerable Californians,” Sen. Dodd said.  “That’s why I wrote this bill, which clarifies that if these institutions assist in financial elder abuse, either knowingly or otherwise, they can be held responsible. It will motivate them to detect predatory practices before victims are robbed of their resources, dignity and quality of life – losses from which they may never recover.”

Financial elder abuse cases are on the rise in California. The breadth of predatory practices is staggering, with victims coming from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Perpetrators can be family members, trusted professionals or large financial institutions. Such institutions are uniquely positioned to detect financial abuse and take action. Unfortunately, the language of California’s current financial elder abuse law is unclear, leading to conflicting court rulings regarding the standard of proof for holding accountable a financial institution.

Now, when victims attempt to sue their bank for assisting in a scam, the institution can avoid responsibility by claiming it did not have actual knowledge of fraud.  But Sen. Dodd’s legislation, Senate Bill 278, would clarify that victims of financial elder abuse can continue to hold institutions accountable when they should have known of the fraud but negligently assisted in the transfer anyway. The clarification would support victims of financial elder abuse in meeting their burden of proof.

SB 278 is supported by elder rights advocates and Consumer Attorneys of California. It passed the Senate Monday with bipartisan support.

“At a time when online and phone scams — specifically designed to defraud senior citizens — are running rampant, banks are on the front line as mandated reporters to protect seniors from devastating losses of their life savings,” said Kathryn Stebner, president-elect, Consumer Attorneys of California. “By adding a simple clarification to existing law, SB 278 will assure justice for countless victims of financial elder abuse.”

“Older Californians are the fastest growing segment of our population and face a particularly high risk of financial fraud and abuse,” said Caleb Logan of Elder Law & Advocacy and bill co-sponsor California Low-Income Consumer Coalition. “Fortunately, banks can prevent seniors from losing their life savings to a scam. SB 278 will clarify existing law to revitalize important safeguards against financial abuse. We are proud to support this important bill and applaud Sen. Dodd’s efforts on behalf of seniors throughout California.”

Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties. More information on Senator Bill Dodd can be found at  

Full Article & Source:
Senate Approves Sen. Dodd’s Elder Fraud Protection Bill

Man found not guilty by insanity in Eau Claire elder abuse case

By: Keith Edwards

- A hearing will be held next month to determine what should be done with an Eau Claire man who was found not guilty by insanity this week for elder abuse.

Lue Xiong was charged with attempted murder for allegedly beating and stabbing his father last July. The 87-year-old man needed stitches and had a potentially serious head wound. Xiong's brother said Xiong also put his foot on the victim's neck, affecting his breathing.

Xiong pleaded no contest Tuesday to elder abuse and strangulation/suffocation. The judge then found him not guilty, by reason of mental defect.

A pre-disposition investigation will be done, with a hearing set for June ninth.

Full Article & Source:
Man found not guilty by insanity in Eau Claire elder abuse case

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Auburn nursing home cited by state after sleeping nurse video

Auburn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

By: David Wilcox

The Auburn nursing home where a viral video of a sleeping nurse was recorded in March has been issued citations by the New York State Department of Health over the incident.

Auburn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 85 Thornton Ave. was cited for failures to administrate efficiently and to keep the 37 residents in the nurse's care free from neglect, according to a report.

The report, dated April 14 and posted to the department's website this week, also sheds light on the nurse's behavior up to and including the night of the video, and the center's response to it. 

The March 26 video showed a licensed practical nurse at the 92-bed center slumping at a medical cart and swaying, apparently asleep on her feet. Days later the video was posted to Facebook, where it has been viewed more than 2.2 million times since. According to the department's report, the nurse blamed her posture on "disturbing news" she had received over the phone minutes prior.

The center's administrator, Judson MacCaull, told The Citizen on Monday that the nurse is no longer employed there. 

The nurse, who is not named in the report, began working at Auburn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Feb. 16. The report documents several instances of her appearing drowsy, arriving late and spending hours in the bathroom or her car during work, as well as broken lines of communication between administration, supervisors and staff as her behavior received increasing attention. 

The first major incident described in the report took place March 4, when the nurse was suspected of working under the influence by another staff member. They called the center's assistant director of nursing to come back to observe, but the nurse left before they arrived. The staff member also called 911 due to the nurse's inability to drive, as she was "barely even coherent to walk."

When the director of nursing asked the nurse about the incident days later, the report said, she blamed migraine medication. She was then placed back on the work schedule. During an interview in April, the director told the Department of Health they thought the staff member who called 911 was being "dramatic," then clarified that "they meant to say (the staff member) did the right thing."

The assistant director, however, told the department "they should have questioned more people and handled it in the wrong manner."

"There was no documented evidence an investigation was completed to address the concerns as reported," the report said. 

March 4 was the first of many times the nurse was relieved of medication cart duty. On March 20, she was found sleeping in her car. Administration "counseled" her for sleeping issues, the report said, and told her March 16 to stop working double shifts. But she continued to, logging six through March 27. Administration told the department they didn't know why she worked past her scheduled shifts.

The nurse also worked eight days in a row leading up to March 26, the night when the video was recorded, administration noted.

Before being sent home that night, the nurse was observed "on the floor crawling around, reaching around for things that were not there." One staff member said she was "worse than normal and something was definitely off." After working, she sat in her car for hours. Residents complained about its headlights and its horn repeatedly sounded, "as if they were falling asleep and hitting their head."

However, when asked about the incident by the director of nursing, the nurse blamed a "disturbing phone call" she received for her drowsy appearance in the video. She was putting her head down at her cart in response to the call when she was recorded, she said. The director of nursing said they believed her explanation, and that the nurse "followed directions and spoke clearly" an hour earlier.

A resident corroborated that account, telling the department the nurse gave them medication after the video was recorded and seemed OK. The resident thought the nurse had a headache when she slumped over. But when she called 911 that night to transfer another resident, her responses to the operator were slow and delayed, the report said. She was also confused when EMTs arrived.

MacCaull declined to elaborate on the center's response to the video, saying only that it "addressed the matter ... and has fully cooperated with investigators from the Department of Health."

While the video prompted anonymous staff members and the public to contact the department, the center itself reported the video because it showed the legs of a resident, the report said. The staff member who recorded the video, Certified Nursing Assistant Alexxis McNeil, told The Citizen she was informed she would be fired because it violated HIPAA. She decided to quit instead.

McNeil said she posted the video on Facebook after showing it to the center's administration because they weren't taking action fast enough.

"A lot goes swept under the rug that no one will speak on or share because they're afraid of losing their jobs," she said.

Another staff member told the department they were instructed by the center's administration to refrain from saying they suspected the nurse was under the influence. The director of nursing said they never suspected her of substance abuse, the report said. An audit of the center's medication records during the nurse's employment showed all narcotics accounted for and "no discrepancies."

The Department of Health told The Citizen it has imposed a direct plan of correction and a directed in-service training based on the citations, and that the center must be in compliance by June 13.

The department noted that it does not disclose any enforcement decisions, such as fines or other discipline, until they are final. 

Full Article & Source:
Auburn nursing home cited by state after sleeping nurse video

See Also:
State investigating video of sleeping nurse at Auburn nursing home

St. Clair Concrete Contractor Facing Charges From Missouri AG's Office For Fraud, Theft

A St. Clair contractor faces multiple charges after he allegedly defrauded five Franklin County customers.

Daniel Carbone, 49, was charged in March with 12 felony counts of deceptive business practice, stealing by deceit and financial exploitation of the elderly.

The charges are in connection with his businesses, Concrete Impressions and All Pro Concrete.

Carbone is being charged by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

According to Attorney General Andrew Bailey, Carbone promised to provide mostly concrete and other exterior remodeling work in exchange for large down payments. The charges allege that after taking these payments from the consumers, Carbone either did minimal work before abandoning the project completely, or did no work at all in spite of being paid by victims in advance to do so. Carbone left consumers with no materials for their payments and refused multiple demands for refunds. The consumers’ aggregate losses total just over $55,000.

The probable cause statement alleges that Carbone “willfully, knowingly and with the intent to defraud” made false promises to several customers.

The Better Business Bureau in November gave Concrete Impressions an “F” rating.

A Florissant woman told BBB she gave Carbone $14,000 in September 2021 to do various jobs, which were never performed.

Carbone was reportedly paid $4,000 in July 2022 to construct a concrete patio for a Eureka woman, another job he didn’t do.

A University City woman paid Carbone $2,866 to replace stairs, which he didn’t do.

BBB said there are two open civil cases against Carbone, one in St. Louis County and another run Franklin County.

In June 2022, BBB reports that he was found in default in Jefferson County and ordered to pay more than $4,000.

Carbone was charged in August 2022 for passing a bad check in Franklin County.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Don Re and Natalie Warner. Consumers who believe they may have been scammed by a contractor should file a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office by calling the Consumer Protection hotline at 800-392-8222 or by submitting a complaint online at

Full Article & Source:
St. Clair Concrete Contractor Facing Charges From Missouri AG's Office For Fraud, Theft

Elderly man beaten, robbed in Queens

The NYPD is searching for the suspects they said attacked and robbed a 69-year-old man in the Rego Park section of Queens, then attempted to use his credit card to make a purchase at a Bronx smoke shop.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly man beaten, robbed in Queens

Monday, May 29, 2023

Lawyer is on trial for charges he stole from a client’s estate

By The Bharat Express News 

May 27 – All charges against a suspended Scranton attorney accused of stealing $94,000 from the estate of a man for whom he was appointed co-guardian were brought to trial after a preliminary hearing on Friday.

Edward James Kaushas was charged in April with stealing money from Ronald Rowlands estate. Police said Kaushas transferred money from Rowlands’ estate account in 2018 and deposited it into several bank accounts he had. He then used the money to pay for personal and business expenses.

Kaushas was suspended from practicing law in November 2018 following an investigation by the State Supreme Court Disciplinary Board. The suspension remains in effect.

The criminal investigation began in 2019 after the Disciplinary Board notified law enforcement that Kaushas made several transfers from Rowlands’ account to his law firm’s escrow account from July through September 2018. A forensic audit later revealed the inappropriate recordings, according to a statement from the arrest.

Magistrate Judge Kipp Adcock ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold Kaushas for trial on charges of two counts of theft by deception and one count of theft by failure to provide required funds and receiving stolen property.

In an interview after the hearing, Kaushas’ lawyer, Paul Ackourey, said Kaushas insists he is innocent.

Ackourey said Kaushas paid bills for Rowlands’ care from his own account and was reimbursed. He said the case is a matter of poor accounting and he is confident that Kaushas will be acquitted at trial.

“There were a lot of very complicated financial transactions,” Ackourey said. “It was not my intention to steal anything from anyone.”

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer is on trial for charges he stole from a client’s estate

DA: Here's what it takes to investigate and prosecute an elder abuse case

The District Attorney General's Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigation Team examined 1,200 reports of elder abuse and neglect in 2022.

Author: Katelyn Keenehan

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knox County District Attorney's Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigation Team (VAPIT) looked into 1,200 elder and vulnerable adult abuse and neglect reports in 2022. That's more than the 1,100 they reported examining in 2021. 

However, despite the high volume of cases. Few perpetrators face charges and even fewer face trial. DA Charme Allen said it's due to a number of factors that make these cases complicated.

A recent case elder abuse case ended in devastation. Brenda Crutchfield died at the hands of her nieces and nephews, who were also her caretakers, according to reports from Knox County Sheriff's Office. 

Police arrested Crystal Shinpaugh Dalton, Ira Shinpaugh, Teresa Shinpaugh, and Randy Shinpaugh on Sunday. Their charges include first-degree murder, aggravated neglect of an elderly or vulnerable adult, and tampering with evidence. KCSO reports point to an autopsy showing these four neglected her to the point of starvation at her home off Lakin Road in Knoxville.

Crutchfield died in 2020, at the hands of her family members. However, they were not arrested until three years later. It took the autopsy, financial records, and several other witnesses and source material to collect enough evidence of foul play. DA Charme Allen says sometimes that's what it takes to catch these abusers.

"In regard to elder abuse, you're typically looking at four different areas. You're looking at financial exploitation neglect, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. And so we had to take each one of those pieces and look at those independently as well, too," Allen said.

The first step is getting a tip about the abuse. Things can get sticky with elder abuse cases because in 60% of cases, it's a family member doing the abusing.

"That's a challenge because the elderly don't really want to turn in family members," Allen said.

Sasha Hammett with the CAC's Office on Ageing is the Elder Abuse Program manager. She looks at cases every day and said the ones involving family members are the most complicated.

"They are some of the hardest cases because, on one hand, we can have one victim that's like, yes, absolutely. Let me do something about this. But, then you have the ones that say this is my family member, I don't want to get them in trouble," Hammett said.

If it's not verbally reported, there is still a way authorities can be flagged of the potential abuse.

"It's the financial institution that reports in the first place. And when we get into looking at the financial aspect of what is happening, then we often find neglect or abuse with those crimes. Unfortunately, sometimes that abuse does lead to death," Allen said.

In the case of Crutchfield, reports allege the financial trail pointed back to one of the family members, Crystal Shinpaugh Dalton. 

The presentment to the court said Dalton "unlawfully and knowingly financially exploited the victim, Brenda Sue Crutchfield, and elderly or vulnerable adult of her property, specifically money of the value of $60,000 or more."

Credit: KCSO

Hammett said the other forms of abuse often stem from the desire to access those funds. 

"Once you have the financial exploitation piece that's going to come along with other pieces, most often the physical abuse, the neglect, the emotional abuse in order to gain the control of those funds," Hammett said.

Hammett said in the five years she's been working at the CAC's Office on Aging, she's seen a progression of the intensity of these cases.

"The cases I feel like are getting more severe, and they are resulting in bigger consequences such as death or losses of, you know, huge amounts of money," she said.

However, even with the growing intensity, few of these cases make it to trial.

"We don't prosecute all 1200. It's difficult to be able to prosecute these cases," Allen said. "Oftentimes, we don't have the evidence or oftentimes, our victims are not in a position where they can cooperate with us. Additionally, if we have strong proof, our defendants will plead and we won't have to take these cases to trial."

That's why the DA's VAPIT team, alongside case managers at the CAC are dedicated to catching them early.

"Oftentimes, we lose elderly during the prosecution, unfortunately, they pass away on us. So we have to be very vigilant to make sure that we lock down their testimony early on," Allen said.

Hammett said the main way to prevent these cases from happening is to check in on the older people in your life. Avoid allowing them to become isolated.

"Isolation is the number one risk factor for abuse. If we can prevent isolation, I think the numbers would lower significantly," Hammett said.

In Crutchfield's case, the Shinpaughs' collective bond is over $1.1 million with Ira's, Teresa's and Randy's bond set at $275,000. Crystal's bond is at $300,000, and she has a court date set for May 30 in Knox County Criminal Court.

KCSO's Detective Jim Shipley worked the case.

Full Article & Source:
DA: Here's what it takes to investigate and prosecute an elder abuse case

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Public guardianship bill expanded, advanced

A bill intended to create public guardianships to assist individuals in applying for benefits was amended to include a variety of judicial matters and advanced from general file May 25.

LB157, introduced by Bennington Sen. Wendy DeBoer, would create temporary guardianships to assist an individual who is applying for private or public benefits. The bill would allow the temporary guardian to access personal and financial records necessary to apply for those benefits.

DeBoer said patients sometimes wait hundreds of days for help with signing the papers needed to get them moved out of a hospital.

“These are people who are in hospital beds who are waiting to get out and the only reason they cannot is because they do not have legal authorization to do so because they don’t have a guardian,” DeBoer said.

A Judiciary Committee amendment, adopted 33-0, narrowed the provisions to apply only to a county containing a metropolitan class city. Omaha currently is the state’s only metropolitan class city.

The amendment also added provisions of the following bills:
•LB82, introduced by DeBoer, which would update reporting requirements from the director of the state’s Department of Correctional Services;
•LB315, introduced by Omaha Sen. John Fredrickson, which would prohibit providers of medical or other services related to examination of injuries arising from sexual assault, domestic assault or trafficking from referring victims to collection agencies or taking other averse action for failure to pay the debt;
•LB330, introduced by DeBoer, which would allow a successor to a decedent to endorse a check, payable to the decedent or the decedent’s estate, for a debt owed to the decedent;
•LB436, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Carolyn Bosn, which would update the state Uniform Controlled Substances Act to conform with federal law; and
•LB757, introduced by DeBoer, which would extend the filing date for victims to apply for reimbursement from the Crime Victims Reparations Fund.

Bellevue Sen. Rick Holdcroft offered an amendment to the committee amendment, adopted 27-0, which would include provisions of his LB480 to add emergency medical service providers to the list of medical agencies that can file a lien on settlement awards received by injured parties.

An amendment offered by Bellevue Sen. Carol Blood, adopted 27-4, includes provisions of her LB11, which would specify that domestic abuse protection orders may explicitly provide for sole possession of a household pet and restrict contact with such pets.

Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh also offered an amendment, adopted 31-1, which would include provisions of his LB183 to allow the District Court to waive fees related to a name change.

Finally, Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne offered an amendment, adopted 33-0, to include provisions of his LB240 that would prohibit a juvenile court from modifying the terms of a disposition order unless the juvenile has violated a previous order or all parties agree and the juvenile has consulted with or waived counsel.

Following adoption of the amendments, lawmakers advanced LB157 to select file 34-0.

Full Article & Source:
Public guardianship bill expanded, advanced

Nevada AB202 for Cameras in Nursing Homes is on its way to the Governor to sign into law.

Treasa Owens brother was neglected and abused in a Nevada nursing home in Las Vegas. This resulted in his death. Treasa wanted a law for cameras in nursing home and she got a representative to introduce the law and called me. We fought getting this law passed for three months, and we see no reason the Governor will not sign it into law.

Nevada AB202 for Cameras in Nursing Homes is on its way to the Governor to sign into law.

Two women arrested after elderly relative found with bed sores, maggots

By Natchez Democrat Staff

Two women of a small Mississippi River community face cruelty charges after an elderly woman in their care was found with infected bed sores covered in what appeared to be maggots.  


April Lowery, 42, and Becky Lowery, 65, were arrested Thursday.

Both are charged with cruelty to an infirm person, exploitation of a person with infirmity and negligent injuring.  

Police in Vidalia, Louisiana, first responded Thursday, May 18, to a home at 1211 Plum St. in Vidalia concerning a medical emergency, where they encountered a 73-year-old woman lying in a bed in the living room of the house nude and covered in feces, authorities said.  

“The residence smelled of a foul, pungent odor and it was unclean and extremely cluttered,” Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill said in a news release. “The older female was not verbal and could only moan as if she was in pain. An assessment of the elderly female found numerous sores on her body that were completely covered in what appeared to be maggots.”  

She was transported to Trinity Medical Center in Ferriday, where she was treated and then transferred to Riverbridge Hospital for further treatment of her infected wounds. Further investigation later determined that Becky and April Lowery were responsible for the care of the elderly female, both of whom were living in the same residence at 1211 Plum Street.  

Arrest warrants were prepared by Seventh Judicial District Judge John Reeves, at which time officers were able to arrest both suspects without incident.

“My department and (I) care deeply for our senior citizens,” Merrill said. “To see this happen in our community to one of our own truly hurts our hearts, and it will never be tolerated in our community so long as I am your Chief of Police!”

Full Article & Source:
Two women arrested after elderly relative found with bed sores, maggots

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Psychiatrists: The Criminals Behind the Scenes of the Conservatorship Business

By Erica Loberg 

When I saw the email come in, I froze.

The message described a psychiatrist who had allegedly committed perjury, which sealed the deal for a conservatorship to be put in place for a vulnerable, elderly wealthy woman. The psychiatrist presented a psych evaluation in court, diagnosing his victim with a delusional disorder. She had no previous mental health diagnosis, nor a history of psychiatric treatment, but nonetheless, the diagnosis was accepted by the judge.

I remember thinking to myself, this criminal network runs deeper than I thought, and this is really bad.

It was the same conservator that my mom had been previously placed under, and I immediately started to panic. I had the same thoughts that I had during my mom’s conservatorship nightmare: If it was so easy to get someone with no psychiatric history seamlessly diagnosed and locked into a conservatorship, how many other vulnerable people out there were at the mercy of this network of corruption?

Around 1.5 million Americans are under a conservatorship. Many will point the finger at the conservators as the primary focus of criminal behavior; however, the web of corruption runs deep, with layers of complicit individuals that work in conjunction with the conservators to allow them to take over someone’s entire life—both financially, and in terms of their personal well-being.

Rarely do you find discussions about the doctors behind the scenes who are vital to establishing a conservatorship. For the most part, without a psychiatric evaluation, a conservatorship cannot usually be solidified, which means the psychiatrist plays a fundamental role in the process.

After years of exposure to these criminal practices, I have come to understand that there’s almost no escape, even if you have a loved one who will try to help you by fighting the system of conservatorship abuse. The doctor’s note rules; the psychiatrist’s evaluation is held as the proof and the high standard that anyone fighting a conservatorship must defy. Since psychiatrists and conservators work together to implement a conservatorship, it is no surprise that in addition to these cultivated relationships there are also established ongoing relationships with the same judges, attorneys, and court-appointed counsel.

Since it is crucial to have a doctor’s note, the power and influence the doctors have within the layered network of conservatorships is monumental. They can deem someone incompetent and submit it to the court, which seals the deal on an individual’s future. Most of the conservators have relationships with these doctors. They work in cahoots to make sure their victim’s liberties are usurped for pure financial gain. Consequently, these corrupt doctors receive kickbacks from conservators that want those clients for astronomical wealth. Psychiatrists charge an exuberant amount of money for a psych evaluation, and if you want a different doctor’s evaluation to be considered by the court that’s more money out of your pocket you have to spend. Even if you have the funds to request another evaluation, the chance of reversing a diagnosis is slim to none.

Sadly, if you are a family fighting for a loved one to get a new doctor for a new psychiatric evaluation, you are going to pay thousands of dollars. Even then, that evaluation is up against the conservator’s chosen doctor’s evaluation that is already in place and documented in court, so your chances are low and will only amount to more doctors’ bills when attempting to make a case to stop or change a conservatorship.

Since a mental illness can be for life, once a person gets a diagnosis that results in a conservatorship, it is practically impossible to remove it. Therefore, if you are diagnosed with a mental illness, you are caught in the conservatorship trap. Now you have a doctor that can stand in the way of anyone’s chance to fight a conservatorship, as the courts rely heavily on their evaluations. Whether you are alone with no one to fight for you, or with a family member willing to fight for you, either way you are up against a criminal system that makes a corrupt conservator almost impossible to resolve.

When you have a corrupt conservator working with these compromised doctors to gain and keep clients, tragedy unfolds. If the Department of Justice would examine the relationships the conservators have with their chosen psychiatrists penning these notes, they will find similar stories: the same doctor, working with the same conservator, over and over again, acquiring conservatees who get stuck in the system all along the way.

If we want to take a serious look at changing the conservatorship process and successfully have legislation set forth for reform, there needs to be a deep examination into these relationships with conservators and the doctors making these evaluations. Unfortunately, these doctors manage to stay out of the spotlight, when really they are just as predatory as the conservators that stand in line to steal someone else’s life.

The most troubling yet telling aspect of this process is that the psych evaluations are locked. There is no transparency on evaluations, so no one can even begin to dispute or question their analysis. When it comes down to it, the heavy hand the psychiatrists play in the mental health world of conservatorships is far larger and more dangerous than anyone can even imagine. If a patient has no family or friends for support and are stuck in a hospital alone and end up in a locked facility, that’s one thing. But a person that has friends and family to look after them, yet still can’t beat a system that initiates the same protocols and same process to allow a conservatorship with no end in sight is another thing.

Take Los Angeles, for example. My mom’s previous conservator has been operating for decades. Since my mom’s emancipation from him, I have come across numerous victims stuck in his trap. Currently, he is working with the same court-appointed attorney that was assigned to Britney Spears to get another wealthy woman placed under his care. Yes, Spears’ conservatorship was dropped after years of public advocacy, which brought attention to her case, but, to date, she’s the only one. No conservatorship has been lifted in the state of California except for Spears, but she is a celebrity and had an ongoing #FreeBritney moment to apply pressure on the courts, while the rest of us are civilians fighting on our own.

I remember my mom’s first conservatorship hearing at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. The same courthouse in which Spears’ case was heard, which needs to be under investigation at this point. I walked in with evidence of victims all across LA County who had gotten sucked into that conservator’s grip, but the judge immediately shut me down. That judge has since retired, yet if my mom’s conservator was consistently leaning on the robes of the same judge, is that not a red flag?

Court-appointed attorneys working with the same conservators is an easy correlation to question, as would be a look into the doctors that pop up again and again in these cases. Why are the same conservators working with the same psychiatrists, often in front of the same judges? These doctors have managed to operate under the radar and rig the system.

We need to dig deeper into the doctors who conduct these evaluations, who hide behind their sealed documents with no transparency and zero accountability. If a family member wants to get rid of a conservator that is working in conjunction with a psychiatrist that is making money on their evaluations, the family most likely loses any chance to succeed. There are a lot people playing into the criminality of the structure of the judicial system that are all liable for foul play, as there are payoffs to all the complacent and compliant operators within this business.

There is a lot to be said about conservatorship abuse and who is to blame and who is in charge, but when it comes down to it, in my opinion, the doctors are the real criminals that no one seems to be talking about or questioning. The root of corruption in conservatorship abuse begins and ends with the criminality of the doctors. If we want to truly address the complexities of conservatorship abuse, we must look to the doctors that sit at the helm of this shipwreck.

Just recently, I heard yet another example of how conservators use psychiatrists to keep their hands in the cookie jar. A family member offered to take over and remove a corrupt professional fiduciary conservator, and the conservator’s lawyer argued that the conservatee needed a psych evaluation in order to determine his mental competency, which somehow would justify keeping his conservator tethered to his estate. The family and conservatee wanted the conservator removed, so the conservator, alongside his compliant psychiatrist, skewed the narrative and presented the conservatee as “unfit” to make that decision. This occurs across the board in numerous cases when the psychiatrist is at play.

Arguments like, “a transition wouldn’t be good for him,” or “I don’t want to lose his caregivers” are flat-out lies. I’ve dealt with that nonsense firsthand. My mom was hospitalized twice, and the first time, the caregivers remained at her side on their phones and I questioned why they were still on the clock when my mom had a professional treatment team at her disposal. The second time, she was hospitalized for Covid and was in isolation for three weeks so she couldn’t have any caregiver by her side, but everyone continued to get paid around the clock. Yet, any caregiver that advocates for my mom gets fired on the spot. Is that continuity of care? No.

Who picks the psychiatrist? The conservator. Who pays for the psychiatrist? The conserved individual. Who is left in the dark? You, me, and everyone else struggling outside of this locked-down, well-oiled criminal machine. I might not have a voice once a conservator takes charge, but I do have a say here and now. I refused to be silenced by this madness, and nor should you.

Full Article & Source:
Psychiatrists: The Criminals Behind the Scenes of the Conservatorship Business

AG Nessel Sues Avid Telecom Over Illegal Robocalls

by  Danny Wimmer, Press Secretary

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is suing Michael D. Lansky, LLC, which does business under the name Avid Telecom, its owner Michael Lansky, and its vice president, Stacey S. Reeves, for allegedly initiating and facilitating billions of illegal robocalls to millions of people and violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and other telemarketing and consumer laws. Avid Telecom sent or transmitted more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry between December 2018 and January 2023 – approximately 195,332,233 million of those calls were to numbers in Michigan.

“In 2021, Michigan residents received more than 1.2 billion robocalls, about 500 million of which were scam robocalls,” Nessel said. “This lawsuit will hold accountable businesses and business owners who knowingly route illegal robocalls through their networks, as well as provide consumers with some relief from these intrusive calls.”

Avid Telecom is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider that sells data, phone numbers, dialing software, and/or expertise to help its customers make mass robocalls. It also serves as an intermediate provider and allegedly facilitated or helped route illegal robocalls across the country. Between December 2018 and January 2023, Avid sent or attempted to transmit more than 24.5 billion calls. More than 90 percent of those calls lasted less than just 15 seconds, which indicates they were likely robocalls. Further, Avid helped make hundreds of millions of calls using spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to be coming from government and law enforcement agencies, as well as private companies. 

Avid Telecom allegedly sent or transmitted scam calls perpetuating Social Security Administration scams, Medicare scams, auto warranty scams, Amazon scams, DirecTV scams, credit card interest rate reduction scams, and employment scams. 

The US Telecom-led Industry Traceback Group, which notifies providers about known and suspected illegal robocalls sent across their networks, sent at least 329 notifications to Avid Telecom that it was transmitting these calls, but Avid Telecom continued to do so. AG Nessel has already sued one of Avid Telecom’s customers in Texas federal court. Avid Telecom helped that customer send more than four billion robocalls between May 2019 and March 2021.

Today’s legal action arises from the nationwide Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 bipartisan attorneys general. The task force is investigating and taking legal action against those responsible for routing significant volumes of illegal robocall traffic into and across the United States. The Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General provided investigative assistance in this matter.

AG Nessel is joined in filing the complaint by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

AG Nessel Sues Avid Telecom Over Illegal Robocalls

Woman avoids trial in Genesee County abuse case, pleads to lesser charge

Genesee County Circuit Courthouse on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 in downtown Flint. (Jake May |

By Joey Oliver 

FLINT, MI – A 61-year-old woman avoided trial Tuesday by pleading no contest to reduced charges.

Lori Rosebush was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree vulnerable adult abuse in the death of 68-year-old Bonnie Fisher, who weighed less than 70 pounds when she was found by authorities in June 2020.

But Rosebush, scheduled to appear before Genesee County Circuit Court Judge David J. Newblatt Tuesday, May 23, for trial on the charges instead pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.

The abuse charge was dismissed altogether.

With the plea, Rosebush entered into a sentence agreement that stipulates she receive 36 months probation with no up-front jail time.

A sentencing date was scheduled for July 21.

Rosebush was Fisher’s sister and caretaker.

A 911 call on June 12 at a Bloor Avenue home led paramedics to contact the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Elder Abuse task force.

Fisher was found inside the home. Rosebush had called 911.

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson previously said that Fisher, who was cognitively impaired, weighed only 69 pounds and had not seen a doctor in four years at the time of her death.

Investigators and the county medical examiner estimated Fisher has not been moved from her bed since fall 2019.

Swanson added that an autopsy revealed the victim was malnourished, had broken bones and was unable to articulate her pain.

Robert Hammond Stilwill, a friend of Rosebush’s, was also charged in the case.

However, he was sentenced by Judge David J. Newblatt earlier this year to 24 months probation after previously pleading no contest to first-degree vulnerable adult abuse.

Full Article & Source:
Woman avoids trial in Genesee County abuse case, pleads to lesser charge

Friday, May 26, 2023

94-year-old grandmother gets big win at Supreme Court

'The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but no more,' said Chief Justice John Roberts in Tyler v. Hennepin County

By Brianna Herlihy , Bill Mears , Shannon Bream

The Supreme Court ruled in favor Thursday of a 94-year-old Minnesota grandmother who claimed that the state violated her constitutional rights when they seized her condo over an unpaid tax debt, then sold the property and kept all the sale proceeds — which were far above what she actually owed.

Geraldine Tyler owned a condo which Hennepin County seized as payment for approximately $15,000 in outstanding property taxes, penalties, interest and costs. The home was then sold for $40,000. Under the state's forfeiture laws, the county kept the surplus proceeds — in this case to the tune of $25,000. 

Tyler argued that the government violated the Fifth Amendment's "Takings Clause" by confiscating property worth more than the debt owed by the owner. Lower courts ruled against her and dismissed her case, but the Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously sided with her arguments and held that she brought a valid claim under the Takings Clause.

"The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but no more," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court's opinion. 

The home of a 94-year-old grandmother, Geraldine Tyler, was seized by Minnesota for unpaid taxes. (Pacific Legal Foundation)

"The Takings Clause 'was designed to bar Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole,'" the opinion stated. 

"A taxpayer who loses her $40,000 house to the State to fulfill a $15,000 tax debt has made a far greater contribution to the public fisc than she owed," it said. 

The Supreme Court building

The Supreme Court is seen at sundown in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The opinion noted that "Minnesota law itself recognizes in many other contexts that a property owner is entitled to the surplus in excess of her debt."

"If a bank forecloses on a mortgaged property, state law entitles the homeowner to the surplus from the sale. And in collecting past due taxes on income or personal property, Minnesota protects the taxpayer’s right to surplus," the decision stated. 

"Minnesota may not extinguish a property interest that it recognizes everywhere else to avoid paying just compensation when the State does the taking," it continued. 

Tyler's lawyers had argued in court that Minnesota's policy that the state gets to keep the surplus of a seized asset was a "home equity theft scheme."

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts authored the unanimous opinion in the Tyler v. Hennepin County case. (Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty Images)

Her lawyers also argued that the state violated the Excessive Fine clause of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which bans the government from imposing unduly harsh fines for a crime. 

"Because we find that Tyler has plausibly alleged a taking under the Fifth Amendment, and she agrees that relief under ‘the Takings Clause would fully remedy [her] harm,’ we need not decide whether she has also alleged an excessive fine under the Eighth Amendment," Roberts wrote.

Justices Neil Gorsuch and Ketanji Brown Jackson addressed the excessive fine issue in a concurring opinion, claiming that the law favors Tyler there as well.

"Economic penalties imposed to deter willful noncompliance with the law are fines by any other name," they said. "And the Constitution has something to say about them: They cannot be excessive."

The case was argued before the court on April 26. 

Full Article & Source:
94-year-old grandmother gets big win at Supreme Court