Saturday, February 11, 2023

Woman pronounced dead, found alive at funeral home

by: Aliza Chasan

PORT JEFFERSON, NY (WPIX) – An 82-year-old woman was found breathing at a funeral home hours after she was pronounced dead at a Long Island nursing center, officials said.

The woman, who has not been publicly named, was pronounced dead at a nursing and rehabilitation center in Port Jefferson Saturday morning, police in Suffolk County said. She was taken to a funeral home in Miller Place a short time later.

Less than an hour after arriving at the funeral home, authorities say the woman was found breathing. She was then taken to a hospital.

Additional details, including the woman’s current condition, weren’t immediately available, and the incident is being referred to the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

Last week, a continuing-care home in Des Moines, Iowa was fined $10,000 after a funeral home discovered a woman sent to it in a body bag was still alive.

According to the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals, the 66-year-old woman was declared dead at an Alzheimer’s special care center in Urbandale in early January. After workers at the funeral home found she was still breathing, they called authorities and the woman was taken to a hospital where she was breathing but unresponsive.

The woman returned to hospice care, where she died two days later.  

In August 2020, a woman with cerebral palsy living in Southfield, Michigan was pronounced dead only to be found alive at a funeral home. Emergency responders were called after the family of 20-year-old Timesha Beauchamp reported that she appeared to be having serious breathing problems. A doctor, who wasn’t at the scene, pronounced Beauchamp deceased after one of the first responders reported by telephone that she had been unresponsive for 30 minutes and showed no signs of life.

Beauchamp was later taken to the hospital after funeral home staff saw her chest moving. She remained hospitalized in critical condition until her death in October 2020. Her family filed a $50 million federal lawsuit against the city of Southfield and the four first responders who attended to Beauchamp.

Full Article & Source:
Woman pronounced dead, found alive at funeral home

Teen jumps into icy lake to rescue 83-year-old man and dog trapped in Jeep

A 17-year-old high school athlete helped pull an 83-year-old man and his dog to safety after the man's Jeep fell through the ice in a scene caught on video.

Joe Salmon, a wrestler, football player and track athlete, jumped into the frigid water in Iowa's East Okoboji Lake to save Thomas Lee and his dog Cooper on Feb. 4, according to the Des Moines Register.

Four other men, Corey McConnell, Kody Harrelson, Cody Chester, and Chris Parks, also assisted in pulling Lee and his dog to safety, the Dickinson County Sheriff's office wrote on Facebook.

An 83-year-old man and his dog were rescued by a 17-year-old after his Jeep broke through the ice on a lake in Iowa.
An 83-year-old man and his dog were rescued by a 17-year-old after his Jeep broke through the ice on a lake in Iowa.Dickinson County Sheriff's Office - Iowa via Facebook

The scene was captured via drone footage by photographer Tom Gustafson, who shared it on Facebook. It shows Salmon leaning through the back window to free the dog and toss it toward the four other men, who rescue the pooch after it briefly entered the water.

Salmon then climbs into the vehicle and makes his way to the front of the Jeep and pulls Lee out through the area of the back window, which he broke to help rescue them.

The Okoboji High School student was ice fishing and watching a nearby snowmobile race on the lake when he saw Lee's Jeep plunge into the ice around 3 p.m., according to the Des Moines Register. Lee was traveling to his son-in-law's fishing shack when the Jeep broke through the ice in the lake under the Highway 71 bridge in Dickinson County.

Thomas Lee's dog, Cooper, was able to quickly dry off at a nearby store after being rescued unscathed from an icy Iowa lake by a local high school athlete.
Thomas Lee's dog, Cooper, was able to quickly dry off at a nearby store after being rescued unscathed from an icy Iowa lake by a local high school athlete. Dickinson County Sheriff's Office - Iowa via Facebook

Salmon called 911 as he rushed to help Lee. He also quickly realized there was a dog in the back seat.

Full Article & Source:
Teen jumps into icy lake to rescue 83-year-old man and dog trapped in Jeep

From "Awesome Moments" on Facebook

From "Awesome Moments" on Facebook

Friday, February 10, 2023

Discipline charges filed against St. Joseph County judge

By: Maura Johnson

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed disciplinary charges against a St. Joseph Probate Court judge, citing numerous instances of misconduct as an attorney and as a judge.

The charges focus on a conflict of interest and improper dealing with a charitable trust by Judge Jason A. Cichowicz, according to the commission.

Two of the seven counts brought on by the commission stem from when Cichowicz was an attorney and allegedly violated the Rules of Professional Conduct by having a conflict of interest while representing a client.

According to reports, Cichowicz was attorney and power of attorney for a man whom he later became a beneficiary of. Cichowicz also allegedly lent money to the man and received an interest in the man's real estate.

The other five counts allege that, after Cichowicz was elected judge, he violated judicial canons by using his role as the trustee of a charitable organization to donate money to the courts for improvements, reports said.

Cichowicz was the trustee of a chartable organization connected to the man identified in the first two charges, according to reports.

The money was donated in a way that the public could not determine the source, and Cichowicz's father's business made some of the improvements, according to the commission.

The Indiana Supreme Court will determine if any misconduct took place and what, if any, disciplinary measures should be taken.

Michael Misch, attorney for the man Cichowicz was previously an attorney for, sent the following statement to ABC57 News:

Mr. Cartwright was shocked to learn that this investigation was taking place and that charges were being considered, as the majority of the issues presented involve Mr. Cartwright who has never complained about his relationship with then Attorney Cichowicz or now Judge Cichowicz. Mr. Cartwright has always held Judge Cichowicz in the highest regard and regards him as a family member. Mr. Cartwright has always maintained that all actions taken by Cichowicz on behalf of Mr. Cartwright were of his own choosing and also in the best interest of our community and the children and families served by the JJC. It says a lot that Mr. Cartwright is the alleged victim in this case, yet none of the accusers have once sat down with him or asked his opinion. He has repeatedly rejected the notion that Judge Cichowicz has done anything wrong and stands by him 100%.

Cichowicz's lawyer sent ABC57 News the following statement:

Judge Jason Cichowicz successfully and legally obtained private funds to improve his court at no cost to the taxpayer and at no personal benefit to himself. The Commission’s own statement of charges correctly asserts that Judge Cichowicz’s interest was in making improvements that would be beneficial to the important work of the St. Joseph Probate Court and the families and children it serves. Judge Cichowicz fully cooperated with the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s investigation that took well over a year. He is disappointed that his long-standing and close friendship with Russell Cartwright, who never complained to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, would be subject to criticism. The Judge looks forward to presenting his side of the case to a panel of three independent judges who will decide whether the Commission’s or his and his lawyers’ interpretation of the Code of Judicial Conduct is correct.

Full Article & Source:
Discipline charges filed against St. Joseph County judge

Ex-judge is suspended after secret recording by possible rival candidate revealed threat

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A former judge in Missouri has been suspended for at least two years after he was recorded threatening to reveal the affairs of a rival’s husband if she ran against him in the judicial election.

The Missouri Supreme Court suspended former Macon County, Missouri, Judge Philip E. Prewitt, in a Jan. 31 opinion noted by the Legal Profession Blog.

The Associated Press has coverage.

Soon after the decision, Prewitt resigned from his position as an administrative judge for the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission, which hears disputes involving state agencies, according to the AP.

Prewitt’s rival had recorded the conversation at the behest of the FBI. The FBI got involved after the rival found an anonymous letter to her daughter in a mailbox in 2018 that “crudely described her husband’s infidelity and named children of the other families involved in the affairs,” according to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Before the letter was found, Prewitt allegedly mentioned the affairs to several people—a church pastor, a former police chief, the city’s mayor—in conversations that were relayed to the rival. She thought that Prewitt intended to use her husband’s conduct against her in any campaign, and she thought that Prewitt was responsible for the letter.

The rival thought that her children did not know about the affairs. She was aware, however, that the children could learn of the affairs because of the ethics case.

In the recorded meeting at a Macon, Missouri, restaurant in early 2018, Prewitt denied knowledge of the letter but said he intended to reveal the affairs.

“I’m going to talk about it in the Lincoln dinner speech,” Prewitt said. “I’m going to talk about how you act like you’re Hillary Clinton protecting that predator. You brought that predator to Macon County. Yes, I am going to talk about it. I didn’t send any letter. If you don’t run, no, I’m not going to talk about it, but if you do, yes, it’s going to be everywhere. I’m sending a letter out on it. … And, remember, I was the attorney on one of the divorces. I had to sit outside and listen to the divorce on the other one. I know a lot of things.”

During the conversation, Prewitt indicated that he was angry because the rival had sent out a mailer in a previous campaign that disputed Prewitt’s judicial campaign claims. The mailer stated: “Prewitt … working to mislead voters.”

“You hit me with a negative ad three days before the election,” Prewitt said regarding the mailer. “You did that. I didn’t. And it was full. You file against me, next day, that goes down to the ethics commission, that [flyer].”

The rival filed an ethics complaint with the judicial ethics commission in March 2018 based on the recorded conversation. The rival also contacted the client Prewitt had referenced and told her about the restaurant conversation. The client also wrote to the commission.

Prewitt acknowledged that he sought to dissuade the rival from opposing him in the election, which he lost in 2018. He said he thought that her husband’s affairs were relevant because she would oversee divorce cases if elected. He also maintained that he learned of his client’s affair with the rival’s husband outside the representation.

Prewitt had maintained that he did not engage in misconduct; that no discipline should be imposed; and that, if there is any discipline, it should not include a suspension. Prewitt also noted his cooperation in the disciplinary process.

The Missouri Supreme Court said Prewitt’s threats violated ethics rules requiring judges to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary, that bar judges from abusing the prestige of their office, and that bar conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. His threats also violated rules on preserving client confidences, the state supreme court said.

Even though Prewitt said he learned of his client’s affair outside the representation, his comments referencing the representation during recorded comments suggested otherwise, the state supreme court said.

“Prewitt knew attempting to coerce [the rival] through the threat of filing the ethics complaint was not acceptable for a lawyer or a judge,” the state supreme court said. “He knew revealing confidential information regarding a former client was impermissible. His actions caused potential injury to his former client and the legal system. Under the ABA Standards, suspension is the appropriate discipline.”

The ABA Journal was unable to reach Prewitt for comment at any phone numbers found online.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-judge is suspended after secret recording by possible rival candidate revealed threat

Man charged following assault on elderly woman

by Lewis Finney

Man charged following assault on elderly woman (Image: Newsquest)

A 27-year-old man has been charged following the assault of an elderly woman in Burnley yesterday.

Joshua Simmons, of Low Bank, Burnley, has been charged with grievous bodily harm with intent and a racially aggravated public order offence.

His victim, a woman in her 70s, suffered head and facial injuries after being knocked to the ground on Market Street at around 12.15pm outside New Look on Market Square yesterday, Friday February 3.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: "Following consultations with the Crown Prosecution Service, we have charged Joshua Simmons, 27, of Low Bank, Burnley, with section 18 causing grievous bodily harm with intent and a racially aggravated public order offence.

"He has been remanded to appear before Blackburn Magistrates Court on Monday.

"The investigating team of officers would like to thank the public’s response and help with this case."

Full Article & Source:
Man charged following assault on elderly woman

Thursday, February 9, 2023

'I just want to go home': Inside a Minnesota woman's fight to overturn a guardianship

By Chris Serres Star Tribune

Cindy Hagen has lived in a hospital room at Mayo Clinic hospital in Austin for more than six months.

Lying sideways in a hospital bed, in too much pain to sit upright, Cindy Hagen felt a wave of anxiety sweep over her as she stared at the smartphone perched next to her pillow.

There, on her screen, solemn-faced social workers and attorneys were debating Hagen's future on a Zoom court hearing, including whether she was capable of making her own decisions. An adverse ruling could upend Hagen's life. It would mean that someone appointed by the court — known as a guardian — would determine where she could live and what medical care she could receive.

Hagen, who is 49 and quadriplegic from a childhood car crash, waited for her chance to speak — to recount her odyssey and demonstrate that she is of "sound mind" despite her physical limitations. Mostly, she wanted to tell everyone in the remote hearing that it was a severe shortage of home caregivers — and not impaired decision-making — that kept her stuck in a hospital room in Austin, Minn., for more than six months, long after she was healthy enough to leave. But the hearing ended before she could testify, leaving her upset and confused.

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with my mind," Hagen said from her hospital bed after the hearing last month. "I don't need a guardian. I just want to go home."

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with my mind,” Cindy Hagen said. “I just want to go home.” She says a severe shortage of home caregivers has kept her in the hospital room even though she is healthy enough to leave.

Hagen's struggle to regain her freedom has become a flash point in a broader debate over the guardianship system in Minnesota. Disability rights activists across the state have rallied to her side and spread details of her case on social media sites with the hashtag #FreeCindy. Some have likened her plight to that of pop star Britney Spears, who lost control of nearly every aspect of her life after a court deemed she was unable to care for herself and appointed a conservator, even as she continued to perform for her fans.

"This is a textbook case of everything that is wrong and dehumanizing about the guardianship process," said Jonathan Martinis, senior director for law and policy at a center for disability rights at Syracuse University and a national expert on guardianship law.

Minnesota's system for appointing guardians — for those found unable to care for themselves — has long been criticized as a heavy-handed approach to supervising the care of people with disabilities. For decades, guardians have been granted broad authority over the housing, medical care and even the personal relationships of people they are assigned to protect. Judges often grant this authority based on limited information and assumptions that people with disabilities are incapable of making major life decisions, say legal scholars and attorneys.

In 2020, longstanding concerns over the power of guardians led state lawmakers to amend Minnesota's guardianship law to limit its use. For the first time, courts were directed by statute to appoint guardians only after less-intrusive options had been attempted. The changes were also intended to encourage the use of "supported decision-making," an alternative legal process that allows individuals to retain more autonomy.

But disability rights advocates and some attorneys say the law is not being adequately enforced, and they are calling for greater judicial oversight and state funding of alternatives to guardianship. They point to recent state data showing that court orders to place people under guardianship keep increasing, year after year. As of 2022, some 33,645 Minnesotans were living under the supervision of court-appointed guardians — up nearly 50% since 2019, before the legislation was passed, according to the State Court Administrator's Office.

"We need fundamental change because what's happening to Cindy [Hagen] could happen to any one of us," said Lance Hegland, who has muscular dystrophy and is the former co-chair of a state council on disability services. "You can have all your rights stripped away simply because we lack an adequate safety net."

Hagen didn't used to have regular panic attacks. She is a nature-lover who lived in an apartment in Mankato and led an active life before she was hospitalized with an infection at the Mayo Clinic hospital in Austin last summer. Confined to a second-floor room, Hagen has not ventured outside in more than 200 days. She misses the sun on her face and the chirping of birds. She spends many of her waking hours staring out a window with a view obscured by a hospital wall. On a sunny day, she may catch 20 minutes of sunlight through her bedside window.

"There are times when these walls feel like they are crushing in around me," said Hagen, recounting a recent panic attack. "You get to the point where you feel like you just can't breathe because nothing is happening, and the doors around you seem permanently shut."

Hagen was medically cleared for release from the Mayo Clinic hospital on July 8, 2022, but she says that a lack of home care staff has prevented her from returning home. Several of her longtime caregivers have moved on, and Hagen's limited mobility makes it difficult for her to recruit new ones. Unable to move her fingers, Hagen uses her tongue and tip of her nose to tap out emails and texts on her smartphone to home care agencies.

The crash that left her paralyzed at age 15 also damaged her vocal chords, which makes every conversation a physical strain. And because she has been bedridden for so long, Hagen said she has developed a painful pressure sore that further limits her mobility.

Cindy Hagen’s hospital room is covered with messages and how-to posters, including a Valentine’s Day note.

But the chief source of her anxiety is a court petition filed early last month by Blue Earth County Human Services, seeking an emergency guardian "to protect and supervise" Hagen. A day later, a judge appointed an Owatonna-based business, Alternative Resolutions, Inc., as her guardian for 90 days. The judge cited Hagen's mental health problems and struggles accessing personal care support at home as evidence that her health and safety were at risk.

Suddenly, and with no opportunity to testify on her own behalf, Hagen learned that many of her basic rights had been stripped away and handed to an entity she had never heard of. The judge granted the newly appointed guardian all the powers allowed under Minnesota's guardianship law, including control over where she lives and her medical care. She has hired an attorney and is contesting the guardianship order.

But Hagen said she now lives in fear that, on any given day, she could be removed from the hospital and shipped off to a nursing home or other institution. "How is this any different from a kidnapping?" she asked.

Her experience is far from unique. A survey by the Minnesota Hospital Association found that, in a single week in December, nearly 2,000 patients were stuck in hospital rooms, despite being well enough to be sent home or to less-acute settings, largely because of a statewide shortage of health care workers. Unnecessary hospital stays had surged 33% since the association surveyed hospitals in September 2021, when the COVID-19 pandemic was still raging.

Hagen's situation has been complicated by her independence and refusal to be discharged to another institution. Hagen has spent the past 21 years living on her own in an apartment with a lush backyard and easy wheelchair access to a nearby park. She volunteers at a local activity center for adults with disabilities and has been a visible advocate for the community — at times testifying at public meetings in Mankato on safer sidewalk access for people who use wheelchairs.

Cindy Hagen’s case has become a rallying cry for disability rights activists, who say Minnesota’s system for appointing guardians in heavy-handed.

But Hagen's insistence on living independently, instead of in institutions, is now being used against her in court proceedings — a scenario her lawyer describes as "Kafkaesque."

In its petition for emergency guardianship, Blue Earth County cited her repeated refusal to be discharged to skilled nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and other institutions as evidence that she had "impaired decision-making" and was "lacking sufficient understanding of the reality of her situation," and hence was in need of a guardian, according to the county's petition. An attorney for Blue Earth County declined to comment further on the case.

Now, Hagen finds herself caught in another quandary: The longer she stays at the hospital, the more she exhibits so-called "behaviors" that can be used to justify the appointment of a guardian. In a recent statement filed with the court, a Mayo Clinic physician maintained that Hagen's purchase of a Christmas tree and stocking for her hospital room was evidence that Hagen had "impaired decision-making," and failed to see that the hospital was not a suitable living option, the statement said.

"The threat is very clear," said Hagen's attorney, Misti Okerlund. "If you don't act in the way we expect you to act, then we have the power and the means to deprive you of your rights."

In response, Hagen said that celebrating Christmas had always been a cherished tradition in her family, but she denied ordering a tree for her room. Instead, she asked hospital staff if they could give her a printout of a Christmas tree to brighten up her room. They never did, she said. But one morning, she woke to discover that someone had scribbled a Christmas tree on the white board.

Now, as Valentine's Day approaches, the tree has been erased and replaced with the black outline of a pierced heart below the initials "V.D."

The line on the board for her anticipated discharge date is blank.

Staff researcher John Wareham contributed to this report.

Full Article & Source:
'I just want to go home': Inside a Minnesota woman's fight to overturn a guardianship

Jennifer Bryant Arrested and Charged with Theft for Stealing from Elderly Relative

Concord, NH – Attorney General John M. Formella announces the arrest of Jennifer Bryant, 47, of East Rochester, for one class A felony charge of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

The criminal complaint, filed today in the Strafford County Superior Court, alleges that between May 7, 2019, and May 12, 2022, Ms. Bryant, pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, obtained or exercised unauthorized control over social security funds, property of R.K.W. and/or Administrator of Riverside Rest Home, by depositing the funds into a Citizen's Bank account and using the funds to make unauthorized expenditures, in an aggregate amount of more than $1,500, with a purpose to deprive R.K.W. and/or Administrator of Riverside Rest Home thereof.

If convicted, Ms. Bryant faces a penalty of up to 7½-15 years in the New Hampshire State Prison, and a $4,000 fine. Ms. Bryant is scheduled to be arraigned in the Strafford County Superior Court on March 2, 2023, at 12:30 p.m.

The charges and allegations are accusations only, and Ms. Bryant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated jointly by the New Hampshire Department of Justice's Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The matter is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant Attorney General Bryan J. Townsend, II, of the Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit, and Attorney Andrew Yourell of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

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

Full Article & Source:
Jennifer Bryant Arrested and Charged with Theft for Stealing from Elderly Relative

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Introducing the New Bill of Rights for Adults with a Guardian

by Sally Balch Hurme, J.D.

No nationally recognized statement of rights for adults with a guardian exists in the U.S. A new model Bill of Rights has been created to fill that void.

A model Bill of Rights is needed to move to consistent recognition that adults with a guardian have fundamental rights that should be honored and respected. Adults with a guardian should not have their rights abused by the guardianship process that is intended to protect them.

Early focus on due process rights

Reform efforts since the 1980’s have focused on due process rights at the start of a guardianship.[1] These rights, among others, include getting notice of the petition and the hearing, being represented by legal counsel, having a pre-hearing independent review of the need for the guardianship and the appropriateness of the proposed guardian, and participating in the hearing. It took decades of advocacy to establish these basic rights. Most states have laws addressing all or most of them, although in practice some of those rights still are not fully honored.
While these pre-appointment rights to a fair hearing are critical, state laws are largely silent on the rights that a person has after the guardian has been appointed.

How this Bill of Rights was developed

The National Guardianship Network, a collaboration of thirteen national organizations that advocate for quality guardianship, convened a national summit in 2021 to recommend guardianship reforms for the next decade. The first recommendation was to draft a national Bill of Rights for adults with a guardian.
Ten advocates from the disability and aging communities, a person whose rights had been restored, as well as family and professional guardians, met virtually for ten two-hour sessions to develop the draft. The members considered existing rights statements and court opinions, as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship and Other Protective Arrangements Act.

How the Bill of Rights is organized

The Summit directed the task force to categorize rights into three tiers: those rights which are always retained after a guardian is appointed, those personal rights that the court may restrict but not delegate to a guardian, and the rights the guardian may exercise on behalf of the adult.

Rights Retained

Access to justice rights are the cornerstone to enforcement of all the other rights. A finding of incapacity in no way diminishes the right to due process. The adult has the right to be present and participate in all subsequent hearings just the same as the right to be present and participate in the initial hearing.

The task force members were well-aware of the difficulties concerning the appointment and role of lawyers in guardianship proceedings. The key barrier historically to legal representation has been the cost, both to the state and to the adult’s estate. Nevertheless, the Bill of Rights clearly states that the adult has the right to a lawyer who advocates for the outcome the adult wants. The ethical responsibility to represent client wishes, rather than some formulation of what could be in the client’s best interest, must be honored in all stages of a guardianship case.

Because a guardianship may continue for years, or even decades, adults with a guardian have a right to on-going access to the court. The Bill of Rights specifies that the adult has the right to let the court know of concerns and the right to ask for review of the need to change or end the guardianship.

All adults have basic human rights. Those rights do not disappear following a court’s finding of some level of decisional incapacity. The bill of rights enumerates those rights all people have and value: to be treated with dignity and respect, to be free from abuse, to be as independent as possible, and to have religious freedom, privacy, safe environments, and sexual expression. The right to decide what matters to keep confidential is the same as it is for those without a guardian.

An adult with a guardian does not lose the right to participate in decisions that are being made about them. They have a right to a guardian who respects and advocates for what they want when making decisions. Because a court has determined that a guardian is needed to protect the adult’s person and property, they have the right to a guardian whose primary responsibility is to ensure that they receive the necessary services that enhance their well-being and provide for their safety. Prudent management of the adult’s resources is an essential right to ensure their financial security.

Rights Restricted

Depending on the adult’s special circumstances, it may be appropriate for the court to restrict some personal rights. It should do so only when the court has made a specific finding of the need to restrict that specific right. Each of the rights that may be restricted, but cannot be delegated to the guardian, entails a different capacity determination. The need to restrict driving privileges is significantly different than any need to restrict the civil right to vote. The criteria to restrict the right to vote should be no different than for all other citizens; the inability to express a desire to vote. The court needs to give specific approval for any restrictions on the rights to communicate and interact with others, change marital status, be educated or employed, travel, or to maintain reproductive health and procreation.

Rights Delegated

Those rights which the court may authorize a guardian to exercise on behalf of the adult may be delegated only after the court’s specific determination that each is necessary for the adult’s safety and well-being. Whether the guardian is making decisions about obtaining needed services, consenting to medical treatment, or determining a place of residence, the adult has the right to participate in those decisions to the greatest extent possible. Delegated decisions concerning the legal rights to sue, contract, and manage money are to be made consistent with the adult’s preferences and with their participation.

What’s next?
Everyone who is invested in the well-being of vulnerable adults should advocate for the protection of the basic human and civil rights of those who have a guardian. Talk with legislators, judges, lawyers, and guardians about the importance of recognizing and protecting these rights. Legislative and judicial actions that incorporate these rights into practice are essential to ensuring those with a guardian have the rights they are entitled to have.

[1] Because state terminology varies, the terms “guardian” or “guardianship” are intended to include the court appointment of an individual or entity to make decisions concerning an adult’s personal and/or financial matters.

Full Article & Source:
Introducing the New Bill of Rights for Adults with a Guardian

Redondo Beach councilman accused of misappropriating $515,000 in law practice faces new State Bar charges

The State Bar of California charged Redondo Beach Councilmember Zein E. Obagi Jr. with seeking to mislead a judge and making misrepresentations to the Superior Court over money meant for a former client.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

By Rebecca Ellis

An attorney serving on the Redondo Beach City Council who is accused of misappropriating half a million dollars meant for a former client now faces additional disciplinary charges over his explanation for why the money wasn’t handed over.

The five disciplinary charges announced Thursday by the State Bar of California, which include seeking to mislead a judge and making misrepresentations to the Superior Court, set in motion a disciplinary process that, in the most extreme cases, could end in disbarment.

The councilman, Zein E. Obagi Jr., has denied the accusations and said the State Bar is overreaching. He already faced seven disciplinary charges filed in July 2021, including an allegation that he “intentionally misappropriated” $515,000.

Two years ago, according to the disciplinary charges, $1.9 million was deposited into Obagi’s account as part of a settlement agreement around the sale of a cannabis dispensary, Valley Herbal Healing Center. Obagi had represented the owners and, according to filings from the State Bar, was supposed to transfer $515,000 from that settlement money to his former client, Eric Dominguez.

Now, the State Bar alleges he made false statements about what happened to the money.

In a lawsuit filed in 2021, Obagi blamed a different attorney involved in the settlement agreement, saying that attorney was the one responsible for transferring the settlement money to Dominguez.

According to the State Bar, that attorney had transferred money to Obagi with the explicit understanding that he would use some of it to pay his former client.

“The new set of charges alleges additional misconduct by Obagi, in particular false statements that he made in a lawsuit that he filed in court,” said Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona.

In an interview, Obagi called the newest charges “ludicrous” and said he was just the latest target of an overzealous State Bar.

“I never thought I’d be charged by the bar for anything. Now that I have been, it’s a total, absolute nightmare. It’s not justice,” he said. “I could have been more diligent at different times, but that’s the extent of it.”

A recent Times investigation found the State Bar has a record of going after attorneys without the capital or political clout to fight back, a population that is disproportionately Black, while ignoring misconduct by some of the state’s most prominent lawyers, such as Tom Girardi, who misappropriated millions of dollars from clients and was the subject of more than 200 State Bar complaints.

Obagi, who said he is part of a small firm, believes the charges against him are part of this pattern.

“It’s a machine. It’s churning for convictions,” he said. “That’s all it gets fed on, so that’s what it’s going for.”

The original charges, filed in 2021, are still pending. Obagi said an agreement between him and the State Bar was rejected by a judge because he said there was no evidence that the alleged misappropriation was intentional.

A status conference is scheduled for Jan. 30, where the court will decide how to proceed on both sets of charges.

Full Article & Source:
Redondo Beach councilman accused of misappropriating $515,000 in law practice faces new State Bar charges

Santa Anna man arrested for Financial Abuse of an Elderly Individual

by Derrick Stuckly

According to a news release from the Coleman Police Department – On February 2, 2023, the Coleman Police Department filed Third-degree Felony charges on Malcolm Todd McMillan, age 54 of Santa Anna, Texas for Financial Abuse of an Elderly Individual. An arrest warrant was issued and McMillan was arrested by the Santa Anna Police Department in Santa Anna, Texas. He was placed in the Coleman County Jail for allegations that he had taken several thousands of dollars from elderly individuals in Coleman. Bond was set by the Coleman County Justice of the Peace at $40,000.00.

According to Coleman Police Department, it was reported that McMillan was contacting elderly individuals and using religious references as well as family tragedies and hardship to con money from them. At the time of this news release, the amount of money taken by McMillan is over $12,000.00.

Additional charges are expected to be filed.  It is believed that additional victims have not come forward at this time.

If you or someone you know has given money to McMillan, please contact the Coleman Police Department, Coleman County Sheriff’s Office, or Santa Anna Police Department and report it.

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Santa Anna man arrested for Financial Abuse of an Elderly Individual

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Nursing home resident found in vegetative state after screams for help were ignored

Windsor Place Senior Living Campus in Sigourney, Iowa, has been accused of ignoring a patient in severe distress and evicting another patient who had nowhere to go.
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An Iowa nursing home resident was allegedly left in a vegetative state after the facility ignored her screams of pain and her pleas to be taken to a hospital, according to state records.

State inspectors say another resident of the same southern Iowa care facility was evicted last August when the staff dumped his belongings outside and wheeled him out the exit door with nowhere to go.

The allegations against Windsor Place Senior Living Campus in Sigourney could result in federal fines. A state fine of $9,500 fine is being held in suspension while the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services considers a federal penalty.

The inspectors’ findings come at a difficult time for Windsor Place, which has been managed by a company now mired in receivership. That company, which has managed several care facilities in Iowa, allegedly owes $15.1 million to creditors and, according to court records, it is in “dire” financial shape.

The most serious allegation against Windsor Place is tied to its treatment of a female resident of the home in November. State records indicate the woman, who was once a nurse, was up earlier than usual on the morning of Nov. 29, 2022, and was complaining of a severe headache. The administrator, Aimee K. Crow, who also happened to be the charge nurse on duty, allegedly told a nurse aide the resident had already been given pain medication.

Later in the day, the aide reportedly told Crow the resident was complaining her headache had worsened and that it was causing “excruciating” pain. The woman was asking to be sent to a hospital. The aide later told inspectors Crow took no action and “seemed more interested in cleaning and organizing the medication room.”

At 8:30 a.m., several of the facility’s aides allegedly approached the marketing director at Windsor Place and told her Crow was doing nothing about the resident’s pain or her request to go to the hospital. The marketing director later told inspectors she then raised the issue with Crow, but no action was taken and Crow never saw or assessed the resident that day.

‘She was like a vegetable’

By noon on Nov. 29, the resident was even more agitated, grabbing her head and screaming in pain, and yelling that someone needed to take her to the hospital, according to inspectors. Two of the woman’s fellow residents spoke to Crow, allegedly telling her the woman was crying, was in pain, and was asking to be sent to the hospital. Two employees told Crow the woman was yelling, “I was a nurse, I know they can help me … This is not normal.” Nothing was done, the workers later told inspectors.

Later that afternoon, according to inspectors, the marketing director went back to Crow and reported that the woman’s speech was garbled and she was showing signs of confusion. Another aide reportedly talked to Crow several more times, asking her to check on the woman. The aide later told inspectors she felt “helpless” when Crow failed to act.

Another worker told inspectors the administrator appeared dismissive of the employees’ concerns, telling them the woman “complains, but she is fine.”

The next morning, when one of the aides reported for work, she checked on the woman and found her “soaked in urine from her shoulders to her knees,” according to state reports. The woman was unresponsive, unable to talk, couldn’t see out of her right eye and couldn’t move her right side.

Crow was allegedly standing nearby and listening as one of the aides informed a colleague of the woman’s condition. Crow reportedly told the two workers she had ordered a urinalysis and that the woman was “fine.”

One of the aides later told inspectors of the woman’s condition that morning. “There was nothing in her eyes, she was like a vegetable,” the aide reported. Two days before, on a Monday, the aide said, the woman “was up, independent and in the dining room talking, and normal – and by Wednesday, she was vegetable.”

The inspectors’ written report indicates the woman most likely suffered a stroke, pointing out that federal guidelines advise health care provider that “during a stroke every minute counts. Fast treatment can lessen the brain damage that a stroke can cause.” The report doesn’t indicate whether the woman survived the incident or was transferred elsewhere.

When interviewed by inspectors, Crow reportedly acknowledged that staff members had come to her about the resident having a “headache,” but said no one ever told her the woman wanted to go to the hospital. She acknowledged she never assessed the woman’s condition, consulted a physician or notified the resident’s family of the situation.

Resident evicted with nowhere to go

As a result of the state’s investigation into that incident, inspectors cited Windsor Place for several other violations, including the eviction of a male, wheelchair-bound resident who had nowhere to go.

The man told inspectors that when he moved into the home, he was told he could have his own room. Later, Crow insisted he share a room with someone else. The home’s social worker told inspectors that when the man objected, the administrator yelled at him, wouldn’t let him speak, and kept saying, “You are getting a roommate, or you are leaving against medical advice. What’s it going to be?”

The social worker told inspectors the facility summoned a sheriff’s deputy to escort the man outside after a maintenance worker stacked the man’s belongings outside the door in trash bags.

The man, who was insulin dependent, told inspectors he wasn’t given any medications and had nowhere to go. He said he called his nephew and got a ride to his ex-wife’s home where he fell down the steps and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

The hospital kept him for two days and then arranged for him to return to Windsor Place where he was placed in a small room that he described as so cluttered he couldn’t get to the bathroom. Later, he was moved to another room and assigned a roommate.

The director of nursing at the time of the incident later told inspectors she was uncomfortable with what had happened and had voiced her concerns to the corporate office. She and the home’s social worker each told inspectors that as soon as Crow started at the facility in June 2022, she insisted that Medicare- and Medicaid-dependent residents share rooms to better accommodate the private-pay residents who typically pay more for their care. Residents who objected, the social worker said, were given 30-day eviction notices.

Crow told state inspectors she was the niece of the man who was evicted. Asked if she remembered why she felt it was necessary for the man to share a room when there were vacant rooms at the facility, she allegedly said she couldn’t recall the reason as it was “a long time ago.”

State inspectors also spoke to the county deputy who had helped evict the man. The deputy reportedly confirmed his role in the matter and told inspectors he didn’t feel it was right that a nursing home could force a resident “onto the streets” with no place to go.

The inspectors cited Windsor Place for multiple violations related to the eviction, alleging the home had “badgered and coerced” the man into leaving so his discharge could be labeled voluntary and against medical advice.

No state fines were imposed for any of the violations related to that incident.

Although the eviction took place in August 2022, it was only recently investigated by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. Two months before that eviction, Trinity Hospital in Bettendorf discharged a homeless, 81-year-old, wheelchair-bound veteran to the street with no phone, nowhere to spend the night and no transportation. Hours after he was forced to leave the hospital, motorists spotted the man in his wheelchair trying to merge into traffic on Interstate 74. No fines were imposed in that case.

Crow declined to comment Monday when asked about the findings of state inspectors. State records show Crow earns $92,500 per year at Windsor Place and has been an Iowa-licensed nursing home administrator since 2009. In addition to her role at Windsor Place, Crow is also the administrator at Keota Health Care Center.

Iowa workforce records show Crow, 40, was fired from Ridgewood Nursing and Rehabilitation in 2009 where she worked as a charge nurse. She was accused of telling an aide, “Do what you want,” in response to a request for direction on how to handle an issue. Also, she was alleged to have shared confidential information about corrective action taken against an employee.

Crow’s nursing home administrator’s license is in good standing with no public record of discipline. In the past six years, the Iowa Board of Nursing Home Administrators has levied public sanctions against a licensed nursing home administrator on only two occasions.

According to the Iowa Board of Nursing, Crow’s nursing license is active and has no public record of discipline.

Company now in receivership   

Federal records indicate the 41-bed Windsor Place has CMS’ lowest possible rating on all three quality measurements used by the federal agency: health inspections, staffing levels and overall quality.

According to court records, Windsor Place and several other Iowa care facilities are operated by a network of affiliated businesses based in Chicago. In July of last year, each of those care facility operators was sued by sued Propco, which is a group of New York investors who own the Iowa care facilities and lease the property to the operators. Propco is alleging the Iowa facilities owe at least $15.1 million in unpaid rent.

According to Propco, the Chicago-based operator of the Iowa facilities is insolvent and had informed Propco last year that it was in “a dire financial position” with only enough cash on hand to operate the care facilities for 40 days. As a result of that lawsuit, a court-appointed receiver was put in charge of overseeing the facilities’ cash flow. The receiver then appointed Mission Management Communities, a Florida company, to run the Iowa care facilities.

A representative of Mission told the Iowa Capital Dispatch on Monday the company had no comment on the findings of state inspectors.

Earlier this month, the receiver in the Propco case told the court that two prospective buyers for the chain had toured some of the care facilities but “no acceptable offers to purchase” have been made.

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Nursing home resident found in vegetative state after screams for help were ignored