Saturday, July 8, 2023

Lawsuit: Woman, 85, dies after falling from Las Vegas nursing home bed, lying on floor for 15 minutes

by: David Charns

Complaint cites wrongful death, negligence as claims

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The daughters of a woman who died after falling out of her bed at a Las Vegas nursing home have filed a lawsuit against the facility, a lawsuit filed Monday said.

Pamela Rumel was 85 when she died on July 11, 2022, according to her obituary.

In June 2022, Rumel was admitted to Silver Hills Health Care Center, a northwest Las Vegas valley nursing home, the lawsuit said.

The morning of Rumel’s death, she fell out of her bed, causing “her to suffer a right distal femur fracture and hemorrhagic shock with generalized weakness, right lower extremity pain, right hip pain, back pain and death,” the lawsuit said.

Rumel lay on the floor of her room “in extreme pain begging for” help for 15 minutes, the lawsuit said. She was able to text one of her daughter for help while on the floor, the lawsuit said. Staff then transported Rumel to a hospital where she died that evening, the lawsuit said.

A doctor, whose declaration is provided in court documents, said Rumel was “assessed to be at significant risk for falls,” adding that “her underlying comorbidities” and the fall “proved overwhelming” to her body and led to her death, documents said.

“The standard of care was not met by the staff at Silver Hills Healthcare Center in development of a care plan with individualized interventions to prevent this fall with significant injury,” the doctor said in his declaration. “The fall led to severe pain in her bilateral lower extremities, particularly affecting her right leg and hip. She also experienced nausea, constipation, and chills as a result of the pain.”

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by attorneys at Bighorn Law, cited claims of negligence and elder abuse. The civil lawsuit seeks a jury trial and a minimum of $15,000 in damages, which is standard in Nevada.

Representatives from Covenant Care, which owns the facility, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Full Article & Source:
Lawsuit: Woman, 85, dies after falling from Las Vegas nursing home bed, lying on floor for 15 minutes

SC Probate Court Saga: Missing Money, Destroyed Documents, Forged Files

More questions arise as victims wait to hear from the Palmetto State’s supreme court 

by Jenn Wood

When Richard Anthony Mogy died suddenly in a tractor accident on June 8, 2003 at the age of 42 at his farm in Sumter County, South Carolina, he left behind his wife, Cathy Mogy, and two children. Cathy, a nurse anesthetist, found herself overwhelmed with her new role as a widow and single parent – but the Mogy’s were planners. They had visited popular Florence estate attorney, Gary Crawford, before Richard died.

Richard Mogy was a partner in a property development business – TRC Properties LLC – with his best friend, Tony Hall and Cathy’s brother-in-law, Charlie Walls. The three partners decided it would be prudent to purchase a life insurance policy in case something happened to one of them and their spouses had to buy themselves out of the business.

The three set the policy up and it became effective at the end of May of 2003 — just over a week before Richard Mogy died.

The policy they set up is commonly known as a “key-man” life insurance policy in the amount of $1 million. A key-man policy is taken out in the name of the company – and the company is the beneficiary, not the individual members. When Richard Mogy died, Cathy became the third partner of TRC Properties. Yet she says she never saw a dime of this insurance money. But as a newly single mom with no business background, she didn’t know she should be asking questions. 

In late 2022, Cathy Mogy started asking Crawford’s office for a copy of her late husband’s estate file. A property owned by Summerville Properties — another business in which Richard Mogy was a partner — was sold despite her objections. The other partners in the business signed an affidavit stating that Richard Mogy was never a partner –and Cathy Mogy was not currently a partner. A statement Cathy states is absolutely false. Any sale of the property required a unanimous vote from all partners per the original contract. This affidavit took away her ability to vote on the decision allowing the property to be sold despite her objections. Nevertheless, Cathy Mogy’s accountant needed information regarding the sale from the estate regarding the value of the property for the purpose of filing her taxes.

Around March 15, 2023 — with the tax deadline nearing — Cathy called Crawford’s office and demanded her file, stating she would take legal action if it was not made available to her immediately. Mogy was told the file would be ready for her review on Monday, March 20, 2023.

If you have followed our ongoing coverage of the Palmetto State’s probate court mess, you know what happened next …

Gary Crawford died by suicide in the parking lot of his law office on Sunday, March 19, 2023.

Like Craig Hanna – who was having similar issues obtaining his father’s estate files from Crawford – Columbia-based attorney Tucker Player was willing to assist her in recovering the documents. On May 11, 2023, a process server attempted to deliver a subpoena to Crawford’s law office for production of the Mogy and Hanna files. To their surprise, Rebecca Crawford – Gary’s wife and long-time legal assistant – refused service.

With no clarity as to the appointed successor to Gary Crawford’s firm, Player filed an emergency petition (.pdf) for a writ of injunction and appointment of receiver for Gary Crawford with the S.C. supreme court on May 24, 2023. In this filing, it was noted that in addition to the question of where the money from the $1 million insurance policy went, Cathy Mogy had obtained her file from Brown Johnson – who claims to be Gary Crawford’s successor – and that what they discovered therein was “troubling“.

For example, contained therein was a deed for a property transferred on May 25, 2004 for $103,632 to Cecil Edward Floyd Jr. (a.k.a. “Bubby”). When Cathy Mogy looked at her signature on the affidavit attached to the deed, she realized it was not her signature. In fact, it didn’t even look like her signature. And the witness who notarized it? Gary Crawford’s wife, Rebecca Crawford.

(Click to view)

(Via: Provided)

Troubling” indeed …

Mogy’s attorneys stated they are in the process of retaining a handwriting expert to fully investigate the authenticity of this signature, but notes considering the evidence, it is not believed this was a single transaction. The very real concern of the lack of any attorney currently maintaining and possessing the client files of Gary Crawford combined with the fact that the woman (Rebecca Crawford) who notarized what appears to be a forged signature is currently the only person in the custody and control of all those client files, is the very definition of a emergency situation.



On June 5, 2023, attorney Walter B. Todd Jr. – who represents Rebecca Crawford and the law offices of Gary Crawford – filed a response which purportedly attempted to clarify some of the allegations laid out in the motion filed by Mogy’s attorney. Instead of providing answers, though, the filing brought even more questions to light.

According to Todd’s filing, Mogy was unsuccessful in obtaining her file because “she had no active file in March 2023 when Mr. Crawford died.” Yet in 2017, Gary Crawford drafted and witnessed a power of attorney for Cathy Mogy. Six years had not elapsed from the time that document was executed and the date when Mogy demanded her file in November 2022.

According to attorneys for the Crawfords, though, the files were destroyed.

According to the S.C. Bar Association’s ethics advisory opinion 02-14, “a client file is the property of the client, under Rule 1.15 it is appropriate for the lawyer to retain records of the property for a minimum of six years after the end of the representation. File contents should not be disposed of until such time as it is reasonable to believe that their disposal will not prejudice or potentially prejudice the rights of the client.”

Despite that six-year period being unelapsed, all the files of Cathy Mogy in the possession of the Crawford Law Firm had been destroyed.

And the $1 million life insurance policy? According to an affidavit submitted by Richard Mogy’s former business partner, Tommy E. Hall, he and the remaining partner in the business received the money.

“After Richard’s death, the proceeds of the policy on Richard were made payable to myself and Charles Wall who were the named beneficiaries of the policy. We each received a check in the amount of $500,000.00.”

(Click to view)

Affidavit of Tommy E. Hall (Provided)

As noted, the “key-man” policy on the life of Richard Mogy was purchased on behalf of TRC Properties LLC – meaning the company was the beneficiary. This is standard in “key man” insurance policies and is, in fact, a requirement to qualify for that type of insurance. Therefore, the benefits should have been paid to the company – not its individual members.

“Mr. Hall’s affidavit is essentially an admission of theft,” Tucker Player noted. “He and the other partner took a distribution from the company without making an equal disbursement to the third partner. That third partner was either Richard Mogy’s Estate or his sole heir, Catherine Mogy. Mr. Hall’s affidavit is the first notice of this unlawful activity and reaffirms the need for urgency in obtaining the files my client has sought for years.”

According to the attorney, each partner of TRC Properties should have received an equal share of the payout – or $333,333 – including Cathy Mogy as she became the third partner in the business as the heir of her late husband.

As for the forged signature, an affidavit submitted by Rebecca Crawford sought to explain it away as an innocent mistake.

According to Crawford’s affidavit, the deed was prepared for Mogy to sign as the seller – and she confirmed Mogy did sign it (and she notarized the signature). However, she claimed “it appears that Cecil Edward Floyd, Jr., whom everyone calls ‘Bubby,’ actually signed the (accompanying) affidavit” – which according to her did not present a problem as “Bubby” was the purchaser in the transaction.

Crawford acknowledged in her affidavit that Cathy Mogy’s name should have been struck through – and “Bubby’s” name inserted in lieu thereof – but according to her, “any closing with Bubby has always been an adventure with him talking a lot and telling stories and entertaining everyone at the table.”

(Click to view)

Affidavit of Rebecca Crawford (Provided)

“This was probably what happened and Gary probably put the affidavit in front of Bubby, Bubby signed it, and none of us caught the fact that we actually had Mrs. Mogy’s name printed on the affidavit,” she claimed.


According to Tucker Player, this unsubstantiated excuse for someone else signing his client’s name on a legal document is unacceptable. He further noted there was no accompanying affidavit from “Bubby” to affirm Crawford’s statement – or to compare signatures in an effort to see if “Bubby” was indeed the mystery signatory.


To date, there has been no response by the S.C. supreme court to any of the filings made by Tucker Player on behalf of his clients. Furthermore, no files have been made available for examination as they were apparently destroyed sometime after Gary Crawford died by suicide.

Player believes the estates of Carlos Hanna and Richard Mogy are beset with fraud and other illegal actions. Among these actions? The attempted sale of a home belonging to Carlos’ widow – Georgia Hanna – for $225,000 without notice to any party (or any evidence presented as to the value of the home). Indeed, the original order from Darlington County probate judge Marvin Lawson actually stated the sale authorization was being issued “without notice.”

When Player filed a motion with the supreme court to vacate the sale, Lawson vacated his own order, recused himself from handling Georgia Hanna’s case, recused a conservator he had assigned to the case and attempted to send the matter back to Florence County.

Shortly after that, the presiding judge in Georgetown recused herself from the Hanna case and sent it back for reassignment due to a conflict.

It has yet to be reassigned.

At this time, there is currently no judge for either probate matter, and no conservator or guardian for Georgia Hanna who has Alzheimer’s Disease and resides in an assistant living facility. It is unknown what will happen if any medical decisions need to be made on her behalf nor is it known who is paying her bills — including those for both her living arrangements and her health insurance.

More importantly? It is not immediately clear how widespread these lingering issues are across the state …

Full Article & Source:
SC Probate Court Saga: Missing Money, Destroyed Documents, Forged Files

Daughter arrested for alleged elderly abuse

Officers were called to a home after a sign was seen in the window that read, "Help 911."

Daughter arrested for alleged elderly abuse

Friday, July 7, 2023

American Pickers' Frank Fritz Still Under A Conservatorship, But There's Been An Update

By Nick Venable

A step in the right direction.

After quite a few setbacks affecting both his personal and his professional life, former American Pickers star Frank Fritz seems to have landed a bit of positive news regarding his ongoing conservatorship. The antique-hunting entertainer suffered a stroke in July 2022 that left him reportedly unable to care for himself in various ways, with a longtime friend stepping in to serve as a guardian. Some information about Fritz’s current situation went public in the months since MidWestOne Bank became his conservator, including key details about his financial troubles and property locations. The latest update involves the financial institution’s attempt to bring a halt to that particular information remaining in the public sphere.

As the conservator in this situation, MidWestOne Bank filed paperwork specifically requesting that the court seal off the inventory of Frank Fritz’s financial assets and properties.The request noted that his status as a celebrity who collects antiques were important factors in the attempt to remove such information from the public eye, as reported by The U.S. Sun. Thankfully for all involved on Fritz’s side of things, the judge who was assigned to the case gave his approval for those records to be sealed off. 

The request filed in court can be read below:

  • The Protected Person is a well-known celebrity and collector of antiques and other diverse items. The inventory and related documents contain sensitive and private information regarding the Protected Person’s assets and liabilities as well as their whereabouts. The Conservator requests that the court allow the inventory and associated documents to be filed under seal to protect the Protected Person’s privacy and estate.

It’s not clear how lengthy a decision it was for the judge to make, but it doesn’t seem like there were any big hiccups. 

Which is possibly a great sign in and of itself, since it was just on June 2 when a Notice of Delinquency for Conservatorships was filed, due to a lack of an inventory report being filed before the agreed-upon due date of December 12, 2022. There’s a 60-day timeframe from the point when that notice was filed, at which point things would be taken up a notch from a legal standpoint. It’s possible that the record-sealing request was part of the eventual inventory filing, but that’s also not clear.

Here’s hoping this is a step forward among many more in the near future for Frank Fritz, who almost surprisingly reunited with Mike Wolfe over Memorial Day weekend, despite reports over the past couple of years about feuding strife happening between the two. While some of that may have been legit in small bites, their recent reunion made it sound like a lot of that friction stemmed from working together so closely for so long ahead of a big drastic change. It was previously reported in early 2023 that Wolfe and the American Pickers team would be up for having Fritz back on the show in the future, but that doesn’t seem wholly likely at the moment, at least not until his health situation takes a major upward turn.

Full Article & Source:
American Pickers' Frank Fritz Still Under A Conservatorship, But There's Been An Update

See Also:
PICKING PRIVACY American Pickers star Frank Fritz’s conservator begs judge to seal his financial records and location amid his recovery

CONSERVATOR CHAOS American Pickers star Frank Fritz’s conservator at risk of removal by judge after star suffers debilitating stroke

PAY UP American Pickers alum Frank Fritz’s conservatorship lawyer demands to be paid $2K for his services in tragic case

Frank Fritz, of 'American Pickers,' under guardianship after stroke

FRANK'S FATE American Pickers alum Frank Fritz’s judge makes major ruling in conservatorship case after star suffers from stroke

Mundy Township man charged with elder abuse

By Gary Gould

FLINT — Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson announced June 28 at a press briefing an arrest had been made and charges brought in an elder abuse case out of Mundy Township.

Swanson said elder abuse charges have been brought against Frank Katulski, 63, of Mundy Township, a former roofer and construction business owner. He is accused of allowing his wife, who was suffering from a traumatic brain injury, to remain bedridden and unmoved for so long she developed ulcers in her skin.

Katulski’s wife, Belinda, 60, has since passed away, leaving the possibility of further charges, Swanson said.

He said the wife fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2019. She was transported to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids where she was cared for, but in 2020 Katulski lost his job and his health insurance was cut and he was forced to take care of her himself.

“The case is tragic because it could have been avoided,” said Swanson. “Not the accident, but the aftercare. Frank had the ability at that point to reach out. If the care of another individual is too much for you, or another person, or a companion pet, there are a thousand things you can do to get help including this office.”

Swanson alleged Katulski’s wife was left sitting on a bed for months and never moved. When that happens, he said, the skin breaks down from cutis ulcers. In this case it left a hole in the woman’s skin all the way through to the bone.

Katulski took her to Hurley Medical Center where health professionals, seeing signs of what they believed was neglect, called the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department Elder Abuse Task Force.

“There was an overwhelming burden of taking care of a person,” Swanson said. “I’m not making an excuse on any of that because we have a duty to take care of people, but when it’s too much for you, you can’t let people sit there and die. You can’t let animals starve to death. You can’t say there’s nobody out there to help you.”

Swanson said if someone finds themselves unable to take care of an elderly, disabled or bedridden loved one they can call 911, or the Sheriff’s office directly at 810-257-3422.

Luke Zelly, president and CEO of the Disability Network in Flint, said his organization is also there to help those who are struggling to take care of elderly or infirmed loved ones.

He said the public can ask for help by calling 810-742-1800.

Katulski is currently housed in the Genesee County Jail and hasn’t made bond.

Full Article & Source:
Mundy Township man charged with elder abuse

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Oak Park guardian pleads guilty to 7 counts of voter fraud in 2020 election

by Kara Berg

A Metro Detroit guardian has been sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a $3,500 fine for receiving payments to influence votes in the 2020 general election.

Nancy Williams pleaded guilty Thursday to seven counts of election fraud. In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors dropped 10 counts of providing a false statement on an absentee ballot, seven counts of forgery and eight counts of forging a signature on an absentee ballot application.

Investigators said Williams, who worked at Guardian and Associates in Oak Park, submitted applications for absentee ballots to nine city and township clerks on behalf of 26 legally incapacitated people under her care and had the ballots mailed directly to her.

She also allegedly submitted separate voter registration applications for each person without their knowledge or consent, according to court records.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Van Houten sentenced Williams to one year of probation and ordered her to pay a $3,500 fine.

She also is facing seven counts of election forgery and putting false statements on an absentee ballot application in Oakland County. That case remains pending in circuit court.

Officials said the state's Bureau of Elections became concerned about the issue in October 2020 when election administrators reported absentee ballot applications signed with an "X" with the request that the ballots be sent to an address for "Guardian and Associates in Oak Park." 

Full Article & Source:
Oak Park guardian pleads guilty to 7 counts of voter fraud in 2020 election

Why a California legislative measure underestimates older adults


OPINION: – On June 15, World Elder Abuse Day, launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, raised awareness about the abuse and neglect of older persons around the world. Among the many challenges faced by older adults, financial exploitation looms large.

Financial fraud is perpetrated on adults of all ages, but older people are more likely to be targeted, largely because they hold more wealth than younger people. Evidence that older people are especially susceptible to scams is mixed; in fact, some studies have found that older people are more resistant to financial scams than younger people. Nevertheless, when frauds are successful with older people, the losses they incur can be devastating, not only because older people have more money to lose, but because they also have shorter time horizons to recoup those losses.

There is widespread agreement among advocates for older adults and the financial services industry that solutions are needed. Bankers, financial advisors, and policy makers have been struggling for years to identify ways to protect older adults from fraud. More can be done, but it must be done thoughtfully. Unfortunately, legislation based solely on chronological age, such as California Senate Bill 278, would fundamentally change the way banks and other businesses engage with older people. Senate Bill 278 would establish a de facto fiduciary conservator relationship – limiting the financial autonomy of millions of competent older people and, for reasons noted below, hurt more people than it helps. Indeed, the legislation itself is premised on the pervasive stereotype that age is a reasonable predictor of competence. It is not.

In fact, chronological age is a poor predictor of functioning in adulthood. Older populations include both the wisest members of society and the most impaired. Moreover, although it is a devastating impairment, most people 65 years and older do not suffer from dementia; more than 90 percent of people aged 65 to 74 are not cognitively impaired. Rates of dementia do increase with age, but even in the oldest segment of the population, the majority of people are cognitively intact.

Of course, there are many reasons why people make poor financial decisions, such as drug addiction, inexperience, and mental illness; all of these factors, however, are more prevalent in younger people than in older people.

Normal age-related cognitive decline, or typical changes in cognitive processing that occur in most people, is evident mostly on speeded tasks that involve responses to novel stimuli. These changes have little effect on deliberative reasoning, especially on familiar tasks. In fact, because age is associated with greater familiarity with personal finances, older people benefit considerably from their experience when making financial decisions. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that investing experience facilitated financial decisions even when the efficiency of cognitive processing was somewhat reduced.

Stereotypes about older people are pervasive, with “incompetent” among the most common. Because Senate Bill 278 will put the onus on front-facing employees (i.e., bank tellers) to determine if customers are making poor financial decisions, nonprofessionals will be charged with making decisions about the cognitive competency of older people. Understanding the potential legal action against their employers if employees fail to report, combined with an absence of consequences for over-reporting, employees will be highly incentivized to err on the side of caution. Given the vast evidence of ageism, this legislation will likely delay financial transactions, ranging from the most routine to time-sensitive real estate transactions, for millions of older people, not to mention the burden placed on elder abuse investigators whose time will be consumed investigating financial transactions made by competent people.

What can be done to address financial fraud? Employee training and financial education and planning services should be prioritized, as should collaboration and coordination with law enforcement and social services agencies. The power of increasingly sophisticated technologies should be harnessed.

We need real solutions that protect potential victims and do not unduly underestimate and patronize the majority of older people. In a time in which ageism remains so prevalent and the dignity and well-being of older adults should be of concern to all of us, we can do better than Senate Bill 278.

Laura L. Carstensen, Ph.D. is the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. Paul Irving is a Senior Advisor at the Milken Institute and founding chair of its Center for the Future of Aging.

Full Article & Source:
Why a California legislative measure underestimates older adults

One arrested for allegedly exploiting an elderly person

By Robert Ristaneo

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - MPD said they arrested a man for allegedly exploiting an elderly person by taking their personal belongings.

Authorities said the incident occurred on June 8 and through the course of the investigation they identified Jaylun Patrick, 24, as the suspect.

On Monday, July 3, officials said Patrick was taken into custody and charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person.

Full Article & Source:
One arrested for allegedly exploiting an elderly person

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Probate judge denies request by Clinton Township woman to become impaired sister’s trustee

by Jameson Cook

Melissa Edwards, right, is joined by her sister, Kim, and Kim's daughter, Taylor, on their living room couch earlier this year in their Clinton Township home. MACOMB DAILY FILE PHOTO

A probate judge denied a Clinton Township woman’s request to manage her cognitively impaired sister’s over $1 million trust but awarded funds for a new vehicle for the cognitively impaired woman’s sister and daughter to drive her in.

Wayne County Probate Judge David Braxton on Friday granted about $45,000 for Taylor Edwards to buy a new truck for her mother, Kim Edwards, who is impaired, but denied a request by Kim’s sister, Melissa Edwards, to be named as the new trustee following the resignation of the former long-time trustee, Mark Haywood.

“I don’t see how Melissa Edwards has standing; she is not a beneficiary of the trust,” Braxton said at the hearing held over Zoom.

The judge also denied a request by Melissa Edwards to review the 12th accounting of the trust that was approved in February while granting the 13th accounting, which was reviewed and contained objections by Melissa Edwards that were ignored, said attorney Phillip Strehle, representing her. The 12th accounting reviewed one year of financial transactions and statements from 2021 to 2022 while the 13th accounting covered 2022 to 2023.

Strehle said after the hearing he is concerned about substantial losses in the trust due to drops in the financial markets. There is $1.3 million in the trust.

Strehle said while the allocation of the funds for the truck was a positive development, he predicted it will still take a long time to actually purchase it because a new trustee was appointed Friday and will need time to get acclimated with the case.

“We’ve already been waiting for a year,” Strehle said.

Kim Edwards, 46, became cognitively impaired in 2004 when she went nearly 15 minutes without oxygen during a cardiac arrest as she was giving birth. She gained a $3 million settlement with the hospital.

Kim Edwards’ mother for years was the guardian but was replaced a few years before she died in 2018. A non-relative guardian had been in place until earlier this year when Taylor Edwards turned 18 and was named. The Edwards’ reside in a 2,500-square-foot home off of Clinton River that was bought by the trust for $330,000 in 2011.

Melissa Edwards, 40, the paid caregiver for her sister, has complained about how the court case and trust have been handled. She has been displeased with Braxton’s rulings that do not give her “standing” in the probate case despite being Kim Edwards’ sister and long-time caregiver. She believes the judge and other parties are biased against her because she is not a lawyer.

Braxton called her “head strong” and told her at least twice during Friday’s hearing to not talk after she interrupted him.

She said she was forced to dip into her own funds for auto repairs and a preowned Jeep, which carries a $15,000 loan. She said she bought the car because Haywood did not allow for repair of the transmission of Kim Edwards’ Kia Sorrento, which stopped running last July.

Strehle criticized Braxton for not appointing Melissa Edwards as the successor trustee despite her status.

“The judge didn’t follow the law today as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “He was citing events from years ago. He never used the phrase she is ‘not suitable.’”

Braxton cited a report from over 10 years ago that indicated holes in the home’s walls, Kim Edwards’ mattress was on the floor and cockroaches infested the home.

“The interior of the home did not look like she was being taken care of,” Braxton said, citing video of the home.

But Melisssa Edwards denied and downplayed the accusations, noting they were temporary situations. She said there was a delay by the trustee in hiring a pet-control company to eliminate a roach infestation in 2011 or 2012, and her mother hired a company with her own funds to remove it.

Edwards said Haywood did not grant enough trust funds for home repairs.

Edwards can appeal the ruling but will have to continue to pay Stehle with her own funds because Braxton says Melissa and Kim Edwards don’t have a right to pay for an attorney with trust funds.

“I’ve thought about it long and hard, I don’t see how she can hire Mr. Strehle” with trustee dollars due to her lack of standing,” Braxton said of Melissa Edwards.

Full Article & Source:
Probate judge denies request by Clinton Township woman to become impaired sister’s trustee

See Also:
Clinton Twp. woman questions probate court’s decisions for sister’s care

Lawyer referred for possible discipline after suing judge who also referred her for discipline

By Debra Cassens Weiss

Updated: A Chicago lawyer who attacked a judge’s rulings and her opponent’s opening statement in a complaint seeking 27 separate declaratory judgments—including a declaratory judgment that the issues weren’t frivolous—has been referred to a federal court’s executive committee for potential discipline.

U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin of the Northern District of Illinois sanctioned lawyer Calvita Frederick in a June 22 decision that also required her to pay legal costs incurred by her litigation opponents in responding to the declaratory judgment action.

Among those sued in the declaratory judgment lawsuit was U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman of the Northern District of Illinois, who had previously referred Frederick to the executive committee after declaring that she had “turned in the poorest performance by an attorney that the undersigned has seen during his 12-plus years on the bench.”

Feinerman was overseeing a discrimination suit filed by Frederick on behalf of Michael Outley against the city of Chicago. Frederick filed the declaratory judgment suit after Feinerman asked her to show cause why she shouldn’t be sanctioned.

The new suit sought declaratory judgments that Feinerman’s evidentiary rulings in the Outley case were incorrect, that he wrongly denied her mistrial motion, and that he wrongly refused to exclude particular testimony. Individual Chicago defendants were also the subject of mistrial motions for bringing up the disputed evidence in opening statements.

Durkin said Frederick’s declaratory judgment suit had no legal basis. She was aware of this fact or should have been aware of it “upon minimal legal research,” Durkin said.

“How an attorney, especially one with years of experience litigating in federal court, would think that the proper way to challenge the evidentiary rulings of a district court judge is to sue that judge, rather than filing an appeal, is incomprehensible,” he wrote.

Feinerman had tossed Outley’s suit as a sanction for Frederick’s behavior.

Feinerman said Frederick sought to file 20 evidentiary motions after the deadline has passed, made “a series of intemperate remarks” during a pretrial conference, and apparently failed to read a court order—leading her to wrongly think that all her opponents’ motions in limine had been granted.

Among the “intemperate” comments was a statement about lawyers getting “ripped a new butthole” when they seek extra time.

Feinerman has since left the bench and joined Latham & Watkins.

After Frederick sued Feinerman and the Chicago defendants, the Chicago defendants sought sanctions. Frederick responded that “counsel now understands the way to appeal or to challenge the decision of the court is via appeal.”

Durkin said “the inescapable conclusion” was that Frederick’s claims were “frivolous at every turn.”

“Most fundamentally,” Durkin wrote, “each request for relief would have required this court to take an appellate role over the rulings of another presiding district judge in a pending case. A federal district judge has no such concurrent authority to review another district judge’s rulings.”

Durkin also said the declaratory judgment suit was filed in bad faith, citing Feinerman’s warning that the planned suit was meritless and an improper use of the declaratory judgment statute. Feinerman also advised Frederick that if she thought that he made mistakes, “There’s a well-worn avenue to get an audience to hear those arguments. It’s called an appeal.”

Yet Frederick proceeded with her new suit.

“Even pro se litigants have been sanctioned for similar conduct,” Durkin said.

Durkin cited another factor supporting a sanction: Frederick “has an extensive history of similar litigation misconduct, for which she has been warned and sanctioned ad nause[a]m.”

Frederick told the ABA Journal in a phone message that she has no comment.

Hat tip to Law360, which covered Durkin’s opinion.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer referred for possible discipline after suing judge who also referred her for discipline

Montpelier man accused of financially exploiting vulnerable adult

By WCAX News Team

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Montpelier police have arrested a man who they say financially exploited a vulnerable adult.

Police say they first received the report in August 2022.

After a lengthy investigation, police say they found that Daniel Lawson, 58, of Montpelier, coerced a vulnerable adult into signing power of attorney documents.

They say Lawson then conducted a series of real estate and banking transactions to benefit himself financially.

Lawson was cited to appear in court to answer to felony charges of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and false pretenses.

Full Article & Source:
Montpelier man accused of financially exploiting vulnerable adult

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Happy 4th of July

Stay safe & enjoy the 4th of July holiday!

Teen flying drone finds couple trapped in sinkhole l GMA

Video obtained by ABC News shows a dramatic rescue after Josh Logue, 18, spotted two people trapped in an overturned car in a sinkhole with his drone while surveying storm damage in the Denver area.

Teen flying drone finds couple trapped in sinkhole l GMA

Metro Detroit kids take part in 50 Yard Challenge, helping those in need, 1 lawn at a time

By Camille Amiri and David Komer

Some Metro Detroit kids are spending their holiday weekend giving back to some neighbors.

It is a national challenge called the 50 Yard Challenge. It is a program aimed at doing good across the country.

"A 50 Yard Challenge is if you cut 50 lawns for free, for the elderly, the disabled, single parents, and veterans of help in need," said Jordan Corker, 13 years old.

And because they’re a group of four, they did 100 total, they said.

The 50 Yard Challenge was started in Alabama, by a man named Rodney Smith Jr.

"He started this because he noticed people in his neighborhood who needed help and he wanted to give back," said Burgundy Wallace, a Westland mother.

And now kids are giving back across the country and here in Metro Detroit.

"I just wanted to help people," Jordan said.

"So you can get lawn mower, a weed whacker and a blower," said Stirling Wallace, 9 years old. "I’m not really doing it for the prizes, I just want to help people.

"Mowing grass is kind of fun, I like it."

Their levels of experience vary.

"I cut my grass at home every Wednesday, my dad taught me," said Tramal Hughes, 15.

So now the boys are looking for lawns to mow.

"It’s been a couple days of just getting started, we are just getting started so we're getting our equipment ready and our schedule," Burgundy said. "We've posted several places on Facebook so that we can get the word out.

"The surrounding cities, we don’t want to go too far, Livonia, Canton, Westland, Garden city, Dearborn."

FOX 2: "Are you ready for the challenge?"

"Yeah I’m excited," said Jayden Jamison, 8.

For more about The 50 Yard challenge, CLICK HERE.

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Metro Detroit kids take part in 50 Yard Challenge, helping those in need, 1 lawn at a time

Monday, July 3, 2023

Woman admits to bilking Orland man out of more than $1.6 million

From staff reports

A woman has admitted in federal court that she used a series of threats and intimidation to bilk an elderly Orland Park victim out of more than $1.6 million.

Lee Turner, also known as “Ashley Turner,” 40, of Joliet, pleaded guilty on May 16 to one count of using a facility of interstate commerce to promote and carry on unlawful activity, namely theft and intimidation. The conviction is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah set sentencing for Sept. 8.

Turner admitted in a plea agreement that from 2018 to 2021 she communicated numerous threats and fraudulent statements to the victim, who was in his 70s and had limited vision. Turner’s communications threatened to expose the victim’s purported criminal activity, even though Turner had no knowledge of any such activity committed by the victim. Turner took on false personas to convey false statements purportedly from others, including alleged gang members, individuals involved in organized crime, prosecutors, journalists, and corrupt law enforcement officers.

In one example cited in the plea agreement, Turner, using the alias “Big Joe,” sent a series of messages to the victim, claiming that the victim had to pay $30,000 to prevent law enforcement from raiding the victim’s residence and a relative’s residence. On June 13, 2019, the victim paid Turner $30,000 to avoid the purported raids, the plea agreement states. The money was one of dozens of similar payments, ranging in value from $5,000 to $66,000, that the victim made to Turner. In all, Turner received $1,611,975 from the victim as a result of the scam, the plea agreement states.

The guilty plea was announced by Orland Park Police Chief Eric Rossi, Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the FBI.

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Woman admits to bilking Orland man out of more than $1.6 million

Florida Woman Leaves $300,000 Inheritance For Her Seven Cats

A Florida woman has left a sizable inheritance for her seven Persian cats to be cared for following her death.

The adoption requests are pouring in for the six remaining cats, Sherry Silk, executive director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, told Fox News Digital.

"She did leave a six-figure estate for their care, which is feeding, grooming, medical supplies, toys, treats — whatever people want to do," she said.

"We are going to reimburse people up to that."

The total amount for the seven cats is just over US$300,000 (AU$450,000), which is a lot of money."

Nancy Saupa died at the age of 84 in Tampa, Florida, in November.

Her only son predeceased her, and she will asked for her seven cats – Midnight, Snowball, Goldfinger, Leo, Squeaky, Cleopatra and Napoleon – to be cared for in the house.

However, eight months after her death, a probate judge determined the caretakers charged with their care could not fulfil their duties, and the Humane Society was asked to step in.

"They were not cared for like they should have been," Silk said. 

"I'm sure Nancy would never, ever have allowed that or wanted that for her cats. So they weren't in the best shape.

"But they're good now. We have a shelter vet here — they've been on antibiotics, and they got their baths. They've been groomed. They're in great shape now."

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Florida Woman Leaves $300,000 Inheritance For Her Seven Cats

K-9 therapy dog saves woman's life


FOX's Denise Dillon has more on what happened and how the dog sprang into action.

K-9 therapy dog saves woman's life

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: An alternative to conservatorship

By Liza Horvath

Question: After the Britney Spears situation shined a light on the powers that a court appointed conservator has and how easy it would be to abuse someone by getting a conservatorship, I am lying awake at night worried sick that if I lose even a little capacity, someone could get a conservatorship over me and steal all my money and even control where I live. I have also seen the movie, “I Care a Lot” where a professional woman took advantage of elderly people by using conservatorships, stripping their assets and placing them in nursing homes! What can the average person do to protect themselves against this happening? Who can I trust?

Answer: The situations you share, the highly publicized Britney Spears case and that movie which, I am sorry to say, was based on true events, do present nightmarish situations. I understand your worry.

Before addressing your concerns, however, it should be noted that some court conservatorships are often desperately needed and are the right solution for certain situations. I had the situation where a client was losing capacity and continued to borrow money from friends and then demand that I pay them back from her trust funds. The lenders could have brought suit against her for the funds absent a conservatorship – which is what we eventually put into place. We of course paid back the loans and I admonished her friends not to lend her any more money. The conservatorship protects someone like this against future lawsuits for her actions.

Conservatorships can be cumbersome, however, and due to the court’s involvement, are public in nature. They are expensive, restrictive and invasive. Having a trust, power of attorney for finances and an Advance Health Care Directive in place can obviate the need for a court conservatorship. Good estate planning is your first line of defense.

On Jan. 1, California adopted Assembly Bill No. 1663 which makes reforms to probate and conservatorship law and offer a less-restrictive alternative by way of “Protective Proceedings.” According to an article written by Klaus Gottlieb, Esq., published in the Winter 2023 California Lawyers Association Trust & Estates Quarterly, “California joins an increasing number of states that have made less-restrictive alternatives to conservatorship a legislative priority. Supported Decision Making is one of them. The idea is that adults with a disability, which could include dementia, retain their autonomy and make their own decisions, albeit with support.”

Supported Decision Making can be an informal arrangement, such as your son helping you continue to make sound decisions or can be memorialized in a written SDM agreement. Like any legal arrangement, attorneys generally support having such an agreement fully documented.

With an SDM agreement, the signer of the agreement (you in this case), can continue to act independently. There appear to be some shortcomings in the legislation which need to be worked out like should the SDM be compensated; are third parties, such as doctors or banks, required to accept the decision maker’s decision; and the big one, is the decision maker held to a fiduciary standard? These legal amendments are new and educational programs for attorneys, individuals, courts and the public need to be developed. However, once solidly in place, a supported decision-making scenario would seemingly provide for a better alternative than the current court conservatorships.

Liza Horvath has over 30 years of experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is a licensed professional fiduciary. Liza currently serves as president of Monterey Trust Management. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice.

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Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: An alternative to conservatorship

Prosecutor asks public to report elder abuse

By Kristy Deer

Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton
HANCOCK COUNTY — Elder abuse may not be one of the crimes in the forefront of publicity, but it is a county and nationwide issue nonetheless, Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton says.

Elder abuse, which includes the neglect of the elderly, is far more common than many people realize, Eaton noted, and he wants to do something about it by shedding more light on the topic.

“While about 1 in 10 people ages 60 and older who live in a home experience abuse, many situations go unreported,” Eaton said.

Earlier this month, officials from around the state, nation and world bought the topic of elder abuse to light during Elder Abuse Awareness Day in mid-June. However, Eaton noted the abuse of the elderly is something he thinks about quite often and wants to make sure it is not happening locally. When it does, he wants offenders held accountable.

In an effort to share more on the issue, Eaton is encouraging everyone who is associated with an elder person to educate themselves on what he calls “an important issue” and to report concerns of elder abuse or neglect to local law enforcement.

“Cases go unreported for many reasons,” Eaton said. “Victims may not have the physical capability or support they need to ask for help, or they may not want to accuse a caregiver or family member of harm and get them in trouble.”

In addition, Eaton noted, investigations for elder abuse cases can be difficult and take a long time, which can be frustrating for victims and loved ones.

“Not all behavior which appears to be morally wrong necessarily fits the very narrow criminal statutes which Indiana has for prosecution on these issues, but if you suspect you or someone you know may be a victim, please reach out to local law enforcement so the concerns can be properly investigated,” Eaton said.

With a proper investigation, Eaton stated, his prosecutors can work to see what statutes may apply and can also work with other resources to help victims and hold offenders accountable when possible.

Elder abuse commonly occurs at the hands of a caregiver person the elder trusts. Types of elder abuse include physical abuse — when an elder experiences illness, pain, injury, functional impairment, distress or death as a result of the intentional use of physical force. That includes acts such as hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping and burning.

There can also be sexual abuse, which involves forced or unwanted sexual interaction of any kind with an older adult. This may include unwanted sexual contact or non-contact acts such as sexual harassment.

Emotional or psychological abuse also occurs and refers to verbal or nonverbal behaviors that inflict anguish, mental pain, fear or distress on an older adult. Examples include humiliation or disrespect, verbal and non-verbal threats, harassment and geographic or interpersonal isolation.

There can also be neglect which is the failure to meet an older adult’s basic needs. These needs include food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene and essential medical care. Plus, financial abuse is the illegal, unauthorized or improper use of an elder’s money, benefits, belongings, property or assets for the benefit of someone other than the older adult.

“Our elderly population are among the most vulnerable,” Eaton said. “It’s vital that those who interact with an elderly person understand the signs of abuse and immediately report it.”

In addition to calling local authorities, the Indiana Council Against Senior Exploitation is a resource that can help. If you or someone you know is a victim of elder abuse, report it immediately. If there’s an immediate threat, dial 911. To report incidents of fraud, obtain a case manager or connect with resources. You can also call the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-372-8311.

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Prosecutor asks public to report elder abuse

Rescue dog that nobody wanted saves life of new owner

Sadie, a massive dog who wasn't comfortable around men, was turned away by multiple shelters. Brian Myers gave her a chance. She saved his life. Steve Hartman shares their story in this week's "On the Road." 

Rescue dog that nobody wanted saves life of new owner