Saturday, July 15, 2023

‘General Hospital’ Star Mired in Off-Screen Guardianship Drama

Deep Dive

by Ronnie Greene

INDIANAPOLIS – Tyler Christopher, a daytime soap actor once married to actress Eva Longoria, fell in his bathroom as he withdrew from alcohol. Christopher had fallen before. But this time, at home in Indiana, he hit his head on the back of the bathtub, fracturing his skull and causing bleeding on the brain.

Rushed to the hospital that day in November 2019, he underwent life-saving craniotomy surgery, with doctors drilling holes in his head to relieve pain and pressure.

While Christopher was recovering, his sister filed a petition in 2020 to put him under guardianship. And that, the veteran ‘General Hospital’ performer said, is when his troubles truly began.

“I never thought in a million years that I would be taken advantage of by a family member,” Christopher, 50, said in an interview.

While he was under guardianship in Indiana, Christopher alleged in court papers, his sister misspent or improperly received reimbursement for $40,000 to pay down her own credit card debt, bankroll her move, even buy her son a MacBook.

His sister, Susan Asmo Baker, has defended her stewardship and described her brother’s complaints as unproven “allegations.”

Baker declined an interview request to discuss the case. But in court papers, and in an email to Bloomberg Law, she said her actions protected her brother.

“If I hadn’t been his Guardian he’d be DEAD!” she wrote to Bloomberg Law.

Shortly before the guardianship ended in 2021, she emailed her brother, “I would have never done you wrong, not before your injury, during or after and for some reason you think I need your money … I DO NOT TYLER!” She added, “Sad that you don’t even trust me. That’s what hurts the most.”

Their tussle highlights the deep friction adult guardianships can cause amongst families. The complications can ensnare everyone from nursing home residents to young adults with disabilities to Daytime Emmy-winning stars such as Christopher.

In April, the sister agreed to pay for a forensic accountant to examine her spending under the guardianship. If the review supports her brother’s contentions, Baker will be on the hook to pay him back. If it clears her, Christopher would likely help cover the cost of the forensic accounting.

Family Conflict

Bloomberg Law’s ongoing investigation explores how guardianships deprive citizens of basic rights, often requiring them to get approval for everything from where to shop to who they can marry. All the while, probate courts typically provide a flimsy safety net of protection for those under guardianship.

As in the case of pop star Britney Spears, Christopher’s experience shows how guardianships can become contentious even when family is involved. And like that of artist Peter Max, whose case has been engulfed in so many legal disputes a judge called it “toxic,” Christopher’s guardianship escalated family legal entanglements.

For families, entering into formal guardianships can be tricky terrain. Family members, not always formally trained before taking the role, must contend with the medical or mental health impairments of their kin, but also write checks, manage their affairs, and even buy or sell properties.

While large-scale fraud cases from Nevada to New Mexico to Florida have exposed criminal guardians and lawyers, family members can also be susceptible to problems, said Anthony Palmieri, former president of the National Guardianship Association.

“So, we see just as many issues with family and non-professional guardians as with professional guardians,” said Palmieri, deputy inspector general of the Palm Beach Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller. Abuses are typically “a lot more egregious” when professionals are involved, he said.

In Palm Beach County, family members and non-professionals are guardians in two-thirds to three-fourths of cases, said Palmieri. Studies have found that family members serve as the majority of guardians in other localities too; since detailed data on US guardianships is scant, it’s not possible to pinpoint a national figure.

Yet some states set less stringent training and oversight standards for family members than professional guardians, said Morgan Whitlatch, a lawyer and director with the Center for Public Representation public interest law firm.

While many family members become guardians with best intentions, Whitlatch said, they may not be fully prepared for the legal process they are entering.

“I think there are more loopholes for family guardians than for others,” she said. “There are different requirements that would apply to them that would allow for more opportunities for problems to go unnoticed.”

When Christopher was placed under guardianship, he said, “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into and I didn’t have a choice.”

Starry Roles

Christopher made his name starring in ‘General Hospital,’ where the IMDb database says he appeared in 1,150 episodes from 1996-2016, and ‘Days of Our Lives,’ where he appeared in 155 shows from 2001-2019.

He was nominated for five Daytime Emmys on ‘General Hospital,’ winning the lead actor in a drama series prize in 2016 for his role as Nikolas Cassadine. He was also nominated in 2019 as lead actor on ‘Days of Our Lives’ for portraying the character Stefan DiMera.

Actor Tyler Christopher accepts the award for outstanding lead actor at the 43rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in 2016. He was placed under a guardianship after a serious fall in 2019 and later pressed to escape the system.
Photographer: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

Christopher also attracted paparazzi for his relationships with well-known actresses, most notably with Longoria. Their marriage was brief, lasting from 2002-2004.

The actor has told interviewers that his excessive alcohol use led to his departure from the shows that made him famous, saying “I threw it away.”

“When I looked in the mirror, there was only one person to point the finger at,” he said.

Between 2019-2022, the IMDb site lists no acting credits for Christopher. It was during that time he suffered the near-fatal fall, and began his trip into the world of adult guardianships.

While his soap opera travails attracted tabloid attention, his guardianship drama, playing off-screen, has not generated similar headlines.

‘In the Dark’

Christopher’s case dates to January 2020, when Asmo Baker filed a petition in Morgan County, Indiana, to put her brother under guardianship. He was in a rehabilitation hospital in Indianapolis at the time.

Baker described him as a “flight risk,” saying he had “aggressively verbalized” his wish to leave the hospital and was refusing a pending move to a neurological center. She said he was unable to drive “or otherwise make decisions for his care or care for himself.”

Living in North Carolina at the time, she asked a judge to formally rule that her brother was incapacitated and to appoint her as his temporary guardian. A day later, a judge approved her request, deeming it an emergency situation.

Two months later, Baker became his permanent guardian, tasked with negotiating with Christopher’s creditors, hiring a lawyer to represent her brother in his pending divorce from his second wife, and selling his house.

Among other duties, she was to sell his personal property “and use the proceeds for Tyler’s sole benefit,” the court order says.

Oversight of guardians is scant, Bloomberg Law found. In Indiana, for instance, guardians are required only to file biennial reports, or once every two years; Baker wasn’t her brother’s guardian long enough to even have to file that.

As the case evolved, Christopher said, he was “completely in the dark about everything.”

“I was recovering from a brain injury so the choice for guardianship was made for me without my knowledge,” he said.

Once he learned what was happening, he said, he began questioning his sister about how she was spending his money. “And she really didn’t have an answer for me,” he said.

In court papers, Christopher said he “does not doubt” that his sister’s “initial motivation to become his legal guardian was rooted at least in part in a genuine desire to help her younger brother in his time of need.”

But once he and his lawyer began digging into his finances, he said their relationship became “fractured.”

Tyler Christopher said he was “in the dark” during his guardianship; he’s now pressing for an accounting of his funds.
Photographer: Sandy Huffaker/Bloomberg

Questioned Spending

On Feb. 12, 2021, the court transferred Christopher’s guardianship from Indiana to Ohio, where he had relocated. While there, Christopher successfully pushed to end the guardianship in September 2021. His sister agreed to his request and an Ohio judge approved.

Then, he said, he discovered “various irregularities” in his sister’s handling of his accounts.

Under Indiana rules, Christopher had a year after the case closed in that state to challenge any actions by his guardian.

On Feb. 10, 2022, on the eve of that one-year deadline in Indiana, his lawyer Justin Schrock filed a motion challenging Baker’s spending.

As the case closed in Indiana, the sister had to file a final accounting of the guardianship in that state. Christopher and Schrock challenged her final accounting and then a revised version.

In one court filing, Schrock, senior attorney with Indiana Disability Rights, alleged she “had engaged in significant commingling of funds with the guardianship estate.”

He cited $40,000 in spending she “cannot legitimately account for.” Among the questioned costs detailed in court filings: More than $10,000 in her personal credit card debt paid after she received thousands from her brother’s accounts, another $13,000 to move herself and family from North Carolina to Ohio, and $5,000 for furniture, electronics, and appliances.

During the time Christopher was under guardianship in Indiana, he received more than $75,000 in income, between acting residuals and disability insurance following his brain injury. So, the questioned $40,000 exceeds more than half that total.

Schrock cited thousands of dollars more she spent “without evidence or legal support,” and said her actions represented an “egregious abuse” of the authority a guardian holds.

“Petitioner treated his income as her personal slush fund,” Schrock wrote.

In court papers, Baker said she and other family members paid expenses “out of pocket” for her brother before the guardianship was formally approved in March 2020. She also said she hadn’t been “availed the opportunity to defend against said allegations in open Court.” Her lawyer, Jerald L. Miller, could not be reached despite three interview requests.

Forensic Accounting

In June 2022, Schrock filed a motion on Christopher’s behalf seeking a forensic accountant to examine Baker’s spending.

Initially, Baker asked the judge to deny her brother’s bid, saying the forensic accounting could cost $10,000.

Ten months later, the siblings came to a rare pact: Baker agreed to submit to a full forensic accounting that could cover all 20 months Christopher was under guardianship, covering both Indiana and Ohio.

Baker has hired an accountant to conduct the review. Under the agreement, she is paying for the work. If the review finds misspending, the sides could come to a financial settlement that would close the case.

Christopher said he’s long looked for a full examination of what happened while he was “in the dark.” The forensic accounting, he said, should finally provide it.

“It’s long past due.”

Though she declined an interview request about her management of his assets, Baker noted that she became guardian in a bid to aid her brother. And while the siblings are engaged in a legal skirmish whose final act is still playing out, they have at times put that acrimony aside. “Love you Ty,” she wrote him in 2021. “Keep pressing up!”

Christopher said the guardianship was deeply restrictive and that, “She controlled everything.”

Relapse and Recovery

Christopher has openly discussed his fight with alcohol and said he remains in recovery. Before his near-fatal bathroom collapse, he had fallen at least twice while under the influence.

After his guardianship formally ended, Christopher moved back to California. As he fought to stay sober, he said he was initially homeless in Southern California before landing acting work again. He has secured at least six acting roles since 2022, often in TV movies.

This May, he was arrested at a California airport on a misdemeanor charge of suspicion of public drunkenness. He was asleep on the floor near American Airlines when police arrived, and he “displayed the objective signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication and was unable to care for himself,” Burbank Police told The Los Angeles Times.

Christopher acknowledged in an interview he had a “relapse” at the airport. “I’m back in recovery,” he said.

His recent travails, he said, were not as dire as his experience under guardianship. While relieved he was able to end the guardianship, Christopher said, “that just opened up a whole can of worms.”

“Being homeless was a far better circumstance than being in the guardianship,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
‘General Hospital’ Star Mired in Off-Screen Guardianship Drama

Shelbyville Woman Charged with Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person and more appears in Court

In June, we reported that an investigation was being conducted into Castle Ministries, Open Hands Shelter, and its director Brenda Knight for Financial Exploitation of the Elderly, which was launched by the Tennessee Department of Human Service and the Shelbyville Police Department on May 25, 2023.

The investigation resulted in the arrest of Brenda Knight, age 57, for theft of property over ($1,000) and the financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable person.

She appeared in court this week. The judge initially revoked her bond because she refused to hire a lawyer or talk with the judge, claiming to be what’s known as a sovereign citizen. She did not enter a plea.

The judge later agreed to release her after she explained that she needed to move out of her home because she was being evicted. That same home has served as the organization’s women’s shelter. 

Full Article & Source:
Shelbyville Woman Charged with Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person and more appears in Court

Friday, July 14, 2023

Troy man accused of murder-for-hire to kill family removed as his mother's guardian by judge

By Charlie Langton and David Komer

Troy man accused of plot to kill his family, removed as his mother's guardian by judge

Probate court records show that there was trouble with Max Garza as early as January of this year, when the family filed documents to remove him as "co-trustee" of his mother’s living trust - and to repay money that he allegedly took from mom.

A Troy man is accused of trying to get several of his own family members killed and on Tuesday a probate court addressed his status as a guardian and co-trustee for his mother.

Max Garza, 48, is charged in a suspected murder-for-hire plot or he would do it himself in a criminal case.

"Max Garza was soliciting to murder all five of the family members," said attorney Andrew Mayoras.

But Garza is also facing a probate case. Garza was appointed the co-guardian of his mother, whom he was living with his sister, Stephanie Michaels, whose husband is the cantor at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield.

But Stephanie, and the family, wanted Garza off the case.

"I don’t know how you can continue serving as a suitable fiduciary with the charges that he’s facing," said Sarah Ramsey, the court-appointed attorney for Alicia Garza, his mother.

The details of the murder-for-hire allegations are not yet known.

"The details, which have been expressed in the police reports are horrific, which have been submitted to your honor under seal," said Mayoras.

But probate court records show that there was trouble with Garza as early as January of this year, when the family filed documents to remove him as "co-trustee" of his mother’s living trust - and to repay money that he allegedly took from mom.

And later the family filed court documents to force Max to clean up the hoarding conditions and move out of the house in Troy he was living at with his mother. The judge agreed.

"Max Garza has not distinguished himself as a suitable fiduciary," said Judge Daniel O'Brien, Oakland County Probate Court.

Translation - he’s been terrible at what he was supposed to legally do for his mother.  And the judge agreed, again.

"It’s appropriate for me to remove Max Garza at this time as a co-guardian, in this case," said Judge O'Brien.

So Max Garza was removed as both trustee and guardian for his mother. All around the same time Garza allegedly developed a plan to kill his family.

His criminal case continues next week. 

Judge Daniel O'Brien, inset: Max Garza

Judge Daniel O'Brien, inset: Max Garza

Full Article & Source:
Troy man accused of murder-for-hire to kill family removed as his mother's guardian by judge

Controversial Douglas County judge must face disciplinary panel Sept. 5

By Randy Travis

Douglas Co. probate judge accused of misconduct

Douglas County Probate Judge Christina Peterson lost her fight to dismiss most of the allegations against her involving judicial misconduct. Peterson faces 40 counts accusing her of misusing her position and harming the public.

Douglas County Probate Judge Christina Peterson must appear Sept. 5 to answer 40 allegations of alleged judicial misconduct.

The Hearing Panel for the Judicial Qualifications Commission set the date after rejecting Peterson’s motion to dismiss most of the violations because they happened before she was sworn into office.

Peterson originally faced 50 violations, but the JQC earlier agreed to drop 10 because some did take place before Peterson declared her candidacy.

"We contend that even if everything they say is true, it’s still not a disciplinary offense," asserted Lester Tate, Peterson’s attorney and a former chairman of the JQC.

Regardless, they are certainly a topic of conversation in Douglas County.

Peterson has also done some part-time acting. While running for probate judge in 2020, Peterson posted a satirical, sometimes sexually graphic rant on Twitter.

Wearing a fake mustache and using a country accent, Peterson pretended to be a white man giving dating advice to a Black woman stuck with a Black boyfriend.

"Janiqua! You’ve got a homeless sexual. That man will do anything for a place to stay."

An image from Christina Peterson's Twitter page showing her playing a character giving graphic dating advice to a black woman.

Around the same time, Peterson celebrated her birthday by posting her Cash App address on Instagram, "if anyone feels like sharing their quarantine wealth."

And she promoted her appearance at a local bar in the days after she won her primary election.

All of those social media posts have her in judicial hot water, accused of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct even though they happened when she was still a candidate.

Peterson filed a motion asking that anything that happened before she was sworn in be dismissed.

In a 13-page order, the JQC rejected all of Peterson’s motions, writing the Georgia Supreme Court has "unequivocally held" that the JQC’s jurisdiction covers "conduct undertaken while someone is a judge or judicial candidate."

Attorney Tate disagreed.

"It’s not the job of the JQC to be overturning elections," said Tate.

Judge Peterson allowed seven people into the courthouse without going through security despite earlier warnings from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

The order also leaves in place other disturbing allegations involving Peterson:

Her decision to let seven people into the courthouse for a Saturday wedding even though the sheriff’s office had warned earlier they didn’t have staff to operate the security checkpoint.

Peterson said a part-time deputy had the keys and let her inside.

Then there’s Peterson’s public dispute with her homeowner’s association where she called one attendee "a witch" and offered the board a deal to dismiss a lawsuit she had filed.

"Call a special election and I’ll drop the lawsuit," Peterson can be heard saying on video a neighbor recorded with their phone.

And the time she ordered a woman jailed for contempt for two days.

Peterson found PJ Skelton in contempt of court for lying on her wedding certificate application years earlier. Skelton had requested to update her license after learning the true identity of her father. Instead, Peterson ordered her to jail for two days.

PJ Skelton asked to amend her wedding license after learning years later the true identity of her father. 

In what was expected to be a simple hearing, Peterson ruled Skelton had lied on the initial application and ordered deputies to take her to jail immediately.

"I had no thought in my mind that she’s about to be arrested," Skelton’s husband Montavious Skelton told the FOX 5 I-Team in 2021.

Did anyone advise your wife that she might need an attorney before the hearing?

"No one," he said. "I thought it was going to be an easy fix."

Meanwhile, the GBI continues investigating whether Douglas County employees misused their purchase cards to buy personal items.

Judge Peterson doesn’t have a p-card, but she does have a county credit card.

The FOX 5 I-Team noticed five charges in 2022 to USAA Insurance totaling $4,458.85.

Peterson would not provide records showing the county purpose for those charges.

A list of unexplained charges to USAA Insurance by Judge Peterson.

Her attorney offered no additional information. Rather than punishing Peterson, Tate said the JQC should let voters decide.

"Next year she’ll be standing for election again," said Tate. "So if the people think those judges are out of control wherever they may be, they have the authority in the state of Georgia… to vote those judges out of office."

Full Article & Source:
Controversial Douglas County judge must face disciplinary panel Sept. 5

5 ways Louisiana has failed to investigate senior citizen abuse in recent years

By: Julie O'Donoghue

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor found several shortcomings in the state’s Elderly Protective Services office. (Andranik Hakobyan/Getty Images)

Louisiana failed to thoroughly investigate and follow up on allegations of abuse against seniors, according to a report the state legislative auditor released last week. 

The auditor reviewed cases, response times and other functions of the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs and Elderly Protective Services from mid-2017 through mid-2022. The office is responsible for the welfare of people 60 and older who are harmed or threatened and cannot protect themselves.

Like child protective services, Elderly Protective Services (EPS) solicits tips from the public about potential cases. It received nearly 5,200 reports of elder abuse and neglect per year from 2017 to 2022. The most common allegations included those of self-neglect (27%), caregiver neglect (24%), financial exploitation (18%) and emotional abuse (16%), according to the audit

The auditor found the state fell short in a number of areas, potentially leaving seniors at greater risk. In response, the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs said the Elderly Protective Services staff would undergo more training, advocate for funding and attempt to hire more workers.

Auditors found the following areas problematic:

1. Death investigations not always carried out.

Elderly Protective Services staff don’t always tell the local coroner when elderly clients die in the middle of an abuse investigation or follow up to find out the cause of death of clients.

In three of seven cases the auditor reviewed, the cause of death listed on the death certificates aligned with allegations of abuse or neglect received by elderly protective services, according to the auditor’s report.

“We found a caregiver neglect case involving allegations that a caregiver was not performing wound care for a bed bound client with a severe foot wound. Eleven months after this case was assigned and no case activity was documented, the caseworker noted the discovery of an obituary indicating that the client died nine months prior,” wrote the investigator in the audit.

“We obtained the death certificate and found that the client died of sepsis, respiratory failure, and an infected foot wound. These fatal conditions appear to be directly related to the allegations of caregiver neglect that were originally reported to EPS.”

The auditor suggested Louisiana establish a specialized elder fatality review team to investigate suspicious deaths of seniors. Similar review teams exist in 20 other states. 

2. Services to potential victims slow to arrive.

In a quarter of the elderly abuse cases reviewed (18 of 92), the auditor found an Elderly Protective Services staff member wasn’t assigned to the case in a timely manner. In over 40% of the cases, clients weren’t contacted within the timeframe the office requires.

Elder abuse allegations are assigned priorities of high, medium and low that require a response within 24 hours, five working days or 10 working days from the case assignment, respectively. Sometimes these timelines didn’t appear to line up with the urgency of the case, the auditor found

“For example, we found a neglect case involving allegations that the client was struggling to attend to her basic needs and did not have heat in her home despite freezing temperatures,” the auditor wrote in the report. “Despite the five-day deadline, a caseworker did not attempt to contact the client for 13 days although temperatures dropped as low as 17 degrees for the client’s area.”

“One case with neglect allegations involving parts of the client’s body turning black was assigned medium priority, and more than seven months passed before the caseworker attempted to contact the client,” an investigator wrote in the audit. 

Yet another case involved a client who was “disabled, unable to care for herself, and lived alone; was incontinent, had feces in her bed, fungus growing on her skin, and her home was infested with bedbugs,” according to the report. “This case was categorized as medium priority and the caseworker did not attempt to contact the client for seven days.”

3. Financial abuse allegations often ignored.

Elderly Protective Services doesn’t have strict criteria for rejecting cases, and those involving allegations of financial scams are among the most discarded. 

The auditor found that four of 30 rejected financial cases his investigators reviewed did not meet the criteria to be scuttled and were similar to other financial cases that stayed in the system.

Elderly Protective Services staff said they have a hard time coming up with guidelines for what type of financial cases should be investigated because of the “novelty and complexity” of the cases, according to the audit.

“According to EPS, some financial exploitation cases are beyond the scope of EPS services, especially in elaborate scams where perpetrators are unknown or are overseas,” said investigators in the audit report. 

4. Elder abuse hotline isn’t always open.

Unlike most states that staff 24-hour hotlines, Louisiana’s toll-free number to report elder abuse – 1-800-898-4910 — is only open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 Monday through Friday. There is no online option to report abuse.

Best practices say such agencies should be receiving reports of alleged mistreatment 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Reporting of elder abuse tends to increase in other states over the weekend and after holidays, when people visit with their older relatives, according to the audit.

Three-quarters of states have a 24-hour hotline for reporting elder abuse, and most staff the phones at all times.

In their response to the audit, Elderly Protective Services says it hasn’t been given the funding to run a 24-hour hotline or have people respond to calls outside of regular business hours, though it will push the issue with the Louisiana Legislature.

The auditor also suggested the office set up an email address where people could report allegations of abuse, but Shirley Merrick, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, rejected the suggestion in a letter to the auditor.

Merrick said setting up such an email account would expose the office to liability, and it was difficult to verify people’s contact information through email. 

5. Elderly Protective Services doesn’t have enough funding.

Elderly Protective Services managed over 85 cases per caseworker per month from 2017 to 2022, a larger caseload than their peers in 36 other states.

The low staffing levels contributed to most of the problems highlighted in their report, the auditor said. The office has 40 staff, including one program manager, four intake workers, six field supervisors, and 29 caseworkers. 

Louisiana devotes less money per case to Elderly Protective Services than Adult Protective Services, which investigates abuse against 18- to 59-year-old adults who can’t protect themselves. Caseworkers who handle investigations of elder abuse are also paid less than their adult abuse counterparts, according to the audit. 

Merrick, in her letter to the auditor, also implied it has been hard to attract applicants for job openings.

Elder Protective Services might be able to monitor and manage their work better with an upgraded technology system, but the implementation of a new service has been repeatedly delayed. 

The state’s Office of Technology Services now says it won’t have the new system online until September 2023, the audit report said. If the system isn’t active by then, the state may be forced to return federal funding it has used to build it, and it’s not clear where money to pay for its operation would come from, according to the auditor.

“The delays in progress have created challenges for EPS in testing modules and training staff on the new system as planned,” according to the report.

Full Article & Source:
5 ways Louisiana has failed to investigate senior citizen abuse in recent years

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Woman, 90, fighting guardianship loses bid for independence after court-ordered exam

By Douglas Hanks

Miami resident Ela De Los Dolores Avila wants the judge to set her free from her court-appointed guardian. "I don’t want her," she said. "I get sick every time she comes here." BY PEDRO PORTAL

Ela Avila, the 90-year-old Miami woman fighting a court-ordered guardian overseeing her house and finances, lost her latest bid for independence on Tuesday after a doctor said her mental state didn’t merit a change. Avila, featured in a recent Miami Herald article about her guardianship case, remains under court supervision for most major decisions. 

Circuit Court Judge Bertila Soto agreed to restore Avila’s right to vote and the ability to make decisions about her social interactions. The judge did not grant a request by Avila’s children to end a professional guardian’s role as custodian of Avila’s finances and assets, including the grandmother’s Little Havana home, which is facing foreclosure.

“It’s not that I am restoring her rights,” Soto said during the morning video hearing. “I am restoring two rights.” 

Avila’s court case began in 2021 when her daughter, Rosa Hernandez, launched the guardianship proceedings after raising concerns that her brother, Rogelio Hernandez, was not providing proper care to their mother while living with Avila, according to a summary by Soto at a June 14 hearing. 

Based on court-ordered evaluations by medical professionals, Soto ruled last year that Avila did not have the mental capacity to make decisions for herself and appointed an independent guardian, Zaidis Alvarez, to oversee her financial affairs and living conditions.

That includes trying to resolve ongoing foreclosure proceedings for a mortgage that became overdue before the guardianship proceedings began. 

The process could cost Avila, with Alvarez submitting to the court a $21,000 bill for her guardianship services in the case. 

Most of the fees come from an attorney helping Alvarez in the contentious guardianship case. Last year, an elder-abuse case worker briefly intervened in the matter. Alvarez has also been pressing Rogelio Hernandez to pay court-ordered rent for living in his mother’s house. Hernandez said he’s paying too many household expenses to afford rent.

Soto last year approved listing Avila’s house for sale over her objections. That decision was put on hold as the judge considers a proposal backed by the family to pay off the debt with a reverse mortgage that would let Avila remain in her home. 

Foreclosure proceedings continue, and Soto set a hearing to consider next steps on the house for later this month. 

Avila did not speak during Tuesday’s proceedings, except to grant her permission for the Herald to watch what would otherwise be a confidential hearing. “I don’t have any problem at all,” Avila said in Spanish through a court translator. “It’s fine.” 

Children are aligned in support 

While once fighting, the two Avila children are now united in asking Soto to lift their mother’s guardianship.

Two medical professionals vouched for Avila’s mental state: a nurse practitioner wrote in a form in December that Avila had the “full capacity to live independently,” and a nurse working for the elder-abuse unit in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said Avila “responded to all questions correctly and clearly” in a May 17, 2022, interview. 

The Herald obtained those reports from records requests with the State Attorney’s Office and from Avila’s family, but the bulk of the mental evaluations conducted under court order remain confidential. That includes the report prepared by Dr. Emilio Mantero-Atienza at Soto’s request for the Tuesday hearing. 

Horacio Sosa, the lawyer representing Avila’s children, said he was withdrawing their motion to lift the guardianship based on the doctor’s findings.

“Without going into the details of the report, the report states that Ms. Avila is not in the position to regain her capacity,” Sosa said. 

Avila’s court-appointed lawyer, Lee Harrison Griffis, asked Soto for a slight loosening of the guardianship order to restore Avila’s right to vote and her ability to make decisions on her “social environment” and who she wants in her house as caregivers and for support. 

Soto agreed to the request. “Based on my interactions with Ms. Avila and her family, I don’t have any issue with [that],” Soto said.

Full Article & Source:
Woman, 90, fighting guardianship loses bid for independence after court-ordered exam

For those unfit to make decisions, a complex path out of the hospital in Washington

The number of patients awaiting state-appointed guardians to be discharged is up, adding pressure to the health care system and raising difficult ethical issues.


The number of patients awaiting state-appointed guardians to be discharged is up, adding pressure to the health care system and raising difficult ethical issues. (

The state’s already stretched hospital system is facing added strain from patients who could be discharged but are stuck waiting because they lack a state-appointed guardian.

The Washington State Hospital Association estimates that roughly 10% of the state’s hospital beds are occupied by patients who have barriers to being discharged. Among them, a subset, often around 100 people, are awaiting a guardian to make a decision on where they should go next, such as a long-term care facility.

But that process is long and complicated, and there aren’t enough people willing to take on the guardianship role for patients in these circumstances, who can have conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, brain injuries, or severe mental health disorders.

Appointing a guardian can often take between three to six months. It’s time-consuming in part because it is highly sensitive, usurping an individual’s decision-making power.

“People end up losing most, if not all, of their legal rights simply to get discharged from the hospital,” Amy Spitzer, an attorney at Fox Ballard in Seattle, said during a meeting where state lawmakers discussed the issue this week.

The Legislature is trying to come up with improvements.

“The bureaucracy takes so long to get guardianship that patients are left in an inappropriate setting,” state Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro Woolley, said at a Senate Law and Justice Committee work session.

The state Department of Social and Health Services’ Aging and Long-Term Support Administration gets about 200 referrals each week for people who need to transition from hospitals to other types of settings. About 175 of those are typically resolved within the week, said Bea Rector, assistant secretary at the department.

Rector said an “overwhelming” number of people in these situations can make decisions or express opinions on what they want, but a small number do not have that ability and need an appointed guardian.

Spitzer, the attorney, said the number of guardianship cases her firm has taken has increased by about 30% since 2020. In the first six months of this year, she said her firm has dealt with 250 guardianship cases.

Overall in Washington, there are between 11,100 and 12,300 hospital beds available to the general public, the Washington State Hospital Association estimates.

Looking for solutions

One solution to getting people out of hospitals faster could be reinterpreting the state’s surrogate decision-maker law, which dictates who can make decisions for patients who are unable to.

In the fall of 2020, the state Department of Social and Health Services clarified that the law says patients’ family members, or others who have designated powers of attorney, could only make choices about health care for people unfit to make decisions on their own. But this does not cover decisions about long-term care.

The effect is that for many patients in these difficult situations, having a state-appointed guardian is the only option for getting discharged from the hospital, said Zosia Stanley, vice president and associate general counsel at the state hospital association.

Rector said the change in the interpretation of the law came from federal regulations surrounding Medicaid, which are out of the state’s control.

She added there are likely other reasons why there are so many patients waiting to be discharged from Washington’s hospitals. The pandemic, for example, made it more difficult for people to transition directly into a nursing home from a hospital because the facilities were closed or staffing was short, she said.

Another option that could help is to speed up the guardianship process.

A bill introduced by Wagoner last session would allow courts to order patients to be discharged from hospitals and into the appropriate long-term care setting while they are going through the guardianship appointment process. It’s an attempt to get patients who are waiting to be discharged out of the hospital sooner, he said.

The bill did not get a committee hearing, but Wagoner said it was mostly due to time constraints.

The process outlined in the bill would remove a requirement that a patient must be an “immediate danger to themselves” before a guardian can be appointed, which Rector said can be hard to prove if someone is safe in a hospital.

But Amy Freeman, attorney at the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, said that standard is essential because guardianship is an “extraordinary measure” often used with the state’s most vulnerable people.

She described the bill as abandoning too many protections for people going through the process.

Freeman said the state needs to let new  spending approved in recent years take effect before lawmakers think about changing the guardianship process.

The Legislature last year funded a pilot project for people in hospitals who are unable to make informed decisions for themselves. It allows the state to assist in assigning a guardian for Medicaid patients who meet certain criteria.

The program serves a maximum of 60 people at a time. More than 81% of the cases that were accepted into the pilot program have already successfully been appointed a guardian, according to the department.

Rector said the pilot program has been good for the people who qualify and who would otherwise be still in a hospital as opposed to a long-term care facility, but she said it’s only a small portion of the people who need help.

Panelists at the Law and Justice committee meeting gave lawmakers other suggestions for addressing the problem, including expanding funding for the Office of Public Guardianship, which is a state-run program that offers surrogate decision-makers to low-income people, expanding training and support for family members who take on a guardian role, or increasing resources for professional guardians, who currently don’t get paid more than $235 a month.

Full Article & Source:
For those unfit to make decisions, a complex path out of the hospital in Washington

CAUGHT IN THE ACT: Man seen assaulting 86-year-old woman in Ring door camera footage

By KWTX Staff

HOUSTON (KWTX) - Police in Houston are asking the public for help identifying the man who assaulted an 86-year-old woman.

Police said the suspect in RING door camera footage also burglarized the victim’s home in the 4800 block of Robertson Street today on June 26.

The man is seen approaching the elderly woman outside her home, then proceeds to place his arm around her neck.

He is seen walking away from the home with a blue towel over his head. 

If you have information regarding the man’s identify, call Houston Police Robbery at 713-308-0700.

If you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-8477.

Full Article & Source:
CAUGHT IN THE ACT: Man seen assaulting 86-year-old woman in Ring door camera footage

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Former professional guardian Traci Hudson sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for theft, exploitation

Hudson pleaded guilty to 19 felony counts

By: Adam Walser

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A former professional guardian appointed by the court to care for elderly people under her care pleaded guilty to felony charges in Pinellas County court this afternoon.

The ABC Action News I-Team has been covering the case for over three years and was in the courtroom today when the plea happened.

Traci Hudson will spend 8.5 years in prison and then will spend 20 years on probation.

She will also be responsible for paying more than $575,000 in restitution to her victims after changing her plea from “not guilty” to “guilty” on all counts in Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge Susan St. John’s courtroom.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Hudson was fingerprinted, handcuffed and escorted by deputies to the Pinellas County Jail, where she will await transportation to a state prison to begin serving her sentence.

Under state law, she must serve at least 85 percent of her sentence before being released.

Plea comes 3 ½ years after arrest

Hudson was first arrested in November 2019 after records showed she took more than half a million dollars from a 92-year-old man under her care.

Hudson was appointed by the court to manage the finances, health care and other life decisions for at least 45 elderly adults who had been declared “incapacitated” by judges.

After her initial arrest, her guardianship cases were audited, resulting in 18 more felony counts, including exploitation, grand theft and perjury.

The prosecutor said in a memo that Hudson could have faced up to 135 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Hudson is the former president of the Guardianship Association of Pinellas County.

A 77-page report from the Pinellas County Inspector General released last year alleged she often billed wards for working more than 24 hours in a day, paid realtors up to 18 percent commissions from the sale of her ward’s properties, altered inventories, and had tens of thousands of dollars worth of her wards’ belongings come up missing.

Hudson failed to show up for a court hearing to face her most recent charges in April.

A Pinellas Park Police report says her daughter grew concerned and asked for a welfare check at a Marriott hotel, which was Hudson’s last known location.

Hudson was found there “on the floor unresponsive.”

According to the report, “there was a substantial likelihood that Hudson attempted to commit suicide” and that Hudson met Baker Act criteria and was hospitalized.

In court Monday, Hudson admitted to stealing money, guns and jewelry from elderly victims under her care.

Some of Hudson’s victims’ family members and guardianship reform advocates attended Monday’s sentencing hearing.

"We have so many victims that have been taken by Traci Samuel Hudson that, as we speak, not getting justice," said guardianship reform advocate Hillary Hogue, who reported Hudson multiple times to the state Office of Public and Professional Guardians.

That's the watchdog agency set up by the state to ensure professional guardians comply with state law.

Lesa Martino was also at the hearing.

She lost her home after losing a libel/slander lawsuit filed by Hudson in 2018, the year before Hudson's arrest.

Martino alleged Hudson didn't provide adequate care to her father, Roland Martino.
"I think she's, like in her mind, like she didn't do anything wrong. She blames the system," Martino said.

 "She just pled guilty to every charge that was put to her. That is the biggest and strongest way you can take accountability for anything in this country," said Hudson's attorney Richard McKyton.

Another Florida professional guardian is scheduled to enter into a plea deal in Hillsborough County court later this month.

Rebecca Fierle was also arrested in 2019 following the death of a man under her care.

Her first trial last year ended in a hung jury.

Hudson will be 83 years old when she finishes her prison sentence and probation.

Full Article & Source:
Former professional guardian Traci Hudson sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for theft, exploitation



See Also:
Professional guardian Traci Hudson's trial on 2019 charges delayed again

Embattled former professional guardian Traci Hudson found ’unresponsive’ at hotel

Former professional guardian abandoned wards' mail, committed crimes: Inspector General report

Former guardian allegedly stole guns, forged appraisal

Former guardian charged with pillaging elderly man's estate refuses to sign final accounting

Price of Protection: Woman loses Seffner home after father's guardian sues her for libel

Guardianship ends in isolation from family, alleged neglect and death from COVID-19

77-page guardianship investigation exposes lack of oversight in Florida's system

New charges, new investigation involving embattled former professional guardians

Hotel owner placed in guardianship by St. Pete Beach realtor dies from COVID-19

Realtor seeks court-ordered guardianship to take away rights of elderly beach hotel owner

AARP Florida makes guardianship reform a top priority

Broken window results in more than $45K fine under former professional guardian's care

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

How can seniors with cognitive impairment keep their independence?

More and more experts are pushing for less restrictive alternatives to drastic legal action such as guardianships

by Marilyn Perkins

America’s population is aging. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that, by 2034, there will be more adults over 65 than children, and The Administration for Community Living projects the number of seniors over 85 will double between 2020 and 2040.

With that shift will come more people than ever being diagnosed with dementia and cognitive impairment-causing conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Nearly one out of every three seniors over the age of 85 has Alzheimer’s dementia, and the annual incidence of Alzheimer’s is projected to double by 2050.

These conditions cause a person’s decision-making abilities to deteriorate, making it increasingly difficult to manage personal, financial and health care affairs independently. In these cases, legal interventions — often in the form of full or partial guardianships — can come into play.

But a growing number of physicians, lawyers and policymakers are bringing attention to how drastic legal action such as guardianships can put seniors’ livelihood and well-being at stake, and they’re pushing for less restrictive alternatives. One of those alternatives is a framework called supported decision-making.

“When I think about something like Alzheimer's disease, I think of it as a disease of autonomy,” says Emily Largent, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania and proponent of supported decision-making.

“It affects people's ability to make decisions about what's important to them,” she continues. “One of my big concerns is that when we look at tools like guardianship, we're stripping people of decision-making authority prematurely.”

She explains that, in supported decision-making, an adult with cognitive impairment relies on a trusted person or group to assist them through choices around finances, health care, housing or any other complex issues in their lives. It can include assistance in understanding information, communicating preferences, exploring alternatives and considering potential consequences. Supporters may include family members, friends, advocates or professionals who work collaboratively with the person to enable them to exercise their decision-making autonomy. The process emphasizes that, at the end of the day, it’s the individuals’ decision, rather than a guardian’s.

“Even though somebody's helping them, they retain the power over their own life,” says Largent.

The framework also lies in contrast to surrogate decision-making, an alternative to guardianship in which someone is authorized to make decisions on behalf of another person deemed incapable of making those decisions themselves.

The problem with guardianship

Guardianship came to the national forefront in 2021, when the #FreeBritney movement highlighted the alleged abuse in pop star Britney Spears’ conservatorship imposed over her mental health issues. Spears detailed the far-reaching control over her personal and professional life she endured during a widely watched trial that resulted in her release from the conservatorship.

But while Spears’ high-profile case revealed the reality of guardianship exploitation to a larger audience, it wasn’t representative of what most guardianships look like. The majority of people in guardianships are elderly, residing in health care facilities with some degree of cognitive impairment.

While full or partial guardianships can be necessary and even helpful for seniors with dementia, they can also open a door to abuse and exploitation, and can make people feel that they’re losing what little sense of self they have left.

“This is an issue of the most important fundamental rights: What it means to be a person, to make decisions about your life, about your health care, about where you live, what happens with your possessions, your money, who you see,” says Karen Buck, executive director of the SeniorLAW Center. “Every aspect of your life is potentially at risk with guardianship.”

Valerie Snow, an attorney with SeniorLAW Center who represents adults in guardianships or facing guardianship petitions, says that ageism is a big factor in why the mistreatment of seniors in guardianships has gone overlooked for so long.

“Older people are often ignored and devalued,” agrees Buck. “Their voices are unheard.”

Supported decision-making

Supported decision-making was first introduced as a way for young adults with developmental disorders such as Down Syndrome to avoid lifelong guardianships. Researchers like Largent are still working to adapt the approach for seniors living with cognitive impairment and dementia, as most studies conducted so far have focused only on younger adults.

“The studies that have been done with these younger adults, generally speaking, have found that they feel happier, more independent, they have greater self confidence, and they have a greater sense of control over what happens to them,” says Largent.

The pilot projects also show a much lower potential for abuse and exploitation compared to guardianship.

However, supported decision-making for seniors still faces a number of challenges. Compared to younger adults with developmental disabilities, cognitive abilities in older adults are less stable. A person who has Alzheimer’s disease may experience poor memory one day, clarity the next; and ultimately, their memory will likely deteriorate over time.

That means supported decision-making strategies for older adults need to be flexible day-by-day, and perhaps transition into guardianships over time.

Proponents of supported decision-making also admit that it isn’t a solution for everyone. For those with severe cognitive impairment or dementia, guardianship or surrogate decision-making might be the only option.

Still, a physician and director of the Penn Memory Center Jason Karlawish emphasizes the importance of pursuing arrangements that let seniors with cognitive impairment keep their autonomy.

“Guardianship is a method of last resort,” says Karlawish. “It's a tool that should be in the toolbox, but it should be used with great care and caution.”

And like successful guardianship, supported decision-making requires a person to have someone in their life who, in the words of Karlawish, is “trustworthy, reliable and accessible.”

Karlawish cautions that finding that balance can be difficult, even with spouses and adult children.

Legal status

As of 2023, over a dozen states, including California, Texas and the District of Columbia, legally recognize supported decision-making. In Pennsylvania, it remains an informal mechanism.

Largent says it’s still possible to informally develop a supported decision-making arrangement for seniors, but that privacy-oriented institutions like banks and health care providers may not recognize it.

For anyone considering a supported decision-making arrangement — or any other alternative to guardianship — for themselves or a loved one, Snow recommends planning ahead as much as possible.

“Putting the person in the driver's seat is the most important thing you can do,” she says. “If you don't plan ahead, you might end up under a guardianship where you are not in the driver's seat, and you have very little agency over these big things that affect you.”

While the state doesn’t have any supported decision-making laws on the books, Pennsylvania representatives are on the forefront of the national stage for guardianship reform. Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman recently introduced a bill to standardize the nation’s patchwork of guardianship laws and push for less-restrictive alternatives like supported decision-making.

Karlawish says he thinks it’s time for the legal and medical framework that helps seniors with cognitive impairment maintain their autonomy to expand. He points back to a similar moment in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when new technologies such as life support systems allowed doctors to prolong the lives of patients who once would have died.

From this explosion in medical technology came legal frameworks like surrogate decision-making and living wills. “That took away a lot of ethical dilemmas and anxieties that dominated medicine in the late 20th century,” explains Karlawish.

Now Karlawish says it’s once again time for policy to catch up to medicine. As lifespans stretch and treatments for dementia cause seniors to live with mild cognitive impairment for longer, he believes supported decision-making will be more relevant than ever.

Largent agrees. “I think we should really keep people empowered as long as possible — and this is a way of doing that.”

Full Article & Source:
How can seniors with cognitive impairment keep their independence?

Caregiver arrested for DWI; accused of neglecting elderly patient, using her car

A caregiver is behind bars after an elderly woman was found at home alone sitting in her own excrement while allegedly in her care. 

Caregiver arrested for DWI; accused of neglecting elderly patient, using her car

Caregiver Arrested For Forging Checks In Elderly Woman’s Name

Brittany Kozubik

By Brianna Pitts

CULVER — A Marshall County caregiver was recently arrested for allegedly stealing money from the woman she was caring for.

Brittany Kozubik, 38, Monterey, is charged with eight counts of forgery, all level 6 felonies; and exploitation of a dependent, a class A misdemeanor.

On Sept. 27, 2022, a woman contacted Marshall County Central Dispatch to report allegations regarding her mother’s caregiver, identified as Kozubik, forging checks and stealing money from her. The woman said she had documentation of this occurring.

The woman gave Kozubik a budget of what to spend on her mother’s expenditures and she was allowed to use a debit card from the Fifth Third Bank only. When visiting her mother in Culver, the woman came across a check written out to Kozubik from a checking account from First Farmers Bank, an account she was not supposed to have access to, containing a forged signature with her mother’s name.

The woman said she noticed these checks being suspicious because only maintenance costs for the house were to be paid out using checks and there were several checks made out to “Brittany” since 2019, when she was initially hired.

Kozubik was booked in the Marshall County Jail on June 29, 2023.

Full Article & Source:
Caregiver Arrested For Forging Checks In Elderly Woman’s Name

Monday, July 10, 2023

RIGHT PATH American Pickers star Frank Fritz’s conservator files new financial plan as he recovers from debilitating stroke

by Teresa Roca

AMERICAN Pickers star Frank Fritz’s conservator has filed a new financial plan, as the former host continues to recover from a stroke he suffered last year. 

Frank, 59, was placed under conservatorship after he suffered a debilitating stroke in July 2022 that reportedly left his decision­-making capacity impaired.

The U.S. Sun can exclusively reveal Frank’s conservator, MidWestOne Bank, filed an Amended Initial Financial Management Plan and an Inventory Report on June 27. 

MidWestOne Bank requested to seal the inventory of Frank’s “real property and monetary assets,” as well as his whereabouts because he is a well-known celebrity.

The judge on the case approved his conservator’s request to seal the financial records.

The request comes after a Notice of Delinquency for Conservatorships was filed on June 2 after the inventory report was not filed by the due date.

The court papers read: “Failure to file the same within sixty (60) days from the date hereof will result in: (1) a report being made to the presiding judge (2) the fiduciary(ies) being subject to removal (3) a report being made to the Chief Judge of the Judicial District and the Administrator of the Judicial Branch, and (4) a report being made to the Committee on Professional Ethics and Conduct (which may result in disciplinary action being taken).”


MidWestOne Bank filed an Initial Plan that revealed Frank’s monthly expenses in October 2022.

According to the plan, Frank spends $28,292 monthly on expenses, including $22,832 on in-home health care.

The health care alone is expected to cost $273,984 yearly for the star.

Other expenses include $1,250 in food, $850 in health insurance payments, $500 in transportation, $250 in clothing, and more. 

Frank’s annual income is just $60,000 from investments.

But according to the court papers, MidWestOne Bank provided a plan for Frank to make more money.

The court papers read: “Assets will be invested to start generating income for Mr. Fritz.”

The conservator has not inventoried Frank’s many collectibles and antiques, but they plan to “leave them largely as they are now.”

The conservator will work with the guardian to “integrate Mr. Fritz into management decisions as he continues to recover.”

A checking account with a small balance will be available for Frank’s personal use.

The conservator will also “work to apply for disability income for the protected person should he be eligible.”

When asked how long the conservatorship is expected to last, the bank responded: “unknown.”

Frank was unemployed at the time of his stroke.

He had no debt listed. 


The U.S. Sun broke the news that the conservatorship was filed in August 2022. 

The documents obtained by The U.S. Sun read: “Because of his stroke, Mr. Fritz’s decision­-making capacity is so impaired that he is unable to care for his own safety, or to provide for necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, or medical care without which physical injury or illness may occur.

“Mr. Fritz’s decision­-making capacity is so impaired that he is unable to make, communicate, or carry out important decisions concerning his own financial affairs.”

An exhibit was mentioned in the court papers from a doctor, allegedly confirming Frank does not have decisional capacity.

The legal papers continued: “Decisions must be made for Mr. Fritz’s care and placement while he continues to recover and receive treatment for his injuries. 

“Appointment of a guardian and conservator is necessary to avoid immediate harm to him.”

The Petitioner requested a separate longtime friend of Frank’s, who has been assisting him in decision-making since the stroke, be his guardian. 

The guardian will help Frank with his Crohn's disease treatment and continued physical therapy. 

He will also help the former American Pickers star grocery shop, cook, and get him to any activity he feels up to doing.


Frank struggled with his health when he returned home from rehabilitation.

The U.S. Sun obtained four 911 calls placed from the house, resulting in Frank being rushed to the hospital. 

On November 17, Frank’s caregiver called 911 because he was having a seizure.

She told the operator: “He just came home from inpatient rehab for a stroke. He just had a full-blown seizure, maybe more than one… He's been shaking.”

She then asked the operator if there is anything she can do to help him, as she was transferred to medical. 

On December 7, another caregiver called 911 for elevated blood pressure. 

She said on the call: “I have a 59-year-old stroke victim with elevated blood pressure.”

You could hear Frank moan in the background, as she could be heard telling him: “You have to go because your blood pressure is too high."

He responded: "Oh."

In the final two calls, another caregiver called 911 on December 21 for possible pneumonia.

Frank’s guardian then called the next day. 

He said in the call: "I'm going to need an ambulance to take someone to the hospital because I think they have pneumonia. I'm the guardian. He's handicapped. He's wheelchair-bound."


Frank last appeared on American Pickers during a March 2020 episode, as he took time off to recover from back surgery that left him with 185 stitches and two rods in his spine. 

During his time off the show, Frank lost 65 pounds.

He also told The U.S. Sun that he entered rehab for alcohol addiction in Iowa for 77 days.

Frank revealed his feud with co-star Mike during the 2021 interview with The U.S. Sun.

Frank said: “I haven’t talked to Mike in two years. He knew my back was messed up, but he didn’t call me up and ask how I was doing. That’s just how it is.

"The show is tilted towards him 1,000 percent. I can’t even bend that far down to show you how much.

"That’s fine. It’s like you’ve got Aerosmith and there’s Steven Tyler and he’s the frontman. I found my spot, I’m second and he’s number one on the show. That’s no problem with me, maybe he does have a problem.”

He even admitted: “I think Mike wants to get his brother Robbie in there to replace me. I don’t know why he’s behaving like that towards me."


But a friend told The Quad-City Times that Frank and Mike had a tearful reunion over Memorial Day Weekend. 

The pal said: "This was not a feud between Mike and Frank at all. They were not feuding. They needed separation to appreciate each other."

The friend explained that the longtime buddies' relationship became tense after 11 seasons of working 10-hour days, seven days a week on the reality TV show.

She informed the newspaper that Mike and Frank were both in tears during their long-awaited reunion.

The friend disclosed: "Both were crying," before adding that “Mike brought up how nervous they both were to be going on David Letterman, which was one of their first big appearances."

Mike told his former co-star: "Nobody can replace you, Frank," while admitting that it was Frank’s "uniquely funny personality" that contributed to them working so well together for the 11 years they spent making the show.

The arrangements were made after Frank told the friend: "I need to talk to Mike,” so she called the TV personality on Mother's Day to make the plans.

The insider ended: "Mike really stressed all the good times they had before the show and during the show.

"Mike did say he’d like Frank back on the show, but Frank is focused on his health."

Full Article & Source:
RIGHT PATH American Pickers star Frank Fritz’s conservator files new financial plan as he recovers from debilitating stroke

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

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