Saturday, September 9, 2023

Reedsburg lawyer stole $1.6 million from client's trust to pay for home improvements, 2 trucks and a tractor

by Chris Ramirez

A Reedsburg lawyer will spend nearly four years in federal prison for embezzling $1.6 million from a client's trust accounts.

U.S. District Judge William M. Conley on Thursday ordered Kristin Lein, 61, to serve 45 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. She pleaded guilty in June to wire fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return.

Prosecutors alleged that in June 2019, Lein began transferring money from several accounts belonging to the client’s trust to her own personal bank account.

Lein and the beneficiary of the trust spoke in a Feb. 2, 2022, phone call about financial matters. She told the person the trust balance was over $1.8 million. 

But that wasn't true.

Prosecutors alleged the amount in the trust was significantly less due to her actions, and that she continued to embezzle money until the funds were depleted in September 2022. 

Timothy M. O’Shea, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, said in a statement an investigation revealed Lein used the embezzled funds to pay personal expenses, including improvements to her home in Sauk County.

She also used the money to buy multiple vehicles, including a 2019 F-250 pickup truck, a 2017 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and a 2020 Mahinda tractor, the statement said. 

Lein admitted she failed to report the income she obtained from the embezzlement on her 2019 personal tax return.   

The charges against Lein were a result of an investigation conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner handled the prosecution.

Full Article & Source:
Reedsburg lawyer stole $1.6 million from client's trust to pay for home improvements, 2 trucks and a tractor

When long-term care becomes a slugfest

by James M. Berklan

If you ever want to see something really wrong, just watch two sides fight when both think they’re really right. It usually isn’t pretty.

That describes the climate created by the nursing home staffing mandate proposed on Friday.

Even before the release, providers had lobbied hard to impress upon rulemakers that there isn’t enough money in the government propped-up system to fund what they want. Nor enough bodies to fill the workstations they desire.

On the other side of the arena stands a crowd of regulators, consumers/voters, labor groups and academics who want more for patients. Some seem to be suspicious of any provider that doesn’t prolong health status indefinitely. Most are pretty adamant that they are going to fight for higher nurse-hours-per-day requirements, and — fair warning — they will have public sentiment on their side.

With the official publishing of the rule in the Federal Register today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services opens a 60-day comment period on its staffing proposal. Hold on to your hats, folks. It’s likely to become one of the most prolific, passionate comment periods ever.

All in the name of getting the “right” views out.

Who’s right? Those who want more people to live longer lives. Those who say they could use a lot more help making this happen, especially since government funding is supposed to make it all work.

Those who say there aren’t enough nurses to meet targets in the controversial proposal — and won’t be for years, even with increased focus on raising the number. Those who say Friday’s proposal could have been much worse for providers. Those who think the final rule will make providers’ tasks tougher.

Those who say bolstering training programs for nurses — and their would-be educators — is needed. Those who sneer that 75 million federal dollars for building such programs is anywhere near enough to do it.

Who else is right? Those who say there ought to be some kind of floor put on the level of staffing in skilled nursing facilities. Those who say a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. 

Those who want surveyors to be more consistent, and more open with advice. Those who wonder where more surveyors will come from since their ranks are also so depleted.

Who else is right in this Story of the Year showdown? Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report authors who found “no single staffing level that would guarantee quality care.” Also, those who believe that report will be one of providers’ most powerful tools against mandated staffing levels. 

Also right are those who look to build flexibility and waivers into any final rule.

The right crowd includes those who say more skilled nursing wings, floors and entire facilities will continue to close if staffing levels have to go up. And maybe even if they don’t. Others right include anyone who frets that out on the prairie, and other secluded areas, it is going to get tougher if you need, or want to provide, nursing home care.

Who else is absolutely right? Those who say skilled nursing is a needs-based industry that will never go away. 

Most of all, those who are right include those who see Friday’s proposal as only the beginning. 

In other words, considering all of the above, everyone has some share of “right” in their corner.

The howling about the rule picked up right after it was released Friday. But more, stiffer blowback is coming — and from all directions. On that, I know I’m right.

James M. Berklan is McKnight’s Executive Editor.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.

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When long-term care becomes a slugfest

Friday, September 8, 2023


News provided by

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP
07 Sep, 2023, 11:53 ET


Libra Max, Whistleblower and Advocate Against Guardianship Abuse, Represented by Civil Rights Law Firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, LP, Faces Sanctions for Violating Order

September 8 Hearing in Manhattan

NEW YORK, Sept. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorneys for Libra Max, the daughter of world famous artist Peter Max, today disclosed that their client has been silenced by New York State Supreme Court Justice Lisa A. Sokoloff (Index No. 500198/2015) under an extraordinary court order forbidding her from speaking publicly or to the press about her father's circumstances or releasing filings and transcripts of court proceedings from the case where she is challenging her father's guardianship. [The order was issued in the wake of a news report where the judge in the case was quoted; the judge objected that the quote lacked context and made it appear that she had spoken to the press in violation of the canon of judicial ethics.] 

The June 27, 2023 written "gag" order followed a similar April 10, 2023 ruling by Justice Sokoloff. Both have had the effect of forbidding Ms. Max from speaking freely about the New York State Court System's handling of her father's guardianship, as well as her attempts to shed light on alleged violations of the law, improper court proceedings, and the secrecy of guardianship courts in New York. 

"Gag orders like this one are extremely uncommon, and rarely lawful. They restrict freedom of speech—a core value in our constitutional system," said Ms. Max's attorney, Andrew G. Celli, Jr. of the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, LP, an expert in First Amendment and civil rights law. "This order meets none of the requirements for a constitutional gag order; it is unsupported by any of the necessary legal justifications, and it is so broad as to forbid speech of the highest constitutional value – speech critical of government. We believe it is flatly unconstitutional and we are challenging it at every level. In the meantime, however, the Court is threatening to sanction Ms. Max for exercising her free speech rights. This is un-American."

Ms. Max's involvement with the guardianship system began when she reported what she regarded as abuse within the system and spoke out against the guardianship imposed on her father, the artist Peter Max. An aggrieved daughter advocating for the end of her father's guardianship, Ms. Max has become a national advocate against exploitative guardianships and a whistleblower, exposing rampant abuses that have been committed at the behest of court-appointed guardians and their attorneys and ultimately with the blessing of local judges. 

Ms. Max has argued broadly that the culture of secrecy in New York's and other states' guardianship courts has resulted in denial of due process; and it has cost law-abiding citizens control over their finances, their property, their healthcare decisions, and even over whether they can see their own family.

The guardianship of Mr. Max has garnered the attention of media, lawmakers, and activists – largely due to the unyielding efforts of Ms. Max. But she points out that the issue is far larger than Peter Max's situation – about which she is now forbidden to speak.

Guardianship reform advocacy organizations identify a typical pattern of problematic guardianships: the person under guardianship is isolated, medicated, and his/her assets are liquidated. Ms. Max alleges her father's guardianship has followed the same course.

In the order, Justice Sokoloff points to news coverage of the Peter Max guardianship as stimulating her interest in the parties' statements to the press.

"While it may be uncomfortable for a court to have Libra Max criticize its actions, or for the press to scrutinize them, the law entitles Ms. Max to speak about how the judicial branch conducts itself, and it entitles the press to cover that. Ms. Max is entitled to speak about the lack of transparency in our court system, and how that is affecting her father in real time. And she is entitled to use her own family's experience to critique an area of law that has affected Americans of every stripe – from celebrities to ordinary elderly people swept into the system," said Mr. Celli, attorney for Ms. Max. "I have never before seen a court openly acknowledge that its order gagging the parties was stimulated by the fact that the judge did not like the way her remarks in court were reported in the press. It's extraordinary."

On September 8, 2023 at 12 noon at Courtroom 540, 60 Centre Street, New York, N.Y., Justice Sokoloff will be holding a hearing to determine whether Ms. Max will face sanctions and/or be held in contempt for violating the court's gag order. It is important that the media demand the transparency afforded to them in the United States Constitution by attending the hearing.

Read the gag order at:


Police conducted 4 wellness checks at Britney Spears and Sam Asghari's house over the course of their engagement and marriage

by Erin Snodgrass,Lloyd Lee

Britney Spears and Sam Asghari attend the Los Angeles premiere of "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" at TCL Chinese Theatre on July 22, 2019 in Hollywood, California.David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

  • Police were called to Britney Spears' home 21 times over the last four years, records show.

  • Authorities have conducted four wellness checks at the singer's residence since November 2021.

  • At least one check was prompted by Spears' fans who called police after she deactivated her Instagram.

Local police have visited Britney Spears' California home multiple times in recent years, conducting at least four wellness checks over the course of the 41-year-old pop star's engagement and marriage to now-estranged-husband Sam Asghari, 29.

Authorities were called to the pop star's Thousand Oaks home 21 times between January 1, 2019, and August 20, 2023, according to Ventura County Sheriff's Department records obtained by Insider. Among the most common reasons for calls were concerns of suspicious people or vehicles at Spears' property and suspected trespassing incidents, the records show.

Four of those calls were wellness checks, according to the log. A wellness check is triggered after a concerned party asks law enforcement to check up on an individual and make sure they're okay. The call log does not include specifics or clarify the intended subjects of the wellness checks.

At least one of the welfare checks was prompted by Spears' own fans after the singer briefly left Instagram in January 2023, she said.

The records offer insight into Spears' daily life and likely stressors as the pop star has sought to rebuild her life and public persona since being freed from her 13-year conservatorship in November 2021.

The first wellness check at Spears' home happened on November 25, 2021, a little more than two months after the singer announced her engagement to Asghari on Instagram and two weeks after a Los Angeles judge officially ended the singer's conservatorship.

The next welfare call came in on January 23, 2022, according to the documents.

Six months later, Spears wed Asghari in a June 9, 2022 ceremony at their home in Thousand Oaks. Police were called to the residence that same day when Jason Alexander, the singer's former husband of 55 hours, livestreamed himself trying to crash the wedding. He was later charged with felony stalking in connection to the incident.

Police returned to Spears' residence for another wellness check about six months later on December 2, 2022, and then for a fourth time on January 24, 2023.

Spears addressed the January wellness check in a series of tweets, saying she was "shocked as hell" that fans got worried and "sent cops" to her house after she deactivated her Instagram account.

"It really was uncalled for," she wrote. "I adore my fans but for those who did that aren't real fans and I honestly felt like it was a way to make me look bad !!!"

Spears and Asghari were married 14 months before he "shocked" the singer by filing for divorce in August 2023, citing irreconcilable differences. Spears spoke out about the divorce on Instagram soon after the announcement in the caption of a video of her dancing.

"6 years is a long time to be with someone so, I'm a little shocked but … I'm not here to explain why because its honestly nobody's business," Spears wrote. "But, I couldn't take the pain anymore honestly."

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department call log cites 5 suspicious vehicle, person, or circumstance incidents at Spears' home since January 2019, as well as three trespassing incidents, and various other requests and follow-ups.

Full Article & Source:
Police conducted 4 wellness checks at Britney Spears and Sam Asghari's house over the course of their engagement and marriage

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Oher’s ‘Blind Side’ Guardianship Case File Ignored for 19 Years

by  Ronnie Greene

Amid the eyebrow-raising contentions detailed in court this week by former NFL star Michael Oher — that his supposed adoptive parents never actually adopted him, and that an Oscar-winning movie about their relationship was built on a lie — another truth also was revealed.

In the US, adult conservatorships often fail to protect those under the court’s watch. In Oher’s case, records show, the system wasn’t watching at all for nearly two decades.

The judge who approved Oher’s conservatorship told Bloomberg Law no case papers ever crossed his desk after the initial approval. “To my recollection nothing was ever forwarded to me,” said former Probate Judge Robert Benham, who retired in 2013.

Instead of being adopted, as he thought, Oher had gone into a conservatorship in 2004 with the Tennessee family that took him in. Yet for 19 years, his conservators never filed annual accountings or other court papers, Oher’s filing contends and court records show.

Indeed, the court file in the Oher case is empty between December 2004, when the conservatorship was approved, and this week, when the new petition was filed. A court official said the Oher digitized file contains all of the case’s pleadings.

Did he ever ask questions about the case?

“No, and I would have had no reason to unless they would have filed something in court for an additional hearing,” Benham said.

Uplifting Journey

Oher, one of 12 children, grew up in the Hurt Village Housing Projects in Memphis, Tennessee, and became a ward of the state at age 10. By his junior year in high school, big-time college football programs were recruiting him, even as Oher was “nearly penniless” and took an hour on buses to get to a Christian school.

During 10th and 11th grades, he began staying with family friends. Soon, he also started staying with a prominent Memphis family headed by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. In 2004, after he turned 18, the Tuohys invited Oher to live with them, his court filing said. Oher said the Tuohys told him they were adopting him, and he signed papers that December he thought had made the adoption official.

“The Tuohys presented him with what he understood to be legal papers that were a necessary step in the adoption process,” his court filing said. “Michael trusted the Tuohys and signed where they told him to sign.”

He went off to star as an offensive lineman for the Ole Miss Rebels, the Tuohys alma mater. In 2009, Oher became a first-round NFL draft pick. His journey, and the family’s support, inspired the movie “The Blind Side,” released later that year and featuring an Oscar-winning performance by Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy.

A Story Twist

This week, Oher’s court filing in Tennessee shattered that narrative, as first reported by ESPN.

Oher said the Tuohys never formally adopted him. Instead, when he signed those papers in 2004, he was actually agreeing to put himself under the conservatorship of the Tuohys. That distinction, his court petition contends, enriched the Tuohys at his expense.

The family, he contends, profited handsomely from the movie. The “Conservators and their children collectively received millions of dollars and Michael received nothing for his rights to a $330,000,000 (or more) story that would not have existed without him.”

Randall J. Fishman, an attorney who represented the Tuohys when they filed for the conservatorship, said he couldn’t answer questions. “I won’t have any comment about any of that until I talk to them and we’ll file an answer,” he told Bloomberg Law.

Bloomberg Law sent questions to the Tuohys about the conservatorship and the court petition, but they did not respond by Tuesday afternoon. To local Tennessee media, the Tuohys said they were “devastated” by the allegations and that they had tried to help Oher. Sean Tuohy said lawyers told the family at the time they had to use a conservatorship, not an adoption, because Oher was 18.

Anne Johnson, an attorney for Oher, said she could not comment about the case.

Nineteen years after it began, Oher is formally seeking to end his conservatorship and to require the Tuohys to account for their actions. He is asking a probate judge in Shelby County, Tennessee, to sanction the Tuohys “for their misconduct” and to require they pay him compensatory and punitive damages.

Leigh Anne Tuohy celebrates at the Baltimore Ravens’ 2013 Super Bowl victory. The Tuohy family told then-Ravens player Michael Oher that the family had adopted him at 18 when in fact he was placed under a guardianship, according to a new lawsuit by Oher.
Photographer: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

No Oversight

Across the US, adult guardianships and conservatorships often feature scant judicial scrutiny. A Bloomberg Law investigation published this year, In the Name of Protection, revealed how lax oversight leaves those under guardianship vulnerable to abuse.

In their petition to end Oher’s case his lawyers, Johnson and J. Gerard Stranch IV, zero in on this lack of oversight.

The Tuohys, they said, never filed yearly accountings of the conservatorship, as required. Nor did they file required fiduciary or other statements “to inform the Court as to whether the conservatorship should continue.”

Retired probate judge Benham said the clerk’s office, not the judge, would be responsible for flagging any late or unfiled reports.

“The clerk’s office is a separate elected entity, and they are charged with the duty of notifying people who don’t file accountings,” he said, noting that the system handles a large caseload. “You’re talking about thousands of cases.”

Benham said he always knew the case was a conservatorship, not an adoption, and said he hoped the structure he approved would have benefited Oher over the ensuing years.

“And hopefully somebody was helping him with his investments because so many of them end up broke,” he said, referring to “professional athletes.”

Benham admitted he was “surprised” when he saw the news of Oher’s case filing.

“My first reaction was that I’d like to hear both sides of the story,” the retired judge said.

Full Article & Source:
Oher’s ‘Blind Side’ Guardianship Case File Ignored for 19 Years

See Also:
Michael Oher

Gaps in legal system put vulnerable adults at risk

by Shelby Kruse

SHERIDAN — While Sheridan County residents have an established record of reporting suspected cases of elder abuse, according to Sheridan Police Dept. Capt. Tom Ringley, gaps in the legal system can make it difficult to find probable cause in reported cases.

Carmen Rideout, executive director of The Hub on Smith, said The Hub has contracts with the Department of Family Services to ensure vulnerable adults are connected with the resources and services they need. Still, gaps in the legal system make it possible for some to slip through the cracks, Rideout said, even when those cases of potential elder abuse are reported.

“Our [legal] definition of what a vulnerable adult is and what can be considered abuse is pretty limited. … People have the right to make decisions for themselves, and be as independent and autonomous as possible. When other people are concerned about them, there’s only so much that DFS and law enforcement can do,” Rideout said. “They’re working within their scope.”

Ringley said SPD has investigated 31 reports of elder abuse since the start of 2015. Of these 31 reports, 11 were determined to be unfounded and only one of the 31 cases was sent to the county attorney’s office for charges.

“We highly encourage reporting of [elder abuse], but it may not end up fitting the statutes,” Ringley said. “‘Unfounded’ doesn’t mean that there were no injuries or no circumstances deemed worthy of investigation, it’s just that the investigation revealed that there was no violation of the law.”

Ringley said elder abuse can come in many different forms, from the more obvious physical abuse to various forms of neglect and financial exploitation. A common theme in cases of potential elder abuse reported to SPD, Ringley said, is vulnerable adults being cared for by family members who may get overwhelmed and are financially unable to pursue assisted living as an option.

“It is very difficult to care for a vulnerable adult. Whether the care is being provided at home, in a hospital setting, by family members or in an assisted living facility, by definition, a vulnerable adult is one who cannot take care of themselves,” Ringley said. “We think Sheridan does a good job of reporting any time they think people have been exploited or neglected or abused, but we haven’t observed probable cause except in one case.”

Associate State Director of AARP Wyoming Thomas Lacock said efforts to address elder abuse across the state have increased over the past year. During the 2023 legislative session, AARP supported a bill proposed to combat financial abuse of vulnerable adults by allowing banks or credit unions to place five-day holds on transactions that may be fraudulent.

Also within the past year, the Wyoming Legislature’s Management Council has formed the Mental Health and Vulnerable Adult Task Force, made up of senators, representatives and staff from the Wyoming Departments of Health, Education and Family Services.

According to a report by DFS, efforts carried out across the state to protect vulnerable adults include improving the Adult Protective Services program website to make it more accessible and the implementation of a focused advertising campaign to educate the public on what constitutes elder abuse.

Alongside collaborating with DFS, The Hub on Smith partners with SPD to provide local seniors with education on topics like scams to help protect them against potential financial exploitation. Two key parts of addressing local elder abuse, Rideout said, are education and looking out for one another.

“Our county has a significant percentage of older adults and the best thing that can happen is if everybody just keeps their eyes open,” Rideout said. “Look out for your neighbor and your friends and your family. Make sure everybody’s doing OK.”

Full Article & Source:
Gaps in legal system put vulnerable adults at risk

Man arrested in elderly exploitation case after credit union employees spot 'red flags'

By Pat Reavy

SANDY — Police arrested a man who they say tried to get an elderly woman with dementia to withdraw money from her financial account.

Brian David Page, 57, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of robbery, intentional financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, disorderly conduct and making a threat of violence.

About 3 p.m. Tuesday, Page entered Mountain America Credit Union, 858 E. 9400 South, with an 82-year-old woman. The woman suffers from dementia and Page lives with her and is her "caretaker," according to a police booking affidavit.

However, police say the woman's son is her power of attorney "and is the only person that is able to make transactions on her account," not Page.

"Brian entered the bank and demanded that bank tellers give him $150 from the elderly female's account with her present. Bank tellers attempted to engage with the female but were unable to as Brian overrode her attempts at talking and demanded that he was in charge. Bank tellers recognized the red flags," the affidavit states.

After contacting the woman's son, credit union employees told Page they would not give him money. Employees say Page became "agitated" and told a teller to step outside so they could fight, according to the affidavit.

"Brian was asked to leave the premises and he refused several times to leave before exiting the building. Brian quickly came back inside the bank in an agitated manner, alarming the bank tellers and other patrons while telling the bank teller 'he would fight them and police outside,'" the affidavit alleges.

When the elderly woman was questioned, she said she did not know what she was doing at the credit union. Police arrived and took Page into custody.

Full Article & Source:
Man arrested in elderly exploitation case after credit union employees spot 'red flags'

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Elder law attorney sues guardianship reform advocate for alleged libel

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A Tampa, Florida, attorney has been granted leave to file an amended complaint in his libel lawsuit against the founder of a guardianship reform group for his alleged comments about “predatory attorneys” and probate litigators lying in court.

Elder law attorney Gerald L. Hemness Jr. of Tampa, Florida, first filed the suit in January against Richard Black, founder of the Center for Estate Administration Reform, the Florida Record reports.

The case has been referred to mediation, according to the online docket for the 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Hillsborough County, Florida.

Hemness is targeting Black partly for alleged comments made at a 2021 Florida meeting of the Guardianship Improvement Task Force, the Florida Record reports. Black allegedly said Hemness and other “well-regarded and protected” probate litigators across Florida “know how lucrative lying in a Florida probate court is.”

“Sadly, the attorney general and local law enforcement endorse and protect predatory litigators as they don’t want to challenge the judiciary,” Black allegedly said.

Black is also targeted for an alleged Facebook comment in which he said Hemness and “predatory attorneys” make it clear that “they are not to be challenged … or you will pay a price.”

Black told the Florida Record that he would defend himself by showing that “where I shared my opinion, I qualified it as such, and where I reported on facts, I reported that as such.”

Hemness declined to comment because of pending litigation when contacted by the ABA Journal. The defendants in the suit, he said, are Black and the Center for Estate Administration Reform.

Full Article & Source:
Elder law attorney sues guardianship reform advocate for alleged libel

Woman allegedly forges checks, steals more than $48K from elderly Brookville woman

By Alex Nelson

BROOKVILLE — A Spring Glen woman is facing 66 felony charges related to alleged forgery and theft from an elderly Brookville woman totaling $48,705.

Brookville Borough Police filed charges against Amy D. Mace, 39, of Spring Glen, including 63 counts of forgery –second degree felony, theft by unlawful taking, criminal use of a communication facility, and financial exploitation of an older adult or care dependent person –third degree felonies.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Mace stole a total of $48,705 from an elderly relative who was living with her over the span of about 11 years. The theft was discovered when the victim requested help from the Jefferson County Area Agency on Aging for a letter stating she owed $4,053.09 to AT&T.

The victim was told by Mace she was on Mace’s cell phone plan, but the victim never signed up for cell phone coverage. When police interviewed Mace she alleged she and the victim went to AT&T and signed the account for seven phones, but the victim did not recall this. Mace admitted the bill was four months past due, but she did not tell the victim about it.

A representative from the JCAAA requested a credit report for the victim. The credit report also revealed a debt collection from Care Credit through Aspen Dental had gone through the Dauphin County Court system. The victim told police she never opened a line of credit for any healthcare or vet bills.

Mace also told police she decided she needed dentures, but was unable to get credit in her name so she sat the victim down in front of the computer and had the victim sign up for Care Credit through Aspen Dental. Mace was approved for dental work and the balance of the account later went to collections, but she did not tell the victim.

Through several interviews with the victim, multiple witnesses, and Mace, it was discovered the victim lived with Mace for around 10 years, during which time Mace gained access to the victim’s bank accounts and would take money without permission.

A report showed 106 Zelle account withdrawals made from the victim’s account, some in Mace’s name, and some in her husband and child’s name. There were also reportedly 63 forged checks made by Mace from the victim’s account.

When Mace first married her husband, she asked the victim for $15,000 from her retirement to start a family trucking business. The two had a verbal agreement that Mace would pay this money back once the business was up and running.

Later, when Mace became pregnant, the victim was asked to come stay with her and her family to help out while she was pregnant. After she had the baby, the victim returned home to Brookville for a short period of time before being asked back to Mace’s home to help some more. The victim was OK with this for the first year after the baby was born, then started asking to go home.

The victim would also give Mace her debit card for groceries.

At first, the victim alleged Mace would give the card back, then over time just kept the card. The victim would periodically check bank statements, and the pair began fighting over where the victim’s money was going. Mace would say she needed help with repairs for the trucks, fuel, or groceries. She also had the victim’s checkbook.

The victim’s sister would offer to bring her back home, but the victim would refuse because the drive was several hours, and the victim worried about her elderly sister making this drive. Mace would also tell them she would get the victim home soon.

This allegedly continued for 10 to 11 years, with the victim noticing money going missing from her account through small purchases and several cash withdrawals a month, according to the report. Finally, the victim told Mace she needed to go home and sell her house if she was not going to be living in it.

While home, the victim’s sister suggested she close out her bank account and open a new one that Mace did not have access to. About a month after the victim was back home in Brookville, Mace asked for money through a Zelle account. The victim agreed to give her $3,000 for her husband’s truck.

Mace told the victim she was having trouble with Zelle, and needed her username and password for the new bank account, which the victim provided her. The victim’s house was sold in April and she received a deposit of $44,652.58 into her bank account.

The victim found a new apartment to rent in Brookville after selling her house. In September, the victim received a call from her landlord that her check for October’s rent had bounced for insufficient funds. When the victim went to the bank, she was told there were multiple Zelle withdrawals from March to September, and the account was overdrawn.

This bank account was also closed out and another started. This is when it was suggested the victim go to JCAAA for assistance.

When police interviewed Mace, she revealed her husband was off work for two months after he had a medical emergency. During this time, Mace did not get a job, telling police she was too busy volunteering in the school for 10 to 15 hours a month, and more frequently during the holidays.

The victim started pre-signing checks for Mace to use for household bills, but eventually Mace reportedly began forging checks and signatures with the victim’s name, and alleged she told the victim when she did this. The victim told police she never recalled Mace admitting to writing checks.

Mace has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 12 with Magisterial District Judge Gregory Bazylak.

Full Article & Source:
Woman allegedly forges checks, steals more than $48K from elderly Brookville woman

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

US will regulate nursing home staffing for first time, but proposal lower than many advocates hoped


NEW YORK (AP) — The federal government will, for the first time, dictate staffing levels at nursing homes, the Biden administration said Friday, responding to systemic problems bared by mass COVID-19 deaths.

While such regulation has been sought for decades by allies of older adults and those with disabilities, the proposed threshold is far lower than many advocates had hoped. It also immediately drew ire from the nursing home industry, which said it amounted to a mandate that couldn’t be met.

With criticism expected, a promise made with fanfare in President Joe Biden’s 2022 State of the Union speech had its details revealed as many Americans turned away from the news for a holiday weekend.

“We are working to make sure no nursing home can sacrifice the safety of their residents just to add some dollars to their bottom line,” the president said in a USA Today opinion piece.

The American Health Care Association, which lobbies for care facilities, called the proposal “unfathomable,” saying it will worsen existing problems and cost homes billions of dollars.

“We hope to convince the administration to never finalize this rule as it is unfounded, unfunded, and unrealistic,” said AHCA’s president, Mark Parkinson, the former Democratic governor of Kansas.

The proposed rules, which now enter a public comment period and would take years more to fully take effect, call for staffing equivalent to 3 hours per resident per day, just over half an hour of it coming from registered nurses. The rules also call for facilities to have an RN on staff 24 hours a day, every day.

The average U.S. nursing home already has overall caregiver staffing of about 3.6 hours per resident per day, according to government reports, including RN staffing just above the half-hour mark.

Still, the government insists a majority of the country’s roughly 15,000 nursing homes, which house some 1.2 million people, would have to add staff under the proposed rules.

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, called the move “an important first step.” CMS oversees nursing homes.

A senior White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement, said the Biden administration was open to revisiting the staffing threshold once implemented.

“I would caution anyone who thinks that the status quo — in which there is no federal floor for nursing home staffing — is preferable to the standards we’re proposing,” said Stacy Sanders, an aide to Health Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This standard would raise staffing levels for more than 75% of nursing homes, bringing more nurse aides to the bedside and ensuring every nursing home has a registered nurse on site 24/7.”

The new thresholds are drastically lower than those that had long been eyed by advocates after a landmark 2001 CMS-funded study recommended an average of 4.1 hours of nursing care per resident daily.

Most U.S. facilities don’t meet that threshold. Many advocates said even it was insufficient, not taking into account quality of life, simply determining the point at which residents could suffer potential harm.

After the Democratic president elevated the issue in his State of the Union speech, advocates were initially elated, expecting the most significant change for residents since the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. That changed after a copy of a new CMS-funded study on the subject was inadvertently posted this week, claiming there is “no obvious plateau at which quality and safety are maximized.”

Advocates were bereft, saying they felt betrayed by administration officials they thought to be allies. As word of the proposal became public early Friday some were even more blistering.

Richard Mollot, who leads the Long Term Care Community Coalition, called it “completely inadequate” and a blown chance of “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” that “flouts any evidence” of what residents need and fails to make good on the heart of Biden’s promise. He begrudgingly acknowledged the 24/7 RN rule could bring small improvements to the worst facilities, but he otherwise was withering in his criticism.

Calling the move “heartbreaking” and “nauseating,” he said it would do more harm than good, putting a government imprimatur on poorly staffed homes and imperiling wrongful-death lawsuits.

“It is a tremendous dereliction of duty,” he said. “We are continuing to allow nursing homes to warehouse people and to rip the public off.”

Current law requires only that homes have “sufficient” staffing, but it leaves nearly all interpretation to states. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have their own staffing regulations. Some are so low that advocates say they’re meaningless, and, across the board, enforcement is often toothless.

The problem has long been apparent to front-line nurse aides — the low-paid, overwhelmingly female and disproportionately minority backbone of facility staffs — and to residents themselves, whose call bells go unanswered, whose showers become less frequent and who lie hungry, awaiting help with meals.

The coronavirus pandemic, which claimed more than 167,000 U.S. nursing home residents, brought the greatest attention to poor staffing in history. But, in its wake, many homes saw their staffing grow even thinner.

Across all job types, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows nursing homes have 218,200 fewer employees than in February 2020, when the first U.S. outbreak of the coronavirus arrived at a nursing home outside Seattle.

AHCA has waged a relentless campaign claiming facilities were teetering, with Medicaid subsidies insufficient, widespread hiring issues and rampant home closures. While there have been scattered closures, the profitability of homes has repeatedly been exposed and critics have argued, if they just paid better, the workers would come.

Katie Smith Sloan, the head of LeadingAge, which represents nonprofit nursing homes, said it was meaningless to create a rule requiring facilities to hire additional staff when the industry was already in a workforce crisis and “there are simply no people to hire.”

“To say that we are disappointed that President Biden chose to move forward with the proposed staffing ratios despite clear evidence against them is an understatement,” she said.


This story has been corrected to show the surname of the Long Term Care Community Coalition leader is Mollot, not Mollott, and the health secretary’s surname on second reference is Becerra, not Beccera. 

Full Article & Source:
US will regulate nursing home staffing for first time, but proposal lower than many advocates hoped

Melville caretaker arrested for exploitation of the infirmed

by: Seth Linscombe

MELVILLE, La. (KLFY) – A Melville woman was arrested after making several withdrawals from the account of an infirmed person.

According to St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz, in July, a family member reported to the Sheriff’s Office that his father had been exploited by a caretaker.

Detectives obtained a copy of the victim’s bank statements and it was learned that during the last 4 months, there were two to three unauthorized withdrawals of $200 – $300 per day and other withdrawals for $1,500. The victim’s debit card number was also used to pay the caretaker’s cell phone bill.

The caretaker had also been accompanying the victim to a business in Krotz Springs, where the victim would request $200 – $300 cash back from the cashier when the ATM machine inside the business would not give additional funds.

After reviewing the bank statements, the family member disputed the authorization of funds to the caretaker for the total amount of $13,897.71.  

An arrest warrant was issued on July 24 for the caretaker, Candy Taylor Angona, 58 of Melville on charges of exploitation of persons with infirmities.

Angona was arrested on Tuesday and transported to the St. Landry Parish Jail, where she was booked on the arrest warrant.

Full Article & Source:
Melville caretaker arrested for exploitation of the infirmed

Caregiver charged with stealing hired despite lengthy criminal record

Woman charged with stealing jewelry from client

Latoscha McClain, Rutherford County Jail
A Hendersonville woman credits the quick actions of police for recovering jewelry allegedly stolen by a hired caregiver from Murfreesboro, and questions why the caregiver – who has a lengthy criminal history – was placed in her elderly relatives’ home in the first place. 

Shannon Allen says she and her family did their due diligence when researching in-home health care companies for her octogenarian in-laws eight months ago.

When interviewing Zellena Johnson of the Hendersonville-based company Preferred Care At Home, Allen says she was assured the company conducted national background checks on all of their employees and checked the abuse and sex offender registries as well. 

“We talked to her at length and she guaranteed that they run background checks and that they don’t hire anyone who has had any criminal charges in the last seven years,” Allen recalled. “She had all the right answers. The company came highly recommended to us and we thought we were making the best choice.”

Allen says that what she thought was a blessing for their family turned into a nightmare in July when she received a frantic call from her mother-in-law who couldn’t find her ring.

“We thought she misplaced it, but it was nowhere to be found,” she said. “We were searching everywhere.”

She then noticed that her mother-in-law’s diamond tennis bracelet and several earrings were missing as well.

Allen says she first tried to call Preferred Care but couldn’t reach anyone there.

She then called Hendersonville police who asked for the names of caregivers who had been in the home.

Hendersonville police Det. Tim Denning admits he was surprised to learn that one of the caregivers who had been in the Allen home on seven occasions since mid-April had a lengthy criminal record and warrants out for her arrest in two different counties.

“Yes, I was surprised,” he said. “It is unusual for someone working for a caregiving company to have that sort of history because usually the company conducts background checks.”

Latoscha McClain, 47, of Murfreesboro, is charged with theft of property $60,000-$250,000, a Class B felony, for allegedly stealing several pieces of jewelry on the days that she worked for the Allens.

Rutherford County online circuit court records show McClain was charged with theft and forgery in 2019. She pleaded guilty to the forgery charge and the theft charge was dismissed.

Records also show that McClain pleaded guilty to a theft charge in 2015 and to an identity theft charge in 2008. In 2002, she pleaded guilty to theft $1,000-$9,999.

Most recently, McClain was charged in August of 2022 with tampering with evidence and driving on a revoked license, according to Rutherford County court records. She was charged with failure to appear in Rutherford County court on July 21, and is being held without bond for another department (likely Hendersonville police), according to a Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson.

Online court records show that McClain was charged in Dickson County in 2017 with theft of property, two counts of forgery by uttering and 11 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card up to $1,000. Records show she pleaded guilty to the theft and forgery charges and was not prosecuted on the other charges. The records also show that case was reopened in 2022.

Allen says that when she approached Preferred Care’s owners about McClain’s criminal history, she was told that Johnson hired McClain because she was her cousin and she thought that McClain “turned over a new leaf” following her criminal history.

“What I wasn’t told [when I hired the company] is that even after these [background] checks are done, it’s at Zellena’s discretion whether she chooses to hire someone with a record,” said Allen.

She said she was shocked when the owners told her that Johnson had learned from her mistake and that she would remain with the company.

Allen says she would have stayed with the company if they let Johnson go.

“But when they told us they were keeping her, we were devastated. We were shocked,” she said. “She intentionally hired someone with a criminal record and put them in a vulnerable, elderly person’s home.”

She says she was offered a check and an apology by the company which she declined.

“It’s not a monetary issue,” she said.

Owner: Recent charges didn’t show up on background check

Preferred Care at Home Owner Richard Patterson said he has been “absolutely devastated and lost sleep over the way we let the Allen family down.”

McClain has been fired from the company and the office team, particularly Johnson, cooperated with police by proactively sharing information that might help lead to her arrest, he said.

Patterson also said that Johnson was aware of her cousin’s past issues from the 1990s, but believed she had turned her life around.

“The preliminary check only revealed details older than the industry standard lookback period provided by our background check service,” he said. “Based on the absence of recent charges and based on positive references received, we believe Zellena [Johnson] made a good-faith judgment call to hire Ms. McClain.”

Patterson said the company placed Johnson on administrative leave while they investigated what happened.

“Again, we did not find evidence of intentional misconduct, and as such we did not find it appropriate to fire her,” he said. “We take our core values very seriously and in this case I believe that firing Zellena would have been incompatible with our core value to ‘do the right things for the right reasons.’”

Patterson said he takes ultimate responsibility for what happened and has enhanced the company’s hiring guidelines to ensure greater safety and quality of care.

“I should have had more safeguards in place and checks and balances to ensure that my employees aren’t put in a position where judgment calls could result in suboptimal outcomes,” he said.

Victim’s family: Officers worked quickly to recover stolen items

Allen, who has severed ties with the company and hired other caregivers for her in-laws, wants others to learn from her ordeal.

Allen reported the stolen items – 16 in all – to Hendersonville Police on July 17. By July 19, she and her sister-in-law were identifying much of the stolen jewelry in a Murfreesboro pawn shop.

She credits the quick work of officers, including Denning, for the recovery of 14 of those pieces within days.

According to Denning, pawn shops are required to enter everything pawned to them into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a national database.

Police enter in a serial number or detailed description of the items and see if they get a match.

“What helps is if [the item] has something unique about it. The best thing is if you have a photo of the jewelry so we can compare with the database of things pawned,” Denning noted.

Officers are also able to look up a suspect’s pawn history since anyone pawning something is required to show identification, he added.

Allen says she was told by a pawn shop employee that there are still items McClain brought into the pawn shop that haven’t been claimed.

“One of the things that helped was the victims came to us as soon as they found out something was missing,” Denning noted. “One of the key things is reporting things quickly. We are able to get to pawn shops and get it quicker. Once it gets out of the pawn shop, it gets much harder.”

Full Article & Source:
Caregiver charged with stealing hired despite lengthy criminal record

Monday, September 4, 2023

Should disabled man see husband who showed ‘abusive behavior’?

Column: After ardent pleas, judge said she doesn't make law, but has to follow it, and the answer is clear

By Teri Sforza

The judge had so much to weigh, it seemed.

Declarations from the psychiatrist and therapist saying no, not yet: Ryan Morris is still vulnerable, adjusting to a new home with his biological family for the first time in his life, away from his adoptive mom (who stands accused of involuntary manslaughter, cruelty to children and dependent adults, and lewd/lascivious conduct) and his husband (who threatened to send him to the psych ward and/or end their marriage when Morris “misbehaved”). Morris shouldn’t visit with such folks just now, the health professionals said.

Then there was the petition from Morris’s husband: He hasn’t been allowed to see Morris since the bio family took over guardianship in May, and asked the court to step in and order regular visits between them.

And finally, there was the request from Morris himself. At age 29, he has the intellectual capacity of a kindergartener. He wasn’t in the courtroom, but he would, indeed, like to see his husband, Morris’ attorney told the judge.

In a highly unusual and contentious case that has raged for years — raising profoundly uncomfortable questions about the hard-won right for disabled people to marry and have sex lives, just like everyone else, and their right to be protected from abuse and undue influence — a Riverside County judge on Wednesday, Aug. 30 said that there was really no choice to make at all.

The law, especially in the wake of the Britney Spears conservatorship debacle, requires the court to honor Morris’ wishes.

“The right to control his social and sexual contacts and relationships are his and his alone,” Judge Jacqueline Jackson told Morris’ biological aunt and new legal conservator, Monica Mukai of San Juan Capistrano, who beseeched the judge to hold off on visits for now.

“Only Ryan holds consent. It’s not a joint right, not given to you, you do not share that right. Only Ryan has that right, under the orders that I’m holding,” the judge said.

Mukai and Morris’s biological family have long had “grave concerns” that Morris is a victim of sexual abuse and dependent-adult abuse. Mukai and the judge did some verbal sparring, but the outcome was not in doubt.

The judge was mindful, however, of the “abusive behavior” that removed Morris’ husband, Sean Spicer, as Morris’ legal guardian in 2019.


“The lines between spouse and conservator have been blurred to such an extent that it is no longer in Ryan’s best interest to have Sean in the role of conservator,” a judge wrote back then. “This is evidenced by numerous instances of abusive behavior.”

That includes Spicer, a man of regular intelligence, threatening to send Morris back to his adoptive mother when he misbehaved, threatening to remove his wedding ring and end the marriage, threatening to send Morris for emergency mental health treatment, punishing Morris by restricting visits with his biological family and taking his phone away to prevent contact with them. Morris had bouts of violence, even fighting with Spicer himself.

Morris and Spicer will indeed get to visit, the judge said, but those visits will be supervised. Spicer will pay for the supervision.

Jack Osborn, the publicly appointed attorney charged with representing Morris’ wishes, defended Spicer. The bio family refers to Spicer as a “court-adjudicated abuser” in court filings, but Osborn said that was a “misread” of the 2019 ruling that removed Spicer as conservator.

“The court did say there were certain acts that were abusive,” Osborn said, “but the real issue was that Mr. Spicer was unable to separate his role as conservator and as spouse.” Spicer made some “wrong choices,” Osborn said, including convincing Morris that he was in a battle with his aunt, Mukai, that they had to win. But that baked-in conflict is gone now that Mukai is conservator, and, simply put, Morris wants to see Spicer.

We’ll leave the parsing of the difference between “people who exhibit abusive behavior” and “abusers” to the lawyers, but Mukai worries. She understands that Osborn’s job is to represent Morris’ wishes — but it’s also to make sure Morris is safe, she told the court. As his conservator, that’s her job, too. Morris is easily led and often flip-flops on what he wants, and Mukai feared that his progress could be jeopardized by visits with Spicer right now.

Unaddressed was the elephant in the room: Can Morris legally consent to marriage? In a report for the court, a psychologist concluded that Morris did not have that capacity, “based on his concrete thinking and his limited understanding of a mutual nature of a relationship creating expectations between adults.” His adoptive mother — the one currently facing manslaughter and abuse charges — told Morris he could get a cell phone if he got married, the report said. Video of the ceremony shows that Morris mistook his wedding for a baptism.

That issue, though, was not before this court, the judge said.

Identical twins Ryan and Ronald Moore about age 7.
They liked to watch the trains together in San
Clemente, (Photo courtesy of Monica Mazzei)
Back home

In a longed-for victory for the family, Morris’ conservatorship case will be transferred from Riverside — where his adoptive mother moved to escape “persecution” from Orange County officials who accused her of having Munchausen by proxy (a behavior disorder in which caretakers exaggerate children’s health problems and subject them to unnecessary or inappropriate medical treatment) — and back home to Orange County, where this all began.

That will mean a fresh start for Morris, Mukai said.

Ryan Morris and his identical twin brother Ronald Moore were swept into state custody shortly after their birth in O.C. in 1994, due to their parents’ history of mental illness. Moore emerged healthy; Morris’ diagnoses included cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, behavior disorder, epilepsy and intellectual disability. Their grandmother sought custody of both boys, but got only Moore, the healthy twin. Morris remained in foster care because of his many special needs, which social workers said were beyond his grandmother’s ability to address.

Morris’ foster mother, Michelle Morris-Kerin, ran a home for the severely disabled. A former social worker, she wanted to adopt the boy. The biological family vehemently objected, but the adoption was approved by the court anyway. Morris-Kerin soon cut off all communication with her new son’s biological family.

Spicer was working in Morris-Kerin’s foster home for severely disabled children in Riverside County when he met Morris. Their wedding was held in Morris-Kerin’s backyard.

Transferring the case to Orange County will take time. There are hiccups getting all the paperwork transferred from the Riverside Public Guardian’s office to Mukai, and with getting services once provided by the Inland Regional Center picked up by the Regional Center of Orange County (quasi-governmental agencies that distribute state funding for the disabled). Mukai has been paying for all that out-of-pocket since she was appointed conservator in May, she said.

But she’s enormously pleased with Morris’ progress since he moved into her bungalow on historic Los Rios Street in San Juan Capistrano. He is having fewer and fewer outbursts, has started classes at Saddleback College — adaptive yoga, core strengthening and conditioning, community skills, a reading lab — attends the Happening Club in San Clemente and recently went with her to Mammoth for a disabled sports program that had him zooming around on a three-wheeled bike.

“No more group homes,” she said he told her.

Full Article & Source:
Should disabled man see husband who showed ‘abusive behavior’?

See Also:
Could woman accused of murder be appointed disabled man’s guardian?

Biological family’s fight for disabled California man finally lands before judge




Money & the Law: Powers of attorney more complex than they might seem

Business columnist Jim Flynn.

A document usually included in an estate planning package is a financial power of attorney. So what is a financial power of attorney?

Well, it’s a document you sign and have notarized that causes one person, called the "principal," to appoint another person, called the "agent," to act on the principal’s behalf within the scope of authority described in the document. A financial power of attorney can be very broad — a "general" power of attorney — or it can be limited to a particular transaction (like, say, buying a house), thus a "special" power of attorney, or anything in between.

As part of an estate planning package, a power of attorney is likely to be “general,” granting broad authority to the agent. (Contrary to what the name implies, an agent under a financial power of attorney does not get to — or have to — practice law.)

A financial power of attorney can be of benefit to someone who must regularly travel to remote and distant lands (New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Borneo, South Dakota). It can also be of benefit to someone who, due to age or illness, is facing a risk of mental decline and impairment. That’s because, with proper language in the document, a power of attorney can be made "durable," meaning the grant of authority contained in the document survives legal incapacity. (It does not, however, survive the death of the principal). If a person not having a durable financial power of attorney becomes incapacitated, a conservator may have to be appointed to handle the person's financial affairs. This requires a legal proceeding that can be costly, divisive among family members, and humiliating to the incapacitated person.

However, notwithstanding its utility, a financial power of attorney should not be created without careful thought and planning. That’s because an agent named in a financial power of attorney can turn rogue and use the document to do bad things, including outright theft or something more subtle. For example, a child appointed as agent in a durable power of attorney, watching his or her inheritance melt away by reason of medical expense, might engage in a little self-help program of pre-death asset distribution or skimp on an elderly parent's health needs.

Also, financial powers of attorney can create risks for people named as agents. In the beginning, before incapacity sets in, the agent’s job is simple — do whatever the principal wants done. But when incapacity comes along, the agent’s responsibilities change. Now the agent becomes something in the nature of a trustee or conservator.

What duties does this entail? Must the agent round up information about, and become responsible for managing, the entirety of the principal’s financial affairs, such as business interests, investment accounts, loans, insurance policies, tax obligations, vehicle maintenance, pet care, etc.?

And how does the agent know when incapacity has set in? In many elderly (and not so elderly) people, capacity comes and goes. When should the agent start making discretionary decisions?

There are also questions about the standard of care applicable to agents named in a power of attorney. Is the standard simply good faith — meaning honesty? Or is the standard higher — requiring diligence, competence and prudence — as would be applicable to an actual trustee or a court-appointed conservator? Most likely, it’s the latter standard, the standard applicable to fiduciaries.

The point here is that financial powers of attorney are more complex than they might at first glance appear to be. They deserve serious attention by both lawyer and client as part of an estate planning process, and perhaps occasional updating thereafter.

Full Article & Source:
Money & the Law: Powers of attorney more complex than they might seem

Sunday, September 3, 2023

UK court rules teen with rare disorder incapable of making decisions about care despite begging to live

'I want to die trying to live' the 19-year-old told doctors

By Kristine Parks

A UK court has ruled a 19-year-old critically ill female patient with a rare disorder cannot make her own decisions about continuing her medical care, as her family battles her doctors' desire to stop treatment and pursue end-of-life care.

The teen, whose identity has been anonymized as "ST" by the court, has a rare genetic mitochondrial disease that is progressively degenerative, according to court documents. Her condition is similar to that of Charlie Gard, the infant whose story drew global headlines in 2017. Charlie's parents lost a bid to bring him to the U.S. for an experimental treatment for his critical condition and he died after the hospital withdrew life-saving care after a months-long high profile legal battle.

Despite previously being a student studying for her A-levels (short for advanced levels), the 19-year-old girl has spent the past year in the ICU, dependent on a ventilator and a feeding tube. She requires regular dialysis due to chronic kidney damage from her disease. "ST" is currently fighting the hospital to be allowed to travel to Canada for an experimental treatment to treat her disease.

The Christian Legal Centre, which is advocating for the patient, argues her case is different than Gard's because she is conscious and able to communicate and argue in her defense.

But her doctor believe "ST" is "actively dying" and has no hope of a cure to resume life outside intensive care. They are asking the court to end her dialysis treatments and pursue palliative care instead. The hospital told the court the 19-year-old is incapable of making decisions about her future medical care because she is under the "delusion" that her death is not imminent.

The teen, who comes from a strong Christian family, confessed she realizes the treatment may not help extend her life but wants to keep fighting.

"This is my wish. I want to die trying to live. We have to try everything," she told clinicians, according to court documents.

Her family has spent their entire life savings to treat the girl, the Christian Legal Centre said, and wants to go to the public to raise funds for the expensive treatment, but cannot due to a "transparency order" requested by the hospital which bars reporting any information which might identify "ST", her family, or the hospital.

The girl's family described the long battle with the hospital as "a year of continuous torture" for them.

"Not only are we anxious about our beloved daughter’s fight for survival, but we have also been cruelly gagged from being able to speak about her situation. We are not allowed to ask people for prayers or for help which she desperately needs. It is a matter of life and death for our daughter to raise money for treatment in Canada, so these arbitrary reporting restrictions are literally killing her," they said via legal representation.

In court this week, a judge determined the teen "is able to communicate reasonably well with her doctors with assistance from her mother and, on occasion, speech therapists." Two psychiatrists assessed the teen was capable of making decisions about her future care for herself.

However, the judge said that, "ST" was mentally incapable of making decisions for herself because "she does not believe the information she has been given by her doctors." The judge ruled that decisions about ST's further care should be determined by the Court of Protection based on an assessment of her best interests.

"We are shocked to be told by the judge that our daughter does not have capacity to make decisions for herself after all the experts have said that she does. We are very distressed by this injustice, and we hope that, by Jesus’s grace, this will be corrected on appeal," the family of the patient said. 

Andrea Williams, the Chief Executive of Christian Legal Centre, blasted the transparency order and called the case "profoundly disturbing."

"This profoundly disturbing case demonstrates the urgent need for an overhaul into how end-of-life decisions are made in the NHS and the Courts," she said.

"What can be more natural or rational for a seriously ill 19-year-old than to leave no stone unturned and to take every chance of survival? ST has wanted to tell her story to the world in order to try and access further treatment but has been prevented from doing so by the ironically named Court of Protection," she said in a statement.

The NHS did not respond to a request for comment.

Full Article & Source:
UK court rules teen with rare disorder incapable of making decisions about care despite begging to live