Saturday, October 7, 2023

Lou Ferrigno Accuses Daughter of Elder Abuse Against His Wife Who Suffers From Dementia

By:Connor Surmonte

Actor Lou Ferrigno recently accused his own daughter of elder abuse against his wife, has learned.

In a surprising development to come after the 71-year-old The Incredible Hulk actor revealed that his wife, Carla Ferrigno, 74, was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year, Lou accused his daughter, Shanna Ferrigno, of committing elder abuse against Carla.

According to a restraining order Lou filed against Shanna and Carla’s sister, Pam Vog, this month, Shanna and Vog “financially exploited” Carla by trying to access Carla’s assets last month.

The body builder-turned-actor argued that his wife was “financially exploited into attempting to withdraw $500,000 even though she is medically determined unable to manage her affairs.”

The incident took place sometime last month when Shanna and Vog drove Carla to a bank in an effort to have the 74-year-old dementia patient withdraw $500,000 in cash. The bank flagged the attempted withdrawal and notified Lou.

“Lou hurried to the bank and was able to temporarily flag the account, but Court relief is necessary to maintain the status quo and to prevent Shanna and Pam from absconding with $500,000, which would irreparably harm Carla if Lou has to then chase them to try to recover the money,” the restraining order petition read.

The former body builder-turned-Hulk actor also claimed that his daughter and sister-in-law were working to turn his wife against him because he serves as the sole trustee of the family trust.

“She has been isolated from her husband Lou, and has been unduly influenced into villainizing Lou and acting hostile towards Lou,” the newly filed court document read. “These emotional and psychological tactics are elder abuse, harmful to Carla, and are probably progressing her already advanced dementia.”

Lou claimed that his daughter Shanna “has tried to commandeer Carla” and “poison her mind with vitriol about Lou.”

“When Carla returns, she is hostile and triggered towards Lou,” the actor argued. “Pam Vog also feeds Carla with lies about Lou.”

Full Article & Source:
Lou Ferrigno Accuses Daughter of Elder Abuse Against His Wife Who Suffers From Dementia

Boston PD Joins Forces with Millbury Housing Authority in Fight Against Elder Abuse

By Benjamin Cortez

The Boston Police Department (BPD) officers, allocating to the Community Service Office of District E-13 (Jamaica Plain), recently attended the Elder Justice Awareness Workshop conducted by the Millbury Housing Authority.  

The prime focus was to enhance the understanding of elder abuse and equip attendees with the necessary insights to prevent such incidents.

Additionally, the workshop included helpful advice on maintaining financial safety and avoiding scams.

To widely spread elder abuse, various forms of mistreatment have drawn considerable attention, including physical and emotional trauma as well as financial exploitation.

Despite its prevalence, many elder abuse cases go unreported due to factors like victim fear, societal stigma, or uncertainty.

The BPD officers, at the workshop, addressed these matters and underscored the significance to properly safeguard our elders.

They also offered tips about thwarting financial scams, a scene from elder abuse that has regretfully been increasing.

Vulnerable seniors are often targeted for their generous nature by scammers, emphasizing the need to protect oneself against such frauds.

Involvement in activities like the Elder Justice Awareness Workshop exhibits the BPD's commitment towards serving and protecting all community members, especially our elderly. 

Full Article & Source:
Boston PD Joins Forces with Millbury Housing Authority in Fight Against Elder Abuse

Tiverton woman accused of exploiting elder arrested in Florida

by: Allison Shinskey

TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Tiverton woman accused of exploiting an elder out of tens of thousands of dollars was arrested in Florida earlier this year, according to authorities.

Randi Walsh, 36, was wanted in Rhode Island on one count of exploitation of an elderly person over the age of 65 and three counts of larceny of over $1,500 from a person over the age of 65.

According to the police report, police received a call reporting larceny from the victim’s granddaughter back on Feb. 9.

She explained to officers that her grandfather had next to nothing in his bank account and online shopping history on sites like Amazon history showed purchases that he said he never made.

She also mentioned that her grandfather had hired a personal nurse in Oct. 2021, later identified as Walsh. However, they hadn’t seen her since June 2022, after which she reportedly moved to Florida.

Officers went to a nearby dance studio to get more information on one of the transactions and found out that Walsh had, in fact, changed her credit card to make a purchase there that matched the victim’s.

Full Article & Source:
Tiverton woman accused of exploiting elder arrested in Florida

Friday, October 6, 2023

Judge Appoints a Conservator to Oversee Affairs of Former Supreme

Cindy Birdsong’s family had sought to govern her affairs, but a Los Angeles judge gave control to the local Office of the Public Guardian, at least for now.

A smiling woman with curly hair wearing a flower-print jacket.
After suffering a series of strokes and financial misfortune, Cindy Birdsong, the former Supreme, has had her affairs put under the control of a conservator. Credit...Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Julia Jacobs and

A judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday ordered that Cindy Birdsong, an 83-year-old former member of the Supremes, be put under a temporary conservatorship in which county officials would oversee her care and finances following a dispute over who has rightful legal control over her affairs.

Once a member of Motown royalty who performed hits like “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Come See About Me” alongside Diana Ross and Mary Wilson, Ms. Birdsong saw her life take a sharp turn after leaving the group in 1976. She lost much of her money — attributing the situation to a “bad closing deal” with Motown Records — and her health faltered after a series of strokes.

The conservatorship case started winding its way through the court system this summer, when Ms. Birdsong’s three living siblings asked for the legal arrangement based on concerns that for years a longtime friend had exerted undue influence over Birdsong’s care and finances.

The siblings asked that the singer’s brother, Ronald Birdsong, run the conservatorship alongside an entertainment business manager, Brad Herman, who had orchestrated Ms. Birdsong’s removal in 2021 from a Los Angeles apartment she shared with the friend. The Los Angeles Police Department facilitated Ms. Birdsong’s removal and she has lived in various skilled nursing facilities since.

Los Angeles County’s Office of the Public Guardian, which often steps in to oversee individuals who a judge deems to have no fit caretakers, began evaluating the case earlier this year. In court papers, representatives for that office expressed concern over how Ms. Birdsong’s finances have been handled. The papers described Ms. Birdsong as “in a vegetative state” as of May.

“Due to Ms. Birdsong’s medical condition, she is substantially unable to manage her financial resources or resist fraud or undue influence,” the office’s petition said. “There exists a significant danger that Ms. Birdsong will lose all or a portion of her assets as a result of this incapacity.”

The office raised concerns in the petition that roughly $190,000 had been removed from Ms. Birdsong’s bank account between the fall of 2021 and the fall of 2022 and that the money did not appear to have been used for her care.

In a phone interview before the conservatorship hearing, Mr. Herman declined to comment on the financial concerns raised, but he has previously said that after taking over Ms. Birdsong’s power of attorney in 2021, he used her funds to pay for her stay at skilled nursing facilities.

The petition filed by the public guardian said that more than $35,000 was owed to three nursing facilities where she has stayed.

In agreeing to appoint a conservator, the judge overseeing the case, Lee R. Bogdanoff, described Ms. Birdsong’s situation as urgent.

“This has gone on way too long,” he said.

Mr. Herman said he had repeatedly contacted the Los Angeles police with his own concerns about the state of Ms. Birdsong’s finances, and that he welcomed the “oversight the county conservator will bring to this matter.”

“Having the county conservator step in is appropriate and it will allow us to fully address all of the loose financial ends that need to be addressed,” Mr. Herman said.

Ms. Birdsong’s brother Ronald said that Mr. Herman had told them that he had removed money from his sister’s account for safekeeping and that he was confident that he will make an accounting that satisfies the court.

The longtime friend who had lived with Ms. Birdsong and was her caretaker for years, Rochelle Lander, has also said that she held power of attorney over the singer, saying Ms. Birdsong signed the papers more than a decade ago.

But on Wednesday, Judge Bogdanoff said he was suspending both Mr. Herman’s and Ms. Lander’s power of attorney papers, saying that any property of Ms. Birdsong’s that they hold should be turned over to the temporary conservator.

Neither Ms. Lander nor Mr. Herman was in court for the proceeding, which was attended by Ms. Birdsong’s son, David Hewlett. Ms. Lander, who the Office of the Public Guardian said was still living in the apartment that Ms. Birdsong vacated, without paying rent, has not responded to messages asking for comment on the case in recent months.

John Alan Cohan, a court-appointed lawyer assigned to represent Ms. Birdsong’s interests, supported the county’s bid to oversee the temporary conservatorship, citing concerns over how the singer’s finances — including pension, Social Security and occasional royalty payments — were being handled. He raised the possibility that family members, including her brother and her son, be appointed to oversee the conservatorship later on.

The court is scheduled to consider whether to grant a permanent conservatorship over Ms. Birdsong’s affairs this month.

Full Article & Source:
Judge Appoints a Conservator to Oversee Affairs of Former Supreme

How Fear of Retaliation Keeps Nursing Home Residents From Reporting Abuse

Richard Mollot

Richard J. Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition

by Paige Cerulli

Elder abuse in nursing homes is a deeply troubling issue that poses a serious threat to the safety and well-being of residents. In June 2023, the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) released a new report titled “They Make You Pay: How Fear of Retaliation Silences Residents in America’s Nursing Homes.” Using 100 government investigative reports on nursing homes nationwide, the report examines residents’ fear of retaliation by staff and offers valuable insights on the importance of creating a safe environment for senior care residents.

Here, we examine the report’s findings and discuss what nursing homes can do to create a safe environment where residents feel safe speaking up and reporting issues.

Creating the Report

The idea for the report was conceived by Professor Eilon Caspi, a researcher whom the LTCCC has worked closely with. Caspi also served as the principal researcher and previously served on the LTCCC board of directors. The report was released in honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. “Empowering nursing home residents and their families is central to our mission,” says Richard J. Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, “so their ability to make their voices heard in their facilities has always been an important issue for us.”

Report Findings

According to the report, fear of staff retaliation “is a pervasive problem that results in emotional, psychological, and physical harm to vulnerable and frail individuals residing in U.S. nursing homes.” Fear of retaliation is also “a barrier for reporting, detecting, and investigating abuse and neglect in nursing homes.”

The 100 reports examined in the project detail threats of retaliation by staff and managers that were alleged and reported by residents. Types of threats included:

  • Threats to delay or not provide services and care
  • Threats of neglect and abuse to residents
  • Threats of physical violence against residents
  • Threats of retaliation if a resident reported sexual abuse
  • Threats to discharge residents.

The report also includes descriptions of perceived staff retaliation against residents in response to residents’ concerns, grievances and complaints about care and mistreatment. The perceived retaliation includes neglect, delayed provision of care, psychological abuse, physical abuse, and resident rights violations.

Actual staff or manager retaliation against residents that has been confirmed was also included. This retaliation includes verbal and psychological abuse, physical abuse, and threats of physical violence.

The report findings, particularly the descriptions of the specific types of retaliation reported by individual residents, are eye-opening and difficult to process. Alleged threats include an incident where a staff member told a resident’s family that if they called state regulatory services, “it will be worse for the residents.”

Perceived retaliation included an instance where residents were cursed at and bullied after they complained about the food quality. Another report detailed an incident where staff didn’t respond to or delayed responding to call lights after residents voiced concerns and made complaints. In an instance of confirmed staff retaliation, a staff member told a resident, “You’re a liar and you’re messy” after the resident reported lack of hygiene care.

“I was surprised and very saddened to read the accounts of residents who were afraid – too often petrified – to speak out about a basic need,” says Mollot. “The federal nursing home law and standards, around which I’ve centered my career, all focus on providing resident-centered care and honoring the resident as an individual. It is painful to see the pervasiveness of violations of their humanity.”

Mollot highlights the fact that since the report focuses on a selection of survey reports, it is not meant to quantify the number of instances of retaliation fears in the country. “However, since these survey reports all contain findings that have been substantiated by state inspectors, it is chilling to imagine the extent to which fear of retaliation and retaliation occur which are not identified and substantiated and written up by state surveyors (who are only in a facility a few days a year and tend not to focus on emotional or psycho-social harm),” he says.

Effects of Retaliation

The report identifies several effects that retaliation has on residents. Residents reported many negative emotional consequences, including fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, sadness, and helplessness. Many residents felt that they were treated as “less than a person,” and their feeling of dignity was impacted. Residents feared that they would not be taken care of if they spoke up, and one resident reported that she feared for her life.

Physical consequences of retaliation included physical pain caused by assault, physical restraint, sexual abuse, neglect, and more. Fear of staff retaliation prompted many residents to avoid making complaints or filing care concerns.

How Nursing Homes Can Ensure Residents Feel Safe Reporting Issues

Given the report’s findings, it’s evident that nursing homes need to take additional steps to ensure they establish a safe environment where residents feel comfortable discussing their concerns and complaints.

Nursing homes can foster a safe environment by establishing clear and confidential reporting mechanisms that protect residents’ anonymity, thereby alleviating fears of retaliation. Likewise, providing regular education to residents about their rights and the reporting process is a crucial step in creating an environment where residents feel empowered to come forward with any problems.

Staff members should also be educated and trained on responding to issues. Staff should be trained in recognizing the signs of abuse, the importance of reporting suspicions, and the proper procedures for reporting incidents.

“We strongly believe that having an environment in which residents, their families, and care staff can raise concerns and file complaints about poor care or conditions benefits the entire nursing home community, including the administration and operator,” explains Mollot.

Being proactive in addressing issues gives nursing homes the opportunity to address problems before they rise to the level of a citation or result in legal action, such as if the attorney general or a resident’s family were to file a lawsuit.

There are other benefits of being proactive to take into account. “Learning about and addressing concerns fundamentally makes for happier customers, which can increase future business,” says Mollot. “This is especially true in the age of social media. Making residents feel safe and heard would undoubtedly cut down on the negative reviews we often see for nursing homes online.”

Mollot hopes that the report will encourage providers to listen more and foster better relationships with residents, their families, LTC ombudsmen, and care staff. “I also hope that it will encourage regulators and policymakers to be more cognizant of the challenges that residents face,” he says.

Creating an environment where residents feel secure reporting abuse is critical for building trust, promoting accountability, and maintaining the overall safety and well-being of senior care residents. With the insights from this new report, nursing homes and other senior care facilities can take meaningful steps to improve the quality of care in their communities.

Full Article & Source:
How Fear of Retaliation Keeps Nursing Home Residents From Reporting Abuse

Daughter arrested for alleged elderly abuse

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

Daughter arrested for alleged elderly abuse

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Four Indicted For Defrauding Federal Program Intended For Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses In Connection With A Construction Contract For Cancer Treatment Center At Bay Pines VA Medical Center

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the return of an indictment charging Matthew West (52, Lantana, Florida), Kevin Kutina (61, Ramona, California), Roberto Gonzalez (58, Palmetto Bay, Florida), and William Gonzalez (51, Orlando, Florida) with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and substantive counts of wire fraud and major fraud against the United States for the conspirators’ alleged roles in fraudulently obtaining a multi-million dollar construction contract. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each of the conspiracy and wire fraud counts, and a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment on the major fraud against the United States count. The indictment also puts the defendants on notice of the United States intends to forfeit at least $4,835,035, which represents the proceeds of the criminal conduct.

According to the indictment, in July 2016, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued a request for bid proposals for a contract to construct the Cancer Infusion Therapy Center (CITC) at Bay Pines VA Medical Center in Pinellas County, Florida. The construction contract, valued between $5 million and $10 million, was for the construction of a 14,909 square-foot building to augment the Bay Pines VA Medical Center’s existing radiation oncology clinic and enable VA health care providers to treat more veterans diagnosed with various types of cancer in an environment that was accessible and patient-centered. The CITC contract was set-aside for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs), which required only bids from qualified businesses be considered.

The indictment alleges that the conspirators utilized a company owned and operated by service-disabled veteran Roberto Gonzalez and William Gonzalez, Maxon Groupe, LLC (Maxon), to submit a bid containing false statements and omissions to be awarded the contract. The conspirators falsely represented qualified employees from Kevcon, Inc. (Kevcon), owned and operated by Kevin Kutina, would serve in supervisory roles per a teaming agreement between Maxon and Kevcon. Additionally, the conspirators failed to disclose to the VA contracting officials that Maxon was a pass-through for Matthew West’s company, West Construction, Inc., which managed nearly all the work for the CITC contract and received most of the payment for the same. West Construction, Inc. was not a company eligible for the SDVOSB set-aside contract. As a result of the false statements and omissions within the bid proposal, the VA awarded the contract to Maxon.

The indictment further alleges that between March 2017 and January 2019, the conspirators submitted multiple invoices for payment. As a result, the U.S. Treasury paid Maxon approximately $4.8 million. During this same period, the conspirators transferred approximately $4.2 million of those funds to West, and in turn, West transferred approximately $1.1 million to Kevcon.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty. 

This case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany E. Fields.

Updated October 4, 2023

Full Article & Source:
Four Indicted For Defrauding Federal Program Intended For Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses In Connection With A Construction Contract For Cancer Treatment Center At Bay Pines VA Medical Center

Rockingham lawyer disbarred for embezzlement

by Matthew Sasser Editor

ROCKINGHAM — Rockingham lawyer J. Brent Garner has been disbarred from the North Carolina State Bar.

According to a June disciplinary hearing commission, Garner, who was admitted to the NC State Bar in 2003, misappropriated entrusted funds, made misrepresentations to the Grievance Committee, improperly disbursed entrusted funds, did not properly maintain entrusted funds, did not conduct required trust account reconciliations and reviews, and did not maintain other required trust account records.

According to the order of discipline, Garner embezzled $5,900 from ten separate clients with amounts as high as $2,000. The minimum amount was for $100.

“Garner knowingly disbursed to himself or caused to be disbursed to himself the funds…” states the document.

Additionally, Garner issued a check to himself from a client’s estate for $6,763.52 in December of 2018. A week later, there was a deficit of at least $8,000 from the client’s funds. Three checks for resolved court costs and fines in traffic cases, each for $263, were issued to the Anson County Clerk of Court from some of the embezzled funds. There was insufficient funds for these checks.

In the course of the grievance investigation, Garner responded in a March 29, 2019, letter that he “was intending to place an asset into the estate account that [he] believed was not there yet” and that he “did not pay attention to the deposit slip [he] was using.”

This statement was found to be contradictory to the information written on the checks from the account. Upon examination, the state bar found that Garner had misused other entrusted funds, improperly deposited funds and failed to conduct required reviews and trust account records.

“By knowingly disbursing to himself or causing to be disbursed to himself funds to which he was not entitled from [the ten client accounts] Garner committed criminal acts (embezzlement) that reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness in other respects in violation of Rule 8 .4(b) and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation that reflects adversely 011 the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer,” states the disciplinary hearing commission. “By knowingly attempting to disburse $6,763.52 from the Estate Account…For no purpose beneficial to the Estate and where it would have been used for the benefit of Garner and/or Garner’s clients, Garner committed criminal acts (attempted embezzlement) that reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness.”

From court documents, the “Findings of Fact Regarding Discipline” listed that Garner was deceptive in his responses to inquiries from the grievance committee.

“Garner refused to acknowledge the wrongful and intentional nature of his misconduct,” states the committee, adding that Garner introduced letters from 10 members of the legal community, including three district court judges, one superior court judge and the Richmond County Sheriff, who all spoke highly of his good character and reputation.

A hearing committee determined that “a censure, reprimand, admonition, or suspension would be insufficient discipline because of the gravity of the significant harm and the potential significant harm caused by Defendant’s conduct to the profession and the public.”

Garner is prohibited from handling entrusted funds and was disbarred effective July 7, 2023. Garner must pay all administrative fees and costs from the proceedings. The order of discipline was signed by Shannon R. Joseph, chair of the disciplinary hearing panel.

A phone call to the Law Offices of J. Brent Garner indicated that the number had been disconnected.

Full Article & Source:
Rockingham lawyer disbarred for embezzlement

GA men charged in AL, accused of bilking elderly. This is what happened when they were arrested

by News Staff

Two men from North Georgia have been arrested in Alabama, accused of trying to scheme an elderly person out of thousands of dollars.

Auburn, Alabama police said they were called on Tuesday about the possible scheme. Investigators said they called the victim and confirmed that the two men had taken money from them multiple times.

Officers said they learned that the men were traveling to Auburn again on Thursday to get more money from the victim and pulled them over near the intersection of East Thach Avenue and North Dean Road.

As police were taking one of the men into custody, the other drove away trying to get away from the officers.

During the chase, investigators said the man crashed into three other cars, but they were eventually able to stop him.

Luckily, no one was injured in the crashes.

The suspects have been identified as Anshul Kumar, 19, and Dhrumilkumar Vyas, 23, both of Ringgold. They have been charged with seven counts of financial exploitation of the elderly first degree, one count of attempted financial exploitation of the elderly first degree and criminal impersonation. Vyas was also charged with attempting to elude and reckless endangerment.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Auburn Police Department at 334-246-1391 or emailing

Full Article & Source:
GA men charged in AL, accused of bilking elderly. This is what happened when they were arrested

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Probate Court Cases Illustrate Illinois’ Broken Adult Protection System

By David Jackson

In 2015, the Cook County Public Guardian sent a blistering letter to Catholic Charities, one of about 40 Illinois Adult Protective Services contractors.

The state-contracted nonprofit was dropping the ball on protecting older adults from financial predators, the letter alleged. After victims lost their homes and money, they became wards of the state, putting control of their finances and care in probate court.

Quick and effective intervention by the APS could have prevented those catastrophic losses and enabled the victims to remain in their homes with support or in top-quality nursing facilities, the Public Guardian said.

Cases such as those continue to crop up in Cook County probate court.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago said it could not address the specific cases, citing confidentiality. “Caring for those who seek assistance in their time of need is central to our mission. We will continue to strive to meet those needs with care and compassion,” a spokesperson for the agency said in an email.

Illinois is an outlier among states in contracting out its APS program to a cadre of often-underpaid and ill-equipped social service caseworkers, an Injustice Watch investigation found. They often lack the resources to conduct thorough investigations, build sustained relationships of trust with victims, recover stolen assets, or hold perpetrators accountable.

The case files underscore the persistent failures of Illinois’ APS program as FBI reports show seniors in the state were swindled out of a record $75.9 million last year, up from $5 million in 2014.

Here are a few examples:

>> Norma Czajkowski, 76, had a mental disability and was living alone on the North Side after the death of her husband. In 2015, she took in a basement renter who began to show up with her at a bank as she withdrew large sums. The bank alerted police and froze her account after she appeared with the renter and liquidated a $28,000 certificate of deposit and then withdrew $12,000 cash. She waved off help and caseworkers reported she was alert and oriented, then asked the bank to unfreeze her accounts.

The bank called the public guardian, which immediately sent in a psychiatrist who described the home as “putrid” and “unimaginable to live in,” with a stench that was obvious from the sidewalk outside. Czajkowski had no gas service, no edible food, no running toilets, extensive cat urine and feces, rotting food throughout the home, and hoarded objects stacked to the ceiling, court papers show. She was hospitalized and moved into a senior living center, where she died in 2020.

>> Jessica Motto, 91, was living alone with dementia in 2015, when a family member called the public guardian and alleged Motto was being financially exploited by a home-care provider. The social service agency was already investigating the case but concluded the woman’s physical care was excellent and no intervention was necessary, according to the Cook County Public Guardian.

The guardian later determined the home-care provider had drained Motto’s accounts of $300,000 to pay for jewelry, clothes, plane tickets, and furniture. The home was filthy and stuffed with belongings, and neighbors told the guardian the home-care provider frequently left the woman alone, including one incident when she fell and was crying out for help.

>> The family of a 73-year-old retired janitor alerted Chicago police to his alleged financial exploitation in 2021. The widower, who had no children, had a neurocognitive disorder, court records show. A woman with a criminal history in Texas, Missouri, and Illinois encountered the man while he was stopped in traffic at a red light and convinced him they were already acquainted. She said she needed help for her grandchildren. He told the APS he believed her because “I am getting old and forget peoples’ names sometimes,” government records show.

Agency caseworkers substantiated allegations the woman financially exploited the 73-year-old, and he made his own separate report to local police. But the abuse continued as he made bank withdrawals totaling $67,500. At one point, the alleged perpetrator crashed his missing 2004 Ford Mustang while carrying $9,757 in cash, court records show. She also had his cellphone, making it difficult for him to contact his family and the APS investigators. No criminal charges were brought.

Full Article & Source:
Probate Court Cases Illustrate Illinois’ Broken Adult Protection System

Local exploitation case sheds light on rise in elderly financial abuse

By Kaylee Dusang

Reports of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation have recently been on the rise in Texas. Earlier this year, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) reported that there were more than 50,000 confirmed cases in 2022 alone.

Alisa Powell and Bobbie Ferrell’s story of financial exploitation hits close to home. Powell contacted Spiderman Pest Control when she believed her 89-year-old mom, Ferrell, was experiencing a small rodent infestation.

Powell first noticed the sign advertised in her mom’s neighborhood. When Powell called, they agreed to do a free estimate to determine if there were rodents in Ferrell’s house. Powell, who was at work while the house was being inspected, asked the pest control service to call her with the estimate.  

“I was waiting on my phone to ring for the free estimate and for the opinion of what we had going on here,” Powell said. “Well, my phone never rang.”

When Spiderman Pest Control arrived at Ferrell’s house, they asked her to write a check for $1,895 before proceeding to spray the house for insects. Powell said the check was asked to be written directly to David Bullard, who is believed to be the owner of Spiderman Pest Control.

According to court documents, the service should have cost between $200-$300. 
“If something doesn't sound right about a service or price, please stop and call your family or a friend you can trust to give you advice,” Ferrell said in an email. “Never act on something that just doesn't feel right.”

Although Powell asked for the money back, she said the check had already been cashed. Powell said Bullard proceeded to tell her that the house was overrun with rats and that it would cost more money. 

“I feel completely cheated and I feel horrible that my mother has lost $1,895,” Powell said.

According to the DFPS, financial exploitation of an elderly person is the illegal or misuse of a person’s money or property for personal or financial benefit.

Ferrell’s case was not alone. There were three more confirmed cases in Gatesville that were connected to the pest control business. One included an 87-year-old who was charged $3,290.80 for a flea extermination, a service that normally costs around $300. 

Bullard was charged with four counts of exploitation of an elderly person. Bullard was arrested in July and released on bond after each arrest.

Bullard appeared to target older adults between the ages of 70 and 90 years old, said Cody Lee, operations commander of Gatesville Police Department.

“To me, they grew up in a time when somebody’s word actually meant something, and you took their word as it was,” Lee said.

As of Wednesday, Spiderman Pest Control’s website is live and there are still signs advertising the business around the Gatesville area. Lee said in an email that he does not know whether the business is still active.

“If they show up to offer a service, even if you call, do not let them do anything and don’t pay them anything until you understand what their fees and services are,” Powell said.

People can report suspected financial exploitation, abuse, or neglect of older adults to DFPS’ Texas Abuse Hotline at (800) 252-5400.

Full Article & Source:
Local exploitation case sheds light on rise in elderly financial abuse

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Pa. Supreme Court Advisory Council Hosts First Guardianship Justice Summit

By Pennsylvania Record Report

Hosted by the Office of Elder Justice in the Courts (OEJC) and Advisory Council on Elder Justice in the Courts, the first Pennsylvania Guardianship Justice Summit is being held on Sept. 20-22, 2023.

Featured speakers include Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Chief Justice Debra Todd, federal Administration for Community Living’s (ACL) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging Edwin L. Walker, Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich, and Pennsylvania Senators Lisa Baker, Maria Collett and Art Haywood, along with several judges, attorneys and other elder justice experts.

“We are pleased to bring together an interdisciplinary group of speakers and stakeholders from across the Commonwealth to participate in the Summit,” said Senior Judge Paula Francisco Ott, chair of the Education Committee for the Summit.  “Each attendee was invited based on their professional involvement with guardianship and related topics as well as geographic diversity.”

Summit topics include:

  • Improving the fairness, effectiveness and assurance of due process in guardianship proceedings
  • Advancing improvements in monitoring guardians
  • Promoting alternatives to guardianship
  • Increasing the development of collaborations between state and local agencies and organizations that work on issues affecting older Pennsylvanians.
Attendees will work within regional collaboration groups and will continue to work together to address the needs and challenges their regions face after the Summit concludes.

Portions of the Summit are being livestreamed with additional recorded sessions available at the PA Courts website after the Summit.

The Summit is funded through a grant awarded to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts by ACL.

The ACL’s Elder Justice Innovation Grant program provides financial assistance to states working to assess and improve their handling of adult guardianship cases.

Pennsylvania is one of three states to receive funding through this three-year grant. The OEJC is overseeing the work of the grant, which runs from Sept. 1, 2022, through Aug. 31, 2025.

The Summit is one of several grant projects supporting three overarching goals:

(1) Assuring due process for the alleged incapacitated person(2) Improving guardianship monitoring capabilities to prevent abuse and exploitation(3) Promoting alternatives to guardianship.

A second guardianship summit is being planned for 2025.

This press release is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $2,458,957 ($1,145,290 for Year 1 + $1,313,667 for Year 2) with I00 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS or the U.S. Government.

Original source can be found here.

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Pa. Supreme Court Advisory Council Hosts First Guardianship Justice Summit

October 1, 2023 Disciplinary Actions

 The Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 12 attorneys, disbarring one, revoking the license of three, suspending seven, and publicly reprimanding one.

Derek Michael Aronoff, 4538 SW Darlington St., Port Saint Lucie, disciplinary revocation with leave to apply for readmission to The Florida Bar after five years, effective immediately following an August 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) The Florida Bar opened an investigation after receiving a grievance from Aronoff’s former client demonstrating that, after the effective date of his suspension from the practice of law in 2022, Aronoff continued communicating with the client, drafted pleadings, and gave the client legal advice regarding an upcoming hearing in her mortgage foreclosure case. As a result, Aronoff engaged in the unlicensed practice of law in violation of the order of the Supreme court of Florida suspending him in 2022. (Case No. SC23-0942)

Bryon R. Aven, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Bldg. D., Viera, suspended for two years, effective 30 days following a September 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) While employed as an assistant state attorney, Aven engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by eliciting and bolstering false testimony from several witnesses during the criminal trial, which resulted in the dismissal of the criminal charges. (Case No.SC23-0456)

Christopher Whittington Dudley, 598 Trelago Way, Apt. 303, Maitland, suspended pursuant to 3-7.2(f), the felony suspension rule, effective immediately following a September 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2021) Dudley entered a plea of nolo contendere to the charges of Attempted Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling, a third-degree felony, and Criminal Mischief (above $200 but below $1,000), a first-degree misdemeanor. The court withheld adjudication of guilt as to all counts and sentenced Dudley to two years of conditional probation as to the felony count and to credit for time served as to the misdemeanor count. (Case No. SC23-1306)

John Edward Eagen, P.O. Box 1545, Tallahassee, disciplinary revocation with leave to apply for readmission, effective 30 days following a September 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Eagen had a disciplinary case pending before the court, which involved neglect of several client matters and multiple referrals from the First District court of Appeal. The court approved Eagen’s Petition for Disciplinary Revocation by Order dated September 21, 2023. (Case No. SC23-0691)

Mark Edwin Heimendinger, 1034 Long Branch Ln., Oviedo, suspended due to a felony conviction, effective 30 days following an August 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2016) On August 25, 2023, Heimendinger entered a plea of nolo contendere to Aggravated Assault (a third-degree felony), Carrying Concealed Firearm (a third-degree felony), Improper Exhibition of a Dangerous Weapon (a first degree misdemeanor) and Battery (a first-degree misdemeanor). The criminal court withheld adjudication on the two felony charges and adjudicated Heimendinger guilty on the two misdemeanor charges. The Supreme Court has ordered that a referee be appointed to recommend the appropriate sanction. (Case No. SC23-1224)

Tarica C. LaBossiere, 4126 Inverrary Blvd., Apt. 2418, Lauderhill, suspended for 91 days, effective immediately following an August 3 court order, as LaBossiere is no longer practicing law. (Admitted to practice: 2018) LaBossiere failed to comply with all terms and conditions set forth in the terms of her probation, which included a requirement to comply with her FLA, Inc., rehabilitation contract. LaBossiere violated this contract by failing to abstain from the consumption of alcohol and testing positive for mood altering drugs. (Case No. SC23-0313)

Andrew John Manie, P.O. Box 720236, Orlando, suspended for six months, effective immediately following a September 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2015) Manie failed to timely furnish a copy of the court’s June 9, 2022, suspension order to some of the courts before which he was counsel of record. Prior to his suspension, Manie also engaged in a course of conduct whereby he failed to appear for court hearings on behalf of several clients, resulting in the entry of default judgments against those clients, and necessitating Manie to take corrective action by filing motions to vacate judgment due to his excusable neglect. Finally, in connection with his representation of a client in a personal injury case, Manie deposited client funds related to a settlement into his operating account. (Case No. SC23-1277)

Patrick Michael Megaro, 2431 Aloma Ave., Suite 124, Winter Park, disciplinary revocation with leave to apply for readmission after five years, effective 30 days following a September 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) The Florida Bar commenced an investigation of Megaro due to two disciplinary sanctions imposed in other jurisdictions. Megaro received a five-year suspension as recommended by the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for the North Carolina State Bar for entering into an improper representation agreement with clients of a diminished capacity and engaging in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice. In addition, Megaro was suspended by the United States Court of Appeals in the Fifth Circuit on July 7, 2021. (Case No. SC23-1119)

Rebecca L. Morgan, 3004 Flowertree Rd., Belle Isle, suspended for four months, effective 30 days following an August 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Morgan engaged in a pattern of neglect while representing several clients in immigration matters. In one instance, she failed to timely appear at a hearing due to a family emergency, and the immigration judge entered an order for removal. After Morgan failed to get a response from the chief counsel’s office to get their position in order to have the matter reheard, Morgan failed to further address the client’s matter because of her severe illness. In another matter, a client repeatedly attempted to contact Morgan, and after receiving no communication, the client went to Morgan’s law office, which was abandoned. Morgan was unaware of the client’s matter or need for assistance, and she did not provide a refund in the matter. Additionally, Morgan engaged in a course of conduct in which she failed to update her address with the United States Department of Homeland Security resulting in letters for her clients being returned as undeliverable. She also failed to timely respond to the Bar’s multiple investigative inquiries. (Case No. SC23-0448)

Kevin Proulx, 406 Pursley Dr., DeLand, disbarred, effective immediately following an August 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Proulx served as court-appointed defense counsel in several criminal cases pending in Lake County wherein he failed to provide diligent representation, failed to maintain adequate communication with the clients, failed to obey court orders and ultimately abandoned his clients’ matters. Because Proulx was court appointed, new counsel was appointed to represent the clients and none of the clients were harmed by Proulx’s misconduct. Proulx also failed to respond timely to the Bar’s repeated efforts to communicate with him and failed to participate in the Bar disciplinary proceedings in a meaningful manner. (Case No. SC23-0389)

Wanda I. Rufin, 1529 SW 1st St., Miami, suspended for one year, effective 30 days following a September 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) While representing the husband in a dissolution of marriage, Rufin made partial unauthorized distributions of the trust funds from the proceeds of the sale of the marital home. When the court ordered a final equitable distribution to the former wife, Rufin failed to advise the court about the remaining balance of the marital funds held in a second escrow account. Rufin has since disgorged the full amount to the former wife. (Case No. SC22-0821)

David George Simmons, Jr., 10380 SW Village Center Dr., Port Saint Lucie, public reprimand and ordered to complete Ethics School, effective immediately following a September 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Simmons entered a notice of appearance to substitute in for a suspended lawyer believing that the suspension was short-term, when, in fact, it required proof of rehabilitation prior to reinstatement. Because Simmons assumed he would not be representing the client long-term, he failed to obtain specific details regarding the client’s case and had only a basic understanding of the issues. Simmons failed to appear for several hearings after being duly noticed by the court. The court ultimately sanctioned Simmons and ordered him to pay attorney’s fees to the opposing counsel. (Case No. SC23-1260)

The Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the more than 111,000 members of The Florida Bar. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps. Information on the discipline system and how to file a complaint are available at

Court orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline. Disbarred lawyers may not reapply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the Bar exam. Attorneys suspended for periods of 91 days and longer must undergo a rigorous process to regain their law licenses including proving rehabilitation. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.

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October 1, 2023 Disciplinary Actions

Texan gets 2-year prison term for financially exploiting elderly relative in Stillwater

By Patti Weaver

(Stillwater, Okla.) — A 40-year-old man, who is serving a five-year prison term in Texas for violating a protective order there, has been given two concurrent two-year prison terms for illegally obtaining by theft a total of $20,500 from personal and business checks from an elderly relative in rural Stillwater and depositing the funds into his personal bank account in a case investigated by Payne County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Secrest.

    Christopher James Brown of Wylie, Texas, was sentenced last week by Payne County Associate District Judge Michael Kulling, who approved a plea agreement with the prosecution that his Oklahoma prison terms will run concurrently with his Texas sentence. Brown pleaded guilty last week to two Payne County felony counts of exploitation of an elderly person in Stillwater in November of 2020.
    On his release from prison, Brown will be on eight years of probation in his Payne County case with conditions including no contact with the victim, provide a DNA sample, be employed and pay $600 in assessments along with court costs.
    According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Brown is in the process of being reviewed for parole from that state where he has served about two years. The maximum expiration date on his Texas sentence is March 25, 2026, court records show.

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Texan gets 2-year prison term for financially exploiting elderly relative in Stillwater

Monday, October 2, 2023

Judge ends conservatorship between Michael Oher and Tuohy family in 'Blind Side' fallout

Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – A Tennessee judge said Friday she is ending a conservatorship agreement between former NFL player Michael Oher and a Memphis couple who took him in when he was in high school. 

Shelby County Probate Court Judge Kathleen Gomes said she is terminating the agreement reached in 2004 that allowed Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy to control Oher’s finances. Oher signed the agreement when he was 18 and living with the couple as he was being recruited by colleges as a star high school football player.

Gomes said she was not dismissing the case. Oher has asked that the Tuohys provide a financial accounting of money that may have come to them as part of the agreement, claiming that they used his name, image and likeness to enrich themselves and lied to him that the agreement meant the Tuohys were adopting him. 

In Tennessee, a conservatorship removes power from a person to make decisions for themselves, and it is often used in the case of a medical condition or disability.

But Oher’s conservatorship was approved “despite the fact that he was over 18 years old and had no diagnosed physical or psychological disabilities,” his petition said.

Gomes said she was disturbed that such an agreement was ever reached. She said she had never seen in her 43-year career a conservatorship agreement reached with someone who was not disabled.

“I cannot believe it got done,” she said.

Offensive tackle Michael Oher poses with members of the Tuohy family after being selected by the Baltimore Ravens during the 2009 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York on April 25, 2009.  Howard Smith, USA TODAY Sports

Oher and Tuohys listened in by video conference call but did not speak. Lawyers for both parties had agreed that the agreement should end, but the case will continue to address Oher’s claims. Gomes said it should have ended long ago.

In August, Oher, 37, filed a petition in probate court accusing the Tuohys of lying to him by having him sign papers making them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents nearly two decades ago. Oher wanted the conservatorship to be terminated, a full accounting of the money earned off his name and story and to be paid what he is due, with interest.

He accused the couple of falsely representing themselves as his adoptive parents, saying he discovered in February the conservatorship agreed to in 2004 was not the arrangement he thought it was – and that it provided him no familial relationship to them. 

Oher claims the Tuohys have kept him in the dark about financial dealings related to his name, image and likeness during the 19-year life of the agreement. 

The Tuohys have called the claims they enriched themselves at his expense outlandish, hurtful and absurd and part of a “shakedown” by Oher. 

In a court filing, the affluent couple said they loved Oher like a son and provided him with food, shelter, clothing and cars while he lived with them, but denied saying they intended to legally adopt him.

The Tuohys’ filing said Oher referred to them as “mom and dad,” and they occasionally referred to Oher as a son. They acknowledged that websites show them referring to Oher as an adopted son, but the term was only used “in the colloquial sense and they have never intended that reference to be viewed with legal implication.”

The Tuohys said the conservatorship was the tool chosen to comply with NCAA rules that would have kept Oher from attending the University of Mississippi, where Sean Tuohy had been a standout basketball player.

“When it became clear that the Petitioner could not consider going to the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”) as a result of living with the Respondents, the NCAA made it clear that he could attend Ole Miss if he was part of the Tuohy family in some fashion,” the Tuohys’ Sept. 14 court filing said.

The Tuohys also said Oher lied about finding out that he was not adopted in February. They said Oher’s 2011 book “I Beat the Odds” indicates that he was fully aware that the Tuohys were appointed as conservators. 

Agents negotiated a small advance for the Tuohys from the production company for “The Blind Side,” based on a book written by Sean Tuohy’s friend, Michael Lewis, the couple’s lawyers have said. That included “a tiny percentage of net profits” divided equally among a group that included Oher, they said.

The attorneys said they estimated each of the Tuohys and Oher received $100,000 apiece, and the couple paid taxes on Oher’s portion for him. 

The Tuohys’ filing said they never signed any pro football contracts for Oher, and he was happy with their financial arrangements from “The Blind Side.”

Oher was the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Mississippi, and he spent his first five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, where he won a Super Bowl. He played 110 games over eight NFL seasons, including 2014 when he started 11 games for the Tennessee Titans. Oher finished his career with the Carolina Panthers.

Full Article & Source:
Judge ends conservatorship between Michael Oher and Tuohy family in 'Blind Side' fallout

See Also:
Devastated Tuohys ready to end conservatorship for Michael Oher, lawyers say

"The Blind Side" lawsuit: Former NFL star Michael Oher sues

What is a conservatorship? The legal arrangement at the center of Michael Oher's case.

Michael Oher’s shocking conservatorship exposes court failures

Conservatorship Gone Wrong: Why Does it Seem to Happen So Often and How Can I Prevent It?

San Diego Mayor pushes for California conservatorship law to be changed

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria led a rally Thursday morning outside City Hall, urging the governor to sign Senate Bill 43, which would change the state's conservatorship law. 

Mayor Gloria said expanding the law will make it easier to get severely mentally ill and addicted people the help they need. 

"We have to be able to provide a level of care for these very vulnerable individuals," Gloria said. "Because when we don’t, we know what happens. They cycle through our emergency rooms, interact with our first responders. They go to jail. I think we can all agree jail, no matter where you stand on this issue, is not an appropriate for people suffering from mental health issues." 

 Nurses and firefighters also gathered with the mayor, showing their support for the bill.

San Diego Mayor pushes for California conservatorship law to be changed