Saturday, January 6, 2024

Missing Person's Report Filed After Sudden Closing of St. Louis Nursing Home

ST. LOUIS – Nearly three weeks after the sudden closure of a St. Louis nursing home, a former resident remains missing. Advocates for the elderly in St. Louis confirm a missing person report has been filed with police but did not release that individual’s name.

Reversed hinges have now been bolted over the entrance doors to the building at Kingshighway and Highland in north St. Louis.

There is a new glimmer of hope for the rest of those who called Northview Village home.

Thirty-two newly-trained case workers are fanning out to check on former residents who were put out of the home on Dec. 15, 2023, with little or no warning and without their belongings or medical records in a still-unknown number of cases.

Full Article and Source:
Missing Person's Report Filed After Sudden Closing of Nursing Home

TN Caregiver Charged with Theft and Financial Exploitation

In June 2023, after receiving referrals from Adult Protective Services, TBI agents initiated an investigation into an allegation that a 38-year-old caregiver for several home care patients in Maury County was using the victims’ debit cards to make fraudulent, personal charges on an online gambling site. The investigation identified Cynthia Dobbins as the caregiver responsible for the theft from the victims’ accounts.

On December 14, 2023, the Maury County Grand Jury returned indictments charging Cynthia Taylor Dobbins (DOB 09/21/1985) with four counts of Financial Exploitation of an Elderly/ Vulnerable Adult and four counts of Theft of $1,000 or less. Dobbins turned herself in at the Maury County Sheriff’s Office on December 29, 2023, and was released after posting a $10,000 bond.

Caregiver Charged with Theft and Financial Exploitation

Friday, January 5, 2024

Here We Go Again...Another Celebrity Conservatorship Case

By Diane Dimond

Yep. Another famous one-name celeb is about to immerse herself in the often smarmy and predatory world of conservatorship. Move over Britney, this time its Cher who has turned to the courts to help her save her son, Elijah Blue, from the drugs and destructive behavior which have defined his life. On January 5 Cher is expected to file a petition temporary conservatorship of Elijah in a California court. I’m here to tell you temporary in this type of court almost always turns into a permanent situation. Once a judge establishes any kind of conservatorship (called guardianship in most states) it is next to impossible to escape the arrangement.

Cher may be relegating her son to forever live under court control. I just hope she was fully informed about the pitfalls of conservatorship. After many years investigating this routinely exploitative system I sure hope Cher realizes what a morass she may be signing up for! Does she realize that this ill-regulated and largely unsupervised system is populated by financial predators just waiting in the wings for juicy, lucrative cases like this? Simply say the words, “Cher’s son” and dollar signs pop into their eyes.

Here We Go Again...Another Celebrity Conservatorship Case

See Diane Diamond's book on guardianship/conservatorship abuse:
We're Here to Help: When Guardianship Goes Wrong

Cher "Unable to Locate" Troubled Son Elijah as She Preps for Fight in Court Over Conservatorship

By:Ryan Naumann

Singer Cher cannot find her son Elijah Blue Allman to serve him with legal papers — but asked that the court still allow her petition to become his conservator move forward.

According to court documents obtained by, the legendary singer asked the court to allow for permission to serve her son Elijah with the conservatorship papers via an alternative method.

Cher said she is “unable to locate” Elijah now but did send notice of the hearing to his email. The singer said she emailed Elijah’s wife Marieangela notice too.

The singer said she needed to take over control of his finances. Cher said Elijah’s late father Gregg Allman’s estate distributes regular payments to Elijah.

She said she feared he would spend the money on drugs, leaving him with no assets to provide for himself and “putting his life at risk.”

Full Article and Source:
Cher "Unable to Locate" Troubled Son Elijah as She Preps for Fight in Court Over Conservatorship

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Tom Gerardi Deemed 'Competent to Stand Trial' in Fraud Case Despite Alzheimer's Diagnosis!

According to The Los Angeles Times, US District Judge Josephine L. Staton filed an “order finding defendant competent to stand trial” on Tuesday. Interestingly, “the order was placed under seal until lawyers for both sides have a chance to identify information in it that they want to be kept confidential, such as health records or other sensitive material.” It will be under seal for at least five days, per Courthouse News.

Now, this is a big deal considering the ex-lawyer’s legal team has been arguing he shouldn’t be forced to take the stand because of his declining mental state. Erika Jayne‘s ex-husband was diagnosed with dementia and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2021. He is currently living in a “restricted memory care unit” at an assisted living facility, where he has been since October 2022. Hoping to use all of this to their benefit, his lawyers submitted a court filing in June arguing he wasn’t mentally well enough to stand trial, which caused this competency hearing.

Full Article and Source:
Tom Gerardi Deemed 'Competent to Stand Trial' in Fraud Case Despite Alzheimer's Diagnosis!

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Episode of Netflix Show ‘Dirty Money’ Found to Be Potentially Defamatory

By Steve Lowe

In January 2018, Netflix began airing a show entitled “Dirty Money,” a docu-series aimed to shed light on true stories of scandal and corruption. On March 11, 2020, an episode of the series called “Guardians, Inc.” portrayed millionaire Charles Thrash as the victim of an abusive guardianship masterminded by his niece, Tonya Barina. The episode presents Barina as having taken undue advantage of her uncle by wrongfully selling his assets and using his estate for personal gain. After the episode aired, Barina received a great deal of hate mail from the episode’s audience. In March 2021, Barina filed a lawsuit against Netflix for defamation.

Soon thereafter, Netflix filed a motion to dismiss the case. In August 2021, a Judge in Bexar County, Texas granted Netflix’s motion. However, Barina appealed, and on August 31, 2022, the Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded the case, stating that there was no actual evidence of Barina committing any wrongdoing; therefore, the episode could be considered “defamatory.”

The Fourth Circuit noted that the depictions of Barina inaccurately represented the court proceedings in connection with Thrash’s guardianship. The actual facts were that Barina stepped in as the guardian of her uncle’s estate in 2017 after his girlfriend at the time, Laura Martinez, and her daughter, Brittany Martinez, were accused of appropriating his assets. Apparently, Laura Martinez tricked Thrash into marrying her and adopting her children. But, the episode in question represented Laura Martinez as Thrash’s common-law wife and allowed Martinez, her daughter, and their attorney Phillip Ross to speak on behalf of Thrash without giving Barina the opportunity to tell her side of the story. 

The Fourth Circuit found that, during the creation of the offending episode, Netflix had access to the 2019 court order, which imposed monetary sanctions on Laura and Brittany Martinez. In other words, it was Laura and Brittany Martinez that had engaged in the wrongful conduct, while Netflix argued that there was evidence that Barina had allegedly offered to step down as guardian if she received a certain sum of money, plus she failed to pay Thrash’s bills, and allegedly closed down his business, without his permission. The Fourth Circuit pointed out that the episode failed to mention that Barina had a legal right to use the estate funds to pay for legal expenses and attorney fees. There was no other evidence that showed Barina doing anything wrong.

In short, the court concluded that the episode was misleading and did not convey all of the truthful backgrounds regarding Thrash’s guardianship. As a result, the Fourth Circuit Justices reversed the ruling in Netflix’s favor and remanded the case to the District Court in Bexar County, Texas. 

Justices Patricia O. Alvarez, Irene Rios, and Beth Watkins sat on the panel for the Fourth Court of Appeals.

The appellees are represented by Laura Lee Prather and Catherine Lewis Robb of Haynes and Boone LLP and Rachel F. Strom and Katherine M. Bolger of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

Barina is represented by Carl J. Kolb of Carl J. Kolb PC and Glenn Deadman of Glenn Deadman PC.

The case is Netflix Inc. et al. v. Tonya Barina, case number 04-21-00327, in the Texas Court of Appeals for the Fourth District. 

Full Article & Source:
Episode of Netflix Show ‘Dirty Money’ Found to Be Potentially Defamatory

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Will CARE Courts and conservatorship actually make a difference on California’s streets in 2024?

Gavin Newsom is right to demand more from counties. But he also needs to be realistic about what they can accomplish regarding drugs and homelessness.

Chronicle Editorial Board
Dec 30, 2023

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks about mental health crisis before signing off on two major pieces of legislation to transform the state’s mental health system and to address the state’s worsening homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, on Oct. 12. Roughly 100 petitions to fast-track people with untreated schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders into housing and medical care under an alternative mental health court program created by Newsom have been submitted in seven California counties as of Dec. 1.

Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

Homelessness in California hit a record high in 2023. Meanwhile, San Francisco logged more fatal drug overdoses than it did in 2020, formerly its deadliest year. One might think numbers like these would inspire state and local leaders to get on the same page in addressing the crises.

Instead, they closed out the year by bickering over who is more to blame.

Just like in November 2022 — when Gov. Gavin Newsom abruptly announced that he was withholding $1 billion in state homelessness funding because of local governments’ “unacceptable” plans to reduce homelessness by just 2% — the governor closed 2023 by threatening to use a similar tactic to force counties to more rapidly implement SB43, the biggest reform to California’s conservatorship law in decades. Significantly more people can be involuntarily compelled into behavioral health treatment under the law, including those with substance use disorder. But only a few counties, including San Francisco, are choosing to implement the law on Jan. 1, with many deferring adoption until the Jan. 1, 2026 deadline.

Counties “have to do their job with a deeper sense of urgency,” Newsom said at a recent news conference. “People are dying on their watch.”   

Counties cried foul. Local behavioral health systems, already overstretched and understaffed, are being asked to implement complex new laws with “yet-to-be-identified resources, physical (capacity) and workforce capacity,” said Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California. 

Newsom is right to demand increased transparency and accountability from counties. But he also needs to be realistic about what counties can accomplish under current conditions.

As our editorial board has documented over the past year, California has a severe shortage of mental health beds at all levels of acuity, leaving tens of thousands of severely mentally ill people with nowhere to go but the streets, jail or prison. The lack of capacity has created persistent bottlenecks in California’s behavioral health system, leaving some people with improved conditions trapped in locked facilities even as others with acute needs languish in lower-level settings or on the street.

That’s a main reason why most counties are choosing to delay implementation of SB43: The system can’t handle a significant jump in conservatorships. Hospital emergency rooms are already overflowing with patients waiting for inpatient psychiatric beds and state hospital placements. Nor are there any locked facilities in California that specifically treat people with substance use disorder, according to local officials.

Mark Ghaly, secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency, recently acknowledged that in some cases, “we’re going to have to define and identify places where these individuals can go.” 

But, he argued, “We can always find reasons to slow-walk just about anything.” 

The state’s impatience is understandable. In San Francisco, for example, nearly 8% of the city’s supportive housing units intended for people exiting homelessness were vacant in late December, even as shelters turned people away due to lack of capacity. Existing resources clearly aren’t being used wisely: After years of debate, city leaders are preparing to open a tiny home village in the Mission in 2024, but the site will only be open for a year despite each cabin costing a whopping $113,000. Meanwhile, progress on addressing homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse in other areas is so slow that frustrated parties are turning to lawsuits. Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho recently sued his own city over proliferating encampments, while a group representing downtown businesses sued the city and county of Los Angeles to force them to commit to providing more housing and behavioral health beds.

But California also runs the risk of encouraging counties to incentivize speed at the expense of safety. People with severe behavioral health issues need appropriate care — they shouldn’t be thrown into the first housing unit that becomes available simply because politicians are trying to clean up the streets ahead of the 2024 elections. 

That doesn’t mean sitting back and allowing people to deteriorate on the streets. But placing severely ill people in inappropriate housing is also unacceptable and can lead to serious consequences. 

In May, a San Francisco man named Fook Poy Lai was released from a state mental hospital after serving a prison sentence for violent assault connected to his severe mental illness. Lai ended up in a single-room-occupancy hotel without onsite services in the middle of an open-air drug market. Exactly one week later, he was accused of violently stabbing a Chinatown bakery worker in the neck

Such violent cases may be outliers; research shows that mentally ill people are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators of it. But they nevertheless underscore the importance of placing individuals with severe needs in facilities capable of meeting their needs.  

“We have so many people in our hotels who should not be there,” Randy Shaw, executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, San Francisco’s biggest nonprofit SRO operator, told the editorial board. 

Such situations seem likely to continue under CARE Court, Newsom’s signature program to direct people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders into housing and treatment. Although participants are eligible for housing funded by a wide variety of sources, they’re explicitly prioritized only for “behavioral health bridge housing” funding — a pot of state money that covers short- to mid-term placements in settings such as tiny homes, hotels and motels, assisted living facilities and rental subsidies. Supportive services aren’t necessarily located onsite, though participation is voluntary either way. 

Robert Okin, former chief of psychiatry at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, told the editorial board that he’s worked with mentally ill homeless patients whose condition deteriorated after they were placed in housing due to the lack of onsite services and support. 

And CARE Court isn’t even the biggest worry: San Francisco had received just 18 petitions as of Dec. 26, according to Judge Michael Begert, who oversees the local CARE Court. The most urgent question is where the thousands eligible for California’s new conservatorship law will be housed. 

Newsom is sponsoring a March 2024 ballot measure that would require counties to spend a significant portion of their mental health funds on housing people with the most complex needs and offering them intensive wraparound services. It would also authorize nearly $6.4 billion in bonds to build behavioral health facilities and housing and invest in a highly trained workforce. 

But, even if voters approve the measure, it likely will take years for many of these facilities to materialize. 

Meanwhile, other monies the Newsom administration is pouring into behavioral health are mostly temporary. 

“How do we sustain programs that have been started using one-time or time-limited funds?” Hillary Kunins, San Francisco’s behavioral health director, asked the editorial board. The bridge housing money prioritized for CARE Court participants, for example, runs out in June 2027.

Despite the obvious limitations of CARE Court and expanded conservatorship, the state clearly feels that it’s done its part to address the multipronged crisis on our streets.  

“We’ve met the expectations that have been set by local leaders,” Newsom recently said. “We’ve exceeded them in so many ways. … We just need local partners that are as enthusiastic, passionate and being willing to be accountable as the state.”

Local officials view it differently.  

“Cities and counties have been really left in many, many ways on their own by the federal and state government,” Kunins said.

With San Francisco and California staring down massive budget deficits in 2024, policymakers’ handling of this period will be pivotal. With collaboration, we have a chance at meaningfully making a dent in unacceptable street conditions. But if officials sacrifice this long-term goal for cheap political fixes and deflections, we can expect more of the same on our streets next year.

Full Article & Source:
Will CARE Courts and conservatorship actually make a difference on California’s streets in 2024?

12 Best States for Elder Abuse Protections

 By Michael S. Fischer

The U.S. population is growing older: In 2017, the Census Bureau
predicted that the number of Americans 65 and older would nearly double to 95 million by 2060.

Many people look forward to their proverbial golden years, but for vulnerable older Americans, this period can devolve into a nightmare of physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse, and, sometimes, a combination of these behaviors.

It behooves advisors and client-facing associates to be on the lookout for indications that older clients may be at risk of financial abuse. Firms can establish risk-management policies and procedures for dealing with these sensitive situations.

The personal finance website WalletHub brings this critical issue to the fore by comparing elder-abuse protections across the United States. Its dataset ranges from the volume of elder-abuse, gross-neglect and exploitation complaints to states’ laws dealing with financial elder abuse.

“Falling prey to financial abuse can have dire consequences for anyone, but our older population is particularly susceptible,” WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe said in a statement. “Abuse can greatly impact their ability to afford basic necessities, especially since many seniors are on a fixed income.”

The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that older adults reported losing more than $1.6 billion to fraud in 2022. But prevalence of abuse — in all its manifestations — may be much higher than official reports indicate.

To determine the states with the best protection against elder abuse, WalletHub researchers compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across these key dimensions: 

  • Prevalence (40 points), including share of elder-abuse, gross-neglect and exploitation complaints and estimated elder fraud rate
  • Resources (30 points), including total expenditures on prevention per resident 65 and older and total long-term care ombudsman program funding per resident 65 and older
  • Protection (30 points), including financial elder-abuse laws and frequency of assisted-living facilities inspections

They evaluated these dimensions using 16 relevant metrics and scored each one on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the “best protection against elder abuse.”

Finally, they determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score.

See the accompanying gallery for the 12 states with the best elder-abuse protections. (Click to go to gallery)

Full Article & Source:
12 Best States for Elder Abuse Protections

Pueblo police arrest man accused of stabbing mother on Christmas


By Emily Arseneau, Scott Harrison

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) - On December 25, the Pueblo Police Department (PPD) said that officers responded to a report of a family disturbance with weapons in the 2000 block of Elmwood Lane on the city's south side.

"We got the call just before 10:30 on Christmas night," said Sgt. Franklyn Ortega. "It was from a mother who lives with her son."

The PPD said that the reporting party stated her son assaulted her but she was able to leave her residence; officers were able to contact her at a neighbor's house and found she had multiple lacerations on her face and arms, and was covered in blood.

The woman told the PPD that she had been sitting in her recliner when her son kicked her and started to stab her with a kitchen knife. 

Officers responded to the home where they saw the scene aligned with the woman’s narrative, however, the suspect was not home or located.

The PPD said that they arrested Phillip Williams, 47, in connection to this incident.

They stated that they arrested Williams while responding to an alleged burglary at the Pueblo Country Club and that he is facing charges of first-degree assault, false imprisonment, and elder abuse in relation to the alleged stabbing.

"He was probably just trying to find a place to stay because he knew we were looking for him," Ortega explained. "If he wasn't caught, then he might have come back to the house and maybe assaulted her again, or do something worse."

Police said that the victim's injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

"We may never know the motive behind this," Ortega said. "Part of this case is there's a mandatory restraining order, so he'll be restrained from living with his mother in the future."

Williams is scheduled to be formally advised of the charges against him on Jan. 3.

Pueblo police arrest man accused of stabbing mother on Christmas

Monday, January 1, 2024

2023 conviction of professional guardian shows flaws in the system and families' complaints were ignored

Broken system allowed theft, exploitation, isolation and abuse to continue

Broken system allowed theft, exploitation, isolation and abuse to continue
Earlier this year, former professional guardian Traci Hudson pleaded guilty to 19 felony charges involving exploitation and abuse of elderly people under her care. The ABC Action News I-Team has been reporting about Hudson and her guardianship cases for years. Her cases shows systematic failures within Florida’s professional guardianship system, which was designed to protect the state’s most vulnerable residents.

By: Adam Walser

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Earlier this year, former professional guardian Traci Hudson pleaded guilty to 19 felony charges involving exploitation and abuse of elderly people under her care.

The ABC Action News I-Team has been reporting about Hudson and her guardianship cases for years.

Her cases shows systematic failures within Florida’s professional guardianship system, which was designed to protect the state’s most vulnerable residents.

Sentence came seven years after her first crime

Hudson’s first guardianship case was assigned in April 2016.

Records show she stole from one of her wards starting in August 2016, just four months after her first appointment.

It took seven years for her to finally stand trial and plead guilty.

“She’s gonna be receiving an eight-and-a-half-year Department of Corrections sentence followed by 20 years of probation,” Richard McKyton said in sharing the sentencing agreement in open court on July 10.

That hearing was delayed because Hudson was found unresponsive in a local hotel after what police reports describe as a suicide attempt in April.

Several family members of her former wards and guardianship reform advocates attended the hearing in which Hudson entered her plea.

“Eight and a half years is not enough for what she’s done to so many families,” Lesa Martino said.

“I made quite a few complaints to the office of public and professional guardians about Traci Hudson—only to be called a conspiracy theorist, that none of this was going on,” said guardianship reform advocate Hillary Hogue. “Until thankfully, with, of course, Adam Walser of ABC Action News in Tampa, uncovering the crimes that were being committed.”

Hillary Hogue
Hillary Hogue is a guardianship reform advocate who reported Hudson's suspected criminal behavior multiple times before Hudson's arrest

Gun thefts date back to 2016

Hudson was charged with stealing guns and other property owned by her ward, Robert Moore, in August 2016.

“She totally destroyed my family,” Ryan Moore told the I-Team in a 2021 Zoom interview after we reached him at his home in Hawaii.

Ryan says Hudson neglected his elderly father’s needs but stole his gun collection.

Ryan Moore and his later father, Robert Moore
Ryan Moore and his later father, Robert Moore

Records from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office show Hudson sold the guns at multiple pawn shops in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

Police reports say Hudson whited out the guns from her original inventory report and submitted fraudulent documents to the court.

“I asked her about the guns, and she said all the guns had been stolen except for one, and it was in a police evidence room somewhere,” Ryan said.

Father was isolated, daughter loses home

“My father was exploited, isolated while Traci was the guardian of my father,” Lesa said.

Lesa Martino
Lesa Martino

In 2017, Lesa reported to state agencies that Hudson abused and financially exploited her father, Roland.

She also wrote disparaging remarks about Hudson on social media.

“Traci filed a libel/slander lawsuit against me in 2018. And this is when she was committing crimes already, and so I ended up losing the case, and I ended up losing my house to Traci,” Lesa said.

The I-Team was there in February of 2022 when Lesa was thrown out of her home and most of her belongings were taken to the dump.

“I was a witness to the corruption and then I get punished,” Lesa said at the time.

Hotel owner put into guardianship after selling property to relative

The I-Team reported extensively on Genyte Dirse.

Genyte Dirse
Genyte Dirse

“My great aunt ran her business for many years until the guardianship process started,” Gedi Pakalnis said on the day we first met him at a guardianship reform protest in St. Petersburg in early 2019.

A realtor petitioned the court to put Dirse into guardianship after Dirse sold part of her hotel for a below-market price to her great-nephew Pakalnis, who lived with her and helped her for 15 years.

Gedi Pakalnis
Gedi Pakalnis

“He was taking property from Mrs. Dirse for less than fair market value,” Pinellas County Probate Judge Pamela Campbell said during a hearing in which Hudson tried to reverse the sale of the property.

Hudson filed an eviction against Pakalnis and used Dirse’s money to sue him.

“She’s trying to get her hotel back. She didn’t sell it to him,” said Hudson, who was known as Traci Samuel at the time.

Hudson moved Dirse to assisted living and obtained a no-contact order from Judge Campbell, which prevented Pakalnis from visiting or calling her.

“She doesn’t want him to see her. I’m respecting the privacy of her,” Hudson said.

The I-Team tried to visit Dirse to determine whether she had the capacity to live independently after an attorney assigned to represent her recommended she not be put into guardianship, but Hudson denied our request.

During court proceedings, Judge Campbell praised Hudson, who went by the last name Samuel at the time.

“I know Ms. Samuel to be a good and professional guardian. She’s on a number of the cases that I have,” Judge Campbell said in response to complaints from Pakalnis about the treatment of his relative.

Dirse died alone in an assisted living facility in 2020 from COVID-19.

Her estate paid more than $287,000 in guardian and attorney fees.

Pakalnis didn’t get to see or talk to his great-aunt during her final two years.

“We wish that the last two years away from her family and away from her home would not be lost to her. That things could have been different for her,” Pakalnis said during a memorial service on the beach near Dirse’s beloved home.

Gedi Pakalnis speaks at memorial service for Genyte Dirse
Gedi Pakalnis speaks at memorial service for Genyte Dirse

Pattern of thefts, lies and abuse uncovered

In November 2019, Hudson was arrested after investigators say she took $541,000 from a 93-year-old dementia patient under her care.

Traci Hudson being arrested in 2019
Traci Hudson being arrested in 2019

Investigators discovered she used a power-of-attorney agreement to pay herself $1,600 from his bank account.

Hudson used the money to buy tickets to Tampa Bay Bucs games, purchased clothes and jewelry and closed on a 4,800 square-foot home in Riverview, which she later sold for a $250,000 profit.

Hudson was president of the Guardianship Association of Pinellas County at the time of her arrest.

“That case that she was charged with is a power of attorney case. Totally different from our guardianship cases,” Judge Campbell said at a hearing the day after Hudson’s arrest.

Campbell ordered the Pinellas County Clerk’s Office to investigate Hudson’s 45 guardianship cases in Pinellas County.

She also was assigned cases in Hillsborough County at the time.

Hudson resigned from all her cases after her 2019 arrest.

“If there are any red flags that are brought to our attention, then we will address that at that point in time,” Campbell said.

Three years later, a 77-page report filled with red flags not only exposed problems with Hudson’s cases but also with the guardianship system.

77-page report identified dozens of issues with Hudson's cases
77-page report identified dozens of issues with Hudson's cases

“What it produced was just evidence of flagrant fraud,” said retired Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge Linda Allan, who previously served as a probate judge.

“There’s very little direct oversight of what the guardian does,” said Pinellas County Clerk of Court Ken Burke, who oversaw the report.

Pinellas County Clerk Ken Burke
Pinellas County Clerk Ken Burke

The report shows Hudson was paid $406,000 from her wards’ assets.

Seven times she billed for working between 25-and-39 hours in a single day.

“There was not just a single instance but many instances of billing more than 18 hours in a day,” Burke said.

The report says she paid realtors who served with her on the guardianship association board commissions of up to 16% and sold homes without appraisals at below-market prices.

One home, which belonged to one of Hudson’s wards, sold three times in a single day.

The first time, it sold for $30,450, the second time for $37,000 and the third time for $57,984.

That represented a 90% increase from the first sale to the third, but the ward didn’t share in any of that money… the realtor and first two buyers did.

“There was jewelry missing, savings bonds worth $20,000 missing,” Burke said.

That investigation led to additional charges in 2021 and 2023.

Judge Pam Campbell ordered the Pinellas County Clerk's Office to investigate Hudson's cases
Judge Pam Campbell ordered the Pinellas County Clerk's Office to investigate Hudson's cases, which resulted in new felony charges in 2021 and 2023

Replacement guardian finds evidence of neglect

After her arrest, evidence emerged that she not only stole from her wards but also failed to properly care for them.

The guardian appointed to replace Hudson found that Dirse, who had several medical conditions, had not been to a doctor or a dentist while under Hudson’s care.

On a report filed in court records about her first visit to Dirse’s home, the new guardian wrote, “Nothing has been done, not even food out of the refrigerator. Speechless!”

Hudson failed to fix a broken window at Dirse’s home, resulting in $250-a-day fines from the City of St. Pete Beach.

The fines eventually totaled $45,750.

Hudson got permission from Judge Campbell to transfer $100,000 from Dirse’s investment account to pay for repairs, but they were never done.

Hudson's attorney: "There's very little oversight"

Hudson will be 83 years old when she completes her prison time and probation.

The same age as many of her victims.

“That is not a perfect system, if you will. There’s very little oversight,” Hudson’s defense attorney Richard McKyton said outside the courthouse after her sentencing.

McKyton says his client wasn’t the only one to blame for what went wrong in so many of her cases.

“None of these choices get made until the attorney for the estate or the guardianship reviews the request, whatever that might be. And not until an actual judge signs off on those things,” he said.

“She blames the system. But she’s part of the system, and she had to know that what she was doing was wrong,” said Martino.

We contacted Hudson at the Lowell Prison Annex, where she is serving her sentence, and requested an interview.

We have not heard back from her.

You can find the I-Team’s decade-long investigation into the many problems with Florida’s guardianship system by viewing our entire “Price of Protection” series.

If you wish to make a complaint about a professional guardian in Florida, contact the Office of Public and Professional Guardians.

If you have a story involving abuse or exploitation by a professional guardian in the Tampa Bay area, please email

Full Article & Source:
2023 conviction of professional guardian shows flaws in the system and families' complaints were ignored

Inspiration from Albert Einstein, Relevant Today More Than Ever

 "Do not grow old no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born."

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Autism Silenced This Teenager. It Couldn't Stop Him From Creating a 70-Minute Symphony

                                                      (Picture credit:  Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
“Unforgettable Sunrise’s” composer, 19-year-old Jacob Rock, listened from the far side of the room. Jacob, dressed in a brown Neil Young T-shirt, sat beside his father, Paul Rock, and watched through a mop of brown hair that nearly covered his eyes. Jacob was nearly vibrating with excitement as the strings rippled and marimba clattered. He had lived with this music for years, unable to get anyone to hear it. Now it was finally out.

After the rehearsal, Paul, 64, spoke about his son, bewildered by the scale of the music they’d just heard: “He’s been invisible to the world until this,” Paul said.

Jacob Rock lives with profound non-oral autism. His condition makes him all but unable to speak, with other debilitating physical effects inhibiting communication and socializing. Until three years ago, he’d been unable to speak with his family outside of physical gestures, which often conveyed deep frustration and self-harm.

In 2020, a breakthrough utilizing text-to-voice software revealed that Jacob had a deep acuity and sensitivity to language and art. He could now verbally communicate with his parents, and they could learn about his inner world.

Jacob revealed that since childhood, he’d been composing a symphony. He had all the arrangements and melodies locked in place. He couldn’t write notation or play the instruments his music required, but he could describe what he heard. Could they help him find a way to play it?

A Miniature Cow Shares Love and Hope With Elderly People With Memory Problems

A cute, miniature cow is creating a buzz in Oakwood Creative Care in Mesa, Arizona, for cheering and helping elderly people with memory problems.

Dolly Star visits the adult day center weekly to bring joy and a unique kind of therapeutic company to its community members who have been diagnosed with neurological disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia.

Their delightful encounters with Dolly are helping these elderly residents to develop new memories and recall old ones. The miniature cow responds with happy licks to affectionate pats and strokes. As a reward, the residents give the adorable cow marshmallows, which they learned is Dolly’s favorite treat.

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A Miniature Cow Shares Love and Hope With Elderly People With Memory Problems