Saturday, February 10, 2024

Britney Spears' Dad Jamie Accuses Singer of Using Stall Tactics in Attempt to Delay Conservatorship Trial

By:Rebecca Friedman

Britney Spears was freed from her 13-year conservatorship in November 2021 — but the legal aftermath is still ongoing.

The Princess of Pop's father, Jamie Spears, recently filed court documents accusing his daughter of using stall tactics in order to delay the conclusion of their conservatorship trial.

Jamie, who acted as his daughter's conservator throughout the majority of her court-ordered conservatorship, expressed his belief that a global settlement between him and Britney is unlikely to happen, and therefore, he doesn't see a point in moving forward with their upcoming scheduled trial due to a lack of settlement at mediation later this month, according to legal documents obtained by a news publication on Wednesday, February 7.

"There is no reason to stay any portion of the case (as the Court acknowledged at the January 5, 2024 hearing) and there is certainly no basis for staying briefing or any other activity that in any way relates to Jamie’s pending summary judgment motion set for hearing on April 12, 2024," the court papers detailed.

The document continued: "The parties have had months (indeed, years) to discuss settlement. They have not settled. Imposing a stay simply because there is a February 23, 2024 meditation seems certain to result in a trial continuance should the parties not settle at mediation."

The filing further noted a nearly three-year gap between now and when Jamie first filed his Petition for Order Allowing and Approving Payment of Compensation to Conservator and Attorneys for Conservative and Reimbursement of Costs on March 26, 2021. 

Jamie's petition is set to be resolved at the June 2024 trial.

"Meanwhile, Britney consistently tries to delay," Jamie claimed, alleging: "Britney wasted over two years with motion practice regarding the threatened deposition of non-party Robin Greenhill, had the deposition set for January 29, 2024, and unilaterally canceled the deposition the Friday afternoon before the deposition (apparently concluding that the deposition was pointless)."

"The Court cautioned the parties that it will not continue trial. The parties have already spent one month waiting for meditation and waiting for rulings on the outstanding discovery disputes. Every day is critical to ensure the case continues to progress and is ready for trial without the need for a continuance. Accordingly, Jamie requests the Court does not stay this action pending the upcoming mediation and maintains the firm trial dates," he concluded.

The Blast obtained court documents recently filed by Jamie.

Full Article & Source:
Britney Spears' Dad Jamie Accuses Singer of Using Stall Tactics in Attempt to Delay Conservatorship Trial

See Also:
Britney Spears' father files petition to end conservatorship after 13 years at helm of pop star's estate

Britney Spears

Heartbreaking: Elderly Woman Scammed $150,000 - Urgent Digital Vigilance Needed

In Greene County, Ohio, a 78-year-old woman lost $150,000 in a suspected romance scam, emphasizing the importance of digital vigilance. After meeting individuals through social media and word games, she was manipulated into sending money, despite her daughter's efforts to protect her. This case highlights the increasing prevalence and sophistication of online scams targeting the elderly.

by María Alejandra Trujillo 

Heartbreaking: Elderly Woman Scammed $150,000 - Urgent Digital Vigilance Needed

In an era where digital connections blur the lines between reality and illusion, a heartrending tale unfolds in Greene County, Ohio. A 78-year-old woman, ensnared in the intricate web of a suspected romance scam, has lost a staggering $150,000 to individuals she met through social media and word games.

The Unraveling of Trust

The woman's daughter, Gravenstine, found herself in the midst of this nightmare when her bank flagged suspicious check activity. Despite her efforts to prevent further financial loss, including canceling a $5,000 check and obtaining guardianship, her mother continued her covert mission to send money.

The octogenarian, exploited by the trust she placed in these online relationships, resorted to cashing checks clandestinely and purchasing gift cards. The individuals involved in this scam are believed to be posing as figures such as retired four-star Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller, preying on her vulnerability.

A Battle on Multiple Fronts

"It's like you're fighting a war on multiple fronts," Gravenstine said, echoing the sentiments of many families grappling with such scams. Despite contacting local police, Greene County Adult Protective Services, and the Ohio Attorney General's Office, prosecuting these cyber-based romance scams remains a daunting challenge.

The situation escalated to the point where the mother's home had to be sold to avoid foreclosure. Gravenstine now has guardianship over her mother, who is living in her own apartment, emphasizing the importance of monitoring loved ones' online activities to prevent such scams.

A Silent Epidemic

This case is not an isolated incident. More than 30 area residents, including elderly women, have fallen victim to similar cyber romance scams. Nationwide, these scams resulted in financial losses totaling $1.3 billion in 2022 alone.

Fraudsters employ sophisticated tactics to manipulate and deceive their victims, often gaining their trust over extended periods. They then exploit this trust, persuading victims to send money under various guises.

As technology continues to evolve, so too do the methods used by scammers. The human cost of these scams is immeasurable, leaving behind shattered trust and financial ruin.

Gravenstine's story serves as a stark reminder of the importance of vigilance in the digital age. As she navigates the aftermath of her mother's ordeal, she hopes that sharing their experience will help protect others from falling prey to such scams.

Full Article & Source:
Heartbreaking: Elderly Woman Scammed $150,000 - Urgent Digital Vigilance Needed

ONLY ON 48: Limestone Co. teen saves elderly woman from being hit by train

ONLY ON 48: Limestone Co. teen saves elderly woman from being hit by train

Friday, February 9, 2024

The Other Side Of Elder Abuse. Here’s What Older Caregivers Face

by Sophie Okolo, MPH

In his 2018 song “Hurt The Ones We Love The Most,” singer-songwriter-producer Evan Blum writes, “So, tell me why we hurt the ones we love the most. Because we think they'll never go. Of everyone we've come to know. We hurt the ones we love the most.” When we ponder these lyrics, one cannot help but wonder about its uncanny similarity to the current state of caregiving in the U.S. It can be hard and exhausting, and it often affects relationships. But what happens when things go wrong?

There are shocking stories about older people being treated poorly by friends, family members, and nursing home employees. Elder abuse is more common than one might think; approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of abuse. It is a critical public health issue that results in poor health outcomes and increased mortality among older adults of all races, cultures, sexual orientations, social classes, and geographic areas. But older caregivers, those providing care to a younger loved one or otherwise, also experience a unique type of treatment. While studies show that elder abuse occurs in various forms, from physical to financial, psychological, and social, what plagues older caregivers is relational trauma. This type of trauma refers to trauma within a close relationship, usually with a caregiver.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, older adults are increasingly serving as caregivers to others, which may increase their risk of adverse interpersonal experiences. The study analyzed caregiving (assisting another adult with day-to-day activities) and experience of elder mistreatment of caregivers across three domains: emotional, physical, and financial, adjusting for age, race, ethnicity, gender, education, marital status, concomitant care-receiving status, overall physical and mental health, and cognitive function. The study also examined the link between being the primary caregiver (rather than a secondary carer) and each domain of mistreatment among older caregivers. Interestingly, older caregivers were associated with experiencing emotional and financial mistreatment after age 60, and those who served as primary rather than secondary caregivers for other adults had over two-fold increased odds of emotional mistreatment. As the study implied, this is due to potential problems in interpersonal relationships.

A Snapshot Of Abuse And Older Caregiving

Each year, it is estimated that a shocking 500,000 older adults are abused in the United States, with family members most often the abusers. One common form is verbal abuse, which can instill terror and power in a relationship and lead to more types of abuse. Angela (not her real name) is a 66-year-old Cameroonian immigrant who takes care of her mother, but the relationship is strained due to past family trauma: “My mother feels I could have lived a better life… No matter what I do, she always brings this up while lashing at me. It has continued to affect our strained relationship, and living with her has become unbearable.” While Angela would like more harmony in the home, she feels trapped. “I feel like I have no say in my own home,” she says. It is critical for families to have open lines of communication, healthy boundaries, and plan for extra help and support like respite care, counseling, etc. If a parent and child have clear and similar expectations, then risk of abuse and mistreatment can be reduced.

With an aging population, there is a high likelihood of increase in older adults serving as caregivers, but the percentage of such caregivers being abused may also rise. Hence, as the findings suggest, efforts to prevent or mitigate elder mistreatment should put more emphasis on vulnerable older caregivers since the consequences of abuse can be especially serious and take a longer time to recover. It will take a holistic perspective to understand and tackle this problem. If not, it will continue with devastating societal implications for older adults and those working as caregivers. Raising awareness of this issue through education, empowerment, and advocacy is one step in helping reduce elder abuse, but developing a shift in mindset is the first step toward culture change.

Older Domestic Workers Matter

When the 2018 drama film Roma burst onto the scene, it made waves all around the globe because of the incredible story about an indigenous domestic worker living in Mexico. There are parallels between caregiving and domestic work, particularly with those employed as nannies, home care workers, house cleaners, and family caregivers. There are 70 million domestic workers worldwide without worker rights, which has laid the ground for abuse. Older domestic workers face a unique challenge because some do not have sufficient funds for retirement or a family to care for them in old age. Moreover, they feel undervalued and underappreciated, a sobering fact that another human being would deem another human being less than them. Research has shown that abuse against older women remains a serious problem. Most domestic workers are women, some are undocumented, and others lack social support. It is imperative that we need a multifaceted approach to ensure the protection of these workers, particularly those who are older women.

Prioritize Elder Justice

What society needs to address elder abuse is the collaboration of both primary care and social service sectors, which can enhance the comprehensiveness of future programs, policies, and legislation. As research has shown, elder abuse can happen in families and institutions of care, places where it should not happen. It also continues to be a global problem and can seriously diminish the quality of life of older caregivers. Victims become more confused, frail, and unhappy with their circumstances as they are abused and exploited. If not checked, elder abuse can persist despite policy recommendations, health interventions, etc. The significance of this problem as a public health and human rights issue has been acknowledged by the United Nations International Plan of Action, but it should not stop there. Elder justice must become a priority, and whether young or old, everyone deserves dignity, love, and respect. When this happens, we make good strides to overcome ageism and toward a world free from the threat of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Full Article & Source:
The Other Side Of Elder Abuse. Here’s What Older Caregivers Face

ACL final rule updates to Older Americans Act regulations

The goal is to ensure older adults can continue to receive services and supports in their homes, ACL said.

by Jeff Lagasse

Photo: Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

The Administration for Community Living has released a final rule that updates regulations for implementing its Older Americans Act (OAA) programs for the first time since 1988, aiming to better support the national aging network that delivers OAA services and improve program implementation.

The rule, ACL said, aligns regulations to the current statute, addresses issues that have emerged since the last update and clarifies a number of requirements. The goal is to ensure the nation's growing population of older adults can continue to receive services and support in their homes.

"The overwhelming majority of Americans want to live in their own homes as they age, and almost 95% of them do," said Alison Barkoff, who leads the Administration for Community Living." For many, this is possible because of the programs and services provided through the Older Americans Act – such as rides to medical appointments, nutritious meals, in-home services, and support to family caregivers. The updated regulations strengthen the stability and sustainability of these programs, and we are looking forward to working with our partners in the aging network to implement them."


There are a number of key provisions in the final rule, which clarifies requirements for state and area plans on aging and details requirements for coordination among tribal, state and local programs.

ACL said the rule also improves consistency of definitions and operations between state and tribal programs; clarifies and strengthens provisions for meeting OAA requirements for prioritizing people with the greatest social and economic needs; specifies the broad range of people who can receive services, how funds can be used, fiscal requirements, and other requirements that apply across programs; and clarifies required state and local agency policies and procedures. For example, the final rule establishes expectations regarding conflicts of interest.

In addition the final rule addresses emergency preparedness and response, and requires state agencies to maintain flexible and streamlined processes for area agencies on aging to receive approval to establish contracts and commercial relationships.

Other provisions include establishing expectations for legal assistance and activities to prevent elder abuse; clarifying the role of the aging network in defending against the imposition of guardianship and in promoting alternatives to guardianship; and updating definitions, modernizing requirements and clarifying flexibilities within the OAA nutrition programs. For example, the rule allows for the continuation of innovations developed during the pandemic, such as providing carry-out meals through the congregate meals program (in some circumstances).


The ACL said the final rule was the culmination of intensive collaboration over many years with the national aging network. It also reflects input received through a request for information; a series of listening sessions, including consultations with tribes and other engagement with Native American grantees; and more than 780 comments received in response to the June 2023 Notice of Proposed Rule Making from a wide range of organizations in the aging and disability networks.

Full Article & Source:
ACL final rule updates to Older Americans Act regulations

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Judge Appoints Lawyer to Represent Orioles Owner Peter Angelos' Interests; Georgia, Louis Angelos appear in court – Baltimore Sun

By Alice Barrett

A judge on Thursday appointed an attorney to represent the interests of Peter Angelos, who is incapacitated by illness as his family fights for control of his assets, including his legendary law firm and the Baltimore Orioles.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Keith R. Truffer also tried to sidestep a threat from Wells Fargo to freeze the accounts of the Angelos Law Firm over the family dispute over ownership and management of the law firm known for acting on behalf of asbestos and Tobacco attracts billions of dollars from victims.

But the judge postponed until another day a decision on other requests from the feuding family's lawyers, including whether the law firm should be placed under a temporary conservatorship.

Truffer appointed Benjamin Rosenberg, founder and chairman of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg in Baltimore, to represent Angelos in the lawsuit pitting his wife Georgia and older son John, the Orioles chairman and CEO, against younger son Louis.

Georgia Angelos arrives in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Thursday for a hearing alongside attorney Steve Silverman over who should control the assets of her incapacitated husband, Orioles owner Peter Angelos.

Georgia Angelos, 80, waited in a courthouse hallway, expecting to be called to testify at the hearing, but Truffer concluded it was unnecessary. Louis Angelos, 53, who ran his father's law firm, sat in the courtroom with his lawyers. John Angelos, 55, was not seen in the courtroom.

For all of Peter Angelos' prominence in legal, political, philanthropic and sporting circles, he and his family have largely avoided the spotlight in which they now find themselves.

“This family has always been a very private family,” Jeffrey E. Nusinov, representing Louis Angelos, noted at one point during the hearing.

At issue was the fate of the Angelos Law Firm, with the dispute raising concerns at Wells Fargo, its longtime banker, about who was responsible and authorized to access funds in the firm's 11 bank accounts.

Peter Angelos, who began practicing law in the 1960s, was the firm's sole partner and shareholder for a long time. In June, Louis Angelos transferred the company to himself and signed both sides of the transaction. He argued that because of his father's disability, state law required ownership of the practice to be transferred to a qualified person, namely him since he was the only attorney in Peter Angelos' immediate family.

However, Georgia Angelos' lawyers called the transaction self-dealing and theft and filed a lawsuit against Louis Angelos in August, alleging his father's “financial elder abuse.”

Their lawyers argued that Louis Angelos did not have the authority to transfer the law firm, even though he ran it in his father's absence.

“It's like Lamar Jackson having a great game,” said Doug Gansler, one of Georgia Angelos' attorneys, before introducing himself to the Ravens' quarterback, who then said, “I'm going to sell the team to myself now.”

“That’s not how it works,” said Gansler, a former attorney general and two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Gansler asked Truffer to place the company under conservatorship until its ownership is clarified. He noted that despite Peter Angelos' incompetence, checks with his stamp were still being signed, even one last month for $500,000.

Nusinov argued that there was no need for a conservator because Louis Angelos had run the company for the past four years since his father's illness. The matter was “cobbled together,” he said, by the other side using the law firm as leverage in the litigation.

Louis Angelos arrives in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Thursday for a hearing about who should control the assets of his incapacitated father, Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Louis Angelos sued his mother, Georgia Angelos, and his brother, John Angelos, in June.

Georgia Angelos' lawyers had written to Wells Fargo to inform them of the law firm dispute and to say that she was her husband's actual agent and the only one authorized to act on his behalf.

Mary Zinsner, who represents Wells Fargo, told Truffer that the bank was neutral in the family dispute but needed clarity about who bore responsibility.

“We need to know who to turn to,” Zinsner said, especially in the event of a problem with a particular check or account.

Truffer agreed to name three people suggested by Louis Angelos who would have the authority to sign checks on the law firm's bank accounts. The signatories were not named in court after Zinsner said their release would raise security concerns.

It is unknown if Louis Angelos was one of the three. His mother's lawyers argue that he has a conflict of interest because of his lawsuit against his family members.

Louis Angelos sued his mother and brother a day after transferring the law firm to himself, saying John Angelos was trying to consolidate control of the Orioles and his father's other assets. He wants to remove her as trustee from his father's trust, into which Peter Angelos' share of the Orioles has been transferred.

The lawsuit revealed that Georgia Angelos has been preparing for a future sale of the team and that she wants to close or sell her husband's law firm.

When Truffer appointed Rosenberg to represent Angelos, he acknowledged the central — if quiet — role the incapacitated team owner and attorney played in the family dispute.

According to his firm's website, Rosenberg is a longtime litigator who has served on several judicial commissions. There he points out that he previously served as co-chair of the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland's Equal Justice Council and “has played a small role in ensuring that the phrase 'equal justice for all' is not an empty slogan.”

The judge also agreed to seal certain files containing confidential financial information and details about Peter Angelos' medical condition.

Truffer will hold another hearing on November 9 to consider a number of issues, including Georgia Angelos' motion to invalidate Louis Angelos' sale of the law firm to himself.

A trial is scheduled for July, but attorneys for the feuding family members have agreed to try mediation.

“Maybe I'm hopelessly optimistic,” Gansler told the judge, “but I think we can get there.”

Full Article & Source:
Judge Appoints Lawyer to Represent Orioles Owner Peter Angelos' Interests; Georgia, Louis Angelos appear in court – Baltimore Sun

Pilot program to aid gravely disabled residents could improve housing, hospitalization rates

by University of California, Los Angeles

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

An evaluation of Los Angeles County's pilot program aimed at bolstering aid to gravely disabled homeless residents found the initiative could offer a promising framework to improve housing and health outcomes for this vulnerable population while also relieving overburdened psychiatric hospitals.

The UCLA Health-led study is published in the journal Psychiatric Services.

Led by the county and including a partnership of more than 40 different organizations and agencies, the outpatient conservatorship sought to offer wraparound housing, and to 43 homeless residents who had severe illnesses such as schizophrenia, delusional disorders, and other medical illnesses. Many of the residents had been homeless for more than five years.

Beginning in 2020, county officials prioritized offering voluntary services to these residents before referring any of them to an involuntary conservatorship, known as a Lanterman-Petris-Short Act conservatorship. For those referred to a conservatorship, the pilot program allowed the county's Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement team, known as HOME, to continue providing services to the in the least restrictive setting deemed appropriate, including street-based services in some cases, as the residents awaited their court proceedings.

At the end of the pilot program's first year, 81% of the 43 homeless residents were no longer unsheltered, according to the study. While the study did not include a matched cohort as a , the housing placement rates in the pilot program were significantly higher than those observed by the county in recent studies. In the year before the pilot program began, about 20% of all people served by Los Angeles County's homeless outreach had obtained housing placement within 12 months.

About 65% of the residents were placed under a conservatorship with most requiring treatment at a psychiatric hospital. More than half of these residents were able to leave these locked settings and transfer to licensed residential facilities earlier than would have been possible prior to the pilot program, according to study lead author and UCLA Health psychiatry professor Dr. Elizabeth Bromley.

"This pilot really shows that if you have a well-staffed, very assertive, expert team that is practicing with , they're able to both identify people who can benefit from conservatorship and they're able to build enough care continuity into the process to minimize the amount of coercion," said Bromley, who also serves as director of the UCLA-Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Public Mental Health Partnership.

Full Article & Source:
Pilot program to aid gravely disabled residents could improve housing, hospitalization rates

Personal care assistant facing fraud charge after allegedly stealing $150K from 95-year-old woman

By 7 News WHDH

BOSTON (WHDH) - A multi-agency investigation has led to a personal care assistant being charged with defrauding a 95-year-old woman of about $150,000 by stealing from her bank account, collecting rent money intended for the victim, and taking out a reverse mortgage on her home, resulting in foreclosure, Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced.

Dominique Emanuel, 41, of Brockton, is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 22 in Dorchester Boston Municipal Court on one count of medical assistance fraud by provider and larceny over $1,200 by single scheme.

Hayden credited the Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the investigation leading to the charges.

“The stunning breadth of this scheme illustrates the trust and authority given to this woman and how she abused that trust and authority to fill her own pockets. It’s something we’ve seen far too often, and it’s a clear signal to older adults and their families to be ever vigilant when money and services are involved,” Hayden said.

In February 2023, Boston police received a report from a woman stating her 95-year-old mother’s personal care assistant, later identified as Emmanuel, had been stealing from her.

The victim told police Emmanuel had been her PCA for several years after meeting her at the Santander Bank in Mattapan where Emmanuel worked as a bank teller.

A review of the victim’s will led to the discovery that Emmanuel was listed as an alternate executor of the will. The victim’s daughter then discovered her mother’s Mattapan home was in foreclosure due to a reverse mortgage of which the victim and family members had no knowledge.

They also learned that approximately $120,000 was withdrawn from the victim’s Santander Bank account, which included $70,000 made payable to a construction company for work that was never done.

Additionally, Emmanuel was tasked with collecting rent in the amount of $1,800 from the first-floor tenant of the home. The tenant told investigators he had entered a rental agreement from March 2021 and he had paid the person known to him as Dominique $3,600 cash for the first and last month’s rent and $1,800 cash every month thereafter until December 2022, totaling over $30,000 in payments.

The victim never received these payments. Investigators were able to corroborate numerous cash deposits into Emmanuel’s Santander account during that timeframe.

A review of Emmanuel’s employment records from Tempus Unlimited, a personal care attendant program, showed that she had been paid for hours of work she did not perform, including days she was out of state. Records showed that she billed Tempus for hours while the victim was either being treated at a long-term care or an inpatient care facility and would not require the assistance of a PCA at home. The total Medicaid fraud loss is approximately $3,763.60.

With financial exploitation and abuse on the rise, District Attorney Hayden recently launched the Suffolk County Fraud Fighters, a multi-agency effort to help residents, particularly older adults, recognize common scams and signs of financial fraud.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), compared to anonymous scammers, older adults typically suffer greater financial losses when they know the perpetrator.

Full Article & Source:
Personal care assistant facing fraud charge after allegedly stealing $150K from 95-year-old woman

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Texas Supreme Court Allows Defamation Case Against Netflix to Move Ahead

Johnston Tobey's Chad Baruch represents woman claiming defamation over ‘Dirty Money’

DALLAS, February 05, 2024--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Supreme Court of Texas has denied an attempt by video streaming company Netflix to end a defamation case brought by a Texas woman who claims she was harmed by a March 2020 episode of the Netflix television show "Dirty Money."

The episode, "Guardians, Inc," by award-winning producer Alex Gibney, suggested Tonya Barina was abusing her responsibility to her great-uncle, Texas millionaire Charles Thrash, the owner of a successful auto repair business in San Antonio. Court records indicate Mr. Thrash is incapacitated by Alzheimer’s disease. Ms. Barina is legal guardian of his estate.

Ms. Barina sued Netflix in 2021 alleging that the program falsely accused her of exploiting Thrash while failing to include information about Mr. Thrash’s girlfriend, Laura Martinez – who was denied guardianship of Mr. Thrash – and her attorney Philip Ross, both of whom were sanctioned for more than $225,000 for what the guardianship court deemed their "intentional, knowing and outrageous conduct."

According to court records, the two "engaged in a scheme to cause Thrash, a totally incapacitated individual without the capacity to contract or marry, to participate in a marriage ceremony." The marriage, to Ms. Martinez, later was annulled. Ms. Martinez and Mr. Ross also tried to have Mr. Thrash adopt Ms. Martinez’s adult children.

Those records also show that Ms. Martinez and Mr. Ross engaged in "fraud upon the Court" and interfered with Barina in the performance of her duties as guardian. The Court found that Ms. Martinez "will testify to whatever facts are necessary for the moment to achieve their purposes."

Barina alleges that Netflix had the records in question, but instead relied heavily upon the statements of Mr. Ross and Ms. Martinez.

Following Ms. Barina’s lawsuit, lawyers for Netflix filed a motion to dismiss under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, a law designed to protect free speech rights. The trial court denied that motion, and with the Texas Supreme Court decision declining without comment to review the case, Ms. Barina can continue her suit against the media company.

"Tonya Barina deserves justice, and with the action of the Texas Supreme Court, now she is in a position to move forward and get it," said Chad Baruch, managing shareholder of Johnston Tobey Baruch in Dallas. "Everyone is in favor of free speech, but that's not what this case is about. It’s about Ms. Barina’s allegation that Netflix made her the bad actor here when she’s not."

To hear Mr. Baruch discussing the case, click here.

Mr. Baruch was brought in alongside Ms. Barina’s attorneys Carl J. Kolb and Glenn Deadman to assist with the Texas Supreme Court appeal.

The case is Netflix v. Barina, No. 22-0914 in the Supreme Court of Texas.

Full Article & Source:
Texas Supreme Court Allows Defamation Case Against Netflix to Move Ahead

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

Netflix Must Face Defamation Suit Over ‘Dirty Money’ Episode

Texas lawyer, Netflix lose defamation appeal concerning multimillionaire's court-appointed guardianship

Defamation lawsuit against Netflix linked to “Dirty Money” episode “Guardians, Inc.” which has a Massachusetts plot

Miami city attorney faces Florida Bar probe, report says

by Sommer Brugal

Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez speaks at a commission meeting last year. Photo: Jose A. Iglesias, Miami Herald

Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez is under investigation for her connection to companies that purchased below-market value homes and sold them for a large profit, according to the Miami Herald.

  • The Florida Bar has been investigating since at least April, but the probe has just recently come to light, according to the newspaper, which broke the news yesterday.

Why it matters: The investigation is yet another problem for Méndez, who was removed from her position last month by commissioners but will remain city attorney until June.

  • Méndez was hit with a lawsuit last year over allegations that she and her husband enriched themselves by flipping a home owned by a man who claimed he was convinced to sell below market value.

Catch up quick: Last year, a WLRN investigation detailed how Méndez's family profited from the Guardianship Program, which cares for incapacitated people who can't afford a private guardian or who have no one willing to serve in that capacity.

The latest: Local film director Billy Corben filed another complaint Friday, according to the Herald.

  • Corben claims Méndez acted unprofessionally and violated Bar rules during a recent commission meeting.

The other side: Méndez has described the WLRN investigation as a "hit piece" and cautioned Herald reporters against writing about the review and "trying to damage" her reputation.

Full Article & Source:
Miami city attorney faces Florida Bar probe, report says

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Wendy Williams Breaks Down Crying Over Finances in Documentary Trailer: 'I Have No Money'

Wendy Williams Breaks Down Crying Over Finances in Documentary Trailer: 'I Have No Money'


Anthony Dominic‍

Wendy Williams is opening up like never before about her struggles with alcohol abuse and the financial challenges she faces under a court-appointed guardianship following the end of her daytime talk show, The Wendy Williams Show.

On Friday, Lifetime released the first trailer for their two-party documentary, Where Is Wendy Williams?, and the 59-year-old TV personality gets emotional during her sit-down interview. "If it could happen to me, it could happen to you," she says of her adversities.

The emotionally charged trailer shows Wendy visibly distressed as she discusses the financial strain resulting from her guardianship. "I have no money," she declares, providing a glimpse into the personal turmoil that has surrounded her life since the end of her talk show.


The documentary also has interviews from her son, Kevin Hunter Jr., her sister, Wanda Williams, and other family members as they rally to support Wendy. 

Wanda empathizes with her sister's struggles, stating, "We all make choices in life. We all go through our challenges. She's still a person."

Meanwhile, Kevin criticizes the court-appointed guardian, asserting that they haven't effectively protected the former talk show host. Wanda echoes this sentiment, calling the system "broken."


"We are her family," Wanda declares, tears welling up, "and you tell me that I'm not capable of taking care of my sister. What would you do? What should I do?"

In February 2022, Wells Fargo alleged that Wendy was of "unsound mind" and required guardianship due to purported "undue influence and financial exploitation." Wendy has vehemently denied these claims and has demanded the return of her money.


Although still under guardianship, the trailer suggests that Wendy is now prioritizing time with her family. "I love being famous," she declares, "but family is everything -- everything."

In a previous attempt to address her struggles, Wendy checked into a treatment facility in June 2023 to confront her battle with alcohol addiction, a move prompted by concerns from her son about the potential fatal consequences of her addiction.

Where is Wendy Williams?, a four-and-a-half-hour, two-night documentary event, will premier Saturday, Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 at 8pm ET/PT on Lifetime.

Full Article & Source:
Wendy Williams Breaks Down Crying Over Finances in Documentary Trailer: 'I Have No Money'

See Also:
Wendy Williams

Hanover woman allegedly stole more than $500,000 from elderly aunt

by Anthony Maenza

A Hanover woman is accused of stealing more than $500,000 from her elderly aunt. 

Jerri Ann Lare, 53, faces first-degree felony charges of financial exploitation of an older adult, theft by deception and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds.

Penn Township Police executed a search warrant to check a joint bank account that had Lare’s and her 76-year-old aunt’s name on it, according to court documents. Police allegedly found large deposits into the joint account that Lare had set up as early as November 2021.  

Between November 2021 and December 2023, more than $600,000 was allegedly deposited into the joint account. Records indicate that more than $58,000 was paid to Sharon’s Personal Care Home, an assisted living facility caring for her aunt, according to police, while the rest of the funds are unaccounted for. 

Lare used money from the joint account to purchase things like vehicles, a hot tub, concrete work as well as make credit card payments, police allege. 

When the aunt was interviewed by police, she allegedly told investigators she was unaware Lare had transferred the money from Fidelity and did not give Lare permission to spend the money. She was also unaware her home in Maryland had been sold and those funds were used without her permission, police said. 

Lare was arrested Tuesday. District Judge Jeffrey Sneeringer set an unsecured bail of $25,000 on Wednesday. A preliminary hearing before Sneeringer is scheduled for March 5.

Full Article & Source:
Hanover woman allegedly stole more than $500,000 from elderly aunt

Couple indicted for exploiting elderly man in their care

CAMPBELL COUNTY, TN. (WLAF) – A LaFollette couple has been indicted following an investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into the abuse and financial exploitation of an elderly man.    

In December, at the request of 8th Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler, TBI agents began investigating allegations against Robert Heatherly (DOB: 3/19/82) and Alisha Heatherly (DOB: 6/3/85).  During the course of the investigation, agents learned the couple, while working as caregivers for a 79 year-old man, financially exploited the victim and failed to provide proper care.  

Robert Heatherly age 42

Alisha Heatherly age 38

On Wednesday, the Campbell County Grand Jury returned indictments charging both Robert and Alisha Heatherly with one count of financial exploitation of an elderly/vulnerable person and one count of aggravated abuse or neglect of an elderly/vulnerable adult. Both were arrested today and booked into the Campbell County Jail. They are each being held on a $150,000 bond. 

(WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED 2/1/2024- 6:16PM)

Full Article & Source:
Couple indicted for exploiting elderly man in their care

Monday, February 5, 2024

'Based on exploitation': Reform advocates say Florida's guardianship system is putting seniors at risk

Author: Aaron Parseghian

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — In his daughter Sue Melendy’s Belleair Beach home, 95-year-old veteran Thomas Foster Sr. stays busy making crosses out of clothespins.

“He designs the pattern. He gets small ones, medium ones, large ones, picks out the jewels,” Melendy explained.

Foster sells the crafted pieces of art at a local market, raising money for the Disabled Veterans of America

“We’ve been doing that a long time for the DAV,” said Foster, who also likes staying busy at his church and local senior gym.

“They’re all retired, it’s like a big family,” he explained.

For him, it’s a welcome sense of comfort to be doing what he wants and spending time with his daughter, after what they’ve dealt with over the last few years.

“I feel like we're the poster child for what is not guardianship," Melendy explained. "And yet, we were subjected to this for three years. And it completely devastated my father, and me and my entire family."

Thomas Foster Sr. is one of the rare Floridians, even Americans — most famously pop icon Britney Spears — to get out of a court-appointed guardianship.  

“We don’t have the statistics, but we venture to think it’s probably less than 1%,” Melendy added.

Under Florida law, courts can appoint guardians to make all life, health and financial decisions for a minor or often older seniors with perceived mental and physical disabilities. Where they live, who they see, and how their money gets spent is all up to the guardian, a person who in Florida only has to be 18 years old, pass a background check and take a 40-hour training course to become a professional one. 

“The first thing they take away from you is the power of attorney and your health care surrogacy; that now is a stranger's responsibility,” Melendy explained.

A court placed an emergency temporary guardian over Sue’s dad after her mom passed away, triggering a years-long court battle that cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars just to fight and try and take back care. Sue says part of the fight centered on proving her dad wasn’t incapacitated and deserved to make his own life decisions, and that her dad's "estate" was helping fund the fight against their own interests. 

“When people first hear that it happened, or happened to somebody like us, they honestly can't believe it. They just don't understand it. They can't believe that it happens in Florida, in Pinellas County, but we know that it does,” Melendy explained.

“My father is going to be 96 years old. He wants to live in peace. He wants to be able to spend time with family and friends. And this, this just about took my dad out. Literally, it's been so painful,” she added.

Melendy is one of the many reform advocates pushing for change, saying holes in Florida’s guardianship system are putting our area’s most vulnerable and even some of your loved ones at risk.

While the system is in place to protect the kids and seniors — and many guardians do the job for the right reasons, court-appointed guardians have full control over a person’s decisions and that power in some cases can lead to exploitation.

“The problem is the there is not tremendous oversight, and the temptation to for wrongdoing is just too strong,” says Pinellas County Clerk Ken Burke. Burke says holes in the guardianship system have been on his radar since taking office in 2005.

“There's been abuses that have taken place. There had been case after case of guardians who have stolen from the wards. We just had a case in Pinellas county, with Traci Samuels Hudson,” Burke explained.

In July, Hudson, the former president of a local guardianship association was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from several seniors she had in her care. Using the money to buy a home, jewelry and premium seats to Tampa Bay Buccaneers games.

“We know that there has been nefarious activities, how many others are there out there where it's not as apparent,” Burke explained.

Burke headed up a statewide Guardianship Improvement Taskforce who drafted a report with 10 recommendations to improve the broken system, from identifying problem guardians to preventing unnecessary appointments.

I did a sample of the last 30 guardianship filings, and it was like 95% got proved to be incapacitated. So, you wonder, is the examining committee really doing its diligence to make sure that the person really is incompetent? Or is the process too much of a rubber stamp?” Burke questions.

The report has already helped change state law, in 2022 Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill creating a statewide guardian database, that advocates say will give judges and courts better oversight of guardians working in the state.

Burke says more reforms will need to be made especially in Florida, where seniors remain at risk, many of them away from immediate family and potentially just one accident away from losing their rights.

“Florida doesn't need a good system. Florida needs a great system. And we're not there yet. And we need to get there,” Burke said.

Right now there's a bipartisan push in the state legislature to continue building off the taskforce's recommendations. "I feel like there needs to be some guardrails up to protect people, especially people in their most vulnerable point in their life," says State Rep. Rita Harris, (D-Orlando).

Harris and State Sen. Ileana Garcia (R-Miami) co-sponsored proposals this legislative session that would in part, change the process in which guardianships are established, require guardians be appointed on a rotating basis every few years, and also secure family visitation rights. 

"I think for our state it's even more important that we let our constituents know that if something were to happen and they did find themselves in a situation where they were incapacitated and needed a legal guardian, that it will be a process that would be transparent and they will be protected through the entire process," Harris said in an interview with 10 Tampa Bay. 

The bills were formally introduced earlier this month and we will monitor them as they move forward in the legislature, advocates say additional protections are necessary and welcome. 

"With over 4 million residents over the age of 65 in Florida, the need for urgent reform is undeniable," said Kat Duesterhaus, Legislative Director of Florida National Organization for Women. "Our imperative is clear to prevent ongoing abuse, safeguard lives, and uphold the fundamental rights, dignity, and autonomy of those who find themselves incapacitated."

There is some objection to the latest proposal, John Moran an attorney and Chair-Elect of the Real Property and Probate and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar, says while changes to Florida's guardianship law "are needed," his group says he does not believe the bill, in its current form should be adopted into law. "SB 48 encourages interfamily conflict while making guardianship proceedings more adversarial and expensive," Moran said in a statement to 10 Tampa Bay. 

Moran added the proposal would also "encourage more guardianship proceedings because it provides personal financial incentive to petitioners to go after an inheritance." 

Full Article & Source:
'Based on exploitation': Reform advocates say Florida's guardianship system is putting seniors at risk

Georgia Woman Accused of Defrauding St. Charles County Widower

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – A woman accused of defrauding a 74-year-old widower in a St. Charles County, Missouri nursing home has turned herself in to authorities in Georgia.

Shanita Gray, 51, was indicted by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in St. Louis on Dec. 6, 2023, with ten counts of wire fraud, one count of use of a counterfeit access device and four counts of aggravated identity theft. The indictment was unsealed Friday.

The indictment accuses Gray of using the personal information of the widower and a fraudulently obtained financial power of attorney to access the credit and debit cards and financial accounts of the alleged victim, identified in court documents as “D.H.” 

Gray notified the administrators of D.H.'s nursing home that she was seeking emergency guardianship of him, the indictment says, and concealed the existence of D.H.'s half-sister. She told D.H.’s son that she would manage his financial affairs.

Gray searched D.H.'s Berkley, Missouri home to locate personal identifying information, identify his financial accounts, take possession of his debit and credit cards and obtain samples of his handwriting, the indictment says. When D.H. refused to sign a power of attorney authorizing her to manage his financial affairs, Gray added his name to a form in which she sought a court appointment to be guardian and conservator that had already been notarized, it says. She obtained online access to his financial accounts, added herself as a beneficiary, changed his contact information on financial accounts to her Georgia address and emailed the bogus power of attorney document to financial institutions, the indictment alleges.

The indictment says Gray obtained more than $300,000 by selling shares in D.H.’s investment accounts, transferring funds out of his bank accounts, drawing checks for her benefit and the benefit of others, conducting electronic funds transfers to pay her bills and redirecting D.H.'s pension and retirement checks to her personal and business bank accounts.

The wire fraud charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The counterfeit access device charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and the aggravated identity theft carries a penalty of two years in prison, consecutive to all other charges. Each charge also carries the possibility of a fine of up to $250,000. If convicted, restitution would be mandatory.
Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General and the Maryland Heights Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry is prosecuting the case.


Robert Patrick, Public Affairs Officer,

Georgia Woman Accused of Defrauding St. Charles County Widower

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Wendy Williams Seen for First Time in a Year in Devastating Lifetime Documentary Trailer

The TV star reemerges two years after leaving her daytime talk show due to health problems in a candid first look for her new documentary. 

By James Hibberd

Wendy Williams has reemerged into public view in an emotional new trailer for her upcoming Lifetime documentary, Where Is Wendy Williams?

The trailer (below) shows the beloved former talk show host, 59, tearfully struggling with health issues amid her family and friends striving to offer their support. The footage is often difficult to watch, as Williams has clearly suffered mentally and physically.

“I have no money, and I’m gonna tell you something,” Williams says in the trailer. “If it happens to me, it could happen to you.” 

“Mom has done a great job making it seem like everything is OK always, but in reality, there is something wrong,” says her son Kevin Hunter Jr. “My mom always talks about how she wants to work, but I think she’s worked enough. She has people around her who are ‘yes’ people that have allowed this to continue.”

At one point, an unseen man asks if she drank a bottle of what appears to be liquor and Williams orders him to “keep the bottle there.”

The documentary has had “unparalleled access” to Williams and her family for nearly two years, per the description.

The official description reads: “After Wendy Williams was placed under a financial guardianship and her hit talk show was unexpectedly canceled, she was determined to make a career comeback. Opening the doors to her private life like never before, cameras chronicled her comeback journey to reclaim her life and legacy despite facing health issues and personal turbulence. With unparalleled access granted by Wendy to film with her and her family for nearly two years, what was captured was not what anyone expected. The documentary provides a raw, honest and unfiltered reality of Wendy’s life after she was placed under financial guardianship, shedding light on the vulnerabilities that has turned Wendy into the Hot Topic herself. Suffering mental and physical issues, Wendy’s delicate state of mind, erratic behavior and declining health were all captured by the cameras. Where Is Wendy Williams? is the story of Wendy’s journey to resurrect her career, and what filmmakers discovered along the way. But many questions remain — who truly has Wendy’s best interest at heart? Is she healthy now?”  

Williams was a syndicated daytime talk show queen for 12 years until The Wendy Williams Show was canceled due to her health issues. She first sparked fears for her health in 2017 when she fainted live on-air. She previously spoke openly about ongoing issues with substance abuse. In 2022, The Hollywood Reporter extensively reported on Williams’ behind-the-scenes struggles on the show.   

The four-and-half hour, two-night documentary Where Is Wendy Williams? will debut Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24 and 25, at 8 p.m. On the Friday night prior, Lifetime will encore the biopic Wendy Williams: The Movie and her 2021 documentary, Wendy Williams: What a Mess.

Full Article & Source:
Wendy Williams Seen for First Time in a Year in Devastating Lifetime Documentary Trailer

See Also:
Wendy Williams

Conservator lacks capacity to sue alleged wrongdoers

Virginia Lawyers Weekly

Where a special conservator appointed to represent a man injured in an automobile accident did not register the Massachusetts conservatorship in Virginia before filing the amended complaint, he lacked capacity to maintain an action in Virginia as conservator. Because the foreign conservatorship has now been domesticated, he can file an amended complaint.


This case arises out of a motor vehicle accident on Interstate 81 in Montgomery County, Virginia, on Sept. 25, 2021. The amended complaint alleges that Jaime Antonio Flores Landaverde sustained personal injuries as a passenger in a vehicle operated by Jose Lopez, which struck a parked tractor-trailer that was being driven by Joshua Flores on behalf of Move Freight Trucking LLC, or MFT.

The amended complaint alleges alternatively that Flores was an employee of FedEx Ground Package System Inc. and Western Express Inc., acting within the scope of his employment, and that these entities, as motor carriers, brokers and/or shippers, were negligent in the hiring of MFT and Flores. The amended complaint also alleges negligent entrustment against the owners of the vehicle. This memorandum opinion addresses the motions to dismiss filed by three defendants as to plaintiff’s lack of capacity to sue.


Chris A. Milne was appointed as special conservator for Landaverde in the Massachusetts probate and family court on July 10, 2023. Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(6), “[t]he capacity of a party suing or defending a state law claim on behalf of another is governed by ‘the law of the state where the court is located.’”

Milne, however, argues that the court need not consider whether he possesses capacity to sue under Virginia law because Rule 17(c)(1)(C) flatly provides that a conservator may sue on behalf of an incompetent person. As Milne was appointed conservator in Massachusetts before suit was filed, he claims that his capacity to sue on behalf of Landaverde is established by Rule 17(c)(1)(C), without regard to Virginia state law. The court disagrees with Milne. Milne’s capacity to sue on behalf of Landaverde must be evaluated under Virginia law.

Virginia Code § 64.2-2117 authorizes conservators appointed in another state to register an out of state conservatorship order in Virginia. In the context of a wrongful death action, the Virginia Supreme Court has held that a personal representative appointed out of state and not qualified in Virginia lacks standing to bring suit. Following that decision, three decisions issued in this district have dismissed wrongful death actions filed by personal representatives not qualified in Virginia.

Although those decisions arose in the wrongful death context, the court does not discern any meaningful difference between the requirements for a foreign personal representative to be qualified under Virginia’s wrongful death statute, and a foreign conservator to be registered under Virginia’s conservator registration statute. Because Milne did not register the Massachusetts conservatorship in Virginia before filing the amended complaint, he lacked capacity to maintain an action in Virginia as conservator for Landaverde.

Next steps

While these motions were pending, Milne registered the Massachusetts conservatorship decree in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County. However, the next question is whether Milne is able to amend or supplement his pleadings in this case or whether law requires that he instead file a new lawsuit. Defendants argue that the amended complaint cannot be amended. The court disagrees.

There is no discernable prejudice to allowing a supplemental pleading to document the registration of the Massachusetts conservatorship in Virginia. The filing of a supplemental pleading will not affect the substantive legal rights of the parties. This is because Virginia Code § 8.01-229(A)(2)(b) provides that a suit “may be commenced by such conservator … before the expiration of the applicable period of limitation or within one year after his qualification as such, whichever occurs later.”

Because Milne was not appointed special conservator in Massachusetts until July 10, 2023, and the conservatorship was not registered in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Virginia, until Nov. 29, 2023, the applicable limitations period has not run. The court will allow Milne to file a supplemental pleading under Rule 15(d) to establish his capacity to sue. This approach is consistent with that suggested in an earlier Fourth Circuit decision.

Defendants’ motions to dismiss granted. Plaintiff granted leave to file supplemental pleading.

Milne v. Move Freight Trucking LLC, Case No. 7:23-cv-432, Jan. 5, 2024. WDVA at Roanoke (Urbanski). VLW 024-3-015. 12 pp.

Conservator lacks capacity to sue alleged wrongdoers